Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Workin' on my fitness

For my graduate program we have to take several methods courses for teaching science, math, reading... etc.

One of them is the PE methods course.

I had heard this class was easy, but annoying and was advised to get it out of the way. I chose to take this methods course as soon as possible for that reason.

What I wasn't completely aware of was the fact that we would be doing the fitness test that kids do in school and we would do it twice.

Now, I understand that and it makes sense to do it, but honestly, I was dreading it.

The first fitness test was last night and we had to do a 1 mile timed run, 1 minute of push-ups (on knees or full) and 1 minute of situps.

I went into this taking it very seriously and planning to let this kick my butt. I know some of you think this sounds super easy, and it probably is, but continuous running without stopping has never been something I have been good at. (Not that we couldn't stop, I didn't want to be last one done and I wanted to put forth an effort).

We started the class with the situps and pushups, which were easy. Then we moved to the track above the basketball court in the Knapp Center (umm, it's so hot up there! They need fans, asap) and we had to run around the track 7 1/2 times for a mile. I was immediately bummed because I was expecting to, A. run outside and, B. the track to be full sized, where a mile was 4 times around it.

Here is the breakdown of how I did:

Situps: 42
Pushups: 30 (from knees)
1 mile run: 13:07

My situps and pushups were above average to good for my age.

The mile run was too high.

Of course the average is dependent on a person's physical ability but, in my opinion, running a 10 minute mile should be the norm for everyone. My goal for the 12 weeks of this semester is to get my mile down to 10 minutes.

We also did an EKG body composition test where we recorded the percentage of fat in our body. I am not going to reveal this, but I will reveal that I drove home crying.

Literally, crying.

Now, before you lecture me I will tell you that I am fine now. I gave myself last night to mope about it and now it's time to do something about it. I refuse to cry about it anymore because that will get me nowhere fast. I am going to take this class seriously and work on my numbers. That is the only thing I can do.

Each student in the class had to also set a goal for themselves. Mine is simply to reduce the percentage of body fat. Simple, yet specific and realistic. I don't expect drastic changes as that is not realistic or healthy, but I do expect a 1-2% reduction.

To do so I have to:

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

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

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

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.

The only word I can think of to describe last night is mortifying, but I am glad that I chose to do this class early and I am glad that I am taking it seriously (several students are not).

It is important to me to be a good role model to my students and my children someday and to do so, I have to be physically fit. Period.

I truly believe that kids will do what you model for them, whether you are aware of it or not. It's not a game or funny and it should be taken very seriously. Little eyes are on you are at all times and I am determined to be a good example for them.

What would you say the average time to run a mile is? Have you ever had a stark realization like this that you were out of shape? What did you do?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Every weekend should be a blogger weekend. Period.

Friday morning I headed 3 1/2 hours north to Minneapolis, MN to meet up with two of my favorite bloggers ever. These are two bloggers that never get missed in my reader. I wait for their posts, and do my best to read them and comment each and every day.

You know what kind of bloggers I am talking about, right?

I had met Lisa earlier this spring for a book signing in Minneapolis, but we didn't get to spend a significant amount of time together, so I was looking forward to spending an entire weekend with her.

(Lisa and I eating our sweet corn ice cream with bacon on top at the MN State Fair)

I had never met Amber in person... and I was equal parts nervous and excited! I first started reading Amber in 2008, back when she was still Amber Alert! I'm pretty sure we found each other through Jessica, back when she was still Classy in Philly. Now she is a wonderful book blogger, Cover to Cover!

(Amber and I with giant pickles! So yum and probably the only veggie we had there...)

Of course we had plenty of conversation about blogs, bloggers, comments... etc... when Amber and I got to wondering where my first comment was on her blog. She said she couldn't find it, so I mentally filed a note in my head to look when I got home and... look what I found... Lesli and I's comments, back to back! I'm not positive it's the first comment, but it's definitely one of the first...

I think this blog post was a 25 things about me post inspired by the Facebook meme that went around for awhile. Remember that?

Also, how fitting that my first blog friend (Lesli) was there and that it was about the color pink!

::rolls eyes::

Thank goodness that phase of my life is over and I no longer have everything in pink and a Hello Kitty themed bathroom.

Did you know I had a Hello Kitty bathroom?

Yep and no, I was not 10 years old. I was 25 years old. I am real mature. Ha! I still have the Hello Kitty toaster that a friend gave me for Christmas years ago and I use it everyday (it works, why should I buy a new one? Plus, it doesn't sit on my counter top... lol).

As I used my toaster today I thought to myself, am I going to make Lisa use my HK toaster when she comes to visit??!

Why yes, yes I am.

Hehe, sorry Lisa! You're gonna have a big ol' HK head on your breakfast.

Anyway, I digress.

It was interesting to hear how we all found each other, how we found our favorite blogs and just talking in person about it all in general. I can quickly feel this addiction to meeting bloggers getting stronger and I cannot wait to meet more. I also added TONS of bloggers to my reader. There are so many bloggers that Amber and Lisa talk about and I am positive that if they love them so much, I will too.

I cannot gush enough about these ladies and how wonderful the weekend was! I hope we can get together again soon with more bloggers in Chicago this winter - I am really, really looking forward to it!

Make sure to check out all of Amber's recaps here, here and here. She did an absolutely phenomenal job!

I have definitely added this weekend to one of the best weekends I have ever had, and I already miss both ladies so so so much.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Three things.

1. Lisa is even more organized than I already knew she was and is the most amazing host. Icing on the cake, is that she is someone every girl needs as a friend. Immediately.


2. Amber is possibly the sweetest girl in the world and is smart as a whip. The feeling of being in awe of finally being around her and finally meeting has still not gone away (3 days later!).

Oh, and...

3. Apparently, I have a southern accent. ;)

PS: Numbers 1 and 2 can be said about both ladies. But, they'll have to settle for a tie for being sweetest girl in the world.

I'm so so so glad I was able to swing this trip and I cannot wait to host them someday.

Have you met very many bloggers in person? How have your experiences been?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

S & S Stacks, v2

The first book I read by Caprice Crane was Stupid and Contagious. I absolutely loved it (although, it was a lot of fluff!) but did not get a chance to pick up another one of her books until now. With a Little Luck recently came out and I put my hold on it at the library quite a while ago so I am pretty sure I was the first to check it out.

This book is about Berry, a girl that is completely obsessed with superstitions and luck. Her father is the same way and has a gambling addiction. Berry is a DJ on a popular rock radio station and loves music. The building her station is housed in also contains several other radio stations, and this is where she meets fellow DJ Ryan Riley.

Berry and Ryan hit it off right away, but... Ryan is the third guy in a string of bad relationships Berry has had, so before the relationship even begins Berry is sure it will fail. He is the third guy and everything happens in three's, right?! Well, according to Berry it does.

Caprice Crane has a very witty writing style and I absolutely adore it, but I think she is much better at writing for the big and small screen. She has written for several popular television shows such as 90210, and I thought this book would have been better suited on the big screen. Reading all of Berry's irrational superstitions got really annoying and seemed inappropriate for her age. Her desire to take care of her father was charming, but at the same time extremely disappointing and sad.

Read this book for the wit and humor, but don't say I didn't tell you so when the plot starts to get on your nerves!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blog friends turned --> IRL friends!

By the time you are reading this I will already be on the road headed 3 1/2 hours north to Minneapolis, MN to see two of my favorite bloggers, Lisa and Amber! My goal was to have left by 7:30 AM, so by this time was published I should be halfway... hopefully that really happened! :)

Anyway, I met Lisa earlier this year while I was in Minneapolis for the Jodi Picoult book signing, but I have never met Amber. I haven't even video chatted with her, and I have only heard her voice twice. Once on the radio and the other time last week (or the week before?) when she was tv. Besides all of that though, I still feel like they are both good friends. How can one not when you correspond with them on an almost daily basis via blog, text or Twitter?

I'm also super excited because I get to meet up with my first ever blog friend, Lesli for brunch on Sunday and possibly at the Minnesota state fair on Saturday! My only regret is that I do not have more time! I'm staying through Monday morning, but I have class at 12:30 on Monday so I will have to leave pretty early. Doesn't leave much time to do a lot, but I know that we will fill every possible minute with quality time.

Both Lisa and Amber talk to waaaay more bloggers than I do, but many of them of the same bloggers so I am hoping we get a chance to Skype with some of them so I get a chance to "meet" them! :)

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and I'll see you all back here on Monday night (or Tuesday morning...) with an epic recap!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wine and Love (2)

The wonderful Nora hosts a weekly meme every Thursday called Wine & Love in which we vent out all the things that make us reach for the wine and we list all of the things we are loving this week. It is super cute and YOU should play too!

What is making me reach for the wine:
  • Expensive textbooks.
  • Headaches that refuse to go away.
  • Humidity. I am so ready for fall.
  • Crazy drivers around the Drake area - some of these kids need to re-take drivers ed!
  • The fact that my university got rid of unlimited free printing and instead gave us $20 (500 copies) for one semester. Boo to that.
  • Not having enough time to read. Nerd alert!

What I am loving:
  • Looking forward to seeing these two lovely ladies.
  • My childrens lit class, in which I get to read lots of YA this semester.
  • Seeing all my "class friends" that I have missed over the summer.
  • Second dates that go well.
  • Books that I want to read already waiting at the library without needing to put a hold on them.
  • Our animal kingdom (we have four pets) although it is a lot of work, they are pros at brightening my day.
  • Fresh color on my hair and a fresh haircut. Ahhhh, feels so good to have some else do my hair!
  • The fact that I have more loves than wines this week! :)
What are you loving this week? What is making you reach for the wine?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How did you find blogging?

My entire life I have kept a diary. I can remember the little pink diary I had in first grade that had the little lock on it that I got for my birthday. I wrote all my secrets in there. Stuff like, "My mom made me so mad today, she wouldn't let me watch _____!" Yeah, 6-year-old irritations like that.

After that, with each age and grade level, it progressed to writing about crushes, fights with friends, more fights with parents (normal stuff, don't worry) and sisterly love/hate woes. I really wish I had all of those diaries still. I remember still having a journal in college - one that you wrote in! Oh, how it is probably a good that thing is not around anymore...

So, basically you could say that I have kept some sort of journal or account of my life since the moment I could string a sentence together. (It is heartbreaking that I do not have them all anymore).

Blogging happened for me almost exactly 4 years ago. I had just moved back to Iowa from South Carolina and I was unemployed, living on vacation money and savings and bored. I was out of work for about a month and I was so, so bored. My friends began to call me the lady who "lunches" because I was constantly meeting friends for the lunch breaks.

Luckily, I had the internet. But, honestly, I cannot remember what I did on the internet before blogging ... MySpace? Ebay? Shopping? God knows I can shop on line... I am very good at that.

In October of 2007 I must have been really bored (or perhaps inspired?). I had just finished a book and was reading the about the author section. She had a blog, so I immediately went to the internet and found it. This was before I even really know what blog meant. After reading through her blog, I clicked a comment from that blog and got to another person's blog. That was the bug that bit me.

After that I was hooked. The author blog that I found was Karyn Bosnak after reading 20 Times a Lady. She was so witty and funny, I couldn't help but check her blog several times a day to see if she had posted. The commenter that I found was Lesli at Pretty Random Thoughts. Her blog was so cute and we had so many similar interests that I sat and read each and every post practically that night. After that, I knew I had to start my very own blog.

That is when A Little Pink in the Cornfields was born. It began as therapeutic for me, and in the 4 years since, it has turned into a hobby and a lifestyle. It is still therapeutic, but now I look at the blogging community as a group of girlfriends, as confidants, as my inspiration. Many of my blogging friends have turned IRL friends, and I look forward to listening to their opinions and reading what they write everyday.

I hope that I can continue to sustain this new(ish) hobby of mine and grow my blog, but most importantly, I hope I can continue to make new blogging friends and strengthen old ones!

What got you into blogging? Do you remember the first blog that "bit" you?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

Classes started yesterday and my first class was AWESOME! It's a children's lit class and ... let's just say I will be reading A LOT of YA this semester. Which makes me completely giddy! ;) Look for a post tomorrow summarizing the classes I am taking and what I am looking forward to this semester in education!

Well, it's Ten on Tuesday time and this week it's all about music! I've always loved music, especially singing. I just can't sing in front of people. I get way too nervous, but I can totally rock any song alone in the car or when I'm in the shower. ;)

As always, thank you Chelsea for hosting. :)

1. Do you listen to the radio in your car? If so, what type of station do you like?
Yep! I love the radio and always have. Ever since the days of taping your favorite songs onto cassette tapes! My favorite stations are all over the board, but in my car I almost always have it on the oldies station... I'm a sucker for oldies and think it's such great feel good music. :)

2. What is the best concert you have ever attended?
Hands down, definitely Lady Gaga! Everything about the concert was amazing. Before, during, after... I cannot wait to go see her perform again!

3. What is the most embarrassing concert you have ever attended?
Billy Ray Cyrus. Enough said. To make matters worse, it was my first concert EVER. Yep, laugh it up! ;)

4. If you could have the singing voice of anyone in the world, who would it be?
I love Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood's voices... but, if I had to choose I would go with Kelly.

5. You’re auditioning for American Idol. What song do you sing?
Ooooh, that's a toughie... I would probably go with Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I have always loved that song.

6. If your previous weekend had its own soundtrack, what would be a few of the songs?
She Works Hard For The Money... I worked A LOT last week!

7. Most annoying television show theme song ever:
Probably the Lamb chops theme song... Doesn't stop me from singing along when someone starts it though...

8. Are you and your significant other music-compatible?
I don't have a significant other right now, but I would like to share some interest in music so we can go to concerts together! I've gone on a couple dates with this guy (you know, bathroom guy) and we have a lot of the same tastes in music. Big plus!

9. A song that brings me back to middle school:
Whoomp! There it is! (hehehe)

10. A song that brings me back to high school:
Baby, One More Time by Britney Spears and Summer Girls by LFO

11. A guilty pleasure song (or three):
Anything else by Britney Spears! I'm also a sucker for the Eagles, I love Hotel California and cannot change the channel when that is on. Also Stairway to Heaven by Led Zepplin. (I told you I was all over the board...)

What's your favorite kind of music?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet the Pets!

Hello everyone! How was your weekend?

Today I thought I would introduce the furry members of my family. We have some new readers here at ALPITC and I figure they deserve a proper introduction to my furry family!

First, a little background on my family's love affair with animals.

Growing up we always had pets. My mom is the biggest softie you will ever meet and she was constantly bringing home strays. Talk about a role reversal, huh?! Luckily, my dad was a softie too, especially for dogs. We always had at least one dog and one cat. Both my parents sides of the family love animals and just about everyone has pets and had pets while growing up.

Jump ahead a few several years later and today my aunt regularly takes in rescue dogs at her home out in Dexter, IA next door to my grandmother. They both have plenty of space for them and equal amounts of love, so they enjoy opening their home to these animals in need.

At times my aunt has over 10 dogs that are rescues and will eventually be adopted. My grandmother has taken two dogs, my parents have adopted one and my sister has one. We can't help but fall in love with them!

That's basically the quickly summed up history of my family and pets, so let's get on with the introductions, shall we?

Oh, one thing first. My sister and I are roomies. So, not all of these dogs are "mine" but they're still a part of my family! :)

The first pet I got on my own, is my cat, Libby:

Libby is a character! She is 100% cat and can be a total snot. Libby enjoys playing in water (yes, water), playing with string and climbing just about anywhere. There is not a spot in my house that she hasn't found her way to the top of. If she can sit on it, she will get up there. She loves to sit outside on the deck and will sit out there forever, as long as it is not too cold! However, she does not mind extreme heat, which I find extremely odd. She enjoys sleeping in with me literally on my pillow and loves cuddling in the mornings - only mornings though, she's not a cuddler any other time and hates to be held.

Libby was a rescue that I found at PetSmart through Noah's Ark Animal Rescue in Newton, IA. Libby came home with me in early 2009 when my mom thought that I needed a cat. We spent a weekend looking for the perfect cat and we found Libby at the last place we went. I knew she was my cat the moment I picked her up, she was only six months old and we bonded right away.

Libby is named after my former employer, Club Libby Lu, which closed in 2009.

Next is Zeke:
Zeke was given to my by a friend-of-a-friend. She had just gotten married, had a baby and life was a-changing super duper fast for her. She just did not have time for Zeke.

After dog sitting him for a week I fell in love. He was a handful at times, but overall he was such a good dog. When she asked me if I wanted him, I jumped at the chance.

Zeke is an all black Puggle, that I am pretty sure was from a breeder (which, I am usually not a supporter of) I'm not positive though. Regardless, he is a rescue in my eyes because he has a much better home with me and gets the attention he deserves. I believe Zeke is about 6 years old, but again, I am not completely sure.

Zeke has LOTS of energy. He loves to run and play with other dogs. He does not play with a lot of toys, but loves bones and treats. He will eat, and eat, and eat, and eat... until he gets sick. Which, he does. Quite often. In fact, just the other day he found a bag of treats, ate a bunch of them and for a week I have been dealing with the aftermath of that... You know what I mean. I don't have to go into it. It's been awful though. AWFUL.

Zeke's favorite activity is going to the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings. He always gets lots of attention there, but most importantly, he gets lots of FOOD.

It's surprising that Zeke is not overweight. Must mean I am doing my job... ;)

Next is my sister's dog, Chico:

Chico is a chihuahua/rat terrier mix. He has a very similar story to Zeke's. The family that had him did not pay attention to him, nor work with him on his potty training. Since my sister got him about 3 years ago he has come a long way! He still has some issues with pottying in the house so he wears a band (which we lovingly call his diaper).

Chico is a happy fella, but he can get stressed if he doesn't receive the attention he feels he deserves. We frequently have to take him places by himself or take him on walks alone so he will feel special. He loves riding in the car and loves running free in parks. He doesn't need to be on a leash, but usually we keep him on one because he's not too friendly with kids. He's been known to snap at them!

Chico and Zeke are best buds and I don't know what we are going to do when my sister and I move on - they absolutely love each other and play quite a bit.

Last, but certainly not least, is Lexi:

Lexi is 100% a rescue dog. She came from a puppy mill in southern Missouri. Lexi is what you call a Dapple Dachshund, but she is unique because she is a double dapple. Both her parents were dapples. This is a big no-no, because when you breed a dapple with a dapple the puppies almost always have birth defects and health issues. Lexi was extremely lucky, and she was only born deaf. Many double dapples are born deaf and blind.

When the shelter that first took her in from the puppy mill found out she was deaf, she was going to be put down. My sister happened to be on the this trip picking up dogs that were scheduled to be put down and when she heard them say that she knew she had to do something. At this time the car was already full of kennels and dogs and there was no room for Lexi. My sister said she would ride home with her on her lap the 6+ hours back to Iowa.

That was about a year ago, today Lexi is still with us and she is the most amazing dog. I cannot imagine life without her, she's just the sweetest most inspiring puppy I have ever had. She adapts so well to her disability and seems to have no idea that she is different. She's smart and learns quick, at times she is better at letting us know when she needs to go out or when she wants something, better than the other two dogs! Lexi definitely makes life sweeter!

Having three dogs and a cat is definitely work, I'm not going to lie and say it isn't. Have ONE dog is work. There are definitely days when I am tired and grouchy and just don't want to walk the dogs or take them out to do their business. Although, overall the good days always out-weigh the grumpy ones. All of the animals are happy to see us every time we walk in the door and that unconditional love makes it all worth it!

I'm a big supporter of adopting pets, not buying from a breeder. There are so many animals out there that need good homes. If you are willing to put in the time to look for the breed you want, you can almost always find it! We have had lots of dachshunds, malteses, boxers, chinese crested... the list goes on and on. All of the dogs are mostly purebred, because they came from puppy mills.

If you are interested in adopting a pet, the shelter we work with is Panora Pets and we always use the website Petfinder!

Now, it is your turn. Tell me about your pets! If you do not have a pet, tell me about a pet you once had, or would like to get!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday & Sunday Stacks, Volume 1

I tend to struggle with coming up with blogging material over the weekend so I am going to start something new, the Saturday & Sunday Stacks! Here is where I will post the reviews of the most recent books I have read. Feel free to play along if you are interested!

First up is, Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

This book is about a wealthy woman named Meridith Delinn. Her husband Freddy Delinn has been found to be a crook by the SEC and squandered billions of his investors dollars. During the years that Meridith and Freddy were together Meridith had no idea the scheme that Freddy had going and defended her husband fiercely.

When Freddy went down and eventually went to prison the outlook for Meridith and her two sons didn't look good either. The courts and all of America could not be convinced that they had nothing to do with it. Especially since right before the story broke Freddy had asked Meridith to transfer 15 million dollars into their personal account.

Now Meridith's friends hate her because her husband lost millions of their dollars they invested, strangers and all of America despise her and she cannot even find comfort with her sons because her lawyers are advising her to not be in touch with them for their protection.

The only person Meridith can think of to run to is her childhood friend, Connie. Connie lives on Nantucket Island, so although Meridith still has to wear a disguise to be in public, the privacy on the island is ideal compared to anywhere else.

This is the story of how blind love really is, the power of true friendship and the strength it takes to find yourself once you realize you have lost yourself. The characters were well developed and the story was very relevant to what is going on in America and Wall Street. There are many similarities to the Bernie Madoff story and although the extreme wealth is nauseating, it is still exciting to peek into.

Elin Hilderbrand writes the perfect beach reads and I love show always sets her novels on Nantucket. Her description of the island throughout her books has driven me to add it to my bucket list of places to visit someday.

If you haven't checked out her books yet, you should!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Books and Bars (4)

Three months ago I checked something off my personal bucket list...

I started my own book club!

My friends and I decided it made total sense to combine books and bars, two of our favorite things. Each month we read a new book and we check out a new bar in Des Moines. From there Books and Bars - Des Moines, IA was born. (Inspired by the Books and Bars in Minneapolis).

At the beginning of summer two friends of mine and I started with the book, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and we are still going strong. We have even bumped up into the double digits in meeting attendance! You can read about our past meetings here, here, and here.

Ok, so enough bragging. (I can't help it, I'm excited!)

Last night our group met at a new(ish) bar in downtown Des Moines called Mullet's. It's a pseudo-dive bar behind Principal Park that totes the best patio downtown. The patio is an upper deck with tremendous views of the city and the river. Unfortunately, it started raining around 5pm and our plans of sitting outside were squashed. Just like last time!

Oh, well!

We sat inside the bar, and despite the loud noise level we discussed the book as best we could. All eleven members finished reading Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. This book was about two couples. One couple that lived in India and another couple that lived in the US. The husband from the couple in the US is a native of India. They are trying to have a baby, but are struggling to conceive, so they decide to adopt a little girl from India. The Indian couple struggles conceiving as well, but they are struggling just to conceive with a boy. This is a book about the differences and similarities in American and Indian culture. It is about the universal aspects of motherhood and the true meaning of family.

The characters in the book, especially the American mother, are flawed but at times still lovable and your heart aches for them. The author did a good job at developing the characters but the group agreed that the American mother needed a little bit more developing. Everyone was in agreement that what she struggled with came across as selfish and her desire to have a baby was clouding her moral judgment.

We agreed that Secret Daughter was good, but nobody was raving. Personally, I enjoyed learning more about India. Despite having over the twice the population of the US, I know very little about this country. I'm sad to admit that what I did know was stereotypes and my opinion was not based on factual knowledge. After reading this book I am definitely interested in learning more and forming my own opinions.

I definitely recommend this book if you are interested in learning more about India and want some light reading. Despite the heavy issues, this book is still a great book to read sitting by the pool or on the beach.

Our September read is The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers and I have to admit, now that I have picked up the book and read what it is about, I am excited! I have noticed some of my Goodreads friends have it listed as "To-Read" so, please feel free to read with us!! We would love more members to add to our discussion!

Tell me in the comments below, what is the best book you have read so far in 2011? What book do you always recommend to friends/family?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lifepath: there is no right way, right?

I'm a firm believer that everyone has their own path in life and it cannot be compared to someone else's path. I have a hard time taking my own advice, but I do believe that statement is very true.

If you have been reading ALPITC for awhile now (my blog is 4 years old in October! Whoa!) you know that I have a close group of girlfriends. The five of us met in the dorms at Iowa State University and have been friends for over a decade now. In that decade we have been through a lot. We have grown up, gotten "real" jobs, lost loved ones, went through traumatic break-ups, gotten married and through it all have remained close, unconditional friends.

The one thing we all have in common is our alma mater, Iowa State University. We love our Cyclones!
The four older girls graduated in 2003 and I graduated the following year in 2004. We all graduated in a simple four years and followed a very traditional college path. Looking back now, personally, I wish I would have taken my time in college. Now, when I give advice to young college students I tell them to take their time. I tell them to carefully consider their career path and research, research, research. I tell them to do their best to not miss out on anything in this once-in-a-lifetime part of their life.

But, wait. Is it really once in a lifetime?

I don't think so.

Can it be re-created? That undergraduate experience? No, absolutely not. There is just something about being a fresh high school graduate and moving away from the protection of your parents off to live on your own for the first time.

I do, however, think that where there is a will there is a way. If going back to pursue a career that you feel passionate about later on in life is a possibility, you should go for it!

I spent 7 years in a career that I loved and hated at the same time. In 2009 when the company I fell in love with shut down for good, I knew that I had to figure something out fast otherwise I was going to be unhappy for years to come. I spent two years planning, saving and contemplating about going back to school for elementary education.

Now, I am in my 4th semester of graduate school, and I know without a doubt I made the right decision. I feel as if I have more of a purpose in the three days a week I substitute teach and am in the classroom infinitely more than I felt purpose achieving outrageous sales plans and making retail companies even bigger.

This semester one of my girlfriends that I met during my undergraduate experience is doing the same thing, at the same school I am at! She is going back to school for mental health counseling after working for the man for even longer than I did. Yesterday we spent the day together running errands, and spent a good portion of it on campus.
We just happened to choose the day that all the freshman were moving into the dorms. We were definitely nostalgic for those days, but at the same time we appreciated how much we have evolved since that time. We couldn't help but comment that these little know-it-all freshman will have a rude awakening someday. ;)

No matter how much we long for those somewhat carefree days, we appreciate how much we have grown and would never give up what we now know in life.

Classes start next week and just short of being first-day-outfit-picked-out-pencils-are-sharpened ready. This semester I am taking a few classes that I am *really* excited about, and I cannot wait to get back into the classroom to substitute teach all those little rascals in middle school.

I may be crazy, but at least I am happy. :)

Did you go to college the "traditional" way? How long did you take to get your degree? What is your degree in?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Life is always better on water

Last week I was all over the place! The lake, the river, the fair, the movies... I don't think I sat down once from Wednesday-Sunday! When I don't have anything going on, I pout. Then when I have too much going on, I pout. Do you have the same problem?


Despite running around like a chicken with my head cut off I had a TON of fun and would do it in second! Also... notice how two of the big events had something to do with water? I love water. (If you hadn't already guessed). I always have!

Okoboji at dusk

In 2008 when one of my best friends married her husband, a new tradition was hatched... An annual weekend that my friend dubbed, "Friends Weekend." She would gather all her closest friends and drag them up to her husband's family's lakehouse. The tradition spurred from her husband's annual "Man's Weekend" and she decided she wanted a weekend of her own for her closest friends.

Since then we have carved out two days in the summer to head three hours north to one of the best lakes in Iowa. Lake Okoboji!

There's something very calming about watching the wake from the back of a boat!

Okoboji is a part of the chain of lakes in NW Iowa known as the Iowa Great Lakes. It's a natural body of water and is some of the cleanest lake water I have ever seen. The great lakes are a glacial "pothole" and are a remnant of the most recent ice age 13,000 years ago. Like many of the lakes in Minnesota, these lakes are all glacial water, which makes the water so clean. Okoboji is one of the three lakes in the world considered to be a "blue water" lake. The other two are Lake Louise in Canada and Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

Pretty, pretty water :)

Okoboji is also full of deep water, which makes it perfect for motor boating (our favorite pastime!) swimming, and water skiing. The deepest part of the lake is over 130 feet deep and it is the second deepest lake in Iowa, next to Spirit Lake, which is also a part of the Great Lakes chain.

We like to go fast!

Okoboji is one of the prettiest places in Iowa and also one of the most fun! There's an amusement park, amazing nightlife and best of all, some of the greatest people. It's known around Iowa as a place to party, which we have... many times. As we have gotten older though, we prefer to party at the lakehouse. Give me some sweats, some aloe (for the burn I always seem to get), a beer and a campfire and I will be a happy, happy girl.

All my best girlfriends in one of my favorite places in the world. Life is good.

When we do party one of our favorite bars up there is the Barefoot Bar, which has been open about 10 years now and is an Okoboji must-see. Like it's name says, shoes are optional and swim attire is encouraged. We were at Barefoot both days, but on the first night there was a Republican campaign stop going on and Herman Cain and Michele Bachman were there. We wanted to see them, but as soon as we stepped off the boat, we knew we were out of place. Everyone was dressed up and we were in swimsuits, cover-ups and holding beers. We hightailed it out of there pretty quick. ;)

Never to worry! We came back the next day to pick up the famous Barefoot plastic cups - gotta stock up on these every year! I also got a really cute new cover-up but I failed to get a picture of me in it. I did, however, get a picture of my drink. (I know, lush).

Mmmmm, margarita on a hot day...

We also have a tradition of finding a trampoline and a slide on the lake. The trampoline is my absolute favorite, and I refuse to go home without jumping on one. We did find one, but totally forgot to take pictures! We did however, get pictures going down the slide...

It is instinct for me to plug my nose!

Getting out is a little rough...

The second day we were at the lake us girls shopped in the morning, while the boys were playing golf. On this shopping trip we all decided we needed matching bracelets that matched the color of our swimsuits.

Due to everyone's busy schedules we have a hard time figuring out the when of this trip each summer, but so far we have always made it happen. I truly hope we can keep the tradition going!

Until next year! See ya later, Boji!

What tradition do you look forward to most with your girlfriends?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

Great set of questions!!! As always, thank you Chelsea for hosting Ten on Tuesday!

1. What do you do for a living?

Well, I wear three hats. 1. I am a full time grad-student 2. I am a substitute teacher for grades 6-12 three days a week and 3. I am a residential counselor for adults with disabilities
To say it keeps me busy is an understatement. ;)

2. What’s your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite thing about teaching is the kids. Without a doubt. Watching them learn something that they were doubtful about at the beginning is so rewarding. I feel so fortunate to have already built a relationship with many teachers and principals in my area so that even though I am a sub, I am still left with lesson plans and many teaching opportunities.

3. What’s your least favorite thing about your job?
How freaking early it starts. Some schools require me to be there at 7:15 am. I am so not a morning person. I'm getting better, but I'm not 100% there yet!

4. If you weren’t a ____________, what would you be?
Definitely a writer. Of some kind. All through high school I wrote for the school newspaper and was an editor my junior and senior year. When I got to college I headed down the same path and majored in Journalism and wrote for the paper at Iowa State. After that year I wasn't enjoying it as much as I used to so I changed my major after my freshman year. Sometimes I wish I would have stuck with Journalism and kept writing.

5. What is something that you would love to get paid for that you think no one would every pay you for?
Reading. I would love to get paid for reading and writing book reviews! Too bad I stink at writing reviews and have a hard time telling an author that I didn't enjoy their work!

6. If you could have any job for exactly one day, what would it be?
Hmm... this is tough. I think I'm going to have to go with a Disney princess at Disney World. Am I cheesy or what?! Seriously though, I want to get dressed up as Cinderella and pose for pictures with little girls that love me!

7. If you had to do manual labor, what would you do?
Eeek, I dunno! Manual labor... Umm... For some reason the only thing that keeps popping up is the guys at the Pike Place Fish Market that toss the fish around and entertain the tourists! They look they're having a blast and getting a great workout!

8. What is something you were forced to learn in high school that was supposed to be super important, but you never actually use?
Yikes! This is tough too. Probably how to write a haiku. I have not written a haiku since high school. (Kind of weird coming from someone who said they would have been a writer! Ha!)

9. Who was your favorite boss? Why?
My favorite boss was my district manager in South Carolina. She was super southern, called everyone baby and sugar and was like my mom while I was away from my real mom! Oh, and it helped that she was a very fair boss!

10. Where would you rather work: Dunder Mifflin Paper Company (The Office), Wernham Hogg Paper Company (The Office, UK), or Initech (Office Space)?
Definitely Dunder Mifflin! I don't really watch The Office, but from what I have seen of it, I would be laughing everyday if I worked there!

In the comments, tell me what you do for a living! I know what some of you do, but there are a handful of readers that I have been corresponding with for years now and I'm shaky on exactly what they do!

Tomorrow I will recap my crazy weekend/week - in the past week we boated, tubed, drank and ate. I have been going, going, going for the past week and I'm beat!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Never eat fried cheese curds on a first date - and other hiliarious tales

Last night I went on a first date with a guy I've been talking to for a couple months. He just moved here this month and we finally were able to meet up.

Since he is new to town we decided to go the Iowa State Fair. The fair started Thursday and goes through next Sunday. It's a pretty big deal in Iowa, because I guess it's one of the biggest fairs in the US. I'm not sure if it still is, but at one point it was.

Because he was new in town I had to fill the role of tour guide. To avoid the crazy traffic around the fairgrounds and the ridiculously priced parking I suggested we meet at the Capital and take the shuttle down the street to the fair grounds.

It wasn't so bad. I get the feeling he was slightly annoyed at standing in line for about 20 minutes each way, but it was better than sitting in traffic (in my opinion).

Once we got there we pretty much ran smack into all the food vendors. Our eyes were a little bigger than our stomachs and we decided to just get a beer and browse all the options before making an irrational decision. ;)

Then we found this stand... can you freakin' believe it?! Fried butter on a stick. I have officially seen it all.

According to some crazy people that have tried it (and apparently have a hankering for type 2 diabetes) said it tastes like a warm cinnamon roll, because there's cinnamon in the butter and it melts once it's fried.

Still didn't convince me though. I don't think I could eat that.

Instead we decided to split some cheese curds (you know, cause that is so much better for you...).

After that I wanted to find the AE Stage to see The Nadas play, which is an awesome Midwestern band. Although I have been to the fair every year for almost the past 30 years I still don't really know my way around the fairgrounds. It's tough when there are 100,000 people milling around!

Luckily, I whipped out the ol' iPhone and consulted Google.

That got us there in no time.

After that we decided we were still hungry and we got a corn dog. Hello, 400 calories on a footlong, deep fried and battered stick! It was well worth the calories and considering it's only a "once or twice a year" kind of food, I went for it.

After that I really wanted to go wish the Butter Cow a happy birthday! We hopped on over a couple buildings to the Agriculture Building and checked it out.

It amazes me every time. How do you become good at sculpting with butter? Think it's like clay?

Happy birthday, Butter Cow!
Can you find my name?

After this is when it got weird. Not weird like, I need a rescue. More funny weird and I am still giggling about it.

As we left the Ag Building we ran smack into some bathrooms. He asked me if I needed to use the restroom, I said yes, but that I didn't feel like waiting in that line. See the line for the ladies on the left? See no line for the men's? Keep reading.

Well, ok. So the picture doesn't show the line very much. It was long though.

He said he needed to go and I said I would wait.

Two minutes later I get this text from him: "It might be awhile."

What?? WHAT?! How do you respond to that?

FIFTEEN minutes later he walks out. I was about two minutes from leaving, figuring he climbed out a window or something. He comes out of there like there's nothing wrong. I asked him if everything was okay and he said yeah. I'm sure the food wasn't agreeing with him (does fried cheese curds agree with anyone?!). Even my stomach was doing somersaults.

Still, it was hilarious and weird all at the same time. Mostly hilarious.

After that it was almost dark, we were both getting tired (five hours at a state fair will do that to ya!) and we decided to head home. I still have two more days at the fair in my future. Once next weekend with a client and then the last day of the fair for a concert. I'm pretty pumped, but on the flip side am glad it's a week away.

Do you go to your state fairs? What is your favorite fried food on stick?