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.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


Our home was in need of a major face lift this summer! We were so thankful to find a teacher at our church who does handy man stuff in the summer because he was AWESOME and affordable and truly such a blessing.

He (and some high school boys!) replaced a bunch of rotten siding, added trim boards, brick molding on every window, painted the whole house, and did a bunch of little things for us like fixing some stuff around the fire place vent and filling cracks in the patio cement. It took him over 2 weeks!

We also had 2 windows installed through Lowe's. (Not a great experience...)

We LOVE what our home looks like now though. It feels so great to be DONE.

Top: final product
Bottom: old 

See the rotten yuckiness?

New siding, all prepped for paint (it was warped and rotten under that window...)
In progress ... 

Final product with new windows, paint, and new gray front door too.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Quick Summer Reading Recap!

I'm already like 5? weeks into summer! So sad. I don't get to read as much during the school year, but I've knocked out a few so far. I always am listening to an audio book in the car, reading a fiction book (which I usually read really quickly) and a non-fiction book (which usually takes me forever). 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2017)

Summary: Starr, a 16 year old, lives in the "ghetto" of Chicago and is with her friend when they get pulled over and he is wrongfully shot. The book explores how Starr reacts, conflicting feelings about race (she attends a 99% all white private school in the suburbs which adds an interesting layer to the story), her boyfriend, gangs, changing family dynamics, etc.
My take: Interesting story with a valuable perspective to such a hot-button topic in society today, but it has WAY too much language for me to feel comfortable recommending it to a 9th grader. (I'd say 11th grade+).

Girls on the Edge by Leonard Sax (2010) -- per Hannah's rec

Summary: Sax shares the four issues plaguing girls in today's society: sexual identity, the "cyberbubble," obsessions, and environmental toxins. He uses a mixture of real stories from patients he's had over the years and backs his qualitative observations up with studies and quantitative data.
My take: Such a great read! I couldn't stop talking to other people about random little facts and insights he shared about girls in today's culture. If you have a daughter or work with teens (or younger) girls, I would highly recommend this book!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (2011)

Summary: Wade Watts is a teenager living in 2044 world that is much different than today's. Most people "live" in the OASIS, a virtual reality video game that is much better than his real life. The billionaire that created the game dies, but leaves behind an "easter egg" with a series of clues and whoever finds it first--- will inherit those billions of dollars. Wade Watts gets close, but then the evil corporation steps in and things get messy.
My take: There are a LOT of 80s and video game references that was interesting, but could feel long and dragged out if you're not into that. Trying to figure out who to trust and what would happen in the end kept me engaged, plus I found his explanations about life in 2044 to be fascinating.

Also read:
Here's to Us by Elin Hilderbrand (typical beach chick lit read)
Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand (yep, typical beach chick lit read)
A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller (mystery/thriller... didn't love it)

Currently reading:
A Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (audio)
Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon (non-fiction)
Ghost by Jason Reynolds (fiction)

Tried to read but gave up:
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda (I listened to this... and all but the last two CDs, but then I just lost interest)
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (2nd time trying this... just nope.)
The Woman in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck (just couldn't get into it since it's historical fiction...)
We are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (This author Skyped my YA Lit grad class, but masturbating was mentioned like once every other page for the first 5 chapters, so I bailed because I wouldn't recommend it to my students.)

What are YOU reading???

Monday, June 19, 2017

New Deck!

Condition of old deck: peeling paint, rotting boards, yuck

The stairs didn't actually touch the ground on the right-hand side.... 
See giant bird nest that darn bird built 2x, so I just stopped knocking it down.

After 2 workers worked an 13 hour day, we have a new deck! Yay! I even requested a gate so Luke can play on his water table outside alone for a little bit and I don't have to check every two seconds that he hasn't run into the yard and to the front. 

Luke was so entertained!

We still have to decide on a stain, but SO MUCH better =)  Let's just say the guy made more today than I make in an entire month, so apparently I went into the wrong business. But, I have NO IDEA how to build a deck, nor do I want to, so I am just glad it's the first project -mostly- done!

Looking for new cushions for those chairs... any suggestions where to look?

Love the gate!!

Unfortunately, the deck people didn't really clean anything up, so there's dirt and saw dust everywhere, the landscaping stones are scattered around, and they didn't move any of the furniture or grill back up there.... and we need to sand a few places down that are ridiculously sharp and splintery, but it was "cheap" as far as decks are concerned, so I guess we get what we pay for in that regard.

Aaaand some progress pictures on the rest of our house =)

New trim boards and siding, caulked and ready for paint
Some rough paint job for now... it's dark gray and will have white trim.