Friday, October 31, 2008

A Natural Antidepressant

I haven't really talked about it on my blog, but I spent most of September in kind of a funk, particularly during the week, as my somberness was definitely related to work. I was having a hard time transitioning into a new district, especially a much larger, more urban district, with a generally "tougher" population of students. It was really hard to hear the terrible stories and backgrounds of the students I was working with, on top of all the difficulties I was having as a new, young person in the schools. Bottom line.....The policies, procedures, and casework were all very different, and I was not feeling comfortable and confident in my new job.

This past month I participated in Mission: Put Together, a challenge to be creative and thoughtful in my dressing each morning, as well as a way to chronicle my outfits. I decided to take part in the challenge because I thought it would give me something exciting to do on the weekdays. I generally enjoy getting all gussied up, but most days (during my funk) resorted to khakis and cable sweaters because I felt uninspired and dreaded going to work each day. Although I still love a classic khaki and cable sweater ensemble, wearing it daily was a little boring.

Following my first day of participation in M:PT, I immediately perked up and was excited to head to work in my spiffy little outfit each day. The comments and inspiration provided by the other M:PT members really helped to boost my spirits. Although I am sure getting used to my job and finally feeling as though I could handle the stress associated with working in my district were also at play, I think M:PT provided the kick in the butt I needed to feel like myself again. So thank you M:PT (including OPH and RA), the challenge and everyone's amazing comments helped improve my overall mood!

You can view my M:PT outfits here. Yes, I did wear a lot of jumpers ;)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My First Giveaway!

Tonight I met with some book club friends, and as a result of our conversation, I decided to join BookMooch. The site has you list books you are willing to send to members, and in return you can mooch books off other members. But first, I have to make a wish list of books I want to read.

So my friends, I am in need of book recommendations. If you would please leave me a comment with amazing books you have read, I will enter you in my first giveaway! Be sure to leave some kind of contact information as well. A randomly selected winner will receive a $10 gift card to Borders.

This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only and will close at 9:00 PM EST on Sunday, November 9th.

To assist you with your recommendations, I will leave you with a list of the last few books I have read:

Little Children by Tom Perrotta
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
Cross by James Patterson
Not So Snow White by Donna Kauffman

I can't wait to hear your recommendations!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

We Did It!

I did it! I completed the Marine Corps Marathon 10k! And my husband did too!

ALSON XXXX (10K) | Bib #XXXX | DC - USA | Age 24 | M
START: 8:26:04 AM
Finish: 01:15:06
TIME Net: 01:15:06 Chip Time: 01:14:07 Pace: 12:05

JACKIE XXXX (10K) | Bib #XXXX | DC - USA | Age 23 | F
START: 8:26:03 AM
Finish: 01:15:10
TIME Net: 01:15:10 Chip Time: 01:14:11 Pace: 12:05

The best part...we ran the ENTIRE time. I was really afraid that I would have to walk after a while, especially since I have bronchitis and we didn't train hardcore the last 3 weeks, but we pushed through and didn't stop until the end. I started coughing pretty bad around mile 4, but a little water and my husband's sleeve for my runny nose (true love, I know) helped keep me going.

Our time wasn't bad, especially since I was convinced it would take us an hour and a half to two hours. Alson is a good sport too. He is almost a foot taller than me and has a ginormous stride, so he could have finished a lot faster, but chose to run with me instead. I really appreciate that! Next time I hope to be a little faster, but I am okay with baby steps for the next few months.

I almost tossed my cookies (actually, a banana) at the end of the race. There is a really steep hill right at the finish line and it almost did me in, but nothing came up so I was okay (sorry, TMI). It was still a little embarrassing though, so I hope to not experience that next time!

Anyway, I am so proud that we completed a race. I have been wanting to run something, anything, for almost 2 years. Now I can cross that off my list!

Next up...Jingle All the Way 10k on Dec. 14th. Any other DC runners planning to run this race? I know Heidi is planning to run. It should be fun!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy!

I have lots to be happy about....

I have had a nasty cough for almost three weeks. Being sick is just a fact of life when you work in public schools (especially the first year), so I hammered on and figured it would get better. It didn't. I felt terrible yesterday and finally went to a walk-in clinic last night. I apparently have bronchitis and was given a Z pack and some Tussinex. Last night was the first time in weeks that I slept through the night without waking up coughing. I feel tons better today and my cough is almost extinct!

I got my MacBook yesterday! And I am using it right now. The graphics and screen clarity are unbelievable. I am still getting used to all the differences (I miss you right click...), but overall I am super pleased!

Tomorrow we are running the Marine Corps Marathon 10k. We trained pretty consistently for almost two months, but once my cough started we didn't run as frequently. We aren't as prepared as we would like to be, but as long as we cross the finish line we'll be happy!

The couple that motivated us to sign up for the 10k is in town (they are also running) and we are going to dinner tonight. They are both extraordinary people and I love spending time with them, especially when we reminisce about camp. It should be fun!

This is my 116th post! I didn't make a big deal about my 100th post because I wasn't being or feeling very bloggy the last few weeks, but since 116 is my favorite number, I thought I would celebrate today!

I hope everyone is having a great day! Happy Saturday!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Frugal Family

One of the perks of having a hypoallergenic puppy is no shedding. Because Kona doesn't shed, we are supposed to get her hair cut every couple of months. We used to be very vigilant about her haircuts because she will pull out chunks of hair that are matted. It was easy to be vigilant in North Carolina when her haircuts were only $30 - $40. Here in DC they are much more expensive, and we just can't rationalize spending $100+ to have it done.

So what is a frugal family to do? DIY dog grooming! Alson went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and bought a $30 clipper set with a leftover wedding gift card. We set to work (2 hours of work to be exact) and the results were not too shabby!

We started in the (windowless) bathroom with the door closed, but the day we decided to cut her hair was also the date DC Tenant Law requires that heat be available. Thus, no air conditioning on an 80 degree day (Hellooo, global warming! Push the date into November!) required that we leave doors and windows open for optimal air circulation. Slowly Kona moved farther and farther from the bathroom...

Don't worry, we weren't hurting her!

I think she actually liked it!
Hair from the first go 'round (we had to go back a second time to get it the right length)

My turn to cut (now I am in the bathroom...haha). Sorry about Alson's photography skills!
All finished! (Poor quality cell phone pic...)


We still plan to get her professionally groomed every once in a while, just because they do things we can't; perhaps when we are back in NY for Thanksgiving or Christmas and then when we are in NC for my graduation in May. After that, I will have a real salary and we may be able to budget in DC grooming every once in a while. For now, the clippers work wonders!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Boo! (Not Halloween Related)

I missed the first delivery attempt for my Macbook. Alson didn't have class until 11:30 this morning, so he stuck around to get the package. Of course, the attempt was made at 11:59.

Boo!

How does anyone in DC get packages? Don't most people work all day? I see those little orange and brown flags on many a door every day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mac for Me!

My college laptop kicked the can right after we moved to DC. It actually started having issues a while ago (slow, slow, slow), and it was basically worthless after Kona chewed through my battery cord. I still desperately needed it (grad school/thesis glued me to my computer all night, every night) and we couldn't afford to buy a new one, so I had to order a replacement battery and cord from some random website. It wasn't the exact same one, so if the cord wasn't plugged into the computer just right it would randomly turn off. It also never charged the battery, so it had to be plugged in in order for the laptop to be used.

Alson had to buy a new laptop for law school, so he "gave" me his trusty Dell from college earlier this summer. I'm not sure what has happened to the Dell, but it now gets the "Blue Screen of Death". BSOD is a screen that randomly comes up telling us a major error has occured and a physical dump of memory has taken place. We tried following the Microsoft suggestions for repair, but BSOD continued to happen over and over. Finally I had had it! I have been out of college for almost 2.5 years, and I refused to use laptops that were manufactured in 2002. Of course, I can always use Alson's new laptop when he is not doing work and/or studying, but I really need my own to do work and hobbie things, and most importantly, finish up my portfolio and the final draft of my thesis so I can finally be done with grad school and have said thesis bound and placed in the library.
Anyway, this past Friday Alson was on fall break following and I was off for a Superintendent's day. We were discussing BSOD since it had happened twice that morning, and how we really needed to chuck this laptop (not really, but at least stop using it). I started looking for reasonable laptops; our neighbor recently bought one of those "child-sized" ones (9 inch screen) for only $400. We could easily afford that! I wanted to be thrifty and get one of these computers (either a Lenovo or Dell), but what I REALLY wanted and (I thought) I was too cheap to actually buy....was a Macbook.

After many calculations and a mental pro/con list, we finally caved (!) and a Macbook should be delivered tomorrow! I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Beach Bound

Our trip to the mountains was cancelled, but don't fret...we are off to the beach instead!

The man who was going to rent the cabin to us called yesterday to say their septic system broke. Yuck! Needless to say, that trip was cancelled. We started researching for a new mini-vacation destination because we desperately need a break from the city. Luckily there was a cancellation at a place in Rehoboth and a beach house was available for tonight and Saturday. We jumped on the opening!

Can't wait for our little getaway!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mountain Momma

This weekend we are venturing out to West Virginia for a quick getaway with our neighbors. I can't wait for a little R & R, especially after a stressful week at work for me and a midterm for Alson. We deserve a break from the city!

Only two more work days (Superintendent's Day Friday, yay!) until this:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Easiest Pumpkin Cheesecake....EVER

I was not a fan of pumpkin flavored foods or drinks until a couple years ago. When I was home for Thanksgiving a while back and eating at our favorite diner back in NY, I decided to be adventurous and ordered a piece of pumpkin cheesecake. I had heard over and over from my family (as in extended family...we roll as a crowd) that the pumpkin cheesecake was awesome, but being the picky eater that I was, I never felt inclined to try any. Surprise, I loved it! I now actively seek out pumpkin cheesecake during the fall season.

Fast forward to the other day...I saw on Kappa Prep's blog that Ben & Jerry's has limited edition pumpkin cheesecake ice cream available at select stores. Our local Safeway did not have any of the ice cream, so I decided to make my own pumpkin cheesecake (how many times can I saw pumpkin cheesecake?). I started with a recipe, but after finding a ready to eat cheesecake filling, I decided to wing it and make my own pumpkin cheesecake. So without further ado....here is my recipe!

Easiest Pumpkin Cheesecake....Ever:


Mix one tub Philadelphia Ready to Eat Cheesecake filling with a 12oz. can of 100% pure pumpkin, two teaspoons of ground cinnamon, and a half teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Pour into graham cracker crust and top with cinnamon sugar. Refrigerate for an hour.

In the words of the 6 year olds I work with...Easy Peasy!


I definitely plan on making this when we are back in NY for Thanksgiving this year. I will wow my relatives with my newly honed domestic skills!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

If I Was Rich...

Back in July, my mom and brother were in DC to drop off Kona after our honeymoon. Before they headed back to NY, we ventured down Connecticut Ave. so that we could all do a little back to school shopping. We live about 5 or 6 blocks from a Brooks Brothers, but have only gone in once JUST to look around. We certainly can't afford their clothes on my intern salary, and since Alson is in law school, I get to be the sole breadwinner.

Of course, my brother wanted to go in....so we followed. Alson ended up finding a sweater on sale for $40. Not bad, considering it was originially over $100. When he paid for the sweater, he must have given the salesperson our home address because now we receive their catalogs in the mail. Today the Winter issue arrived, and I literally drooled all over the pages as I flipped through.

I. want. everything.

Men's, Women's, Children's.

I want it all!

Alson would die of sheer joy if a package arrived with their entire winter collection. Our future children (I guess they would all be boys because they don't have girls clothing) would look so adorable in their little sweaters and corduroys. Plus, I would just be the classiest women in town; all prim and proper! Granted, I would probably mix and match their clothing with some more modern pieces to make it my own look (because let's be honest, if I walked into my schools looking like the models in the catalog, I would get torn to shreds by the students...and probably the teachers too), but their preppy staples are so timeless and classic.

Maybe someday!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Family of Nalgenes

While we were packing up a bag for the Humane Society Walk the other day, this photo opportunity arose:



Papa Nalgene, Mama Nalgene, and Baby Nalgene.

And yes, Kona is our baby!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Give a Free Mammogram...for Free!

The Breast Cancer Site is donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. Go to the site and click on 'Click Here to Give - it's FREE' (the pink button). You can help this cause by clicking the pink button daily.

The best part....it doesn't cost you a thing! Corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate a mammogram in exchange for advertising.

Here is the web site: http://www.thebreastcancersite.com


Pass it along to people you know in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month!

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Walk? With Dogs? By Monuments? For a Good Cause? I'm In!

On Sunday our family will be partaking in the Humane Society Walk for the Animals. Kona can't wait!


If you are in DC and have a dog, you should join us! It is $25 to enter, and all proceeds benefit the Washington Humane Society and the Humane Society of the United States. We did a walk for the Humane Society for Eastern Carolina back in May, as photo journaled here, and it was so fun!

Here are the details if you would like to take part:

Date:
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Time:
Check-in starts at 10 am; pre-walk activities begin at 11 am.
The walk begins at noon
Location:
Constitution Gardens, next to the World War II Memorial
Street:
Constitution Ave. and 17th St. NW
City/Town:
Washington, DC

For more information click here.

We are planning to walk down in the morning, snag a spot on the mall, then relax and eat lunch before the walk. Kona will be in doggy heaven!