Tuesday, October 2, 2012

No spend October: Intro and Update

Apparently I'm not the only one doing a no-spend October. Mallory, over at From California to Kansas is also doing it. Her rules are more straight forward: no "shopping for fun". My purposes are a little different, so I thought I would explain. 

Why Am I Not Spending Money In October?

Partially because I have become a hoarder of on-sale organic cereal, frozen veggie entrees, and soup (and not just cans, but the big, half gallon cartons that would take me a week to finish by myself. I have something like 7 of them). Partially because I am pretty well stocked in my new apartment and don't want to start buying things I don't need. Partially because I am already 95% done Christmas shopping (though, somehow I forgot my sister's birthday which is October 29th, so I'm gonna have to figure something out there). Partially because I have enough clothes that I can make it two weeks with out washing anything, but this also means that laundry day 1) sucks and 2) costs more than a role of quarters...and that's just not a workable thing. And, partially because I really want to buy a nice DSLR, which I don't need and wouldn't know how to use well enough if I did have one to justify the expense.

But, mostly, it's because I did really well when I was pregnant living on a $750 a month salary. Since then, however, I have let my lifestyle inflate and am not doing a good job with my finances. I have maxed out my credit card again (it has a $500 limit for a reason), though I am doing well at paying off the bill. I have taken on all the expenses of an apartment, and while I CAN afford it, I can't afford to screw around with my money like I tend to do. Yes, $46 for 6 pairs of dress pants at the thrift store is a good deal, but I don't NEED 6 pairs of dress pants and I sure as heck don't need 6 more pairs to have to deal with washing and ironing. 

So, here are the rules. 

1) No money on fast food. We don't eat a lot anyway, but a cheese quesadilla here and a Diet Coke almost every day there really adds up. 

2) No money on non-perishable groceries until I have used up the amount that I have hoarded thus far. I am only going to buy milk, cheese, a very SMALL amount of veggies (so I will use the cans I have) and bread.

3) No money on "stuff"...no throw blankets to match the pillows I just bought, no vacuum (mine is broken, but my neighbor lets me use hers so I shouldn't by one right now), no organizing baskets or sippie cups or anything else. 

Basically, I'm want to try the "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without". I don't see myself every truly becoming a non-consumerist like The Tightwad Queen herself, but the idea is romantic and I want to move towards that even if I don't care to ever be that crazy, I mean disciplined.

So, today is October 2nd. I did start yesterday, but I didn't write about it because I had a VERY long work day. How have I done so far?

I did a bad job yesterday and today and bought an egg and cheese biscuit from McDonalds for breakfast. The reason for this was that I don't have to be at work until 10 a.m. this year, but the baby needs to be at daycare by 8:30. So, it makes sense to sleep late, dress quickly, run out the door, and eat after I have dropped him off. However, I am getting to work late enough that I don't have myself mentally prepared to teach straight through for 5 hours (sometimes 7 if I have practice after school), so all around this is a bad idea. And I'm eating too much McDonalds. I'm thinking some breakfast burrito supplies might be necessary to curb this habit.

I also didn't get to go grocery shopping over the weekend (because I lost my wallet, which I still haven't found)  like I wanted to in order to get things that I needed to be prepared to start using the things I have. I don't have any yogurt, almost no cheese, nothing to put on the two pizza doughs I have in my fridge, etc. So, that is also on my list of things to do today. 

But, I went in Big Lots this morning to buy juice (Seriously, they have organic good stuff mixed in with all the crap, for super cheap prices) and only walked out with juice and a bag of veggie chips. I have a list for my shopping today and plan to stick t it. I also only have so much cash since my debit card is MIA, so that helps too. I really need to go back to a cash budget system. Maybe that will be my November goal.

So, I think I'm making progress, but I've still got a ways to go. And that's okay.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

October starts tomorrow, and I'm not prepared.

I have been writing recently about a few reasons why I am having a no spend October (mostly, I have been hoarding groceries and I am obsessed with McDonalds Monopoly). I had every intention of making nice lists and making sure had diapers and wipes and such to last through the month. I also wanted to sort my stash of groceries into meals and make a month long menu.

Well, that hasn't happened yet.

My son was in a wedding this weekend. His father and I kept looking at eachother and smiling during the rehearsal and reception. The silent thougth was "It isn't our kid being horrible for once!" Don't get me wrong, Odin is a very happy and mostly well behaved child. But, holy crap does he have a wild streak.

It was particularly adorable watching him try to blow bubbles. He knows how, he was just too excited and was holding the wand up in the air instead of up to his lips while he was blowing. 

But, the real moral of this story is that, somewhere in the two days I wore dresses and didn't carry a purse I misplaced my wallet. Awesome. So, my plan to show stockpiled diapers and such will probably not work out exactly. And getting ready for this wedding meant that I didn't go through and make menus like I wanted to. 

Regardless, I am still going to stick with my no spend October. 

I will keep you posted. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Confession: I love McDonald's Monopoly

Seriously, I love McDonald's Monopoly a little too much. I actually ate a hashbrown this morning (something I haven't done since I was pregnant 2 years ago) simply so I could get 2 more Monopoly pieces. Yesterday, I won a free medium fry with my morning Diet Coke, so I bought another medium Diet Coke with my free fry on the way home from school. 

Basically, what I'm saying is: I know it's stupid, but I love it. 

I wrote last week about how my plan for October is to not spend money. I'll get to a picture of my freezer later this week, but my obsession with McDonald's Monopoly is another reason I am going on a spending fast October 1st. Monopoly goes until October 22nd so cutting it off cold turkey next Monday is a much needed thing. 

Other food related confessions:
1) I hate whole wheat tortillas and am officially giving up on buying them. The spinach tortillas from Trader Joe's are pretty good, but I prefer the all white flour-crappy for  your digestive system white tortillas. This is only worth noting because I tried so long to like them and wasted so much money letting them go moldy. 

2) I don't like Greek yogurt. It is too sour. My doctor told me that it would replace just about anything I was missing from not eating meat, but I've never really put any effort into figuring out how to eat it because I was content not liking it. However, when I finally looked up the difference between regular and greek yogurt I have decided that I'm going to try and figure out how to add stuff to it so I like it. It's more expensive, and I have been trying to buy organic and ethically raised dairy products, but the nutritional benefits I think will be worth it. There will be a post about this soon. Just for the record, blueberries and honey do a pretty okay job of making it not too sour to deal with. 

3) I made crappy taco pizza Monday. The reason this is notable is that since I became a vegetarian I don't think I've tried one new recipe (or made one new thing) that I actually didn't like. I was very disappointed when I used salsa instead of tomato sauce that it just took all of the flavor out of the pizza. I used cheap Aldi's salsa, which I am not officially not a fan of anymore. I plan on making 25 lbs of tomato worth of roasted corn and tomato salsa sometime in the near future (it's almost winter, I should get on that if I want to use fresh local produce), so that might work better next time. I gave a pizza and a half to a friend last night because I couldn't make myself eat it. 

That's all for now. More to come on the reasons behind the no spend October and updates along the way are also in order.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Getting ready to not spend money in October

I know it's been a long time, but rather than talking about the fact that I don't deal well with change (a.k.a. moving, being home with the baby for the summer, going back to work, grad school, blah blah blah,) lets just  get right into what's going on right now. 

When I moved, I moved into an apartment with a pretty decent sized kitchen (considering it's just an apartment), but that doesn't have a pantry area. So, I now have two short cupboards that came from Home Depot that are in my dining room (though right outside my kitchen) that act as my pantry. However, this is currently what they look like: 

(Sorry it's fuzzy, I'm not on my computer that has Photoshop to fix it)

This is one of the two cupboards. I also have another actual kitchen cupboard full of baking staples. And my fridge looks about the same, though is better organized into already cooked single servings of leftovers. And my freezer has fallen victim to me discovering all the AWESOME Trader Joe's frozen rice/quinoa/multi-grain and veggie bags-o-awesomeness.

A well stocked pantry, right? The problem is that I only feed one and a half appetites every day. 

My tastes have changed at an exponential rate over the past year while I learned to be a vegetarian, learned to really cook, discovered the farmer's market (and Trader Joe's apparently), and basically stopped eating canned goods. Re-hydrated bulk chick peas and beans are a bazillion times better than the canned ones, but I didn't use up the canned goods before I switched over. And I had switched to the good organic canned stuff before I stopped eating it, so the things I have saved aren't "bad" and they also weren't cheap to stock. 

So, I've decided that (for a multitude of different reasons to be explained over a few posts) that I need to try and see how long I can go without spending any money. Yes, this included groceries too. 

So, for October, my "area of opportunity" (man, I haven't done that in a really long time) is to see how long I can go without spending money on anything (besides rent and bills and gas of course). A lot of other bloggers out there have done this, and they usually leave money for groceries. But they also usually are feeding a lot more people than I am and they probably don't have the insane amount of back stock I have. 

So, for the food part of my no spend October, I am only going to buy milk (and soy milk for me), cheese, yogurt, bread and eggs. 

Now, the goal isn't to starve myself to death. When I seriously start running out of things to eat I'm going to buy groceries. And this is NOT because I don't have the money to feed us; I'm actually doing pretty okay financially (I have over $1000 in my emergency fund for the first time EVER!). The purpose of the food part of this is to use of what I have not to see how far I can push myself. 

So, the way I am preparing for this is I'm starting to sort my pantry by when things expire so I can make sure that those which expire first go first. I'm not going to "stock up" on anything; that would defeat the point. And a thorough menu plan doesn't work for my family, but I am going to start looking to divide things into meals so I don't end up with 6 cans of green beans and no actual entrees left. 

I'm excited to see how this all works out. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

June Foodie Pen Pal

Oh my goodness this has been a long two months. Hopefully once life settles down a bit I will be able to write more. Someone actually gave me a great idea for a link party that I might just have to do. 

Okay, so on to this month's goodies. 

My pen pal was Carrie and she sent me all kinds of great goodies from her home state of Kentucky.  

The good stuff included:
1) Coffee (that was delicious with toast and the almond toast sprinkle from last month)
2) Garlic salt 
3) Tea
4) Homemade cherry granola
5) Sour Cream scone mix which I plan on making once I get my whole life unpacked in my new apartment
6) Blackberry Bourbon chutneyt

I'm really excited about all of this, but when I saw the chutney I was a little unsure of what to do with it since I don't eat meat. I've never known it as anything except a meat topper so I went searching. I don't know why I didn't think of adding it to a veggie sandwich, but I think that Blackberry Bourbon Chutney would be great on a cucumber and red onion sandwich. 

So, again, once I unpack my whole life, I will be making sandwiches. 

Thanks Carrie :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Finding things to talk about

I wrote a long post earlier today, with lots of pictures, talking about the food ethics movies I've been watching recently. And, because blogger is the bane of my existence, it didn't save. I'll get back to that sometime soon then. 

On a different note, I haven't written much about how I have an online dating profile, but I've had one since about March of 2011. I've met some cool guys who, it turns out, I didn't have anything in common with. I met a few who I had a lot in common with and who I dated for a short while but it didn't work out. I also met one crazy man, but that story is for another time. 

I've deactivated and reactivated my accounts a few times. I had a free OKCupid account for about a year and when I got my tax return I decided that I was willing to pay for Match.com. Well, I really don't like Match as much as OKC, but I have found that people on Match tend to be more mature and doing more with their life. (Don't even get me started on those that lurk on Plenty of Fish). But the point I'm trying to make is that finding something to talk about is hard with people who you don't know a ton about when the obvious intention is to get to know each other to decide if you would like to no longer be forever alone...together. 

I wish I would have remembered this sooner. 

When I was 18 I had a best friend who turned into a boyfriend of 5 years. One of the first times we spent time together we shared our answers to this list. It was basically the most amazing conversation starter I have ever encountered. It is a little high school-ish (we were 18 after all), but it is still great conversation starter. 

However, when I went back a hundred years on my Xanga (holy crap, xanga. I almost forgot about you) I found that the list is super super melodramatic. 

So I went searching for another. 

The following list is from HopesandDreams.blogspot.com

1. List 20 random facts about yourself.
2. Describe 3 legitimate fears you have and explain how they became fears.
3. Describe your relationship with your parents.
4. List 10 things you would tell your 16 year-old self, if you could.
5. What are the 5 things that make you most happy right now?
6. What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?
7. What is your dream job, and why?
8. What are 5 passions you have?
9. List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how.
10. Describe your most embarrasing moment.
11. Describe 10 pet peeves you have.
12. Describe a typical day in your current life.
13. Describe 5 weaknesses you have.
14. Describe 5 strengths you have.
15. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
16. What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?
17. What is the thing you most wish you were great at?
18. What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?
19. If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
20. Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.
21. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?
22. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
23. List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.
24. Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.
25. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?
26. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?
27. What is your favorite part of your body and why?
28. What is your love language?
29. What do you think people misundertand most about you?
30. List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.

Heck, maybe I should fill out this list before I start asking other people these questions. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Some quick things I am excited about

Okay, so I felt like crap this morning, but now I've taken Tylenol, napped, and had Aladdin's Veggie Chili for lunch (a.k.a. my favorite food EVER) so I feel ready to go. 

Part of me wishes I've had more time recently to write because the things I want to share have really been piling up, but the things I want to share are also the things that have been consuming my life so now I'm gonna do a quick update (cause I kinda feel like I'm bursting with excitement now): 

1) As of yesterday I am officially credit card debt free. I messed up my finances when I was 20 and racked up I think the final total was $5,000 in high interest credit card debt. Then when a boy broke up with me I stopped functioning for a while...and stopped paying my bills. Well, after several years of trying to be strict with my money and a lot of luck I am officially credit card debt free for the first time since I was 18. I just have 40 bazillion dollars in student loans, but the interest rate there is much more reasonable so that's a little better. 

2) After my first three weeks of grad school work was were graded I officially have a 100% in one class and an A+ average in the other. Basically, those are the best grades I've had since I was in, oh, probably kindergarten. Now that we're past the easy intro stuff I'm sure I can keep those grades up with such a nice buffer going. 

3) I officially have my first apartment (well, signing the paperwork tomorrow, but everything else is official). I move in July 1st. It's on the third floor...which means I'll also be working on my buns of steel in the process :) A trip to Ikea is definitely in order and I am working very hard to not get too out of control on Pinterest in terms of planning organizational craziness I don't have the money for. 

4) Yesterday was my last day with students for the school year. Friday marks my last day of work for this school year. I officially am taking a 5 week "teacher summer" where I'm not working. I will be living on the cheap cause my salary without sub pay is just JUST enough, but that means for the first time since my son was 7 weeks old we are going to get to spend some serious time together. I am a little nervous (okay, a lot nervous. He has WAY more energy than I do) but also really excited. And we have a zoo pass and will be acquiring a pool pass so we've got lots of outlets for that energy. Mama is gonna sleep well this summer. 

5) I made a new friend who is also a vegetarian, and my Foodie Pen Pal for the month is a "wannabe vegetarian".  I couldn't be more excited. And I finally found time to make Zucchini Tots. They are a little more like mini zucchini quiche than tater tots, but they are definitely yummy. 

Finally, I recently found the Vlog Brothers. John Green (the author of , a.k.a. one of the best books ever) and his brother do some pretty hilarious vlogs. I wanted to share one that I've been particularly loving recently. My high school kids loved it too too. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Where I was 5 years ago

Maybe it's because my first class of seniors graduated and it made me think about my own high school graduation. Maybe it's because I'm getting ready to take a huge step in my adult life (moving into my own apartment, just me and the baby). Maybe it's because I'm trying some new things and every day realizing more and more who I want to be. 

I have been thinking a lot about where I was 5 years ago, and where five years ago I thought I would be today. 

Five years ago was 2007. I was 20, living in an apartment with a boy who I had been in love with for two years, going to college to be a teacher, and working at Starbucks (June 6th, 2007 was my first day. It's weird I remember that). 

If you would have asked 20 year old Teresa where I would be when I was 25 I would have said that I would be married to the boy I was dating (heck, until 2009 I still thought I was going to marry that boy) because I needed him. I would have said I would be teaching English at a huge public school in some nice suburb, I would be spending my weekends reading and swimming, I would be living in a small house in a nice neighborhood and working towards that American Dream. I honestly didn't think I ever wanted kids. 

I am so glad life has taken me to places I never expected. 

That boy and I are no longer together, but we are still friends. I am looking for someone to come home to but have realized that I want someone who wants me, not someone who needs me. I am teaching public speaking at a private catholic school and spend my Saturdays at speech and debate tournaments. I am just now moving into my first nice apartment, without a man or even a roommate, just me and my son. 

Life is unexpected, life is impermanent, and that is more often than not a great thing. 

Five years ago, did you think you would be where you are today? 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

May Foodie Pen Pal Box

So, I don't even remember if I wrote recently about how I'm giving my up monthly areas of opportunity for a while. I don't even remember if I wrote about it, that's how crazy life has been. My goal for now through September 1st is to just hold on to my sanity and hold on for dear life. 

So far I've been doing an okay job. 

I started grad school, am wrapping up the teaching year, and trying to figure out what I'm gonna do as a stay at home mom for 5 weeks. I am planning a vacation and am planning a summer camp and researching pool memberships. Oh, and apartment hunting now that I've kinda settled on the fact that I have to take my reduced contract at the school I currently teach at because no one else offered me a job. Oh well, such is life. 

However, despite the insanity in my life right now I have undertaken a super easy new project: The Foodie Pen Palls. The "game" is sponsored by Lindsay over at the Lean Green Bean. Here are the details:

Each person signed up is sent a patch who they are mailing a box to. She says to fill the box with: "fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!"

I am SOOOO glad I got such a good box this month as an example of how to be more festive next month. The box I sent had yummy stuff, but this was definitely more thoughtful than mine. It's okay, I'll do better next month. 

My pen pal was Susan over at It's not all Bento. For those of you who don't know ('cause I didn't when I first visited her site) a bento is a cute little single serving meal. Here is a picture of one she made: 

Okay, now on to the goodies. 

[Side note:To be totally honest, this post is making me realize that my photo editing skills suck... and that I need Photoshop. Also, I took the pictures with my phone (yeah, I need a nice camera too...a full time job would also be nice while I'm at it) and they were doing something funky when I uploaded them and put a gray strip at the bottom of the picture and cut some of the image off. I don't know; I know how to crop so I just cut it off and some of the pictures came out weird.]

So, what did I get?

1) Homemade Plum-Kissed Pear Jam
2) Flavored Honey Sticks and Tea 
3)Dry Roasted Edamame
4) Powdered Peanut Butter...which is just so exciting in itself that I'm afraid to even try it
5) Chocolate almond toast sprinkle
6) Homemade chocolate granola (which the baby LOVED!)
7)Vegan "jerky"...which is not in the picture because my sister and I ate it as soon as we opened the box 

She also sent me a recipe for Risotto made with TVP because she is awesome and read through my blog to find out what I might like. Isn't she the nicest ever?! I haven't made it yet, but I haven't done much of anything except work and do homework recently. I'll get to it soon because it sounds yummy. 

Now, on top of the goodies something kinda weird 
The top two and bottom left are her handwriting, the bottom right is mine.

Seriously?! Does everyone see that her handwriting looks exactly like mine? I have sticky notes and a two sided recipe cared covered in what looks like my own handwriting. 

I have no words to describe what it is like to find that someone from a billion miles away (oh, did I mention that she's in Alaska and I'm in Ohio) has such similar handwriting.

 No words, make of it what you will. 

Well, there you have it. My first Foodie Pen Pal reveal day. 

Hopefully I'll be back soon with something productive, but if nothing else I'll be back the end of next month with my box. 

Until then, go visit Lindsay and Susan and make some new friends. 

The Lean Green Bean

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The plan for my first veggie freezer cooking day

Okay, so I am trying several new things this weekend:

1) Several new recipes
2) Allowing someone else to help me cook so I will remember to take pictures and write down the quantities I actually use (I'm very much of a "make it up as you go along" cook)
3) Showing a new boy how domestic, I mean crazy, I actually am. 
4) Freezer cooking a lot. 

I started grad school this week and feel a lot like my life has fallen apart. Holy crap did I forget how much work college is.

These are the things I really want to make:

1) Freezer breakfast burritos (without sausage for me, with sausage for him to take home and finally believe me that they are just as good as fresh made. 

(I need to fix and update this post and the pictures, so that's another goal for Saturday)

2) Whole Wheat Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins
Via Harper's Homemade

3) Zucchini Tots I am going to make about 4 million of these, and then hope to god they come out as good as they look.  
Via The Two Bite Club

4) More vegetarian chili like I made last week, but I modified the recipe so much that there isn't really point in liking you to anything. I am going to take pictures and type this all up hopefully. And by me I mean the boy is going to document and write while I cook =)

5) Bean and Spinach Enchiladas I will make them in the oven, not the slow cooker like this suggests, and I will omit the radishes, because I simply don't like them. But otherwise this sounds AMAZING. It will be eat some for dinner, wrap and freeze in separate containers. 

Slow-Cooker Bean and Spinach Enchiladas
Via Real Simple
And, maybe, if I'm feeling adventitious (and still have zucchini left over) I will make zucchini pizza casserole. This recipe calls for ground turkey, and she says she substituted black beans, so I'll probably do half black beans and half TVP (A.K.A. my new favorite food). 

Via Debbie Does Dinner

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May Area of Opportunity: Spark People Sleep Challenge

Okay, so on the first of the month I usually pick an Area of Opportunity to work on for the month. On the 29th of April I hinted that my opportunity  was going to be to kick my massive Diet Coke addiction. Well, the first came, and went, and I tried for about 45 minutes to not have my morning soda...and then decided I didn't care. 

My life is a going to be nuts for the next few months. I'm starting grad school, finishing up the teaching year, I'm going to take a month off work and try being a stay-at-home mom, then I'm running a 2 week summer camp (while still taking grad classes), then I have one week to get ready for a 10 day backpacking trip, and then it's time to either go back to my current teaching job or start a new one. Oh, and somewhere in there I'm going to be moving. So, needless to say, my goal for the summer is to hold on for dear life to my sanity. 

Soooo...I'm not giving up my Diet Coke. 

However, I found a recipe nutrition facts calculator at on Spark People  that somehow signed me up for their e-mail list. When I actually went today to see what the rest of the site was all about, besides the recipes part, I  was impressed with the huge amount of resources they have available in terms of healthy lifestyle choices. I put it this way because I'm not specifically trying to loose weight, but I am taking serious steps towards being more healthy and in turn I have lost weight. 

One of the things they have on the site is different challenges, and, because I haven't slept more than 6 hours a night in about a month, I signed up for a Better Sleep Habits Challenge

Each week I have different goals to accomplish. This fits perfectly with my "walk a bad habit down the stairs" philosophy. 

So, my Area of Opportunity for the next month (4 weeks starting May 9th, so not quite just the month of May) is to follow the Better Sleep Habits Challenge. 

The week 1 action steps are: 
1) Complete sleep quiz (done, this wasn't anything earth shattering. But it was a good reminder of the things that actually affect sleep and the urban legends that people tend to use as a crutch. 
2) Start a sleep journal to keep track of the factors that affect my sleep, looking at energy level, stress level, quality of sleep, and mood. They said the fourth should be self-esteem, but I know that my mood is directly effected by the amount of sleep and my self esteem is fairly consistent. I need to track these factors and the number of hours I slept. 
3) At the end of the week, I need to look at my sleep journal and set my goals. 
(the fourth is about earning trophies on the site, but I'm not super into external motivation so I'm not really worried about this one.)

So, last night I got 6 hours of sleep, I would rate energy level a 2 out of 5, my quality of sleep at a 5 out of 5 (I'm to the point where I'm too tired to not sleep like I'm dead), my stress at a 3 out of 5 and my mood at a 3 out of 5. For example, I'm currently blogging instead of doing the things on my to do list. I'm trading productive activities for self-soothing activities, which  implies a higher level of stress than I like and, therefore, a lower level of motivation. 

Man, I really need to start sleeping more. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Office Triage

Via Dictionary.com
I officially start my masters program next Monday, but, because my professor is a little OCD like I am she opened the course a week early for us to learn how to use the online interface. This is the first time I am taking a class at this school, the first time I am using the Springboard LMS (Learning managment system, a.k.a. the first new piece of jargon I have learned), and the first time I have taken a masters class. So, I have a lot to learn when it comes to format. I'm exited, but I'm also realizing I have one huge problem:

I no longer have a place to do homework in my house. 

This freaked me out at first, but, after reading a post recently by Michael Hyatt about calendar triage, I realized it's time to conduct some serious priority reevaluation and come up with a new action plan. 

I thought about posting a picture of the explosion of what used to be the office corner of my basement, but I'm using the excuse that there isn't enough light to take a picture down there as the reason I don't want to show you the carnage. 

I graduated from college in August of 2010, so it's been two years since I needed to maintain a workspace at home. Since then I have had a baby, my mother has moved in with me, and I've been working hard to purge my life of all the unnecessary stuff.

Now, this has been a slow process, and one of the fights I have with my mother is over what to get rid of and what to hold on to. And, since my office space is directly at the bottom of the basement stairs it has become a dumping ground for things she won't let me get rid of. And, honestly, it became a dumping ground for me when I was student teaching and thought I needed to save every single paper that was put into my hands.

Now, two years later, I wish I hadn't done all of that. 

Yesterday, I was looking at my beautifully clean kitchen (it isn't usually like that, it just happened to be yesterday) and the battle field of my laptop, textbooks, planer, sticky notes, highlighters, and other scholarly weapons, and made a few decisions. Here was my logic:

1) I am moving before August.
2) I shouldn't waste the time cleaning out and then setting up a new office. I should just clean up the junk, sort and pack as a I go. I will set up an office when I find my new living space.
3) I need some stable sense of organization when it comes to keeping my school life organized. 
4) I am going to add to my collection of specific purpose bags (work bag, speech bag, occasional use mom purse) a mobile office/school bag so I can have all my stuff in one transportable bag.

A lot of this comes from the fact that I have never been good at doing homework at home anyway. I lived at Starbucks and the library when I was in college. I have become very comfortable with the local library because I didn't have a computer at home for a few months. Also, though the baby will not be in daycare for 5 weeks this summer (which happens to be the 5 weeks when I am taking two classes instead of just one) I have worked it out with my 18 year old sister that she will come watch him for a few hours a few times a week so I can get my homework done. 

So, I'm excited to build a new mobile office. I really like how Tiffany from the Nest Effect set up her mobile office. Actually, I am sure subconsciously this idea has been floating around in the back of my head since I read her post about this and I have just been looking for an opportunity to put it into practice. 

I'm excited. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Finish up the A to Z Challenge

On April 1st I wrote: 

I wrote recently about how I am  little jumbled inside about my priories and my focus, and it is all making me very...unmotivated. I also wrote about how I was going to drop my initial plan for the A to Z challenge which was to write about starting a schedule...For April, my goal is simple: Come up with 25 things that I already am, 25 things I believe in, 25 things that make me who I am. The objective for this is to help me feel more grounded and less emotionally scattered. This will follow the A to Z Challenge format (obviously). 

And then, on April 20th, I lost all motivation, got overwhelmed with life, and only got through R. 

So, I'm back. And I didn't realize until this morning how much I've missed writing. ALL I can think about today is all the things I want to write about. 

But I have to finish the A to Z Challenge first. It's still April, so I've got time. 

I am [R]estless

I am consciously [s]lowing myself down so that I can enjoy life more.

I was mortified when my meditation instructor told me that Buddhists tend to move more slowely than other people; I like going a million miles a minute. But once I started to internalize the ideas of mindfulness and living in the moment I have realized that this outward slowness is not actually mental slowness (or, mental deterioration like I once though) but rather just an ability to not rush on to the next thing and not enjoy life.

I am also [T]eresa, not Terry. 

My mother chose my name and the names of my sister because "they would look nice on an office door besides the words CEO". While I would much rather it be Ph.D. next to my name, I still think it it's pretty awesome that I have such a strong name. Therefore, I think it's weird when people call me Terry. And I tend not to respond.

I am [U]norganized, but I am working on it

When I had my son I realized how it was not an option anymore to be disorganized. My kitchen (usually) is very organized, my work bag is EXTREMELY organized (though my desk is a bit of a catch-all), but my car and my bedroom are a disaster. I am slowly work on this problem, and I am making HUGE progress, but I still have a long way to go. 

I am a [V]egetarian 

This started out as an accident and turned into a full out lifestyle choice that I am very VERY happy with. 

I am a [W]orkaholic, and I am happy that way

I dealt with the guilt of being a working mom; it was crippling at times. But not only am I a mom I am a teacher to 60 other students who I want to help grow and mature just as I want to do with my son. Yes, I love my son more than anything on earth, and my job will never take me away from him, but I love my work too and know I would not be myself without it. I work hard to balance my time and have the benefit of a part time teaching position to give me extra time with him and I am very happy with the way things have balanced out. 

I am e[X]cited (yeah, yeah, all the adjectives that start with X derive from the word Xenophobic, so I had to get creative)

I am an easily excitable person. You might also say that I am driven and focused and passionate. I get excited about finding great articles about integrating 21st Century Skills into a Low Tech classroom and I have almost wrecked my car more than once when I had a debate epiphany while driving. This keeps life interesting. 

I am [Y]oung

This one seems like a no-brainer, but it is more complex than it seems. I look young. I have a sister that is two years younger than me that people have always thought was older and I still get carded to buy cough medicine. But, at work, people have always thought me to be much older than I am. I consider it a mark of respect when people say things to me like "Oh, you're only 25?! I thought you were, like, 28 and married". Because apparently married also implies maturity. Now, I know three years difference isn't a lot, but in terms of new professionals someone with one year experience is very different than someone with 4 years of experience. It is that differentiation of competence that makes thinking about my age in terms of my professional life...interesting. It marks me as more of an equal with my students, and I let some of my pop culture youth slip out form time to time, but I don't dress down on dress down days anymore and I always wear my glasses just to give myself those few more implied years of experience with my colleagues.

I am [Z]ealous

And sometimes I am a zealot (like when my debaters are yelling in the library, or messing around in the cafeteria at a tournament). But I am very passionate and focused in everything I do. And I am proud of that. 

Phew...Okay. The final list is:
I am [R]estlessI am consciously [S]lowing myself down so that I can enjoy life moreI am also [T]eresa, not TerryI am [U]norganized, but I am working on itI am a [V]egetarian I am a [W]orkaholic, and I am happy that way
I am e[X]cited
I am [Y]oung
I am [Z]ealous

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I did not die

I basically took the last two weeks off from blogging. The goal for my April A to Z Challenge was to help remind myself of who I am and what's important to me to make me feel more conformable with the impending unknown of the fall. 

It wasn't working; It was making me feel worse. 

So I kinda defected from responsibility for two weeks (my house is a mess, my car is trashed, but I did go on a job interview for the fall and I have another one Tuesday), and I met someone amazing. Truth be told he is a big part of the reason I haven't been writing, not because I have been spending every waking second with him but because I've been spending a lot of waking seconds thinking about this unexpected situation. 

Life is good. 

Oh, and the baby was sick, and then I was sick, he is mostly better and I'm starting to feel better (thanks to three new allergy medicine prescriptions, jeesh). And I'm starting to clean up my house (5 loads of laundry are done though not folded, and tonight is the first night in two weeks I'm going to bed with an empty sink). I made whole wheat biscuits tonight (which was  HUGE mess but they are good enough to be worth it) and I think I'm gonna put bananas in them the next time I make them (they are a tad dry). I also made cauliflower Spanish "rice" and some steamed broccoli. 

So, some day soon, probably tomorrow or Tuesday, I will finish my A to Z challenge, write the intro for my May Area of Opportunity (hint: Finally kick that diet coke habit) and get back into writing. 

Until then...

Friday, April 20, 2012

I am [R]estless

I have a  good friend who has a tattoo on his leg that says "not all who wander are lost". That is very much how I feel a lot of the time. I love to wander around the store aimlessly or just drive around listening to music. 90% of the time it's simply because I feel restless, I feel a need to move and explore and, well, wander. 

I don't sit still well. I'm good at sitting on the patio at my favorite bar and talking for hours, but if it's daylight I would rather be out hiking or swimming or anything that is moving. 

I'm so glad it's starting to be summer. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I am [Q]uiet

This is a really new thing for me, partially brought on my the new sense of peace I have been working for and then recently enhanced by the new guy I've been seeing recently who literally never stops talking ;)

But I've learned that if I just let people talk they say way more interesting things than if I try and direct the conversation. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I still like to talk. But I have really been enjoying being more quiet and spending more time listening. 

The new boy's brain literally runs a mile a minute, and it's super interesting to just sit back and see where he can end up in 10 minutes of uninterrupted talk time. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I am not a [P]oet, but I am a writer. I need to remember this.

I am not much of a poet, but I am a writer. Actually, the past 6 months of blogging (oh my gosh, I just realized it's been that long) have really made a huge impact on my writing style. I have developed some very basic but very profound personal stylistic attributes that make writing not only easier but also more productive for me.

I need to remember this.

My blog is not a journal of my personal life; I don't want my personal life on the internet. I share tidbits, mostly detail-less life lessons learned, but that's as far as I go. When I was younger though I kept a journal ritualistically. It has a huge source of stress relief, personal reflection, and  internal growth. There have been many times in my life when I couldn't figure out the right words to SAY what I was feeling that I was able to write down my feelings and make sense of them. Actually, I often gave these writings in the form of letters to the people who were closest to me.

I spent 5 years in college learning to write and I TEACH writing for goodness sakes. By putting my ideas into the structures i teach and using the strategies I know I can make sense of just about anything.

So, though I have no aspirations to be a poet, I already am a writer. I need to remember to practice what I preach and let my skills help me as I want them to help my students.

Today, I will be writing a letter.