May 5, 2015

If I'm allergic to ice cream, I can probably just end things now.

The title may seem over-dramatic, but I don't really think it is.

For the last few months, my skin has been clearer than it has in the last 2 years.  I thought maybe I was just allergic to Scott (ha ha ha) because it was after he deployed that I really noticed it.  Then, 2 weeks after Easter, I went to Culver's, bought a few pints of frozen custard, and enjoyed an embarrassing amount of it over a 2 day period.  That was Sunday and Monday.  By Wednesday, I had a cluster of pimples on my cheek.  By cluster, I mean 4 large-ish pimples that needed to be popped in order to get them to heal and go away.  I haven't seen pimples like that since...January?  Maybe before?  I don't know.  They were the kind of pimples I had plaguing me last spring.

These pimples lasted for about 5 days.

Then I thought about something: I'd given up ice cream for Lent.  Lent had, coincidentally, started around the time Scott deployed.  I hadn't had any ice cream for at least 8 weeks.

Then I started thinking about dairy...I don't eat much dairy.  I don't drink milk, except for the occasional splashes of cream in coffee.  Most days, I use the preservative-laden non-dairy creamer. I also, more or less, stopped drinking lattes within the last year because they didn't do much for me, caffeine-wise (I have a high tolerance). I always sort of had this theory that lattes were causing breakouts, but I never really put it to the test.  There's so many variables and the most likely cause has always been hormones.
Moving on...I don't eat yogurt.  I never got the appeal. I do like plain Greek yogurt mixed with cereal but it bothers my stomach so awhile ago I decided it wasn't worth it.  I only really eat cheese on pizza.  Occasionally a quesadilla.

So, I didn't eat dairy for a week after the ice cream feast and the pimples went away and no more popped up.  That was always my biggest issue: I wouldn't get one pimple.  I would get 15 at once and they would never go away.  But these went away and that was it.  Aside from cheese once or twice a week, I haven't had dairy since then.  And I haven't had anymore issues.

Which leads me to believe that large, concentrated amounts of dairy aren't good for me.  Like the large concentrated amounts found in ice cream.

I would really really hope that I'm wrong.  Like, this is awful.  But honestly, nothing is worth bad skin.  Not even ice cream.  I've learned that over the last year for sure.  However, the only way to test for an allergy is to take away a food and then reintroduce it.  So, I'll probably just avoid it for the time being.  Of course, I do wonder about the psychological effect of this.  Will I expect ice cream to cause problems in the future?  Will it be some kind of backwards placebo effect?  I don't know.  This is terrible.

This is the card that came with my ice cream necklace a few years ago...it shows how deep my devotion runs.


May 4, 2015

Burrito Bowls

Recipe challenge, week eighteen.


Since tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, you can make this for dinner and enjoy it with a margarita. Or two.  Unless you're going out somewhere.  In which case you can still make this and enjoy it with a margarita (or two) on any old Tuesday night.

Aside from the Chipotle that I enjoyed for lunch on Friday, I've only been to a Chipotle restaurant twice.  Once in Springfield, Missouri and...well, I feel like I've been there twice.  Maybe I haven't. I really can't remember.  I've been to Qdoba dozens and dozens of times because it's always been more accessible.  Though there is a Chipotle on every corner in Colorado Springs so I don't know if my reasoning makes any sense.

I think the reason why I never go there is because I can make stuff at home that tastes just as good.  I mean, the Chipotle I had was okay.  Nothing wrong with it.  I'd probably eat it often if it was set down in front of me.  But I swear that if you buy a particular array of ingredients at the beginning of the week, you can eat Chipotle-like food every day.

-Chicken or steak (pre-cooked)
-Frozen or fresh corn
-Tomatoes
-Pico de gallo (or salsa)
-Black beans
-Garlic
-Onion
-Peppers
-Cilantro
-Lime
-Shredded cheese
-Avocado
-Smoked Paprika
-Tortillas

I almost always have these foods on hand, and have put them together in several combinations and it always tastes amazing.

Start off by sauteing the thinly sliced peppers and onions in some olive oil for a few minutes. Add in thinly sliced garlic (sliced gives a sweeter flavor than minced) and let it cook for another minute or so.  Add in bite-sized pieces of chicken or steak (or you can make it without) and sprinkle on some smoked paprika.  Toss in the frozen corn, drained and rinsed black beans, and tomatoes.  Let it all cook together for a few minutes.  Add in some chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

In a bowl, place a warmed tortilla.  Top with the filling and sprinkle cheese on it.  Add slices of avocado and enjoy.

Often, I'll just make burritos out of the mixture and then warm them in the oven for 20 minutes before topping with avocado.

Another variation is to leave out the meat and use diced, roasted sweet potatoes.  This is my go-to dinner/lunch-prep meal because it's so easy and tasty.

May 2, 2015

TGIS

Thank God It's Saturday.

You can't win them all.

What a week.

I had after-school commitments a few days, plus all the chore-like activities at home, plus the return of the moths, plus trying to keep the dogs from hating me.  It's rough going.

On Wednesday, I got home late from school, which always throws everything off.

On Thursday, I left the house at 6:45am to be on time for a meeting at 7:45.  At 3:40pm, I drove home.  At 4:15, I got home, let the dogs out, cleaned up the mess they made (Jett has regressed...sigh), changed clothes, put the dogs in the truck, and drove back to school.  I couldn't leave the dogs alone for 13+ hours.   Got there at 5:30, just in time for the kids who were showing up for the musical performance.  By 6:30, the show was over and my principal insisted on seeing the dogs again (one reason why I'll miss this place: nice people), and then I was driving home again by 7pm.  I think I ate a bowl of cereal, took a shower, and then managed 10 minutes of Pilates (instead of the 46 that was scheduled for Thursday) and was in bed by 9:00.  But not before I did some experimenting with electrical outlets and switches in order to get the bug-zapper to work.  (It's going to be a long summer.)

Friday is a blur.  I was up early again.  Stopped at the hospital on base to have some bloodwork done (a check-up I insisted on since all the nonsense I went through last fall). Stopped at Starbucks for breakfast. Went through the carwash.  Managed to get to work mostly on time. They brought in Chipotle for lunch, which was nice.  Went home.  Walked the dogs.  Made pizza. Managed a 40 minute Pilates/Barre workout. Was in bed by 9:30pm.

Today, I have plans for a massage and errands, including a trip to Target/Homegoods/TJMaxx.  As part of our tax return, a check came to me this week for my individual CO return.  Scott said to buy whatever I want.  I plan on it. After the massage.  And the pedicure.


Side Note:  I'm starting up #OutfitaDayinMay again.  Find me on Instagram to follow along. Anyone interested in joining?  I needed something to work toward this month. That'll do just fine.

Side side note: I'm planning on giving up caffeine for a week.  Again, anyone interested in joining? (Didn't think so.)  This is why I attempted that hibiscus refresher up there with the misspelling instead of my usual iced Americano.  I didn't like it. 

April 30, 2015

Stuff and Things 4/30



+It's the last day of April.  That's a celebration.

+The miller moths are coming back.  I'm actually really relieved to know that it's not us or me or something that I can control or fix.  It's just a part of life in Colorado.  Thank goodness.

+Although it is my single biggest complaint about living in Colorado.

+And I'm annoyed that Scott doesn't have to suffer through moth season with me.  Definitely not fair.


+This is what I was alluding to yesterday.  We have several empty wine bottles and I want to do something crafty with them.  Something real Pinterest-like.  Any ideas?  I've just been saving them, since last June, in the basement and I'd like to eventually incorporate them into the landscaping or some kind of decoration.  Like, Hey, we worked hard on this house and here's the proof.  

Something like this?

+My art from Minted showed up!  I've never been to Paris but I just love this.


Here's the post I wrote about the selection of art that's now at Minted.com. 

+This popped up on Pandora the other day and, I'll tell you, nothing says 2005/2006 more than All-American Rejects.  


I was having The Hills/Laguna Beach flashbacks.  I admit it:  I loved The Hills.  

How is that for random?



April 29, 2015

How I drink 100 oz. of water a day


1.  I drink 20 oz. before I leave the house in the morning.  From when I get up until I walk out the door, I make sure my water bottle has been emptied.  I'll fill it up again in case I get thirsty on my commute, but I usually take caffeine-free hot tea to school with me.

2.  I try to drink another 20 oz. before 10:15.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't, but I always finish it before lunchtime at 12:30.

3.  I drink another 20 oz. before I leave school at 3:45.  That's 60 oz. down.  I fill up the bottle before I leave school and...

4.  Drink it on the way home.  That's 80 oz.

5.  Once I'm home, I generally drink another bottle or two by the end of the night.  That leaves me at 100-120 oz. for the day.

Now, I didn't always used to be this way, but last spring I got the idea that I should make sure I drink more water (probably something about clearing up my skin), so I started doing just that.  To begin with, I don't drink stuff other than water.  I drink coffee in the morning, caffeine-free tea throughout the day, and the occasional wine or something at night, but other than that it's just water.  No soda or juice or anything.  And yeah, I do run to the bathroom a million times a day, but that's okay.  I've made it work with my schedule at school and, honestly, that just means taking a bathroom break on each break I get; something most teachers do anyway.

My advice to someone who would like to drink more water:

1.  Buy a water bottle you love.  You'll be so enamored with the novelty of it that you'll automatically drink more water.

2.  Try to drink 20 oz (or a bottleful) by 9am (or before you leave the house in the morning).  It'll start your day off in a much more refreshed way and even if everything else conspires against you (traffic, deadlines, hunger, bad hair day, etc), you'll at least have done that.

I've gotten so used to drinking a lot of water that I don't know what to do without my water bottle.  It feels ridiculous but it's like a security blanket.  You know how you can get "hangry"?  I think "thangry" is a real thing too.  Like, if I forget a water bottle and, for some reason, don't have an extra in the car, I will stop and buy a bottle of water that I refill throughout the day.

So, how much water do you drink everyday?  

April 28, 2015

Another challenge: A New Job

Lately, I've had this fear of growing stagnant.  This is a new fear because I spent 23 years doing the same things.  I was happy.  Picking up and moving to Alaska was terrifying to me.  Moving to Missouri presented its own challenges and then so did this transition to Colorado. But now that we've been doing this army thing for almost 6 years, I've gotten used to upheaval.  Used to change and transition.  I honestly think the "fear" has a lot to do with the fact that I'm now 29 years old and I want to keep accomplishing things.  I have this theory that if we are not pushing ourselves into sometimes uncomfortable territory, we are not living.  I never assumed I would travel to Alaska at all, let alone live there for almost 4 years and have a life there.  I never thought I'd find a job in Missouri when we were there for exactly 12 months, but the timing worked out seamlessly and that job was the biggest challenge I'd ever undertaken.  The current challenge is remodeling a house on the prairie, and I don't even want to get into that.

Lately, I've been complaining about how I'm desperately trying to manage this place and the projects it entails while Scott is deployed.  I'm a big believer in not wasting deployment time.  I did that back in 2010.  It was only 4 months, but it was 4 months that I spent not growing on my own because I was so focused on the waiting.  During the 2012 deployment, I blogged, I found friends and fitness at the gym, and I taught 4th grade.  I grew.  I kept going even while he was gone.  This is why I'm focused on reading, writing, cooking, baking, decorating, organizing, and just all-around accomplishing while Scott is away this time.  It's not easy.  I have to make an active and deliberate choice to come home from work and do a Pilates workout or do the dishes or tackle some gardening.  Instead of curling up in front of the t.v. with a bag of candy.  When no one's watching, it's easy to stay stagnant.

With this in mind, I applied for a new job a few weeks ago.  Same district, same grade level, different school.  The people I work with now are actually quite wonderful and that made it much harder to believe that I could move on. However, I knew that my greater happiness would most likely be found somewhere else when I considered the big picture.  Honestly, I could've stayed where I was for a few years.  No harm would've come to me.   But I knew that I probably wouldn't stay at that school long-term.
My thoughts started circling around the idea of Maybe I should try and move now because if it's going to happen anyway...Why would I prolong it? What am I afraid of? Failing? Disappointing someone?
Sure, I could've stayed where I was for at least another year, gratefully, because when a principal hires you and wants YOU, it feels good and you do feel that you owe them that.  But I knew that my principals would be supportive because they supported my reasons.
It was kind of a Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today? train of thought.  Big picture, greater happiness, and me staying in this field meant I should probably just transition now.

Therefore, in August, I will begin at a new school.  So yes, after an interview, I got the job. Which will make it 6 years, 5 classrooms, 3 states.  But who's counting, right?  I will say that I am honored and flattered to have been chosen for my new position.  To know that principals want you and are willing to recommend you without hesitating, and to know that they believe you are good at what you do, is the best feeling.

A tiny fraction of the stuff I have to pack up and move for the third time in three years:


So whether your particular challenge is finding a job, losing weight, starting a business venture, or transitioning to a new place, it's okay to feel uncomfortable because that uncomfortable-ness is what you feel when you're growing.  You totally don't realize it as it's happening, but you see the difference afterward.

(Scott, our friends, and our families have remarked that I've been incredibly lucky to have gotten all these jobs I've gone after in the last few years.  I whole-heartedly agree with them.  I'm also quick to remind myself of that stack of rejection letters I have from almost every school in Pennsylvania, though.  It's a stack with a label that says "Rejection Letters". Someone told me once to save rejection letters as a reminder of how far you've come.  I'm pretty sure there were like 6 or 7 trees killed in 2008 just to send those letters to me.  And, for the record, I interviewed for a junior-high job last year that I definitely didn't get.  So it still happens sometimes :)

April 27, 2015

Limeaide Margaritas

Recipe challenge, week seventeen.



a.k.a Margaritas for a Crowd

You know how people have "their" drink?  Whether it's rum/coke, vodka/cranberry, red wine, etc, a lot of people have a drink that is their go-to.  My go-to is a margarita.  I don't say that to try and be cool (because I'm not), and it does seem like many a 20-something have had a terrible experience with tequila.  But I never have, so a good old-fashioned blended margarita never lost its luster for me.  But I also would eat candy corn by the shovelful if possible.  So I suppose my taste may not be the most discerning.  I told a friend the other day, as we were talking about candy and liquor (she's pregnant so it was all hypothetical on her end), that all I need is a giant margarita and a bag of candy corn and I'll be happy.  She adjust that to "No, the pumpkins, not just the candy corn".  I agree.

Anyway.

I don't drink rum (bad experience).  I don't drink vodka (even worse experience).  I do like white wine (sweet and cold), and beer is just fine (usually I just have a few sips of whatever Scott orders because I"m one of those people who can never finish a beer).  But honestly, what I usually want is a margarita.

I have several margarita or slushie recipes here on the blog, but most only make one or two servings and it'd be really difficult to make margaritas for a crowd without using a margarita mix.

I'm not a fan of pre-made drink mixes, be it margarita mix, sour mix, pina colada mix, etc.  I've tried a lot of them and they always kind of taste like plastic.  But...  I've been to the islands.  And I assumed that being in the Caribbean meant that I'd be drinking fresh rum out of a coconut or something.  I drank 2-3 frozen drinks a day for a week.  And every single one of them was made with a drink mix.  The bar huts on the beaches of Anguilla?  They pulled the bottle of colada or daquiri mix right out of a cooler, blended it up with some fruit and liquor, and there you were.  And those drinks were absolutely delicious.  I'm pretty sure the only thing freshly made was the rum punch.  I also remember drinking ice cold tequila and it was fantastic.  The locals drank beer.  Tourists drank the frozen stuff.

I ate and drank more at this dinner in Anguilla than I ever had in my life. 
Circa 2008. (Note the shorter hair)

ANYWAY.

If you are making margaritas for a crowd or having a Cinco De Mayo get-together of sorts, I definitely recommend this method.  You can adjust the measurements of tequila and triple sec to fit your needs.  All you're really doing is using the limeaide as the liquid, to get the blender going, after you add your liquor.  You can pick your limeaide (I used MinuteMaid concentrate) and there's several low-calorie or no-calorie options out there if that's your thing.




Limeaide Margaritas

Frozen strawberries or cherries (or both)
Tequila
Triple Sec
Fresh Lime
1/2 cup limeaide per drink

Blend the fruit, liquor (I do 3/4 shot of each per drink), and limeaide.  Squeeze in your fresh lime juice.  Pour into glasses and top with more limeaide if you'd like a thinner consistency.

(This isn't really a recipe.  I apologize.)

April 24, 2015

The Smartest Kids in the World (kind of a book review)

I wrote this post like a week ago.  I am up at 5am today and getting ready for Friday which, though Friday, is always a tough day to muscle through because students usually shut down on Thursday around 1pm.  I don't want to give the wrong impression here:  I did not write this post last night or just now. The only thing I used my computer for on Thursday night was a Pilates workout.  I would have used it for Netflix, but Netflix pops up on the t.v. thankyouverymuch.  

I have very mixed feelings on this book because it's written by a non-educator and someone who believes she has nothing to say about the field of education so she's not sure how she came to be writing the book in the first place.  I find this troubling just because we have enough educators who seem to believe they do have things to say about the field of education...and they still don't know what they're talking about.

This book covers a wide variety of potential problems with the American education system and I do have a vested interest in the topics.  If I were to continue on in the field of education, my goal would be to eventually work with curriculum, designing it or training teachers on it.  Our problem isn't curriculum.  We say that curriculum is our issue as textbook companies pander to schools claiming their product will raise test scores...but that's not the issue (none of that is in the book...it's just a fact).

Some information that IS in the book:

+American parents are seen as cheerleaders and not coaches.  Kids need coaches when it comes to education, not just cheerleaders.

+Along the same lines, there is no correlation between involved/volunteer-oriented parents and high-performing students.

+Sports are not a part of school in other parts of the world.  They are completely extra and not affiliated with the schools.  School is for school.

+Kids in Korea go to school all day and all night.  It is their job.  They don't go home at 4pm to play video games or football.

+Teachers are chosen based on their test scores.  The highest performing students in school become the future teachers. The students who graduate at the top of their classes will be the teachers.  That just makes sense if you think about it.

+Other countries don't have a greater respect for teachers necessarily (a long-held argument in the education community).  They have a greater respect for learning, which leads to very qualified teachers.

+The highest performing countries don't separate their students into leveled groups.  There's no low, middle, high.  Research has shown that the younger kids are when they are separated, the worse it is.  If you keep kids together, being taught the same material at the same level, they have a higher rate of success.  The example in the book was that the exchange student was "tracked" in 3rd grade in Gettysburg School District in Pennsylvania.  Now?  Kids are separated into groups in kindergarten.

As I was reading this book, I tried to think back. My parents never asked about homework, unless I didn't know how to do it and then there were painful hours at the kitchen table.  They never asked specifics; they just assumed I was learning.  And I was because I had a tendency to do well.  They probably met each of my teachers once, if that.  There were no conferences.

However, when it comes to the smartest people being teachers...there's an example in this book about a math teacher from Oklahoma.  He never took calculus or any higher level math, yet he became a math teacher.  He became a math teacher specifically because the school needed a coach and he wanted to be a coach and this was two-birds-with-one-stone.  That would never happen in other countries.

This example hits close to home because I decided in 11th grade that I was going to be an elementary teacher.  It'd always been on the table for me, but I knew that I wasn't good at higher-level math and I wanted to be successful in college, so I went the teaching route.  I knew that I wouldn't have to take calculus in college this way.  It was pure strategy.  In high school, I barely made it through trigonometry (I had a football coach for a teacher and he wasn't much of a teacher), and I was failing calculus my senior year.  In January of my senior year, I begged the counselor to let me drop calculus.  I was failing it, it would hurt my GPA, and I didn't need it.  I'd already been accepted to Penn State for elementary education.  It was a waste of my time and the teacher's time and there were only like 6 kids in the class to begin with.  It's interesting that I don't even remember what my parents thought factoring into my decision.  It was totally mine. I probably explained it away somehow, but the moral here is that because my guidance counselor was an idiot, she let me drop it. There should have been a study group or I should've sought extra help.  But because calculus was completely optional at my high school, those structures weren't put into place.  No one cared.  I ended up with an extra study hall for my last year of high school.  The only classes required of seniors at my school were English and Economics.  I also took a bonehead version of psychology/sociology and then band.  It was a horribly boring year.

Actually, junior-high and high school was really just a place that I went to sit from 7:30 to 2:30 every day so I could go to soccer practice or band practice or drama club at the end of the day.  Having a long list of extra curricular activities was my only real goal because the kids with the longest list were considered the most successful in my community.

I sat around and read for pleasure most of my senior year, yet I still graduated 6th in my class. I never took Chemistry II, physics, or calculus.  I did take AP Biology, but it was shockingly easy and we spent a lot of time doing word searches.  How could that even be allowed to happen?  Ridiculous.  There was no rigor or hard work involved.  It was too easy.  This is probably why I'm so hard on my students.  They need to be held accountable for more.

When I got to college, I worked much, much harder than I ever had in high school.  I had the natural tendency to do so though, so I was successful.  I was a planner and a scheduler and a participator.  It worked out for me.  I graduated with a 3.94 GPA.  Others from my high school didn't always fare so well though because my high school was not known for preparing students for college.

Some people have a natural tendency to do well and work hard.  Some don't.  The difference between our educational system and that in other countries seems to be that we don't enforce rigor and hard work as much.  If we increase the value of education and learning, we might get more life-long learners.  That's what the other countries are doing.



A question on a recent test and the kid who answered it in a way that blew me away. I told him I was going to frame it.

April 23, 2015

Hair stuff (Stuff and Things 4/23)


I got my hair cut in February of 2014 in Missouri.  Then again in October of 2014 in Colorado.  Then again in January 2015.  Then, I swore that I was going to get like 4-5 inches chopped off as soon as Scott deployed because I immediately regretted not getting more cut off in January.  Plus, Scott likes my long hair.  Now, Scott actually shaves his head, so he can't really make a case about hair. Plus, I know he doesn't really care.  But my grand plan was to get a bunch chopped off, enjoy the ease of shorter hair care (shorter drying time, etc) while he was gone and then it'd be longer when he got back.  Again, not that he REALLY cares.  But I try to be all considerate and everything because all I ever wear are gym shorts or sweatpants and spend all my time reading stuff online and sometimes I feel like I duped him when it comes to the getting dressed up and going out often thing (Sometimes "going out" means putting on a clean sweatshirt, you know?)

Then we had a snowstorm every weekend for like 3 weeks in February/March so I never made it to the salon.  Then I started thinking...I like long hair in the summer.  Because my hair has a natural wave, it's more pronounced the longer it is.  And if it's wavy, I can slap some pomade in when it's wet and just go on an 85 degree day and I don't even have to glance in the direction of the blow dryer.  So I want it to be long for summer for this reason and it's almost summer.  Then I had this quirky thought that I want to get my hair cut before I turn 30 so I can prove to myself that I don't always need to have long hair as some sort of youthful cushion (my hair has been longer at 26 through 29 than it ever was when I was 19 or 20) and then I can let it grow again and all will be well and I will have proven to myself that I don't NEED long hair.

This is why I thought about putting off a haircut for the next 6 months.

Also, I bought this sticky stuff to put on tree trunks to trap moths and I was spreading it on our trees last week and I got some in my hair.

The next day on Skype, me with wet hair:

Scott: Why did you wash your hair if you're going to the gym?
Me: I wasn't going to but I got Tanglefoot in it and figured I'd better get it out before it destroys my hair.
Scott:....are you serious?

So there was almost an emergency trip to the salon anyway.  Or at least Fantastic Sam's to repair damage.  Don't worry.  It all came out.

Then, last week,  I got annoyed by the perceived scraggliness.  Doesn't it always happen that as soon as you start thinking about a haircut, you notice how badly you NEED a haircut?  That was me all last week.

This is shorter...and kinda flat. I'm not sure if I like the way they blow dry it straight.

So I got a haircut.  I pretty much just said, "What should I do with it?" because I have a specific person that I go to at a real salon now.  At the end, my hair looked FABULOUS (Thanks April!), but she said I seemed disappointed.  I wasn't disappointed in my hair, I was disappointed in myself for being such a chicken.  Though, I was waffling over the idea of cutting off 4 inches instead of 2 and she persuaded me to keep it longer (You're welcome, Scott).

Also, the whole salon thing: I didn't plan it that way.  I was given $200 in Veda salon gift cards last fall, so I started going there and...now I can't stop.  There might have been at least one massage mixed in with the 3 haircuts I've gotten there...



April 21, 2015

Morning Rituals (with coffee, of course!)

Last summer, I wrote about my coffee habits.  They're still pretty much the same.  I have decided that I'm an Americano drinker and that lattes are fewer and farther between because sometimes they're just too sweet.  When Wayfair asked if I'd share my morning coffee ritual for their #CoffeeMyWay campaign, I was happy to revisit the topic. 

My mornings start inhumanely early.

First, we could talk about how a certain ginger-dog will wake me up at any time between 2am and 5am because he "needs" to go outside.  He just likes to go out and sniff around because he's bored in the middle of the night.

Second, my alarm goes off at 5am.  You see, I have to leave for work at 7am.  Half an hour of my morning time is usually eaten up by playing with the dogs and feeding them.  I feel bad for locking them up all day so I try to amuse them a bit in the mornings.
Another half hour would be me getting ready.

The hour portion of that 2 hour window would be me sipping coffee, eating breakfast, watching the news, and just relaxing before a busy day ahead.

I know it's strange, but I can't just get up and go in the morning.  I used to back when I was in high school and college, and even my first year of teaching.  But now I know that my days aren't really my own because I'm held to a pretty rigid schedule from 7am when I leave the house to 4:30pm when I get home from work.  I don't get a chance to relax or run errands or just be, so I've adapted to becoming a lark (a term from Gretchen Rubin's book) and getting up early so I can fit that time in.

We bought our Keurig in November of 2011 and I love it.  I couldn't see us ever going another way.  In fact, I'm not even sure how to use a regular coffee pot.  I never measure it out correctly. I don't pre-set the Keurig, but I fire it up as soon as I get out of bed.



My favorite mug is this Penn State one that I got around the time we bought the Keurig.  We had two but one broke in the dishwasher.  I care more about the structure of the mug (big, heavy ones are best) than what's actually on the mug. I own prettier ones, but this has been my favorite so far. Odd, right?

My preferred coffee these days is Dunkin Donuts K-cups. To be honest, the first thing I do after I add a tablespoon of Coldstone Sweet Cream creamer to my coffee is sit down at my laptop to see if there's an email from Scott.  Isn't that kind of sad?  But 'tis the life we live I guess.  Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn't.  Regardless, I browse through this or that online or maybe read a chapter of a book while the local news plays in the background.  Checking the weather is a must for me. Then a certain ginger-pup starts whining and that means I need to feed the dogs and start getting ready.

Sometimes I think it's really odd that I've turned into a morning person because this is a recent development, just within the last 3 years.  Before that, I was a get-up-with-just-enough-time-to-get-out-the-door person.  However, I've realized it's now the most relaxing part of the day...here's a day in the life post from last fall.  It's pretty much the same now.

What's your morning ritual?  Where do you drink your coffee or tea?  ASAP in the a.m.?  Or do you wait until you get to work or school? At least once a week, I stop for another drink at Starbucks on the way to school.