Friday, December 1, 2017

7 QTs

ONE. I just finished Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, and I loved it. As Google said, "Maddy is a smart, curious, and imaginative 18-year-old who is unable to leave the protection of the hermetically-sealed environment within her house because of an illness. Olly is the boy next door who won't lett hat stop them from being together. Gazing through the windows and talking only through texts and emails, Maddy and Olly form a deep bond that leads them to risk everything to be together, even if it means losing everything." Maddy is so well-developed as she expresses her feelings as she falls in love for the first time.... but be ready for a shocker at the end.

TWO. When spaghetti squash and zoodles because all the rage, I stupidly tried them as an actual noodle substitute, like with pasta sauce. Both grossed me out, so I though I disliked it. A few months ago I decided to try again, and I found some great recipe go-tos! Like Mexican Spaghetti Squash. It's super versatile and easy to alter for whatever veggies you have on hand. I also add hamburger to mine and just use taco seasoning with a dash of red pepper flakes. (Anyone else's husband require meat in order to consider it a meal???) I also like zoodles best in stir fry

THREE. My mom got Luke an Advent calendar last year that you can fill with whatever you want and re-use (kind of like this).  This year, Scott and I decided to use it for ourselves and fill it with things we love about each other or are thankful for. All of my reasons are on green paper and his are on red, so I know which paper to grab when I open the little box in the morning. It's always nice to read little positive notes, but it was also a great reminder of how much I love about him when I had to write 25. 

FOUR. Peppermint Coffee is at ALDI. Yes, please. (Sometimes I add in a mini candy cane too!)
FIVE. I took a personal day next Friday (because I had already planned for my students to watch a documentary that day anyway), in order to finish up Christmas shopping, wrap all the presents, and bake for Christmas! It's the latest day in the semester that I could really take off (we have school through 3:30 on Friday the 22nd... ugh). Even though it's still two weeks before Christmas, all of the desserts I wanted to bake this year can be frozen. Whew. I plan on making Oreo cheesecake fudge, sugar cookies, gingersnaps and something else TBD. 

SIX. Can anyone ever have enough coffee mugs? (The answer is YES! -- but I also love them.) I wish our kitchen layout allowed us to do a display of them like the pictures below. Instead I have minimal cabinet space, so I've dwindled my mug stash down to my 4 favorites. But Target has some adorable Christmas ones right now... 

SEVEN. Once I stop procrastinating and finish a 20+page case study... I will be DONE with my two grad classes this semester. ((thank you, Jesus)). Only one class left until I graduate with my Masters! *happy dance* 

Have a great weekend!! Yay for December!!

(Check out Kelly's page for more Quick Takes)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Christmas Gift Finds

I have found some awesome Christmas presents the last few weeks and wanted to share them in case you need ideas!

1. Pink Salt Riot (thanks to Rosie's Catholic Artisan Gift Guide) has some beautiful (and reasonably priced) jewelry. I bought this necklace for a friend, one for me, and the divine mercy chaplet bracelet for my MIL.

2. Can You Find Saints? book from Amazon for my godson (who's in Kindergarten). And this one for Luke. 

3. These bath bombs that come with a hidden toy inside for Luke. 

4. Kendra's (Catholic All Year) Liturgical Living Calendar for my sister.

5. This 30 day devotional (with coloring pages inside!) for my SIL

6. These calligraphy pens + learning book (for me!)

7. This workout tank for my friend!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Just some thoughts 7QTs

(One) After taking a career interest survey in my class, a 9th grade girl saw the result: "Homemaker." She remarked, "Oh wow. That means I have no skills," and laughed.

I may have had a similar response at age 14, but nevertheless, this made me really sad. For many reasons, staying at home during the summer is much harder for me than actually teaching. Being a "homemaker" requires an abundance of skills that unfortunately, few recognize. I'm not sure what all my thoughts are about this, it just stood out to me I guess.

(Two) Stranger Things moves soooo slowly. First season was okay. Now on Season 2, episode 4, it's finally getting interesting.

(Three) I am totally jumping onto the Christmas train .... really early. Sorry, not sorry. I put all of my Halloween decor away (a whole tote, ha) in hopes of Christmas decorating this weekend! Well, everything except the tree, which will maybe wait two weeks for.

(Four) Also, thanks to Rosie's Catholic Artisan Gift Guide, I found three presents so far from Pink Salt Riot that I am SO excited to give! This for my mother-in-law, this for my best friend because she has this bible verse tattooed on her foot, and this one for me because it's the verse tattooed on my wrist! I love all of it!

(Five) I've also been contemplating becoming an Usborne consultant because I love their books, but I was SO overwhelmed with grad classes, that I knew I just wouldn't be able to do it this fall. Now I'm not sure what would be a good time to sign up... but I love their Lift-the-Flap Nativity book and the Touch and Feel one.

(Six) BOGO Starbucks Holiday drinks. Perfect Timing. Delish. I may get one every day of the special and randomly share the free one with someone... Yesterday, I surprised my daycare provider with a latte, and today it was my husband =)

(Seven) Snappy book reviews:
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green = ehhhh, okay.
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen = better than the last few of hers that I've read.
Replica by Lauren Oliver = typical page turner, told in an interesting split perspective, liked it!
Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker = interesting (the world consistently spins slower and slower....) but nothing really happens that's very exciting.

And here's a picture from my sister's wedding last weekend =)

For more QTs.... 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Well Hi There. This is Me, Procrastinating.

1. All of my UNO grad classes have been easy-- annoyingly so. They had me complaining about how much money I was wasting to learn nothing! So, when I had to take two classes this semester (when I had previously only taken one at a time), I thought it'd be a breeze. FREAKING WRONG. I'm dying over here as I sit at Scooter's gulping down my large black coffee hunkered down because it's open the latest (10pm!). I even made specific, achievable goals for every day of the week: 1.5 hours on most days, and a 3 hour chunk of work time 2 days a week. I'm still falling behind. Prayers for my sanity....

2. Scott has been great though! I've still been Jazzercising about 4x a week because I feel so much better mentally (and physically too, but surprisingly I've noticed so many mental benefits to this new consistent exercise routine)! He's been so accommodating and letting me sneak away for an hour a day + doing bedtime so I can start on homework before 9pm.

3. Luke is THREE. He loves: firetrucks, Super Wings (on Netflix), singing, books, his soft blankie, bugs, the moon, exploring, being loud, magformers + legos, and counting. He's consistently recognizing some letters (L, S, and O). Potty training is.. over? When are they officially potty trained? He's been rocking his Blaze undies for two weeks now with 3 total accidents? He's stayed dry at naps all week and just wears a pull-up at night (but wakes up dry half of the time). I actually find this stage rather challenging... if we walk to the park and play, what do we do if he has to pee??? There are no bathrooms there and takes 10-15 minutes to get home... #conundrums

4. So glad This is Us has begun again! Anyone else watch? and bawl your eyes out every episode?

5. My sister's wedding is in two weeks. Scott and I are singing two songs... that we haven't picked out or practiced yet. Yikes. I've just been so busy with grad classes and ALL THE GRADING. It's time consuming to grade 225 essays in a month... (Why I scheduled two essay that close together, I have no idea.)

6. I'm looking forward to Halloween! Luke will be a firefighter and Norah is an ice cream cone.

7. I've made this once a week for the last month. If you like brussell sprouts or butternut squash, check it out!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Oh hey!

1. More flavorful than LaCroix in my opinion and a little bit cheaper.

2. Loved this book! I felt it accurately portrayed many parts of my own high school experience-- or at least the quest for identity, individuality, dealing with other people's expectations, etc. In the last few weeks I've also read:  Far Far Away by Tom McNeal (ehhhhhh), Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (same author that wrote Girl on the Train. I really liked this one too!), Variant by Robison Wells (good YA sci-fi/mystery).

3. I am almost finished with Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It is equal parts shocking, fascinating, horrifying and heart-breaking. Seriously, go read it now!! Stevenson is a defense lawyer who helped death row inmates starting in the early 80s in the South. The book is half memoir as he retells some of the prominent cases he worked, and half his take on the judicial system, poverty, and race in the South. I am learning so much I wasn't aware of; I am continuously amazed at how racist and corrupt the judges and police were in the South... in the 90s! I have also started researching some of the cases he describes to learn even more.

4. Norah just had her 15 mo well-check (a month late) and is 93% for weight, 25% for height, and 79% for head. She actually jumped from the 10th percentile for height which is where she had been so far in her life! She is rocking 2T clothing, size 5 diapers, has an adorable little top ponytail, a bajillion teeth, and the squishiest thighs. She is sweet and sassy and started talking over night! She can say mama, uuke (Luke), bum bum (for Little Baby Bum which she watches on Netflix), more, please, cheese, dah (dog), and thank you. Plus she knows like 8 animal sounds and all of her body parts. Currently, she loves to throw "trash" away--- so I sometimes discover things in there that don't belong (like hand towels, baby wipes, and legos). 

5. Luke is a crazy man. We're still lazily potty-training; he always poops in the potty (hasn't pooped in his pull-up in over a month), but he still pees in his pull-ups often. He drinks like 10+ cups of liquid a day, so he has to pee all the time and I just don't remind him enough. He is super excited to get "big boy" underwear for his 3rd birthday in a few weeks, so maybe that will finally help him with this final step! He talks non-stop, loves "pop fireworks," bugs, chocolate milk, and "Little Baby Bum" on Netflix. 

6. I'm taking two grad classes for the first and only time at UNO and OF COURSE they are the two hardest classes I've had to take. Ugh. Trying to cram in 100+ page of reading each week, plus 8 weeks of tutoring an elementary kid, weekly 1 page papers, multiple larger papers, and 1 big case study project... Yikes. 

7. FALL IS HERE! Which means HUSKER FOOTBALL! (And eventually boots, scarves, and hot coffee. But not this week. Because it was like 96 yesterday...)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Stopping By with Random Happenings

A non-insured driver rear-ended me the first week of August and totaled out my Civic. Thankfully I had insurance (even though now my rates will go up, we had to pay our $500 deductible, it was a freakin hassle to get a new car RIGHT as I was starting school, and we now have an additional car payment...). But we're all safe. We upgraded to a 2012 Nissan Rogue which actually has room for our double stroller or other larger objects, so it's all good. (We had a fantastic experience at CarMax, btw.)

I'm listening to Home Front by Kristin Hannah and I hate it, but I don't have another audio book at the moment so I'm sludging through it. The Girl Before, however, was good! I'd recommend that one.

Over the summer I developed a really bad habit of buying some unnecessary treat every day (fountain pops, iced coffee, an ice cream cone, etc.) and now every day when I leave school I want to get something... but our budget really can't afford that right now with the additional car payment and paying for daycare again. Ugh. Self control is hard!

We're almost done watching Atypical on Netflix. The main character is a high school boy with autism, and he acts just like so many of my students with autism. It's so funny, but the mom is annoying as can be. I can't stand the actress-- so if you can get past her, the rest is good.

I read this great blog post which contains many children's books that deal with race and diversity. With my growing realization that racism is still an obvious issue in our country and the world, I've been wondering how to introduce this idea to a toddler. Lots of great books here (and I found almost all of them at the Omaha Libraries!)

I provide my students with personalized book recommendations each year, which causes my to-read list to expand as I discover new books! So if you like young adult literature, these books look great! These are now on my list:

I am counting down the days until college football season... GBR!
Luke is still hilarious and still obsessed with fireworks... and actually doing well at potty-training.
Norah is 15 months and still doesn't talk except for "quack" and "moo" and "woof"...
And I have managed 4-5/week Jazzercise classes both weeks I've been back at work! #success

Have a great weekend =)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Body Image

I lead a REbeL chapter at my school, which is a club that helps high schoolers "change society's definition of beauty" because "every body is beautiful." At our weekly meetings we discuss the way media thinks we should look, societal trends, eating disorders, mindful eating, healthy exercise, self-esteem, etc. And even though I'm hopefully helping students become more accepting of their bodies, I quickly realized I was in a weird relationship with my own.

So, this past year I've been reflecting on how I approach eating, working out, body image, self-esteem, etc. with more mindfulness than before in hopes of figuring out just what does and doesn't work for me.

and what have I learned?

I need only to listen to my own body. 

I will gobble up desserts all day long (cookies, brownies, ice cream, yum!), but otherwise I eat a balanced variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Instead of eating based on outside cues (time of day, seeing a delicious free food, the amount on my plate), I've focused on listening to my body: eating when I am actually hungry and stopping when I am feeling full. That's it. I eat anything that sounds good, but surprisingly, sometimes a salad IS what I want. And other times it's more mac 'n cheese. I finally have stopped feeling guilt and shame over eating a "bad" food or eating "too much." And IT FEELS AWESOME!

Following "fitness" Instagram accounts, Beachbody and Shakeology advocates, ItWorks! consultants, etc. really stressed me out. I tried the Beachbody thing last summer and the accountability did bring me results (-12lbs or so), but it is not good for my mind. None of that stuff is. It's really easy for me to become mentally obsessed which quickly leads to shame, guilt, and defeat when I eat the DQ Blizzard or "skip" a workout. I HATE so many of the mantras too. If my body is tired, I don't care if I should "Never Miss a Monday!", I'm going to rest. I don't want to "Rise and Grind" because working out shouldn't be a grind. Working out in any form should be something I enjoy doing because it makes me feel healthy, energized, and strong.

I've been doing Jazzercise 5-6x a week since May because it's fun. And challenging. And it's a weird community where everyone knows each other, accepts everyone else's different fitness levels, and is just there to have fun and sweat together. Even though the classes are hard, it's become one of my favorite parts of the day because I love how my body feels when it's working hard, jamming to the music. THAT is what "working out" should be about, a celebration of our bodies and the awesome things they let us do!

Have I lost weight? Not much. About 5lbs in over 2 months.

But I feel so much stronger, confident, and accepting of my body. And I haven't felt like that in... years.

I need only listen to my own body,
I workout because I love my body, not because I hate it.