September 24, 2021

Friday Favorites #5

 1. Fall. The weather turned cooler this week and it's been the shift I need. I don't know how people function in heat 11-12 months a year. Just like how I couldn't understand how people functioned in cold 11 months a year in Alaska (cold is relative just like heat is relative, I guess).

However, 90 degrees again on Monday....

2. This cashew chicken.

3. We got our coffeemaker from Amazon the other day. It's very nice. I asked for suggestions on Instagram and everyone said "Keurig" or "Nespresso". We won't buy another Keurig after our last one just up and died and we couldn't find a way for it to be fixed. Nespresso is a nice thought but probably unnecessary. We have an actual espresso pod machine so what we really just wanted was a single-serve k-cup brewer. 

I've noticed the only bell and whistle it doesn't have that some might like is a timer/automatic setting. But it takes about 30 seconds or less to heat up, so that doesn't matter to me. I only ever used that setting on a regular coffeepot. 

And unfavorites...

My windshield is supposed to be replaced today. Scott is taking it to Safelite an hour away (nothing is ever quite close in this part of Missouri) and I really hope there's not any issues. It's supposed to be done in a few hours. He called it "one of his more expensive mistakes" so he is driving it there, waiting, and driving it back. I would've lived with it much longer with just a crack, but it's been actively spreading over the last few days. 

We have to replace the roof. 

We have to fix (hopefully not replace) the dryer in our rental house in Wyoming. 

Being an adult is not quite that much fun. 

^That last one gets you, right?

September 22, 2021

Products lately...

For some reason, I decided that August was going to be the month I would focus on my hair. This ended up being a complete joke because #1 It's 90-95 degrees out on any given day and, #2 I would rather sleep or eat or browse the internet or do basically anything else in my small window of getting-ready time than focus on my hair. 

This means that 99% of days, I go to school with damp hair in a braid and try to make it look serviceable with a bit of product and a barrette before the students arrive at school. 

When I see all the other teachers with their 7am blowouts, I really wonder what else in the world that I don't understand how to do. 

When winter comes around, I will start adding heat again, but it seems like a ridiculous waste of time right now.

Also, worth mentioning: I vowed (VOWED) I would stop washing my hair every day. However, if it's 90+ degrees outside, I don't think that's an option. You literally just want to exfoliate the sweat and grossness from every part of your body in the shower and that includes hair. Sorry. Maybe this winter I'll experiment with that. 

So, I did invest in a few hair products last month and figured I'd tell you about them because I actually did a shocking amount of research to find out very little information. Might as well pass it along. 

Olaplex Shampoo and Conditioner

I bit the bullet and tried it. The lady who did my lowlights last month recommended it. Everyone recommends it. She told me she doesn't like it for her because she has thin hair and it can weigh hair down. I have thicker hair so it was supposed to be a good fit.

Well....truly, it's fine. I don't dislike it. It has a pleasant non-smell to it. Great lather. Doesn't really weigh my hair down. 

It's just 100% not worth the price. It's just not. There's no world in which that makes sense. That was my grown-up purchase for the summer (usually I buy $5-6 shampoo/conditioner) and there is nothing magical about Olaplex. Sorry. Especially if you have thin hair, according to the expert, don't bother. I'm at least glad it didn't have a negative affect on my hair. So I'll definitely use it, but just won't buy it again.

Beauty Counter Cleansing Scrub

I ended up buying this because I love it. I've used it for years and ran out a few months ago. I subbed in the La Roche cleansing scrub, in an effort to save money. I really liked that too, but it came in a shockingly small tube. Meaning, I wasn't actually saving money by avoiding BC. The BC would've been the better buy! I really have used this since, at least, 2017 and highly recommend it, even for sensitive skin. 

Deva Curl set

I can't find the exact kit I bought on the website so I'm just linking to all of the kits. I do have naturally wavy hair and, if I let it go in a certain way, it will have a curl. The travel kit with shampoo, conditioner, styling mousse, and styling cream was only $8 (originally over $30) so it seemed like a good deal and way to try out something new. I am not used to using curly hair-exclusive products so I have nothing to compare it to, but I do like it. It's not a product you would want to add heat to; I definitely only use this shampoo/conditioner if I'm air-drying my hair. 

Olaplex Iconic Styling Duo (Heat treatment/protectant)

So the salon I went to this summer was actually transferring management, so all of their products were on super sale as they tried to get rid of all of their inventory. That led me to this... the stylist used it on my hair and I liked it a lot and the Duo set was only $20. Regular price is $56. I couldn't pass it up. Especially because she said how it will last me well over a year, even if I use it almost every day. It seemed like a good deal because I don't, by nature, stockpile different products so I was almost out of the heat spray I bought two years ago. I haven't used it much on my own (see: haven't been using heat much), but I really liked it on my hair when she did it so I think it'll be a great option for this winter. 

Schwarzkopf Dry Conditioner

I do not use dry shampoo. It doesn't do it for me. If anything, I've only every used it to "dirty up" my hair before curling or styling because I wash my hair every day and it's too clean. 

But when I saw this in action, I thought it'd be worth a try. You really just spray it onto the ends after styling. It smooths and gives a bit of shape. Totally worth it if you can't wash your hair and just need to make it look more polished (in a ponytail...because if my hair isn't clean, it's going to be up for sure). 

The bottle is pretty too, but it's an aerosol so there are shipping limitations in the U.S. if you're ordering direct from the website. I had to grab it from Amazon*.

*I was told that buying shampoo/conditioner from Amazon is never a great idea. Better to buy from an actual retailer, like a salon or Sephora or Ulta or Sally's Beauty. Third-party sellers will put filler into products to save money. This isn't really possible with sealed up aerosols, so that's why I got the dry conditioner from Amazon. Just fyi. 

I'm genuinely curious: what shampoo/conditioner do you use? I feel like I've rotated through them all in the last few years. 

September 20, 2021

Is it #fall yet?

I tried to take pictures this weekend and then lost the motivation at some point. 

Wells went to his first parade. His school watched the local homecoming parade on Friday and he came home with a bunch of candy. I'm so glad he is having a NORMAL school year for his introduction to preschool. 

So, here's your friendly reminder: Arguing on Twitter is stupid and pointless but I find it really does sharpen your tactics. I follow a lot of pediatricians who believe masking is harmful to kids.  

I made cake pops on Saturday. It's actually a two-day project and I couldn't finish because all I had were the Wilton's candy melts and regular almond bark actually works so much better. I'll finish them next weekend. 

It's actually shockingly easy to make them if you put in a little time. I used to make a batch almost every weekend (circa 2012) and share them with my class. 

We have a little antenna to watch football this year and it really does work. A one-time $30 investment for like 30 channels, and that gets us the major games every week. We did this in Colorado and Kansas too. 
I was very happy to see packed stands at the Penn State game. Relieved, actually. Good for them. I would also like to issue a friendly reminder that everyone who is in favor of canceling sports or locking down or taking this away from kids and college students...has already had their childhood and young adult life experiences. It's no cost to them at all. 

(I don't even know what is on his carseat.)

There are 4 ice cream places we can go to around here. I go to the farthest one away almost always because they have the most child-friendly-sizing on the "1 scoop dish". I think it costs more too. But the customer service is so much better and, again, Wells doesn't need a vat of ice cream all at once. 

I really wanted to do "fall" this weekend but my box of decorations is in the barn and Scott was busy and this is a pumpkin I bought at Walmart last week and a candle from last month. 
Next week. 

I've been making acai smoothies lately. I had a random craving for Daily Harvest again and then realized I cannot, with clear conscience, spend $80 on pre-made mint smoothies. I found this powdered acai mix at Walmart last week and it's even better. 

Sunday, we went for a walk and did some things around the house. We watched the Steelers lose. Wells took a long nap. Scott went up in the attic on a ladder and Scout climbed up after him multiple times so I had to actually pin the dog down. 

The usual. 

September 17, 2021

Friday Favorites #4

1. This pumpkin muffin recipe. I make it multiple times a year, between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. 

2. Funny things have been in short supply on Pinterest for me lately:

3. This week is over (almost). It's a behemoth I've been dreading for a while. I had a meeting 3 days after school, Scott had to go away for part the week, and Wells had a field trip so I had to take time off to go to that (well, I wanted to, I didn't have to...Scott was supposed to take him but was tasked to go to Texas at the last minute). Then, last Saturday, Wells started complaining of an earache and was completely miserable. He was up all night and had a fever. I knew a trip to urgent care and sub plans were in my future. Luckily, he woke up Sunday as good as new. I'm confused, but I'll take it. I did end up calling and making him an appointment with his pediatrician, just to see if there was an ear infection happening. Which means I had to take two half days off this week, which means I'm clearly the school's favorite person, you know? Anywho, after a very long wait at the doctor, we were given prescriptions for allergy meds and antibiotic ear drops. No infection though, so that's nice to hear that his immune system is still going strong. (I am half-joking when I say it's because he was a formula friend swears up and down that her BM kid was sick constantly and her formula kid has never been sick with more than a cold. Food for thought.We're going on 3+ years without anything more than a cold/cough.) 

4. Seeing how well-behaved Wells actually was on his field trip was kind of a treat. 

And unfavorites...

I did not have any books to show for myself in the last month because I really haven't read a book in an entire month. That's kind of depressing, right? I have three right now. I use "reading" loosely here. I am listening to A Slow Fire Burning and it's probably the slowest, most depressing book I've read in awhile. I think Paula Hawkins may be a one-hit-wonder with The Girl on the Train. I am reading The Neighbor's Secret from BOTM, and it's okay. And I have Apples Never Fall by Liane Morarity ready to go in Audible. 

I had to go back to the lab for another blood draw because the hospital called Scott (Scott! Not me) and told him they messed up the vials from last week and couldn't use them. So I had to go back with a 3 year old. That was hard. 

I do have a nasty cough I cannot get rid of. It's more of an asthmatic cough and I have the inhaler and the medicine but ugh...

It's still in the high 80s here but I swear I can hear/smell/see fall just around the corner. Maybe the decorations will come out this weekend. 

September 13, 2021

A story about teaching

Teaching is incredibly different in 2021 than it was in 2010 when I started. Technically, I started in 2008, as a student teacher and then subbed the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years, in Pennsylvania and Alaska, respectively. 

When I got my first job in Alaska for the fall of 2010, the teacher I ended up working most closely with was a veteran teacher. She'd been teaching for over 40 years at that point and wasn't slowing down any time soon. I taught there for 3 years, and we moved away in 2013.

In February 2020, I got a phone call from another teacher friend in Alaska, saying that this teacher had passed away. I was devastated. Mostly because it was the middle of the school year and how awful and I knew how absolutely ticked she would be, knowing she'd not be going back to school. 

Secondly, I had never made it back to Alaska to see her again. 

There was a moment back in 2018 where we were thinking of going back to Anchorage for 18 months for Scott's Corps of Engineers job. I had always thought how great it would've been to take Wells up to meet her and everyone else I had worked with. We'd ended up going to Pittsburgh instead.

She and I had talked on the phone a few times a year since 2013 and shared emails.

It wasn't until I read her obituary in February of 2020 that I realized she had been born in Laramie, Wyoming. There is one hospital there. If she was born in a hospital, it was the same hospital where Wells had been born. The world isn't small enough for a coincidence that big. 

I knew her family was from southeast Alaska and they'd hopped around from Juneau to Valdez to Kenai and I knew she'd gone to college in Oregon and had hated it because it was "too hot" and got a sunburn for the very first time. I knew her first teaching job had been on the Kenai Peninsula and the giant earthquake of 1964 had literally rocked her family's world with her friends dying and her dad *almost* dying in the tsunami at Valdez. He was the only one smart enough, she said, to realize what was happening when the water went out and ran for higher ground. Everyone else on the docks was washed away. 

And, a fun fact that would be absolutely unheard of today: When she had both of her children, she took less than a week off from school. In the case of her son, she "had him on Monday and was back by Thursday". I think my jaw dropped at that. She was not a snowflake, union-protected teacher of today. She'd make Randi Weingarten cry. Our district had well over 1,000 certified staff; she was listed as the one with the most seniority. 

As February 2020 dragged into March and that slooooowly dragged into April and May, I realized that she was taken home to Jesus at exactly the right time. This was not a coincidence. Virtual school? Zoom classes? Forcing your students to wear masks all day and not touch each other on the playground? 

This was not her world. It's not really of my world either. 

I don't like everything we're doing. I don't agree with it. I don't see how it's "helping kids grow and learn". But I am a unique mix experienced enough to use what I already know and young enough to maybe stick it out. 

This teacher in Alaska always told me that if I stuck it out long enough, I'd see the cyclical nature of education...everything comes back around again. Open classrooms (1970s) turned into the flexible seating of 2018, for example. Math practices that were outdated in 2000 are coming back 20 years later. There is nothing new under the sun. 

She also told me not to quit (and I have multiple times!) because I was a good teacher. I swear this is why I keep trying to go back. Knowing she thought I was a good teacher means a lot but, I'm pretty sure, it took me the entire 2010-2011 school year to win her good graces and then she realized I was more like her (at my inexperienced 24 years of age) than I was not like her, when it really came down to it. 

So part of me feels like if I stick it out, I will see this all come to an end and school will return to the way it was intended to be. 

What makes me feel awful is that there are young teachers out there who have never known what teaching is actually supposed to be like. They think teaching is 100% "social-emotional"-based (because of the HORRIBLE mental health issues that have been created in the last 2 years), they have never been on a field trip, and they'll never be able to have regular old class parties or assemblies. None of this is changing any time soon.

While sometimes I feel very old in my field, if I didn't have my experiences to fall back on, I wouldn't be doing this right now. I worry about not only the kids who are the real victims here, but the brand-new teachers who won't have prior experiences to keep them going. 

This pic is 10 years old so the kids are unrecognizable. It's a screenshot from a movie I have saved. I just wanted to share that I used to do really fun things. This class got so into a reader's theater we did that I assigned parts and let them create a set and put it on as a play for another class and for their parents. This is would never happen today. Parents aren't even allowed in our buildings anymore.

September 10, 2021

Friday Favorites #3

I skipped last week. 

We had a lot going on. 

Still do. 

#1 This zucchini bread.

We still have a haul of frozen zucchini and one I still need to grate and freeze. I gave one of these giant squash to a friend a few weeks ago and she made multiple loaves of zucchini bread. I tried some on Saturday and it was amazing. I don't even know that I've ever loved zucchini bread before but this is the perfect recipe. She told me she just googled it and made the first recipe she found and so I did that, too, on Sunday. Highly recommend. 

#2 I like my slightly browner hair. I'll never have dark hair, but highlighting it myself in the last two years has become exhausting. These lowlights added dimension and covered up any roots that seemed to be poking through. 

#3 I'm back in the world of book orders. 

Not only does Wells bring them home, but I have my account for my class again so I'm placing an order every month or so. If you have kids bringing home flyers, I promise you it is the BEST way to get cheaper books. It's also the ultimate coupon code game: finding how many free books you can get, plus how many points you can redeem, etc. It really is like a game as a teacher if you're into bargain hunting.

And a few unfavorites:

The neighbor told me the local septic guy wanted to come pump our tank yesterday and we had to "dig it up" first. So the second Scott got home on Wednesday, he was out digging a freaking ditch in the yard. (we've been meaning to get this done for months...I knew it was necessary but holy cow did that put a crimp in the day/night)

I sent my StitchFix box to the wrong address.

I had bloodwork done the other day and the person they gave me was from the "blood donation center" which means she's, like, barely a trained phlebotomist (though, quite friendly). And after rooting around for 5 minutes, she called an actual lab person and this guy (a Specialist in uniform but who is lab-trained, not blood-bank-trained) found a vein and got the blood out in, like, seconds. It ALWAYS works this way. I don't know why they bring in these people to "help". It's not helpful. This happened every time I ever went to the Air Force Academy for blood draws in Colorado too. A 19 year old guy in an Air Force uniform covered in scrubs would take care of a blood draw in seconds...I appreciate those who are good at this job. We need more of them. 

Has this felt like the longest 4-day week ever? I think so. 

September 8, 2021

Good riddance, Summer 2021

It's past Labor Day and we can happily say good-bye to one of the harder summers I've experienced. We started with a full DITY move that began when we bought our house right before Mother's Day and ended when we returned from Pennsylvania and did a full clean-out of our Kansas rental the last weekend in June. 

There was nothing easy about it. I speak for myself, but Scott carried an even heavier burden. But for real: some of it has been ugly. 

We did some DIY in the new house and we never, I swear, even had a chance at getting actually unpacked. Scott started work in Missouri around June 28, after only having 9 days off after graduating his Kansas course. That 9 days was spent driving to and from Pennsylvania and cleaning out the house in Kansas so we could hand over the keys. 

Come July, we had furniture at least. 

We celebrated Wells' birthday and we did what we could around the place (we bought it with the intention of fixing it up, remember?) and Scott prepped to leave for 5 weeks away. 

Meanwhile, Scott's father was in hospice care and we were trying to navigate being responsible for that from multiple states away.  Scott now entirely owns his dad's house and property instead of just half of it as he did before, so there's been a lot more to it than *just* losing a parent to a long illness. I do feel like Scott has the weight of the world on his shoulders with this because he's just on his own. I never thought I'd want to live in PA again (i do not, btw), but I'd love to be in Pittsburgh *this* year because maybe we could get some of this sorted. It's really hard when *you* are responsible for something and have to live states away for your job and you work 15 hour days and vacation days aren't a thing and ...I could go on and on.

Come August, we were hit with heat wave after humidity wave after heat wave. Scott's father passed away and, really, here's the list of everything that went wrong just that week. 

Honestly, August wasn't much better. There's even more to the story that I'll get to eventually here. But my mom came out for 3 weeks and took over caring for Wells so I could take care of random tasks that I can't do with him by my side. Like going to work, 

Wells did start preschool and that was a success. 

i don't have a lot of hope for school pics

School is going well enough.

Scott is here now at this exact moment and not away on some sort of deployment (for now...this is not a given so I'm trying to just go with it.)

The weather is cooling off (eh, kinda). 

How about you? How was summer? I was, clearly, not a fan. 

Long live #fall. 

September 7, 2021

Labor Day Weekend (almost all labor)

This is exactly how I felt heading into the weekend, knowing my goal was to paint the upper cabinets:

First, Scott took them apart for me. Then he showed me how to sand them. Then it rained all day Saturday and he went to the grocery store so I didn't have to. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder said that butchering hogs was "hateful" work, but necessary. So is cabinet painting. I hate it. But I hate ugly cabinets more. A lot of people have ugly cabinets. Unless you buy a house that you designed or was built in the last 5 years, you will be doing something to cabinets, be it painting them or replacing them. 

One coat:

Two coats: 


Sunday, I sanded these ^ and started painting doors. Everything needed two coats because people always like to choose ugly wood stains for their cabinets. 

Meanwhile, Scott really wanted to take Wells to the aquarium at Bass Pro, so that's what they did. 


I did take a break to walk the dogs for a good 90 minutes. 

And then we went to a friend's house so Wells could play and swim. 

Honestly, the most relaxing part of the weekend was when I just sat in bed on Sunday night and watched the first two episodes of Clickbait because...our DSL internet has been installed (this was a 5.5 hour process on Friday afternoon) and now we can stream without fear of reprisal (our satellite data being cut off for overuse). 
Now I have to call and cancel the satellite internet and pay the $300 termination fee. 

Also, did you know that this part of Missouri just has REALLY bad internet in general? Like, good internet just doesn't exist here? I don't remember a ton of issues the last time we lived here (we had DSL through CenturyLink) but we also didn't require internet just to survive back in 2013. It was a different world. 
So I have tried every. single. avenue. toward internet service over the last few months and there is nothing. NOTHING. There is one DSL service where we live. And there is satellite. 
In town, there's more options, but they're not more reliable. 
*Apparently*, they make you teach from home on snow days here and it's nothing but problems because no one's internet works that well (according to my coworker) and you have to wonder why they bother? 

Anyway, the cabinets aren't done yet...this'll be a two-weekend project because Scott has to hang them all back up for me and we still have to putty the extra hole where there was a handle and do the touch up over that. 

Now all we need to do is replace the roof, replace the floor, replace the countertops, and add a back deck.
Maybe next weekend. 

September 1, 2021

Currently in September.

Beginning... No Spend September! I almost always go a little nuts in August. It's like my New Year, so I want everything to be new and fresh. The contingency I've already made is for a Stitchfix box this month. Other than that, I shouldn't have anything other than necessities. I already placed a Book of the Month order, so that doesn't count right? I haven't read a book in OVER a month and I've skipped the last two BOTMs because they didn't appeal to me. 

Ending.... This flipping summer. I love #fall. I got a lot of joy over changing out my classroom calendar yesterday. 

Loving... okay, this is trivial: this body wash. It is the BEST smell. The bottle is's actually an emerald color. And it is an exfoliant. I found it at Target last week. I've bought this brand many times but I've never seen this scent. Highly recommend.

Picking.... I did Walmart grocery pickup for the first time ever in Missouri and for the first time overall in like 6 months. This week has been rough when it comes to trying to get it all done, so I knew I had to do that, or there would be no groceries. I was very pleased with the customer service (they have about 30 bays here for pick-up, instead of 5-10 like other Walmarts I've used). They were out of the two things I really wanted (naan and garlic bread for dinners this week), but it was such a huge timesaver that I don't even care.

Posting... I don't even know. I post a lot of political facts and details on my Instagram stories. I've written a few posts lately for later this month. I post way too much on Twitter (mostly just replies). I post not at all on Facebook. And, with the beginning of school, I find myself in, like, multiple Remind groups. Not ideal. 

But the most important thing here that I can impart to you: do not post on Facebook. Just read the comments. It cracks me up when I get friend requests (new job, new connections, you know how that goes)...Like, Ooooookay. We can be friends, I guess. I'm not gonna post anything but enjoy that Daily Harvest coupon code I shared last year. 

Linking up with Anne in Residence!

August 30, 2021

Last weekend in August. (with emphasis)


I haven't done muddy dog pictures in awhile. 

PTL that it's the last weekend in August and that this dumb hot month is just about over. 

They're not exactly muddy. They went swimming and were covered in burrs. 

Scott took them for a swim while I drove my mom to the airport on Sunday. 
I can't lie: while we just generally enjoy having her around, she also did all of the cooking, cleaning, childcare, child-bathing, playing with the child, GROCERY SHOPPING, and dog care during the day. 

It's been like 24 hours and I am hurting already. 

(We are VERY MUCH looking forward to Pap's visit next month!)

Anyway, I went into this week wholly unprepared and I own that. It happens. 

Wells and I watched some trash TV together on Sunday evening (BIP...I told him to go play but he was interested so...)

And the furniture is all covered up because we're dabbling in drywall work again and that's just the WORST.

In other news, I got my hair done Saturday (pic to follow), have bought an EMBARRASSING number of hair/beauty products in the last few days (doesn't everything always run out at once?), got drenched by cloud bursts TWICE today, and Wells and I were both up at 4am this morning. So...

I'm about to go wrestle Daniel Tiger on the iPad away from him because it's already past his bedtime. I just feel bad because the internet wasn't working before so he had to make do with Ice Road Truckers on the live TV satellite (i'm not kidding).