The Life of Bon: February 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Students, and teaching, and student teaching

It's been awhile since I've written about school.

There's a few reasons for that.  The main reason is that in January I got a student teacher.  She is from a nearby college and I am the one designated to show her the way in all things teacher-y.  The first couple of weeks she just observed me teach.  In mid January she took over my senior classes and at the beginning of February she began teaching half of my junior class.  (I continued to teach half for half the class time to do ACT prep stuff with them- all juniors in the school are taking the test on March 4)  Next week she will take over the rest of the junior class and I will be left solely to teach my AP Lit class until mid April when I'll take over all the classes again.

In a lot of ways it has been so nice to have a student teacher.  To start with, she is very on top of things so it makes it not too difficult for me.  I have heard horror stories of student teacher experiences but I got a bright, capable girl who doesn't miss a beat.  It has been nice as I have been pregnant to not have to go full throttle all day every day and it has allowed me time to really focus on and prepare my AP class.  Their test is the first week of May and as the date approaches, I am starting to feel the pressure more and more.  They are such a great group of students and I really want them to just nail the thing, so it has been so awesome to have that extra time to really get their lessons prepared and give adequate feedback on their essays.  It's the first time all year that I have felt on top of the AP class and like, "I can do this."

It has also been nice because it has allowed me extra time to blog and to work on the book I have been writing.  I will be honest though, I have about half the free time I thought I would.  I had these visions that the student teacher would come, and I would be as free as the wind with three months off.  Doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted as long as I was in the confines of the school.  It hasn't quite been that way. It's a lot of observation, coaching, reflection, dealing with discipline problems, etc.  When you first start teaching there's so many little situations that you face that you have no idea how to handle.  For example, a kid called her a "loser" the other day when she handed out a writing assignment.  I mean, come on, it was too much homework, and any time I have too much homework I totally call my teacher a loser!  It's the normal thing to do, isn't it?  That’s something they just don’t prepare you for in your classroom management class--

“Alright, a student calls you a loser in front of the rest of the class, what do you do?”

“A student says a racist remark to the Hispanic sitting next to him in the middle of class, what do you do?”

“A student copies his essay word for word from sparknotes that he pulled from his phone while sneaking it under his desk from the back row.  What do you do?”

“A student plagiarizes her essay and when you tell her she won’t be receiving credit she genuinely acts like she had no idea it was copied, and when you show her the part that was copied she replies that HER MOM wrote that paragraph.  What do you do... and what do you say to her mom?!?”

“A kid says he can’t hand in his notebook because it was in his dad’s truck and the dad left the family this weekend and the kid has no idea when he’s coming back and he's telling you he has tears in his eyes.  What do you do?!”

No, these are not conversations that you have in a two credit hour classroom management class.  These are the things you have to figure out right on the fly- that second, that spot- in front of forty 17 year olds wondering how their teacher will respond.  No time to think, just act.  You’ve gotta have a solution ready for everything and in the beginning the situations catch you off guard.  You don’t know what to do because you’ve never handled that before.  I remember those beginning days, how exhausted I felt all the time, how stretched past my limits, how vulnerable, and sometimes how manipulated.  My student teacher keeps saying to me, “I have just always given people respect and expected them to give it back to me, but that doesn’t work here.  I'm nice and people are nice back.”  Nope, that’s not the way it works here at all.  High school’s a freaking jungle.  You can hope they’ll give you respect, and if they don’t then you can beg for it, and if that doesn’t work then you demand it or kick them out of your class.

The interesting thing about having a student teacher is that it has helped me to feel more confident in my own abilities, and to realize how much I do already know and can do.  Day by day in a high school you don’t realize how much you have picked up until you realize that you can answer any question a college student has for you about teaching and you can see the overwhelmed (and sometimes terrified) look in their eyes and say “Wow, that was me four years ago.  I guess I have learned something here after all these days of doing this.”

It will be interesting to see what happens for me and teaching next year.  My hope is to go part time, meaning I would teach every other day.  I don’t know how I will be when I have a baby.  Some people act like it will change everything about me, and I won’t even want to go to work, that it will be so hard to leave the baby every day and I’ll just want to stay home with my kid instead of work.  Others act like I will love the adult time and that I shouldn’t give up teaching- that I will regret it if I do and go crazy of boredom.  I don’t know.  I do know myself well enough to know that I go crazy when I’m in the house all day, and when I go more than three hours without talking to someone I about lose my mind.  I don’t know that I could handle full time teaching- I think it would be extremely tough to be away from my child that much but at the same time- but then maybe I would love it?  I feel like there is a weird, self righteous debate that rages on over working moms and SAHMs and I just want to be both.  You know.  Have my cake and eat it too.

My other worry right now is that I don’t know if the AP Literature class will carry for next year.  When I started here I was asked to teach the AP Lit class with only 8 students in it.  For next year we have 15 signed up, but my vice principal told me they would be looking to drop any classes that didn’t have at least 20-25 students registered to take it.  We shall see.  It will be very frustrating and sad for me to not teach it next year after all the work I have put into getting it together, but that’s sometimes the way it goes at a public high school.  You teach what they need you to teach, not always what you want to teach.  My first year teaching I busted my butt creating a curriculum for creative writing only to lose the class the next year to a new teacher who came in who had a master’s degree in creative writing.  Obviously he was more qualified to teach the class, but I couldn’t help but feel frustrated at the hours I had put into the class to have it swiped from me like that.  I suppose in a way I am bracing myself for that to happen with AP Lit.  If it does, though, I’ll try to be a big girl about it and take it like a champ.  I'll teach all regular seniors and enjoy the hell out of it.

Bon's Book Club: I am Malala

Welcome to February's book club, babes!

2014 Book Club Schedule:

January: The Husband's Secret by Liane Mortiary (January 30)  Discussion here.
February:  I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (February 27)
March: Divergent by Veronica Roth (March 27)
April:  Night Circus by Eric Morgenstern (April 24)
May:  The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (May 29)
June:  Matilda by Roald Dahl (June 26)
July:  In Cold Blood  by Truman Capote (July 24)
August:  Brain on Fire:  My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (August 28)
September:  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (September 25)
October:  Z by Therese Ann Fowler (October 23)
November:  Wonder by R.J. Palacio (November 20)
December: My Story by Elizabeth Smart (December 30)

I am so excited for our book club discussion today.  I am guessing that there are less of you that read I am Malala than read last month's The Husband's Secret, but that's okay.  I understand that the book at times was hard to get through, but hopefully this post will inspire you to read it.  I loved it!

Here are the questions I posted yesterday:
+What was the most inspiring or interesting thing about the reading to you?
+ Why do you think the Taliban is so threatened by the education of women? Why do they put up such a protest?
+ Malala's dad encourages Malala to speak up against the Taliban in spite of dangers while the mother wishes Malala were less involved, especially after Malala's life is threatened.  If you were Malala's parent would you encourage her to be a voice for such an important cause in spite of dangers or would you encourage her to protect herself?
+ Why doesn't the dad move the family from Swat valley even when it is dangerous? Do you agree with this?
+Why does Malala have such a love and passion for education? How can we instill this appreciation and desire in our students and children now?
+ What was the most surprising or shocking thing to you about the reading?
+Any parts of the book that were slow or difficult for you? Why was this?

You are welcome to answer any or all of those questions.  I will kind of jump around with them a bit.

Before we talk about the book I want to explain real briefly who Malala is.  She was born and raised in Pakistan, and in 2004 the Taliban came to her valley to rule.  She and her father spoke out against the Taliban and championed for women's rights to attend school.  She was seen as a threat to the Taliban and in October 2012 a member of the Taliban entered her school bus and asked "Who is Malala?"  No one said anything, but several girls looked at Malala, who was the only one who did not have her face covered.  The man then approached Malala and shot her point blank in the head.  The bullet went through her left eye socket and and out under her left shoulder.  Miraculously, she survived.

I first heard about her and her book when the video clip below went viral.  She was on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart show and made quite an impression.  If you don't have time to watch the whole clip, hit up around minutes 4:00-5:30 for the highlights.

In the book she talks about the documentary that was made with her family when they were under Taliban rule.  It was posted on the New York Times website long before Malala was shot.  Here it is:

First, I will say this.  If you started the book and got bogged down in the first 100 pages, keep reading!  The first 120 pages or so are very tough to get through because it is quite a thorough explanation of the recent history of Pakistan.  I skimmed like mad during these parts.  There were so many unfamiliar names and terms and had I not been reading it for this book club, I honestly probably would have quit.  BUT it is so worth it when you get to the the second half of the book.  Heck, if you want just skip the whole first part so that you can get to the good stuff at the end.  All you really need to know is that the Taliban came in and took over the valley and that the people had many basic rights taken away- most specifically the rights of the women to attend school.  All the schools for women were shut down.

I knew that men are more valued than women in Pakistan and that region of the world, but I was shocked by the extent of it.  There are only celebrations at birth if the baby is a boy.  Little boys are given cream and sugar with their coffee while the women are not.  If a woman is raped, there have to be four male witnesses to get the man accused.  FOUR!  When are there ever four male witnesses to a rape?  The consequence is that many women who are raped end up going to jail for it because they can't find enough witnesses to prove it.  Women have to use a separate entrance then the men.  Little girls can go to school, but if they decide they want to just stop going, there are no questions asked and no one bothers them.  Malala said that her mom, who is illiterate, basically just decided one day at 6 or 7 that she didn't feel like going to school and wanted to stay home and play instead.  No one protested and that was the end of her education.  The idea coming down to them was basically that it was pleasing to God if a woman quit school.

Another thing that was crazy to me is that women have to be accompanied at all times in public by a male. I remember this from when we read Thousand Splendid Suns, it's just crazy to me that it still continues today. Malala told of a friend who lived in a beautiful seaside town, but had never once seen the ocean because her husband didn't want to go to the beach and she couldn't go alone.  It is mind blowing to me that this kind of stuff is existing and happening right now in the very same world that I am living in.  It is almost as if women are evil or "dirtier" by nature than the men, so they are treated like sinners from the very beginning.

One of the parts that was sweetest for me is the relationship that Malala has with her dad.  She talks over and over about how close they are and how much her dad loves her.  I love that the dad was never upset that Malala was not born a boy, and when she was a baby he would show her off for all the neighbors to see, never mind her gender.  Her dad ran schools for women and that helped give Malala the passion that she has for education.  When Malala was shot, the dad blamed himself for getting Malala involved.  The only time I teared up in the whole book was when Malala, after her shooting, wakes up alone in a hospital in Birmingham and repeatedly asks for her dad.  Her dad is still in Pakistan and she just keeps asking, "Where's my dad?  Where's my dad?"  That part of the book really resonated with me as I could see Malala's love and need for her dad- I suppose I am especially sensitive to daughter-father relationships after losing my dad.  A very sweet part of the book for me.

Something else that was very interesting to me was Malala's description of the capture of Osama bin Laden.  I didn't know very many details about it, so it was interesting to hear it from her perspective and to hear how Pakistan reacted to it.  Definitely one of the most interesting parts of the book for me.

I think what was most shocking for me when reading this book was how uneducated the women are in that area and how unequal it truly is for men and women.  Seeing the way the women have lived in Pakistan put a lot of things in perspective for me and made me so grateful for the opportunities I have had to graduate not only from high school, but also from college, and to be able to teach in a public school.  According to Malala, "Education is our basic right... God wants us to have knowledge.  He wants us to know why the sky is blue and about oceans and stars.  I know it's a big struggle- around the world there are fifty-seven million children who are not in primary school, thiry-two million of the girls.  Sadly, my own country, Pakistan, is one of the worst places: 5.1 million children don't even go to primary school even though in our Constitution it says every child has that right.  We have almost fifty million illiterate adults, two thirds of whom are women, like my own mother."

The book really made me feel the power of education and made me so grateful to be involved in it.  I was so inspired by Malala's love and devotion to learning and how hard she was willing to fight for it.  She was essentially willing to give up her life and her entire family has had to leave their homeland to remain safe as they have fought for the right for women to receive an education.  In some ways it is very inspiring, but in other ways it is very frustrating for me.  It is frustrating to see some of the kids here that I teach every day who hate school, who drop out, who have no love or passion for anything we are learning.  You have to beg and plead and cry for them to do their homework and they don't realize what a gift it is that they have to receive this education.  They put in little effort and essentially just don't care.  I don't understand how we can give it so freely to students who don't even want it while there are girls in Pakistan willing to risk their lives to receive it.  The world doesn't make sense.

At the end of her book Malala talks about her recovery and how lucky she is to regain use of the facial nerve that allows her to smile and blink.  She loses part of her hearing, but is able to receive cochlear implants which allow her to hear again.  She says this:

We human beings don't realize how great God is.  He has given us an extraordinary brain and a sensitive loving heart.  He has blessed us with two lips to talk and express our feelings, two eyes which see a world of colors and beauty, two feet which walk on the road of life, two hands to work for us, a nose which smells the beauty of fragrance, and two ears to hear the words of love.  As I found with my ear, no one know how much power they have in their each and every organ until they lose one.

This was a very powerful read- I encourage all women (and men!) to read it as it will certainly make you grateful for the education you have received and hopefully inspire you to be lifelong learners and to teach your children the importance of education.

I can't wait to read your thoughts on the book... I will be responding to all comments below.  If you didn't read the book, only read parts of it, only watched the clips before, whatever, still speak up!  I am especially interested in the idea of how we help teenagers in America to be more passionate about education and to realize what a gift it is.  If you wrote your own post I have made it into a link up so you can link your post below!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I am Malala Book Club Questions

Hi folks. I'm just wrapping up four hours of parent teacher conferences so the book club discussion on I am Malala will go up first thing in the morning.  For tonight, though, I wanted to make sure to post some discussion questions to get all of our brains in gear for the discussion tomorrow.  I am so excited to read your thoughts and see what you all have to say on the book.  I have been so inspired by Malala's story.

+What was the most inspiring or interesting thing about the reading to you?

+ Why do you think the Taliban is so threatened by the education of women? Why do they put up such a protest?

+ Malala's dad encourages Malala to speak up against the Taliban in spite of dangers while the mother wishes Malala were less involved, especially after Malala's life is threatened.  If you were Malala's parent would you encourage her to be a voice for such an important cause in spite of dangers or would you encourage her to protect herself?

+ Why doesn't the dad move the family from Swat valley even when it is dangerous? Do you agree with this?

+Why does Malala have such a love and passion for education? How can we instill this appreciation and desire in our students and children now?

+ What was something new you learned from the reading that was interesting to you?

+Any parts of the book that were slow or difficult for you? Why was this?

Alright ladies... Can't wait to read your comments tomorrow.  This book was tough for me at first, but then toward the end I LOVED it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Some marital differences, if you will.

Something very weird has been going on with the weather in Utah.  Yesterday the temps were in the high 50s and even touched 60 I do believe.  SIXTY!  IN FEBRUARY!  IN UTAH!

Naturally, I insisted we go outside and enjoy the sunshine.  I begged Greg for a late afternoon tennis date, and he relented even though I don't offer him much of a competition.  I love playing tennis.  I used to not love it because I wasn't good, but my brother, Reed, taught me a few basic tips and then I took a few community lessons,  and now I am at least good enough to enjoy it.  Volleyball used to be my sport of choice but the thing with volleyball is that it requires WAY too much work to get it together.  You've gotta find seven people who are willing and able to play, whereas with tennis you've only gotta find one.  Tennis wins.

At the tennis courts I noticed some of the essential differences between Greg and me.

1.  The courts were full.  I insisted we ask the users when they were going to get off.  Greg didn't want to bother them.  I did.  So I asked.  I will ask anyone anything, but Greg just doesn't like to bother people. He also doesn't like to tell a waiter if he received the wrong meal, tell the cashier if the price was rung up incorrectly, ask for a different table if we're smack in the middle of the restaurant.  Greg feels uncomfortable when I hassle people to get off the court or when I argue over an extra 50 cent charge at the grocery store, but to me it's just second nature!

2.  There were people everywhere at the park.  I loved it! The more the merrier.  I like to be right in the middle of the action where I feel like I am privy to all the fun times that anyone else is.  I seriously love crowds.  There were kids and dogs and families and it was awesome!  Greg doesn't like it when a place is crowded.  It gives him anxiety.  He would much rather we were the only people there whereas for me, if the park is empty that makes the place feel totally dead and deserted.

3.  After we'd been playing for about 45 minutes, a huge dog without an owner showed up in the park.  He was more like a wolf if we're being accurate with our descriptions here.  Mavvy's leash was tied to the tree, and Greg yelled a curse word, dropped his racket, and ran over to protect Maverick before the wolf-dog had even reached him.  I wasn't nervous a bit, I just wanted to keep playing.  Greg assumed the wolf dog was going to kill Maverick.  He wasn't.  He walked right past Maverick without noticing him, but that didn't too much to ease Greg's anxiety.

4.  There was a girl walking her very very fat dog around the park.  The dog could barely move.  He was more like waddling and the girl kept saying, "Come on!  You need exercise!"  Greg was so nervous for the dog and kept saying, "That dog is dying.  That girl needs to stop.  She's working him too hard."  Between the fat dog and the wolf dog, Greg was a bag of nerves!

On the way home we were kind of laughing about the whole situation, Greg explaining that he could hardly enjoy the tennis because he was so hyper aware of everything that was going on around him and nervous about it.  He stated that he had taken a personality test that said he was "ultra reactive" and always "assumes the worst."  Well, I'd say that's about dead on.  I'm the opposite.  I react slowly and usually think that if there is anything wrong, it's probably just a misunderstanding.  This can get me into trouble as I rarely think anything is a big deal or an emergency.  All I know is when our baby arrives it is definitely Greg who will be the over protective one.  

Anywhere we go Greg notices all the conflict and tension around us, and I'm just happy as a lark in a meadow.  "You couldn't tell that couple was in a fight?  There was some serious weird tension there!" He'll say to me on the way home from a restaurant.  Or "You didn't notice that kid torturing the cat?" or "You didn't see those kids steal that bike?" or "How could you not notice the sketchy man with the beard checking out all the girls? I'd call the cops on that guy!"

 And thus concludes our story of why Greg can't go to a crowded park on a beautiful spring day.  He's watching for thieves and killers and wolf dogs so the rest of us can enjoy our park in peace.

I'm always interested in the dynamics of others ' marriages.  What are some of the 
key differences in you and your spouse?  Any of the same ones as Greg and me?

Monday, February 24, 2014

A pregnancy post! Of sorts!

This weekend we went to prom.

Greg works with people with special needs and every year they get to go to the prom.  These poor folks don't get to escape the agonies of prom after only three or four years, they are forced to do it year after year after year.  Luckily, they love it.  All of Greg's clients have been stoked about prom for weeks.  They all found themselves some hot dates and got all jazzed up and my, were they looking nice. It was one of the most adorable things to see them all parade in with their flowers and dresses and suits. Greg asked me if I would be his date, and I replied yes of course because I always wondered what it would be like to be knocked up at prom.  Now I know!

I wore my high school prom dress.  I haven't worn this bad boy for ten years.  I wore it to a girl ask boy dance with a boy who I had a big fat crush when I was 17 years old.  I thought he was the moon and the stars, and I liked him so much that I hardly dared to talk to him through out the entire date (I was so socially awkward in high school.  I still am, but I seem to have grown in to my awkwardness.  At 17, I didn't know what in the world to do with it.)  I remember hoping so bad at the end of the night that he would kiss me.  He didn't.  Now, I think of all those boys I used to love in high school and all the boys I dated in college, and all I know is I married the best crush I ever had and that's a fact.

18 weeks.

Also I kind of feel like I am lying when I post pictures like the above one with my belly sticking out to the side.  It makes it look a lot bigger than it really is- to be honest and fair, my belly rarely looks that pronounced.  It mostly just looks like extra cushion all around my sides.  At night or after meals the bump is more pronounced and it actually kind of looks like I'm pregnant, but most of the time it just looks like I've eaten one too many cupcakes.  Also the other day when I was leaving the ice cream place a teenage boy hollered at me, "Hey girl!" and I felt like saying back "Well, sheesh, kid you kind of just made my day! Now sit down and let me teach you how to write a thesis statement."

Being pregnant is kind of crazy.  Half of the time I forget I'm growing a body and the other half of the time it's all I can think about.  These past few weeks I have felt more out of control with my emotions than I ever have.  I read online that your emotions are supposed to be all wonky the first trimester and then in the second trimester everything normalizes until you go crazy again in the third trimester.  Well, if these are supposed to be "normal" emotions then I am royally screwed.  Third trimester is going to be a triiiiiip.

(Tangent:  I only believe half- if even that much- of anything I read on the internet about pregnancy.  I'm convinced these pregnancy sites are run by a gaggle of fifteen year old boys who entertain themselves by coming up with their idea of hilarious things to say to freak out pregnant women.)
"You will be constipated!"  Evil laugh!
"You will have to go to the dentist twice as often!"  Evil laugh! 
"You will have to pee all day every day!" Evil laugh!
"You will want more sex!" Evil laugh!
"You will cry all the time like a little baby sissy pants!" Evil laugh! 
"You will fart more!"  Evil evil EVIL LAUGH!  
I rest my case- pregnancy sites are written by teenage boys.)

Moving on, the past few weeks have been rough emotionally, and the worst part is that I don't even realize it until it's past the point of no return.  All of a sudden I am crying my eyes out because of:  a nice thing said by a student/ an episode of Wife Swap/ a cute puppy dog/ not being able to play tennis/ burning dinner/ getting cut off in traffic/ airplane ticket prices going up/ the fact that Greg surprised me by cleaning the whole apartment/ not getting to watch the olympics/ watching too much olympics/ INSERT ANY OTHER THING IN THE WORLD HERE AND I PROMISE I HAVE CRIED OVER IT.

For the most part, I feel like I can keep it together.  Until I get home.  As soon as I walk in the door I'm like a ticking bomb just waiting for Greg to say something so I can explode my pregnancy hormone tears all over him.  Then when he says I am exhausted and need to go to sleep because I'm acting crazy I retort, "And don't call me crazy!" and then collapse on the bed for the next eight hours.  It all makes perfect logical sense, I promise.  The poor dude gets all the vulnerability/ excitement/ fears/ anticipation/ exhaustion/ crazy train at once without any of the normalcy.  My students get the normalcy, and they're not even grateful!  Brats! 

I can't be sure, but I don't think it's easy to be married to a pregnant woman.  Maybe I should ask those 15 year olds who run the pregnancy sites...  they'd probably know.

Other stuff you might want to know about my pregnancy but probably couldn't care less about:

Cravings:  Cake batter frozen yogurt errry day, yo.  Seriously.  I've stopped the past four days in a row and I am so pleased with my life.  I'm also craving diet coke again which is SO welcome since I couldn't stand it my first trimester.  A lot of people said when I didn't drink dc for two months, "Oh now is the perfect itme for you to go off of it," and I thought, "Are you crazy people, why would I ever want to go off of diet coke?  That stuff is nectar from the gods!"  And lucky for me, my body is once again welcoming it.  Thanks, body!

Aversions: Hamburgers, KFC, basically any fast food or anything fried.

Looking forward to:  Ultrasound appointment on March 17 to find out gender.  Also, feeling the baby kick.  I've heard the baby first kicks sometime around now, and I am seriously stoked.  Oh!  And I have Friday off of work.  That has nothing to do with having a baby, but boo yah for me!

Weight gain:  None so far.  I lost 4-5 pounds the first trimester because I was able to eat so little, and I am now back to my pre pregnancy weight.

Baby purchases:  Ummm... no.  I'm much too much of a procrastinator for that.  It doesn't mean I'm not excited, just haven't gotten into purchasing mode yet.  I hate spending money. And there's no room in our apartment to put stuff.

Baby size:  The size of a green pepper.  And in related news, the internet told me my uterus is now the size of a cantaloupe.  If that's not terrifying, I don't know what is.  Curse those 15 year old boys who run those sites!

Maternity clothes:  No.  I did look and so far I can say with surety that the maternity sections in both H&M and Gap totally suck.  (Sorry, Kristen, I know those were your suggestions.  I still love you.)  Any other suggestions?  Help me people!

Pregnancy goals:  Exercise/ do something active for at least 30 minutes a day.  This is mostly a life goal as I get depressed and crazy if I don't get out and be active.  Greg and I enjoyed our first tennis session of the year today (almost 60 degrees in Utah in February, Let's get a woot woot for global warming!) and it felt great!  I'm hoping to still be able to run and play for much of my pregnancy.  And when I say run I don't mean real run.  I mean like little kid run.  If you catch my drift.

To Potty Train a Dog

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Cottonelle but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #CtnlCareRoutine

No one ever told me when I got a dog that I would have to potty train the poor boy.  I mean, I guess I should have figured, but there were a few little hiccups along the way.

One of the things that surprised me most about potty training Maverick (if you don't like talking about dog poo you might want to skip ahead to the next paragraph) was the little potty remnants that would get stuck to his bum.  It was especially hard because it's been winter and freezing cold and snowy outside- Mav certainly doesn't want to wipe his little bum on the snow.  If I wasn't careful he would come in and try to wipe his bum on the carpet.  So, for the first few weeks I would have to stick his rear end in the sink and clean him off with a washcloth and warm soapy water.

Well, that was just way too much work.  Enter- Cottonelle flushable cleansing cloths.  I have long been jealous of my friends with kids because they get to use baby wipes!  The genius contraption that does everything.  It didn't occur to me that you don't have to have a baby to use cleansing wipes.  I discovered that Cottonelle has cleansing cloths that work for personal hygiene for anyone- not just a baby.  They are perfect to do a quick, easy wipe of Maverick's bum when he comes in from outside.

(The main focus of this post is the wet Cottonelle cleansing cloths, but I also love the Cottonelle Clean Care toilet paper for all of our family's dry toilet paper needs.  The paper is extra thick which means it's soft and absorbent.  Only the best for our butts!)

Since buying the cleansing cloths I have found a myriad of ways to use them to keep clean.  I always have a pack in my purse and in the bathroom and anywhere at hand.  There are so many ways to keep clean with the product!


1.  I have found that they are perfect for removing makeup.  They are sensitive and clean smelling and my face doesn't complain a bit.  My little sister swears by using baby oil to remove makeup and for awhile I tried that, but I hated how greasy it left my face feeling.  None of that here!
2.  My best friend cuts and dyes hair, and last time she dyed my hair we got a bit of dye on the nape of my neck.  She told me to just use cleansing cloths and it would come right up.  I had some handy in my purse, and what do you know, the it removed the hair dye second!
3.  I try to take Maverick for a walk every afternoon and lately, as the snow has been melting, his paws have been an absolute mess.  He has come back wet and dirty.  I have had to put him in the sink and clean his paws off before letting him on our carpet.  Now, I just use the wipes to clean his puppy paws up right quick.
4.  I carry the cloths in my purse and use them to clean off my hands any time I have been in a gross bathroom, sneezed on my hands, had to shake hands with a bunch of people, or just been anywhere that I felt like was ridden with germs.  Perfect, easy way to feel clean.
5.  Lately I have been using the cloths after I workout.  I don't sweat nearly hard enough to feel like I need to take a shower, but I do sweat a little bit and like to feel clean.  The cloths are perfect- a quick wipe down (especially under my arms) and I rid myself of any post gym grossness.

P.S.  Throughout February you can get a $5 credit for Vudu (movie rental company similar to redbox) when you buy the Cottonelle Clean Care toilet paper and the flushable Cleansing Cloths at Wal-mart.  Just text or email a picture of your receipt showing both of the purchases to and you will receive a response with a $5 movie code.  Go to for more info.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I say YES TO...

I promised myself I could eat the Krispy Kreme donut that Greg brought home for me as soon as I finished this post.  Sometimes you gotta give yourself a little bit of motivation, you know?  So here's to working toward a donut!

Sometimes I say no.

But mostly I like to say yes.  Sometimes no is powerful, but whenever possible, I'm all about yes.

Things I say (or said) YES to...

Getting a dog.

Starting a blog.

Teaching high schoolers.

Big families.

Cafe Rio.

Serving an LDS mission.

Saturday morning cuddles in bed.

(Also I feel like I need to fess up that I just said yes to my donut before I finished my post.  I couldn't handle the temptation any longer.)

Reading by the pool.

Marrying Greg.

All of the best things in my life have come as a result of saying yes.

My most recent yes has been to a new skin care routine.  Not coincidentally, the YESTO skin care line... (See what I did there?  Pretty brilliant, right?)

YES TO carrots has created a new fragrance free line for those with more sensitive skin.  According to the company, the brand is perfect for "sensitive skin types out there who are looking for very moisturizing formulas that won't irritate their skin.  Many of the fragrance free formulas on the market are super light and gentle, and we wanted to create something that (of course!) is gentle, but also very nourishing to the skin."

I so graciously told them I would try out their new product and let you all know what I think about it.  Gosh, I'm a saint, ain't I?

The truth is I pretty much treat my skin like crap and I have been meaning to work on this for a long time, but it just always gets put on the back burner.  I moisturize my face in the morning, but other than that I don't do a darn thing to it.  I do not even wash my face at night.  Gasp.

I was sent the fragrance free daily cleanser, daily moisturizer, exfoliating cleanser, night hydration cream, and cleansing wipes to try out. (All products can be found here).  First and foremost I have to say that I absolutely love that the products are fragrance free.  Since I have been preggers I have been SO sensitive to smells and I have had to put away soaps and shampoos for the time being because sheesh, what is going on with those strong smells?  I feel like you can't go wrong with a fragrance free product.

I really loved all the products but the one product I would say you absolutely shouldn't go without is the intense night hydration cream- especially if you live in a dry climate like I do.  I feel like my skin is thirsty for hydration and when I put this night cream on, my skin just drinks it in.  It is a thick cream, but not greasy or oily at all, it just leaves the skin feeling totally moisturized.  Also sometimes moisturizes make my skin itchy, but this one does not at all.  I've been using it for almost a week and haven't had any itchiness at all.  ALSO the best thing is it is totally affordable.  I feel like nice skin care products like this usually cost $30 or $40 buckaroos and that's why I never want to shell out for it, but the night hydration cream is only $12 on sale right now.  Find it here and you can thank me later, ladies!

This picture is kind of confusing because I'm holding a cleanser, not the hydration cream.  You get the idea, though.  Also, will someone please join me in lecturing Greg about the proper way to hang his towel?  Sheesh!

P.S. Yes to Carrots is giving away 500 packs of facial cleansers on facebook right now!  Make sure to hop on over and join the giveaway.  I'd say with 500 prizes, odds for winning are good!

This post is sponsored by YES TO carrots.  Thanks so much for supporting the companies that support my blog and the ridiculous amounts of time I dedicate to writing on this bad boy.  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

If you came over for coffee...

Will you be my coffee date?

I've seen a few of these posts floating around in blogland and I like the thought of it...  Would you like to come over for coffee?  My treat!

If you came over for coffee I wouldn't be able to offer much in the way of coffee.  I'm not a coffee drinker myself, and I've never even brewed a pot, but I've got a fridge stocked to the brim with soda.  I'd offer you a diet coke or a Dr. Pepper or, maybe if you're lucky, some crystal lite.

Then I'd probably offer you some chips and guacamole.  Guacamole is my greatest love in life.  I love to whip up my own guac- mash up an avocado, throw some spices and some lime in it, and dig in with fresh tortilla chips.  We'd sit on my couch because it's more comfortable than my bar stools and Maverick would jump all over us trying to eat our food.  I'd probably say "Maverick! Down!  Stop it!  Down!" about thirteen times before we= finished our snack.

If this were your first time to Utah I'd ask you if you like it, and I'd apologize for the snow.  Snow is really the pits, especially on February 19 when we're all so desperate for a little bit of spring. But it is what it is.

I'd probably admit to you that I've been feeling stressed this past week.  It seems like there are always big decisions looming in the future.  Big decisions are hard.  Greg and I try to be on the same page with career, family, and church goals but we're not always and sometimes it just requires so much patience and prayer and understanding to get everything all figured out.  I know this is all very vague and if you were really really sitting on my couch stuffing your face with guac I wouldn't be so vague.  I'd give you details and let you know of the decisions on our plate.  I would tell you that God has always taken me to the place I need to be, so I am doing my best to trust in Him to continue to do so.  But sometimes I just wish I knew the end from the beginning, I would tell you that much.

I would tell you I'm so so ready for warm weather, and I'd ask you if maybe you wanted to hit the outlet malls with me for some spring shopping.  I live basically in the backyard of the outlets so it's easy to stop by at any time.  I would tell you that I've been looking forsome bright, fun clothes, but I'd complain to you that it's been a little bit hard with my constantly expanding belly and not knowing exactly what I can wear or not wear.  I'd also tell you that maternity shopping is a real drag.  Nothing bright, cute, or fun, and lots and lots of frumpy and ugly blouses.  I'd tell you that if I had a bunch of money to spend, I would invest it in a cute, hip maternity clothes company.  Kardashians, are you listening?

Speaking of Kardashians, I'd ask you if you have been watching.  If you say no I would say me neither.  If you say yes we would talk it for the next 20 minutes.

And then, as long as we're on the subject of reality TV, I'd ask you if have been watching The Bachelor.  Even if you don't watch, I'd probably try to talk to you about it.  I'd tell you how annoying Nikki and Claire are and how embarrassed I am for them that they are in their early 30s and still fighting like high school girls.  I would tell you that I love Renee, but I don't want her to win because she's too good for Juan Pablo.  I would tell you that I actually kind of liked Sharleen and was sad that she left early.  I was impressed with the way that Juan Pablo handled her leaving and althought I doubt they would have lasted long, I would have liked him to choose her.  I would tell you that I think he's going to choose Claire which I guess is fine because they kind of seem to deserve each other.  I would tell you I think Andi will be the next bachelorette because none of the others fit the oh-so-specific bachelorette mold. Renee is not pretty enough, Nikki is too whiny, and Claire is too crazy.

I would tell you that I have been feeling so tired lately.  All I want to do is take a nappppp.....  I would also tell you that I used to not believe in pregnancy brain but now I do.  When I was driving to work this morning I couldn't figure out why I felt so hungry, and then I realized that I hadn't eaten breakfast.  Oops.  Also this morning I couldn't find the lunch I had packed for school, and only after much searching did I find it in the freezer.

I'd probably pull out some nail polish and ask you if you want to paint your nails.  I kind of love painting my nails, but I always bite it off after only a day.  I've got a perfect red and lots of shade of pinks and black and a deep purple that I love.

If you have had a baby or are now pregnant, we'd probably talk about pregnancy and impending motherhood.  I would try to not talk about it too much, though, because while I am so grateful to be having a baby, I don't consider it to be the most interesting thing about me.  If you don't have a baby nor have ever been pregnant I'd assume the topic wasn't too fascinating to you, and I would only talk about it if you brought it up first.  

We would talk about work and I would tell you how much I love my job, and I'm sure I'd have some great stories about the tikes that I'm not allowed to tell on this blog.  I'd have embarrasssing stories and hilarious stories and probably some really sad stories, too.  If you are a teacher we might talk about education and the many shortcomings of public education and how we can fix all of those problems.

By then it'd probably be late and you'd be glancing at your watch, so I would tell you that I understand your time is precious and thanks so much for coming over and enjoying some guac and soda and sorry about the not having coffee thing.  I might then remember to ask you a suggestion for dinner as I probably would have no idea what I was making that night and cooking is such a total chore for me.  If you were a real fabulous coffee date, you would offer to stay an extra hour and make dinner for me.

That is what might happen if you came over for coffee.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

On babies and ugliness

The day after vacation is the worst, ain't it?  We're out of money, but I'm also clear out of motivation so how in the world am I supposed to manage dinner?  Pizza it is!  Sidenote- I've been craving nonstop pregnancy the past four days.  I ate it every single day in Las Vegas and now they only thing I want for dinner tonight is PIZZA.

Also, baby horror stories at lunch today.  One teacher told us her kid basically didn't stop crying for four months.  If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go crawl in a corner now.

But that's beside the point!

Before we move on, I wanted to say just a little something about my ugly babies post last week.  I was going to not saying anything, but I felt like I wanted to clarify just a few things.  So here we go, let's reopen a big fat can of worms!

1.  I should not have taken pictures of ugly babies from the internet and put them on the post.  I regret that and I'm sorry.
2.  I thought about taking the pictures down, but at the same time I kind of feel like taking it down is me saying, "Hey!  I never did that!"  Like a cop out.  I did do that and I shouldn't have, but I kind of feel like I have to just own up to it.
3.  For the record, I think ALL babies are born pretty ugly and in most cases they grow into normal looking people.  I also don't think it's the worst thing in the world for a baby to be ugly.  As I replied in some of the comments, the post was meant to be satirical in nature.  Obviously there are much worse things in the world than being ugly.  I should know- my brothers are all ugly and they still have pretty decent lives. (Kidding, Reed!)
4.  I have a bit of a darker sense of humor so stuff like ugly redheaded babies is funny to me.  It was not coming from a mean place in my heart. If I had a baby that looked like that and someone put it on their blog, I would not be offended by it, I would think it was funny.  I didn't post it to be mean. I understand if it is not funny to you, and I understand that some may find this offensive.  I apologize.
5.  No matter how inappropriate or offensive some may have found the post to be, I certainly don't think it gives anyone the right to turn around and insult my standing with God, my ability to teach in a public school, my potential to be a good mother or anything else that was mentioned in the comments.  It wasn't right of me to post the pictures but I did it without malice and without intention to hurt.  Wish I could say the same for all the commenters.  That is all.

And now, pizza time.  I've got eight great bloggers here who would absolutely love it if you gave their blog a visit today.  I have highlighted what makes their blogs unique and why I like each blog for its different reason.  I also tried to find some of their best posts for you so you can go right to the gold!  I hope you'll find some new blog friends and daily reads.  I can't say enough good things about these girls.  

Natasha is an Aussie blogger who aims to give readers a "bit of a giggle" with her posts.  She writes about dating fiascos and chronicles her weight loss journey.  She has lost 80 pounds in the past 6 months, so following her blog is a great idea if you need some fitness motivation. One of my favorite posts of hers on weight loss is here- truly inspiring!  And don't forget to check out her etsy shop!
I discovered Kym's blog about three months ago and haven't been able to stop reading since.  She has a knack for keeping it real and for making you feel like you are her best friend.  Her husband is a pro hockey player so she writes about hockey life and their constant moves and travels, but she doesn't allow the blog to ever be superficial.  My favorite post this month was about how she doesn't let hockey define her.  I also loved her posts about miscarriage, and this post about being four months hysterically pregnant.  Everything she writes is awesome, so if you can't decide just hit up her best of page!

Emmy is a long time blog friend of mine- I feel a special kinship with her because she is a fellow book lover.  She always has great suggestions for books and often reviews what she has read recently.  If you love books as much as we do make sure to check out her favorite book project.  I was totally hooked with her last post about how to show support to other bloggers  (except for I'm opposite of Emmy- I get uncomfortable when someone I know IRL checks out my blog.)  Other great posts you might relate to are I want to do everything and My Tattoo Story.
Blog// Twitter


Jordyn is obsessed with Taylor Swift and claims she should rename her blog, "Like a Taylor Swift song, but less catchy." (Hey, Jordyn looks just like Taylor- why not!)  Her blog's got lots of sass and spunk.  For a great slice of Jordyn try "You don't know about me, but I bet you'll want to" or this post about staying true to yourself in the blogging world.  My  personal favorite, though, is this post about lessons learned from being a "serial monogamist."  Some amazing advice there, Taylor... errr Jordyn!

Nicole's blog is witty, fresh, and funny.  According to her, one of her blogging strengths is "not too many grammatical errors," so she's got that going for her too!  I laughed so hard at this spin on ways to get people to read your blog- I promise it's not what you think.  Also, this post on the four people you need if you're going to hack it in blog land is dead on.  Everything she writes is hilarious so do yourself a favor and check out her best of page- I'll see you in three hours!

If you are looking to meet a lot of bloggy friends then look no further than Laura's blog!  Laura hosts a weekly Wake up Wednesday link up with a giveaway where at least 100 bloggers always link up.  A great place for networking and frienshipping and not to mention the frequent, easy to enter giveaways.  Some of my favorite posts of hers are this one on overprotective parenting and this hilarious bit about traveling with dogs.  If you have pups you can certainly relate!

Katherine's blog is truly unique in that her posts are VERY short VERY succinct and you can never read just one.  Everytime I visit Katherine's blog I end up reading twelve blog posts before I even realize what has happened to me.  She is passionate and opinionated and always incites comments, which I love.  According to her, she writes about  "the human experience, the Mormon experience, and the woman experience in a way that is uniquely Katherine."  Some great posts to get you started are this one on how breaking bad encourages meth use, Is it Any Wonder? and Some Mansions.

Kelly's blog has got a little bit of everything.  She has been on a mission to lose 100 pounds (WOW!) and her motivation is seriously inspiring.  Her little brother is serving an LDS mission in Rwanda and her Missionary Monday posts she does about him are so fascinating.  I also greatly enjoyed this post- "Zero is not a size." (Although I still can't decide if I agree...)  Oh- and I can't forget this post poking fun of all the pregnant bloggers- yes, there are SO MANY of us right now, I agree!  I tried to tell all the other bloggers that only I could be pregnant right now, but they didn't listen.  Rude!

Monday, February 17, 2014

A vacation! We went on a mini vacation!

On a scale of 1-10 how much do you love reading about other people's vacations?  If it's a 7 and above keep reading.!If it's a 4-6, skim the pictures and move on.  If it's a 3 and a below close the window now!  Vacation pictures and explanations abound!  I hope yur ready!

Our "vacation" was pretty spur of the moment.  About a week ago, Greg and I realized that we were looking at a three day weekend coming up- three days in which neither of us had to work, go to rehearsal, chaperon a school dance, teach a church lesson, NOTHING.  Three straight days with no responsibilities.  This has happened exactly never in our marriage- our schedules are terribly conflicting and it seems like we can never arrange our time off at the same time.  Anytime we go on vacation it is very deliberately planned, months ahead of time, so Greg can get off rehearsals and shows, and so that I'm not doing anything terribly important in my class and I can easily miss a day or two.

So when suddenly we were looking at three straight days with nothing to do, we knew we had to take advantage.  Las Vegas is a 5 1/2 hour drive and the weather was supposed to be in the high 70s.  We haven't seen high 70s since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon!  We dilly dallyed and went back and forth until the very last possible minute and then we just decided, yes, let's go.  Friday morning we booked a hotel room and Friday afternoon we were on the road.  See ya later, winter!

Friday was Valentine's Day so naturally we thought we'd get into our hotel and do something real sweet and romantic, like hit up a nice restaurant and enjoy the stars or something that you think when you're in a very good mood.  But.  The drive down took us close to two hours longer than we expected- there was road construction just outside of Utah that held us up over an hour and then the resort we were staying at was a full 30 minutes beyond Las Vegas.  I booked the resort using hotwire. If you've never used the site before, basically it works in that you can get last minute hotel rooms for cheap, but you don't know where your hotel will be until after you've booked.  I think this is so that you don't find out a hotel is giving away cheap rooms and hassle the hotel directly.  Who know?  I don't fully understand the logic, all I know is it's a bit of a gamble paying before you know what your hotel is.

Anyway.  The hotel we landed was the Westin at Lake Las Vegas.  The resort was awesome as was the price, but the location was terrible!  It was about 30 minutes away from downtown Las Vegas.  You can imagine that after 6 1/2 hours of driving we weren't too happy to realize our resort was 30+ extra minutes out.  And so we drove for 7 hours!  Yippee!

When we finally got to our hotel room, we were exhausted and frustrated.  The place was in the middle of nowhere- the nearest store was 10 or 15 minutes away- and it seemed like we had come all this way and paid all this money for a hotel just to sit in no man's land.  We were famished, but the last thing that we wanted to do was get back in that car and drive for 20 minutes looking for a place to eat.  It was technically Valentine's night, but neither of us felt like getting dolled up or waiting anywhere for food, so we got back in the dreaded corolla in our sweats and said we would eat at the first place we found.  All dreams of a romantic Valentine's night were dashed and the goal was to eat as quickly as possible and then fall asleep as quickly as possible.  We were ornery to the max, and if there's one thing I know for sure it is that people are not that different from babies- we are at our grumpiest when we are hungry or tired.  We were both.

Twenty minutes later we found a Panda Express and that was it.  Valentine's Day dinner!  Que romantico!

I really really really really hate Panda Express.  I always have, but then every time I see it I think for just one second that it might taste good. This is never true.  My last Panda experience was at my little sister's wedding (Sorry for throwing you under the bus, Mary!).  I was 10 weeks pregnant and in the throes of first trimester sickness and could barely stomach the smell in the room.  I tried to eat the chicken but it made me want to vomit, so I nibbled on some fried rice and tried to forget that Panda had ever been a part of my life.

Well, I was hungry enough that Valentine's Day night that I told Greg we could eat there even though my stomach knew better.  It was awful.  Cold, greasy chow mein and terribly fattening orange chicken with only a little bit of chicken and mostly a lot of sauce and a lot of breading.  This is my official declaration that I will not eat at Panda Express ever again.  Remind me if you ever feel me wavering.  Never again.  I WILL NOT DO IT!  (I also feel like now is a good time to tell you that when I was 17 I had a horrible experience with pringles and vowed to never eat another one.  I am going on 10+ pringle-less years, and I feel great.)

We were pretty miserable at that Panda table with our cold Chinese food and measly water cups.  We even ventured to go so far as to say we never should have come.  It was a waste of money and too far away and in two days we'd have to drive right back home.  Greg said we should have just spent the money on five nice dinners at Tepanyaki (our favorite restaurant) instead of blowing it all on some stupid resort in butt freaking Egypt.  I agreed.  Then Greg got a fortune that said he will make a lot of money and mine said I will lose all my money, so on top of tired and frustrated we were now confused about what we should do with our budget!

The night was horrible, but the good news is that everything looked up up up from there.  We ate dinner and went to sleep and after full tummies and eight hours of sleep, everything was better in the morning.  Isn't it always?  If you learn one thing from this post, let it be this- everything is better in the morning!  We figured out that we could take a free shuttle from our resort to the strip and wouldn't have to bother with traffic or parking.  At first we thought it would be annoying to be so far removed from everything, but it actually ended up being really nice.  We loved being able to get away to a quiet and relaxing place after the hustle and bustle of the strip and the casinos and the lights. The resort at a killer deal- less than $100 a night with two full pools, hot tub, fitness room, romantic camp fires all around the balconies, etc. and the hotel was even on a LAKE!  They had free pedal boats, kayaks, and paddle boards that you could take out on the lake.

So, we called Vegas home for two days and packed in everything in we could.  We walked the strip until our legs were going to fall off, we had our romantic Vday dinner a day late at Cheesecake Factory, we went shopping, we swam in 80 degree water, we took a dip in the hot tub.  We enjoyed the sun, we pedal boated the crap out of the lake, and we slept in until noon and made someone else make our bed. Twas wonderful!

And now, PICTURES!

^^ It had been so long since these poor legs had seen sun.

 ^^The lake.  See the paddleboarders behind me?  Also makeup is purely optional on vacation, of course!

^^The weather looks a bit cold because it was cloudy the first day, but it was perfect.  Low seventies and gorgeous.

 ^^The view from our room balcony.

^^ The bump decided to show its face for about four hours of vacation.  It's a very fickle bump- comes and goes whenever it pleases without warning and without apology.  Not the least bit reliable and a tad bit stubborn.  Bad signs for the baby to come?

^^ Pedal boat extraordinaire.

 ^^ Living the good life.  Also.  So many chins.

 ^^We're trying to master the art of selfies with a DSLR.  Wow!  It's not easy! Also I love this picture because you can clearly see one of the inherent differences in Greg and I-  he wore his mandatory life jacket the entire time on the pedal boat, and I took mine off the second we turned the corner from the resort.  Yet, somehow we make it work!

 ^^ I'm kind of totally in love with this goofball.  He didn't want to get sunburned on the lake and neither of us thought to pack sunscreen.  (When you've been doing beanies and gloves for four months, sunscreen just didn't come to your mind for packing essentials.)  So he covered up and about dang near roasted to death.  Those gingers got to be very careful with their skin, you know.  The sun is no laughing matter.

 ^^ Bumpin?

^^ Got all dolled up (by vacation standards) to go to the strip one night.  Greg put his arms around me as we watched the water show and I made googly eyes at him and tried to sneak kisses and he replied, "Gosh, I married a flirt!"

 ^^ I half believed I would never read by a pool again.  The winter has been long. Speaking of reading, are you reading I am Malala for February's book club?  We are discussing it next Thursday, February 27.  So far I am loving it.  I skim some of the stuff that gets real political, but the way education, women's rights, etc. is viewed in Pakistan is FASCINATING.

 ^^ Can you spot Greg?  We thought we owned the whole freaking resort.

^^ Apparently this is how Greg relaxes.  Don't we all?  Also he is showing off his wedding ring which I gave him for Valentine's Day.  It's his third.  I won't tell you what happened to the other two.  Wait.  Yes I will.  He lost them and he now only gets $30 rings from and he only gets them on special occasions.  Someone's gotta discipline the ring-losing husband of mine!

And now I'm incredibly nostalgic for vacation as I'm shivering in my apartment on a dark, cold night writing this. How many days until summer?