Friday, September 30, 2011

Got a job!

I'm in a middle school instrumental music class today...


So far I have subbed in Math, Social Studies, Geography, Chemistry, In School Suspension, Vocal Music, Language Arts, Drama and now... Instrumental Music. ;)

What was your favorite subject in school?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wine & Love v6

It's Thursday, which means it's Wine & Love Thursday, similar to What I'm Loving Wednesday, but not quite.

Wine & Love is hosted by Nora each week and is more along the lines of what is making you reach for the wine (out of irritation) and what is making you reach for the wine (out of happiness!) where as WILW is more along the lines of what I'm loving that I want to buy....

So, now that we have cleared that up... on with the second meme of the week. (I swear my blog is not turning into daily memes. I promise).

Here is what is making me reach for the wine out of happiness...

♥ The fact that my new(ish) black ballet flats are completely broken in and go with every outfit I own. No more blisters!

♥ The fact that another friend of mine has started a blog! Am I creating monsters here? (Or, more accurately, new addicts?) Nevertheless, go check out her blog, you'll love her witty writing style and snarky comments! She's blogging over at Observations of Miss Oakley!

♥ The fact that a school in a small town in Iowa is using exercise balls as chairs! How cool is that??

♥ That I had a wonderful sushi date with my sister last night and it was blissful - and scrumptious!

♥ Most of the reading I have due for the month of October is for children's lit, which means... I will be reading a LOT of YA in the next few weeks. HAPPY!

Jessica is sending me an ARC of a book that I have been pining for lately -- and I cannot wait to read it!

Here is what is making me reach for the wine out of irritation...

♥ My sister and her boyfriend are fighting like whoa lately and it's making me want to pull out the mama bear act and defend my little sister. It's not my battle though. (That is what I tell myself).

♥ No subbing jobs! Seriously. Stressing. Me. Out. C'mon teachers! Get sick! (Ok, that was mean and just not right. Let's re-phrase that. Use a sick day! Take a fricken day off. You know you want to...).

♥ I didn't get a chance to do the Shred yesterday... I had my chance in the morning and spent too much time bumming around and said that I would do it at night when I got home. That so did not happen. I'll get back on the saddle today!

♥ Friday night I am working - which is fine, I love working with the clients at the agency, but this one particular client is an energy zapper. She just sucks it right out of you... Thank goodness it's not an overnight and I am off at 10pm...

That's pretty much all the wines and loves for me! It's been a good week, I hope it's been the same for you!

Are you having more of a Love week or more of a Wine week?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

It's been awhile since I linked up with Jamie for "What I'm Loving Wednesday!" If you haven't checked out her blog, you should. She's the sweetest blogger, she's Southern and she's a teacher! :)

Here are the random things I am loving this week!

Trendy Top- The Top, that's not!

Has anyone seen this infomercial??

I have to admit... I kind of want this product (not that I have EVER worn a shirt like the one in the Before picture!) Trendy Top is a shirt... but, for your hips! It's used to create the layering look without extra bulk and also to avoid the dreaded plumbers crack showing (I know you all know what I mean).

Watch the video here - I couldn't embed it in the post, I don't know why! But, go watch it! Let me know what you think... I'm seriously considering trying this out, but I wish I could buy it in a store.

Leggings and sweater dresses! I am so glad it's fall and leggings are in style again. They are so comfortable, and so forgiving! I'm still debating on if I'm going to buy another pair of Uggs this year. The pair I bought last year are still fine, but I needed to go down a size. They make my feet look ginormous. I might be over the Ugg trend though... they're just too expensive and I'd rather find a cute pair of boots that are "unknown" and make people wonder where I got them. ;)

30 Day Shred - I have never been sold on working out at home because I just do not have the self discipline, but I have been doing the shred for the past week and I am loving it! I can really feel myself getting stronger (yes, in a week!) and I love that it is only 20 minutes. Before I would spend 20 minutes just driving back and forth from the gym! This makes so much more sense and I have no idea why I didn't do this sooner.

Lean Cuisine Three Cheese Stuffed Rigatoni - Yes, I am blogging about a Lean Cuisine meal. This one is so GOOD. I cannot get over how good it is, I think I eat this meal at least three times a week. It's kind of ridiculous.

Couture Allure Coat from Mod Cloth - Isn't it adorable?! I just love this coat!

This dress from Ryu that I found on Tara's blog. Love, love, love. She's a big boutique shopper and I love how unique all the clothes are. I love Gap and Banana Republic just as much as the next person, but I hate when people automatically know where my outfits came from, and I will rarely wear something that has the store name splashed across the shirt. Boutique shopping is perfect for me! Unfortunately, Des Moines has very few boutiques (that aren't extremely, extremely overpriced).

What are you loving this week??

I'm on a huge leggings kick so if you have any cute outfits - send them my way! :)

Blogging buddies are the best buddies!

If you've been reading my blog for awhile you know I have a pretty great group of friends. Most of us met in college, and we've been through thick and thin with each other.

Graduations, tough break-ups, buying your first home, marriage, death of a loved one, moving far away, moving back home, moving back in with the rents, losing jobs... you name it!

We all lived in the same dorm hall. The dorms we lived in was where a lot of the freshman and sophomores lived and was known as the party dorms... and party, we did! Living in those dorms are among my most cherished college memories and these girls have a LOT to do with it!

Since starting this blog I have kept it pretty secret, only mentioning it every so often. A part of me wanted to keep it to myself and I also knew that I wouldn't be able to handle the rejection if one of them didn't like it.

Well, now that I am going to meet bloggers in person more often, keeping it myself is a bit harder. These girls know everyone I know! So, I figured I would stop being so damn secretive and start sharing this passion of mine.

Little did I know that they would love it too and would want a blog of their own! I'm so excited to introduce one of the sweetest, most caring person I have ever met, Angie!

Angie's a nurse at an agency like the one I am a counselor at (she got me the job!) and is damn good at what she does! She genuinely cares about these clients SO much and gives so much of herself to them - it's truly inspiring! Angie's also interested in personal finance and making the most of her money. She has two cats (that are adorable!) and a super sweet boyfriend. She's the type of friend that is up for anything and can make conversation with just about anyone! She sees the good in everyone and is always positive and uplifting.

Go say hi and welcome her to the blogging community - I know she's going to fit in just right! Reflections from Ang!

PS: Don't skip playing the cat video she posted the other day - it's hilarious! I was cracking up the entire time!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dream Analysis 101

Dreams have always been interesting to me. The fact that my subconscious is telling stories while I am sleeping is just … weird.

I was so interested in the stories our subconscious tell that when I was in high school and worked on the school newspaper, I had an entire column devoted to dream analysis. Each month students would send in their dreams for me to analyze and publish. Cheesy? Yes. Humiliating? Maybe for some, but I enjoyed it. The other editors made fun of me for it, but I didn’t care. Now, almost 15 years later and I am still interested in dreams and sleep patterns.

As of this year I have been extremely intrigued by sleep patterns and have even been tracking my sleep with an app on my phone – but that is a post for a different day. I promise!

Today, I’m talking about a dream I had last Thursday night. I just have to get it on paper before it vanishes from my mind.

This particular dream included two of my ex-boyfriends. Yes, TWO!

Many of you will remember the dirtbag, Cy and some of you remember the nice (although too young) Nick. I don’t know why I protect Nick’s identity, but I do Cy’s.

Alright, I digress. The dream…

I had a dream that I ran into Cy’s best friend and we exchanged some pleasant, “Hi, how are you?” conversation before the conversation turned serious. His friend casually mentioned that Cy felt terrible for what he did to me, and that he would talk about how he missed me right after we broke up. Of course this made me angry (all in my dream of course) and I blew up at his friend, "How could he miss me? How could he be so cruel? So selfish? He’s bleeping married (again) now!"

That’s really all I remember about that part of the dream. Maybe there isn’t anything else, I’m not sure. I can’t remember anymore.

Then the second dream about Nick (both dreams in the same night!) and we were together, but he had proposed. I had said yes, but didn’t really mean it. I didn’t want to marry him, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings either.

A week before the wedding we hadn’t sent out any invitations and only a few friends and family members knew about our upcoming wedding. I knew I had to call it off, but just couldn’t bring myself to hurt him like that. On the day of the wedding he had decorated the diner (yes, a diner!) with his high school graduation decorations and when I walked into the restaurant and saw “Class of 2004!” draped everywhere I knew that I had to do it. I had to call it off. This was ridiculous.

That is all I remember.

Weird, right??! Why would I be dreaming about running into my ex-boyfriend’s best friend and possibly marrying another one? Hopefully this is my subconscious’ way of telling me that neither of these guys were the ones for me and that the right one is on his way! The right one is just being held up… That’s what I like to think anyway. That is along the lines of what I would have said back when I was writing the EHS Scroll’s dream analysis column.

Do you remember your dreams? Do you think they have any special meaning?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

S & S Stacks v4 - Banned Books Week + a GIVEAWAY!

It's that time of year again, Banned Books Week - 2011! For the past couple of years I have made note of this week, and urged friends to read a banned book via Facebook, but haven't really done anything else about it. This year, I am changing that!

This year, I am giving away your choice of two banned books - I'm letting you choose, because... well, if you're here, you probably already have some of these. I'm assuming you don't want duplicates!

There are 4 books to choose from that all have conveniently come from a local bookseller, Beaverdale Books. This shop just might be cuter than Shop Around the Corner...

The Catcher in the Rye: the main character, Holden has become a hero in many rebellious teens' eyes, which undoubtedly leads to many adults trying to keep it from getting into a teenager's hands. For over two decades, this book was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the US, which makes it perfect to give away during this week! (Only to spread the love, of course. Not because I don't want it - I already have a copy!)

A Wrinkle in Time: Why are some of the best books commonly banned? Because some people are grumpy, old fun-haters - that's why! This book has witches - GASP! This book has crystal balls - THE HORROR! This book talks about - Shhhh! RELIGION! Quick, cover it up!

Go Ask Alice: I can sort of see why this book is banned - but for people like me, this book did the opposite of bad. It did a world of GOOD! I was a very curious child. Let's just say I wasn't afraid of much and pretty much thought I was invincible. After reading this book there were drugs I wouldn't come within 5 feet of. Certain "things" were offered to me, coincidentally after reading this book and I said, "Hellllll to the nooooo." See? Good. A book that's banned did something good? Wha-what? This book will forever be a favorite of mine.

The Hunger Games: We all know you love this book. And, if you haven't read it. Get off the couch, go to Barnes & Noble (or even Half Price Books, it's probably there) and BUY it. Or, just win this giveaway and I will get this book to you quicker than you can say Katniss Everdeen. Seriously, why is this book banned again? Too much imagination? Too much gore? Have you played a video game lately?! Ban those things! Not this book.

You can earn up to three entries to win:

1. Leave a comment with which two books you would choose and your email address.

2. Be a follower of ALPITC and leave a separate comment.

3. Follow me and post about this giveaway on Twitter or post about this giveaway on your own blog. Leave another comment telling me if you did so.

That's all you've gotta do! Easy peasy! You have until October 1st at midnight to enter and the winner will be announced Sunday, October 2nd via

Good luck, and happy reading!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

S & S Stacks v4 - Anna and the French Kiss review

Earlier this year when I first saw Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins circulating around the book blogs, I thought, "Wow, that book looks super cheesy. Are all of these bloggers getting paid to gush about this book?"

Seriously. I thought that! I figured it was completely overrated and publishers were pushing bloggers to push it.

Now, I get it. This book was adorable. Completely, utterly adorable. I fell in love with Anna almost immediately.

Stephanie Perkins nailed these characters and developed them just right. The anticipation that she wrote into the story was almost too much to bear! In a good way!

I completely identified with Anna and actually wished I was more like her. She was totally herself, and such an individual at such a young age without being too far out there. I loved that she didn't try to be something she wasn't, she accepted her own quirks. She was selfless and put the happiness of others before hers, even if that did keep her from falling in love for the first time (well, for awhile at least!). I loved that although she was falling hard for St. Clair, she held back because he was going through a lot with his mom. On the other hand, that is what made it so anxiety-inducing! I wanted to reach through the book and shake them both and make them kiss already!

I cannot write this review without mentioning another important character. Paris, the most romantic city in the world... supposedly. I have never been sold on Paris... I don't know what it is. Although I haven't been there, I just didn't think it sounded that great! Now that I am getting closer with Lisa and when I read books like this... I'm thinking I need to give the City of Lights a chance!

Anna wasn't sold on Paris either. She wanted to go back home to Atlanta and hated Paris when she first got there. In fact, she didn't even leave campus for quite a while! Luckily, she did and the descriptions of the city really nailed the spot for a skeptic like me. Now, it's definitely on my bucket list of places to visit.

If you're a fan of YA and you like some romance with a dash of boys with English accents (yep, St. Clair is English!) then you're gonna love this! Definitely worth checking it!

Do you stay away from YA or is it a genre you enjoy?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Love/Hate relationship

Love... wearing flats and keeping my footsies comfy and happy all day.
Hate... being shorter than usual and revealing to people just how short I really am.

Love... that I have made some amazing friends via this little ol' blog here.
Hate... that most of them live far away. :(

Love... love, love, love my new blog design! Krystyn did a FABULOUS job!
Hate... that I don't know how to do it myself - someday I will learn!

Love... that I am loving my job as a counselor at a non-profit agency for adults with mental disabilities.
Hate... that I get paid very little. :(

Love... Twitter for spouting off about all of my frustrations.
Hate... that anyone (including future professors) can possibly see it, reply to it, and laugh at you. Oops.

Love... that I am sensitive (the good kind) and genuinely care about others.
Hate... that I am sensitive (the bad kind) and take everything personally.

Love... to reap the benefits of working out. Including, the natural high and a smaller waistline.
Hate... actually having to do it and fight the urge to curl up at home with a book instead.

Love... reading YA and transporting myself back to the easiness of high school.
Hate... that I feel like such a nerd for carting around Anna and the French Kiss. (Don't worry, I don't let it stop me, it's such a sweet book!)

Love... that next week is Banned Books Week!
Hate... or, highly dislike the narrow-minded people that think what is good for their children, must be good for all children!

What do you have a love/hate relationship with?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wine & Love v5

Whoa, Thursday! It feels like I was just saying I can't believe it's already Tuesday morning. Time: Can you slow down a bit?

I have another somewhat busy weekend planned, and I didn't mean for that happen. It's nothing fun though... just working. That's okay though because I love spending time with the clients, they make me happy. :)

It's time for another week of whines and loves! Thank you Nora for hosting! Be sure to check out her blog and link up this week.

It was kind of hard for me to come up with loves this week. I am having one of those "blah" weeks and just don't feel like myself!

What I am loving this week...
♥ Wednesday nights I work with a particular client and she goes to a bible study with several other clients. They slowly work their way through the bible and do crafts and eat snacks. This is the third week I have gone with her, and each week I have left feeling so rejuvenated. Sort of like I feel on Sundays after leaving church! It's definitely a good feeling.

♥ My children's lit class. Now I have an excuse to read YA and not have to feel embarrassed. (Side note: I know lots of adults read YA, but when you're walking around with Ann and the French Kiss, you're bound to be embarrassed by that title!). Plus, in this class, we talk about books. It makes me a happy girl.

♥ The changing seasons, it's such a magical time of year when the weather changes, the leaves start falling, and the weather gets chillier and chillier each day.

♥ Sunday is Books n Bars night! I'm really excited and I hope everyone can make it! If you're local and interested in joining, please find me via Facebook, Twitter or send me an email! We would LOVE to have you!

♥ My new blog design - I just love it! I will probably write more about it tomorrow.

♥ In real life friends that find my blog and like it! It definitely feels good and so so wonderful that I can finally share this part of my life with them.

What is making me reach for the wine...
♥ Money woes - I'm fine and know that I have nothing to really worry about, as long as I keep working, but for some reason that doesn't stop me from worrying! I hate worrying about money. It's the worst.

♥ The changing season. Although it is one of my loves this week, it is also one of my "wines." I have not had seasonal allergies my entire life, until the past couple years. At least, I think it's part seasonal allergies. My eyes burn, my throat hurts, I'm sneezing like crazy and I just feel an overall feeling of ickiness. ICK!

♥ Expensive textbooks. I have one class that was only a weekend class, and the book cost $95. Well, I bought it from Amazon and I have until the 24th to return it (uhh, two days?!). That means I have to get the project for that class done and emailed to the prof today or early tomorrow so I can send the book back and get a refund on a book I know I will probably never use again... The project isn't due for another month, but I'm thinking getting it done is a win/win in this situation.

♥ Diets. When I'm feeling under the weather I want to eat horribly. For some reason that is my free ticket. Luckily, I have resisted and have not caved, but that doesn't mean I don't want to!

♥ I had planned to work today, but I didn't get a call. Which is just... weird. Now that I am awake I might as well stay awake... I'm thinking I will head to the library later this morning and finish that project, so I can return that ridiculously priced book!

What are you loving this week and what is making you reach for the wine?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A look at my eyes + Ten on Tuesday!

Hello! It's already Tuesday! I have a feeling this week is going to go by fast... Not complaining though!

Yesterday I had an appointment with a new eye doctor here in town, and like usual, I was dreading it. My vision problems started in the 1st grade, when my teacher noticed me squinting quite a bit and that is when I got my first pair of glasses.

I was not happy.

And, I still hate glasses.

Since the first grade my vision steadily got worse, until it finally stayed the same sometime in high school. Today, I am not positive of what my vision technically is, but if you're familiar with contact lens strength, my prescription is for a -9.5.

Yep. I'm pretty much BLIND. My worst nightmare is to be stuck somewhere without my glasses and needing a new pair of contacts. I always have a spare in my purse. Always. I would be SOL if I didn't and something happened.

Well, yesterday my new eye doctor suggested I try a new brand (don't they always?). At first I rolled my eyes and said, no, I'm fine but then he said that the contacts I was wearing weren't big enough for my eyes. That got my attention. He suggested Air Optx, so I have a trial of those in now and we'll see how they do for a week. He also didn't like the brand of contact solution I was using. I was using Bio-True, but he suggested Pure Moist. I can't believe they're all so different, but I figure it can't hurt. Plus, I got a free sample of Pure Moist. (Which might be why I was using Bio-True in the first place...)

What did end up making my day was, my new vision provider offers $100 towards new frames and $115 towards contacts. I couldn't believe that about the frame! I don't need new glasses (nor do I want them) but I will probably get some prescription sunglasses! That totally made me day, and I'm very happy with my choice of going with Humana One for dental and vision this year.

Anyway. Enough about vision insurance and eyeball troubles. On with Ten on Tuesday!

Today isn't exactly Ten on Tuesday... It's more of an ABC's of me. I haven't done one of these in awhile, so here goes! Oh, and as always, thank you thank you to Chelsea for hosting. She just got a NEW JOB so everyone go and congratulate her! She deserves it and I'm so happy for her! :)

A. Age: 29 - almost exactly 4 months left of my twenties. EEEEKKK!
B. Bed Size: Queen
C. Chore that you hate: Laundry! I wish I could afford to take it all to the cleaners!
D. Dogs: We've got three of 'em. Zeke, the puggle. Chico, the chihuahua. Lexi, the dachshund. (Technically Chico and Lexi are my sister's, but they feel like mine too because we all live together).
E. Essential start to your day: A little blog time and a coffee
F. Favorite Color: Blue
G. Gold or Silver: Silver
H. Height: Right under 5'3"
I. Instruments you play: None
J. Job Title: Substitute teacher and residential counselor
K. Kids: None yet
L. Live: in West Des Moines with my sister and her boyfriend
M. Mother’s Name: Denise
N. Nicknames: Amb, Ambular
O. Overnight hospital stays: None
P. Pet peeve: Negative people. dishes in the sink overnight. Unclear professors.
Q. Quote from a movie: "After all, tomorrow is another day!" Gone with the Wind
R. Right or left handed: Righty!
S. Siblings: One younger sister
T. Time you wake up: Usually around 6am
U. Underwear: I have all brands! I buy what's on sale. ;)
V. Vegetable you hate: Broccoli!
W. What makes you run late: Not having an outfit ready or not having my lunch packed
X. X-Rays you’ve had: Just my teeth
Y. Yummy food that you make: I make really good chili. If you like it spicy!
Z. Zoo Animal: Gonna have to go with the monkeys/gorillas!

Do you wear contacts or eyeglasses? How old were you when you first got them? If you participate in TOT, please let me know so I can visit your site! :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Latino Heritage Festival

Hello blogger friends! How was your weekend?

Mine was not as low-key as I expected (surprise, surprise). Friday night us girls went out for happy hour (so glad that our regular Friday HH's are back). I didn't stay out too late though, because I really wanted to get home and get to bed. I could feel myself coming down with something and I didn't like it!

Saturday morning, just as I suspected, I woke up with a terrible sore throat and a throbbing headache. I was supposed to go to the farmer's market with a friend, but sadly, I had to cancel in favor of getting a couple hours of more sleep.

At 11am I had to work, which was actually quite relaxing, I took a client bowling and then we went grocery shopping. After that we went to another client's birthday party, which was at a buffet. (You can only guess what that did to my diet!)

Sunday we woke up and went to church. The service was awesome (as usual) and it really got me thinking. I love starting my week off like that!

After that we had plans to check out the Latino Heritage Festival in downtown Des Moines. It was kind of drizzly outside, but we decided to man up and bring an umbrella. Our good friend Kristi, who is a group fitness instructor, was doing Zumba there at one of the tents for a local gym.

Zumba has been a big hit across the country and it is no different here! Kristi has ran with it and gotten really into it! People love her classes and we cannot go anywhere without her getting recognized! She's a mini celebrity here in DSM. A fitness celebrity, our very own Jillian Michaels. ;)

Emily (left) and Kristi (right) are both instructors at Aspen Athletics here in the Des Moines area. I highly recommend checking out their classes! Ten years ago we started taking step aerobics at our university's rec center and now Kristi is a passionate fitness instructor helping people get fit and have FUN doing it!
Now, the Latino Festival wasn't all Zumba... No siree! There was food. Oh emmm geeeee, the food.
Most of you know that I am obsessed with the pupusa's at the farmer's market, so I was bummed when I couldn't go on Saturday to get one. Luckily, that same vendor that sells my favorite pupusas was set up at the festival! I was so pumped! I didn't even think twice about eating anything other than my favorite spinach pupusa!

This spinach and cheese pupusa was bigger than my head! I was so hungry though, I declared I could eat it all!
I was wrong.

The pupusa beat me. I couldn't eat it all!

Angie also got a pupusa, a pork pupusa, which was a much more reasonable size.

She even saved room for some dessert...
Baklava! It was decadent and oh-so-rich! It's not Latin, but it was there... and it sounded good! ;)

Afterward we washed everything down with some horchata, which is a rice based sort of milk mixed with cinnamon and served over ice. I had never had it, but it was perfect after a spicy pupusa!
After stuffing ourselves full of Latin American food, we headed back to the Aspen tent to see Kristi and Emily perform.
Overall, despite the fact that it was rainy all day, it was a fun and relaxing day spent with good friends!

What did you do this weekend? Are you a fan of group fitness? If so, what is your favorite class to attend? (Mine is step aerobics. I'm so 80s!! haha!)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

S&S Stacks - In My Mailbox version!

Happy Sunday!

I haven't done an In My Mailbox post in quite a while and since I am so excited for this next batch of books I figured I would share!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - This book looks extremely cheesy to me, but I can't ignore all the positive reviews! This is the second time I have checked it out from the library, so I am hoping I can get to it this week!

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens - After reading Still Missing and really liking it, I knew I wanted to read more by this author. I'm worried I won't get to it with my busy schedule before it's due back, but my fingers are crossed!

No, David! by David Shannon - This is a children's book (obvi) but it's such a good one! I'm not an early childhood person so I have no idea about picture books, but for my children's lit class this week we're supposed to bring a book with illustrations we love. David Shannon won the Caldecott for No, David! in 1999, and it's not wonder why! This was an easy pick for me when deciding on a book to bring!

A Nation Challenged, Young Readers Edition - Monday our class went through several books for children about 9/11. This was one of them and I didn't get a chance to really read through it in class, so I checked it out from our curriculum library. This book explains what happened, has letters to soldiers and victims from children and just explains it so well to a young reader. I can see this book being great for the upper elementary or middle school grades.

Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy by Caroline Kennedy - After watching the special on ABC Tuesday night, I knew I had to have this. It includes 8 cds that Jackie recorded after JFK's assassination. I had no idea these tapes existed and that she did this, but I think it is wonderful! It includes a book that Caroline Kennedy wrote to accompany the cds and I cannot wait to read this. I already own so many books on the former first lady and absolutely adore her. I don't agree with many things she did as a young first lady, but at the time it was the right thing to do. I admire her so much, at any age of her life, and love learning more about her.

Divergent by Victoria Roth - This is another young adult novel that I have read so many positive reviews for that I just cannot ignore! When we were assigned a "book talk" project in my children's lit class, where basically we have to sell a book to the class, I knew I wanted to read this one. The easy way out would be to choose a book I have already read, but where's the fun in that?! I'm hoping I love this one just as much as everyone else so I can rave about it to the class. ;)

The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry - The only reason I picked this book up was because the main character has Asperger's disease. Considering I am studying special education and already work with people with mental disabilities, I am especially interested in books like these. I don't know how realistic this will be, or if I will even get to it, but we'll see!

The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein - This book is a complete and total impulse buy at Target! I always check out the books at Target, always! It's really ridiculous, but they sucker me in every time. I picked this one up and as soon as I looked it up on Goodreads and read the reviews it went into my cart. I cannot wait to read this book!

What's in your stack of books this week?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

S & S Stacks v3

For my children's literature class we are assigned to read The Giver by Lois Lowery. We aren't reading it until later this semester but to get a head start I decided to read it early. I was certain I had read it in the 4th grade, but couldn't remember what it was about.

As soon as I got started reading I became certain that I hadn't read it in school. I would have remembered! This book was very similar to popular YA books today, books centered around a very utopian and dystopian society such as The Hunger Games series and the Matched series.

This book is about a boy named Jonas. Jonas lives in a world where everything is "perfect" and practically all decisions are made for him. In this world telling lies are impossible, dreams are reported and medication is taken to remove many pleasurable feelings, such as love.

In Jonas's world each child has the same birthday and it is celebrated with a ceremony and usually a gift. Each child receives the same gift and the gift has specific meaning that represents their current age. For example, his little sister receives a jacket that has buttons down the front when she turns 8. Up until then, all her coats had buttons on the back because others had to take care of buttoning them for her. Now she is capable of taking care of buttoning her own coat, which represents getting older and caring for ones self.

In The Giver, Jonas turns 12 years old and that is the year children are assigned their occupation. Some citizens are laborers, some are mothers, some are assigned to care for the elderly. There are many different roles and each role is based on a sort of implied hierarchy. Jonas is assigned the role of Giver, which is an enormous honor in his world. There is only one Giver in each generation, so it is a rare and unique role.

The role of the Giver is to take on the burden of all past memories, good or bad, so that the other citizens do not have to. The current Giver is assigned the task of training Jonas and has to give all of his memories to Jonas just as the Giver before him did. He gives Jonas wonderful memories of snow and sledding, of sunshine and love, of holidays such as Christmas. He also gives Jonas painful memories of sledding accidents and sunburns, of broken families and divorce, and even of war and hunger.

The Giver is full of amazing symbolism and life lessons. Reading it as an adult is very different than reading it as a child, or even as a student in middle school. This book would appeal to all ages and many could most definitely make connections with it.

I read this book while subbing a couple of days last week in a middle school and I had several students approach with me comments about how much they liked it. This book has won several awards and is wonderful for discussion in book clubs or to get your students thinking. It's definitely a classic that I think everyone should read at some point in their life.

Have you read The Giver?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fabulous Friday!


This was a long week. Long, but productive.

♥ I'm pumped full of natural endorphins from working out so much this that I feel so happy I could burst! I honestly think that this was the missing link that I have been needing. Planning out my workouts this week and making them a priority, instead of something that can be crossed off the to-do list worked like a charm. Yesterday I even used my apartment complex's gym (I don't know why it took me so long) and it was fabulous! I will definitely be taking advantage of that more when I cannot make it to my regular gym.

♥ Today I am subbing at a high school I have been wanting to work at for what feels like ages now! It's also where one of my blogging buddies is an English teacher!

♥ I don't have a lot planned for the weekend, but that is okay with me! So far, all I am doing is happy hour tomorrow, farmer's market Saturday morning, work from 11-4, then a client's birthday party at 5pm, then church Sunday morning and the rest of the day will be spent STUDYING and probably cooking chili (perfect weather for it!).

♥ I have two pretty big projects I need to start this week. One is a report on book censorship and the other is on graphic novels. Any experience with either? I chose book censorship because it really interests me, but I don't know where to begin. I know once I get going I will really be able to dig in.

♥ Yesterday in my night class we had an organized debate in class, everyone was split onto two teams. One team had to debate why learning disabilities do not exist and the other had to debate why they do. It was awesome and I was really impressed with the undergrads arguments (they debated why it didn't exist). I had anxiety the entire time though, because we ended up in another room (unexpectedly) and all of my stuff, with my iphone lying out on the desk and my purse underneath it, still in the other room. Apparently I am the only one that has had stuff stolen and is paranoid because nobody else seemed to mind at all! Regardless, it was a great activity that made everyone think.

♥ The result of the debate: grads won. Learning disabilities do exist. ;)

♥ I did this workout yesterday and thought I was going to pass out. Holy freakin cow. It was hard!

♥ That's all I've got folks! What are you plans this weekend?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wine & Love v5

Wow, is it really Thursday already? This week flew by for me!

Well, Thursday means it is time for Nora's weekly Wines & Loves!

What I am loving this week...

♥ My motivation for working out! I have figured out a way to squeeze in a sweat sesh everyday this week and I am so proud of my motivation. Please say a little prayer for me to be able to keep it up!

♥ One of my very best friends in the entire world let me borrow her car for almost an entire week while I was waiting to get my car in the shop. She is seriously the best and I am so lucky to have such a generous, wonderful friend!

♥ Definitely my Erin Condren planner! I finally received it on Tuesday and I could not be happier. I was a little hesitant that it wasn't worth the money, but after seeing Amber and Lisa's in person, I knew I was going to love mine!

♥ My local, independent mechanic. I got my brake pads replaced and one of my front rotors replaced for less than $200. That. is. a. steal. I know that if I had taken it to one of the chains they would have found about 50 other things that were "wrong" and I'm positive they would have replaced both rotors even though one was fine. If your local, please contact me for his info. He always does a fabulous job.

♥ Painting my nails. About a year and a half ago I gave up regular manicures at the salon to start doing them myself. Since then I have enjoyed buying new colors and painting my nails every week. Fall is also the best because I can break out all the dark colors! Although, right now my obsession is burnt oranges.

♥ The outcome on Big Brother. I am so happy!

What is making me reach for the wine...

♥ 12 hour-freakin-days. Seriously. Between daily 3 hour classes, working at least a few hours a day (more if I'm subbing) ends up with a very long day. Recently I have run into the problem of packing enough for meals for these insanely crazy days. I'm trying to avoid all fast food, gas station snacks or vending machine snacks. In order to do so I need to plan, plan, plan. I also needed a bigger lunchbox....
I was bringing this guy:

Now I have upgraded to this big guy!

I'm still bringing both because I don't want to haul a freaking cooler into a school or on campus, but I'm hoping this should solve the problem. (It will).

♥ Being a newbie. I'm still pretty new at my part-time job and I work with many adults that can be quite sneaky. I have been duped by them more than once now. It doesn't make for fun emails from my boss. Of course my boss isn't mad, it's just frustrating feeling like I have let someone down. It's also frustrating to feel like you can't trust someone. I'm going to have to take the situation and make it into a learning opportunity, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. (I know that was vague. I can't really reveal much more than that). :(

♥ Expenses! Budgeting! I'm trying to work as much as possible to bulk up my savings again, and that makes it hard to part with that hard earned money on things like car repairs and bills!

♥ Breaking in new shoes! I am through day 2 of trying to break in the new ballet flats I bought and day 2 went better, but I was definitely limping on my way... my little toes have major blisters.

Time to share! What are you loving or hating this week?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Getting through a workout

I couldn't help but laugh at myself yesterday. While at the gym I did my normal routine, but I'm trying to kick it up a notch. Keep reading...

First thing I always do is warm up on the treadmill. Recently I have started using a higher incline instead of walking farther. Makes sense, right? Might as well work harder for a shorter amount of time then an easier workout for a longer period of time. It definitely pushes me hard and I'm huffing and puffing while walking "uphill". I usually do a mile and increase the incline every two minutes working my way up to at least a 10% incline, maybe more. For the last 2 minutes I released the incline back to 0 and cooled down a tiny bit.

Right after that mile "hike" I jump over to the stationary bike. I have been super interested in biking recently and have been adding it to my routine regularly. Yesterday I biked for about 15 minutes for a total of 4 miles on the level 8. I would like to do RAGBRAI for one day next year and I know it's going to take a lot to get my body ready for that.

At mile 2 I was starting to really lose my motivation and I thought I would wait for the calories burned number on the bike to hit 50 calories. For some reason that was a decent stopping point for me? But, once I got to 50, I didn't feel like I had worked hard enough so I kicked it up a couple levels and powered through 50 more calories.

Wanna know how I got through those 50 calories? My OCD is about to be exposed here...

I watched the number on the screen and as soon as it changed I started counting. Each time I burned a calorie, I started over. Every 8 seconds I burned a calorie. I did that for the last 50 calories, or approximately 7 minutes.

Now, I'm not sure how accurate the equipment is there. When I plug everything into My Fitness Pal it says I burned much more than that. I don't really use the equipment for a calorie count though. I do monitor everything else though, and I try to keep my heart rate above 150 during the entire workout. Yesterday I kept my heart rate between 120-150 for 35 minutes! The day before that was 40 minutes!

It feels good. For sure. Now, that I have my planner I have my workouts mapped out for the week and I am determined to make them a priority. Not just for my body image issues, but for my health and to be a good role model.

Do you have an weird rituals that get you through the last few minutes of a tough workout?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How do you say it?

Ever since meeting Amber, who lives in British Columbia, Canada, I have been thinking about how many of you probably do not know how to pronounce the name of my city... Des Moines... I mean, why would you?? Unless you did business here, or knew someone here, or lived near here, it's completely understandable.

It's not pronounced the way it's spelled and is very commonly mispronounced because of that.

The correct way to say it is:


But, do not pause in between each part. Say it like one word. Duhmoyn. Do not, I repeat do not, pronounce the 's' in either part. If you do so, people in the Midwest will know immediately you are not from anywhere around here (not that you would mind that, I am sure).

Same goes for Illinois. That one actually annoys me. (The Des Moines one doesn't, it just makes laugh a little). It is not Illa-noise. It is Illa-Noy. But, same as Des Moines, pronounced all together. Illanoy.

Hmm.. do I have more?

Kansas City is another one. If you're talking about the state of Kansas, you pronounce the 's'. If you're talking about Kansas City, you do not.

Locals say it like, KansaCity. All one word. The further north you go... the faster we talk, don't you agree?

Is the name of your city, or anywhere near you, commonly mispronounced? Do you know of anymore North American cities that are pronounced funny?

Monday, September 12, 2011

4th Quarter = GO TIME!

A few weeks ago, at the end of August, I wrote about my PE Methods class and how we were required to take a fitness test, a body composition test and set a goal for ourselves. It's been awhile since I've mentioned anything about it, so I figured today I would update you! I have been calling this my "4th Quarter Goals" considering this is the end of the year and my business background is ingrained in my system. (The year is constantly broken down into four quarters in my head).

Here is what I said I would DO:

1. STOP making excuses and STOP the negative self talk (such as "I can't do this").

I have been doing very well with this goal and am working on being just as positive with myself as I am with others.

2. REDUCE the last minute homework/studying and reduce the amount of time spent on the couch watching tv.

This is a struggle for me. I like to work on small assignments the day or night before the class, so it is fresh in my head. It hasn't interfered, so I don't see it as a problem yet.

3. INCREASE motivation by working out with a buddy and regularly reviewing the stats from yesterday to keep me going.

I have been working with Suz on holding ourselves accountable and last week we emailed each other how our week went. Last week I thought about the email I would have to send her recapping my week quite a bit. I did not want to email her to tell her I wasn't doing well!

4. START scheduling and planning my workouts at the beginning of each week and hold myself accountable to that schedule like I do with work or classes.

I haven't started this one yet. To give you a lame excuse: I'm waiting for my Erin Condren planner. Lame, right? Very lame. This week I am mapping out my workouts and my meals. (Oh, and my Erin Condren planner comes this week. Inspiration, no?)

Another goal I have completely ignored is improving my mile. I hate running.

Yes, I said hate.

I try to like it. I have tried to like it for over 10 years. Probably closer to FOURTEEN years, actually. In high school I played soccer and to get ready for soccer season I was in a run club and I practiced with the track team. I hated both of them. Especially track.

Although, going forward I am going to force myself to time my mile each week, so that come November I have an idea of how I will do when I run it in class. To improve my mile I am doing other cardio activities, such as the elliptical and stationary bike.

My biggest problem the past two weeks was time. Sweet, sweet time.

I have absolutely over-booked myself this semester and I cannot seem to stop. I just cannot say no. Luckily, both of my jobs lend themselves very well to multi-tasking. Most of my clients have fitness goals, so I can workout with them and when I am substitute teaching I get plenty of time to work on my own schoolwork.

I wish I had more to report back, but unfortunately, I do not. I think this week is going to be a turning point for me though, especially in regards to the planning. It sounds silly, but that new planner is really lighting a fire underneath me. I know in my excitement to use it, I will be planning everything.

Before, in the 4th Quarter I would be equal parts nervous and excited. It was at this time of the year I was the busiest. I did half of the year's business (or more) during this pivotal time. I am hoping I can lend that to my personal life this year.

What are your plans for the 4th quarter? Does the fact that it's almost October make you break out in a cold sweat or get completely excited?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you?

On this day 10 years ago I was a sophomore at Iowa State University. I had not yet had my wake up call that living with over 50 women in a sorority house was a bad idea. I was loving life, loving my sisters, loving college life and loving Iowa State University.

This particular Tuesday, I had Advertising 230, which was in a huge lecture hall. The class was from 8am-10am and met every Tuesday and Thursday. As I headed out the door that morning at 7:45 to walk to campus, the first plane was hitting the south tower.

I had no idea.

During class presumably all 200 of us had no idea what was happening in the world as we learned about advertising principles. Today, somebody surely would have received a text. This was a good few years before texting, but most had cell phones.

When I walked back to the house at 10am I remember having a skip in my step, I was in such a good mood. I mean, why not? Life was good -- as far as I knew.

As I walked up to my room that I shared with my big sis I noticed that several girls were huddled in the room next to me, and watching tv. I didn't think much of it and headed into my room and turned on the radio.

There was no music. There was not a commercial. There was talking. Lots and lots of talking. I was annoyed. Where was the music? I am a big fan of radio and I don't like to listen to deejays talk.

I switched the station. More talking. Talking, talking, talking.

My annoyance masked the thought to actually listen to what the deejays were talking about. I was self consumed.

At this time I walked next door to see what was going on. Maybe something was wrong with the radio.

I had to almost shout to get their attention, "WHAT IS GOING ON??!"

I was met with a collective, "SHHHHHHH!!!!!!" from all the girls huddled in the room.

At this moment I looked up at the tv and one of the Twin Towers in New York City was falling down. I literally froze where I was standing and goosebumps covered my entire body.

After that everything was a daze.

I didn't go to my afternoon class, a political science class, because at the time, something felt morbid about that. In hindsight, I wish I would have now. The prof probably had amazing insight and could have given us some more explanation or theories.

I do remember wanting to talk to all of my family. I do remember being scared something might happen here. Or in Omaha, Minneapolis, Kansas City or Chicago. All the big cities that make a circle around Des Moines, IA.

I do remember feeling confused.

I'm still confused. How can a person hate another that much? How can someone have *that* much hate? How can a word like genocide be in our vocabulary? I almost cannot handle the enormity of it all.

But, I will. Handle it, that is.

I will continue to teach others about these acts of evil done to a supposed "classification" of people. We have to.

Where were you at September 11, 2001?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Yesterday play-by-play

Yesterday was a crazy, crazy day.

I just have to recap this day.

5am - woke up to one of the three school districts calling me to sub. I missed the call/accidentally hung up on them.

5:05am - decided to stay awake and wait for another call.

5:45am - still awake, waiting for another "call" and frantically refreshing the web page for all three school districts in hopes for a job.

5:50am - a job in West Des Moines becomes available, but I cannot accept it because it is being offered to someone else. Arrrgh!

5:55am - riiiiiiing, riiiiiiiiing!! WDM calling with that particular job. I click YES! right away.

6:05am - on the phone with the teacher of that class (who has food poisoning !!) and she is explaining the directions for the day

7:10am - arrive at the school and review lesson for the day. (My first sub assignment of the 2011-12 school year! Squeal!!!)

9:45am - Homeroom (called Tiger Time in this district!) and two periods down, time to head off to lunch/planning and to another middle school across town. (This teacher spends half her day in one school and the other half in another.

11am - Grab a salad bar lunch at Hy-Vee and get a little reading done for class tonight.

12pm - arrive at second school. Teach 5th, 6th and 7th period until 2:35pm.

2:45pm - skip out the door and straight to DSW. My feet hurt and I want some ballet flats that I have been eyeing and knew was on sale!

3:00pm - buy the flats. Immediately change into them. Ahhhhh, relief. I hadn't worn my closed toed "teaching shoes" in months. My feet were screamin'!

3:15pm - head to the mall (ahhh! The horror!) to use a VS free panty card that expires soon. I let the one before that expire and was ticked at myself).

3:20pm - innocently walk into Fossil to drool over a purse that I have been spying for, what feels like, forever.

3:30pm - walk out with a ridiculously priced, but adorable new bag. I'm seriously in love with this purse. The picture below does not do it justice. It's awesome. (Of course I can't find it online to show you more appropriate pictures!)
3:35pm - decide to run home to grab flip flops because, those new flats I bought? They're killing my heals and rubbing them raw.

4:00pm - pick up one of my bff's and head to Drake for class

8:30pm- get out of class, pick up my friend, book it to Jimmy John's, we're both staarrrrving!

9pm- head next door to Target to do some shopping for necessities!

9:30pm- slip and fall on some invisible water on the floor

30 seconds later - still sitting on the floor in shock, friend looking back going, "wtf?!"

9:31pm - random drunk dude comes running up, "I saw the whole thing! Are you okay?!"

9:35pm- check out behind random drunk dude that is buying more beer and going on and on about how funny my fall was!

9:37pm - drunk dude comes back to my buy more beer, this time with a friend! Oh, and he teases me a bit more and laughs about how funny my fall was.

9:40pm - load groceries into the car, head home.

9:50pm - stop to get mail. Notice a missing cat flier by our mailboxes and realize that it's for the cat that I noticed yesterday and fed by our apartment building.

9:55pm- drag groceries and bags up to my apartment, grab two of the dogs to go for a walk and look for the missing cat.

10:10pm- still walking around looking for cat. Called number on flier to see if they found her.

10:15pm - walking back to my building crying and blubbering like a baby because the cat is still gone and she is declawed.

10:20pm - still crying because I'm imagining Libby getting lost and/or not being able to defend herself. Thank goodness she is not declawed. (I don't believe in doing that).

How was your Thursday?!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wine & Love v4

Happy Thursday everyone! It's time for another edition of Wine & Love, hosted by Nora!

In typical Amber, I-want-to-always-be-positive fashion, I am doing my Loves first. :)

Loves: What I am loving this week!

♥ Reading The Giver and Matilda for my Children's Lit class! It is just the sort of happy that I am in need of right now! Especially after finishing a dark book for blogger book club. (Which was very good, just dark.) I think I read both books in 4th grade the first time around, and while I am very familiar with the story of Matilda, I'm a bit shaky on The Giver.

♥ New members for Books 'n Bars! A girl that has been in several of my classes since last fall found out about our book club and was so excited to join that she was clapping! The enthusiasm makes me so happy! :)

♥ Getting my very own DVR box... Since my sister's boyfriend moved in (more on this later) we have had some.... issues with the DVR. Some overlaps... some instances where the box gets shut off... This may seem petty to you... but when you're gone allllll day working and in class, maybe the one thing you're really looking forward to is that Big Brother episode that was on yesterday (and today, cause... it's on 3 times a week...). When it's gone because the box was shut off it's enough to make you want to throw the remote...

I didn't do that... really. I didn't.

Ok, I did.

Then I picked it up, because Lexi would think it's a chew toy.

Wines: What is making me reach for the wine
(which in my case is Diet Coke, because I am on detox.)

:( Apparently #3 on my Love list is a wine as well! As happy as I am that I am getting my own box, I have to wine about shows not being recorded. How annoying is it to get home, get comfy, sit down and point the remote at your list of DVR'd shows and.... Nothin'. It's all gone.

:( Missing the Iowa/Iowa State game this weekend because of class. Yes, I have a weekend class that is from 5-9 on Friday night and 8-5 on Saturday. Boo to that.

:( Not getting called to sub... come on teachers! Call in sick! I want to teach your class! I have a couple assignments scheduled for October, but other than that I have gotten very few calls. Hopefully after the first month of school it will pick up. Teachers, do you think that's the case? Will I start to get more calls after a month or so?

What is making you happy or reach for the wine this week?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ten on Tuesday - edition ... (who the heck knows?!)

It doesn't feel like Tuesday - but it is! Yay for a short week! Here's another set of questions from Chelsea!

1. What temperature do you keep your thermostat on during the day?
We like it chilly... in the summer it's usually kept in the low 70s and that's pretty much the norm in the winter too. I love curling up with a blanket on the couch or in bed, no matter the season. Right now is perfection, though. The windows are wide open and it's a cool 61 degrees. Perfect sleeping weather!

2. What temperature do you keep your thermostat on at night?
Same as above, maybe a tad colder. We didn't touch the thermostat last month and we just got our bill. It's a whopping $160... that is RIDICULOUS for 1,000 sf. Usually I am the one that controls the thermostat and keeps my sister in check... but between her boyfriend moving in and all the changes in general, I guess I held back on my control issues around the house. Might have to take over that one again.

3. In a canister of mixed nuts, do you pick out certain varieties and leave the others?
Yup. I love the cashews. Those usually go first. Then pistachios. Then almonds. Peanuts are usually in there last. They're boring.

4. What is your favorite kind of M&M?
Peanut butter! Oooohhhh, man. I could totally go for some PB M&M's right now...

5. How do you buy books? (Amazon, bookstore, new, used, electronic, etc)
Ummm, all. Seriously. I have a book buying PROBLEM. I cruise into Half Price Books at least a couple times a week, I check out books weekly from the library, I am total buds with my UPS guy and I regularly compare prices with electronic copies. I have a legit problem. Do I care? Nope. Not really.

6. How do you like your eggs cooked?
Scrambled with salsa or hot sauce. Mmmm, yum!

7. Can you whistle?
Not at all! I have tried for years and I just can't do it!

8. What common word do you always misspell?
I'm actually a very good speller until someone is watching me. When someone is watching me I will second guess every word, but overall I know that I am very good at spelling.

9. Are you afraid of flying?
Not at all. I love flying!

10. How often do you go shopping?
Not all that often actually! Wait. What kind of shopping? Obviously I shop for books on a weekly basis. Clothes shopping happens when I need something, and it's rarely to the mall. If I need clothes I usually end up at Maurices (which is a stand alone store in my area), TJ Maxx, Kohl's or some other department store. Groceries and Costco trips usually happen every week and a half or so.
My favorite kinds of shopping trips consist of driving around town to different stores. I think I had my fill of malls and would be happy never setting foot in one again.

Pick your favorite question and answer it below!