October 16, 2017

Motivational Monday (is back)

I thought about writing out a laundry list of what we did over the weekend and what we tried to accomplish, did not accomplish, and had to re-evaluate what we were trying to do. These last few months have been nothing if not a lesson in adversity. So, no recap because that would just be depressing. Also, this week is looking to be a logistical nightmare. Therefore, let's bring back some Motivational Monday. Because really now...it's Monday, I barely slept, and we have a lot to do this week.

(I told Scott that they're going to start putting a picture of him next to the dictionary definition of adversity.)

Some good things: I didn't have any schoolwork to do this weekend because I worked so hard at accomplishing everything this past week or two. Penn State is #3 in the rankings. The Steelers won. The Broncos lost. It's going to be warm all week which means the (still) broken furnace isn't a huge deal for this moment in time.

Happy Monday and all. Here's to checking a few things off the to-do list each day!

October 13, 2017

Lowlights and Highlights

Funny story....I was going to write a goals post to recap September and set up October and then I realized October was half over and just oh well. I don't have a goal or goals really. I can make things up but that'd make more work for me. I make enough work for myself.

Then, I was going to list out a bunch of things I don't like, but then I watched the wildfire coverage in California and was like okay, never mind. I know too well how you can fear fire, so I don't want to wave my pitiful complaints around.

So here's a list of things from the week. Highlights and lowlights. Mostly lowlights because that's how it's been rolling lately.

1. The furnace broke Monday. I was so looking forward to the cooler weather and the sudden cold snap this week hit...just in time for the furnace to stop working. I cannot even with this. Scott's advice (other than "call your dad" because my dad does HVAC but he lives far away so that's not helpful) was "Wait until Saturday or call someone". Well, calling someone would be a service call charge, they'd have to order parts, and then they'd have to come back to fix it. Scott can order the parts online and fix it (fingers crossed) this weekend. My dad would also tell me to call someone, I'm sure, but none of that solves the immediate problem of the house being 60 degrees. So I decided to wait it out. And plug in the electric heater. I don't want to see this electric bill this month.

2. The pipes leading into the hot water heater are leaking and making a weird sound. Scott said I "should be fine" until he gets home this weekend.

3. We're still juggling vehicles left and right. Maybe after the furnace and the pipes are fixed (let's all pray on this), Scott can move onto that.

4. I am swamped at work. Scott is swamped with school. He sends me pictures of homework problems. I send him pictures of things kids make for me. These pictures are the highlights of my days.

Karen. Karen. 

5. We said good-bye to another army family this week, as they were PCSing. Technically, we "left" before they did but they're moving across the country. Scott's 1st Sgt. from 19 months of command dropped off his plaque before they headed out.

It reminded me of, back in Alaska, how I used to build plaques when Scott was an XO. Every officer who leaves gets a plaque. They take hours and hours to make. The flag is the original guidon that hung from their base in Afghanistan. When the company is working, the flag is out. When they come back or go home, they take the flag down. It's a big deal but I didn't know much about it until he was in command.

6. I wanted to go to a Steelers game while we're home next week but I cannot pay $400 for two tickets (see all the above-mentioned repairs). Like, I could because that's obviously what credit cards are for... But I won't. Maybe we'll watch it at a bar in Pittsburgh instead because that's where we'll be (in Pittsburgh, not hanging out in bars.. but maybe...)

7. A highlight is that the #GreatPumpkinSwap is underway! Packages should be going out within the next two weeks.

So, these were mostly lowlights but it is what it is. I think I'll highlight my hair this weekend...

October 12, 2017

Confessions 10/12

I shared a joint confession between Scott and me on Instagram the other day.

We ran out of dog food on Sunday, mostly because I forgot to take the dog food we had up to Laramie. 

Here's some more:

I won't stop at the mailboxes for our neighborhood if there is anyone else there. No need to be social. Scott will ask if I stopped for the mail (he lost his own key yearsssss ago) and I'll say no, there were people there and that'll be the end of the conversation. He lost his own key; what can he possibly respond with?

I don't like movies. I will almost never watch a movie more than once, unless it's a Christmas movie. I'll go to the movies once in awhile because Scott likes going but otherwise I can't be bothered.

I don't love music. I have no Spotify. I have a few stations on Pandora that I listen to but usually just while driving.  And I have them whittled down to the exact songs I like. I, as a rule, don't listen to music.

I did a lot of reading about enneagram types last week. I took some free quiz (probably not the same quality of the paid-for quizzes) and discovered I'm a type 3. I don't think that's great. Also, I did the Harry Potter sorting hats quiz last year because my pre-student teacher was really into HP and we talked about the hats (I've still never read the books)...I'm a Slytherin.

My crest, apparently.

I put off buying the plane tickets until 2 weeks before we were planning on going away to the east coast. We leave next week and we bought the tickets last week. We've known about this wedding for over a year. Couldn't buy tickets a year ago, because we didn't know what state we'd be living in come October 2017. It could've been anywhere in the world back at that point. Couldn't buy tickets 6 months ago because Scott was gearing up for an emergency deployment and we didn't know if he'd even be back in Colorado. We couldn't buy tickets 2 months ago because he didn't know his class schedule. 
Finally, after he bought the tickets, he said "I was really hoping you were just going to take care of it". I hate looking for plane tickets so much. I never would've taken care of it. 

And, lastly, I was chosen for a random vehicle search on my way onto the base yesterday. The confession part is that I moved as slowly as humanly possible while I opened up all the things, struggling a bit with the giant truck hood, pulling the "weak arms" card, and generally just took my time. Might as well hold up the line if they insist on doing this nonsense. They're not gonna move faster with the paperwork end if I move faster with the opening up of things. 

As a side note: If you've NOT talked to your Pumpkin Swap partner yet, let me know!

October 10, 2017

September Books 2017

The theme lately is nonfiction. 
When I feel stress or pressure or like something is unknown, I read nonfiction. It's really hard to rate non-fiction. I liked all of these books equally. I also absolutely took my time with them so some I began over the summer and just finished in September. 

When God Says Wait by Elizabeth Laing
This book is one I bought via Kindle in June, started it in July, and it took me a couple of months to finish it. It's kind of heavy and I needed to absorb as I went. I also more or less cried my way through it and you can't do that kind of reading every day. It's fantastically put together, in my opinion, as it gives a story from the Bible, the scripture, and then how the author related it to her own life.
This book is good for just about anyone; whether you're waiting for a partner, a job, a baby, an opportunity, ANYTHING really. This book will make you feel not quite so alone. While everyone's story is different and the author has certainly had a share of hardships (eh, we all have, right?), it's not like you'll feel that bad for her. But the book is pretty sound and solid in how it portrays the message she's trying to get across.
An example: I read a part of that insinuates (okay, tells) that you should not feel bitter about others. I rolled my eyes because I'm allowed to feel however I want to feel, right? The very next day, I was confronted with my bitterness head-on. I ignored it. I told Scott about it. He took the exact opposite approach to the situation and made me see, without even knowing he was doing it, how ridiculous I was being. I decided to go the other way and not be bitter and I felt SO much better after I took an actionable step in the opposite direction of bitter.
Vague, I know, but a lot of life's situations are hidden and vague unless we're looking for them to change us.

Awakened: Change Your Mindset to Transform Your Teaching by Angela Watson
I love Watson's podcast and website. The first book of hers that I read was Unshakeable and it was inspiring and helpful and gave me a lot to think about. This one was more in-depth and and focused on what I think and how that affects my outward decisions. A lot of it is basic psychology but I can see how it works to my advantage if I just think about things from a different angle. I would recommend this to any teacher. She has one more book, The Cornerstone, and I'm going to tackle that one next. It's her first and most well-known.

11 Happy Teacher Habits by Michael Linsin and 
The Classroom Management Secret by Michael Linsin

I've found that I will read anything, listen to any podcast, absorb any possible information to get me somewhat happily heading back into the classroom each week. I decided, at some point last spring, to take control of what I would do this year. The farther I get into the year, the more I realize it will probably be my last year of teaching for awhile (at least in this state), so I am determined to do what I know to be best. These books, as well as the author's website, have been so helpful. My new coworker, a first-year teacher, is also reading them and he loves them too. If you are a teacher, I cannot recommend this kind of personal professional development enough.

And then, what I'm reading now...

Fall and winter makes me turn back to fiction, so I'm excited to find some recommendations on the link-up today!

Linking up with Steph and Jana!

October 9, 2017

The long weekend that wasn't.

My plan was to stay in Laramie for the long weekend and come back later today. I had today off and Scott didn't. Unfortunately, Wyoming got hit with a snowstorm overnight and it wasn't worth staying and wondering if I was going to make it back. Just for the record: taking a surprise day off is something I have NO qualms about. The children will survive. It's those sub plans that I can't face because I'd have to rearrange the whole week. Plus, I have a TON of work to do and if I tried to do it there, while wondering if I'd be at work on Tuesday..well, that wasn't productive. But, other than that, it was a pleasant weekend.

We put the house together and did a lot of cleaning and basic move-in tasks. Honestly, to keep it 100, if I could pick up this house in Colorado and move it to Laramie, I would insist we just make Laramie our permanent home. As it is, I'm ready to pack up my things and move. I don't have a particular affection for Colorado and I really wanted to have that love-for-a-place here. More thoughts to come on this internal dilemma, I'm sure.

But, while in Laramie...

We drove up to Sugarloaf Mountain, with the intention of watching a sunset, but it was a bit cold and windy. The dogs found some snow to roll in obviously. This is at about 10,000 feet so it wasn't warm. Laramie itself is at over 7,000 feet so it trumps Colorado Springs in that department.

On Sunday, we walked the Greenbelt in town and it was a bit warmer. 

As far as the house, I showed up on Friday night with a bucket, rags, and Pinesol, and basically kept myself busy for hours. I did counters, walls, floors, baseboards...I'm attempting to slowly turn it into "my" house. Also, I'm slowly moving all my belongings for weekend use (clothes, shoes, etc.) up there. The next few weeks will be busy with Scott coming back here, us going out of town, him going hunting, etc. But eventually, I'll be up there for a weekend again. It's a weird arrangement for the next few months, but it's better than the army.

Pumpkin Swap partners will ALL be emailed out by the end of today! 

October 6, 2017

Last day for Pumpkin Swap sign-ups!

Just popping in to remind you that today is the last day to sign up for the Great Pumpkin Swap!

Here is a link to all things pumpkin-swap past if you want to see what it's all about. And who knows how blog search features *really* work...these are in no particular order...Pumpkin Swaps of the last 5 years. 

It's a 3-day weekend for me, but I've got three days worth of driving, unpacking, grading, cleaning, and so on to do. 
Partners for the swap will be emailed out on Monday!

October 5, 2017

Oh-em-gee: The Eye Doctor

I couldn't think of a title and ohemgee is the only thought I have after this experience. It's a nicer way to say WTF, I suppose.

I order enough contact lenses to get me far past that annual eye doctor exam. Prescriptions are only good for one year. After that, 1-800-CONTACTS will not send you any more. I frontload lenses for this reason. I'm proactive like that.

I realized two weeks ago that I was about out of contacts. I can't wear glasses. Therefore, I called the eye doctor I went to at the PX on Ft. Carson since we've been in Colorado. No answer. I drove there after work one day. They were spontaneously shut down apparently and that was the end of that.

I called a place in Fountain to set up an appointment. I drive by it every day on my way to work and there's no need to make life exponentially difficult, so that was my reasoning.

I showed up on appointment day, last Wednesday, and they had double-booked or accidentally put me down for an appointment at another location or something like that so...no appointment for me. I re-scheduled for this past Monday. It didn't really bother me because I hate going to the eye doctor anyway.

I went in on Monday after work. Everything went smoothly enough at first. Then the doctor said I was likely overcorrected and he wanted to lower the strength. I get that; for the last few years, my eyes have stabilized a bit and my astigmatism corrected itself somewhere between Missouri and Colorado and that was fine and all. So whatever, lower the dosage. He lowered my right eye from -2.00 to -1.25, which he admitted was a big jump but he thought it would settle after a few days. It seemed alright at first. It was a little uncomfortable Monday night but I looked forward to it "settling" on Tuesday.

It did not "settle" on Tuesday. I spent the day in a blurry haze. This might be okay in some peoples' situations...but I spend my days reading and writing. I could give you the big long list of things that were not easily done, but I basically couldn't read my own whiteboard, blackboard, or charts from across the room. It was terrible. I would've taken those contacts out if I'd had any other options but my old contacts and glasses were both at home. There was a moment where I considered leaving at lunch, but sub plans are a greater evil than poor vision.

I walked myself back into the eye doctor after work. They said they'd take a look when I'd called to ask about adjusting things (which I did around 9:15am).

I explained that I had a headache, my eyes ached, I couldn't focus, or, you know, do my job, etc.
She (the tech) seemed to think that another brand of contacts would solve my problem. I said that would be an odd recommendation because I'd worn this brand for 10 years. She said she'd be right back.

She gave me two new contacts (while being all secretive about the process of what they could/would do to help this situation) and told me to put them in. As it took me two tries to get one in, I said After twenty years, you'd think I'd be better at this, mainly to get the point across that I've worn contacts for TWENTY years and I understand how contacts are supposed to work. I checked the power before I put them in...it was my old prescription: -2.00 on the right and -3.25 on the left.

She asked me how they felt and I said they were just fine because they were my old prescription and she said Are they? How do they feel? and I'm thinking B*tch, we don't need to play games here. She then asked me why my hands were red (as if THAT had anything to do with it...my hands either get red or they get pale and cold when I'm stressed out...the acupuncturist said it's a yin-yang balance issue...fun fact: it took three different people about 8 tries to get an IV in a few months ago).
I didn't take that question well.

Finally, she left and the doctor came in. He asked the same dumb questions she did and then said he'd like to give me a -1.50 to try on the right, and then a -1.75 if that didn't work. He admitted it might take some time to get used to a newer prescription and something something something.

I had stopped listening at that point. I said, idon'twanttodothis.
He said, Okay, we'll get you back in your old prescription.
I'm pretty sure I scared him into thinking I was going to cry.

Hopefully, by the next time I'm forced into going to the eye doctor (forced by an expired prescription), we'll live somewhere else.


Linking up with Kristen today for What's New With You?

What's New With You

Here's some blog posts about all the new stuff that's been happening around here lately.

A series of unfortunate events.
Fall TV is a go
We're kind of moving to Wyoming
and a shameless plug for The #GreatPumpkinSwap (sign-ups end tomorrow night!)

What's new with you???

October 4, 2017

Fall (Survey) Fun

No post yesterday because I feel p-e-r-p-e-t-u-a-l-l-y behind and the state of the world is just depressing me. That's really the long and short of it. When I think of things to write, I write immediately. When I think of nothing to write, I don't write. It's a weird balance.

So, today I'm linking up with The Blended Blog for some fall frivolity because the world needs more nostalgia, blogger link-ups, and puppy pictures. I saw this on other blogs this week and figured I'd try it out.

1. Favorite fall sweet treat? 
Candy corn. The answer is always candy corn, no matter the question.

2. Red, yellow, or green apples? 
Yellow. I'm convinced that if you're not eating yellow apples, you're missing out.

3. Favorite fall sport to play? 
I don't know that I play a fall sport. I used to play soccer. I love football though. The weekends always have a game on in the background. 

4. Best drink for fall? 
The best drink for cooler weather, to me, is a caramel latte (non-fat, no whip, if I'm being picky).

5. Favorite fall activity? 
Baking fall things. Pumpkin muffins and cookies.

6. Must-have fall purchase? 
I do a boot inventory each fall. Sometimes I need to replace a pair. 

7. Pumpkins: pick your own or store-bought? 
I don't really buy pumpkins. Any decoration is fake, though.

8. Real or fake pumpkin? 
Fake because if I'm decorating they'll be inside the house.

9. Favorite Halloween costume? 
Is none an answer? I don't like Halloween costumes because it's too much pressure and judgement. Two years ago, I was a minion. Last year, a Power Ranger. This year, who knows what my coworkers will force me into.

10. College or NFL football? 
I like both, really. The NFL has more staying power and attention as the season goes on. Most people follow it and there's less teams. Whereas, there's a lot of college teams out there. 

11. Fall or Halloween decor? 
Fall, only. Halloween can get a little gaudy and it needs to come down in November. 

12. Raking leaves or no leaves to rake? 
I don't mind raking leaves. It's the least of my chores out here on the prairie. 

13. Favorite soup? 
I like the tomato from Trader Joe's. But I like making homemade tomato or French onion too. 

14. Favorite fall candle scent? 
I like pumpkin candles or vanilla ones. I really prefer Scentsy though.

15. Love or hate pumpkin spice? 
I like it in baked goods. 

16. Short booties or tall boots? 
I like both but think tall boots are my go-to. 

17. Favorite Halloween candy? 
Candy corn. Is that even a question?

18. Pumpkin Spice Latte, YES or NO? 
No. No, no, no, no, and no. Drinking a warm cup of pumpkin flavoring (or worse, a cold one) isn't appealing.

19. Corn maze or hayride? 
Is neither an answer? I suppose a corn maze because it's probably less dirty than sitting on a pile of hay. 

20. Favorite fall TV show? 
I'm looking forward to Stranger Things at the end of this month and then Shameless in November. 

October 2, 2017

A series of unfortunate events

(i.e. the last few weekends)

I had this thought that, ever since the middle of April, things have been in slow downward step-down. Not a downward spiral, but a step-down, a leveling off, a step-down, a leveling off, and we're having a lot of trouble gaining traction.

I guarantee that this began with that emergency deployment readiness exercise (EDRE) that Scott did to Europe this spring. We had two weeks to prep and then he was gone and we didn't know how long it would be for...a month, three months, six months, etc. It ended up being only a month ("only" ha ha) but we didn't find that part out until after he was already there. We had prepared for the worst-case scenario of 6ish months. That began the downward trajectory. It changed how we were thinking about this house, how we thought about what was next in his career, and it changed potential plans for the summer. The EDRE did amazing things for his career but it cost me my sanity and cost him another deployment (3 in 3 years).

Now, here we are, the first week in October, and we still haven't recovered. There are house things (always), vehicle issues (forever), and career questions (usually). I brought this up yesterday, as we sat at a restaurant eating breakfast in Laramie, everyone but me wearing their UW gear (yes, even Scott...I have a t-shirt but am in need of a sweatshirt I suppose). I didn't even have to dive into the flowchart explanation of EDRE > IVF > Wyoming > househunt > vehicle problems which all culminated in a metaphorical mudslide; he knew EXACTLY what I meant and he agreed.

All that to say, this feels like a fall season that is completely different from others in the past. We are not where we expected to be, but we are not bad off either. It's a strange mindset.

Last week, Scott blew a transmission while attempting to do a full DITY move to Laramie. It resulted in another week of him and the dogs sleeping on a cot and landed us short one more vehicle.

The transmission will be rebuilt by him but it costs us time. And money, of course. But mostly the inconvenience of lost time is something money can't buy. Which is where a mechanic would come in handy, but then that is more money in labor for someone else to do something Scott can do himself. #inconvenience is the story as of late.

This week, we got a moving truck, as the truck with the blown transmission is the one that was to haul the trailer.

Saturday, we moved all the things we needed to up to Laramie and then went to a social function.

This is not my spot to shine, as you're probably well-aware if you've read this blog for more than a few months.

It was a gathering of the Hydrology department from the University of Wyoming.

Raise your hand if you ever assumed that was something I would attend.

Again though, it was refreshing (water pun intended) to not be around military people and to be out of Colorado Springs. These university people are so nice in Laramie. I talked to all kinds of different people, including PhD candidates from Kenya and India and a chemist who was an Army brat and went to school on Ft. Leonard-Wood (I taught for the school district that includes Ft. Leonard-Wood, again, if you've not read this blog for very long). Not to mention that there were dogs at this party and Laramie folks love their animals and, even after hours of conversations, not one person asked me how many kids we had. I almost had to pinch myself.

It was a good experience and I would, on most days, like to just put a lid on the Colorado Springs chapter and make the move with all of our belongs, but I know that Laramie is temporary and the house we bought there does not have the kind of yard to support all of our farm equipment and hunting gear.

So this is a definite state of limbo in a few different ways for both of us.

But then we drove the moving truck back to the Home Depot in Cheyenne and I made the drive back home, listening to episode after episode of the Popcast. The dogs went duck-hunting in Wyoming. I got to work on school things and prepping for another week.  I feel like I'm eighteen different kinds of behind.

How was your weekend?


You still have all week to sign up for The #GreatPumpkinSwap! Sign-ups end this Friday night and we'll notify you with your partner by next Monday!

Feel free to spread the word on social media!

Instagram and Twitter: @kedarhower and @rebeckann with the hashtag #GreatPumpkinSwap

September 29, 2017

Friday Favorites (???)

It's been rough-going for the last several days.

If I were going to write a follow-up to the Can't Even post from August, I would absolutely be writing it this week. While we have our health and steady paychecks, it's been a struggle lately when everything has stopped working and it's something new each day that needs to be fixed or replaced. It also hasn't been cold enough to turn the furnace on yet, so fingers crossed that that thing will work when true fallwinter arrives.

This is all about the good and the bad this week. Which is why I put the (???)

1. I'm going to give a gold star to Les Schwab Tires and a GIANT demerit to Big O Tires. Obviously, on Monday morning, the tire light came on. I took the truck to Big O after work, as one does, and the guy (an older one I don't normally deal with) told me he was swamped and could I come back in the morning. Them not doing appointments is inconvenient but I said NoIhaveajobinthemorning and I'm legitimately your best customer so please assist me. He asked me to pull it around so he could just check the pressure. He found a piece of metal in the back tire and pumped it up with air but said he "couldn't fix it" (patch it) because the tread was too low. I said I'd just had a tire patched a month ago. He nodded sympathetically and proceeded to attempt to sell me $900 worth of tires.

I told Scott.

The guy stared at the tires for awhile and said, "These look like they were put on in 2012". I said that was interesting because we bought the truck brand new in 2013. He said, "Oh, maybe 2013 then". I said, "NO. This is the second set of tires. They were put on in 2015." He just looked at me and handed me the quotes.

I went to Les Schwab. All I said was that I had a leak in the back tire. They fixed it 20 minutes for free. They did say the tread was low and I said that I know and we're looking to get them replaced. Scott said 5,000 more miles so soon enough.

I will be going to Les Schwab from now on. It's closer to home/work anyway, and not next door to the railroad tracks.

2. I have the afternoon off to go to the doctor. This is good and bad. Good because I will hopefully finally get my ears checked out and good because I get the afternoon off. Bad because #armyhospital and because I'll have a mess to clean up on Monday upon returning to work.

3. Third-day hair. This is bad because I was far too stressed out and tired to wash my hair on Saturday night, Sunday, or Monday, but it's good because dirty-ish hair holds curl well. Like, I get now why no one washes their hair. I've been using the curling wand all week.

I don't know why it seems like something is protruding from my stomach.
Top is Stitchfix (last fall); pants are Athleta; boots are Sole Society (last year); jacket is Target (2015)


And I think that's what has stood out from this week's happenings.

If you could join me in just hoping we start to get into a groove and routine, I'd appreciate it. I know it seems dumb because we're adults and these aren't life-threatening problems that we have... but I have a new routine with no dogs; Scott has a new routine with this graduate program, dogs, and learning how to not be active duty right now. This is a major transition time.

This weekend is attempt number two at trying to move a bunch of furniture and belongings to Laramie. Last weekend's "move" did not go so well and nothing was actually moved. Here's to positive thoughts.