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A 10-Year Anniversary Photographic Journey

Our Wedding Day_6.15.2002

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the day I said, “I will,” to my husband Shane Peyton Alexander. Since that moment, we have lived in five different cities and eight different homes. We have earned three advanced degrees, worked with four churches, and made many new friends. We have had three children and gotten a dog. We have lost two grandparents. Our parents have started new careers, or retired from old ones. We have been able to travel by ourselves almost every year, thanks to the grandparents. We have had difficult times. We have had wonderful times. We still love to talk about baseball, take walks together, and laugh. We do not get to see near as many movies as we did or be by ourselves as much as we’d like, but we are happy. We are still stubborn, but we have learned to give in to each other. We are a good team (read Shane’s recent post about our marriage here). We are thankful for each other.

For today’s post, I decided to take a walk back through these 10 years by posting some pictures of us together (As the years have gone on, it was difficult to find pictures of just the two of us!). I’ve included the year and the city we were living in at the time.

Wedding Day: June 15, 2002.
We were living in Abilene, Texas, when we got married, where I was finishing up a Master’s degree in English at ACU. Shane had just graduated with his Master of Divinity a few weeks prior. We got married in the Houston church where I grew up. Five weeks after our wedding day, we were living in Louisville, Kentucky, and I was beginning my Ph.D.

Leaving the church

This was my first time to ride in a limo, which is surprising considering I used to want to own one when I was a young girl.

Year One (2002-2003). Louisville, KY.

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander in the snow 2012

Snow in Louisville…in November!

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander at UofL 2003

On UofL’s campus.We loved Louisville and the people we met while we were there.

Year Two (2004). Louisville, KY.

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander, 2004

This picture was taken at my sister Kellee’s rehearsal dinner. We always loved excuses to come back to Texas!

Year Three (2005). Gatesville, TX.

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander, 2005

Here I am, six months pregnant with our first child. We are on a “babymoon” trip to San Diego with some friends from college. I had finished my comprehensive exams and was writing my dissertation at the time.

Year Four (2006). Gatesville, TX.

Dr. Kara Poe Alexander and Family_2006

I graduated with my Ph.D in May 2006 and started working at Baylor in August 2006. I couldn’t find a picture of just me and Shane of that day, so here’s almost one-year-old Elizabeth with us.

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander, 2006Before I started working at Baylor, Shane and I took a trip to see my dad in Washington D.C. He gave us a tour of the U.S. Capitol, and here we are at the very top of the rotunda, after taking hundreds and hundreds of steps to get to the top. We did not feel very safe standing here, and the people looked like little bugs down below. I wrote this blog post about our trip. Whew. I’m feeling anxious just remembering the height!

Year Five (2007). Gatesville, TX.

This picture was taken during our 10-day trip to Italy, our gift to ourselves for me graduating with my Ph.D. in 2006 and him being so supportive, flexible, and encouraging during this time.

Year Six (2008). Waco, TX.

2008_Shane and Kara Poe Alexander

This picture was taken on our actual anniversary. Peyton, our second baby, was born three months prior. We went out to dinner at a nice restaurant in town.

Year Seven (2009). Waco, TX.

Port Aransas 2009

We like going to the beach during the summer, especially with the kids. I grew up going to South Padre Island every year because my grandmother only lived 30 minutes away. This picture was taken during our trip to Port Aransas with Shane’s family.

Year Eight (2010). Mexia, TX.

At Fenway Park

Here we are in Boston at Fenway Park. The Texas Rangers were playing the Red Sox the night we were there. We’ve been to four other parks together where we’ve seen the Astros (my favorite team) play (Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Arlington, and Houston). Hopefully, we’ll get to go to many more baseball parks together!

Year Nine (2011). Mexia, TX.

2011_Shane and Kara Poe Alexander

Here I am eight months pregnant with Levi and at the beach with the family. This picture was taken at Galveston.

Year Ten (2012). Mexia, TX.

Kara Poe Alexander and Shane Alexander_2012

Here is the most recent picture taken of us together back in March.

Here’s to many more wonderful years together.

Vegetarian Experiment, Day 7

I returned home from my week away with more than I had bargained for…a sore throat, cough, runny nose, and fever. This meant one more day of “daddy duty” for a man who had spent all week with the kids and was ready for a break and who has very busy (and tiring) Sundays as a minister. Though I was home, I was no help. I literally slept from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm on Sunday…and then on and off for the rest of the day. I went to the doctor today and found out I have a sinus infection. I got a steroid shot and a zpak. I hope I can get over this soon. One of my friends commented that my sickness was a result of not eating meat for a week, which I thought was quite funny.

Below are the meals I ate on Saturday, 2 in the airport and 1 at home. The one at home was made my a thoughtful husband. Almost all of it was vegetarian, except for the bacon, which was wrapped around a stuffed fig (delicious!). I know. Technically, I didn’t go for the full 7 days; it was 6 and 2/3 days. But, it wasn’t that much meat, and I didn’t really have a choice since my sweet husband had made me such a sweet meal. (The kids even ate it too!).

I will reflect on this experiment later in the week when I am feeling better.


Bagel with Cream Cheese

Burned Bagel with Cream Cheese, burnt


Caprese Baguette Sandwich (Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil, and Balsamic Glaze on a Baguette)

Caprese Sandwich


Here’s the fabulous dinner that was waiting for me when I got home. I have a very sweet husband.

Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad with Balsamic Vinegar Dressing (the cucumbers and tomatoes came from our garden!)

Rolled Zucchini with Goat Cheese Filling

Bacon (the meat!)-Wrapped Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese

Zucchini Wrapped, Bacon-Wrapped Figs, and a Salad


And here is my new friend, Karen from Rhode Island, who put up with me at every. single. meal. while I took all these pictures of my food and took so long to get started eating! We were suitemates attending the same conference and we shared a really gross bathroom (welcome to dorm life!). I’m so glad to have gotten to know her! It made the week much more pleasant Here’s to you, Karen!

My friend Karen

Vegetarian Experiment, Day 6

Today was the last day eating in one of the cafeteria’s here on MSU’s campus. I will definitely miss this place. The student workers were polite, kind, and helpful. They even cooked the food right there while we waited. And we could see them make it. This is a different kind of cafeteria than I had in college…and even that I have at Baylor, even though the ones at Baylor are good, too.

Here is what I ate today:


Egg and Cheese Croissant Sandwich

Egg Sandwich



Hummus and Tabbouleh and a Side Salad


Vegetable Lasagna with Cauliflower Gratin

I didn’t like the vegetable lasagna. It had some sort of sweet sauce that I didn’t like, so I didn’t end up eating very much of it.

Vegetable Lasagna2

In fact, because I didn’t eat much of the lasagna, I went back for seconds of the cauliflower gratin. It was cooked with golden raisins, capers, cheese, and bread crumbs and topped with finely diced parsley. It was very, very good. I never would have put these ingredients together into one dish.

Roasted Cauliflower

Turtle Brownie (yum!)

Turtle Brownie



Caprese Salad with Warmed Pita Bread

Caprese Salad

I’ve had caprese salad before, but only on top of a tomato (deconstructed, I think). This one with lettuce was really good. And the warmed pita bread had a nice crunch to it. I will definitely make a salad like this at home. There’s nothing like basil, balsamic vinegar, mozzarella, and tomatoes.

Vegetarian Sloppy Joe with Steamed Green Beans

The sloppy joe was made with tofu and vegetables. It was pretty good. It was the closest thing to meat I had all week. It felt like I was eating meat because of the texture, but I cognitively knew it wasn’t meat. It was a weird experience. But it was good.

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Turtle Brownie (Take 2)

Turtle Brownie

I end my week at MSU by eating dessert twice today, the same thing I had for lunch. Moist, chocolatey, crunchy, and gooey. What’s not to like?

One more day of eating vegetarian and my experiment will be over. It’s given me a lot to think about.

Vegetarian Experiment, Day 5

Five days is, by far, the longest I have gone without meat, yet I am not missing it too much. I am enjoying a variety of foods, am taking longer to eat the food I choose, and enjoying trying and tasting new food items and flavors. I have never eaten so many vegan food items in one week. After this week is over, I will offer more a reflection. Until then, here are the foods I enjoyed today.


Toasted Blueberry Bagel, one side with Peanut Butter and the other side with Cream Cheese

Toasted Whole Wheat Bagel


Vegetable Bulgogi Lettuce Wrap

Vegetable Bulgogi Lettuce Wrap

I had never heard of “bulgogi” before. It’s a Korean dish that usually has meat in it (they were serving that dish, too). I’m still not too sure what it is, except it had a wide variety of vegetables and seemed to be cooked in some sort of barbecue sauce. It was pretty good, which says a lot coming from someone who doesn’t like (or eat) Asian food too much.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Butter and Brown Sugar and Sauteed carrots

Roasted Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar

Wow. This acorn squash was delicious. I ate the entire thing. (The carrots were a bit hard.) I will definitely be making this acorn squash soon. I know that Levi and I will eat it up!


Phyllo and Zucchini Strudel with Zucchini and Summer Squash Saute

Phyllo and Zucchini Strudel with Summer Squash Saute

The vegetables were tender and well seasoned and the zucchini strudel was rich and original. In addition to the zucchini, the phyllo crust was also filled with sauteed onions and feta cheese, as well as a varety of seasonings. Delish.

Here’s a close-up picture of the Phyllo and Zucchini Strudel.

Phyllo and Zucchini Strudel with Summer Squash Saute

Black Bean Burger

Black Bean Burger

I’ve been wanting to try the veggie burger all week and when I was still hungry after eating the first course, instead of going for a salad, hummus, or dessert, I opted for the burger. The burger itself was quite spicy, and I ended up eating the meat all by itself–without buns or condiments. I’ve eaten veggie burgers before and this one was pretty similar in terms of texture and taste.

So that’s it for today. Only one more day at the MSU cafeteria. I’m going to miss eating there at Snyder-Phillips! Being able to choose from so many great options. Not having to cook. Being able to spend longer eating and talking than cooking or cleaning up. In two days, it’s back to reality.

Vegetarian Experiment, Day 4

I have now completed four days of eating vegetarian in this “going vegetarian” experiment. Here is what I ate on Day Four.


Fruit: Watermelon, Grapes, and a Banana

Fruit for Breakfast

Whole Wheat Bagel with Strawberry Cream Cheese (again)

Bagel with Cream Cheese


Jalapeno and Cheddar Veggie Wrap (with corn salad, tabbouleh, and hummus added to it). (Sorry about the blur of this picture.)

Cheddar and Jalapeno Wrap Stock Full of Veggies

Here’s the Veggie Wrap up close.

Veggie Wrap

Key Lime Pie (yum!)

Key Lime Pie

Pre-Dinner Snack

I knew we would be eating a late dinner tonight, so when we were released at 5:00, Karen (my suitemate who is also in the seminar) and I walked down to the cafeteria and had a little “snack”.

Vegan Calzone with Marinara Sauce

This vegan calzone had sundried tomatoes, green peppers, red peppers, onions, mushrooms, and carrots. It was very, very good. I was even surprised to find that I didn’t miss the cheese at all. It was quite tasty without it.

Vegan Calzone with Marinara Sauce

Cut Vegan Calzone with Marinara Sauce

A bite of the vegan calzone

I think you can tell that I liked this vegan calzone. It was really, really good. I definitely think I will try making this dish when I get home.


Later this evening, everyone taking the seminar and most of the presenters went over to Nancy’s, the seminar host, house. She grilled out, and there were a lot of finger foods, but here’s my main dish:

Vegan Hot Dog

Vegan Hot Dog and Side Salad

So what does a vegan hot dog taste like?

There was little resistance biting into the hot dog, unlike in a beef hot dog where the bite is actually a crunch that breaks the hot dog’s skin and sends a (yummy) spray of hot oil (grease?) into your mouth. I do like that sensation, but I didn’t mind it not being there in this case, though. The texture of the vegan hot dog was soft and a bit mushy. Unfortunately, I didn’t find there to be much flavor in the hot dog, even with the ketchup I added after I took my first bite. Next time, I would add mustard and perhaps some onions to enhance it’s taste. Or maybe I just wouldn’t eat it in the first place.

Vegetarian Experiment: Day 3

Day 3 of my week of going vegetarian has gone really well. The cafeteria here at MSU has a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan options at almost every station, and even more options at lunch and dinner. I felt fuller today.


Veggie omelet with peppers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, spinach, and cheese

Vegetable Omelet

This was all right, but not very good. I don’t blame the vegetables, though. I think it was the way they were cooked. And the egg omelet was very thin (and not too appetizing). I would have liked black beans on the omelet, but they were not available. I don’t think I’ll have an omelet again while I’m here.

Whole wheat bagel with cream cheese

Wheat Bagel with Strawberry Cream Cheese

Because the egg wasn’t very good, I decided to go get a bagel as well. It was really good.


Vegetable Lasagna, squash and zucchini saute, garlic bread, a small bite of the same veggie enchilada from yesterday, and tabbouleh, which I of course had to have again after how good it tasted yesterday.

Veggie Lunch

Other veggie options I didn’t choose included a veggie burger, a vegetable wrap on spinach tortilla, and a tofu lettuce wrap. So many options for people with special dietary needs. It makes eating vegetarian quite simple.


Israeli Couscous, Fried Chili Cabbage, Spiced Lentils, Vegetable Medley, and Naan Bread

Here is a picture of the Spiced Lentils up close.

Spiced Lentils

The lentils were my favorite of this meal. The couscous was mediocre and the cabbage was hard and overcooked. The naan bread was good. What I really wanted to eat was the chicken tandoori. It looked so good, but I bypassed it like a good girl.

Vegetarian Experiment: Day Two

In Day 2 of my adventure eating vegetarian, I ate all three meals at a cafeteria on MSU’s campus. I had no difficulty finding a variety of vegetarian and vegan options, and the food was really, really good. Not your typical cafeteria fare.


French Toast with Syrup, Eggs, a Pear, and Cran-Apple Juice

French Toast with Eggs and a Pear


Green Salad with Lots of Veggies

Salad from Salad Bar

Veggie Enchilada and Asparagus

This dish was delicious! The veggie enchilada was made out of vegetable beef. I’m not sure what that means exactly (do any of my readers know?). It had beef’s texture, but wasn’t near as greasy. I wanted to go back and get seconds (and thirds). I didn’t, but it was THAT good.

Vegetarian Enchiladas


Tabbouleh, Hummus, and Pita Bread

Tabbouleh, Hummus, and Pita Bread

The tabbouleh was AMAZING, the best I had ever had. If you have never tried tabbouleh, it’s a salad made of bulgur, tomato, parsley, onion, garlic, and lemon. It was delicious, especially with the pita bread.

Vegan Sweet and Sour Chicken with Steamed Broccoli

Sweet and Sour Vegan Chicken

I would give the sweet and sour vegan chicken a 5 out of 10. It was average. I’m still curious what “vegan chicken” is made out of.

And for dessert, Tollhouse Pie

Tollhouse Pie

The pie made me think of Phoebe Buffay and her grandmother’s famous cookie recipe. Here’s to you, Phoebe, and your grandmother’s Nesslay Tollhausen.

Vegetarian Experiment: Day One

I just finished Day One of my week-long experiment of being meat-free. It was a long day full of air travel and airport food, but I managed all right.


I didn’t have time to eat breakfast at my parents’ house before heading to the airport (it was very early in the morning), so I decided to get something at the airport. However, because of wrong turns getting to the airport and long lines everywhere at the airport, I barely found something before my plane took off.

I saw an Einstein Brothers Bagel and a Starbucks, but the lines were too long, and I would miss my flight. I finally found a small food stand called Real Food with a short line and decided to stop there. They sold yogurt and sandwiches.

Because of the design of the place, I didn’t have a chance to decide what I wanted until I got to the front of the line. At that point, I was rushed and had to choose something quickly so the people behind me wouldn’t get irritated.

The croissant sandwich with bacon, egg, and cheese looked good. That’s an option.

The sausage biscuit also looked good, but it seemed a little heavy, so I bypassed that.

I finally decided on the bagel sandwich with ham, cheese, and egg.

Ham, Egg, and Cheese Bagel Sandwich

But, no, that’s not right.

As I was paying for the Ham, Cheese, and Egg Sandwich that the lady nicely warmed up for me, I saw a sign for an “Egg and Cheese Bagel Sandwich.” That’s when I remembered that I was not going to eat meat, and I had just ordered a sandwich with meat.

Habits do not go away easily.

When I got on the airplane, I took the meat off the sandwich and ate the egg and cheese sandwich sans ham.

My bagel sandwich without meat



For lunch, I ate at Chicago O’Hare Airport. I found this place that had a lot of vegetarian and vegan options. The dish that stuck out to me first was the Pesto Chicken Sandwich, but I didn’t forget this time about my mission and order the sandwich. I don’t think a pesto sandwich would have been very filling without the meat. Instead, I ordered a Tomato Garden Vegetable Teapot, which had tomatoes, garden veggies, and baby spinach over mate-infused brown rice. It was vegan and gluten-free. I also ordered a side of Cracked Pepper Baked Lentil Chips. Both items were extremely good. And filling, too.

Baked Lentil Chips

Here’s a close-up of the Tomato Garden Vegetable Teapot.

Vegan and Gluten-Free Tomato Teapot


I went to the Opening Seminar Session and didn’t eat until afterwards (around 9:30). The only thing open was McDonald’s or Subway. I opted for Subway where I got a Veggie Sandwich on Wheat.

Veggie Sandwich from Subway

At the end of the day, I still feel hungry. I don’t know the extent that travel and eating at random hours impacted my stomach growls, but I do feel like I could eat more food. There’s just nothing around to eat.

I’ve also had a headache for about 5 hours. I hope it’s not related to the food, but I’m beginning to wonder.