Saturday, August 29, 2009

All That I Ponder: Longest Blog Post Ever

Today was the first day of renn fest! I forgot my camera, but I will post pictures before the end of the year. My 7 month old nephew-ish (*B*'s nephew) will be here with *B*'s sister and brother-in-law in a few weeks. I had picked up a "kilt" from the thrift store for a dollar that was really a girl's plaid skirt. But when we went today, I just HAD to go into the kilt shop. And there, I found the most precious little kilt that will last him a few years. So what did I do? I bought it. I'm such a sucker for little kids! As *B* said though, it will be a hand-me-down to our kids in the future, as we plan on going to the renn fest as long as it's around.

As is tradition at renn fest, *B* imbibed some mead (among other things) and enjoyed the experience of a pretty substantial buzz. After his friend left for the night, he started in on me with the philosophical arguments. He was asking the questions: is it better to do for the good of the individual or the good of all? Are fairness and justice intrinsic? Is it responsible to have a large number of kids given that there are a finite number of resources?

One of the things he brought up was my preparedness kick. Is it fair that I stock up on things when other people need things too? (I think it is - I could always give away my stockpile if need be, and I often buy extra food to give to the local food bank.) If I could afford anything, would I buy out entire stocks of things? (Maybe ammo, but only because there's so little of it available at a time. If there was a ton of it in stock, I wouldn't buy the whole thing.)

The only instance I can think of that I bought the lot was yesterday. We had eaten something new that we found in the cabinet - Kashi Fiery Fiesta rice.
It's very yummy pre-cooked rice. I'm definitely adding it to my pack list. At Food Lion, it was on closeout, which saddened me, but that meant I could afford the whole rack of it - four packets. Is it wrong to take a whole bunch if you really liked it and can afford it? Or should I have left some for other people who may or may not have bought it before it was trashed?

I'm still thinking very hard about Family Home Evenings and how to institute it in my life. I do feel that it would be beneficial. I still don't know how I feel about religion. I like some of the LDS principles, but I don't think I could get over the origins of the religion. I like some of the Catholic principles, but they don't talk about personal relationships with God so much. I've heard the quote before "Catholics don't celebrate their faith, they mourn it" (Dogma). I haven't been able to visit many other churches. I've been to a Methodist church once. I've been to a Lutheran church once or twice. The one thing I've really enjoyed was a daily broadcast on local radio that I listened to while taking college classes.

I think part of my struggle is that I practice things that I don't 100% believe are right. I feel like the sooner I get married, the sooner I can feel whole and moral again. Until then, I feel a little like a criminal. I know that if you don't believe in it completely, that you shouldn't do it. But I really don't want to stop. It seems easier just to keep on keeping on. I like living with *B*. I really do. But then again, it just feels...wrong.

There's so much I'd like to know how to do. How do people keep a schedule while being homemakers? I envy the women I read about who get up in the mornings, keep cleaning schedules, and treasure everything they own. When I had off over the summer, I woke up around 10 am, grabbed some breakfast, watched TV, surfed the net, and puttered around during the day with no real end result. I want to be that woman who has a clean, tidy house, who tries new, exciting, and nutritious meals, and who lives a purposeful life. Now that I'm back at work, my life has purpose out the ears, but for those off times and when I have kids (God willing), I want to be a good homekeeper who works with a purpose. Random think I want to know: how do you get old food oil/grease stains out of clothing?!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Such a Long Week

I am SO thankful this week is over! Don't get me wrong, I love my job. It feels great to interact with young people and feel like you're making a difference in their lives. But my voice is almost gone, my feet are killing me, and I'm seriously lacking sleep. Sweet weekends. Over the summer, when I had practically no responsibilities, I missed looking forward to certain days. I missed having something to do. I start my last certification class in two weeks. I've been ignoring the fact that I will be losing my Saturdays here shortly. But I owe it to my students to learn as much as I can in order to better teach them.

I've quit whining about housing for a little while for two reasons. Number one - whining doesn't make it better. Number two - it's no longer a short sale! With a little luck (and some help from the big guy upstairs), we'll close by September 18th. That's only three weeks! I'm thrilled. I just hope we don't get hung up at all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I just came off a 14 hour day at school because of back-to-school night. My throat is absolutely raw from talking to freshman parents. I have to be at work normal time tomorrow, and I have to do this all over again in two weeks. I'm going to bed!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

So Excited!

School has been great for the last two days!! All of my kids from last year are so chipper and happy to see me. It feels really good. I've been planning my lessons well in advance, and I've had very few problems. Though tomorrow is only day three, I think it will be a very good year. I've learned almost all of my students' names already (~100) and they have all behaved very well. I don't expect too much trouble out of Catholic school kids (lest they be kicked out), but they can be pretty talkative at times.

We stocked up a little more today. I've been concerned, what with the H1N1 virus and my exposure to 1300 people in one building every day, about procuring some N95 masks. As it turns out, when *B* went exploring with a friend at a local abandoned sanitarium, his friend brought those masks to protect from asbestos. So we found out that they have the masks in the paint/tape section of Wal-mart for much less than I've seen online. We got four masks with respirator valves, and a 10 pack of masks without the valve. The only difference is that the valved masks don't get as hot as the others. This is what the masks without the valve look like:
My school gave me a regular surgical mask as part of a blood pathogen kit that I keep in my desk at work, so I threw one mask (sealed) in my car kit, and the rest in our 72-hour kits. While in the paint aisle, we picked up duct tape and plastic sheeting. The sheeting is for ground cover under sleeping bags, not for sealing off the windows. I'm not that crazy! *B* gave me the gift of an over-sized towel that can double as a blanket for my car. We're well on the way to being prepared!

As for the house, no news yet. I'm pushing for a fast closing, but it's all up to the bank on the seller's end. Here's hoping it all works out.

Renn fest starts this weekend! As always, I will be dressed to the nines. Could I actually post a picture of us dressed up? We'll see :o)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

School Preparations, Scary Thoughts, and Awesome Pack News

Last Christmas, my mom got me a tiny keychain-mounted digital picture frame. I made a slide show for those stressful times when I feel like strangling someone. They are slides of inspirational quotes ("Students can be anything they want to be with encouragement and patience"), reminders ("Thanksgiving isn't that far away"), and pictures of nature. These are a few examples:

Tomorrow is the first day of school. While I'm not as prepared as I'd like to be, I'm more prepared than I was last year. I will be going in SUPER early tomorrow (5 am!) to get last minute things done. I'll probably get there at 6 am, but I can try for earlier. Either way, it will give me plenty of time. So nervous!

As I was filling my 72-hour kit, I had a very scary thought. If anyone steals my pack, they know everything about me. I've finally put my copies of vital documents in there. That means they've got my passport, SSN, license copy, and car title. Should I not put them in there? I have 23 items left to collect, which sounds like a lot, but it's far less than I started with.

There's an amazing flashlight I bought at Wal-Mart today called Energizer Weather Ready. It looks like this:The best part about the flashlight is it takes 2 AAA, OR 2 AA, OR 2 C batteries. It also has an attached whistle, and it's got a list of important items in case of emergency on the side. It will run for 40 hours on 2 C batteries. I'm in love! :o) I'm such a geek.

*B* and I will be going on a training hike next weekend. Saturday is Renn Fest, but Sunday will be our day at the state park near us. I'm looking forward to it, but I think I keep denying how hot and humid it will be outside. I'm pumped for the fall.

Family Home Evening

Reading about other people's family home evenings make me yearn for a family of my own. I have a great boyfriend, but the sooner he proposes, the better ;o) I have steady employment, and I am working on having a long-term place to live, but the family aspect still alludes me. It has been a little over a year since my parents separated. While they are much happier being apart, it really destroyed my sense of belonging. Even before they split, they renovated my childhood home and essentially doubled the size, but destroyed the physical attachment I had to the house and many of the memories it held in the process. So as I stop moping and get to my original point - do people have family home evenings if there are only two of you in the family?? Is it possible to call two people a family?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kids are Amazing

Not that I have any kids of my own, but I met my freshmen yesterday. As our school has a campaign to get kids more technologically involved, I decided my "homework" before they started class was to logon to my website (that can only be accessed by our school) and write three interesting things about themselves on the discussion board. I figured I'd get a deluge Sunday night, but to my surprise, I've gotten a number of responses already. I've learned things like favorite sports, summer activities, life goals, and a ton more. I think it's important to remind myself that these kids do have lives and my class is not the most important thing all the time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Pit of Despair

I have fallen into a deep pit of despair and self-pity. Our house has gone into short sale, and it's looking like we won't settle until October/November. That means we'll probably be spending *B*'s birthday and our anniversary still living with his parents. Talk about uninspired and unromantic. I can't get excited for the renaissance festival because we'll still be here then. I think about how much I took my apartment for granted, and now I'm wishing I wasn't so hasty to get out. I want to hurry up and get on with my life rather than being stuck in this rut all the time. I need to get OUT!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pack Day!

Today, after a full day of work, a faculty/family picnic, and a special dessert out, *B* suggested we go together to fill out our 72-hour-kit packs a little more. It's amazing what one can accomplish with a little prodding! At this point, we are not totally filled out, but if push comes to shove, we would be okay. We are missing some major things though: flashlights, food, and clothing. I only have four more items for my car kit to be complete. There are other things I'd love to have (like a $90 Katadyn water filter), but they will definitely have to wait.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Good news, bad news

Good news - We got the appraisal for the new house. Bad news - it's five thousand less than our contract price, and the seller can't afford to drop the price. We're not sure what we're going to do. Right now, we're just holding tight.

I've been gripey lately because the administration has filled this week before school to the brim with mandatory activities, and I have very little time to actually get anything done. That means I've been doing a great majority of my planning at home.

On a side note, as I was typing my title, I slipped up and wrote "God news." It's funny how little accidents can remind one of priorities in life. In this time of stress (starting school again, issues with administration, perpetual house problems), I should be focusing on God rather than focusing on all the little things that quickly add up.

I've been gathering more supplies for my 72-hour-kit. I got a leatherman tool and some more toiletries. I've decided I'm asking for quite a bit of supplies for Christmas, such as a hand crank/solar powered emergency radio and flashlight. I need to re-evaluate what I have and what I need to prepare.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not So Bad

The first scary day has come to an end. I finished my first day back to work today. On my way home, I decided I wanted to go out somewhere. *B* and I went to Red Lobster when he came up with the great idea of going to see a movie. We ended up seeing Funny People. It was a pretty good movie, not amazing, but it at least threw a little spark back into our relationship. It almost felt like our first date again. Though a boring day at school, a lovely evening.

An aside - as of yesterday, I've been living with *B*'s parents for two months. As of tomorrow (HOPEFULLY) I will only have to be here one more month. Please, God, don't make me stay any longer than that!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

*Executioner's Drumroll*

Tomorrow is the second scariest day of the school year. I have to go back to work for the first time since June 5th. That was a 73 day vacation. We don't have any kids at school yet, but it's still a little stressful. I've been revising the same lesson plan over and over, which is not very helpful, but I feel like I'm accomplishing something. I still have two letters of recommendation to write and a book to read - by tomorrow. And I've just now realized that I have no earthly idea where my school keys are. I'm probably not going to sleep tonight.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Reading Lists

I just realized that I've read more books this summer than I've read in the last couple of years. I read:
  • You or Someone Like You by Chandler Burr
  • Serena by Ron Rash
  • The Shack by William Paul Young
  • White Oleander by Janet Fitch
  • Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwartz
  • Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss
All of those books were very good, and recommendable, with the best being The Shack. The latest book I've read was an interesting peek into the world of survivalism, a close cousin of preparedness. The more I read, the more I realized how unprepared I really am. Yes, I have a lot more to put in my kit, but I am unprepared in my skills as well. I have a working knowledge of a handgun and a few rifles. I have a very basic knowledge of survival skills and first aid. Other than that, I'm fairly useless in a "survivalist" situation. I suppose math is important, but there are far more skills that are useful. Unfortunately, I've waited too long to decide what to do this summer, and now it's over. Two more days and I go back to school.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Real Food

After eating a ton of junk food out in Arizona (including mucho burritos) and seeing some pictures of myself out there (no I'm not posting them), I decided that the second I touched down in Baltimore, I'd eat to live, not live to eat. First thing this morning, *B* and I took a good two hours to grocery shop. He's all into my new quest. Day 1 was a success, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't drool over the thought of brownies. I've learned that often I'm mouth-hungry (craving) and not tummy-hungry (well, plain-ole-hungry). And I've also learned that it's much easier for me to ignore hunger pains than cravings.

So for dinner, I made whole grain pasta, squished squash, and got some steamed shrimp at the store. It was SOOO good! The only downside - that was almost 5 hours ago.

Throughout my blog reading, I've learned a lot about Mormons. I can only think of one family I grew up with who were Mormon, and no one really every discussed it. I got a new perspective when I went to Arizona, though it was only through my family's eyes, who are non-denominational at best. The area in which they live has a number of small Mormon towns in the middle of nowhere. One day, I think I'd like to see what it's like to live in those type of communities. Being raised Catholic, the church I'm familiar with has a long history. I think it would be an experience to talk at length with people of a shorter-lived religion.

Tomorrow, I'm going to tackle my 72 hour kit. I got a book from the library today called Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss. I'm excited to start it. I've learned recently to think of PACE when planning. PACE stands for primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency. *B* and I decided that if all else fails, we're going to my grandmother's ranch. While she no longer lives there full time, it is totally off the grid. She lived there for at least more than ten years, so I know it's possible.

I Might As Well Blog

I'm up. It's 1:00 am. And I'm freaking out about school next week. So I figure: I might as well blog.

My mom had this crazy idea a few months ago. As my grandmother is temporarily in between jobs, and we all had some vacation time to use, we decided on a surprise visit. We flew from the East Coast to Phoenix, AZ, where my uncle picked us up and took us to see her in the high country. The visit resulted in something like this:

My grandmother was shocked beyond belief. We stayed for a week and just got home, oh, about an hour and twenty minutes ago. The trip was (mostly) beautiful and a good time was had by all. We got to see "the Rim" which goes across the state of Arizona:

We went to gorgeous Hawley Lake, which is on a reservation:

Notice that there are cattle drinking the water! And because we were in Arizona, the obligatory cactus picture:

While I had a good time, I've learned a few things.
  1. My sinuses are accustomed to humidity and do not take kindly to dry air.
  2. I get out of breath when higher than 5000 ft above sea level.
  3. I missed my blogging and my cat!
We left at 9 am (their time) and got home at 12am (our time). It has been one long day! But as soon as I got home, I checked my school email. Oh boy, have I been neglecting it. I discovered that I have my class lists already for the upcoming year, and I immediately fell sick to my stomach. I am SO not prepared, and I report back to work on MONDAY! I began to scramble, and I attempted to get some work done. But I'm so out of it from the trip that nothing really got done. So this is what I'm going to do.
  • Get seating charts made.
  • Make full lesson plans through the first week (three Blue days).
  • Decide how to handle attendance and parental issues.
  • Decide how to "train" my kids.
  • Set up project descriptions for the projects I will assign.
  • Focus more on Algebra II, as I always come up with good Physics activities.
While it doesn't seem like a lot of work, items three and four are the most difficult of all. Deciding how I stand on things and my expectations, and determining how to convey them to the kids, and sticking to my guns are the most difficult parts of being a teacher.

We got the contract for the house, and the settlement is set for September 18th. This is almost a month away. While I'm trying to be enthusiastic, I am just drained over the first-time-homebuyer thing. I am hopeful that all will go well and we will be able to settle with no problems.

It is Good to Be Home

More on this when jet lag subsides...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Preparedness: Because You Never Know What Can Happen

I've been thinking a lot about preparedness today. I was given 50 rounds of 38 special ammo that had belonged to a neighbor who passed on. The ammo issue is a bother to me. I have far less than I'd prefer to have at this point, and I have no good storage situation. My revolver is not the best thing to carry if there is some form of issue in the future. I'm sure I'll have a hard time reloading if I'm staring down a bear. My dad keeps telling me I need a rifle, but I can't afford it right now.

I've been really lax about my 72 hour kit. I could easily stock up my kit with $100. I keep getting cash in small denominations for my car kit, but I keep spending it before I'm able to put it away. I'm stalled at the types of clothes to pack and the needs for a first aid kit. I threw in some Advil, Benedryl, and Dramamine that I picked up the other day from CVS. But I have no band-aids, gauze, Tylenol, or anything else. I really need to step it up and get some N95 masks considering we're so close to Washington DC.

*B* and I have discussed getting shelving from Ikea. We really love the Gorm system:
It would be good storage for our three month food supply. So our three month supply comes with a wine rack, what of it? :o) It would be a luxury, but a rather inexpensive one considering it's $30 a section. One day... maybe soon??

Saturday, August 1, 2009

That. Was. Amazing!

It has been an amazing 24 hours in the food world. For dinner, aside from too much pizza, I had AMAZING cantaloupe. It was the best cantaloupe I've ever had in my entire life. We went to the farmer's market with a friend of mine the other day, and got a ton of fresh, local, organic produce. I've heard arguments for and against organic produce, but when it's as cheap as it was, I figure it doesn't hurt to cut down on chemicals.

Last night, in honor of Michelle's birthday, we got manicures and went restaurant hopping downtown. It was the first time I've had a manicure in over two years. We considered pedicures, but the boys were waiting for us. Given that it was SO inexpensive ($15 for a full on manicure), I will definitely visit that place when I'm ready to give up on my students. I would get a pedicure next time though.

After getting our nails done, we met the boys at The Brewer's Art. Upstairs, the place is really fancy, very classy. Downstairs, it's dungeon-like, with original brick arches, black and red walls, and little lighting. But above all, they had the best salad I've ever had. It had grilled peaches, spiced pecans, chevre cheese, butter lettuce, and Maker's Mark vinaigrette. And above all, it was around $7 for that gorgeous meal. Then we went to Midtown Yacht Club (not a yacht club) and had an ENORMOUS plate of nachos. Finally, we walked TWO miles to get to a really fancy restaurant called Roy's right on the harbor. I had a mai tai (SO much sugar) and chocolate souffle. Oh so delicious. I wish I had pictures.