Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Last Weekend of May

Since I mentioned in my last post that I was going to talk about the other days I figured I better to do so! I have a very busy day ahead tomorrow and want to get this up here now. I'm going to try to give brief explanations along with a few pictures ;-)

(Not technically part of the weekend, but I'm including it this time!)
My good friend Jennifer and I hung out together. She came over to visit the new little one so that was fun. I'm glad she got to see the baby! After meeting lil Miss Cocoa Puff, Jennifer thought it would be good to get her some more toys. So we headed up to the shopping center area and went to Petco. We found some good items (like the one pictured with the girl in yesterday's post). Then after shopping at that store, Jennifer and I decided to go to a few others in the area. We ended up going to Payless Shoes, Ross, Old Navy (hadn't been in that particular store for over two years-- worked there for awhile), and made a trip to Jamba Juice. I was good about not spending too much, but I did come across a purse that was on sale at Payless. I've been wanting a larger one and this definitely works for me:

I'm thrilled that I only had to pay $14.99 for this beauty! ;-)
Mom and I did some some "mouse housing." We went out and about to stores to get some items. One of the places was Borders and I ended up finding one of the books on my list on sale. Yippie!

$3.99- yes please

We also checked out the new DSW store near us, where I lusted over the purses... but they were way too expensive. In addition to DSW, we went to Trader Joes and then to Fred Meyer. I remembered I had a gift card from Granny for Freddy's and found something I have been wanting for awhile, a new wallet. I was surprised to find one that I liked at Freddy's. I've looked many, many times. 
The wallet cost more than the purse (~$18) but I discovered  I had a little more money on the GC than I thought. Thanks Granny!
One of our other stops included the Dollar Tree. I wanted to get my Hallmark co-workers treats as my "goodbye gift" to them and had the idea to make a bowl full of goodies. Lo and behold, the DT had everything I needed (minus the bags of chips). They had a cute popcorn bowl and lots of candy packs. Such a deal! Mom and I went to Winco to get the chips so overall I didn't spend too much and got everyone covered that way. :)

Sunday was my last day at Hallmark. Thankfully it was very low-key and I got to chat up a storm with my co-worker. We talk about a variety of things from here to the moon so it was a good day. I will certainly miss those people, but I feel so blessed to have made some great friends. Though I'm not working there anymore I know that my friendships will continue with them. What a wonderful experience!

Oh yes, I must mention... For all the months I've worked at Hallmark there has been only one product that I have wanted. Though I couldn't seem to justify spending $6.99 on it the whole 9 months I was there. Of course, I could have gotten a discount from my manager had I bought it while she was working, but I kept telling myself  "no, no, no... you don't need that." Well, I start thinking different on Sunday, "I am going to Forest Park on Monday, I don't want to take my giant purse with me..." And then my co-worker only encourages me to indulge. Well, I bought this lovely item and here she is:

This is a cute claspy wallet! And if you're wondering, I am very glad I got it! Came in handy yesterday :) And I did get Rewards points for it... haha
I don't know why I was so silly about buying this item. In the past month or two I have bought things that I don't necessarily need, but want. I guess it was just that it was at my work and I tried to only buy cards or sometimes gifts for people. Oh well! I'm glad I have it now. We can be funny with what we want huh?

*Forgot to mention- not sure why... but after work on Sunday I drove across town for a lil family barbecue at my aunt and uncle's house. I enjoyed spending time with some of my cousins, two of my aunts, Granny and my uncle. I love how we talk about a variety of things-- from side effects of medications to old family memories. One thing that I remember most from our conversations was the topic of the natural disasters that had recently hit the South/Midwest. I love how my family cares about issues that go on around the country and the world. I feel so blessed for all that I have.

Monday- Memorial Day
I already wrote about this day yesterday so I'm just going to include a picture that I didn't put in that post. It's very important to note how simply wonderful yesterday was.... the weather was fantastic! A great end to the long weekend....

Hope you all had a blessed weekend!!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Relaxing Memorial Day

"I thank God for my life, and for the stars and stripes, may freedom forever fly, let it ring... Salute the ones who died, the ones who give their lives so we don't have to sacrifice everything we love...." - Zack Brown Band, Chicken Fried

This has been a fabulous day! I feel so relaxed and refreshed. Really, since Friday, I have had a really good few days and feel so blessed. I'll talk about the overall weekend tomorrow-- right now I'm going to talk about Memorial Day through pictures.

About 9am I met up with a friend and we spent some time hiking/walking in Forest Park. I have been wanting to get up there in the worst way! Thank goodness, the weather was just right... partly sunny and no rain. Also the temperature was good even as we walked underneath the tall, tall trees. I just loved it when the sunshine illuminated all the ferns, little yellow flowers, and leaves on the trees. So beautiful! :) Unfortunately, I didn't take my camera with me (gasp!), but I will make sure to have it with me next time.

I have to note though, I am impressed with how well I did considering I haven't had much physical activity for awhile. My friend walks fairly fast (I do too normally but this was over a variety of terrain) but I was able to keep up with the pace. The hardest part was the little section getting on to the main trail-- it was somewhat steep and uneven. Once my body was warmed up (legs, heart and all), I was able to do just fine. We walked on the main trail for about 30-35 minutes and then turned around at one point to head back. Ah.... so refreshing. Yes, I feel cleansed even if my legs feel like Jello! I'm fairly confident I'll have a good sleep tonight!

Alrighty.... Rest of the day has pictures! In the late afternoon, we had a family barbecue, a Memorial Day tradition.
All the fixings for hamburgers and the tasty sides-- fruit, chips, potato salad and baked beans!
My plate! Mmmm...
I even managed to spill on myself-- I'm a pro at this, FYI.
Nothin' like some Vanilla Cream Root Beer to wash it all down!

Not your average dessert for this All American meal but who can say no to  Dr. Otker's Creme Brulee?
Our evening entertainment consisted of letting the baby cat (who we're now calling Cocoa Puff, will let you know of her official title soon) out of my sister's room or as we call it, the nursery. We haven't been letting her out as much lately because she has been a little meanie to Cheese Puff. We're trying to let them work things out but she seems to be bullying him. Yes, that whipper snapper is beatin' up on our extra large boy! I feel bad for him-- he's been a trooper through this whole integration process. Anyway- I thought that it might help to keep the baby busy playing so she wouldn't bother her brother... So we all played and played with her! Cocoa can do some amazing tricks! At one point she was practically doing flips as she jumped to catch the toys. I got some of her playing on video. Really funny! 

Wild girl!!! 
Cheese Puff appreciated his lil sis being occupied- he dozed off all evening.
 And there you have it!! Now I am going to get ready for bed and crash... Hope you all had a wonderful day and also took time to remember our amazing military men, women and their families. The lyrics by the Zack Brown Band say it all. Thank you.

Friday, May 27, 2011

5 on Friday: Random Tid Bits

So I've been thinking of ways to keep me blogging consistently. I love the "Multiple Blessing Mondays," "Imperfect Prose Thursdays*," and "Wordless Wednesdays" blogging themes. In the future, I hope to do a whole week that uses those specific writing themes- think it would be kind of fun. Anyway, I've been mulling over what I would like to do and I came up with "5 on Friday." This is where I might write a summary of the week or five thoughts, five tid bits of some kind, or even a specific/related list of five things. I will also include a picture that has five items/things in it to go along with each post. Sometimes the picture will be directly related to what I'm blogging about or sometimes it will just be a picture of five things. If you would like to do this too, feel free to join me! With that said, here is my first "5 on Friday" list: 
My painted nails :)
  1. One of my favorite country songs right now is "What Do You Want" by Jerrod Niemann. I really love the lyrics and beat of this song. Plus, Jerrod sings it with such an achy emotional tone. I love country music... so good! You can listen to it here (it will take you to his YouTube video).
  2. Confession (one of many!): I've been painting my nails lately... 
  3. Today I signed up for two exercise classes at the studio near my house. I signed up for belly dancing and Zumba (both for beginners). So excited to get into shape!
  4. Sunday is my last day at Hallmark.
  5. Baby cat and Cheese Puff have had three official meetings in these past few evenings. The first two meetings were pretty successful though both ended in them hissing at each other. Last night Baby cat (no not her real name- we haven't decided yet!) looked like she was submitting to Cheese, which is a good thing. He's been a great boy too! He hasn't gotten very defensive, only reacted when she's gotten too overconfident. I suppose when you're his size little kittens don't bother you the least bit. Still though, it is impressive how calm he's been. He can be rather touchy at times so it's great to see him be okay when the Lil Miss comes out for some exploring. I love my kitties!
And there ya have it folks, that's "5 on Friday." :)

*Here's a link to a the blog, Canvas Child/Imperfect Prose. This neat lady came up with this great writing idea for Thursdays.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Goals for New Schedule

Ever since I put in my two week notice I have been thinking about my new schedule. I'm excited for this change because it will allow me to get back to that thing called balance. Well, I may not ever achieve it but I might be a little better closer this time. ;-)

Since I will be working two nights per week, I will have more time of my own to control (that is the theory anyway!). I do plan on substituting as much as possible so that will affect things from time to time. However, I feel like I will be able to manage my time better because of how this part-time job will mesh with subbing.

So, one of my big goals is to exercise regularly. Unfortunately, I have cut that out of my life for far too long. I know it's important to be fit and I want it to be a part of my everyday routine. My hope is that once I'm able to get myself exercising regularly then whenever my schedule changes again I will be able to adjust easily. I think this problem was that I hadn't created a habit yet. When something becomes a habit, then you learn to incorporate into your lifestyle versus giving it up.

Speaking of exercising, I received a fun phone call from a neighbor-friend this morning. She said that the exercise studio near us is going to have an 8-week bellydance class. The studio is also having a deal too, $99 for the whole series. So that's about $12 per class. It's funny I cringe a little at spending that much money for an exercise class but then again, isn't getting healthy worth it? Plus I would be having fun with her and one of her friends. This is something we talked about several months ago and I wasn't able to do it because of my part-time job. 

I called the studio to check on the timing and then I also asked about their Zumba classes. I've heard good reviews on that exercise program and would like to try it one of these days. Once I figure out my work schedule then I'll see if I want to do one or both exercise classes.

Within this goal I also want to re-do the "Couch to 5k" running plan. I'm irritated at myself for quitting it when I was so close. I didn't make a conscious decision to quit, but I was sick for a good portion of October and then life got hectic... and then I left it in the dust. Time to try it again and make running a habit!

Another big goal for this new schedule is to increase the time I spend reading. So far this year I have read 3 books... not great considering it is May. Right now I'm working on The Help by Kathryn Stockett and am really enjoying it. Here are the books I've read this year:
  • Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life by Queen Noor (of Jordan)
I have a huge book list and it keeps growing. So I must spend more time reading, reading, reading! In this reading goal, I also need to make sure that I spend some quality time with the Bible. That's something I haven't done much of lately and know my spirit needs it.

Hmm.. so exercising and reading. I suppose I should add in writing/blogging. I would love to be a consistent blogger because (1) I love writing and (2) it is a great way to process feelings. Of course, I don't write about everything going on in my life but this is a good outlet for recording important events and thoughts.

Well I think those are all good goals for this change that's coming soon. I hope that adding these things into my life regularly will help me to be a more well-rounded individual. Exercising, reading, and writing/blogging are all good ways of growing intrapersonally and interpersonally.

Oh brother, I sound like I'm writing a paper now.... ;-)

Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

We have a new family member!

Our family is finally complete-- we have two precious kitties now...

Yesterday, my mom, sister and sister's boyfriend brought this little baby home... Isn't she just adorable?
She doesn't have a name yet... We're thinking maybe Oreo, Cupcake, or Oreo Cupcake.  What are your suggestions?!
She's so snuggly. Precious lil girl.
Cheese Puff:  Somethin' funny is going on around this place...I KNOW someone in here!
 The Story ~
About a week ago my cousin asked if we were interested in getting another cat. She said a stray cat showed up at her friend's house and they were not able to keep it (they already have a full house!). We have been wanting another kitty, a friend for Cheese Puff, but the right one just hasn't come along. My mom, sister, and I are all suckers for black and white kitties so we have been hoping to get one...

Anyway, I contacted my cousin's friend and she gave me information on this sweet kitty. She also sent along a few pictures, which was wonderful. As soon as I saw them I thought this girl was the cutest black and white cat! However, we still weren't 100% sure. Great news though, my cousin's friend's mother (confused?) has a animal rescue program. So her mother took this kitty to get shots and to be spayed. We got connected with the animal rescue center and my family was able to check her out yesterday. I was out all day with friends so I wasn't able to go, but I knew they would make a good choice in regards to having her. Apparently, they fell in love with this little lady and when I came home there she was, in my sister's bedroom. SO CUTE!

Cheese Puff is a little stressed and unsure about what is happening in his home. They've been able to see each other briefly and in that time they both have gotten a little fluffed. We're trying a new method for introducing our cats; as compared to how we did it with the "Original 3." With our ladies we didn't give them much time but they all learned to deal with one another. I'm sure in time these two will be buddies or at least tolerant of one another. First step though is getting the baby used to the litter box then we can think about introducing these two more formally.

To help Cheese Puff through this transition, Mom got some fun toys today. He's in love with this one toy that has a thick string of fabric and feathers at the end. I played with him for awhile and he thoroughly enjoyed himself. He's always ready to play! Big funny boy.

Oh- some fun facts about the cats:

  • We got these two exactly 3 months apart. On February 21st, President's Day we got Cheese Puff. Yesterday, May 21st, Armed Forces Day, we got the baby! Very patriotic cats. haha
  • Baby cat is probably 3-4 months old. She's very tiny!! 
  • Whenever we come up with a name for baby, it will probably be a food name. I think a Sweet & Salty (Cheese Puff) combo would be cute.
  • Combined they're black and orange, which are Oregon State University colors. Go Beavers! :) Yes, that was part of my interest in wanting a black cat.... I think it's kind of funny.
Well, I better head off to bed now. Cheese Puff has already taken a good chunk out of my bed. He doesn't like waiting for me to get ready for bed so he claims his spot and that means I don't have very much space. Oh well. He's lucky I love him!

Have a wonderful night everyone! Hug, kiss and pet your precious animals!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Part II: Response to the 'End of the World'


suhf-er-ing, suhf-ring ]

1. the state of a person or thing that suffers.
2. Often, sufferings. Something suffered by a person or a group of people; pain: the sufferings of the slaves.

1. agony, torment, torture; pain, distress.
My next response to this end of the world prediction comes in the from of serious frustration and heartache for so many people. When I hear the phrase, "end of the world" I also think about being on the edge of barely surviving. I think about all of those people... those humans like you and I that have suffered so much.

Instantly, my mind goes to the victims of the earthquake that rocked Japan on March 11, 2011. I remember watching the news all day and felt so heartbroken for all those precious lives that had been lost and those that are now forever changed. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be shaken up so much, to have your whole life destroyed and no time to salvage anything... and then to have the fear of contamination from a nuclear plant. To them, that must (and probably still does) have felt like the end of the world. From thousands of miles away, it certainly looked like it. This website has some horrific pictures from that awful day. I just can't imagine... cars looked like kid toys as they floated along the currents of the water, trees snapped in half like they were just sticks, houses ripped from their foundations, people stranded and separated from loved ones, fires, unthinkable amounts of mud everywhere... total devastation.

The heartache I feel also goes out to those who have suffered in the midwest this year. In April, a large number of tornadoes swept through the country destroying so many lives. The pictures/video from the destruction is so hard to see. I can't imagine what it must be like to have to survive one of those massive monsters. Homes completely broken down, pets missing or stranded, people trapped in rubble... Ugh. Not only that but the storms created lots of flooding. What an absolute nightmare. To those victims, how can that not feel like the end of the earth? Their whole lives are turned upside down-- things they have treasured, the homes they loved, the neighbors they cared about, their animals, their livelihood.... Everything is all changed.

So when I hear the phrase "end of the world" I can't help but feel a little anger. Millions in this world have already suffered so much. There is also so much suffering in this world in addition to natural disasters. Right now, someone is suffering. Someone is wondering how they will ever get past what just happened to them.

And yet, some human says that the world is ending today? I think his followers should take some time and talk to the victims of rape, natural destruction, persecution and so many others. Now, those people have been through what is truly horrific and know fear. Surely, they must feel like they are at the very end.

It is humbling (and sad) to think about the end of the world in this way... I feel so fortunate and blessed for all that I have. When I have a bad day it is no where near compared to what someone else has been through.

In another light though, I also have comfort knowing that God is involved in every aspect of life on this earth. While these horrible things are happening to people, He is in the midst of their pain. He is everywhere and in everything. He knows their suffering and loss. They are not alone.

With all this said, the end is not to be determined by humans. God is in control and He will return in a way that glorifies Him.

"...Here on this earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." -John 16:33*

*Bolded/underlined for emphasis
* Dictionary.com was used for the definition of suffering

Part I: Response to the 'End of the World'

I'm starting this blog at 7:22PM. Wow, really? Guess that means the world is still turning and life is continuing like it has been for so many years. As usual, it is now raining again in the good ol' Pacific Northwest... So I guess this means that today is just a typical day.

When I initially heard of May 21st being the end date for the world I made some jokes with my friends. A good portion of this "prophecy" (ha) of Harold Camping is quite laughable. I mean, come on.... seriously?! You think God is going to return on your watch? 

However, on a more serious note I have two responses to this ridiculous "prediction." First of all, I believe in a God who is infinitely more powerful than a human prediction. I believe in the One who created everything so incredibly huge to everything that is so magnificently small. He created humans in His image--- He knows our heart, thoughts, soul, dreams, goals, and the amazing intricate functions of the human body. He watches over the animals grazing in the safari in Africa, He sees the little butterfly on the leaf, the morning dew on the country fields, the fish swimming around the Great Barrier Reef, the molecules in every cloud, the suffering of humans all around the world, the homeless man begging on the street..... Oh, I could go on and on. My point being, this is the God who "they" say was coming back today (and at 6pm apparently). Why would such an incredible amazing God come back when a human says He is supposed to? If God is that predictable why fear Him at all? Why get so panicked? 

Jesus clearly stated that His return to earth would be impossible for anyone to predict, "However, no one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows" (Matthew 24:36)*. Because He said so, I believe it. He can come back at anytime... any hour... And that is why He also says this, "You also must be ready all the time. For the Son of Man will come when least expected" (Matthew 24:44)*. He even tells us how to be prepared... 

If anything, this ridiculous prediction has been a good reminder to me and has given me good opportunities to share my faith. I feel sad for people who have been so mislead by this prediction. I think that it is a believer's calling, to show others love and compassion not to scare others. Yes, I firmly believe in the Lord returning to earth unexpectedly, but I also am comforted because He has left us a great plan of preparedness in the Bible. The most beautiful love letter ever written....

(Part II to be in a new blog post)

*Bolded/underlined for emphasis

Friday, May 20, 2011

Falling into Chaos

Here I am. It is May 20th, 2011 and I am finally writing. Goodness, I have been HORRIBLE this year with writing. It's not that I don't have a lot to write about but I haven't been making time for it. Between school, substituting, and my part-time job I have been extremely busy and worn out. 

A week or two ago I came across an article on CNN that had a title similar to the one I'm using for this blog. When I saw the headline I thought, "yes! That is how I feel!" Needless to say, this title accurately describes how I have been feeling for most of this year, especially in the last few months. I feel like I have been in "survival mode" for far too long. I am definitely not balanced like I used to be but have high hopes for getting back to a healthier way of living soon.

There have been a few changes in my life as of recently and I'm thankful to say that they've been good ones. Just recently, I received a job offer from Sylvan Learning Center. I interviewed with the director over a year ago but there weren't any positions available in my interest area. My sister works at this particular center, not as a teacher though. Anyway, my sister told me that the director had positions available and that I should get in contact with her. So I called the director up and she informed me that she would be happy to give me a position! After looking at my summer school schedule and figuring out how to deal with my current PT job, I confirmed that I would love working at Sylvan. Now I am a tutor/teacher there! I started training this week... it has been a good experience so far but overwhelming, as new things always are.

With that being said, early last week I put in my two weeks notice to my part-time job at Hallmark. I was very nervous about resigning as this all happened so quickly. Thankfully, my manager was encouraging and understanding. She said she knew I wasn't always going to be at the store, but didn't expect for it all to change so soon. I was very relieved! She also has allowed me to work my last two weeks, which is a wonderful blessing. I will miss being at the store-- I absolutely love the cards! In my time at the store, a few months shy of a year, I have made great friends and have met quite a few interesting people. I feel like they have all made an impact on me in some shape or form. The experiences I have had at the store will always be with me too. I learned so much from them and they have helped to make me stronger. It's sad to say goodbye to such a huge blessing, but I know I must take this new (teaching) opportunity.

Anyhow, with this job change, I will have more time for subbing and be able to have a regular schedule. I plan on only working 2 nights per week at Sylvan so that will be really nice. This change couldn't have happened at a better time too. Grad school is going to be fairly intense this summer-- taking 9 credits (not at once but all within a month and a half).  I also have a practicum for my ESOL endorsement this Fall... so I was already worried about coordinating Hallmark with all of this. Praise God! It has all been worked out. I never had to worry... just like so many other times where I have been unsure... He is so faithful and good.

In addition to the job change, the semester concluded... Yippie! I had to create an ESL unit, which reminded me of the good 'ol work sample days. Ugh. Thankfully it wasn't as intense and didn't require as much detail. Let me tell you though, I was glad to get that turned in! So nice to have a little break from school now. Whew.

So that is the latest and greatest in my life! I think I'm going to make a big note next to my computer that says "BLOG" and perhaps I'll remember to write more than one time every other month. ;-)