Books

I love books! I have had the love of books instilled in me from a young age. My parents are both avid readers, and so are both of my siblings. I am always wanting to find a book that just captures me and doesn’t let me go.

My hubster on the other hand is not an avid reader. It makes me sad, but it is his choice. It also makes me wonder what, if anything, could have been done by his teachers to help him learn to love reading. It makes me upset to know that some of the children I teach may never know how wonderful reading can truly be. I want to plant the love of books in their hearts and minds, but always wonder how to actually do that. I grew up loving to read, but if I child hates reading at a young age, is there something we can do to change that?

I just finished my 3rd book for January. (My resolution was to read at least 2 books a month). My first two books were non-fiction accounts of Holocaust survivors. They were very gripping and after reading them, I needed a break from the true-life, heart-wrenching stories. My dear friend and colleague just finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and highly recommended it. I was able to have our district librarian snag a copy for me from the junior high library. It took me less than 24 hours to start and finish this book. It was just that amazing. It is the first book of a trilogy and I am definitely looking forward to reading the other two books.

Here is a link with some information about the author and the three books if you are interested. They are young adult fiction, but I would recommend them to anyone who loves reading.

Have you read any good books lately?

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New Features

Hello bloggy friends! I don’t have a picture to share today and am going to get to that in a bit, but first I want to share with you some new features. To the right of my post, you will see some tracking bars. I have decided to come clean and put it all out there. One of my resolutions was to have $3000.00 in our savings account by the end of the year. We had a really good month and were able to put quite a bit into savings, so we are almost half-way there already.

I am also very determined to get out of debt as soon as possible. We have 3 areas of debt: the car loan, student loans, and credit card loans. Have I ever mentioned how much I HATE debt? Well, I do! I am embarrassed at how much debt we have, especially the credit cards. I was taught to always pay them off at the end of every month and basically I made some stupid mistakes and things got a little out of control. Now, I am paying for it (literally). The starting amount for both of those credit cards denote the outstanding amount the last time we ever used our credit cards. We no longer use credit cards and live on a cash only budget.

The debts are listed in the order I want them paid off. Next month I will have my Captialone credit card paid off COMPLETELY! And I will get to snowball that money into the next card and really start kicking some debt-butt. Once we get rid of all the credit card debt, I will divide out the student loans a little bit more (we are paying to 3 different institutions at this point) so we can see more progress.

I am hoping that these continue to encourage me and that maybe I can be an encouragement to someone else who is struggling with debt. The hardest part was going from using a credit card for almost everything and going to a completely cash only budget. We have fallen a few times because we did not have any money saved up, but at this point, our savings is enough to cover most any cost that could come up (such as new spark plugs for a little blue car).

I know that these numbers are scary, but I am so excited about watching the debt decline and the savings increase. I hope you continue on my journey with me.

As far as other resolutions, I am doing ok. I think I am going to rework my picture a day resolution and make it a picture a week (52 photo challenge). I find that I don’t have much motivation to just take pictures in my house or else I am going to have 150/365 pictures of Bandit or Rose. I also like to have the time to edit my photos (as I continue to learn Photoshop) before I post them. This also takes some time. In the end, I think this will help me continue to improve my photography without completely overwhelming me.

I am also not doing well with the working-out resolution. Let’s just say I am sitting inside with about 7-8″ of snow outside. Not really what I want to go out and walk in. I know that I have a few workout DVDs, but motivation leaves me often. What do you do to stay motivated?

How are your resolutions going?

Family

I have a big problem taking my family for granted. I assume they will always be there when I need them and I tend to put off visiting them until it fits perfectly into my schedule. This tends to come around and bite me when someone moves away or unfortunately passes on. This situation unfolded these past few days and although I did get to visit other family, there will be a hole from the one who is now gone.

My Great-Aunt Bim was my paternal grandmother’s sister. My grandmother died when I was about a month old, and I have no recollections of her at all. I felt that Aunt Bim was like a grandmother to me because of this. She was the last living relative of that family and had no children of her own. Instead she had many nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews. To her, those were like her children and grandchildren. She took care of them and loved them as her own.
She took care of her brother for as long as I could remember until he passed away in 2002. They lived on a beautiful farm in Rozel, KS and I can remember many times visiting them and getting to run around and play with my brother. They were wonderful memories that I will always wrap up in my heart.
When Uncle Hadley passed away, she moved to Kinsley, KS and lived there until her dying day. This weekend was the first time I got to visit her house and she was not there. I feel that I let her down in that aspect. I knew she loved us, and she would always have a smile on her face whenever she would see us, but I never seemed to find the time to go and visit her. I know she didn’t blame me or probably even think twice, but it would have made her day if I would have visited.
On Thursday, after school, I checked my voicemail and was asked to call my mom back. I called back and my dad answered. He was the one who delivered the news that my aunt had passed away. I knew immediately that I would do anything to go to the funeral no matter what. After everything was figured out, the services were scheduled for Monday, January 17 in Kinsley, KS.

On late Sunday morning, my mom, dad, sister, and I piled into my sister’s vehicle and we headed down there. My maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather live outside of Hays, KS and we stayed there. My dad and I stayed at grandpa’s house and my mom and sister stayed at my grandma’s house.
On Monday morning, we woke early and headed out to Kinsley, KS. The service was beautiful and we proceeded to Garfield, KS for the burial. The cemetery where Aunt Bim was buried is the one where my great-great grandparents, grandma, great-aunts and great-uncles are buried (along with many other relatives). It is only the second time I have been to the cemetery and I was lucky to be armed with my camera. I took some pictures of headstones of family members and while my family was looking at another headstone, I fell in love with this tree there. Because it’s winter, the tree is bare and it just seemed to set the stage for a cemetery. Under the tree is a small headstone bearing the name of “John Eric Polson”. This is one of my great-uncles who only lived for 3 days. It is also whom my father is named after, although he spells his first name differently.

I will visit that cemetery one more time, as my grandfather will be buried there, but I am praying it won’t be for many, many years.

Getting Caught Up…

Things have been going really well around here! I have kept up with most of my resolutions and I am very proud of myself. Today we received a lovely present of a snow day and I have gotten more things done that I didn’t get accomplished over the weekend. One of the major things I have accomplished is getting my pictures edited and put in my 365 album on Facebook. January 5th is not going to be posted, as it is a picture of my students from their field trip. I do not feel comfortable posting it on my blog or on Facebook. Unfortunately, there may be a few of those types of photos throughout the school year. I do have photos from January 6-today to add. What do you think?

This is from January 6, 2011. It is a glimpse into our “guest bedroom.” These are all my scrapbooking supplies. Mind you, the drawers and bins are all filled with supplies, too. 🙂
January 7, 2011- This is Mr. Grumpypants… Also known as Bandit. He was mad that I made him get out of the kitchen while I was cooking dinner. He usually curls up on his bed and refuses to make eye contact if he is told to get out of a room.
This is our dinner from January 8, 2011. I made a wonderful recipe of taco soup that Ben’s aunt passed on to us. It was delicious! It was also my lunch for today 🙂
Every Thursday and Sunday we drive to my Mom and Dad’s house to visit Rose. This is from yesterday (Sunday, January 9, 2011). Bandit loves any lap he can find and Mom agreed to pose for my daily picture. It took a while to get Rose into the picture and for everyone to look at me, but it finally worked and I love the picture!
This is a picture of our back porch area. It has literally been snowing all day today. I got a call at 5:45 AM letting me know that school was canceled! Yahoo! The snow had stopped for about an hour, but I just looked up and fluffy large snowflakes are slowly falling now. It’s beautiful!

Are you still doing well with your resolutions?

So Tired

First day back to school after break and I am exhausted! We had meetings today, so we weren’t even with kids, but it’s always difficult to get back into a routine after being out of one for so long. I don’t have much to say about today. I didn’t walk Bandit (but we did walk yesterday). I have drank my 3 cups of water today, and I took my picture. My picture basically tells it all: what I should be doing right now, but am not doing… planning.


Maybe I would get more planning done if I got off the computer and actually got to work. I guess I will give it a try.

Last Day of Freedom

In attempt to save money, our school district turned this work day into a work-from-home day. That was very nice of them, as I spent today not really doing any work for school at all. (I will be spending my evening doing much school work, though.) Instead this is how my day went:

8:30- Woke up and called Midas
8:35- Showered
9:15- Left to run errands and take car in for a new battery
12:00- Got home from errands
12:35- Went to pay a bill and run errands with my mom
4:15- Got home from errands with my mom
4:20- Took Bandit for a walk/run
4:45- Got home and got on my computer

For the most part, I have not been home today. I did get a lot accomplished, but I still have a lot more to do. Tomorrow we have a collaboration day that starts at 8:30. I will probably get to school at about 7:15 so I can put in an hour of work there before I have to go to the other building for all the meetings. I will probably also stay after school for a while to get everything ready for all the kids. The kids finally come back on Wednesday and I am not sure I am completely ready to say good-bye to my lovely break. Don’t worry, we get Martin Luther King Day off in a few weeks 🙂

For my picture today I present to you our Miss Rose. I remembered to take my camera with me to Mom and Dad’s and I got a wonderful picture of the cutie. We think she is a Doberman/Hunting dog mix. When we first got her, we thought Black Lab, but besides her coloring she really doesn’t have any features of a Black Lab. Needless to say she is full of energy and I am impressed I got her to sit for even one picture.


I may be a bit biased, but isn’t she the cutest?

Day 2

Today went well. Since I did so much yesterday, I just bummed around today and watched documentaries all day. The first one I watched was called Maxed Out. It was about America’s reliance on plastic credit. It was rather interesting. The next one I watched was called Wal-mart: The High Cost of Low Price. It made me not want to shop at Wal-mart ever again. It is not a place where I normally shop, but it does have low prices which very much appeal to me. There were some very eye-opening things that I was completely unaware of. The last one I watched was Paper Clips. I absolutely loved this one! It was about a middle school in TN and a Holocaust project that they did. Their project gained national and even international attention. It is definitely one I would recommend.

This afternoon/evening we went and visited my parents and Rose. We gave Rose her gift of sticks and she loved it! We dumped them on the ground outside and she was so excited she almost didn’t even know which one to grab and eat first. Yes, eat. She tears them apart and I am sure that she ingests more than I want to know. Overall, the present went over very well.

I completely meant to take my camera and take a picture of Rose so you could get a visual of the cutie, but I forgot. Instead, you are going to have to deal with a picture of Bandit for now. He lives at home with us and we believe he is part Pug, part Jack Russell. You can diagnose him however you want.

The other resolutions are going well, also. I don’t think I drank all my water today, but I did yesterday. I also took Bandit for a walk yesterday, but did not exercise today. My plan is to wake up early tomorrow and take him for a walk (we have a work-from-home day tomorrow, so I don’t have to actually go back to work until Tuesday.) Yay!

How did your second day of 2011 go?

It’s Here! It’s Here! It’s Here!

A new beginning. A new year. A fresh start. Whatever you want to call it, 2011 is here! How are your resolutions going? Mine are actually going fantastic!! I made a to-do list this morning and am about half-way through. I have gone grocery shopping, filled up my car, unloaded the dishwasher, have one load of laundry in the washer right now, and have taken my picture.

Here is my most interactive resolution… the first picture of my 365 photo challenge.


What is it? It’s a bundle of sticks tied with a pink ribbon, silly. Why did I take a picture of it? Because our baby puppy, Rose, is turning 2 tomorrow and this is her present! Rose currently lives with my parents because of restrictions at our apartment (and stupid neighbors). She gets lots of outside time at Mom and Dad’s and her favorite thing to play with outside is sticks. Well, during some major wind last week, a dead tree fell in the parking lot of our apartment (no cars were damaged) and what does a dead tree provide? More sticks than you can imagine! Since she got a few toys for Christmas and has plenty of treats, I decided to go with this budget-friendly option of a bundle of sticks. I love it and I think Rose will love it too 🙂 I will let you know what she thinks of it after we see her tomorrow.

I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year’s celebrations and 2011 is off to a good start for everyone!