Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Keeping things in perspective

As I mentioned in my blog post the other day, last week was a bit of a downer. Something was just... off. I was completely stressed out, overwhelmed, and frustrated with my job, and my students could definitely tell (ahh, the joys of students bashing teachers online). I feel like I've been so busy lately that I haven't seen my husband much. Concert season is a crazy, crazy time. I spent all of March with the musical, and I was looking at April as a break between musical season and concert season. Turns out, I spent most of April preparing for May and it flew.

Needless to say, by Friday night I was not feeling my best.

So I was trying to unwind, and it wasn't working, and then I came across a Facebook post that was like a splash of ice water to my face. Wake up, K. If your biggest problem is that you have too much work to do, you're doing pretty good.

One of my colleagues has been out of school since the beginning of the year because her baby son (he turned one this March) was diagnosed with cancer after his father found a lump on his leg. The foundation that they have created, Wishes for Weston, frequently pops up on my Facebook page. We have been doing a lot of fundraising at school to help them out. Anyway, there was an update: "BIG UPDATE: Biopsy results came back early, and Weston's lymph nodes are FREE of cancer! !! This is the biggest and most encouraging news that we have gotten all along. Next step is to begin plans for the leg amputation. There may be hurdles ahead, but today we praise God and are thankful for healing!! So proud of our little cancer fighter:-) "

I mean. I can't even imagine. First of all, to have to go through your baby having cancer. And then to have to think about a leg amputation on top of it all.

My petty worries right now are nothing compared to what this family is experiencing.

I admire my coworker and her family so much for their strength and positivity. I am keeping them in my prayers. I have had a share of difficult life events over the last few years, but I need to remember to count my blessings and do what I can for others.

In the meantime, I tried to approach my week with a more laid-back attitude and I have been trying to pay it forward a little more.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Dog Behind the Blog

Hello all!

It's been a pretty crazy week, and I had been feeling pretty frustrated and overwhelmed until I was hit with a great big dose of perspective on Friday night. I might write about that soon, but instead I'm taking a lighter approach and a note out of Alex's blog. (I found Alex when I did the Snowflake Swap back in December... I enjoyed reading her posts so I've been following her ever since!)

You all know that A and I decided last July to adopt a little girl, who we named Penny:

I've posted a lot of pictures of her, but that's because probably half the pictures on my phone are Penny pics. : )

Penny is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and we named her after Penny on The Big Bang Theory, which is one of our favorite shows. 

There is a hole in the middle of Penny's frisbee, because she chewed a huge crack in it the day after we got it. Instead of throwing it away, I cut a hole around the crack. Now one of her favorite games is to try and pull her toys through the hole in the frisbee.

For the most part, Penny is a really awesome dog, with the exception of a few... mistakes:

These pictures are our back door blinds, and A's guitar cord - that one happened on Thursday morning while I was getting a shower. Not a great start to the day!

She had a playdate with her puppy friend Daisy on Thursday, and she was so pleased with herself afterward!

Her favorite place in the house: Either curled in a little ball on the couch or in her dog bed, or sprawled across our bed
Her favorite thing to do: Go on walks!
Her least favorite things: Baths and my laptop (because then she can't sit on my lap)
Her favorite treats: Busy Bones, peanut butter, and ice cubes!

Currently she is laying on my feet : )

Have a good week, everyone!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Back on the WW Wagon

After battling with my warm-weather wardrobe for the past two weeks, I finally caved and renewed my Weight Watchers online subscription. Sad but true, I have gained twenty pounds since A and I got married last July. Yeah, that's right - I gained back ALL of the weight I lost for my wedding, and it only took me 9 months. Way to go, K.

Not only do I want my clothes to fit, but I would like to feel better, too. If I already feel good after cutting Diet Coke from my diet in February, imagine how much better I will feel once I am eating right (read: not half a box of EL Fudge Double Stuffed cookies as soon as we get home from the store - to be fair A. eats the other half) and making a sincere effort to exercise more! Once the sunlight starts lasting longer, the weather gets warmer, and I have more outside work to do, that seems to come naturally. Having Penny this year should help, too, since I walk and play with her.

Can't eat just one, so I have to start eating NONE.

This morning I went on a serious grocery trip - spent a good portion of the bill on produce, and also got some healthier snacks and planned ahead for meals for the week. 

For dinner tonight we had salmon and WW baked potatoes. I made salmon using the Magic Salmon seasoning that I wrote about a while ago, only with a lot less butter than usual... and along with the baked potatoes, it was the perfect amount of food. So, so good.

I had never baked a potato before, can you believe it? It wasn't too bad - I used the microwave method: wash the potato, coat potato in olive oil, season with salt and pepper, poke lots of holes in it with a fork, and then cook in the microwave for five minutes. Turn the potato over, cook another three to five minutes. Voila - baked potato!

Then I used this super simple WW recipe: cut the potato in half and cook 1/4 cup of frozen broccoli. Mix it with 1 Tbsp of low-fat cream cheese until the cheese melts. Scoop that mixture onto the halves of the potato. Top with reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese and stick back in the microwave for 30 seconds or until cheese melts. And there you have it - a delicious baked potato with toppings, all for only 5 points plus. YUM! : )

(I would like to point out that A. added bacon to his baked potato, and also had mac n cheese as part of this meal. But I wasn't really jealous of either thing, so it's okay.)

Tomorrow we are going to Texas Roadhouse for dinner, and it's my first time there. So that will be a good challenge right at the start of this journey!

Any other Weight Watchers out there reading my blog? What recipes do you recommend? : )

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

10 Random Things

For Tuesday, here are Ten Random Things:

1) I hate ironing. So much. I will only iron if it's completely necessary. This is on my mind because there is a strong possibility I will need to iron soon.

I have two steamers, but sometimes there are only wrinkles an iron can remove.
Or I will just give up and throw the item in the dryer with a wet washcloth.

2) I have been reading the book "I am Malala," which is both enlightening and troubling. She talks in the book about how the children in her village couldn't watch TV, listen to music, watch movies, dance, or even play board games - and they fought to be able to go to school. And then I go to school and hear kids saying how they don't care and they'd rather be playing their video games or texting each other.

3) Have you discovered these Goldfish graham snacks? Because we have, and they are awesome.

We have gotten the French Toast and S'mores varieties, and they are both delicious.

4) I am so excited to see my family for Easter this weekend!

5) I haven't had a Diet Coke since I quit cold turkey in February, and I have had maybe two or three headaches since then (as opposed to one or two a day). Today I was almost tempted to have one after lunch, but - NO! I will not cave!

6) I miss the nice spring weather... today I saw SNOW again! AHHHHH! Go away, snow!

7) Yesterday when I was sitting in my office at school, one of these creatures scuttled across my office:

I am not ashamed to say that I immediately freaked out and three freshmen girls came to investigate and save me from the creature. They even researched it during study hall and came back later to tell me what it was. Unfortunately, it scooted behind my two-ton desk before they could stomp on it with their boots. SO IT IS PROBABLY STILL IN MY OFFICE WAITING TO ATTACK.

8) I think I might start Weight Watchers online again next week. I really hope it works better this time... it worked best for me when I could go to meetings, but there are no meetings close enough to me to work into my schedule.

9) I also kind of wish there was a gym nearby... I miss Zumba.

10) My kids have expressed that they would enjoy playing more pop-variety music, but the problem is that arrangements written for band and orchestra often sound super, super cheesy; or on the flip side, are really too difficult. I found a couple online tonight, but the other problem is it takes a while to go through a catalog and sift through all the cheese to find items that might really work. 

And on that note -- 

Goodnight! : )


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Cleaning!

Gooooood morning!

Oh my gosh, the weather is gorgeous here right now. Yesterday I wore FLIP FLOPS. It was awesome.

Since it was such nice spring weather yesterday, I flung open all of the windows in the house and let the fresh air in (and the winter germs out! BYE!)... and then cleaned all the things.

I had such a productive day! And I had a song from Rocko's Modern Life stuck in my head the whole time. I was not technically supposed to be watching that show as a child, but for some reason the song stuck with me...

* First, I finally finished taking the stickers off of our windows. I know we've been living here for over a year, and I did take care of most of the windows when we moved in, but then my arm probably started to hurt or I ran out of time and quit. So after all that time, our windows are now sticker free thanks to a handy vinegar-and-water solution that I found on Pinterest last year. HOORAY!!!

* I vacuumed every rug in the house. After I was done with the rug in our bedroom I also Febreezed it. (Mmm, dog smell and dirty shoes : )

* I also did two loads of laundry (and then ran out of detergent... whoops)

* After seeing this post on A Bowl Full of Lemons last week, I also decided it was time to clean out the fridge. I threw away some things that had been hidden in the back corners of the fridge and consequently expired, took out and washed all of the drawers and shelves, and then used fridge liners (that I got at a bridal shower last year and never used because I was too lazy to clean the fridge then) for all of the drawers. I really didn't think our fridge was that dirty but it really looks awesome now.

 Since I was on a roll I also took off all of the magnets and junk that was stuck to the fridge and cleaned the outside of it as well. I'm kinda glad I did, because we didn't need expired Burger King coupons, the 2013 Steelers schedule, and the jewelry store's business card stuck to the front of the fridge.

* Then I wiped down the counters and played the "put things away that have just been sitting around" game.

The only thing left to do today is wet-Swiffer the floors and dust. (Also we are going to dye Easter Eggs! yeahhhhhh!)

Along with all of the cleaning yesterday, I also went shopping - in the morning I went by myself to Target, 5 Below, Kohl's, and PetSmart and got a lot of good deals. (God, I love Target Cartwheel.) In the evening A. and I went to Lowe's (paint and a ladder, woo!) and then the grocery store (more laundry detergent, among other things). He was working outside all day while I was cleaning inside, so we were both exhausted by the time we finally got home. Penny was also tired, because we went for a walk first thing and then she trailed me around all day while I was cleaning.

This time of year always makes me think of watching the Family Circus Easter special. : )

On a side note, I am so excited that this week is only four days because of "Easter Break" (it would have been a longer break without snow make up days, boooooo) and then going home to see my family next weekend : ) I hope you all have a great Easter weekend!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

It's time to change...

....the house, that is!

You guys, spring has sprung, finally, in our area. The flowers aren't yet blooming, but it seems (and smells as if) the farmers are out in full force, and fields are starting to turn green. And since the weather has been nicer and it has been light out longer, we have been working hard!

We've been in our house a little over a year, but there is still so much we want to do. The problem, as with most things, is budget. We are trying to prioritize our needs, but in the meantime we come up with lots of ideas and add them to our growing list on the refrigerator. Our first priorities this spring are a couple of the cheaper ones - continuing to paint the walls inside the house and staining the deck. I want to paint in the next few weeks before we really have to worry about A's allergies and we can just keep the windows open. We also want to stain the deck before getting out the patio furniture so that we don't have to move it twice.

I'm trying to figure out what color to paint my bathroom - these are all shades of gray and silver. Looking at the picture I am kind of leaning towards the middle color on the top swatch... hmmm...

PS: I got that shower head  a few weeks ago and it is magical. I love it!

A. has been working on digging a path around the side of the house. One of the reasons we bought this house was the side door on the first level that leads to my music room, so that my kids that come for lessons can enter and exit without trouping through our whole house. We haven't been able to use that door yet though because there was no way to get to it without tracking through the muddy yard. As soon as he is done digging, we plan on getting some concrete and filling it in. We also want to make a concrete patio under our deck, so that's another reason to get the staining done first - so we don't have to worry about dripping it on the patio.

He also had to level out what will be a flowerbed there on the left - we didn't realize how much of a dip there was until he started digging the path!

Something that is a big budget-suck, but that we desperately need, is some kind of fence. We either need an invisible fence or a vinyl fence - something to keep Penny in the yard. Part of the breed characteristic for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is that they like to chase things - ALL the things - including vehicles. :-\ So we really want to be able to let her out in the yard without a leash, but haven't yet had the means to do so. I contacted a fencing company about getting quotes so we can decide what we can afford to do, but that's really the next thing to happen. We got a fire pit for Christmas so I'd like to find a place for that in the backyard so we can enjoy some toasted marshmallows soon, too!

Speaking of Pen, she decided to pop in this picture I took of our main living area... it's a work in progress and kind of a mess right now but I'm happy with my wall decorations : )

Other little things on the docket for this year include getting some new lighting, including a ceiling fan for our bedroom. Why does everyone on these home reno and realty shows hate on ceiling fans? I don't have an issue with them and find them pretty nice, actually. I don't have a problem with carpet either, though, so I guess I'm just a weirdo. Oh well.

We like this ceiling fan we found at Lowe's!

In the future, we want to get a shed, extend the driveway, build a workbench in the garage, change the stairs on the deck, get a new front porch, add shelving to the garage and our closets up here, and do some cosmetic things here and there. The next thing on my list after we get the fence is a new front door. I hate our front door so much. It needs to be gone!

I used to have two of the bigger collage frames... I got these super cheap at Kohl's on Black Friday... but yesterday when I went to hang them up I accidentally kicked the other large frame down my stairs, where it promptly broke into three pieces. Ugh. 

A's mom got this for me for Christmas : )

In the meantime I am going to keep decorating the walls and looking for paint colors... the cheapest and most independent way for me to fix up our house! : )

Any suggestions? Advice?
Hope you're taking advantage of spring time where you are!