Friday, March 30, 2012

Book Club Friday

TGIF, riiight?!

It was a fast moving, but long week. Anyone feel the same? My Monday-Thursday is just craziness all around so it tends to fly right by for me.

I don't have a lot planned for this weekend except for Books 'n Bars tomorrow (time to discuss Lolita! Can't wait to hear everyone's thoughts...) and then Saturday and Sunday - ?? No plans! Besides taking a client to Zumba. Yes, you read that right. She wants to try Zumba! I jumped right on that. ;)

So, today I'm linking up with Heather again for her Book Club Friday and talking about Jane Green's newest novel, Another Piece of My Heart.

I'm a fan of just about anything Jane Green writes so I was waiting for this one to come out and devour it. I think I read this one in the span of two days (which is impressive for me considering how busy I have been!). I loved it!

Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

Andi has spent much of her adult life looking for the perfect man, and at thirty-seven, she's finally found him.  Ethan--divorced with two daughters, Emily and Sophia--is a devoted father and even better husband.  Always hoping one day she would be a mother, Andi embraces the girls like they were her own. But in Emily’s eyes, Andi is an obstacle to her father’s love, and Emily will do whatever it takes to break her down. When the dynamics between the two escalate, they threaten everything Andi believes about love, family, and motherhood—leaving both women standing at a crossroad in their lives…and in their hearts. ANOTHER PIECE OF MY HEART is a novel that illuminates the nuances and truths about relationships and is Jane Green at her absolute best.

As soon as I read the synopsis I knew I was going to love the topic! It's always refreshing to read about a main character that is a woman that waited to get married. Living in Iowa we just don't have that. So many people are married early in their twenties. It's definitely easy to feel like an outcast among all your married friends. 

That being said, I also really enjoyed learning how Andi and the family she married into handled the change. There were some twists that I was not expecting, and really ended up enjoying reading about, but some things I felt were a little over the top and unrealistic, but then again... I have never been in the situation so who am I to say that?!

Overall, this was a great JG novel and I'm already anxious for her next one! 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dam to Dam training update

Hey everyone!

This week is literally FLYING by. I cannot believe it is already Thursday!

I'm halfway through my second week of training and I thought I would update you. You can find my training schedule here. I'm running three runs during the week and one long run on the weekends. So far my biggest concern is not running long distances during the week, but if they were longer, I honestly don't know how I would fit them in because I'm not fast at all. I can't dedicate much more time to this so I'm going to try not to worry about it!

Other things I have learned:

  • Synthetic socks are a godsend. Both my feet have blisters on the bottom in the middle and the synthetic socks and body glide work wonders. I can't feel them at all when running. Now, if I accidentally forget and wear cotton.... then I'm in trouble. (Did that on Sunday, it was awful). 
  • The Spibelt/fanny pack thing is awesome. I'm so glad Emily suggested it. 
  • My new favorite place to run in the Des Moines area is the Clive Greenbelt (which I keep accidentally calling the Grainbelt. lol). Grey's Lake is an old standby and I will always love running there. 
My last concern is the mental mind game that I am having a hard time getting past. I know I can run longer than 10 minutes consecutively, but at 10 minutes I think I just have to stop and I do. I'm hoping that in the next week I can get past that and by next weekend be running 15-20 minutes consecutively. It seems so silly, and I go into the run so positive, then after 10 minutes I just wimp out! When I walk it's only about 3 minutes, but still... I want to be able to keep going and build up my endurance.

Well, that is it for me! Hope you're having a fantastic week!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A girl can never have too many clothes...

Do you agree with that statement? I do and I don't. If I had a bigger closet, I would 100% agree! :P

On Sunday I organized my closet so that my spring/summer clothes were right up front (can I collective, "YESSSSS!" ?) and I was struck with the fact that I own so much of the same thing.

Here is what I have too much of and am not allowed to buy this season*...
  • Ribbed tank tops. You know, the ones from Gap and Old Navy that are perfect for layering, sleeping in, working out in...etc, etc, etc? Yeah, I have a bajillion of them. An entire drawer full of them. 
  • Anything in black or grey. I need to add some color asap. 
  • Dresses. I've got an addiction to dresses. There were lots of them hanging out in the back of my closet. 
  • Flip flops. Don't. need. any. more. PERIOD. 
  • Cardigans. I think my favorite outfit is the ribbed tanks mentioned above and a cardigan. You know, right after dresses. ;)
  • Jeans. I have a lot of these. 
Do you tend to buy the same things over and over? What do you own too much of? 

*We all know that is not going to happen. I will probably buy all of this stuff again because I cannot resist a good deal.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Finding your passion

When I was 22 and landed my first job post college, I had no idea that I was going to fall in love. But, I did. I fell in love with a company that was so amazing. A company that's mission statement was "to make every little girl feel special." I spent years trying to do just that in every state that this company would send me to. That mission really ignited a fire in me, and I couldn't wrap my head around anybody not understanding it. 

 {2007, My store in Myrtle Beach, SC}

{2007, Downtown Disney store where I spent two weeks training for Myrtle Beach. Anaheim, CA}

One of my favorite things about the five years I spent with Club Libby Lu was running into girls that were regulars at the stores I worked at, or girls coming in to see me when I worked. They would run in, hug us and usual shriek about how we pierced their ears or danced with them on their birthdays or painted their nails and poured glitter over the wet polish. It never once got old. Never. Those kids are what kept the job lively, kept it fun, entertaining and simply, amazing. Each time I felt myself falling into a rut, I knew a 6 year old would probably be the one to pull me out of it, and you know what? They did. Each and every time.

After the holidays in 2009, and the company closed it's final door at the end of January 2010, I didn't start grad school like I planned. Instead, I was recruited by a different children's retailer, also for girls but this company was all about sales. Gone was the importance of providing an experience a child would never forget. The two years I spent with this company taught me a lot about business and managing people, but it didn't give me that same satisfaction and feeling of knowing that I made a child's day, week, month or even year! Rarely did I have kids come running into the store to see me like I did with CLL and during those two years I really missed that.

{2010, my last visit to my very first store. Overland Park, KS}

Now that I have been subbing for about a year and I'm regularly at certain schools, the kids know me. They remember me. They remember what we did the last time I was there. Maybe it's because I look young. Maybe it's because when they ask me if I like a certain rapper and when I know who it is they laugh hysterically (seriously, always rap). Maybe it's because I actually teach and I speak English and can understand their Spanish when they refuse to speak English. (yes, that has happened to me).

I don't know. All I know is that I think they like having me around, and you know what? I like them too. A lot.

Saturday night I was out with a friend at a really small restaurant in the Merle Hay area, which happens to be in the area that my favorite middle school to teach at is. As we were eating dinner the busboy was coming around and clearing dishes and filling waters. On his second trip to our table, he faces me and goes, "I know you!" I kind of choked a little, and was like, "really??" He goes, "Yeah, you're my teacher sometimes."

I could tell he was trying to be all tough and not smile or act at all excited or humored by seeing a teacher outside of school (middle schoolers. They're so big and bad, right?).

I didn't recognize him at first and I instantly felt terrible. Luckily, my instincts from CLL kicked in, and when little girls would come in super excited that I was the one that pierced her ears- OMG! I always knew to pretend, and just grin real big and check out her sparkly new earrings and pretend that I remembered every last detail of that extremely important rite of passage for a girl. You know, make her feel special.

Doing this always made me feel special too of course, how can you not?!

I had that feeling again when he recognized me and brought it up. It felt really good to have that feeling again. I always knew that being in the classroom was going to be special to me like working for a company as special as CLL was, but I was kind of waiting for something like that to happen. Nothing can ever replace CLL for me, but I know that teaching is going to come in as a close, close second.

I don't have any pictures of teaching. I wish I did. If there were students in the pictures I wouldn't be able to post them, so in the meantime, you can enjoy some of my faves from CLL. :) 

Out of all of the jobs you've held in your lifetime, which job has been your absolute favorite, and why? 

{My favorite picture from my years at CLL. That was my boss at the time. ;) }

Friday, March 23, 2012

Book Club Friday!

 This week I'm linking up with Heather for her Book Club Friday!

Heather is about to have a baby (!!) but has recently been put on bed rest so I am sure she will love all of your wonderful recommendations on books if you have them!

If you remember, a few weeks ago I did BCF about The Bungalow by Sarah Jio, so when Emily's book club at The Many Thoughts of Reader chose Sarah Jio's first book, The Violet's of March for their March read (convenient, no?) I was really excited!

I devoured this book in a about a day (just like The Bungalow!) and absolutely fell in love with the story and the way that Sarah Jio tells a story!

From Goodreads:

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

A mesmerizing debut with an idyllic setting and intriguing dual story line, The Violets of March
announces Sarah Jio as a writer to watch.

This book was almost as much about the island it was set on as it was the story and since reading this book I have not been able to stop thinking about visiting this place! It sounds like the perfect place to just relax and do pretty much nothing for a week! Between the mystery of the story and the allure of this island I was hooked by the first chapter and after both this and The Bungalow, Sarah Jio is among one of my favorites! 

Definitely look into this one if you want a fast, engaging read!

What is your go-to book that you recommend to everyone?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wine & Love

This week has gone by way too fast. I can't believe it's Thursday.

Yesterday I was talking with a friend that is in my program at Drake (Hi, Anna!) and we both felt that Spring Break was just even more stressful because we felt guilty taking time off.

Isn't that ridiculous?

Although I haven't really taken time off because I have been working, I still get a lot of downtime at work and I have spent it reading the first Stephanie Plum book and re-reading The Hunger Games. Instead of doing those things I could be doing for class. Like, reading chapters for class, working on 1, 2, 3 grad projects that are basically research and synthesizing said research, working on several lesson plans, writing a history paper, or reading articles for my science methods class.

Who lets Spring Break stress them out?! Apparently, we do.

So, it's Thursday and that means Nora's Wine & Love feature! Let's get on with it, shall we?

This week I am loving...

  • That training has gone fairly well and I'm not as sore as I was expecting to be! Pray for me that it stays this way. (we all know it won't stay this easy. Otherwise, everyone would do it, right?)
  • That it's Hunger Games week! I have been so excited all week about this movie! I'm going to see it with a new friend from my grad program and one of my best friends on Friday at 6:45, then afterward we're going out to dinner to "discuss." Can't Wait!
  • All this rain is turning everything green, green, green! While driving around (and running around!) I have had a hard time convincing myself it is March!  
  • I had my first video chat with a blogger this week!! I finally "met" Molly and we chatted for almost 2 HOURS on Monday night! Time flew by and I loved every second of it! It was so much fun! I want to video chat with everyone! Big group chat, anyone?

What's making me reach for the wine... (or in my case, Leinenkugal's Summer Shandy)

  • The above mentioned stress. Although, I should stop calling it stress, because it is clearly not stress. It is guilt
  • All this rain. We're going on the fourth day in a row of rain. Yes, I realize this is in my love column too, but I do love that everything is greener. We couldn't have that without all this rain, but I don't like that it's affecting my running schedule. Boo. At some point I will run in the rain during the next 12 weeks, that point is just not now. 
  • My lower back is killing me. I don't know why, or how or what to do. It is just uncomfortable and painful. It's not from running (I don't think) because it's been doing this for awhile. I'm thinking of getting a massage or heading to the chiropractor, of which I have not done either. (I know, I'm deprived. I've never had a massage). Next time I see a massage in a Groupon deal I'll snatch it up. 
As always, I'm glad that I have more loves than whines!

What are you loving and hating this week? Have you ever been to the chiropractor? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

12 in '12 update and I signed up for... a 20K!

One of my goals this year was to run 12 races in 2012. So far, I have only ran one race and I'm not sure if I'm going to make this goal.

But, despite the sluggish start this year, I did make a HUGE step this week (two steps, actually) and I'm really excited to share...

1. I bought new running shoes.

Pretty, purple Asics! I bought them at Scheels and the woman that helped me was so kind and thoughtful! She had lots of tips and I felt zero judgment from her! I am continuously blown away by the running community and just how encouraging they are!

2. I signed up for a 20K*. 

If you have to go up and read that again, I understand.

I'm a little shocked at myself as well.

12.4 miles?!

Am I insane?


But, I do know that I don't have to run the entire thing (and probably won't) and that I CAN do it. My training started yesterday with a 3 mile run, and for the next 12 weeks I will be following this schedule:

My first training run went well, and I am proud to say that I have already put 8 miles on those shoes! (Wow, it feels weird to think in terms like that). Those miles weren't all running though, in fact, only 3 miles were running!

I'm not worried about my time for this race, and am honestly not running for time. I'm running to finish. I do want to finish within three hours though so I can get a medal, so I hope that is reasonable.That is my only goal in regards to time.

I will have to switch around the days I run to accommodate my schedule, but not by too much. I'm going to make sure I always do the long runs on Sundays and that I get two days in a row of recovery. So, that leaves very little room to change this schedule at all. It's going to take some dedication on my part, and honestly, that is what I am worried the most about. Am I dedicated enough? I sure hope so.

So, why am I doing this? Health? Weight loss? The T-shirt? Bragging rights? Yes, yes, yes and maybe.

I suppose also because I want to say I have ran a distance race. I want to train for something and then do it. I want to know if I really do like running. Maybe after this I will decide I hate it. Maybe I will catch the bug and love it. Who knows!?

I've always *dabbled* in running, but never took it too seriously. In high school I played soccer, but we never ran distance runs... but this was over 10 years ago, so... I think that it is pretty irrelevant :p

This is the first time I have actually bought quality, supportive running shoes. Why would I have needed running shoes before? The longest distance I have ever ran was 4 miles (until last Friday when I ran 5 miles... there were lots of walking breaks, but I still did it).

Yesterday when I ran the three miles in the new shoes I could feel a HUGE difference. Especially in my shins. I had virtually no pain in my shins, where as last week when I ran the 5, I had to stop because my shins hurt so bad, not because I couldn't run longer! That was ultimately what pushed me to go for it and get really good shoes.

Overall, I am really excited and can't wait to see how this turns out! Keep me in your thoughts! ;)

What is the furthest you have ran? Are you interested in running races or running at all? What advice do you have for me?

*For the locals, I am running Dam to Dam! Let me know if you are running it too!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tales from Substitute Teaching (3)

Well, this isn't a story about subbing, but it is a story about one of the clients I work with as a counselor at a local non-profit agency.

*a little background* 
I work for a non-profit that serves adults with intellectual disabilities as a residential counselor. So, basically I go into their home and assist them with their day to day living activities and life goals. 

On Saturday I was working with a young twenty something guy, that loves country music. Whenever I have one of the clients in my car I will ask them what they want to listen to and try to find something like that. This day he requested Jason Aldean. When I turned on Spotify (one of the best music apps out there) I had on Carrie Underwood. The rest of the conversation went like this....

Him: "Do you have any Jason Ald---- ohhhhh, Carrie Underwood!"

Me: "Yep! Do you like her music?"

Him: "Oh yeah. Carrie Underwood .... she's perfect," with a wistful look on his face...

Boys, will be boys. ;)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My (not so) wild and crazy spring break

Well, it's the end of the week, which means I have finally gotten my act together and am able to put a post together!

This is going to be bullets because my brain has practically stopped.

  • My spring break from classes has officially started. I'm working crazy hours at the agency though, so don't be getting all jealous. 
  • Despite being super busy, I squeezed in 2 workouts and am running 4 miles Friday afternoon with a good friend of mine. I'm pretty proud of myself! 
    • Sidenote: I even bought a small fanny pack type thing (my friend called it a SPIBELT?) to put my keys and phone in. Does this make me legit? 
  • I have to give kudos to a couple of girls going through my program that are going to Belize for spring break to do a week long study abroad. They have been busting tail to get things done and ready for these kids down there and I'm so excited for them both. 

  • I'm no longer counting calories (gasp!) I've switched over to points and am following Weight Watchers points plus program. Counting calories was getting me nowhere, literally. I was just maintaining and that's not what I want. When I was just counting calories I think I was eating the wrong calories. 
    • Another sidenote: I'm not joining Weight Watchers, because I can't really spend the money. I'm just following the program to see if I get any results. If I like it I will consider joining.
  • I set a goal for myself to work 60 hours at the agency. I am blowing that go out of the water and should break 100 hours for this month! Crazy!
    • Sidenote #3: I'm only getting in half of the subbing days that I had hoped to get, so this still evens out. 
  • I started Lolita the other night, and man oh man... creeper! Why are we reading a book about pedophiles again? (In all fairness, his writing is beyond amazing). 
  • No, I will not be celebrating St. Patty's Day this weekend (I know, such a party pooper) and instead I will be working. I'm not a huge fan of the holiday anyway. Plus, I'm kind of over getting wasted and stumbling from bar to bar. I'm much happier sitting on a patio sipping a few cold ones with a small group of friends. 
    • 4th sidenote: Which, sitting on a patio sipping a few cold ones is exactly what I will be doing Friday afternoon after running. :) 
Are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day? What are your plans for the weekend? 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Book Club Friday

Oh, do I have a bookish post for YOU! I'm going to hold off though, and only talk about one book even though I could talk about several!

Last week my book club here in Des Moines, Books 'n Bars, met to talk about Room by Emma Donoghue. We met the The Continental in the East Village and we had a whopping NINE people there! I have to add, this was nine people with two of our regulars missing this month! So really, it would have been 11!

Ok, the book! It was wonderful. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! How can a book about a boy that was born in a room to his mother that's being held captive in a 11x11 Room for seven years?

I know, I get it too! I was one of those and did the same thing. How am I going to enjoy this book? 

You will enjoy it though. I promise.

Everything is told through five year old Jack's eyes and it's so... refreshing. He's so smart and his mother has raised him in such a particular way, to shield him from certain things. I love how he personified everything in Room. Everything was special and purposeful. I love that.

Definitely read this book. I promise you will not regret it!

For the month of March we are reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (I know, some of you are cringing) and we're meeting at Goodsons in Beaverdale on Friday, March 30!  If you're interested in joining up with us follow the Books 'n Bars link above to get to the Facebook invite!

Today I am linking up with Heather for her Book Club Friday!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tales from Substitute Teaching

Would you go back to middle school or junior high?


I didn't think so.

You see, since I embarked on this new journey and started a new career in education, I made it my small mission to teach at all the schools in the main school district in Des Moines. Why? I don't know. I guess because I like to check things off of lists and I wanted to see what it was like at all of those schools. Plus, you never know who you might meet and who will be a bridge later on, right? Doing this has really let me see what I like and don't like inside of different school buildings. It's been adventure and it may sound nerdy, but I love checking another school off my list of schools I have worked at.

In the year and a half of substitute teaching I have subbed at my high school several times, but haven't built up enough nerve to sub at my middle school. (I can't sub in elementary until I'm licensed for k-5)

This changed on Friday and I finally worked in my old middle school. Yes, I went back to middle school. I was equal parts nervous and excited. The school has changed A LOT since I was there, but even back then it was kind of rough. Today it is even rougher.

As soon as I walked in, my stomach turned to a ball of nerves and I kind of wanted to throw up.

I hated middle school. I was chubby, wore glasses, had crooked teeth and a bad perm. No, I am not exaggerating. Also? My best friend moved away after 6th grade so on top of being unfortunate looking, I was alone. Dramatic, much? I know.

In middle school, all I wanted was to be popular. Typical, right? I can still remember that feeling of knowing that that wasn't what really mattered in life, but still feeling like that's what I wanted so bad. I can remember in my English class there was this poster that said, "What's popular isn't always right; and what's right isn't always popular." I'm sure every school has that poster.

Looking back now at those people that were popular... Well, I'm glad I wasn't popular now. In middle school I just hadn't blossomed yet. Much like a lot of people in those years.

The day of subbing went okay. There wasn't anything that I wasn't already expecting. I broke up a fight before it became physical, I took some verbal assaults (one girl told me my sweater dress was too short - I was wearing leggings, don't worry), and another girl laughed at me when I said her name wrong. Yep, that's middle school. ;)

I don't miss being IN middle school one bit, but I'm glad I went back for the day.

What was your middle years like? Would going back be a nightmare for you, like it was me?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

February wrap-up!

Ummm, it is March 1st. Let me just say what everyone is thinking. How the heck did that happen already?! 2012 is no doubt going to fly by!

At the beginning of February I set some goals for myself. Let's check out how I did!

  • Drink a minimum of 75 oz of water a day -Fail. About halfway through the month I got insanely busy, and with that insane busyness I needed copious amounts of caffeine. That's my excuse. Lame, I know, but that's what happened! 
  • Work out 4 times a week - Another fail. I did still work out quite a bit, and sometimes got close, but nowhere did I work out 4 times a week. If I could magically turn into a morning person this problem would be solved, but I am so NOT a morning person.
  • Finish C25K - Fail. Ugh, I'm still following it, but I'm wimping out on certain runs and I keep going back to the old ones. Like the run 8 minutes, walk 3, run 8 minutes.... repeat 2-3 times. I did bump up to the 10 minute runs, but I keep skipping the 20 minute run. I know I could probably do it but I keep chickening out! Can you run for 20 minutes without stopping?! (Don't answer that. I am such a wimp)
  • Sign up for the Red Flannel Run - I did sign up, but then that weekend I felt so under the weather and the weather was actually really, really cold so I sat this one out. I did do two practice runs that week, so I'm still counting this one as passed. So, Pass! 
  • Consume less than 2 alcoholic drinks per week - Pass! I hardly drank at all in February and am quite proud of myself! 
  • Substitute teach at least 10 days - Fail. I was only able to sub 8 days. Subbing 10 days a month probably won't be possible as I can usually only sub on Mondays and Fridays. Wednesdays are usually early out days and those days are hard to get a job.
  • Work 40 hours at the agency - Pass! I killed this one! I ended up with over 60 hours! I guess that evens out the subbing days since I couldn't get in 10!
  • Enter all meals into My Fitness Pal - Fail. Meh. This one is so hard. I hate entering the "bad stuff". Ya, know?!
Ugh, looking at this I kind of feel like a failure! I know that February was extremely busy and I really threw myself into work and school. Hopefully I can do a little better in March with these same goals! I'm going to change the subbing goal to 8, and I'm going to change the agency goal to 60 hours. I'm also adding one more goal:

  • Read 6 books - with spring break I should be able to get this done. I have three different book clubs to read for and then a few other books I want to get read this month, so I'm going to try it! Hopefully I make it!  
  • Blog 3x/week - Hopefully I can get back on the blogging bandwagon and make time for it. 
  • Work harder on getting all assignments done for the week on the weekend - this one will be much harder to measure, but I will be able to tell if I succeed at this one. I have been telling myself that it makes sense to wait until the last minute because then the material is fresh in my head for the class the next day, but this method is not working out overall for my sanity!
What are your goals for March? How did you do in February?