June 22, 2017

Awesome and Not Awesome

I've been terrible at taking pictures of anything in the last few days. I've also been more terrible at answering text messages than usual (and I'm usually pretty terrible).

However, here's some awesome and not awesome things:

Awesome. Starbucks' Mango Black Tea Lemonade.

Not awesome. I got a terrible tan line from my canvas shoes.

Don't mind the toes...I'm dealing with that this afternoon. 

Awesome. It's supposed to cool down this weekend.

Not awesome. It's getting up near 100 degrees today and I'll be outside all day. Like, it says 94 but it's always hotter than what it says.

Awesome.  This bag from Old Navy. It feels and looks like it costs 5x as much as I paid for it. I got it for school after my friend bought it for a vacation and raved about it.

Not awesome. I don't know what to do about Facebook. I scroll it, but I don't use it.

Awesome. Scott is back and we're plotting out what the next year will look like.

Not awesome. Sometimes it's really hard to make decisions. This helps.

June 20, 2017

Chicken Crockpot Meatballs.

I started making these last summer. I prefer chicken meatballs to beef ones, but it's worth noting that Scott is not a fan. I usually make them, freeze them, and keep them on hand in case we need a quick  dinner. And then I'll *usually* eat them when he's away or working late.


I use 1 T. each of the dried herbs. And I would not recommend the Kraft brand of parmesan. It just happened to be on sale and I'd never had it before. I would go with Sargento. 

This is how I put it together. I don't measure, but it's about half a cup of cheese, and half a cup of each type of breadcrumbs.

Mix it up and form them into meatballs. Put them on a plate and stick them in fridge for about an hour (at least) to firm up. This keeps them together when they cook. 

I used a cast iron pan to brown the meatballs. Medium heat, 2-3 minutes on each side.

Then you pile them into a crockpot, pour a jar of sauce over the top (Newman's was on sale), and cook on low for about 8 hours. 

After they're cool, divide them up into freezer bags. You should label yours. I can never be bothered to do that and it never works out well. 

Store them in the freezer and pull out as needed to defrost in the fridge. I usually just heat them up in a saucepan and eat them with a mixture of spaghetti noodles and zoodles with mozzarella on top. 

June 19, 2017

Funny Things for Monday.

Saturday started with a 2:30am wake-up because Scott got back to Ft. Carson at 4:30am. Just to illustrate how much he works, he said I could just pick him up after 5am, so he could get some work done.

I will say that I've not slept for like a week. This is a problem I have every summer. It started in Alaska in 2012 when it was light out all the time, Scott was gone, and I had nothing to do but workout, blog, and watch TV. Now it's like a summertime curse. I need the routine and exhaustion that comes with going to work every day.

So getting out of bed at 2:30am was fine with me. He later said he was kidding. But it's hard to pick up on that in a text message.

ANYWAY. We had a busy weekend and I took NO pictures of anything (not even a dog), so here's a few funny things to start off your week. I'll be volunteering on base this week, in the 95* heat.

June 16, 2017

Puppies Make Life Significantly Better

They are a comfort, a joy, a hassle, a best friend, and a lovebug to cuddle up with at night. Dogs in general make life more enjoyable and I'll rarely not stop to pet a dog, but puppies are a whole different story.  There's something about taking a teeny baby dog and teaching it what you want it to know. The cuteness doesn't hurt either.

True story: There's a series on Netflix called Dogs with Jobs and we've watched a few episodes in my classroom because the theme fits in when a reading story in the curriculum. I CRY at these episodes. In fact, after this happening to me two years in a row, I banned Dogs with Jobs this past year. I cry thinking about how capable and worthwhile and helpful and life-saving dogs can be. It breaks my heart to think of their value.

Moving on from that...

Puppies are curious. I did some digging to find pictures I haven't posted before (you're welcome).

Scout in 2013.

Tucking his paws

And Jett in 2014. Jett moved like lightning as a puppy so most pictures I have of him are blurry.

Ear deep.

He had the sharpest puppy teeth ever.

What do you think? Do dogs make your life better? I can't say where we'd be without these little guys.

June 15, 2017

A list of Stuff and Things I did this week

Took the dogs back to the vet for doggy flu shots. Went to the dog park.

Ordered a few things from Teachers Pay Teachers. I needed a few changes that would help adjust for the betterment of the common good in my classroom. That's a nice way of saying "things must change".

Went to a meet-and-greet at ChampDog Park. I'm hopeful. I told Scott about the "temperament test" and allllll the applications I filled out, and he laughed pretty loudly and asked if they failed. Then we went to the dog park.

Got a call from the doggy daycare person, saying that the dogs don't have their bordetella vaccine...uh, they are supposed to...so I have to call the vet and plan for ANOTHER appointment to get MORE SHOTS. Then, I find out, after 10 minutes on hold, that they cannot get the bordetella vaccine because they are in the middle of a series of flu shots. This means that by the time they make it to doggy daycare, it will be the second week in July. This is the best part: the vet who owns the clinic will give shots without issue. The vet who works with him believes that you cannot give shots back to back. The first vet will be on vacation, so I get the second vet and that's why I won't be able to utilize doggy daycare until the middle of July. Frustration overload.

Truth: the vet we go to "recommended" a daycare/kennel that's pretty close to us and I went to check it out (again, this is their "preferred" kennel) and I wanted to cry. A damp room with cement floors. I cannot put my dogs in a damp cell with nothing to stare at but concrete. I really did almost start to cry because I felt bad for the other dogs there. The vet recommends this place because, if there's an issue, the dogs will go right to their usual vet. But, at the other place I found, there's a legit animal hospital right next door. So...whatever. And there's virtually no difference in cost.

Met a friend for coffee.

Went to an FRG meeting thing.

Went into school to do a few things so I don't spend the rest of the summer feeling behind. I don't have paperwork/planning to do. It's all set-up that needs to be done and I can't do that yet. Soon.

Kept up with the Bachelor in Paradise drama. My theory: Corinne knew she screwed up because she "has a boyfriend" at home and didn't want him to see what she did, so she implored her producer (who is one of her best friends) to make it all go away. Thoughts?

I listed out all the books I read in May and, if you follow my Goodreads, June is shaping up to be the best month so far this year. However, I'm listening to The Dry and I can't say I *love* it. I'm only two hours in and I don't feel like turning it back on. That's a bad sign, right?

June 13, 2017

May Books 2017

*I'm thinking that not putting an actual rating will mean you'll get more from my reviews. Thoughts? How do you rate books?*

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins This was okay. I feel like I already reviewed it? But looking back at April's post, I can't find it. Again, it was okaaaaay. I wouldn't tell anyone not to read it but I wouldn't insist that anyone read it either. My main complaints were that there were WAY too many characters and it moved too slowly. I liked The Girl on the Train better. ----when people ask why I liked TGOTT so much, I insist it was because I randomly listened to it the week it was released and formed my own opinion before reviews  and comparisons to other books started coming out. Ironically, this is why I had such high hopes for Into the Water, because of the reviews.

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi  
This was wonderful. It was sad without being completely, overwhelmingly tragic. But it was hopeful too. I read the description after the last SUYBs link-up (I cannot remember who posted about it) and thought, That's depressing and not something I should be reading in my highly emotional state. But it wasn't tear-inducing. It was descriptive, painted a portrait of the family's life and past really well, and I just loved it. It's a perfect summer fiction read if you've got some time to lounge. I listened to it and the narration was great too, if you're into that.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon
I really enjoy how RBG came from the humblest of beginnings, has strong beliefs, and can easily see and empathize with both sides of the political spectrum. That's not something many people (not just politicians) are good at these days. She's come through all of these generations and wars and historical events, doing good and showing compassion to all kinds of people, not just those who believe the same thing she does. That was my major takeaway from the book. I didn't expect it to be so middle-of-the-road.

The Faithful Place by Tana French This was boring. I'm questioning the possible decision to continue on with this author now. It wasn't a bad plotline but OMG was it told in the most boring, s-l-o-w, and tedious way. Like, I might find it interesting if I were half asleep and didn't want to wake up to really pay attention to the details. Do the other books get better? This was nearly a DNF but I pushed through to the last hour, realized I didn't care, and returned it to Audible anyway. I didn't even get a credit back for it because it had been a 2 for 1 deal, so I just got a few dollars back and I was willing to accept that. That's how much I wanted it to go away. I am counting it as finished though because I sloughed my way through so much of it. That was not for nothing.

Trailer Trash by Denise Grover Swank 
This was good. Any new installment in the Rose Gardner series means that I have it pre-ordered and downloaded long before I actually get around to reading it. This one came out in April. Seeing things from Neely Kate's point of view was interesting. I don't know when the next NK book comes out but there's a new Rose book in July.

A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold
I didn't like the tone in this book. It's hard to develop a clear and consistent voice in a memoir, yes, but she just came off as wanting to make herself seem likable. I don't believe parents are responsible for every decision their children make, but in this case she protests a bit too much.

I don't pretend to know what she's feeling and this is her side of the story, but I didn't love the book and I didn't find it difficult to read the way some have mentioned. I found it really easy to read, actually. She focused more on her own feelings and experience, which she had to do because she didn't know what was going on in her son's head anyway.

I found myself annoyed at parts:

Note: "Zack took it a little further" reads as "Dylan didn't do anything as bad as what Zack did."

I want to say "DUMBASS, they punished your son because he passed the information onto others, not because he opened up a stupid locker or two". Her defensiveness bleeds through the page. 

Since when is making reparations for your mistakes not okay?

She and her husband made a lot of excuses for their kids. Especially when the school tried to discipline Dylan; they were arguing against it. He gathered confidential information and passed it on to other people (Eric Harris). It wasn't the gathering of the information, it was the passing on of such information that earned him his punishment. I feel like the school probably told her this and she blocked it out because she didn't want to hear it and didn't mention that detail in her book. (A similar situation happened to my classroom once: it wasn't what the kid did, it was that the kid convinced other kids to partake and was a catalyst.)

Then, Dylan destroyed a locker door for fun and the Klebolds were upset that they had to pay for it. IMAGINE THAT. I got nothing but a side-eyed, passive aggressive feel from Sue as she was talking about anything having to do with the school.

The kicker was that, at the beginning of the book, Sue claims they had no problems as a family and Dylan was a good kid and there were no warning signs....then the whole second half of the book was just a laundry list of excuses and warning signs. And again, I didn't like her tone.

I don't dislike Sue Klebold because of what her son did. I dislike Sue Klebold because of the way she paints the picture of Dylan being a victim in everything leading up to the event.

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda I had a NetGalley copy of All the Missing Girls last year and I didn't finish it because it was boring and gave me a headache (This is why NetGalley never gives me anything anymore, I'm quite sure. I never follow through.) I wanted to try another book by this author just to be sure it wasn't me being moody or weird when I read that one last year. The Perfect Stranger was almost just as bad and this is why: I don't like the way the author writes. She talks in circles and never really gets to the point. I'm all about having information being held back from the reader as a way to build suspense, but she just uses words that have no meaning in the context and could mean several different things and I just cannot with that. Use words that make sense and I'm likely to understand the narrative. I don't find this writing style to be charming or suspenseful; I find it pretentious. For this reason, I barely pushed through the book. Authors who only use metaphors hit on a special pet peeve of mine. I was in skim-mode so I can't even be sure I know what happened at the end and I'm fine with that.

TL;DR version: Read I Liked My Life and Notorious RBG, and probably Trailer Trash if you're into the Rose Gardner series. 

So, I counted up how many books I've read thus far in 2017 and it's at an unimpressive 32. For me, this is disappointing just because I don't know if I'll hit that arbitrary random number goal I set in January (75). ANY reading is better than no reading, no matter who you are, but that number I set is messing with my head. Did you set a goal this year?

Linking up with Jana and Steph!

June 12, 2017

Currently 6/12

Watching...Z: The Beginning of Everything on Amazon. I read the book Z a few years ago and really liked it. This is just the screen version, so far as I can tell. However, I will say that Christina Ricci is too old to play a 17 year old. I get that they were trying to span Zelda's whole adult life and Christina Ricci does not look old by any means..she looks great for 37!...but she looks not 17 at all. 

Reading...I've finished a lot of books lately, but since that is in June, I won't write about them til July...I work by the calendar month. But I am always looking to start something new. I have these on hold at the library. Show Us Your Books is tomorrow and I'll recap what I read in May. It's much better than April was. 

Listening...I started The Dry by Jane Harper on Audible. 


Attempting...to try out some dog-boarding places this week. We're going to meet-and-greets to "see" if it's a "good fit". I feel like I'm shopping for preschools. 

Laughing at....

This has been popping up on Facebook a lot. I don't like kale at all. 

Focusing on...accomplishing a couple of things on the to-do list. Yesterday was painting some cabinet doors that Scott built in...wait for it...December. 

Feeling...hot. It's going to be 95 degrees for the foreseeable future. Summer has arrived. See you in October, 75*.

Eating...Modern Market with a friend on Friday. It was a bit of a a drive but it was nice to try something different. I didn't love the salad I had so if I went back, I'd get something else. I've been to Panera way too many times lately, so getting out of this side of town was good for me.

Drinking...I made iced tea. I've been trying to get it to taste like the kind my parents make for the last 7 summers. Maybe summer #8 will be the winner. 

And that's the second week in June. 

June 9, 2017

5 Bachelorette things.

1. Rachel, say "my girls" one more time. Seriously. They're acquaintances of yours who are auditioning for Bachelor in Paradise. Because they are all on BIP. 

2. Jonathon's occupation is NOT really a ticklemonster.  He's a doctor.

3. Oh, Freddy. Stop being weird. This is why Rachel will always see Freddy as a 3rd grader.

4.  Raven is better than this. And better than that white leotard.

5. Eric's grandstanding would be more effective if he used the proper forms of nouns and verbs. As an educator, I just see how grammar has failed him.

Are you watching?

June 8, 2017

Perceived failure

I mentioned in my day-in-the-life post on Tuesday that I spent a lot of the spring trying to better myself and I attempted this by setting myself up with something new professionally. It didn't work. I'm used to moving on in my career every few years and I really felt the push that it might be time for that; lining up our career goals is always a tricky balance and I had thought it was time to explore options. In the end, it wasn't time and that took a bit of time and patience to accept.

I think failure is in the eye of the beholder. Who is to label something with a diagnosis of failure or success? Do we get to make the call? Do the witnesses to our attempt decide for us? There's a lot of sayings that are supposed to make us feel better about perceived failure:

God has a plan.

It wasn't meant to be.

Something better will come along.

And, the one I've seen everywhere lately: If it doesn't open, it's not your door. 

There's a little bit of truth in all of these, which is why people rely on them as an attempt to console someone who's feeling the sting of failure. However, living by the saying that God has a plan, however true, doesn't always help you get through the day-to-day. It's helpful, yes, but impossible to envision when you're in the thick of feeling rejected or unaccomplished.

For me, I see failure as a kick in the pants. Like a smack you in the face, you can't miss it kind of feeling that leaves no doubt behind about where I'm supposed to be or what I'm supposed to be doing.

My strongest past example is when I met Scott, right after college. He was in the ROTC program at Penn State with one semester left. I had dated someone who was in the military back at the beginning of college. It was a difficult experience and, afterward, I really questioned why I'd been putting myself through all of that for two years; what purpose did it serve? Had I failed at something I was supposed to do?
Two years after that, in August 2008, I met Scott. He told me right away that he was planning on commissioning as a lieutenant in just a few months.
The pieces clicked together. I had gone through all of that as a learning experience. I was being prepared. I was getting a head start on the adult life I was going to have; I just didn't know it at the time. It wasn't a failure. It served a purpose in the long game. I have this theory that so much about what we think to be failures is really all about the long game.

So, perceived failure can be used to teach us something or prepare us. 

A recent example, that spurned this post, is that of not getting a job I really, really wanted.

We've spent a lot of time debating getting out of the army or staying in for 20 years. This past winter, I decided that, if Scott was going to get out of the army, I needed to make more money. I needed to make more money and find a job with some solid benefits because it might take him time to secure a civilian job that he wanted and would be good at. It would give us the freedom to make some choices and decisions, without having to live completely off of savings.

So I started applying for jobs at other places. I looked into lots of opportunities in a few different places, not all classroom teaching, but I was particularly interested in one district and managed to get myself a few interviews over a 6-week period of time. They weren't all set up at once, but as each new interview came about, I was confident. I'd gotten every job I'd applied for in the recent past so I knew this was my next opportunity. (Plus, everyone told me so and "everyone" is never wrong, right?)

Very long story condensed to one sentence: I didn't get any of the jobs I interviewed for.

I took more rejection and hits to my self-esteem in the last few months than I'd ever taken before. I felt it, day in and day out. I would randomly burst into tears because I didn't know if I was even on the right path anymore and I didn't want to make a decision that would cause me to veer, because what if I went in the wrong direction?

I was so set on getting what I wanted in the end (I was that confident), that I pushed past each rejection and onto the next. I assumed I would get what I wanted in the end, even if that wasn't necessarily what I needed. It was like I didn't feel any of the rejection because there was more opportunity blooming around the corner and I just needed to get to that.

It wasn't until I hit the last rejection, the last week of April, when I realized I'd hit a brick wall. There was nowhere to go. While I could eventually accept it and go forward, I had never expected that to happen.

In the end, I needed that kick you in the pants, smack you in the face, leave no trace of doubt behind that this was NOT where I was supposed to be and that was NOT what I was supposed to be doing and the ONLY way I was going to learn that lesson without questioning any decision or move I made... was for me to fail.

When I look at it that way ^^^, I have a really hard time seeing it as failure. Perceived failure maybe, because I tried to do something that I couldn't accomplish or get to, but it taught me a lesson.

It didn't teach me not to try again (because someday I'll probably try again), but it showed me where to go and narrowed my options of what to do with the next few years of my life and it all worked out in a sense. It came to a conclusion that I now see is 100% best for me for a few different reasons. Once I saw where this landed me, I could breathe again and I could sleep just fine. Clarity and peace are helpful like that.

I won't leave you with a platitude or verse, because I know that doesn't work for everyone and some things are too hard to make sense of. I do know that everything is meant to work together. Not to work out, and not to be what's best at all times (because we have skewed definitions of what's best for us, right? Me deciding what was best for me at age 20 was not best for me and I'm glad there was a long game at work).

But things are to work together for our good, whether we see it at the time or not. That's why failure is a perception. We rarely see it as just "failure" when we look back on it.

June 6, 2017

A summer Monday

I wrote a day-in-the-life post awhile back and it was so mind-numbingly depressing that I never published it. It basically encompassed what January to the middle of May looked like and it was gross. Basically: get up early, work all day, attempt to better myself, fail at that (more on this later), walk the dogs, eat dinner alone while watching t.v., husband gets home between 8pm-midnight. Alarms start going off at 4:30am the next morning (PT and such).

No one wants to rehash that...certainly not me, because with Scott leaving and the end of the school year, it got worse before it got better. It's almost "better" now.

THIS is the typical summer day for a stay-at-home-dog-mom (my summer occupation).

The one day I have somewhere to be before 9am, the dogs sleep in. They had me up at 6am for the last several days in a row. I get up at 7:09 and get everything packed up and ready to go to the vet. Drink coffee and water while I read a few blogs. I can't eat breakfast until I've been up for at least an hour, so I forego that.

Leave the house, with doggie supply bag, for vet appointment.

Vet appointment. Just burn cash money in a bonfire and that's basically what a yearly vaccination appointment looks like for us.

Wrangle the dogs back into the truck. Go to the dog park because I want to tire them out without worrying about rattlesnakes in our field. I'm so freaking sick of worrying about rattlesnakes.

Eat a protein bar while the dogs play. Jett stands beside me and makes friends with the toddlers who are there with their moms and dogs. I'm always shockingly impressed with this ginger when he's around kids. He stood there and let a couple of the little kids hug him and pet him and I didn't for a second worry about him getting spooked or snapping. He's just so patient in this way with people, and I told Scott about it.

Scout does whatever he wants because that's how Scout is.

Stop for gas and arrive home around noon. Kick myself for not taking the empty gas containers with me...I need to get gas in order to mow this week.

Eat lunch. (eggs/bacon/avocado/chips)

Take care of some online to-do list tasks (RF stuff, paperwork, etc)

Listen to a podcast (48 minutes) and see how many chores I can get done in that time.

Make a smoothie (I manage to cram 70+ grams of protein into smoothies these days).

Look for a new library book online. Find none. Decide this isn't productive.

Drive the 2 miles to the mailbox. Nothing good.

Finish a book and then try to take a nap.

It doesn't work. I think I feel kind of sick and dehydrated because 1. This altitude when it's warm out, 2. I think I tried to accomplish too much outside before noon (I'm convinced this is a real thing).

Watch a few re-runs of Weeds.

Cautiously walk the dogs, watching for snakes.

Water all the plants.

Finish the laundry.

Contemplate dinner but I still feel kind of sick. Drink a ginger ale instead.

Re-runs of Weeds and write this blog post.

Take a shower.

30 minutes of s-l-o-w Pilates.

Protein shot, popsicle, and crackers because eating something is sometimes necessary.


Believe it or not, this is a million times more interesting and full of more accomplishments than a typical workday that's a Monday. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing? The nice thing is that there's plenty more Mondays left in summer.