Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oh, How Pinteresting Wednesday!

Today I am linking up with The Vintage Apple for Oh! How Pinteresting Wednesday!

Are you on Pinterest? If not, then you should be.

Here's some of my favorite finds this week. This week is seriously slapping me in the face, so kicking back and looking for a few of my favorites from Pinterest was so nice. Hope you enjoy!

Such a great quote.

Need to make these. I love s'mores. Even though they do make me nostalgic for the lake right now.

How amazing is this idea? Why didn't I think of this???

Yes. Everyday.

I try to do this. I wish more more people did, too.

Ha! Too cute!

So simple and so true.

Yes. Just yes. Puts things into perspective, no?

I may or may not be wearing this exact outfit today. ;)

Source: via Morgan on Pinterest

I need this dress in my life.

So true.

Happy hump day everyone. ;)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

Yikes, so glad that Monday is over with. This week might as well be finals week. Finals at Drake are so different from finals at ISU. Maybe it's because it is grad school. I don't know... but the projects, papers and presentations are seriously kicking me in the behind.

I'm not complaining though, trust me, deep down I love being this kind of busy. ;)

So, it is Tuesday and it has been far too long since I have played along with Chelsea and participated in her weekly meme!. Ten on Tuesday.

1. Do you wear glasses, contacts, or are you one of those perfect eyed people?
Do those perfect eye people still exist?! If so, I don't like you very much. I have worn contacts since middle school, and have had glasses since the first grade. I can still remember that day I walked (ok, sulked) into first grade and my teacher complimented me on my glasses and I scowled at her.

2. What is the next item you are going to purchase?
Uhhh... no idea. This week I am not allowed to buy anything. Unless it's a present for someone else!

3. Have you ever watched Judge Judy or any other real court show?
Yup. Not really into it. It feels kind of staged to me.

4. How do you feel about fake nails?
I used to have acrylic nails done all. the. time. I look back on it now and kind of hate seeing those pictures with my nails done. Now I love having my nails at a shorter, more manageable length and changing the color every week.

5. What is your favorite sport to watch?
Basketball is most fun to watch. Maybe it's because I was a basketball cheerleader for three years? I just understand and enjoy watching it.

6. If you could create your own Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor, what would it be and what would it be named?
Hmmm... well, when I have my choice of any topping or flavoring, everything usually ends up in it, so the same would probably happen for ice cream... it would have cookie dough, chocolate chips, strawberries, caramel, peanut butter cups... do you want me to go on? I would call it, Everything but the Kitchen Sink. Or Garbage Ice Cream (but that doesn't sound too appealing, does it?)

7. Do you have any scars?
I have a big scar on my knee where I completely wiped out on my bike when I was about ten years old. I was going around a corner way too fast, there was sand on the street... and you can imagine what happened next. I also have a really weird scar on the inside of my wrist from when I first got Libby and she scratched me. Her nails must have just been clipped and it dug into wrist and left this dot shaped scar.

8. Does your pet’s name fit them? Is there a more appropriate name?
I think Libby, is definitely a Libby. I also love that her name has a story behind it and she's named after the company I used to work for. Zeke was a Zeke when I got him... I don't think it really suits him, because it sounds like a tough dog name and he's not really a tough dog... I don't know what else I would name him though.

9. What is your favorite television show theme song?
Right now, probably Big Bang Theory (gotta love Barenaked Ladies!) and over all... I'm going to get cliche and say Cheers or maybe Golden Girls. ;)

10. What was your favorite activity on the playground?
The jungle gym. I liked to climb on top of stuff. I was that kid that figured out how to get on to the top of the swing set... it's a wonder I don't have more scars or have had any broken bones.

Pick your favorite question and answer it below!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Break recap + a new challenge!

Hi Friends!!

How was your weekend and/or holiday?!

I had big plans to post all kinds of book-ish things over the weekend, but that went right out the window. I was kinda lazy... I did get a lot of studying done from homework to-do list that I posted on Twitter, but other than that, I didn't do much of anything.

Here's how my break went:

My T-giving break started this day. It was supposed to start Wednesday because Tuesday is usually a sub day for me, but I didn't get a call. I was even on the website and calling like a crazy person for open jobs, but there was nothin'! Kids got out the next day for break, so I am sure that is why. Maybe teachers don't get their holiday pay if they call in the day before a holiday? I don't know.

Instead of working, I went to lunch with a friend, took him to our old high school to (hopefully) show him that I am not crazy for getting lost in there one day (there are new additions to the building) and then we sat at Caribou the rest of the afternoon drinking coffee. Sound delightful? It was!

I headed over to Omaha (about two hours west) with that same friend to watch him race r/c cars. I didn't really know what to expect and was pretty sure what I had pictured in my head was wrong.

First things first though... we ate at Schlotzskey's, which is my *favorite* sandwich place! Whenever I am in a city that has one, I just have to stop. Have you ever had it?

After stuffing our faces with the best sandwich ever, we headed over to the racetrack/hobbyplace/store-with-the-most-small-peices-I-have-ever-seen.

Watching these small cars race was really fun! I had no idea this was even a sport and that so many guys were into it. There weren't a lot of people there racing (hello, day before Thanksgiving), but there was still quite a few!

What I found most interesting was the technology behind it and all the preparation that goes into it. There was small parts everywhere! And the store where everything is sold? Ohmygosh. Small part city. Such a crazy little niche market!

I started the day with the gym, and I'm really glad I did. This kick started a new challenge that has been brewing in my head for awhile now. I'll tell you about soon. Promise.

After about 45 minutes at the gym, I went home and got ready for the holiday (which means, I opened the bottle of wine).

I spent my Thanksgiving out in the country at my grandmother's house. She lives in Dexter, IA which is about 30 minutes west of Des Moines and is a really small town. She doesn't even live in the town either! It's a few minutes further west... on a dirt road... but there is a tiny lake! I've never been on the lake, but I hear it's pretty fun. ;)

Thanksgiving dinner was good, we had an odd mix of family that doesn't normally get together but it was fun overall. It's nice to see my grandma. It just in the past few years that she sold the home she's lived in for over forty years here in Des Moines and moved out there. She used to live within walking distance of my parents house, and now she's just too far away :(

Remember how I planned to go out at midnight with mom? Well, we decided against that. Instead we got up early and hit the shops around 8am. Much more reasonable, right? We started with Menards (a big hardware store in the area) because they had dog beds for extremely cheap! Menards was c-r-a-z-y. The line literally snaked through the store all the way to the back. Luckily the line went really fast and we were next to some fun people in line. I even ran into a girl from high school, that was there for the same thing! ;)

After that we headed to the mall. I really didn't get anything. I just got the dog beds, a travel coffee mug (it was only $5) a sweater at Younkers and some nail polish at Ulta. All stuff for me... oops. Well, I guess the dogs got a gift too.

Apparently Black Friday is the day to run into people because at Younkers I ran into .... and ex. A yucky ex. Luckily, I avoided the situation, in typical Amber fashion... When I noticed him, he had already noticed me, so I flipped around and quickly started walking away - without my mom! She comes running after me, confused. Oops. Sorry mom.

Ugh. Sometimes I hate how small Des Moines is. I have no desire to talk to him.

Moving on. Once I got home, I quickly threw on gym clothes and did a quick 60 minutes between the treadmill, elliptical and bike. I ran into a friend and we ended up talking for quite a while, which helped me stay longer. ;)

That night us girls went bowling. I was so shocked that we were all together - and on a holiday! This is so rare. Especially unplanned like this!

We were just missing Shannon :(

Can you tell I am trying not to laugh? It took about five minutes just to take this picture because I couldn't stop laughing long enough to "frown." lol (There you go, Mike. Posted it just for you.)

This morning I got up and headed to Zumba with my friend Kristi. She was teaching the class, and I was excited to be able to attend. Usually her group fitness classes do not work out with my schedule. This class kicked my butt, but was so fun!

After that I headed home and studied the rest of the day. No fun there.

That evening us girls got together AGAIN and we saw Breaking Dawn-part 1. I had already seen it, but I didn't want to miss out on time with the girls, so I went! I'm such a nice friend... ;) hehe.

Aren't Sundays kind of depressing? This was such a great break, I was dreading having to go back and finish up the semester all day. The next two weeks are going to be crazy!

Well, on Sunday I spent the day pretty much in yoga pants. I did make it to the gym fourth day in a row* and did another interval workout on the machines, but not before almost falling off the treadmill. I was only going about 3 mph but right after I jumped on I must have tripped over my own two feet, dropped my phone and sort of slid off. I didn't fall completely down (thank god) but there was this guy that came running over to help (how sweet). It was kind of embarrassing... luckily I can laugh at myself, and I just hopped right back on.

The rest of the day I spent studying and lounging around the apartment. That evening I figured I better go grocery shopping because I'm not going to have time to go this week, so I headed to Target. I made a fatal mistake and went while I was starving... I have lots of food now. I should be good for awhile. ;)

So, that was my vacation!

*Now, that random challenge that mentioned above? So, I started it on Thanksgiving, and I need you all to hold me accountable.

I'm having a really hard time squeezing in time to workout each week with my hectic schedule. I need to get better at scheduling my workouts and sticking to it, so I'm starting a Thanksgiving-to-Christmas challenge. I am challenging myself to work out everyday until Christmas.

I did so well in October and then in November I just stopped tracking, and working out. I just felt .... gross. So, that's going to change in December! Who's with me?!

How was your Thanksgiving break? Did you go shopping for Black Friday? Do you have a plan to avoid the holiday weight gain?

Friday, November 25, 2011

All I want for Christmas...

It's Black Friday, are you shopping today? This post is scheduled to go up at 5:30am, I'm sure many of you will still be going strong at that time. Me? No. I will not.

My mom and I are going to Jordan Creek (the popular mall in our area) to laugh at see the 35,000+ people rush into the mall at midnight. For the past seven years I spent my holidays working in a mall.

For the past seven years I spent this weekend irritable from lack of sleep, yet pumped up from all the excitement and caffeine. Before CLL closed, I was usually traveling around this holiday. In 2006 I spent an entire month in Columbus, OH. Then got stuck in Chicago, trying to get home from that same trip. The past two years I spent it opening a top volume store at midnight for those crazy Iowan's that want to shop at the mall in the middle of the night. But... not this year. This year, I had a glorious SIX day vacation, and, it kind of feels ... wrong.

But, not thaaat wrong. ;)

Anyway, I am positive I have some readers that I know 'in real life' lurking on this ol' blog, so today, I thought I'd help you out...

...with my Christmas List! (Yes, that is a proper noun that needed to be capitalized).

My mom has been bugging me for my list for quite awhile, I knew I had some time though because she cough,cough -doesherChristmasshoppingtheweekbefore-cough, cough.

Hehe, you know I love you, Mom!

Anyway, here are the things I just can't live without anymore.

An Erin Condren iPhone case, if I was practical, I would ask for an Otterbox phone cover, but ... I really want one of these, because I enjoy things with my name on them. Duh.

Various books...
My Year With Eleanor by Noelle Hancock
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Then Again by Diane Keaton
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Peas and Thank You by Sarah Matheny
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (I've read this book, but borrowed it from the library and loved it)
A Secret Kept, also by Tatiana de Rosnay
Educating Esme: Diary of a First Year Teacher by Esme Raji Codell
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Of course I want all of these (and many, many, many more), but the bolded ones are must haves :)

Boot socks
I love wearing boots, with tights/leggings and some chunky socks with a sweater dress. So far this season, it has been my go-to outfit. Now, I just need more boot socks!

Speaking of boots... I need more sweater dresses!

Yes, I know. You have probably seen me shopping many times on Twitter, and have bought several sweater dresses this season, but some I have had to return! (Plus, I am cheap, and love searching for a deal. So I don't feel bad. ;) )

This particular dress is from Target and is the perfect example of what I like. Plus, it's only $23.99, can't beat that! I can dress this up with bright tights and fun socks, a scarf or a belt. I'm a big fan of keeping the actual top/bottom/dress simple, but dressing everything up with accessories! Your wardrobe will last you so much longer if you do that.

Travel coffee mugs.

I am in desperate need of some more travel mugs and I really, really like this cute ceramic mug with a sweater (a SWEATER! Ahh, the cuteness!) from Caribou. How adorable, no? :)

A food processor

This has been on my list for way too long. I don't know why I don't own one. I don't even know what to look for to be honest. Is a good food processor worth spending extra money on? I don't even know. I just know that I really need one. The blender I own is on it's last leg... :/

The Obol.

I hate soggy cereal, so this is absolutely perfect for me. Need. As-Soon-As-Possible.

A new iPhone docking station for beside my bed.

I have a docking station in my bathroom, but I use it everyday while getting read and I'm getting tired of moving it back and forth from the bathroom and my room. This one would be perfect! Anything with a clock will do though... I know these can get a little overpriced, and they don't need to be (imo).

This leaf ring from Etsy.

I saw this the other day on Pinterest and fell in love with it! Isn't it adorable? There's also a matching bracelet... just sayin'....

Also from the same seller on Etsy, I found this claddagh ring that I just love.

I know technically you're not supposed to gift yourself with a claddagh and that a guy is supposed to give it to you. I don't care though, I still want it. I don't care who gives it to me, whether that be myself or someone else! ;)

What's on your Christmas list this year?? Do you know the story behind the Claddagh ring?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ten Days of Thanksgiving - Day 8

It's Day 8!!!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I will be combining Days 9 and 10 into that one.

I cannot believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Where did 2011 go?? We were just laughing in one of my classes the other day that that when we were kids in the 80s we thought that by the year 2000 there would be flying cars, hover boards and people would be living on the moon. (Thank you Back to the Future!)

It's 2011 and nobody lives on the moon. I have yet to see a flying car. And hover boards (as far as I know) only exist in the movies.

Anyway. I'm off track already. Are you surprised?

Today I am thankful for...

The "Animal Kingdom." Otherwise known as our pets. ;)

For this one I recorded another vlog! Hope you enjoy!

PS: Don't mind my horrible grammar at the beginning. Also, I think Chico peed on me a little. Hope you can't tell. Haha! Ohh, pets. He might have just been wet a little from drinking water, but I'm not sure. Let's go with the water story, ok?

Do you have pets? Tell me something special/unique about your pet! If you don't have a pet, tell me what kind of pet you would get if you could, or what kind of pet you could tolerate.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ten Days of Thanksgiving - Day 7

Sorry I missed you all yesterday! The day just flew by and before I knew it, it was just too late to post, especially when I knew I would have this post going up early Tuesday morning.

Well, today is day 7 of the Ten Days of Thanksgiving and today I am thankful for...

My common sense.

John F. Kennedy once perfectly described himself as an "idealist without illusions." I love that and I think it sums up how I am just riiiight.

I'm definitely an idealist and I am constantly using the terms "annoyingly positive" to describe myself but, I'm not naive and I know when something is unrealistic and/or won't work.

So, today I am thankful for my common sense and for having a good head on my shoulders.

What made me think to be grateful for this trait, you ask?

Well, last night as I was driving home I was listening to Delilah (hello, Christmas music on 104.1!) and this girl called in and was upset because she didn't know if she was actually in a relationship with her "fiance" who is MARRIED to another woman.

What? WHAT?

He is married. What part of that fact is confusing you? I want to just reach through the radio and shake girls like this. Maybe I'm jaded. Maybe I'm cynical. Maybe I'm... logical.

The story kind of had me fuming and things like this piss me off to the point where I begin to question the meaning of marriage at all. I begin to question when or if I will meet someone that feels the same way I do. I don't think marriage is just a piece of paper, but clearly, others do.

Anyway, before I get completely out of control and high up on my soapbox...

That call got me thinking about how grateful I am that I have the common sense to say thanks, but no thanks to situations like this.

Not that I haven't gotten myself into my fair share of situations when I was younger that were just ridiculous and I should have seen coming a mile away. My common sense came with age and time. It came after making mistakes and learning from them. It came from watching other people make mistakes and learning from them.

And, that's the thing.

Everyone goes through it when they're younger, this making bad decisions and living idealistically, but now that you're an adult and supposedly wiser? Uhh, uhh. Not ok.

So. Yeah. I'm thankful that I'm not a complete bonehead and don't put up with crap like this. Hopefully the girl on the radio figure it out too. Delilah really laid into her, so hopefully she listened. ;)

What do you consider yourself, an idealist or a realist?

PS: Check out my new page... I just put up a 30 before 30 list that I started back in April!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ten Days of Thanksgiving - Day 6

It's Sunday... and I'm posting super late (for what is normal anyway), so this is going to be quick!!

I don't usually post anything but book reviews on Saturday and Sunday, so this is strange!

But, it's Day 6 of the Ten Days of Thanksgiving and today I am thankful for...

My iPhone.

Yep, I said it. My iPhone. It's like a really good friend. A really good friend that I seem to an unhealthy relationship with... :/

Really, I'm thankful for every phone I have ever had, but this one really takes the cake. It's always there when I need it. It's very reliable. It's resourceful. Easy to be with use.

Sound shallow and pretty lame? Yep. It is. I can't help it though. I am thankful for the little guy. I would post a picture of my actual phone but... I use it as my camera, and I am much too lazy right now to dig up my point and shoot.

Amber + iPhone = match made in Apple heaven.

What completely shallow, completely unnecessary piece of technology are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ten Days of Thanksgiving - Day 5

Catch up...

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

Today I am thankful for...

My ability to read and love of reading.

I'm so thankful that my dad passed this passion on to me. You all know I love books and everything book related. I visit the library at least 2-3 times a week (usually with C or other clients), I'm regularly found at Half Priced Books looking for recent releases I have had my eye on and I love studying at Barnes and Noble surrounded by shelves of books.

As I am studying to become a teacher I am definitely one of those that wants to instill a love of reading in my students. Many teachers do. I accept this challenge happily and am convinced I can do it.

With addicting series out like Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games it's easy to get a student hooked on books. All it takes is a few questions and at least a tiny bit of motivation from them. Once you've got 'em, they're hooked.

I'm still reading for children's lit where we still have a few weeks until the semester is over and this week we're reading children's biographies. I knew I wanted to find a book on a First Lady or JFK (surprised? Didn't think so.) When I got to the library and started looking, I ended up walking out with three books on Eleanor Roosevelt, one on Michelle Obama, one on Dolley Madison and another one on JFK.

I almost immediately started reading one of the biographies on Eleanor Roosevelt. I only knew the basics about her and I was eager to learn more, she seems like such an interesting person!

Our Eleanor by Candace Fleming is set up like a scrapbook and follows Eleanor's life chronologically. The book has 150 page of short articles, letters, pictures and other short passages about her life. The way this book is set up makes it very easy to read and also makes it a very fast read.

Before reading this all I knew about Eleanor was that she was a great humanitarian, she was married to FDR, she was First Lady during the Depression and that she didn't decorate the White House (random, I know).

Eleanor was not your typical First Lady, in fact, she didn't even want the job! She wasn't interested in the life full of socialite parties and standing around at luncheons trying to impress other socialites. She was convinced that people were meant to do more.

During the four terms that FDR served as president Eleanor never stopped moving. She traveled 40,000 miles a year and rarely turned down an opportunity she was interested in.

This book tells about her life as a young socialite, her teaching and writing career, her many contributions to the US as a United Nations delegate and political activist and so, so much more. It is mind boggling to read about how much she accomplished in her life, I was tired just reading it, but overall enthralled at such an interesting person in our history.

Eleanor was still going strong up into her seventies, and despite passing away during the Kennedy administration she was a public supporter of his campaign.

This book is definitely for the accelerated and more mature reader. It's definitely not for elementary grades. I would say this book would be best used with 7th-8th graders. I think they might grumble about it (I mean, it's history, of course they're gonna grumble about it) but if you can pick out a few teasers from the book to read aloud and get them interested, I think anyone would enjoy learning more this extraordinary First Lady.

I definitely recommend this book if you want to sit down and easily. read about her entire life in one sitting

Ten Days of Thanksgiving - Day 4

It's day FOUR. DAY FOUR! Which means? Thanksgiving is less than a week away!*

Thanksgiving sneaks up on me every year it seems!!!

Today I am thankful for...

Being from the Midwest!

I love living here in Iowa. I've loved everywhere I have visited, and I would never rule out the possibility of living somewhere else again, but I do love where I live.

I mean, who doesn't love their home?? (Ok, I can see how some don't. But, I do.)

Of course it get's cold here, and it's pretty flat, there really isn't anything special about the scenery (unless you like rows and rows of corn and soybeans), but the people are friendly and it's overall a great place to live.

Although, that being said, I don't think we're meant to stay in one place. I think we're meant to move around and it is one of the ways we learn.

This could be moving around by traveling or living somewhere else. Just getting out and seeing other places. I am always going to be biased towards the Midwest though. ;)

So... what better time then this to post my .... accent VLOG!

I don't think I have an accent, but I have been told I have a northern accent, a southern accent, a midwestern accent... so, you decide!

Are you like me and claim you don't have an accent or do you accept your accent?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ten Days of Thanksgiving - Day 3

Well, we have made it to day three!

Read Day 1 here.

Read Day 2 here.

Today I am thankful for...

The local services for adults with disabilities.

I know all cities have these services and are available to citizens that qualify, but I'm especially proud of the non-profit that I work for. This week the agency was awarded the Nonprofit Spotlight Award of 2011 which honors one agency in the state of Iowa that gives exceptional services to the citizens in our community with special needs.

A little bit more about the agency...

We serve adults mainly with intellectual disabilities, but some have cerebral palsy, autism, and other physical conditions. The company mission is "to provide people with mental disabilities opportunities to achieve their personal goals."

Each client has a "life plan" and "goals" that they update each year. Each time we work with a client we check these goals and help the clients work towards achieving them.

Some common goals are:

  • Exercising more. Some goals are very specific and specify where, when and how to exercise.
  • Learning how to cook. Most clients need assistance tracking calories and food intake, and many clients would like to learn how to cook new and different foods.
  • Get out more in the community.
  • Become self-medicating and independent.
  • Make more plans with friends, and basically make friends in general, besides their staff.
  • Self advocacy goals. Many of the clients are very passive, and rarely speak up.
Each time we work with them, we document what we did to assist them with these goals.

I am an on call staff person, so I do not work with the same clients regularly, but most staff work with the same clients to establish that bond and maintain consistency. Since September I have been working with the same client who's schedule matches mine very well this semester, I call her C on Twitter if anyone has noticed. C attends a bible study each Wednesday night that is organized by a local church. The bible study is called "Friendship Class" and is specifically for adults with special needs.

At Friendship Class we spend about an hour and play games (they love Bingo!), have crafts time, eat a snack and have about 15 minutes of worship. The pastor that runs it is really young and lots of fun, he works so well with this special population of people and makes it enjoyable for everyone. I have a hard time *not* participating in the activities, (they're not meant for me!) so I usually spend the time reading, on my phone or helping the clients with crafts and games. The pastor is constantly teasing me because I'm on my phone all the time. He yells out, "Get off Facebook!" to which I reply, "It's not Facebook, it's Twitter!"

That get's everyone cracking up! It's all good fun. ;)

Well, last night at Friendship Class we celebrated Thanksgiving because we won't be having Friendship Class next week due to the holiday. After all of the clients ate dinner the staff passed out gifts to all the clients, which were these adorable lunch totes from Thirty-one! I was immediately jealous and thought I could totally use something just like that!

Then... almost right after I thought that, someone plopped this right in front of me....

Staff got one too!

Isn't that the sweetest?! I was so touched and grateful I had to quickly swallow the lump in my throat. Sometimes this job is so frustrating and you just want to snap at the clients because you just can't understand why they just can't understand and this came at JUST the perfect time.

It's a little sad that it took a cute lunchbox for me to remember that my work doesn't go unnoticed, but nevertheless, I DO know that. I know that I am serving a part of our community that regularly get's taken advantage of and needs more caring people to help.

Inside the lunchbox was all kinds of cute and tasty goodies, including Godiva chocolate, tissues, a Christmas cd and trail mix.

I'm so thankful for this reminder last night and thankful that we have such great agencies that are so dedicated in our area!

What are you thankful for today? Do you like monogrammed things? (I feel an addiction creeping up). Are you playing along for the Ten Days of Thanksgiving? Let me know so I can check out what you're thankful for!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ten Days of Thanksgiving - Day 2

I had an entire post sitting, waiting to be edited and pretty much ready to go today.

Key word, had.

It. disappeared.

Immediately after I made this discovery I went to bed and slept 10 ahhh-mazing hours. (According to the sleep app it was mostly body rejuvenating deep sleep. Yeeaaaahhhhh!)

So. Anyway.

Today. On Day two, I am thankful for...

The Internet.

Wait. What?? I'm thankful for technologythatscrewedupandatemypostfromlastnight? Yeah, I am. I'm annoyingly positive like that.

You know how I know how long I have had the internet? This is a good story. You're gonna wanna (gonna wanna? Did I really just type that?) listen to this.

Back in the day when everyone first got internet, many many many of used AOL. Ya know, America OnLine? Too young? Are you judging? Judge away! Those chat rooms were FUN! My friend Abby and I would spend hours upon hours in chat rooms flirting with boys from eeeevvvvverywherrrrrrre. Ahhhhh, memories.

With AOL you came up with a screenname, a handle, a username, whatever you call it. AOLians called it a Screename. I had two. Amber1678 (Pretty sure the 16 is for my age and the 7-8 just naturally followed...) and WalkinginSpiderWebs (yep, I was and still am, a No Doubt fanatic).

My mom came up with Sunsmile, but it was taken. So, I suggested she add her age to the end of it, which is where Sunsmile37 is born.

She still uses Sunsmile 37.

I still use Amber1678. (sometimes).

My mom's is funnier. She's fifty now.

(She's going to crap if she sees that I just put that on the internet! Maybe I shouldn't mention that her birthday is next month. Oops. Just did) HA! Hi, Mom!


It's really simple and easy to figure out how long I have been obsessed with this World Wide Web business. Thirteen years. Lucky thirteen...

Plus, I can now tell my kids and grandkids that I am older than the internet.

(I saw that on Twitter yesterday. Thanks, Kara!)

What are you thankful for today?? Did you ever use AOL? AIM?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ten Days of Thanksgiving - Day 1

This year I am starting something new - a series of posts the ten days before Thanksgiving that chronicle the things I have been grateful for this year. Lisa has been doing this feature on her blog for four years now and I am excited to be able to participate!

Today I am thankful for...

The opportunities I have had this year and all of the positive changes.

So much has changed for me this year. I began an official teaching career and I began grad school full time.

I may be "just a sub" but each day I am in the classroom I am learning more and more about classroom management.I get ideas for what I want to do in my own classroom. I learn about different schools in the area and figure out what kind of administration I like and don't like.

The experience I am gaining from substitute teaching is going to benefit me in so many ways. I have a rare opportunity to see and work in all the schools in my area and this gives me a chance to figure out what works and what doesn't work. Despite only teaching approximately 60ish days, so far this year I have already seen schools that do not function well and schools that run like a well oiled machine. I have experienced the extreme privilege in the suburban schools and the heartbreaking lack of resources in the urban schools. I have been surprised by which students I prefer teaching and which students I prefer to avoid.

I have met principals and teachers that have knocked my socks off with their motivation, passion and drive and I have met others that seem interested in only gossiping and complaining about their students.

For the first time in almost three years I have felt that same fire and passion that I felt for Club Libby Lu. Kind of crazy to compare something as important as a child's education to a retail chain that had to close it's doors after 9 years, but it's the honest truth.

I'm thankful that I had the confidence to make this happen. I know many people wouldn't do it and are too afraid of the risks associated with quitting your job at age 28 and going to graduate school full time. I'm afraid of those risks too, but I'm more afraid of being bitter and burnt out at much too young age.

I've always said that 40+ hours a week is too much time to spend doing something you hate. I don't understand people that let themselves continue to despise their work life and I refuse to be one of them.

So, today I am thankful for this opportunity to change careers in my late twenties and the courage to go against the grain. It feels amazing. :)

When was the last time you went against the norm and did something you believed in?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Products Parade!

This weekend went way too fast, did it not? They all go fast, but this one seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. Booooo, hooooo, hoooo...

Today I'm sharing some of my recent product faves. Everyone loves product reviews, right? I love seeing what products other bloggers are loving and I believe in passing it on when you find something good!

It's pretty random though! Consider yourself warned. ;)

Crystal Lite Energy mix...
I'm a sucker for pretty much anything strawberry, plus it tastes great and it's got caffeine! This is perfect for those of us that don't want the bloat from carbonated drinks but still need that kick from the caffeine.

Redken Aerate...
I'm on my second jar of this stuff. I love it! I think it's a lot easier to use than mousse and it gives my thin hair that extra ooomph, it needs. Plus, it doesn't leave my hair feeling greasy. This is a must have if you have a lot of hair, but little volume.

Warm and Fozzie by OPI...

From the OPI Muppet collection, this color is so cute! I just love it! This is perfect for fall and I just love the sparkles in it. It's not too gaudy like some glittery nail polishes are. (Now, hopefully it's not hard to take off like most glitter polishes are...)

Neutragona Mineral Sheers...

I used to be a HUGE Bare Minerals fan. For a couple years I would pay about $25/month and get my makeup in the mail. It really wasn't a bad deal, but one day I ran out of BM and needed something quick. A friend told me about this foundation and I have been using it ever since! It's more than half the price and works almost exactly the same. I also love that there is sunscreen in the makeup because I never put any sunscreen on in the winter. This solves that problem!

Trader Joe's Goddess dressing... It's kind of disgusting how much I like it. It's not safe in my apartment. Lately for dinner (and sometimes lunch too) I just put whatever veggies I can find into a salad, add a little feta (cause every salad is better with feta!) and toss with this dressing. Mmmmm.... nom nom nom ....

Erin Condren Life Planner...

This planner has been a lifesaver this semester! I was really worried I wouldn't like how the weeks are laid out in them, but I actually love them! Having so much space to write for each day has been amazing, and has helped me stay organized. My only complaint is how big they are. Carting this guy around can sometimes be a pain.

The new Enchanted hair product line from Regis...

If you get your hair colored like I do, you have to use salon shampoo and conditioner. It's completely necessary if you want to spread out your visits to the stylist. Who wants to sit in that chair for 2-3 hours more than you absolutely have to?! I'm not loyal to one brand of shampoo, and my hair sort of demands that I switch things up. If I don't it just doesn't feel as soft. I discovered this brand last weekend in Minneapolis as well and it's pretty much amazing. It leaves my hair really soft and it smells awesome! It supposedly has gold in it as well, which is supposed to make your hair shinier? I haven't noticed that, but it's still pretty fun!

Regis has a lot of other great products too - I love their in house line of shampoos and conditioners. Very reasonably priced, gets the job done and smells great! Regis is also where I get my hair colored, my friend Amanda is the manager of the Valley West location and she's great. Very honest and will do *exactly* what you ask her to do.

Blowfish shoes...
If you haven't tried Blowfish shoes yet, you're seriously missing out. They feel like you're walking on a pillow. I have worn out at least two pairs of Blowfish heels in the two years since discovering this brand. They are perfect for you if you walk a lot during the the work day or you stand all day.

Bare Minerals Lipgloss in Brandy

I love this lipgloss. I have gone through countless tubes of this stuff. It's the perfect shade of red without being too much red, ya know?

Scarf Hanger from IKEA...

This is genius. Pure genius. I bought this last weekend while at Ikea in Minneapolis and am kicking myself for not buying another one. This would be a great gift - they're so convenient!

That's what I am loving lately for products, what are you must have products of the fall??

Check back tomorrow, I'm following Lisa's lead and featuring the 'Ten Days of Thanksgiving!'

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Non-fiction reading: the Hitler Youth and tenements of NYC

It's Saturday, and weekends around here mean ... book reviews!

We're reading non-fiction in children's lit right now and the books I read were Shutting out the Sky Deborah Hopkinson and Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.

I'm finished with Shutting out the Sky, which is the one I was assigned and I'm still working on Hitler Youth. I don't have to read two, I just really wanted to read the second one because I like books about WWII. (Well, not exactly like per se, just ... just extremely interested. I know I'm not alone.)

Shutting out the Sky is about the immigrants moving to America from eastern and southern Europe during the turn of the 19th century between 1880 and 1919. Historians think that about 23 million people came to America during this time and about 17 million entered through the port in New York.

The voices in this book were Rose Gollup Cohen, born in Belarus and came to America at age 12. Leonard Covello, from Italy, age 9. Maurice Kindus, from Belarus, age 14. Pauline Newman, born in Lithuania, approximately age 13. Marcus Eli Ravage, from Romania, age 16.

It was really interesting to read about the tenements in New York City during this time period. The living conditions were terrible and it's hard not to feel so sad for these people that came to America with such high hopes and were shown instead such hardship. The apartments in NYC were housing called tenements that usually had four apartments on each floor and each apartment housed a family and sometimes several boarders that the family charged to stay there.

The tenement housing was quickly, and very poorly built. As immigrants moved into New York City builders rushed to construct housing quickly and cheaply. It was most cost effective to put many families in the same building. The law defined a tenement as any house that was occupied by three or more families living independently and doing their cooking on premises.

The conditions were bleak, and most did not have clean water. Regulations on the housing were poorly enforced and most of the efforts to provide decent housing failed miserably. Landlords were not willing to give up their profits, but they weren't willing to spend the money on improving the conditions either.

It was interesting to see the history of the high cost of living in New York City! I would definitely recommend this book if you're studying genealogy in the classroom. Who didn't have to make a family tree while in elementary? I know I did! After reading this book you will definitely be interested in learning about where your family came from and if they ever lived in New York City during this time period.

We all know about The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, right? If you haven't read that book, or seen the movie I definitely recommend it. It is not accurate, but it's moving and (in my opinion) very well done for students or adults that are not that interested in history and need the fictional story to go along with it.

Where am I going with that? Just wait...

This book made me think of Bruno. I assume he would have been a part of the Hitler Youth, considering his father was a Nazi commander of a concentration camp (assumed to be Auschwitz).

Reading the biographies of these children that are so brainwashed by one of the most horrible political minds in our world's history is disturbing and completely disgusting.

As I said, I am not done with this yet, but it is absolutely worth mentioning because it's a true account of what the children in Germany did during the war. Many classrooms show The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which I think is great, but some non-fiction like this is definitely worth adding in to the curriculum while studying the Holocaust.

Both of these books were wonderful pieces of non-fiction that I'm really glad I read (and am reading). Sometimes I would rather study history through children's books like these, they're more interesting and easier to follow then the dense, boring text in history textbooks.

Definitely pick these up if you are interested in either subject! They read pretty fast and are extremely interesting!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Taking class to the professor's home...

Yesterday was a long, but rather enjoyable day! Much different from the day before, which was long and unenjoyable!

(Is unenjoyable a word? I don't think it is).


Yesterday morning was such a blessing because I got to sleep in. Although I didn't sleep very well (not sure why) I didn't get out of bed until almost 8am. Once I did officially wake up, I was able to take my time getting ready, drinking coffee and reading blogs. This is my idea of a perfect morning. :)

At 10:15 I was scheduled to do a read aloud at an elementary school near my apartment. This was for my children's lit class (seriously, this class is dominating my life!) and I was really looking forward to it because the kids were 5th graders (perfect grade) and I was planning on reading A Wrinkle in Time or When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I was a little bummed when I got there because the kids were taking ITBS (Iowa's standardized tests) and they were running behind. I only got about 15 minutes to read to them, and will have to come back next week to finish up.

After that I had my afternoon class... at my professors HOME. This prof lives in a very prestigious area of town and I was really looking forward to seeing her house! It did not disappoint. If you follow me on Twitter, you know what I am talking about.

This house was beyond gorgeous! When we all got there she went into the story of how she built the house and planned every nook and cranny. She admitted that she wanted to show it off and said, what's the point of building a beautiful house if you're not going to entertain in it?! I agree with her. At first it seemed a little show off-ish, but by the time I left I felt completely different. She has a point about wanting to share it with others, it makes sense.

What was also *awesome* was she basically said, go snoop, I'm not going to tour you around the house, just go look around.

So... look around we did. I fell in love with her closet and her master bath. So.freaking.gorgeous.

If I ever become a professor I will most definitely do this, I will never forget that experience.

After "class" was over, I had to work with my regular client. This week is kicking my ass and my patience is wearing extremely thin, so work was a little rough. I couldn't stop looking at the clock.

After I was scheduled to be done working with her I was meeting up with an old high school friend for sushi. We have regular sushi dates, but for some reason we hadn't been able to get together for months. I was so excited to catch up with her!

After all that I didn't get home until after 9pm. So, it was a really fun day, just long. Story of my life, huh?

How do you like to start your day? Do you begin your day the same way each day? (read newspaper, check blogs, walk dog... etc)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Oh, How Pinteresting Wednesday!

Today I am linking up with The Vintage Apple for Oh, How Pinteresting Wednesday! I can always count on Pinterest to help me find something cute to wear (usually with stuff I already own), help me add to my shopping list, find yummy food to make (or think about making), show me pictures of gorgeous far off places that I WILL visit someday and, best of all, *make me laugh*

Hope you're having a great week and you enjoy some of my favorite finds! :)

Love mustard yellow! I need more of it in my closet!

I'm not a huge fan of TOM's - I wish I was, but this outfit is adorable and something I probably would wear.

Want, need, have to have this watch! Maybe not in brown, but the concept is adorable!

I just bought some socks like these to wear with boots. They're not this tall, but they're almost identical!

Those Tory Burch flats? Love. Need. Top o' the Christmas list! ;)

I NEED this dress for this weekend. Isn't it adorable!? I love red.

Source: via Amber on Pinterest

Totally did this...

THIS is my sister's dog. SO FUNNY!!! Except, her dog is a chihuahua. He gives us this look though. He constantly looks terrified.

This had me laughing for a good five minutes, so funny!


Yep. I think that. Every. single. time.