Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Birthday Papa

Nestled into a corner of the New Year.... in between the fading low hum from the holidays and the distant bursting blooms of fragrant roses was a celebration that happened for 16 years of my life.

For all those years, I celebrated my birthday with an exquisite human being, Papa. Today is his birthday, which I why I'm writing a post of rememberance. And tomorrow is mine. I have always loved that our birthdays are right next door to each other. If he was still here he would be turning 101.

Most years, there was a big family party around the first weekend of February. I loved gathering together with all of my family and being with Papa. I particularly enjoyed the fact that we shared the attention, as being in the center has never really been my cup of tea.

I'll always remember what it felt like to be with him. I loved his study strong hand on my shoulder and the way he held me close.

Twenty-five is a big milestone year for me and while I've missed him terribly on every birthday that has passed, I miss him even more now. I almost want to ask "I wonder what he would say to me this year?" but I don't think I need to. He would put his arm around me and with or without words say: you're enough. He would pat me lightly on the shoulder and reiterate that again. Who I am today, tomorrow, and in the future-- I am enough. And that is good.

Happy Birthday Papa :) I'd pick every rose for you.

Credit: Carl Christensen, his shop at Etsy

Monday, January 30, 2012

JOP: Evaluating My Clothes, Part II

So now you have seen my clothes that I have been wearing for quite some time. I haven't shown you the worst-- at some point you will see pictures of me in my typical work outfits... haha

To further understand my clothing situation I looked at them from a (simple) mathematical perspective:

Long sleeve shirts
Total: 3
1/3, the white one is worn the most
Note: One is flimsy cheap fabric and the other two are so spandexy they ride up... Will be going in the giveaway pile.

Basic shirts (shown w/ the striped top near 'em)
Total: 10
6/10 is the amount I wear the most... that means the other 4 are hardly used
Note: Basic shirts + a black or cream sweater + slacks/jeans = boooorrrrrinnng...

Spaghetti Straps
Total: 8
2/8 worn the most (cream and blue)
4/8 worn frequently (cream, blue, green lacey and white lacey)
Note: These are wearing out quickly, most aren't worn.... get rid of most of them.

Other shirts
Total: 6
2/6, the white and blue are worn the most (blue shown in front)
Note: Not good quality and plenty aren't being used-- giveaway, giveaway!

Tank Tops
Total: 16
1/16, white one from Old Navy has never been worn- tags and all are still on it.
7/16, worn for road trips and to Arizona
4/16, never been worn
5/16, hardly been used
Note: NO MORE TANK TOPS! Yes, they're cheap but it doesn't mean I need to buy them all of the time... And uh, the PNW is not at all a desert. ;-)

Long Sleeves/Sweaters
Total: 10
Note: Without counting my workout items, I have very few warm items. May I remind you of where I live-- it is often chilly on this side of Oregon! Something isn't right here....

Too Much Blue
Total: 34!!!!!
Note: This is without counting workout clothes as well (probably 5 more items if you add that in). Yes, oh yes, do I love blue. It's truly one of the best colors on me-- and all different kinds of blue (teal being my favorite). My dear friend Jennifer is always giving me heck for always choosing this color... she has good reason huh?! While I will continue to buy blue items, I am going to do my very best to broaden my color scheme (and patterns as well- notice the lack of that? ).

*I want to make a side note to all of this and say I didn't comb through my whole closet, as that would be a bit much but I think these evaluations make some good points.

What I Have Learned From This::
-- Just because the clothes may be cheap doesn't mean they're good choices (such as the shirts). It's easy to get a whole bunch of cheap things and stick with them... and become Boooorrrrrring.
--Related to above: As a professional, I need to have shirts/tops that don't require me to wear spaghetti straps under them. I need shirts that are good quality (not expensive necessarily) and that cover everything. Spaghetti straps are fine but a majority of my outfits shouldn't require them.
-- I need to be more conscious of shopping for the kind of environment I live in. That means more layers, warm sweaters, and good quality long sleeve shirts. Don't buy for your favorite season if it hardly exists in your location! haha
-- When buying clothes, don't just buy them... THINK about how to CREATE outfits. This is a mindset I have not had until now. I will spend my money more wisely if I am planning on how to use the desired items. If I am able to mix and match items to create several different GOOD outfits then my money is better spent than buying a bunch of cheap t-shirts, spag. straps, fashion tops (which I didn't show today) and tank tops.
-- I need to love everything that I buy! Otherwise, what is the point?! Don't just buy to buy...

Oh so much knowledge!! Analyzing one's closet is a great way to see where improvements are needed and how to not fall back into the old patterns. Another good reason to do this is to be less of a consumer. Kind of ironic, in some ways: looking at old clothes so I know how to buy new ones.  BUT hear me out: doing this allows me to see how I have wasted my money, even if I make super cheap purchases ($3.50 for those shirts I wear w/ spag straps, from F21, ~ 1.5 yr ago). Yes, I have gotten a lot of use out of the cheap clothes and I do take extremely good care of what I have.... but I look boring, I'm tired of wearing the same type of outfits. It all comes down to, if you don't feel good about what you're wearing/how you look then you don't feel good about yourself. Clothing is a statement and I don't like what I'm reflecting right now. I want to have fun creating outfits and showing that it matters how I present myself. Just can't do it all overnight so one step at a time :)

JOP: Evaluating My Clothes

Realized this morning that I haven't done much in the way of my January Organization Project for awhile.... and there is only 1.5ish days left as I write this. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten a lot done this month due to being super busy and then sick-- two of the weekends I didn't have the energy for anything. There's still two projects I would like to tackle, clean the inside of my car and declutter the cabinet and drawers in the bathroom. I'm going to allow myself an extension :)

Anyhow.... Today I decided to evaluate the clothes that I currently own and to make some choices about how to deal with them. I considered titling this post "How NOT to Shop" after looking at my clothes and feeling so ready to chuck most of them out. I really would love to pitch most of them out, as in give them away to Union Gospel, but I'm stuck in the "in-betweenness." See, I am in the process of updating my wardrobe and studying various styles.... however, I can't go around baring my skin. I need to have something to wear for the time being even though I'm not crazy about it. I also have to remind myself I can't go broke buying clothes-- I need to do this gradually as hard as that is.

So, here are my findings from today:

I focused mainly on two drawers in my closet-- tshirts, spaghetti straps and tank tops.

All but one is a basic shirt, I got these for cheap at F21 (own 10). Striped is a  3/4  length from Old Navy when I worked there yrs ago.
I wear these items underneath tshirts so I don't show anything  (own 8)
This is atrocious, really. All my tank tops... (own 16)

This pic goes w/ the above... Notice something? Like, the colors of these items? I  love blue dearly but too much. I  own 34 items in this color range. (not counting workout clothes) 

Long sleeve shirts...This also goes/w/ the above. I own very few warm clothes...
Because this post is rather long I am going to continue in a new post. :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Southwestern Chipotle Salad

Tonight we had a delicious Southwestern salad... mmm... Oh, SO good! Mom got the idea from two sources: Pinterest and surfing the web. This will be a repeated recipe for sure!

Pinterest ~ Southwestern salad here at this awesome food blog, "For the Love of Cooking" :

Mom's version has black beans, corn, grape tomatoes (yum!), Romaine lettuce & mixed greens, and if one wanted- a lil Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top.

Web  ~ Chipotle dressing recipe here from another great food blog, "Pinch My Salt" :

1 chipotle chile from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste (used regular salt)

Take a bite of this... mmm...

I think this salad will be even better in the summer when there's fresh corn and tomatoes. My avocados aren't ripe yet but they would certainly be a wonderful addition to this salad. :) I'd like to try the cilantro lime vinaigrette that's on the For the Love of Cooking blog sometime too. Such an awesome salad!


Fashion Blogs I'm Currently Following

As I stated in my goals for this year, one of them is to become more fashionable. I want to make better choices about clothes I buy and feel good about what I'm wearing. I tend to wear the same type of outfit for work, running errands, and various casual days. Anyway... it is time for a change. I feel inspired this year to improve in this area -- thanks to Pinterest and the wonderful fashion blogs I have been following.

Charmed in PDX -- Courtney is a fun gal, who is my age and lives in PDX too. I love how she puts together outfits using button up shirts, fun accessories, cardigans, sweaters, thin belts, and all sorts of other lovely things. Because of her style, I think I am going to invest in some button up shirts (which I have always loved anyway). I'm excited to see her outfits this year! I found her via the little things we do.

J's Everyday Fashion -- I recently found this blog via Pinterest. Someone had pinned her post about how to wear cardigans and I just HAD to check her blog out! I'm a follower now :) I like how she makes current fashion trends her own and her funny anecdotes. J is a fashion stylist who plays around with the leopard print, different textures, and all kinds of colors. She's a little more risky that I'll ever be (I will never be able to pull off mustard colored jeans! haha) and creates great outfits!

Kendi Everyday -- I'm not quite sure where I found this blog first, I think saw it listed on Charmed in PDX's blog. Anyway, I love this lady too! I love her sense of humor and outfits she creates. She posts great quality pictures (a lil about her, she says this, "Two years ago, I followed my husband to his hometown and instead of having a baby..."). Recently one of her outfits featured colored blocking with two bright colors, very fun!

Lilly's Style -- I found her via Pinterest. I see her outfits pinned all of the time. I think the reason for that is she has a very reasonable style and because she tells where you can buy similar or exact items that she's wearing. She has fun mixing things up with blazers, thin belts, button up shirts, sweaters, cute high heels/boots and all other wonderful clothing items. I could easily replicate many of her outfits and I love that about her style. I just wished she showed her pretty face more though! 

This Chick's Got Style -- This is the very first fashion blog I started following, well over a year ago. Yara is a neat young lady, about my age, and lives in Amsterdam. She's a fashion editor at Elle and has had her blog featured in lots of big magazines around Europe. Her style is edgy and simple. I love her clear vivid photography style as well. Fun blog!

What Kate Wore -- I just love, love, love this blog! I will admit, happily, that I am a huge Kate Middleton fan. I think we're sisters at heart (haha), as we both love cream and navy blue/blues. I love how she dresses ladylike, which of course is required, but does it with her own pizazz. This blog does a fab job of following her fashion and helps us get to know the Duchess a little better. The author of the blog is great at being professional and appropriate in talking about Kate and I like that very much.

the little things we do -- Thanks to a cousin I got introduced to this blog and I really enjoy reading it. Lauren's blog is a mixture of posts about her life (she recently had a darling baby girl), fashion (love her somewhat funky & simple style-- very PNWish), simplicity and many other great topics. I love that Lauren is a fellow PDX-er! On most Fridays she does this great post called "Fill in the Blank Friday" and anyone who wants to can follow along and link up. Check her out!

Alrighty... so there you have it! If you want to feel inspired on spicing up your wardrobe, I suggest you check these ladies out. If you have any fashion favs, share 'em! I always enjoy checking new ones out. :) 

Happy Sunday!!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sweetest Thing

This was such a fun day!! Mom, Sarah and I got together with a friend of ours, an "ex-neighbor." We met her (Christy) her daughter and granddaughter at a lovely cupcake shop called the Sweetest Thing. Oh, and it is the sweetest thing. These delightful treats are made with high quality natural ingredients. They also look too good to eat!

I will tell ya'll, I am not a big fan of cake or cupcakes for that matter, but the moment I tasted the "Lady in Red" my mind changed instantly. These cupcakes are so good! Not something I could eat all of the time because they are quite sweet, but certainly perfect for a get together with a dear friend. :)

Lady in Red

After having delicious cupcakes we went to see Christy's house and then went with her to CAT Adoption Team to see her newly adopted kitty. We enjoyed chatting and catching up :) What a wonderful day-- and it was full of sunshine too!

The darnest thing is though... I had my camera and did I get a picture of us together?! Guess that's what happens when you get up in chatter. Oh well. More of an excuse to see each other soon. ;-)

Sometimes You and I Become We

Credit: Brooke at Grace and Light *

Teaching is extraordinary. By that I mean, that it produces some of the most interesting relationships, particularly the teacher-student kind. This type of relationship is a paradox, which in a sense is a phenomenon.

In these past few weeks, I have become keenly aware of the risks of teaching. As teachers, we learn students' strengths and weaknesses, their preferred learning styles, how to promote their positive behavior and how to deal with their negativity (sometimes it is an on-going challenge), and so much more. The journey begins when teachers meet students for the first time, whether it is on the First Day of School or a rainy Tuesday. Then after days and hours of being together, that time is over and goodbyes and 'see you laters' must happen.

The in-between stuff that is when the contradiction takes place and can lead to tough endings. I have found, that I can get so caught up in wanting a child to succeed that I start speaking a different language. I start talking with the student as though I am a part of their work and success. I start saying "when we.... then we.... we will... maybe we will... we can...." and so on. Sometimes I don't verbalize the message of we but it becomes apparent the more I am passionate about the child jumping over their hurdles. Kind of like at a football game when the crowd is cheering together, there are times when the game gets so intense it feels like WE are with the players-- the we are on that field too.

But really, who is the one that will win the game?

It's the boys in the uniforms on the field, the runners on the race track, the swimmers in the pool, the quilt artist in a county fair...

In school and everywhere else, it is the child who is responsible for their success. That doesn't mean there won't be failures and glitches but when it comes down to 'winning'-- they are the ones that own it all.

I am the supporter. My place is on the sidelines, some days as a coach others as just a facilitator so they have someone there while they practice.

I don't see this big picture all of the time when I am helping students. As a matter of fact, on Thursday night when I was tutoring a very difficult student (one of those highly resistant middle schoolers that has no structure at home) I could barely stop myself from saying we. She created quite a power struggle and the more tense it got, the more I started saying "and we could fix this part of your essay to sound kind of like this...." I did correct myself several times and tried to say "I think you might want to do this...." or "I think your ideas are great here..." but boy I just couldn't help it. We. we. we.

Why couldn't I stop it?!! Because I cared so much and I still do. This student is writing a wonderful essay about powerful women in history and with some finishing touches, it could be quite thought provoking piece of writing. That night she lacked in interest and dedication to her topic and that caused me to fill in that empty hole. I cared because I wanted her to care.

But it is not about we. I am the supporter and she is the game player.

The language of we can be ever so tricky, especially when it is time to separate. For my reading practicum, I had to do a case study on a struggling student. I spent lots of time working with this student for about three weeks. I was with him so much I actually felt like an aide.  I didn't necessarily use the 'we' verbal messages but after all of our work together-- sounding out letters, practicing listening skills, writing letters, saying the name of letters, participating in the ERI (Early Reading Intervention) group in the afternoon, reading books together... we sort of became a we. On my last day, I was surprised in some ways that I got so emotional. I didn't realize how close we had become over that those weeks. I wanted him to succeed and he knew that I was there to help him along. I will really miss that kiddo.

It's no easy thing, this relationship between a teacher and a student. I think the hardest part is accepting the fact that WE are not we but merely individuals that are going through experiences together. From start to finish, I am on my own and so are you. Not to sound terribly sappy but what is shared, for always, are the memories whether they be good, bad or mixed.

I just hope that for every student I form a bond with, they will remember I cared about their well being and want nothing but the best for them. As each of us puts one foot in front of the other, on separate ways, it is comforting to know that nothing can take away what happened in those hours and moments that were spent together.

*her heart garland tutorial is at this link... something I want to try!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Currently:: On January's Last Friday

For fun I am doing one of these survey type things. Flower Patch Farmgirl had posted hers a while ago, which she got from Life So Sweet (from this post).


current guilty pleasure: Angry Birds on my phone-- not as addicted when I first got the game but every now I get a good hankering to play the game. Finally got past a hard level last night. I am so cool folks. ;-)
current nail color: left over clear gel from my manicure I got for my sister's wedding. That gel stuff is amazing but impossible to get off with regular remover. Can only imagine the chemicals I've ingested from that polish. *shudder*
current playlist: mostly listen to music when I'm in the car so the radio which is either country or a modern day mix station. 
current read:  Julie Andrews' biography
current drink: Starbucks hot chocolate... perfect for a cold night!
current food: dinner tonight was Panda Express, delicious.
current favorite show: "Biggest Loser" - this season isn't as good as the others though.
current wish list: clothes... scarves, sweaters, and other fun stylish items.
current needs: new shoes and pants for work-- have rotated 2 pairs of shoes and 3 slacks since 2009... definitely time for a change.
current triumphs: finished my reading endorsement practicum on Friday!!
current bane of my existence: related to above-- now I have to do the paperwork stuff.
current celebrity crush: Emma Stone from "The Help," she is a cute gal (obviously not romantically speaking)... for the boys, John Krasinski from "The Office." I love his nerdy-likeness, button up shirts and coy smile.
current indulgence: Jello's Tapioca Pudding... can't get enough!
current blessing: sunshine today :)
current outfit: right now I am SUPER lazy because it is nearing bedtime-- black sweats and a sweatshirt. I also have my pink fleece blanket over my legs because I'm chilly.
current excitement: meeting a friend, an "ex-neighbor," tomorrow at a cute cupcake shop. I can't wait to take some fun pictures!
current mood: tired and almost in a blah mood, I have felt a lil anxious today for some reason.
current link: I have found a couple great fashion blogs recently. One of them is J's Everyday Fashion. I love her humor, honesty and her fun style. She recently posted about her fashion fails and it made me laugh-- as I'm trying to dig my way out of my non-stylish ways. We've all been there!

Happy Friday!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Teacher's Job -- A Quote

Credit: Zelda English & Rodrigo Neto, their shop at Etsy (they're fellow Oregonians)

My mentor teacher paraphrased this quote to me as we were waiting to pick the kids up from music. I had to find the original! I will let these words speak for themselves....

"If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job." -- Donald D. Quinn

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lessons from Heart Shapers

Credit: Marianne Lo Monaco, her shop at Etsy

In these past two weeks I have been very busy with my reading practicum and had one day of subbing (at my fav school). This means I have spent lots of time with kids! Some days have been pretty good and others have been the type where you ask, "how many hours are left?" Needless to say, I have been learning a lot from those youngins.

Less than two weeks ago I subbed in a first grade class after being in a 3/4 split in he morning. Unfortunately I was not feeling good that day -- literally felt like my thoughts were moving through sludge or super thick molasses. Anyhow, the afternoon was totally off kilter. The kids were riled up and then one of them threw up in the sink while I was reading a book about Martin Luther King, Jr. The custodian came to clean the mess. The custodian told me her machine was loud so I took the kids out for a recess. In which, of course, someone fell down and had to go to the office. At that time I was getting a serious lesson about flexibility. I always learn about that whenever I teach but boy did I get an intensive lesson that afternoon! Getting better at dealing with what comes along...

After "recess," once I got the kids settled and an argument resolved. I continued with reading the book about Martin Luther King, Jr. This was the part of the day that glimmered and sparkled. Whether it was driven by my state of tiredness or not, I dug into the heart of MLK's legacy (or a piece of it that is). I talked to the kids very seriously about MLK and really wanted them to understand that his story is real. When I got to the part of blacks and whites being segregated I reinforced the fact that this injustice happened in our country. The kids, those that were paying attention, were in disbelief and in their own way, disgusted. I contrasted in telling him that things are different-- skin color doesn't ban a child from school (if these were older kids you could pose the question if things have really changed). Thanks to MLK.

When got to the part where MLK was murdered they were quite emotional about it -- they didn't understand why that would happen. One boy in particular kept responding to the text aloud and I didn't stop him from blurting out. Purposefully. He had such complex thoughts on the event and he was trying to wrap his head around the tragedy. He kept asking "Why would someone kill someone who was so nice and good?" and just didn't know why on earth a great person would be killed. I was almost awestruck with his comments. I didn't know how to respond either but my only answer was that while it is so sad we can make sure that we never hurt someone else like that. That we treat each other with love and kindness. And to keep MLK's dream alive.

I think what I learned from this is that it's not necessarily about the questions we ask but that we ask them in the first place. Injustice needs to be questioned or it will never be changed.

I hadn't given it much thought until that day but I am a fighter against social injustice. I'm an advocate, first, for children and then for those that are treated unfairly (won't get into specifics tonight).

I learned too that though I honestly don't know that much about MLK's life I do know about his story. I feel his frustrations and can share in his heartache. I also know there is much work to be done-- his dream is not a complete reality yet.

Just this week I had a run in with the choice, "Do I firmly discipline this child or do I encourage him with assistance?" It was a matter of Love and Kindness. Not that firm discipline isn't loving but this child was getting out of hand and needed some quick redirection and I was debating on going about it gently. The poor child was just having an awful time following task directions and felt incapable of being able to do anything. After watching him struggle I sat down with him, put my arm around his shoulders and told him I would do part of the work if he did the rest. He needed that gentle encouragement and felt good about his efforts afterwards.

Sometimes that is what we need, an arm around us and a strong voice telling us we CAN. A child taught me that lesson.

I almost wonder some days who the teacher is! I think a lot of teachers could and do say the same thing. Kids are heart shapers. They sure know how to change mine.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Great Extra Day Off

I feel somewhat guilty for not having this post be dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I do have things to say but am not wanting to link the words together tonight. I don't think there is no wrong time to write about him, however. Talk about him and his legacy shouldn't be confined to a particular day.

I do owe MLK thanks for this awesome Monday, the extra weekend day was a blessing. Besides having to take my cat to the vet (poor thing he had to get a wound fixed up and is now sporting a bright blue Elizabethan collar), the rest of the day was great. My friend Jennifer and I finally got to get together and we did some shopping. I have had a big hankering to go shopping, been feeling rather hemmed in these days. I felt "free as my hair" today :)

Before getting to my priority item, I got my cell phone cover screen replaced. Nice to have a screen that isn't full of bubbles-- the guy at kiosk was kind enough to replace it (had been there a lil over two weeks ago). Thankfully it didn't take long and we browsed H & M in which I bought a $14.95 navy cardigan. I would've tried on my other items but the lines were long. I'll go back another day next month.

Jennifer and I needed sustenance so we got a Jamba Juice drink. I thoroughly enjoyed my Orange Dream Machine... Mmm tastes good on any day but better when recovering from a cold.

Then we were off on my main clothing item: a pair of skinny legging jeans. We checked Gap but no luck, but I did get to see and touch their super cute (and probably nearly perfect) "1969" skinny jeans... For about $90, those pants weren't coming home with me. I didn't try them on either. Why pine over something like that?

So we went across the way to Hollister where Jennifer has had success. A nice gal was working on the jean wall when we walked in and offered to help. I told her what I was looking for and we figured out three sizes of stretchy skinny jeans to try on. Within two tries I found the pair!!

I will admit it was challenging thinking of spending $49.50 on a pair of jeans BUT I have been needing a new pair for quite some time, Hollister (I am hoping/believing) is decent quality, and these can go with a couple different outfits. So with that said it was a good purchase. It is so nice to have a pair of jeans that fit right! Guess bras and jeans are two things worth spending a little extra money for -- though I have yet to spend more than $30 on a bra.

After getting my happy jeans we checked out several over stores. I bought another blue cardigan at Abercrombie & Fitch, a store I never ever shop in (and I was quickly reminded when I was nearly gassed with their perfume as I walked in the entrance, whew). I am fairly happy with my $22 cardigan. I think it is reasonable to spend up to (about) $20 on tops (a good rule I learned from a very frugal cousin!).

So overall today was good and productive. I didn't go crazy with spending and got three good pieces of clothing. :)

Hope y'all had a great Monday whether you were working or playing!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Snowy Sunday in Pictures

Today has been a very low-key kind of day. Just what I needed as I am still not totally well yet (and you are fine in asking me why I am still up! haha I tend to stay up later than I should...). We did get some snow showers; they were more like squalls. Snow, then sun break, snow then sun break. This quite typical mild Winter weather in the PNW until you finally get the right combo that makes it snow for hours... I hope we get one of those good storms sometime this year!

I am quite pleased that we got some of that "white stuff." At one point we got a decent burst of snow which lasted probably 45 minutes from start to finish (as in melt rapidly!). I took advantage of the beauty and snapped several pictures. I'll share some with you...

Beginning of the short snow "storm" haha And not my greatest picture but hey it's lazy Sunday and I'm sick ;-)

If you look closely (might have to click on the pic), you can see geese flying overhead :)

Towards the end... the only time when I don't like to see sunshine and blue skies appearing!
If only my camera could capture what I saw through my eyes--  the snow melting created large drops of water on the branches and they glistened in the sunshine. They looked so pretty as they fell fast to the ground. Just one of Nature's many treasures :)

Good night!!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Sunrise was pretty this morning- I did a lil Instagramming :)

I can't tell you how glad I am that it is Friday. This has been a crazy, long week and the last two days of it were not that great. I started my reading practicum on Monday, which has turned out better than I expected. The challenging part of the week that I am referring to was the sub job I had on Thursday (subbed in a 3rd/4th grade split in the morning and then a 1st grade in the PM- it was an "off" day at the school and I didn't feel good) and then today. After two days of battling a headache, I woke up this morning with sore tonsils and a runny nose. Oh, kids, they are lil germies!

Anyway, here is how I spent my Friday evening... I was curled up in the green chair with a blanket and didn't do a whole lot. I suppose I should have eaten Chicken Noodle soup, but heck, it's Friday night.... I earned the splurging ;-)

Thankful for this 3-day weekend! There is talk of snow in our area but I am highly skeptical. Whenever the newscasters yak about snow it usually ends up being a bunch of rain. I am hoping though!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Goals for 2012

Credit: Madden Photography, her shop at Etsy

Now that I have looked back on 2011, I would like to set some goals for this year. I am not one for New Years resolutions, I think goal setting is a better approach. Ironically, so I feel that the word resolutions has a negative connotation. Resolutions are made quickly and often given up within the first week (sometimes in less time than that!). When I think of goals, I think about the word adjustments as well and that seems more relaxed. There is a lot I would like to improve upon, but I am very aware about how random life can be. So, goals, it is...


1. Faith : Spend time reading the Bible and attend a few church services.

2. Finances: Be mindful of money that is spent; be careful not to spend lots of money on little things that add up. Save as much as possible!

3. Giving: Donate to causes/ charities during the year.

4. Personal Style (somewhat funny to list this after the above goals, I know): Improve my wardrobe while being reasonable financially and sensible based on weather patterns in the PNW. If choosing to buy clothes, I will do so thoughtfully.

5. Health and Fitness: Try a variety of healthy foods and recipes. Make physical activity more of a priority- find some activity to enjoy consistently.

6. Literacy: Read more than I did last year! (won't be hard lol) I have a giant stack of books on my nightstand.


Big challenge of the year (and really my life): Seek the goodness in commitment. Learn how to make commitment positive, try to be less fearful of the word and its meaning. Try committing to something - even if it is small. Just try.

Do you have goals for this year?!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Looking Back at 2011

Credit: Teguh Santosa
[This entry is more or less just for me but if you want to read go ahead...]

Truthfully, the thought of reviewing 2011 is a bit exhausting but I feel as though it is needed.  2011 will always be the year that changed my perspectives almost every aspect of life. Last year had many high highs and lows, often they came hand in hand. Not only were events a mixed bag but life was just insanely busy. I think it was a rough year for the world too, as a local news station marked 2011 as a "tumultuous year." Really, for me, I could sum it up as being the year of unexpectedness; so much that when something rather large, bad or crazy happened I would laugh and say "of course, because it is 2011."

To this end, 2011 did not start off well. As mentioned in a previous post, I had inklings that last year wouldn't be spectacular... I knew from the moment the "ball dropped," transitioning from 2010 to 'l1 that it was going to be another year, not one full of hope.

My intuition was correct and on January 10th, 2011 we had to put down our last kitty, one of the "Originals." While this may sound trivial to some, it was very devastating. I can't believe that it has been 365 days without Minnie. I think one of the hardest parts of that experience was having to feel the reality that life is temporary and what we love may be gone tomorrow. Perhaps this is a cliche -- it is often a reaction to losing something you love, but last January, it hit me hard. I think it is safe to say that the event itself shot me into a depression and I was numb for quite some time. I grieved over my loss and all others that I have lost in the past. 

While it was awful feeling the way that I did, purposefully, it opened my heart in other ways. It's true- endings do mean new beginnings. A few days after losing Minnie, I was working at Hallmark with a dear co-worker and a customer from Rainier, WA (or St. Helens?) came in to buy some items. Around that time a horrible tragedy had occurred in Washington that involved at least one police officer being killed. This poor lady also knew some other people who had recently passed away; she was clearly traumatized. My co-worker and I talked with her and allowed her to vent. I had so much empathy for that woman- I felt sad for her too. Meeting her was humbling as well, I needed to be reminded that I wasn't the only one who was struggling... and others have gone through so much worse.

(After contemplating this blog post, I thought it made more sense to make categories versus going month by month)

Unexpected Deaths
- Minnie in January
- A family friend from the beach died from a heart attack in February
- Another family friend, a lovely 90 year old lady died in the Spring
- In the world: Steve Jobs

Natural Disasters
- Awful tornado season in the U.S., particularly in Alabama and Joplin in Spring & Summer
- Huge wildfires in AZ
- In the world: Christchurch, NZ (Feb. 22nd), 6.3 earthquake that was very devastating to that city. Massive 9.1 earthquake in Japan (March 11th)- I will never forget those images of destruction...

- Oregon Ducks to the BCIS game on January 10th in which they lost... I was so numb that day.
- Green Bay packers won the Super Bowl on Feb. 6th!

Unexpected Romance
- On Valentine's Day I was asked out by a very kind gentleman, but unfortuantely he called and I answered the phone in front of lots of customers... I was very shocked and didn't know what to say. My boss ended up yelling at him for calling at that time and I felt mortified. Poor guy!
- A week later I decided to email him and apologize for the situation and that I was flattered he asked me out.
- After a month of talking we met for coffee on March 22nd... and we are still going out. Of course, at the time I thought it was onlycoffee. ;-)

New Furry Friends
- On President's Day, Feb. 21st, we decided we were ready for a cat! We wanted a totally different cat than our previous three... and boy, oh BOY did we get a different beast! Cheese Puff, a very rotund orange Tabby  came to live with us.
- On Armed Forces Day, May 21st, a black and white kitten was added to our family! We didn't know at the time that she would turn out to be quite the diva. She truly lives up to her name, Coco Chanel (originally Coco Puff- she is puffy when mad!).
-Of course, girl cat doesn't get along with boy so we have to keep them separate. We have come up with many different solutions but now have it figured out. She's the house gal and he is outside most of the time- for the most part it is peaceful here...until she, by our accident, sneaks her way to Puff and smacks him. haha World War III here sometimes!

- Enjoyed the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29th... Yes, I got up super early and watched the wedding live. It was great to have an uplifting occasion in the world!
- Granny turned 100 this year and we had a party for her on July 31st!
- Sarah's (now husband), D graduated from high school in June and we went to the ceremony to support him.
- D graduated from Basic Training in the Army in November.
- Sarah and D got married on December 31st. :)

Job Changes & Work
- At the end of May, I was given a tutoring position at Sylvan and I gladly accepted. This couldn't have happened at better time too. I formally quit Hallmark - though I will say, I still miss being with the cards! haha
- Continued to substitute! Had my longest consecutive sub job in December, for 4 days. I thoroughly enjoyed taking over the class for that week. It was a great experience!

Political Leaders Removed from their Positions
-May 1st: Osama bin Laden was killed
- October (not sure on date): Mommar Gadhafi was killed
- November (don't remember the date either- might've been close to the 11th): Kim Jong Il of North Korea died, so he was 'removed' through natural causes.

Bizarre News & Events
- Gabrielle Giffords was shot on January 8th in Tuscon... her story was closely followed all year. What a horrific thing to experience- amazingly enough she lived and is recovering very well through therapy. She has one heck of a story!
- Mom broke her wrist in June, which added to the nutty-ness of the year.
- Occupy Wall Street Movement spread across the nation and the world. Portland's Occupy protest started in October and lasted for quite awhile.
-- Plenty of other weird news but this was one of the main stories.

- 2011 marked the 10th anniversary of September 11th. Wow!

Family Change
- In June my parents separated -- my dad moved out to his own place. This has been a good change for everyone and it is something I intend to write about soon, but am still mulling over how to write about it appropriately.

Travel, Coming & Going
- I went out of the country for the first time to Costa Rica, August 10th to the 21st. That was a very life changing experience! I am so thankful for that opportunity.
- Mom went out of the country two times for work; Brazil end of July (for 4 days) and Singapore (for a week) in September.
- Our family friend from Costa Rica stayed with us twice this year. She stayed with us for about 2 weeks end of July to beginning of August, and then for approximately 2.5 weeks in October to early November.
- Sarah went to Georgia two times to see D; for Family Weekend and Graduation.

- Made more progress to completing my Master's. My degree plan changed this past summer because I had the option to add in a Reading endorsement instead of doing the typical Master's courses. :) Yay for a good change!
- Successfully completed my ESOL courses and practicum!

Ah... 2011 it was quite the year. I know I am forgetting plenty of things but I think this gives one a good idea that it was a year full of highs and lows. As I might have mentioned already, life was just non-stop busy busy BUSY!

2011 truly taught me how to go with the flow.... Oh did it ever!

I hope this year is much better :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

JOP: My Bedroom

I was fairly productive over the weekend despite my slow-as-molasses-in-January tendencies. I finally managed to take care of my room and boy, was it a worthwhile endeavor. I started my giant cleanup project late in the day on Saturday, but once I got going I couldn't stop and I wanted to complete what I had started. So even when the sun set I forged on (I love sounding so over-the-top about this but you'll appreciate my efforts when you see the before and after pictures).

I de-cluttered my space, put clothes back in my closet, put dirty ones in the laundry basket, dusted, rearranged toiletries and jewelry, put unwanted items in bags for Union Gospel, made space for my boots in my closet (thanks to a cousin's suggestion-- used old magazines to roll up inside of them so they stand up and keep their shape), and all other things that are needed in to transform a messy room. :) The only thing left that I need to do is vacuum, particularly under my desk where my CPU was for a long time. I am so thankful that Dad has that computer now -- took that to him on Friday and that also inspired me to dig out.

Hip, hip, hooray for January cleaning!

BEFORE, Angle 1


BEFORE, Angle 2


Not an exact after but you get the point... :)

BEFORE, Angle 3


Some other lovely pictures...
Coco Chanel thought she would help with the decluttering process by taking out an item, some peacock feathers (that I thought were out of a cat's reach). Stinker cat!
Needed a place for this fun Christmas gift- the peacock placemat. It is pretty funky looking and  I like it!
This space makes me SO happy now!
Happy Monday to you all! Hope you have had a good start to the week... I started my reading practicum and will be quite busy for the next few weeks.