Monday, March 29, 2010

Work and Paychecks

In my continued effort to be aware of what's going on with my salary / paycheck / and overall finances I just made an interesting (I'm staying positive) discovery!

State employees pay into something that is different that Social Security so the rules also differ when benefits and retirement are options. In light of getting my +48 credits on my paycheck April 1st, I also read my mail from the retirement program.

New legislation passed and I'm going to fit into the category of the Rule of 85. This means that my age and service years have to add up to 85 years old. So, assuming I take no time off and work in this state for my whole career and don't switch career's outside the public school system I'll work for 32 years and be 53 when I will be able to retire. I don't know if that is the minimum retirement to get 100% benefits or if that is the point that I would get 100% benefits, but it is interesting to look that far away. Now, all that being said I don't really honestly believe that the rules won't change again but as it stands this is where I am. It's a starting place, eh?

32 years from now it is hard (obviously, impossible) to imagine what life will be like for me and the world. Will I have kids? What else will I do besides the day to day teaching for a career? Where will I have been? What will I have learned? Will I still like my job? What will teaching be like? What students, families, or communities will I be a part of?
All from a piece of business mail.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reading in the Wild

I'm working my way through the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and enjoying them. We read them as a family when I was a kid and the adventures and challenges have some new meaning and magnitude to me reading them as an adult now. I finished the Big House in the Woods and will probably finish Little House on the Prairie tonight. Some of the values of the day come through the writing as a bit dated or preachy but when I reflect on them many are understandable. Some, such as children should be seen and not be heard, have application as I'm now an adult that they didn't when I was a kid!
I also enjoy book series because it is an easy decision what to read next and the characters and themes continue over multiple plot lines.

Vacation Food and Crafternoon

Vacation time with family has been great. Fun free entertainment. Exercise, laughter, a few eyes rolling at old habits, and a LOT of food. For example, today was free pastry day at Starbucks so we took advantage of that starting my morning with a vanilla bean frappachino and large slice of coffee cake. Then returned home to finish breakfast with a banana chocolate chip muffing. A 6 person game of croquet as the weather got colder and then returning to mom's for a large lunch. For "normal" people there was talapia fish fillet sandwiches with homemade tarter sauce. (pickey me, I had mac'n'cheese). I've been telling Mom that she needs to take a break so I cooked dinner tonight. I made a more summertime dish of a peppercorn and garlic salad dressing and garlic rubbed steak. The men cooked the steak for me and I got the rest of it ready. Except for starting the steak late, everything was ready and on time, which is a big goal of mine. I believe this is is the first time I've made twice baked potatoes and thought they were delicious. I put all kinds of unhealthy and delicious stuff in the stuffed part so that was wonderful. Probably could have used a bit more salt. The sliced steak went on top of the salad with dressing. I also had before the snow started falling, fresh chives and garlic scapes from the garden which were DELICIOUS and remind me why the yard work is worth it. I didn't plan a dessert but ended up making brownies while we played Dutch Blitz. So, a lot of food all day long. Good thing there is some exercise combined between most meals.

Still no good camera cord so only a few at home pictures at a time for now. :(

Today was crafternoon and although I forgot to take pictures (just a bad day for remembering!) we had blackberry smoothies and pie crust cookies with blackberry centers. I wasn't super inspired but made some simple and fun cards. I'll need to figure out what I'm doing for Easter soon as it is NEXT week!

Finally, these are the new plastic plates mom got me for "First Day of Spring," aka reason to give gifts for Mom. They coordinate wonderfully with my accent wall and have some extra variety which I enjoy. Sometimes the lightweight plastic plates are just better than ceramic. Thanks Mom!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Vacation, Hiking, ROCKS!

Spring break started early with a sweet snow day. I am a bit bummed my camera cord and yoga mat and perhaps some questionable food were left in my room but nothing like a day off that can cure any other worries. And it was a day off, not a snow day. If nothing sticks to the roads and when the snow day is called there is in fact none of the 'white stuff' I call it a day off. Good call!

So far with vacation Karin and her sister there have been many mini adventures. Hikes at Garden of the Gods, Red Rocks Open Space, and Waldo's Canyon, (both of which were super muddy!). Outside exercise rocks! Exercise in general rocks especially when you have to make room for the next meal because mom won't stop making food. Top hits include burritos, pretzels, pudding dessert, taco salad, banana chocolate chip muffins, and a never ending supply of fresh fruit. Yum!
We did a little thrift shopping where I got a sweater and Jenny found tons of sweet clothes including a cK beaded shirt that :(...looked better on her than me so she got it. It's a dark turquoise and has super detailed beading at the neck and sleeves. After hanging with friends we also did our nails so it feels like spring time with new clothes, freshly painted nails, and time outdoors.

We went to the Rock and Worship Roadshow at the World Arena for a LOUD rockin' show. My excitement was for the David Crowder Band which I thought was the highlight of the show. Mercy Me had some great stage graphic's and a great closing moment but there's nothing like a packed full arena screaming worship to God! I've been to another David Crowder Band concert and it was just as high energy and intense to see so many people worshipping our God! Of course, the $10 ticket was sweet too.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tonight I Need To...


I've been avoiding a whole bunch of work so here is my to-do list so cyberland or my brain or something holds me accountable. And if you're feeling nosey here's why:

  • Finish grades Friday evening ( Biggest and worst goal. Don't want to do it and eek! due Monday and Jenny's arriving)
  • Vacuum tonight (just a good idea)
  • Clean bathroom tonight (another quick good idea)
  • put laundry away before Saturday night (hence, Jenny's arriving)
  • Put fabric away tonight (it's annoying to have to step over to get to the closet)
  • Do yoga tomorrow morning (it is good for me)
  • put books back on bookshelf tonight (there is a piece of furniture called a bookshelf for a reason, use it silly Karin)
  • Whiten teeth with free whiteners that came in the mail ( cause its free!)
  • Recycle on Saturday (the bin is getting full)
  • Go to the Library on Saturday or the mobile library (see last post, plus bored with no Harry Potter to read)
  • March Budget update with receipts (getting behind...oh no!!!!!)
  • Make a salad lunch for tomorrow (salad is good for you, and if I do yoga I don't have time to make my lunch)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Library Use

I'm ashamed to say I'm one of those people that has a hard time using the Library without ending up with overdue fines. I think I'll go just in a day or two and end up with five books (or worse DVDs overdue) and then give up for a while. I enjoy reading too much to let this pattern continue. I need to use it, and use it well! So that is my goal for the next month. Start using it again and avoid fines.

Another goal would be to read 1-2 books a month. I seem to go in spurts of all or nothing and find I'm happier and feel more intellectually alive when I read. So here's to reading.

I started another biography, this one of John Bunyan - Author of Pilgrims Progress. (Ha ha ha, I had to go check if it was Paul Bunyan or John. Guess he wasn't a enormous lumberjack, so it's John. Unless later in the book there is a surprise!) So far its ok, nothing amazing.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

More Signs of Spring

It's a bit more chilly today but with charged camera batteries I went in search of life in the backyard. Here's what I found. I was given some onion plants last year and they have sprouted so if I can figure out how to harvest them this year that would be cool. I'm going to need to start to figure out how to plant my garden this year. I feel like I have the motivation to weed around my baby plants so perhaps everything can be spaced out a bit better this year but the problem of how to water will have to continue to be addressed. Also pictured below are garlic scapes shooting up. These continue to come back and the green leaf part is just as good and garlic-ly as a garlic bulb so I'll be using these in some cooking soon!

The chives are also coming up out of the ground so those will be able to be used in cooking soon to my tongue's delight. I didn't know gardening would be such a hobby of mine. I hope that it doesn't become an obsession or competition between me and what other people do in their gardens so I'll have to guard against that! I like to be the best at what I do (doesn't everyone) and it is hard to distinguish the difference between those feelings and feelings of superiority etc. when other people or friends have similar hobbies.

Went to church again today which was wonderful. Or as the German song about the good shepherd was sung, vunderbah! (that's how I spell German sounding wonderful).

The sermon was about Christ being the gate and the good shepherd to us the sheep. We must be able to hear, distinguish, and know his voice to follow him. What that looks like today is certainly different that going to hear Him talk. We can only know and trust in his voice if we pursue and hear Him often, and trust in prayer that we are hearing from him. How can we know if we are following the good shepherd or a thief if we don't pursue a relationship with Him close enough to know the difference.

I see God's promises right now through the life in plants. The faith of a tiny mustard seed can sprout into a full and blooming plant. I pray for that kind of faith, (and fewer weeds!)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Good Thing..Its Saturday...Its Spring...

Signs of hope keep popping up and bringing smiles to my face. Got to spend time with mom this morning including grocery shopping, Frappachino deals, free earrings at Kohls, and a spontanious garage sale that took a few extra turns to find but worth it. The frugalista within was so happy.

I'd like to come up with a garage sale rating system that includes, but is not limited to: good people, my 'kinda' stuff, good prices, willing to bargain, good neighborhood, and easy enough to look through. Based on that system I'd give this garage sale a 5/6 and found some stuff for me and school. I'm particularly excited about the skeleton gloves for the upcoming human body science unit. A few seams are pulled apart and I could ignore that or quickly whip stich them back together. Also, 6 pairs of scissors for a dollar and a few exacto knives thrown in as well made for a sweet deal! Now kids will have scissors instead of always loosing them!

Finally, when I realized it was an amazing warm day I took out my 4 month old poinsetta for a few hours of direct sunlight. As I just retrieved her from the back steps, (and the inspiration for this post) I saw this in the bed by the back steps.


If anything green comes out of the ground I'm happy and this is proof that the world does indeed still have life within! I realize for those calendar hindered people this might be a bit of a stretch but after week after week of blah, gray, cold, dark, depressing winter I'm claiming spring just as I needed it!

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Life and Tales of Harry Potter...I Have to Say Something!

I promise, I'm not obsessed. However, I did finish books 1-7 in 17 days but who's counting. I'll at some point have to figure out how many pages there are total in the series but at this moment google is not spewing out helpful information on that topic.

For anyone who hasn't read the series AND THINKS THEY MIGHT WANT TO: SPOILER ALERT.

Here are a few thoughts.

I love that Neville (who shows only a true proficiency in botany) is a bit of a magical late bloomer. He struggles with being an awkward and useless wizard to killing 1/7th of Voldermort and allowing the final triumph of Harry to succeed. He is (though I admit not seeing it earlier) juxtaposed to Harry in so many ways except that Harry has the skill and confidence that Neville lacks. Both have effectively lost their parents and while this inspires and drives Harry, it seeps within Neville rooting him to the ground until he is able to overcome it in his own due time. I feel like many children would be able to relate to him. He receives the least amount of praise, glory, or popularity yet remains true to himself, his friends, and his beliefs.

Hermione's stable character rarely falters and her pillars of silent and sometimes painful strength let the others make dramatic saves, potions, and ultimately overcome evil. From the beginning with her polyjuice potion gone wrong turning her into a cat (and taking her out of the action) to her practical pessimism that saves Harry from a fate like Dumbledore's she rocks these books. She is tortured by Bellatrix (?) and even in her torture is able to weave a tale that helps them. Then weeks later we find out she has saved one of Bellatrix's hairs to help create another useful polyjuice potion to lead the gang one step further on their mission. All while under torture! Her knowledge surpasses any other character in the text except perhaps that of Dumbledores. Yet her Muggle background protects her from the deep magical knowledge in a way that Dumbledore failed. Her practical denial of anything "too" magical saves Harry, whereas Dumbledore's faith in magic to do anything costs him his life. Without Hermione Harry couldn't have survived any of the trials of the seven books. Yet we see her fragility when others make fun of her, scoff at her ideas, rebuff her academic brilliance, or abandon her. Her silent tears cuts to the quick of just how painful life can be, magical or not.

Ah Dumbledore. Book six shook us to our core to watch us trust Snape and yet see him kill you. Book seven became even harder as we read what any practical person would have believed, that you too were not perfect. A man that had been destined for the Minister of Magic for years and had never taken the position, the rumors about a messy family life and an affection for the Dark Arts must have only seemed to blot the already untimely and unfortunate passing of our protagonists' mentor. Yet, in all of this he still had a plan. I'm grateful for Dumbledore's less than stellar portrait so that it is not possible to see him as any kind of god, savior, or swaying power in the universe. Although for so long it seemed that Dumbledore was anything and everything we could want him to be he still had flaws. He forgot what it was like to be a young man and almost risked loosing Harry. His scandalous death and the truth about his life rocked Harry and presumable the magical world that believed in him to their core. What could a man that was trusted with the lives of so many students be interested in the Dark Arts for. Even more concerning was the treatment and outcome of his tragic family. Yet with these flaws his knowledge redeems him to continue to work for the greater good. He realizes (though not without relapse) that he is not meant to wield power or unnecessary authority. He is, as so many quotable and lovable lines remind us, wise beyond all of Harry's years and even when he's guessing, he is usually right. Dumbledore taught Harry about a magic that didn't have spells or signs but a gut feeling and the desire to do what is right and good. Even yes, love, wonderful love. The redeeming quality in so many spells and that continue to waft around Harry throughout each book. Love changes our actions, lives, spells, and connections. Dumbledore loved Harry enough to not make the journey easy, but to make it successful.

Still reading!? I suppose this is just my journal at the moment. Again, I'm really not obsessed. I don't think. Maybe after I've read them a 2nd or 3rd time I'll be able to tell you. JUST KIDDING.

Not that I'm going to stop now.

Snape. Ah the man we long to hate. Detentions, petty jealously, unearned hatred, at times what seemed like murder, aiding the enemy, and providing the stone on which to sharpen the sword to hurt Harry Potter. Yet book after book (except of course the thrilling hatred we're left with at the end of book six) he redeems himself. We continue to want to believe Dumbledore that there is SOME reason to trust him. Yet why does Snape quit teaching Harry to block his mind from Voldermorts anger and experiences. How can Snape kill Dumbledore and take his position? Where does he get off leaving Hogworts the night of the battle between Voldermort and the people. Snape, painfully, may have had even a harder time than Harry with the years it took to fulfill the plan to once and for all kill Voldermort. Hated by others, waiting for a job that continues to be beyond your reach, living in secrecy to everyone except Dumbledore, and having to watch over the child that should have been yours. He loved Lily but couldn't be quite the brave, charming, and openly honest that James was. His deal with Dumbledore to do anything to try to save Lily left him without her, against the powerful dark wizard he had pledged allegiance to, and to watch over the son that looked just like the classmate that had taunted, jeered, and made his life awful. And where is Snape's reward. His dying memory to give to Harry shows everything that Harry, and we, had doubted. Too clear to be argued, too useful to wish it hadn't happened, and too much of a martyr to wish he had never been there. Thousands of pages upon pages of our hate for Snape hasn't let me let Harry's lingering words soothe Snape's memory. If you get chosen for Gryffendore or Slytherine, both have had great men capable of great deeds. Oh....but the frustration. The tragedy here is the true hero that gets no credit and is justifiably questioned for years dies without being able to impart his thoughts or clear his name.

And oh what to say about Harry, Ron, the Weasly family, Hagrid, Draco and everyone else? I've lost enough sleep recently reading I better get to bed and continue these thoughts later!