13 7 / 2014

We took a honeymooniversary this year. It’s a new word and we encourage everyone to use it. In fact, we highly recommend the practice of it as well. We took a small trip to Vermont last year and saved up for a cruise to Alaska. Transitioning from a long-distance relationship to a week in a tiny cabin together would have been a disaster last year. We felt like we had something to really celebrate. It’s been a good first year. We loved each other all the time and liked each other more days than not so that’s a win in my book.

Here are things we did on our trip:

Walked over a suspension bridge in Vancouver and took fun selfies in a temperate rainforest. 

Saw stunning glaciers and got excited like kids on Christmas morning when we saw some calving. 

Cuddled sled dog pups and contemplated taking one home in my bag. 

Enjoyed the cruise cycle of eating, sleeping, and making friends with all the senior citizens on the ship. That demographic comprised 93% of the passengers.

And wore the same outfit every single day and loved it. (fleece lined sweatpants, long sleeve shirt, vest, rain jacket, bean boots, hat.

It was great. I gained 7 pounds in 7 days. I wish that was an exaggeration.

13 7 / 2014

I declare this the summer of shameless light reading. Now when I say light, I mean really light. Like helium light. No thinking required light. 

And it has been amazing. 

I’d love to proudly tell you that I conquered Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, but I haven’t. And while I’d really like to (a Mississippi Delta author? Be still my heart) it won’t happen this summer. My brain needed a break. So here is my honest and somewhat shameless reading list this summer. Okay, a little bit of shame.

One and Only by Emily Giffin
Oh, Emily Giffin. I’m coming clean to say that I have read every single one of her books. This one had me chatting about NCAA regulations and investigations with Tyler. His face was a little confused as to why those things were coming out of my mouth. This ranks as my second favorite for the summer.

Where We Belong also by Giffin
A woman answers a knock at her door to see the grown-up girl she gave up for an adoption 18 years prior. I didn’t love, but I liked. I read it while cruising through Glacier Bay in Alaska so that possibly positively colored the reading experience.

Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand
A lady in a bookstore in Ketchikan, Alaska swore to me this was a smartly-written beach read. Thankfully, she was right. Hilderbrand’s vocabulary wasn’t insultingly simple and the themes of family, marriage and imperfection were complex enough to keep me interested. It was good enough that I read another of hers.

The Island by Hilderbrand
My favorite character was an Art Professor from Philly. So yeah, I liked it. Hilderbrand writes almost all her books set in Nantucket. I finished this book and googled “Nantucket vacation for cheap” and Google was like “huh? Try again, sweetheart.” Google was very southern and sassy that day.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Best for last! I loved every single word of this book. The story unfolds in a very unique way and every character is fascinating. After reading the book I googled “Cruise to Antarctica” and Google said “You have neither the stomach or the savings for this trip.” Google is such a dream-crusher, you guys. If I could be bossy and make you read a book this summer, it would be this one. You may never trust my taste again after the aforementioned books, and that’s okay. But trust me on this one.

23 5 / 2014

Almost a year of marriage and he still won’t let me get a pygmy goat. One of these days I won’t be kidding.

Almost a year of marriage and he still won’t let me get a pygmy goat. One of these days I won’t be kidding.

10 5 / 2014

File under: things that would probably only happen to me.

I have to take some certification tests to transfer my teaching license from Arkansas. This is normal when people move but Pennsylvania likes to layer on the challenge by making new tests and requiring many official documents one does not usually have on hand. 

I scheduled a test. I made an appointment at a testing. The testing center was not the Ritz of testing centers. The tile floor in the bathroom crunched and crumbled when you walked on it. However, the chairs were very comfortable so that’s a win. 

The best part came after the test was over. I sat out in the little room where you sign in and waited for Tyler to pick me up. The test administrator/monitor, the ONLY test administrator/monitor so kindly allowed me to sit at a desk there and wait. Clearly he saw this as a trades-ies situation. He let me sit in the comfy chair at a desk and wait so, naturally, he grabs his coat and says, “Will you be here for about five more minutes?”

Um, sure.

"I’m going to go around the corner. If someone comes out, have them sign here. If someone comes in, just ask them to wait. Okay? I’ll be back."

And he left. While people were in there taking all kinds of official tests. Pretty sure that’s not allowed. In fact, I’m very sure that’s not okay. 

Either way I politely asked people to sign out and wait, and when Tyler texted me he was outside I had to text back “Sorry, I’m kind of working the front desk. Be out in a few minutes.”

Took a while to explain that one.

File under: things that would probably only happen to me.

I have to take some certification tests to transfer my teaching license from Arkansas. This is normal when people move but Pennsylvania likes to layer on the challenge by making new tests and requiring many official documents one does not usually have on hand.

I scheduled a test. I made an appointment at a testing. The testing center was not the Ritz of testing centers. The tile floor in the bathroom crunched and crumbled when you walked on it. However, the chairs were very comfortable so that’s a win.

The best part came after the test was over. I sat out in the little room where you sign in and waited for Tyler to pick me up. The test administrator/monitor, the ONLY test administrator/monitor so kindly allowed me to sit at a desk there and wait. Clearly he saw this as a trades-ies situation. He let me sit in the comfy chair at a desk and wait so, naturally, he grabs his coat and says, “Will you be here for about five more minutes?”

Um, sure.

"I’m going to go around the corner. If someone comes out, have them sign here. If someone comes in, just ask them to wait. Okay? I’ll be back."

And he left. While people were in there taking all kinds of official tests. Pretty sure that’s not allowed. In fact, I’m very sure that’s not okay.

Either way I politely asked people to sign out and wait, and when Tyler texted me he was outside I had to text back “Sorry, I’m kind of working the front desk. Be out in a few minutes.”

Took a while to explain that one.

04 5 / 2014

I’m thankful that it’s May, a milestone you’ve-totally-got-this kind of month for a teacher. Or maybe just for me.

I’m thankful for a deliciously lazy weekend with Tyler. Sometimes we’re good at the balance of together time and independent time. Sometimes we are horrible at it. This weekend? We nailed it. 

I’m thankful for green smoothies that make me feel fancy, healthy, and only slightly less guilty for the block of habenero pepper jack cheese I ate earlier in the day. 

I’m thankful for spring. Spring down south means the temp goes straight to 92 and it starts feeling like a sauna. Here, it’s a legit season. 

And every day that I don’t have to shovel my car out of some snow to get to work, I’m so totally thankful. Winter in Philly, you won this year. Ten gold stars for you. Thankful to see you gone.

I’m thankful that it’s May, a milestone you’ve-totally-got-this kind of month for a teacher. Or maybe just for me.

I’m thankful for a deliciously lazy weekend with Tyler. Sometimes we’re good at the balance of together time and independent time. Sometimes we are horrible at it. This weekend? We nailed it.

I’m thankful for green smoothies that make me feel fancy, healthy, and only slightly less guilty for the block of habenero pepper jack cheese I ate earlier in the day.

I’m thankful for spring. Spring down south means the temp goes straight to 92 and it starts feeling like a sauna. Here, it’s a legit season.

And every day that I don’t have to shovel my car out of some snow to get to work, I’m so totally thankful. Winter in Philly, you won this year. Ten gold stars for you. Thankful to see you gone.

25 4 / 2014

I came home tonight and saw a flipcam on an end table in the living room. I knew we had one, but completely forgot about it. I had no idea what would be on it. Probably some old stuff since I haven’t seen it in a while. Turns out, it was a lot of informal snippets of videos from our wedding, or the downpour that was our wedding day. My favorite is a 14 second clip of Tyler and I huddled under an umbrella. Everyone is standing around waiting to get started with what turned out to be a less than 13 minute ceremony. I hear my voice say, “We’re ready! Whenever you are. Yeah.”

Nothing fancy, no walk down an aisle. But, good lord, we were ready to move past airline tickets to see each other, horribly long and impersonal phone calls, and having separate everythings. I can hear that in my voice. 

I’ve seen wedding videos that cost more than a semester at a somewhat decent community college. They are beautiful, they are styled, they have super cool (but not too cool) music. I’ve cried my way through these videos of gorgeous, happy people I don’t even know. The good ones will do that to you. But you guys. I’m so glad someone took that 14 second clip on a flipcam.  I’d pay all of ya’ll’s community college tuitions for it.

01 2 / 2014

When moving to Philly, I knew it would be hard to hide The Southern. It comes out of my mouth, it is evident in my naturally big hair. When a kid in my class made me a cowboy hat the first week of school “because it matched the way I talk” I knew I didn’t have a shot at hiding The Southern.

I embraced it.

I talk about Mississippi all the time. I tell them stories of gathering eggs with my grandmother, we research facts about the Mississippi River, and I make them learn about B.B. King.

Speaking of B.B. King, I decided we should learn all about him as a class. I share a B.B. King fact of the day each morning and play “The Thrill Is Gone” like it’s our theme song. The kids are into it, because I’m into it (top ten rules of teaching, btw). But I haven’t quite gotten to the part where we talk about how influential his music is, how his sound is unique, and how the blues are such an integral part of the Missippi Delta culture. No, we’ve only gotten as far as this:

Grown Person: Why do you admire B.B. King?
Kid: He plays in nightclubs.

Teacher of the Year right here. I’m working on it.

Mississippi gets a bad rap, some of it deserved. I could choose to pretend it’s all obesity and teen pregnancy, or I could bring what I know about agriculture, a slower pace of life, and an all-around rich culture that is another part of the country my kids live in.

This week, a kid asked his mom if they could take a family vacation to Mississippi. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. You’re welcome, Mississippi Board of Tourism.

21 1 / 2014

As I type, there are a billion inches of snow outside and more coming down. Not a billion exactly. But enough for the mayor to declare a state of emergency. To a southerner, this means running to the store for milk, bread, and eggs. My father confirmed this through a text that said “Make sure you go to the store on your way home. Be safe.”

I was slightly unprepared for the winter. I thought I was good with a nice wool coat and a few scarves. And then a kind, caring lady at work looked me dead in the face and said, “I can tell you’re not from the north because you don’t have a good winter coat. You have fancy lady church coats.” So what you’re saying is, Ann Taylor doesn’t do hardcore winter apparel…

Hm. That’s interesting.

So my sweet mother-in-law gave me a real, honest-to-goodness winter coat. Just since Christmas it has kept me warm during outside recess duty on days just above freezing, errands in 2 degree weather,  and nine hour bus trips that get bogged down in snow storms. 

School let out early today. I had no scraper, no gloves, no hat, no boots. My kind, caring friend’s parting advice? “You’re here now. Got it? You’re not down south anymore so you need to get yourself together and put a dang hat in your bag.”

Okay. Fine. A hat it is. 

And maybe a pair of these, pretty pretty please?

18 1 / 2014

I’ve been driving a lovely Toyota Corolla for the past two years. It’s gotten insanely good gas mileage and there has yet to be a parking spot in the city that looks too tight for it. But I’m going to break out my southern accent for this next part of the sentence because, ya’ll, that car is a roller skate in the snow.

We started looking around at four wheel drive and all wheel drive and you-pick-the-number-of-drive vehicle options… you know, “for the future.” The future came approximately 10 days later. We are planning masterminds. 

Tyler found a gorgeous and somewhat adult-looking (teetering on the edge of family-looking) Subaru Forester northwest of Pittsburgh six hours from here. I had to go get the car and we tried to make other arrangements, but taking a Megabus was the only one that worked. Here’s what I learned about Megabus: Megabus is filled with college kids that pull out laptops to look like they are working super hard, but are really online shopping like the rest of us. Megabus likes to cater to these college kids by making lots of stops across the state for different “destinations”… State College being the snowy equivalent to Cancun around here. Speaking of snow, HELLO SNOW TRAVEL DELAY!

9 hours later.

(It should have taken 6.)

Tyler’s dad and grandmother took me to see the man about the Subaru. I look at the car, drive the car,  and promptly forget all about the car because the man has five dogs he rescued and offered one to me named Sassy. 

Car? What car? I need a dog named Sassy to come home with me because no animal would be better fitting as my pet companion than an old lazy dog with wild hair and a stubborn streak so large it garners a name! Sassy and I are practically the same thing, just in different forms. We belong together. 

Our lease agreement in the city being what it is, I did not get to take Sassy anywhere with me and we had a rough parting there in the beautifully renovated kitchen of the one-room-schoolhouse-turned-home. I think a tear rolled down from her blind, cataract-obscured eye.

The Subaru man and I stood in the snow and negotiated a price. Here is how I negotiated: I said a price, he said “no,” I agreed to pay the price he listed in the first place. That’s not how negotiation works? Weird.

Then the conversation went like this:

Man: When we go to the notary to get title stuff handled, I can help you out by telling them you paid less than what you’re actually paying. Lower the sales tax you have to pay.

Me: Really? 

Man: It’s illegal, but everyone does it. Everyone.

Me: Nope. Nevermind. I’ll never sleep again if I do. You just said it was illegal. Not enough Zzzquil in the world for how I’ll deal with that guilt.

Man: You really are going to pay that? All of that? I could have saved you a couple hundred dollars. Please let me sweeten the deal for you then…I feel bad.

Me: You can come down on the price a couple hundred dollars.

Man: No. But I have a set of brand new tires and a set of wheels you can have for free. Or sell on craigslist.

So I drove home in a Subaru! With 1/4 of another whole car in the back! 

Turns out, when I buy something off craigslist, I pay full price and haul away your junk for free. But we have a new-to-us car and I am happy to be home, even though I can’t help but imagine all the headaches happiness Sassy and I (as an amazing duo) could have brought to Tyler’s life.

Maybe some day.

04 1 / 2014

Um, no I don’t think I would be interested in joining a club.Oh, wait, this club is about food? Then, YES.

At work we exchange soups. I cook for you, you cook for someone else, that person cooks for another person and then they cook for me. We list what we like, what we don’t like. And so far, it’s been a ton of fun. It gives me something to do that doesn’t really involve work, and yet it also helps my brain create these positive associations to work (if that makes sense?). Monday mornings suck, but I get a soup! I give a soup! See? Perfect.

I first made this:

Hearty White Bean Vegetable Soup except I added a can of corn and green beans and left out the kale and butternut squash. So basically, I took out the ingredients that would land the recipe in Real Simple and made it into a soup that would land on someone’s blog titled “Southern Busy Moms Can Cook!” Whatever. It was tasty.

I made this, too:

Nine Bean Soup (lots of people requested veggie/bean soups). This has been one of my favorites I’ve made. You could make this for a vegetarian by using vegetable stock and olive oil for the bacon and beef stock. Or you could just cook it with a few slices of bacon then take them out at the last minute and just not tell them. But you’re probably a better person than I am.

Here are things I want to make:

Chipotle Chicken and Corn Chowder 

Loaded Broccoli Cheese Bacon Soup

Any I should try?

14 12 / 2013

What I’m Reading:
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
I’m prepared for you to throw stones at me for this, but…Author I enjoy the least: dave eggersAuthor I LOVE THE MOST FOREVER AND EVER: Jhumpa Lahiri
Not a page-turner, not a stay-up-all-nighter, but that’s what’s so beautiful about her writing. It’s so good you can soak in it and not worry about racing through.
Her first novel, The Namesake, is a top 5 FAVORITE MOST EVER EVER so I was a little nervous this wouldn’t live up. I’m not done yet. But so far… it does.

What I’m Reading:

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

I’m prepared for you to throw stones at me for this, but…
Author I enjoy the least: dave eggers
Author I LOVE THE MOST FOREVER AND EVER: Jhumpa Lahiri

Not a page-turner, not a stay-up-all-nighter, but that’s what’s so beautiful about her writing. It’s so good you can soak in it and not worry about racing through.

Her first novel, The Namesake, is a top 5 FAVORITE MOST EVER EVER so I was a little nervous this wouldn’t live up. I’m not done yet. But so far… it does.

05 12 / 2013

I may or may not have signed up to run a half marathon in March. At that point I will be saying happy 27th birthday to my aging knees!

It’s a really insane decision. I don’t run. (Well, I do now.) But you know situations are dire when training for a half sounds preferable to all other hobbies at this moment. 

Y’all. Why can’t I just cross-stitch? 

27 11 / 2013

ring, ring, ring
uncle: It’s your nickel. Talk.
me: It’s snowing in Pennsylvania. Where are you?
uncle: South.

17 11 / 2013

I would like to say “My job is stressful,” but, you guys, everyone’s is. There were moments when I worked in daycare that were draining. (9 babies, sleep regression, hand foot and mouth, rotavirus.) My job is no more stressful than yours. Unless you’re a professional puppy-petter. In that case, I’m totally ticked you never told me that was an option. 

I’ve recently picked back up with paying someone else’s mortgage for letting me talk about myself for an hour. Here are things I’m working on, and who am I to keep therapy tips from you? Let me save you some dollars. 

1. Breathe more. It was brought to my attention that I might be holding my breath a lot during the day. (And now that I’m aware of it, I really do hold my breath a lot. Hm.) Less oxygen, less blood flow to the brain, tension headaches. Who the heck knew breathing was important? What a world, you guys.

2. Practice doing one thing, and one thing only, for small moments of time. When I brush my teeth I work on only thinking about brushing my teeth instead of the fact that I haven’t returned emails all weekend. It’s weird to think about my mouth so much, but the practice is slowly creeping it’s way in to what I do for work. I’m now better at doing one thing at a time which makes me feel like a total Lady Boss when I get so much done.

3. Stop looking for a hobby, and just say yes to more cool things I already have going on. I will never crochet, sew, and if I start scrapbooking or selling tote bags to my christian lady friends, you have my full permission to use a concerned voice, pat my hand, and ask, “Sweetie, what is wrong with you?” I may never do those things, but I will go to a concert with Tyler on a school night. Saying yes is a powerful thing.

4. Write things down. It’s good for you, me, and everyone else on Earth.

See how much money I just saved you? Go buy yourself some boots. I recommend these.

19 10 / 2013

There were these weird little shoots coming from the succulents I kept from my wedding bouquet. I’ve been bravely keeping them in my classroom and haven’t really paid much attention to it. A lady at a garden store told me to keep an eye on the weird shoots and that they might be trying to flower. And what do you know…

There were these weird little shoots coming from the succulents I kept from my wedding bouquet. I’ve been bravely keeping them in my classroom and haven’t really paid much attention to it. A lady at a garden store told me to keep an eye on the weird shoots and that they might be trying to flower. And what do you know…