February 23, 2017

State of Confusion (S&T 2/23)


It's late February and I'm not ready for spring. I would rather it be winter for another few months and...well, I'm kind of wishing we could move back to Alaska. I mean, give me a few weeks of summer and a solid fall and then it can be winter again. I figure I made this transition into someone who hates heat when I realized I didn't love the never-ending Colorado summers.

Also, this pseudo-springtime, that starts in January in Colorado and then kind of bobbles back and forth until June, just messes me up. Days go from 20 degrees to 60 degrees and back to 20 degrees in one week. It's unsettling in general. I will forget what month it is very easily.

Along with that, this spring marks three years since we moved to Colorado. We bought the house in April of 2014, Scott moved here with all of our stuff in May, and I got here on June 7th. The next day we started gutting this house and re-doing it.

We lived in a remodel before, according to blogland, living in a remodel was trendy.

It's not for the faint of heart.

Back to the point of the post:  Ever since we've been here, a whopping 3 full years, Scott has deployed in February.  In 2015, he left on February 13th for 5-6 months in Europe. In 2016, he left on February 28th for nine months in Afghanistan. That has been, obviously, enough to color my opinion of this month. It's always about rushing, and finishing, and packing, and tying up loose ends. It. has. been. exhausting. 

So when I realized that it was February and he wasn't deploying (um, that we know of), it was an interesting feeling. He's never been here for spring. Maybe I won't be spending my spring break sitting alone, listening to the wind howl, and grading papers. It doesn't matter if I'm prepared for summer...because I won't be doing plumbing for the evaporative cooler via Skype this year. He'll get to set up the garden he's wanted since we moved here. I'LL not feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders when it comes to tumbleweed-control. I won't have to shoot every snake I come into contact with because he can do it. Although, after last year, I might want to do it anyway.

While we still don't have a solid plan for next year (and it's slightly all-encompassing in an anxious kind of way), the fact that this is the first year since 2014 that he's not picking up and leaving [me with a list of instructions] during the month of February is not going unnoticed.
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February 20, 2017

At least it's almost Tuesday.

Some motivation as a new week begins.


Friday evening began with drowning my sorrows in Panda Express. It had been a rough week. 

Saturday, we went furniture shopping, to the grocery store, checked the barracks, and I sat in Scott's office while he did some paperwork. We also had pho. 

Stopping to take pictures of ducks. 

New sectional arriving next week. 

Pho at 11am.


Got this email on Saturday morning too. At least one out of two applications went through. 
He's such a fancy dog. ...Is "fancy" the word for it?

On Saturday night, we went to a Colorado College hockey game. 


Sunday was just staying home. And Scott got this text message:

I really wanted to send that reply. But I didn't. 

Then we watched four episodes of The People vs. OJ Simpson because Netflix is the best thing ever. I wanted to watch this last spring but got behind and I never tune into FX.

Monday, my personal blessing from the Lord disguised as a day off, led to fishing and paperwork. 



Currently reading The Highly Sensitive Person (I definitely didn't fish)

Dunkin Donuts isn't nearby, so I was happy for the opportunity.

And now. Monday Tuesday.


Linking up with Biana!

February 17, 2017

Four Favorites

1. This podcast is enlightening and, while I usually like to destress after a long day, it makes me feel better about myself. I feel like I'm learning in just 20 minutes. I listened to four episodes on Wednesday.


2.



3. I finished In the Woods this week. It took me forever to get through this book. I really liked it. I just never made time to read it. More recommendations in this month's Show Us Your Books.








4.  It's a three-day weekend.


February 16, 2017

Confessions (S&T 2/16)


Stuff, Things, etc.

Every clock in this house says a different time. It's confusing. And stressful.

Scott had an event after work one day and I went home to do laundry and get a head start on cleaning instead. I was invited but it was kind of an "if you want to" thing. I wanted to spend my night doing laundry instead.

I can barely stay awake past 8:30pm these days. Is that a winter thing? Or just an overwhelmed thing?

I don't answer text messages. Sigh. And I often let my phone die on the weekends. Sigh.

This is my stash of pens. This is just my desk and my tote bag.


This is at work. They used to be more organized (by size, color, type, etc) but I've started letting students grade work for me, and have granted them access to my pens/markers. It's a fair trade-off. 



I finally mailed Jett's registration paperwork. His third birthday is next month. Chances I probably filled something out wrong and they send it back? Likely high. 


I bought Scott this hat for Valentine's Day.


This isn't so much a confession; just more of a I know what he'll want and it's easy to buy. There's no aspirational thinking when it comes to Valentine gifts. I don't want jewelry. I want a new chair for the living room. We're going to look this weekend. Fingers crossed.

However, Scott sent me a picture of one of our stock portfolios and had labeled it "Kristin Valentine". To show how his day-trading is paying off dividends (literally).

Did you celebrate V-Day? Do you have a secret stash of pens no one is allowed to use/touch? Have you watched the Earl Dibbles Jr. videos? (So many questions)





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February 14, 2017

January Books 2017

I thought about numbering my books this year, because I do have a goal. There's nothing like going back through and counting every single book you've read in every single monthly book post to make you question your decisions. However, that might be to my detriment; it will make me push harder to get through more books and I don't need that stress. So, no numbering.

This is my favorite cover of the recent past.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys A+
This is everything that YA historical fiction should be. I loved it. I can't believe more people aren't talking about it. There was a lot of buzz about Salt to the Sea by the same author in the last few book link-ups, but this book was so good and it was about history without (gasp) being about WWII. (Does such a thing exist? Yes, it does. Historical fiction does not always equal WWII.)

The first line will pull you in, and the first few pages had me reading for at least an hour when I hadn't planned to sit down and read.

Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson B+
More YA. This is the third book in the Seeds of America trilogy. I really have been waiting for it since 2011, when I read Chains and Forge. I haven't re-read them though so I can't remember what was my favorite. I do know I devoured them. Ashes was good too. Not as good, but a satisfying ending that coincided with the end of the Revolution.
Really, I would just recommend anything written by Anderson. She's one of my very favorites.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
This is a middle-grade book, so I won't rate it. I picked it up because DiCamillo has quite a few medals under her belt and I thought it might be a good read-aloud for school. I wasn't entirely impressed. I saw value in it, but I think I interpreted it as an adult would and got the nuances and hidden meanings and overall nonliteralness of it that way. A ten-year-old isn't going to get that, in my opinion...which is why kids generally don't pick up potential medal winners of their own accord. Kids pick up Captain Underpants.
Anyway, Raymie seemed to have a lot of out-of-body experiences to which I was thinking What is she on?. And there's an odd cast of characters. I'll put it on my shelf at school, but I won't push it.

Family Jewels: A Rose Gardner Mystery by Denise Grover Swank B
I'm going to start a drinking game and the rule will be that every time the text says "Fenton County criminal underworld", you take a shot.
If you haven't read these books, you won't get it. If you have read the books, you're probably thinking about how drunk you'll be soon. Also, you should read these books.
This wasn't the best of the books, but it was nice to read another installment.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett B+ for writing/ C- for story
This has come recommended from different sources. I grabbed the audio this month and I will say that the story is extremely well-crafted and put together. Like, I know Bennett is young, but she either has training as an editor or she has a fabulous one. The writing was visually and audibly pleasing. Go for it on that alone.
I will also say that I didn't like the story. It was oddly predictable and not that different than a typical love triangle or coming of age tale (for all the buzz it's gotten, I think I was expecting brilliance). It left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't like the characters. With 56 minutes left, I almost quit and then thought it was only 56 minutes so I might as well. The whole thing was just tinged with regret and wholly depressing and maybe that's what she was going for. But I basically hated everyone and I don't think I was supposed to. You know how sometimes an author writes unlikeable characters on purpose? I don't think this was that.

What She Knew by Gilly McMacMillan B-
This was a good book. I wasn't overly impressed and I wasn't underwhelmed. It was a mystery and I didn't really find myself able to predict too much, so that was good. If you're looking for a comparison, it's like The Girl on the Train meets I Let You Go meets In the Woods.
I will say that my true concern, like with I Let You Go, was with the dog.


Linking up with Jana and Steph!

February 13, 2017

Mid-February Weekend

My weekend began at 11am on Friday when I left work early with some kind of stomach bug. It hit early Friday morning, but I had to write sub plans and put all my contingency systems into place. It took an enormous amount of energy.


It was also 75+ degrees outside. The only good thing was that I was able to get my grocery shopping done on Friday, instead of it taking up weekend time.

Saturday, we finished Santa Clarita Diet. It only has two stars on Netflix and Drew Barrymore is, decidedly, the worst thing about it (she needs a haircut). But it was hilarious. Wtf-hilarious in many ways, but still funny. I'd give it a go.


Then we started No Tomorrow and I can't recommend this enough. It caught my eye because it had 5 stars, which isn't common. We watched 9 of 13 episodes on Saturday. I'm not hopeful for a second season, but that'd be lovely if there was one.

The dogs bird-watched.

Scott is plotting out our gardens and building some raised beds, so I helped him with that a bit. Good thing we have all this farm-like equipment. Actually, it means I don't have to haul and pour bags of soil, so it is a good thing.



Mid-February in Colorado is always like this: warm, windy, and sunny. I'm not sure how I feel about it. It makes me want a pedicure.

Sunday, I had a haircut scheduled, so I did that and then stopped at a few friends' houses to drop things off.

I will never understand the art of mirror selfies. Also, this dimly-lit bathroom at the salon is my favorite. 


And this because it's Monday and it made me LOL.



Linking up with Biana!

February 10, 2017

3 Friday Favorites

Rose Pricks. If you watch The Bachelor, this is an entertaining podcast. It's a different perspective than Here to Make Friends and I love listening to them both and comparing what they have to say (I'm a pretty simple person, really).


(I know I've posted this on Instagram, but can't remember if I mentioned it here.)


Vet Ranch. Scott introduced me to this Youtube channel the other night. These two vets work by donation only, and they go into shelters, picking up sick/injured animals who are often about to be euthanized. THEY MAKE THEM BETTER and they adopt them out. They also take in injured strays, THEY MAKE THEM BETTER, and they adopt them out. They're so well-known that it's a crazy long line to get one of their animals. Watching the videos, I kept telling Scott "send them some money" because this is a cause I can 110% get behind. The videos are sad to watch at first, but then, as Scott said, THEY MAKE THEM BETTER. Proceed with caution: You will cry happy tears.

I'm hopping back on the Stitchfix train. I haven't gotten anything from them since the end of October/beginning of November. And I actually wear my Stitchfix clothes more often than I wear anything else. I also haven't bought new clothes of any kind since Thanksgiving break. I got a few shirts in a Black Friday J.Crew Factory sale. While it's almost kind of fun to see how long I can go, I need something a little new to add to the rotation. There ain't no way I'm going to spend time buying things online from Old Navy or Gap just to have it fall apart after one wash (I legitimately think I'm done with these brands), and browsing I do not do.
Anyway. Looking forward to my Stitchfix box next week.
(I'll not be shady and tell you those are referral links to Stitchfix...but not to the other websites.)

Blogging and typing has been a bit slow-going this week. I feel like I over-used my right hand and did some hard labor/heavy cleaning last weekend so I aggravated this slight sprain I seem to have acquired a few months ago. I'm on a cycle of heat/ice, heat/ice. It gets better when I take care of it, but being at work obviously makes it worse. 
This is why, if you've commented, I've likely not gotten around to answering it. I just wanted to put this up, because leaving you with a depressing post about the state of our nation's educational system makes for a depressing weekend. 

Today it's 70 degrees and Sunday we're getting a snowstorm. My thoughts on weather in Colorado are a whole other blog post.

February 9, 2017

Education Issues (S&T 2/9)

This was supposed to be a random confessions post today but ideas started popping into my head earlier this week and I figured I'd go on record. The too-long; didn't read version is: Just because you don't like what the current President is doing, don't think education is really an issue in this battle. It's been a problem for awhile and this is the first anyone is actually talking about it. 

I find it interesting that no one minded who the Secretary of Education was until a unpopular President handpicked someone for the job. Don't get me wrong: she is completely unqualified; the villain in the general overview of what our country is doing/could be doing with public education.
I haven't looked into her that much because, not only is it disheartening, it doesn't really matter. I know this is equivalent to sticking one's head in the sand, but who the Secretary of Education is isn't actually the point. The point is that our nation's educational system has been in a downward spiral for awhile.

I'm on the front lines. It's terrifying out here. Every state uses different measures of success. Every district uses different curriculum (because selling curriculum to schools is a business, plain and simple). And every school requires different criteria from its students. Plus, the current culture affects our educational system more than the label "Secretary of Education" ever could.

Truthfully, I don't fear DeVos. I don't like her, but I'm not afraid of what she will do (which will likely be nothing because I don't think she or the President really care about education).

I fear what will happen if the above-linked culture continues to run our schools. Things are already bad when it comes to testing, accountability on the schools' parts, etc. NO ONE takes poverty into account when it comes to ranking schools or rating teachers. Poverty is the root of the problem in our schools and until we solve poverty, schools will be in trouble. Poverty affects test scores, it affects how kids learn, and it affects what kind of money schools receive from the state. Each state has a different system for giving money to schools, so all states are NOT created equal. When I get students from out of state (in any state I've worked in, really), I never know where they're going to be. Parents often see the differences in schools right away.

Obama's administration actually did a lot of harm to the public school system, as teachers see it. The bar is not set high, and we're in trouble as a country. It's easy to blame any future implementation on an unqualified Secretary of Education, but things are already bad.

A former professor of mine posted this:



And for me to speak my peace/piece...For the record: 

  • I do not believe in charter schools. Many are for-profit. If a district opens a charter school, that school funnels money from the public schools and can use it for whatever they want. There is not an accountability system. Charter schools operate within the district, but don't have to follow the rules of the district when it comes to money and testing. Most public school districts already offer school choice: as in, you can pick any school in the district to attend.
  • I am a proponent of private education if you can afford to pay for it. I don't believe it's any better or worse than public schools. 
  • I am a product of public schools, have only ever taught in public schools, and I believe in the system. I do believe that, out of the four states I've taught in, Alaska has it the most together. District-specific, though, the one I worked for in Missouri impressed me the most. 


And, in the end, I'm glad I have the ability and confidence to homeschool any future children we may have. Because I totally would. That's how confident I am in general about the current educational landscape in America. DeVos has very little to do with that.

And if you're here for Stuff and Things....

Stuff, Things, etc.

February 7, 2017

My Least Favorite Comment

Last fall, I wrote about my least favorite questions. Now, I'm explaining my least favorite comment.

I could never do that. 

I hear it in two instances.

#1 In regards to teaching.

The conversation looks like this:

Them: What do you do? 

Me: (cringe...as this is a question I try not to ask) I'm a teacher.

Them: Oh, what grade?

Me: 4th. 

Them: So they're like how old?

Me: 9 usually.

Them: Fun! And you teach all the things?

Me: Yeah, they're with me all day.

Them: Oh man. I could never do that.

Well, true. Because anyone who wants to do it, can do it and, if you wanted to be a teacher, you would be a teacher already.

Side note: it blows my mind that people don't actually remember elementary school, but truthfully I remember it all so well because I've never actually left school. It's all I know.

So in that case I could never do that is perfectly okay. If someone tells me they're a nurse or anything related to the medical field, I would say I could never do that because I hate needles and blood and all. I met a phlebotomist the other day...I can't even think about that job.

#2 In regards to the military and deployment.

Them: He's deployed?

Me: Yes.

Them: I could never do that.

Well, yes. You could. You just haven't had to.

I've also gotten...

Them: I don't know how you move around so much. I could never do that. 

Well, yes. You could. You just haven't had to.

This is a case of I can't do that...yet. If you had to, you could and you would. I did not come into this marriage almost 8 years ago believing we'd be through deployment #4 right now. I didn't plan that and I didn't want that. I wasn't built for that. It slowly came to me, week after week and month after month. I don't enjoy it but I adapted and now I can barely remember the days of crying and saying I can't do this and hyperventilating and having panic attacks and all that good stuff almost every day. Happens much less often now. I still feel all of that, but I've adapted in a way that makes me a functional human being at the same time.

My friend has a toddler, a baby, and a full-time teaching job. I've often told her that if Scott were gone and I had a kid to take care of and get to daycare in the morning and two dogs and a job that I didn't think I'd be able to do it. That I'd have to quit the job because I'd never get out the door on time in the morning (that is questionable, even now) and life would just all become too much. And she told me Yeah you would. You'd do it. You would figure it out. 

That's the whole point here. When you assume you can't do something or you assume you can't do what someone else is doing, you're assuming wrong. YOU CAN DO IT. You just can't do it yet. Or you just haven't HAD to do it (yet).


February 6, 2017

Mondays.

As in, "a case of".



This article motivated me and it made me sad. Because there are parents out there like this but they don't get the attention they deserve because they are overshadowed by the other type of parents. The helicopters who plow the way for their child, instead of teaching their child the most basic of coping and communication skills.

If everyone raised their children to be independent, thinking humans (and not just extensions of themselves), to have grace, and understanding, and empathy. IF everyone did that, our world would be such a better place.

Anyway. If you need to be motivated, read that article.

Onto the weekend...

Saturday, we ran errands together in the morning...tire place, breakfast, Target, grocery store. Saturday evening we had a get-together for Scott's battalion on base. Got home way too late but it was a good time. Scott is an engineer but this infantry battalion is a great place to be. This is the first time I've had army friends in years. Change of commands is coming soon so things will shake up a bit, but I'm satisfied with this last year's experience. The first two years in Colorado were really rough, army-wise. We couldn't make a friend to save our lives.

Sunday, we had people over for the Superbowl but that was really just an excuse to get together. No one here likes the Patriots and my bitterness didn't come through at all. Really.


Linking up with Biana!