Bad Photographer, but Good Photos

What a week! I am sure you guys thought I had dropped off the face of the Earth. Well, it’s time to relax, because I am still here. I know you all are breathing a big sigh of relief.

In the craziness that has been this week, I did not take a photo yesterday. I thought about taking a few today and passing one off as having been taken yesterday, but I would rather be honest with my readers. I had thought about taking one at different times, but did not get around to it. The first two pictures are nothing to write home about, but I actually put in some effort into today’s photo shoot.

First picture: Mister Cone-head. We tried the weekend without the cone and that went less than swimmingly. Bandit scratched and rubbed until his little heart was content. Then we put him back in the cone. He was not too happy about this.


Second picture: Miss Rose. Because the weather has been amazing we have been spending a lot of our evenings with our sliding glass door open. This allows the dogs to go in and out freely, and they spend quite a bit of time on the deck. Here is a shot of Miss Rose after I whistled at her to get her attention.


Third (and additional) picture(s): I went on a butterfly hunt today. When I was taking the dogs out this afternoon, I noticed a lot of really pretty butterflies hanging around the tall grass. I grabbed my camera and headed out. The picture for my photo of the day is my favorite. A beautiful monarch hanging out on a branch. The other three are miscellaneous butterfly photos. I hope this makes up for the fact that I missed taking a photo yesterday.

Little brown and orange guy almost blends in and looks like a dead flower.
The first butterfly I went chasing. Pretty yellow girl.

Same pretty yellow girl. Action shot as she landed on a flower. So pretty!
Just so you are aware, I really do not know how to tell if a butterfly is a boy or a girl. I just say what I think.

I hope you enjoyed the pretty pictures for today. I will promise to continue my attempt at 366 365 364 photos.

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Weekend Recap

Hello my lovely readers! I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful fall weekend. I have been enjoying the cooler weather by keeping most windows open. I am hoping this saves some moolah on the energy bills.

Friday was a blast! A friend had a goddess party to celebrate the beginning of fall. It was so much fun! Even though I work with most of the people who were there, I still view them as good friends and love spending time with them outside of work. Here is a peek at some of the amazing food the hostess had for us.I can’t tell you exactly what they are, but it has goat cheese and portabella mushrooms on top. I did not partake in any of these because of what I just told you they were made of, but I thought the presentation was beautiful! My favorite item was the guacamole and chips. I never liked guacamole much (or I thought I didn’t like it), but the past few times I have tried it, I can’t get enough. Yumm-o!

Yesterday I spent my day cleaning and doing homework. I did take a nap in there and went to the grocery store, also. I was so busy that I didn’t get around to taking a picture until 11:00 pm. (Yes, I was up until then… mainly working on homework). At that time of night, there really isn’t much to take pictures of besides a puppy. Here is Miss Rose wondering why I we are not already tucked in bed, snuggling under the covers.


This morning is yet another beautiful fall day. We woke up, got some breakfast and went outside for a bit. The sun is shining, the sky is cloudless and blue, and the air is just nice and cool. I wanted to capture the last of the pretty white flowers this morning. I am planning on taking Rose on a walk as soon as I am finished blogging. She loves the cooler air, and I need to get into a walking routine before it is too cold, and I have too many excuses.

I hope you all are enjoying your fall weekend! If it’s pretty and sunny, get out there and enjoy it!

Classroom Stuff (and some flowers)

I posted my link on Facebook yesterday, and was a little confused at first when some of my friends liked it. I was wondering why they liked that I was $250 poorer… but then I thought back and realized that they were probably liking it because of the story about Rose. Sometimes I am a little slow to the party.

Today was another pretty good day. I had a lot of good contact with parents today. Any teacher will tell you that the parent aspect of teaching is one of the harder parts, if not the hardest part. I have been trying to be very proactive this year with the parents, and I feel like it is making a big difference. I also feel that now I am closer to their age, so they are seeing me as a peer instead of a new baby-teacher.

I stayed after school for about an hour to get my desk cleaned off. It had been swallowing me with papers, books, and other miscellaneous items. I rearranged some of my desk drawers and was able to clean off my desktop as well as some of the counter space behind me. And no, I did not just shove everything into my desk drawers.

I have been struggling with the organization of my classroom, and it hasn’t gotten much better. I am happy that my desk is cleaned off, but for some reason I just do not feel organized. It’s also tough because I know I am going to have to move classrooms yet again next year. Even if I decide to stay with first grade, I will have to move rooms. It’s a long and money-driven story, so I will spare you the details. If you really want the details, let me know and I can email them to you. One of the bad parts of moving is that if I do stay in first grade, I may end up in a bright yellow room. I am in orange now which is not as bad as I thought it was going to be, but the yellow in our school is blinding. Yuck!

Luckily I did take a photo yesterday of the most important thing on my desk (according to my students)…
I am not above bribing rewarding my students for working hard and doing things they should. They stare longingly at that jar of Starbursts, and I am sure that their mouths just water with the thought of eating one.

The one thing I have been shocked about is that no one has complained about them yet. Last year I had it full of Skittles, but I had a couple students tell me that they didn’t like Skittles. I told them that’s too bad, because I was not going to buy a buffet of candy for them. I also haven’t had anyone complain about the color they have received. It has been very nice.

My picture from today is just another flower picture. These little white flowers have bloomed outside of our house. I love their lacy look and how little they are. So pretty…

Well, I will leave you with this gem of information… Tomorrow is Friday! Woo-hoo!

Money Woes

We are $250.00 poorer. That’s how much our vet bill was today. We took both dogs in for their yearly vaccinations and to have Bandit looked at. The vet did an exam on both of them, took some blood for a heartworm test, and gave vaccines. We have to take them back in in 3 weeks for a booster shot, but it won’t cost anything. I think after that we may be changing vets. The current vet we go to in a good 20 minutes away in a nearby city. They have seen our dogs since we first got them and have been fantastic. They are a bit expensive, especially when you think about the gas we have to pay for to get there. We have a local vet that is about 3 minutes from our house and from what I have heard is a great place and more inexpensive. I think it may be time to make the change.

We did have a great thing happen at the vet though! When we walked in there was a special needs man and a woman with him. We sat down and Rose started licking my hand. The girl awwwed, so Rose walked over to her and let the lady pet her! This is huge!! Rose is not fond of anyone, but to let this woman pet her with no growling, snapping, cowering is amazing! She then walked over the the special needs man and let him touch her head! Again, this is fantastic! We were so proud of her and got lots of love from us. She is such a sweet girl.

In other news, I left my camera at school. I took some pictures for my masters class, so I have a picture for today. Unfortunately it is just living in my camera.

Nothing else exciting in our lives. I am still trying to stay afloat at school and keep up with all of my homework for my classes. It is hectic, but we are making it work.

I hope everyone had a great hump day! Tomorrow is Thursday!

Late Night Visitor

Tomorrow is going to be a very expensive day. As you all know, Bandit is back in the cone. His steroid shot has worn off and his itching is full force. Today when I came home from work he had super goopey eyes. It was a yellowish/greenish color, so I am worried he may have an infection of some sort. I cleaned them out (around 4) and by the time Hubs woke up at 6, he said they were goopey again.

I called the vet and they said to bring him in. They also said that Bandit and Rose are due for some vaccinations, so they will both be going in for that. No matter how we look at it, it is going to be super expensive. So much for having much extra wiggle room this month. Blah!

This evening we had a late night visitor come to our back door. We had the screen door closed and the light on because Rose was hanging out there a bit. And along came a praying mantis. I hope this one brings good luck too! That means double good luck!! Here is my picture of him (or her).


I hope everyone had a great Tuesday! One more day closer to Friday… Woo-hoo! Tomorrow is hump day, celebrate as you wish. 🙂

Good Luck and a Cone

The puppy cone of shame is back. The steroid shot has completely worn off, and Bandit is back to being a cone head. I think that is the biggest news around here.

Work is still work. It is overwhelming and exhausting. I feel as though I am just trying to stay afloat at this point. I feel many days that I am just a broken record, saying the same thing over and over and over and… well you get the idea.

I am really stumped at what to write about, so if anyone out there in blogland has any ideas that they would like me to undertake, feel free to shout them out!

In other news, I saw a huge praying mantis last night. I have heard that they are supposed to bring you good luck, so hopefully by taking a picture, my good luck will last even longer. I took a ton of pictures but because it was so dark outside, many of them didn’t turn out. Here is one that did end up turning out. He’s so cute!


Here is the puppy cone. He was very nervous jumping onto the deck chair because he wasn’t sure he was going to fit. He adjusts pretty well, but we did have one accident this evening. He was getting a drink of water, and we don’t know what exactly happened, but we heard the dish clanking and he came over to us and had water all over the inside of his cone. Poor guy. He did finally get a drink without making a mess.

Short Post

It’s been a busy weekend. I am overwhelmed with work right now and am very much not ready for tomorrow to be Monday. My to-do list continues to grow, but my motivation and time continue to dwindle.

Here are a couple posts that I enjoyed this past week.

Just Do It Day from Digging Out From Our Mess – I wish I had a day to Just Do It All
Eliminate All But the Essentials from Tasmanian Minimalist- I love the quote at the beginning of this post.

Does anyone else feel as though they are drowning at all times? I am looking forward to Winter Break when I will have 2 weeks away from school (both Masters courses and teaching). It will be lovely, and I am already imagining all of the many things I can get done.

I did have a picture from today, but it is still living in my camera and has not joined the pictures on my computer. Hopefully it will get done tomorrow.

I hope everyone has a great Monday and enjoyed a very relaxing weekend!

Starting a Budget

It’s hard to start a lot of things. It’s always hard to start a new job or try to start a new habit. It’s no different with starting a budget, but everyone has to start somewhere.

I am sorry to say that there is no one-size-fits-all budget. I have been through multiple websites, books, spreadsheets, paper-pencil budgets, etc. and I am still tweaking my budget almost yearly. If you are starting from scratch and have no idea what to do, I would recommend tracking your every expense. (And when I say every, I mean every… pop, candy bar, coffee, etc.) I have heard from people that they have no idea where their money goes. I was once one of those people as well. I didn’t go on elaborate shopping sprees or buy large ticket items, but my money seemed to disappear each month.

After a month of tracking your expenses, it will give you a good idea of where your money goes. You can find where your financial drains are. My financial drain has been and continues to be eating out. It is something I struggled with when I was single and also now that I am married. I enjoy eating out, but enjoy more the fact that I don’t have to cook when I eat out. This is not good at all for our wallets. Our money slowly disappears one meal at a time.

I think the hardest part of figuring out your budget is deciding how much money to allot to each category. This is a personal decision and it will take tweaking. A lot of people feel that a budget is set in stone once they make it. They don’t feel as though they have any wiggle room. You can make a budget be whatever you want it to be. After tracking expenses if you found that you spend $50 on coffee each month and are ok with that, then put $50 a month into your budget for coffee. If you aren’t ok with that amount, then lower to what you feel is best.

A lot of people feel that if they are spending something that may not be a necessity, they need to cut it out completely. I can tell you that if you go from spending $50 a month on coffee and try to cut it out to $0 a month, you are most likely setting yourself up for a failure. If you eventually want to get it down to $0, then decrease it each month by $5 or $10. Extreme changes to your personal style will only set you up to hate your budget. Extreme changes may be necessary if you lose a job or have a major life change, but for the average person who is just trying to start a budget, it will make you resent your budget.

The best part about a budget is that you can personalize it. Hubs and I have our own “allowance” in our budget called MAD money. We each get $40 a month to spend however we want. We can save it from month to month and eventually buy something big, or we can piddle it away on small things all month. It is our personal money and can be spent however we want. We do not have to discuss how we spend our money each month. It is ours alone.

I can only speak from our budgetary position, but Hubs and I do have a joint account and our money is all shared. We do not split our money or have separate accounts to figure out how much each person owes for something. As a couple, you have to make that decision on your own. If you prefer separate accounts, then you can make a budget just for your account. Figure out how much you need to put towards the joint categories (bills, rent/mortgage, pets, food, etc.) and go from there.

Since Hubs and I are trying to get out of debt, that is where the majority of our money goes each month. We do not have a lot of wiggle room in other areas of our budget. We use an envelope system for some categories, as I do not trust ourselves to keep it in an account and not touch it. Our categories are pretty slim right now, as we are trying to save and pay off debt at a rapid rate.

One question that you do have to figure out for yourself is how much should be budgeted each month. There is no easy answer. Here is a compilation of a few websites that may be helpful in answering this question, but in the end it is up to you to decide that.
About.com
Budget Percent Calculator
Budget Calculator
Spending Plan Online Calculator

Once you figure out your percents and how much will be budgeted in each category, it is up to you to do the next part. Stick to it. It is the hardest part of the budget, and the one that burns a lot of people out. I try to update my expenses each week to see how it is going. We still struggle with certain areas of our budget, but it is an ongoing process and will continue to change as our lives change.

I do need to let you know that I am in no way a financial planner. I enjoy numbers, math, and balancing budgets. I have no background in giving financial advice, so whatever you take from this post, you are taking at your own risk.

Bandit says to get to it and start that budget! And don’t forget the pets category… we need food, treats, toys, and yearly vet bills covered.

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Friday!

I wish I could come back from a week-long hiatus and say I did something fabulous which kept me from blogging. But alas, I am back from a long week of work and homework. Nothing new in my life. I did continue to take my pictures, and work on keeping up with our budget.

So far we have had 3 no-spend days this week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday). On Thursday I paid a few bills, and today I had dinner with a friend and brought Hubs some dinner home. I also bought a few things for my classroom: refill on Starbursts since first graders will do almost anything to get a Starburst, some certificates for $0.70 for a pack of 30, and new folders. I also bought some silver sharpies for my mom. She got her hard cast on, and the nurse told her that with a dark blue cast silver will show up the best.

The only other fun things happening in my life is it’s a birthday weekend! My nephew is turning 4 tomorrow and my brother is turning 31 on Sunday! Lots of celebrating.

Since I don’t have much to talk about today, (but look for a special blog post tomorrow or Sunday… It is dedicated to one of my loyal readers), here are my photos from this week.

Monday:This is a yummy smelling candle. It is an apple/cinnamon very-fall scented candle. It is just a Glade candle and I love that it will fill our house with a lovely smell. It makes me really get in the fall mood.

Tuesday:
Miss Rose finally gets another picture up here. She looks scared to death, but do not worry… she had nothing to be scared of. Sometimes she just puts her ears back when she is listening to you. She is a silly pupper.

Wednesday:
Here is the ever pitiful Bandit. His steroid shot is wearing off, and his itching is back. He is still on medication, but it is not cutting it. Tomorrow he will be getting a bath and will be covered in lotion.

Thursday:
Yesterday I took 20 minutes to indulge myself. I finally tweezed my eyebrows, and I don’t know about you, but I felt like a new woman. It was a desperate situation, but now my eyebrows look lovely.

Friday:My masters’ writing class wants pictures of lessons that I do. This picture is a bit boring, but my class and I were talking about adding details to our writing. At the first grade level they are still writing one sentence as a story. We are working on expanding that into more than one sentence. It was a good lesson, and I think the kids enjoyed it.

So, that is my week in pictures. Thanks for stopping by, and I will be back sometime this weekend.

Kind of a Whiny Post

I don’t even have a picture for you to enjoy yet. So you just have to listen to my two bits of whining for today…

1. I got a bill from when I sprained my ankle. NOTHING WAS COVERED BY INSURANCE! I have been to this clinic many times before and at least something was covered. So, now we have an almost $400 bill to pay. I called the company to set it up as a payment plan and they won’t spread it out over more than 3 months. That means we are paying ~$125 a month for the next 3 months. That completely sucks!

2. Our landlords do not deposit rent for weeks and weeks. It is due on the first of the month, and here we are almost halfway through the month and it has not been deposited. This is not the first time, and in fact happens every month. It is a bit frustrating because whenever I check my online banking I have to remember in the back of my head to subtract out our rent. Grrr…

Sorry for the whiny post. It has been a long day, and I haven’t had much time to decompress. I am planning on heading to bed in about half an hour (around 8:00 this evening). Hopefully I will wake up in a better mood tomorrow.

Hope your Monday is going better than mine!