Sunday, January 25, 2015

Choosing the Right Dog Trainer

I've only lost money on a return a couple of times. Last summer I bought a life jacket for our dog off Amazon. When it arrived it was slightly too small for her and I had to pay the cost of return shipping. I understood why since it was my fault-I had debated between the two sizes since her measurements were right on the border and went with the smaller size. The smaller size was a couple bucks cheaper and I was trying to save some money, but because I was being cheap I ended up losing money.

The same things applies to dog training (or really any other service)-when you cheap out you get what you pay for. Shortly after we got our dog we decided we should take her to obedience classes. We were really struggling with her anxiety and thought some obedience might help. A guy in town was advertising on the billboard of the gas station and he had great prices. He advertised that he had 25 years of experience and that he had trained police dog and other working canines.

We got in touch and made arrangements to take his Saturday class-which was held half an hour from our home in the grass lot of an abandoned school. It wasn't exactly the nicest area of town and we felt slightly out of place among the other people in the class (who were a bit on the rough side).

The classes themselves were a mess. They weren't conducted professionally and I felt the trainer gave bad advice sometimes. I have experience training animals so I do know something about the subject and a lot of his information was outdated. He had advertised as being a positive reinforcement trainer yet he regularly used prong collars and choke collars. He didn't seem to understand that we really didn't care what our dog learned at that point-we just wanted to get her around people and other dogs without having a panic attack.

We stuck it out even though we felt uneasy. Then the trainers father died and classes were cancelled for several weeks. It was a blessing for us and we realized that this wasn't working. After several weeks I called to request a refund-his phone was shut off and his Facebook page deactivated. I tried to find him, but I gave up rather quickly. He was toxic to the health and safety of my dog.

The next two trainers we had were wonderful! Here are my tips for picking a great one:

1. Do your homework: Don't sign up for the first class you see or the cheapest option. Check around and talk to other people. Ask for references from former clients and ask other pet parents if they've heard of the trainer. If nobody's heard of the person it's probably a poor choice.

2. Get recommendations: Ask your vet, the local shelter, your breeder, pet store employees and random people at the dog park. Our local shelter actually provides basic obedience and it's really cheap! The trainer there was wonderful and really worked with us! Plus we saved money and the money we did pay went back to the shelter to save another dog :) When we were done with basic obedience she was able to refer us to another trainer to do our higher level training.

3. Get multiple recommendations: When we went to the shelter for basic obedience I already knew the trainer there from other community events so I knew she was good. However, when we went to our current trainer I got recommendations from every body I could think of. Her name kept coming up over and over again-plus she worked at the kennel where we boarded our dog already. We knew if our kennel employed her she must be good. Talk to lots of people-usually one name will come up many times-that's the one to research more!

4. Go watch a class: My trainer actually invited me to do this before we started CGC. She wanted to make sure we understood what we were getting into and see her personality. You have to make sure that their philosophy matches yours.

5. Check out their credentials: Check what experience they have, what organizations they are accredited by. A simple Google search for "dog training organizations" brings up a huge list-most of them have databases where you can search for trainers.

6. Pick a trainer in your specialty: Our first trainer focused more on police dogs and bite work rather than obedience and therapy dogs. Because of this his style was a little more rough and tumble than what our dog could handle. Dog trainers that focused on what we actually needed her to do were a much better choice.

7. Do a dry run: Make sure that you take your dog to where ever class will be before class starts. Our trainer at the shelter had our first class at the shelter-it sent our dog into a tailspin of anxiety. This was the shelter she had been adopted from and she was terrified at being back there. We moved other classes to a local park and they went swimmingly.

I'm glad that we had our experience with our first trainer as it made me learn a lot about how to choose a professional (I definitely didn't put that into practice when we bought our couch-see my previous post). I also learned to stand up for my dog and do what's right for her-even if we had to lose some money and make some people angry. However, I wish we had done it right in the first place so we didn't waste several months of time with her.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Great Couch Debacle

Recently DH and I decided to bite the bullet and buy a new couch-our first purchase of furniture EVER! A bit of backstory: DH graduated from college a year before me and set off to his first grown up job while I stayed in school. It was a week before his job was to start and he had made no progress on actually finding a house to live in or furnishings to put in it (DH is brilliant but he tends to procrastinate about domestic chores-and he's ridiculously forgetful so he tends to forget important things). At this point his mom took over; she picked out a townhouse and headed to the furniture store to fill it. DH never actually saw the apartment before he signed the lease.

His mom did an awesome job! We loved our townhouse (until the lady who taught piano moved in next door-but that was 2 years later) and we loved most of the furniture she had picked out. The whole house matched and was tastefully decorated in a beautiful western theme. 6 months later I moved in and the nicely decorated house began to take on more and more of my decorating style. I'm not sure you can actually call it a style though, if you were going to it would be a cross between a 12 year old girl and a hobo who lives in a box. I buy what I like and don't worry if it actually matches anything else I own. I'm messy and cluttered, but I have early stage hoarding disease so our small town house was suddenly decorated with Snoopy stuffed animals, hot pink throw pillows and piles of dirty clothes and books I had yet to read.

DH tolerated me ruining his artfully decorated home with surprisingly good grace for someone as OCD as he is (that's when I knew it was true love). The one thing we both agreed on was that we HATED the couch his mom had picked out. It was a very expensive couch, it matched the theme of the house perfectly and it looked very nice. However, sitting on it was less comfortable than sitting on a bed of nails. It had wooden arms, a wooden back, super hard cushions and it wasn't wide enough for us to cuddle on. You couldn't lean on the arms (even with a throw pillow behind your back) without them stabbing you. However, it was brand new and it looked great so we kept tolerating it as we waited for it to wear out.

This year I realized we were going to wait forever-this was a solidly constructed couch and it was never going to wear out. Our new house has a massive living room and our tiny couch looked a tad bit ridiculous in such a big space. Plus, on the rare occasions we had guests everyone ended up sitting on the floor since we didn't have any seating. We came up with a plan to move the torture couch to one side of the room and buy a nice comfy couch for us to actually sit on. We would double our seating area, not cause offense by getting rid of the evil couch and make our living room look less ridiculous.

Over Christmas my parents decided they were going to buy new furniture as their couch was worn out and sagging at one end-I decided that we should take their old couch. We agreed to come back another time with a trailer and pick it up-it didn't look too great but it was comfortable! Once we were back home we headed to town to run errands and we happened to drive by an Ashley Furniture that was having a grand opening sale. We stopped in to take a quick peek and we were pretty disappointed by the offerings. However, we did find the most awesome and comfortable couch in the world. It looked amazing, it matched our house, it was big enough for DH and the dog and myself to sit on it all at once and it had recliners. It was on a super great sale that day so we jumped on it and purchased it (paying in full and in cash).

One thing you must know about DH and I is that we are not impulsive people. We are of the generation raised to read reviews and carefully consider each purchase, I'm ridiculously high strung and we both tend to end up with paralysis by analysis. It took us almost 2 years (and the viewing of hundreds of houses) to pick the house we wanted, and the only reason we bought it was because my mom talked us into it. By nature (and as a product of the teachings of our parents) we are careful with our money and one of the ways we live such a comfortable life is to be very careful.with how we spend our money. The $600 dollars we were spending on the couch (and the extended five year warranty) wasn't a ton of money, but it was a decent chunk of change.

I don't know what came over us that day, but we jumped right into the couch purchase. We didn't read any reviews or have one of our marathon debates over the pros and cons. Within 20 minutes of entering the store we were $600 poorer and I was starting to question if we had made the right decision. We were told that we could take the couch home that day-after we paid (and they spent 10 minutes trying to talk us into a ridiculous financing deal) we were told that they would have to order the couch and it wouldn't be in for 2 weeks. That was annoying and frustrating but we could live with it. In fact, it worked better for us since we wanted to clean the carpets and reorganize the living room before setting up the couch.

My mom was really surprised when I sent her a picture of the couch and shocked that we were making such a quick decision. We waited and waited and finally right as the two weeks were up the couch arrived! I happened to be away visiting my parents for the weekend so it fell to DH to go pick it up (they wanted $180.00 to deliver it!). He drove down to get it and spent almost 30 minutes in line at the distribution warehouse waiting. He was already pissed off because we had been told we would be able to pick it up at the store-that wasn't the case and he had to drive an extra 20 miles to the downtown warehouse (when you live in the country picking up something on the other side of a major city is a HUGE undertaking and adds a lot to the 30 mile drive you've already made).

He finally got the couch home and went to take the back off so it would fit in the door-we were told the back just lifted off when we purchased the couch. He spent almost 2 hours (and several Google searches) trying to figure out how to get the stupid back off the couch. It's at this point I must point out that DH is an engineer-he regularly takes apart very expensive machines and puts them back together-he's very good at his job but he was no match for this couch.

He finally gave up and decided to wait until the next day when his friend was coming over so he would have some help. At this point Ashley had told us several lies and we were thinking some pretty nasty thoughts about them as a company. The next day DH got the couch all set up and made a very interesting discovery-one of the bars under the reclining portion of the couch was mangled and therefore it wouldn't work. Essentially we paid for a whole functioning couch and received half a couch. DH was too pissed off to call so we waited a couple of days before calling them.

DH is NOT nice to customer service people if he feels they aren't doing their job correctly so I was the one who ended up having to call. I'm usually a pretty nice person since I've worked retail and I understand how sucky it can be to get yelled at for something that isn't your fault. I called and the first gentleman was very rude-he kept insisting that we had somehow broken it while we were bringing it inside the house. I kept explaining that the non-broken side had wood screwed underneath it to protect it during shipping while the broken side did not. I also kept explaining that we had purchased the extended warranty so that should be covered even if we had broken it. He finally ended up saying to me "It's your fault for buying the couch" and hung up on me.

I called back and got another rep who was much nicer. I felt bad for him since I was still smarting from my run in with the other rep and he got an earful (I can be quite angry when I need to be). He agreed that they would order the part and send someone out to fix it. I was happy until I discovered that it was going to be two weeks for the part to arrive and another two weeks before a repair team could be dispatched to our rural town. By that time I will have spent 6 weeks of my life waiting on this couch! I asked if we could be given our money back and return the couch-I liked the couch but I was done with the frustration. I was told that they didn't allow returns, but that I would be given store credit minus a restocking fee. The refund wouldn't be enough to buy a comparable couch (since we had bought it so heavily discounted) or even a comparable chair. Plus, I wasn't about to lose 20% of my money for them to restock a broken couch.

I finally agreed to the repair but explained that I would need a Saturday repair time. I was told "Saturdays are really busy and you're so far away so you can't have that". I explained that I couldn't take time off work to deal with this and I was told I could just sneak out. I'm sure that my 8th graders won't notice that I'm missing right? I was about to go all Incredible Hulk again so I asked them to call me when they were ready to set up a repair time and we would deal with it then.

So far I'm not too happy about the way we've been treated and I'm regretting jumping in so quickly. After the fact I checked the reviews for Ashley Furniture and they were overwhelmingly negative-lots of people seem to be experiencing the same things we are. I should have listened to my gut and been my usual cautious self-if I had we wouldn't be experiencing all the aggravation and lost time. I will say that I love the half of my couch that isn't broken and I'm pleased with my purchase. I just wish I had given another company my hard earned money-like our local furniture store. I probably would have paid another few hundred dollars but I wouldn't spend a month sitting on a broken couch or have to take a day off work to wait for them to repair it.

Even though people may make fun of DH and I for being cautious we usually don't have to deal with a lot of frustration. We take our time and make sure we like what we're purchasing so we don't lose time and money to the returns process. I regret not doing that in this case. My overall conclusion is that you should always listen to your gut-even if people laugh at you for doing so. I can safely say that when it comes time for DH and I to upgrade the rest of our furniture we won't be spending our money at Ashley that's for sure!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

How To Write a Proper Amazon Review

I'll admit it, I'm an Amazon junkie! DH and I order stuff from Amazon at least twice a week if not more! We use the heck out of our Prime membership-everything from toilet paper to light bulbs arrive on our porch. I enjoy the convenience of shopping from my couch and I love not having to drive the half an hour into town.

Another handy feature of Amazon is the ability to write and read reviews. I read the reviews for pretty much every purchase I make and I've learned tons of great information from my fellow consumers. I make sure I return the favor for reviewing most of the products I buy and I get tons of helpful votes! Sometimes the reviews have convinced me to buy the product and sometimes they make me steer clear. However, some of the reviews on Amazon are so laughably bad that they irritate me to no end-especially when they are one of the few review for a product. In the interest of my own sanity I've made a list of lessons that some reviewers need to learn.

Here are my guidelines for a great review:
1. Reviews are based on a 5 star scale: One star means you hate it and five stars means you love it. A one star review should state that the product is great and you love it.

2. Reviews are not the place for customer service: If you have a problem with your order you should contact customer service. The one this you shouldn't do is post a review demanding your money back. It cracks me up to no end to see someone threatening to sue if Amazon doesn't respond to their poorly written review. If you want laughs check out the one star reviews of the Amazon store card-tons of people complaining that they don't like the card and that they will be suing if Amazon doesn't fix their problem. A call to customer service or even a quick email will get your problem fixed faster.

3. Don't leave a review if you have nothing to say: A review that says good or not good tells me NOTHING. You would be better off not leaving a review. Tell me what makes it good or bad, a one word review is just a waste of space.

4. You don't always have to listen to your e-mail: Amazon will sometimes email you asking you to leave a review. People seem to think that this is a direct order. I've seen things like "I was asked to leave a review, but I bought it as a gift", "I don't know why I'm leaving a review", "They emailed me and told me to leave a review". If you don't want to write a review then DON'T-just delete the e-mail and go about your day.

5. Proofread, proofread, proofread: I spend my life reading 8th grade writing-I can get through some pretty messed up writing. So when I'm struggling to read what you've written due to your spelling and your lack of punctuation it's saying something. Remember the whole world will be reading this-plan accordingly.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Trailing Spouse

DH travels A LOT for work-which in itself is a blessing and curse. I'm naturally a very independent person so I enjoy my freedom away from him, but I also get irritated when I don't feel that he's contributing as much as he should be. DH makes very good money, but the trade-off for that is the fact that he will be on the road most of May-November. He also works in the ag industry so planning tends to go out the window-you can't really plan rain or hailstorms or when the crop will be ready for harvest. That in itself is the most frustrating part since I'm a planner and I just can't go with the flow.

DH loves his job and that makes me happy. He really does like getting up every day and going to work and he does find joy in what he does. He has offered to find a job where he doesn't travel so much, but I know how desperately unhappy he would be if he did that so I let him travel (ha-let him-that makes me sound so bossy-oh wait I am).

The sucky part is sometimes his job takes him to super fun places-like Europe. If I'm not working I get to accompany him (like to France and Switzerland last year), but if I'm working I'm stuck at home. That's the trips that suck the most as he calls every day to tell me about his adventures in Denmark (or some other country) and all I get to share is my teaching adventures (that get less exciting each year as I get better at classroom management) or the tale of what the dog chewed on today (and now that she's properly medicated she does that even less). I will admit it's super depressing to sit at home solo and know that hubby is off having fun in another country (even though to be fair he does work 12-14 hour days and it's probably less fun than I imagine).

We live in a pretty rural area and I apparently suck at making friends so I get pretty isolated and spend a lot of time talking to my dog. You know your life is pretty sad when you spend a Saturday night having a dance party with your dog.

The most difficult part of being in a relationship (or marriage) with someone who travels is the loss of connection. It sometimes feels that DH doesn't really live at our house-it's just another stop in a long line of hotels. Frequently I've felt like folding the toilet paper into a triangle and putting a key card on the door just to make him feel more at home. We live two separate lives-his revolves around work and mine around domestic stuff-and honestly there isn't much in common. Over his 5 year tenure at the company we've watched many marriages and serious relationships implode due to the travel requirements. It's taken us a LONG time to get to the point where we are pretty comfortable with the status quo, but we've made a system that works for us.

Here are a few hard lessons we've learned:

1. Talk on the phone EVERY DAY: we don't manage this as well as we would like sometimes (due to issues with time zones and schedules), but we usually are able to talk and/or text. DH's job doesn't really give him a lot of time to text (he's working with big machines and needs to keep his attention on them so he doesn't decapitate himself or someone else), but we usually get a short talk in during the evenings. I live for those calls! It's a way that we share what's going on in our life.
2. Embrace Snapchat (and not for dirty pictures): Somehow Snapchat has worked better for us than anything else. We send each other funny things we see (either in real life or on the internet) or pictures with silly captions. Snapchat doesn't lend itself to a serious conversation, so we are able to share some funnies throughout the day. It's quick and easy so we actually communicate with it more than through text.
3. Make connections with others: This is something I struggled with for a LONG time. By nature I'm pretty shy and anti-social. I cherish alone time, but when you're alone for 6 weeks at a time it gets a little depressing. I'm not where I would like to be, but I'm getting better at making some friends and taking the initiative to invite them to lunch or dinner or to an activity. When I schedule a lunch with a friend for Saturday I will spend the whole week looking forward to it. It really is a great mood booster! I'm also working to find hobbies that aren't solitary (like taking my dog to obedience classes) so I can meet more people.
4. Understand there will be an adjustment period: It takes time to get used to having DH home! Don't get me wrong-It's exciting when he comes home, but it's also annoying. He is usually gone for 3-6 weeks at a time (with no weekends at home) so I get set in my ways. I'm not used to having someone else in bed or pawing through my cabinets. He's gotten into his routine and I've gotten into mine and sometimes they conflict. We used to fight a lot during the first week or so that he came home, but it's getting better because we both understand that it WILL get better. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and roll your eyes for a few days before it feels normal.
5: Be selfish: When DH comes home it feels SUPER selfish to take off for a solo shopping trip, lunch with friends or some other activity. However, we sometimes need a break from each other. He wants to see his friends and have boy's night and I want someone to watch the dog so I can get my nails done without feeling guilty for leaving her at home. I'm not telling you to spend all your time apart-but take the time to do the things you enjoy instead of being glued at the hip. You will have more to talk about at the dinner table instead of just staring at your cell phones.
6: Keep conversations positive: I was super guilty of using DH's daily phone calls to whine to him about all the things that had gone wrong, how the house was falling apart and how sad I was. Usually this turned into a fight because DH felt irritated. For me it was a way to get sympathy, but for him it just frustrated him. He was already upset that he couldn't be home and fix the problems. It made him feel guilty and just served to irritate both of us. Do we occasionally have to discuss problems at home (like the sinkhole that developed in our yard over the summer)? Of course! We keep the conversations focused on solutions and how I can fix the problem (with his guidance) and I try not to bring up unnecessary things.
7. Use home time as special time: It's super tempting to dump a list of honey-dos on DH the minute he walks in the door, but that's not what home time is for. When he's only home for a couple of days obviously home chores need to be done, but we try to prioritize what is critical and what can be put off for a few days. We can then use the time to do fun stuff together instead of arguing over the state of the lawn or the condition of the gutters. Sometimes you just have to give in and outsource some of the stuff (like hiring someone to mow the lawn)!
8. Travel when you can: DH and I both LOVE traveling and it's a great bonding experience. We're one of those couples that are amazing at traveling together (unlike the sad sacks in the airport fighting next to the Cinnabon). If you have the time to tag along on a work trip (and it's allowed by company policy) go for it! For me it was eye opening to see how much work DH actually does (his work trips really aren't fun at all). It also lets me get out of the house and we get to spend more time together (Even if it isn't much).
9. Don't let resentment creep in: This one is probably the hardest one! I do get resentful when DH is in Europe and I'm not or when I'm cleaning up dog vomit (I'm pretty sure my dog is bulimic) while he's at a swanky restaurant. It helps to remind myself of all the blessings that his job has afforded us: financial independence, his happiness, the ability for both of us to travel more than we would have if he didn't have the job etc. I also have to remind myself that he really is working-not on vacation-and he is working just as hard as I am (just in a different location).
10. Express your needs: I tend to bottle up things and just expect DH to read my mind and know what I need. When he's been on the road for so long he tends to overlook things that need to be done. It's a lot easier to politely ask him to unload the dishwasher rather than just stewing about it for the whole evening. We had many a fight about how many times I said "I miss you" on the phone before I finally flat out told him that I want to hear him say that he misses me. I know he does, but I just need to hear him say it.

These "rules" took us a long time to learn, but now it's so much easier when he travels. I miss him when he's gone, but I'm not nearly as unhappy as I used to be. Is there anything I've missed? How do you deal with a traveling spouse?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Why My Dog Thinks I'm Stupid

I often think how confusing life must be for my dog. She was plucked from her pack and dropped into a place where everyone spoke another language, the rules were different and she couldn't follow their body language. When they wanted to play they waved toys instead of bowing. There were no wagging tails to help her understand their moods. She lives in a place where she only understands a few words of the language-imagine being on a life long vacation in a totally foreign country.

A lot of times I wonder what she is thinking about different human activities. Sometimes she will look at me with a face that tells me just how strange she really thinks I am. Imagine what watching tv must look like from a dog's perspective-I spend hours staring at a strange box that makes strange noises. I seem to be happy watching the box, but to her it must be very strange.

I leave for 8 hours a day for some place that makes me smell funny (at least according to a dog nose). Twice a day I stand under a stream of water and rub funny smelling stuff all over myself. Sometimes I lay in a tub full of water doing nothing. 

This weekend I headed to my parent's house while DH stayed home to take delivery of some new furniture and do other chores. I have a 4 day weekend and DH has to work so it was the perfect time for a get away. The dog and I left before DH got home from work and she was nuts. She didn't want to get in the car and she spent the first few hours climbing up in my lap and sticking her face in my face (not super helpful when you're driving 75 mph). I finally figured out that she thought I had forgotten DH at home and she was trying to tell me that I had forgotten something. She finally settled down when DH called and I put him on speaker to talk to the dog. When we got to my parent's house she searched all over-apparently looking for him. 

It made me realize how smart she really is and how much she doesn't understand. We can't explain to her that daddy is staying home, but we'll see him on Monday. In her mind everyone should always be together. She is quite convinced that her mommy is just stupid and forgot Daddy at home-and we can't correct that misconception. It made me realize why people always say dogs are starters for children-they share many of the same frustrating characteristics. As a writer I get frustrated when I can't use the tools of my trade to communicate with someone in my life. Even when I was traveling in Europe I could use my knowledge of language (slim as it might be) to detect speech patterns and I could use context clues paired with the few words I knew to pick up on the meaning. I could also read body language to help give me an idea of the direction the conversation was taking. Social norms also help us understand the language of others-when you enter a store and the sales person says something to you you can make the assumption that they are greeting you and offering assistance.

My dog (or a very small child) doesn't have the life experience to figure out what is going on. When I yell at people in traffic (a pretty common occurrence) she jumps up to lick my face and apologize. She can't differentiate my words and realize that I'm not shouting at her, but at the moron going 10 under the speed limit in the fast lane. It's fascinating to realize how much dogs don't understand and that they have a whole language of their own-including body language and social cues. It's fascinating to me to live in such close contact with another species that we can see their society-and it makes me think of aliens (I like to ponder what alien society would be like).

I'm sure there are many reasons my dog (or your dog) thinks I'm (or you) are stupid-what are some of the ones I missed?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Better Living Through Unnecessary Medical Care

I will freely admit that I am a tad bit of a hypochondriac (DH would say I'm just raging insane-but that's open for debate). When I was growing up my mother would never take me to the doctor-for anything. When I was in middle school I fell down the steps chasing our dog and tore a ligament in my knee. I spent the next week participating in gym class and walking all over school before my mother believed me enough to take me to the doctor. She was pretty embarrassed that she had waited so long (hi mom!-I told you I would get revenge-well here it is). To be fair when my mom fell down the stairs a couple of years ago she actually broke her foot (like swollen, bruised and could feel the bone moving) and she never went to the doctor.

My parents were responsible and loving parents (so no calling the cops or anything), but they understood that I was a tad dramatic so they took my I'm dying claims with a grain of salt. DH still hasn't figured out how panicky I am, so he totally feeds into my crazy. Last year I personally spent $4000 on medical bills and spent months in and out of various doctors. At one point I was driving to a podiatrist 3 hours away from my home because I didn't like the responses I got from any podiatrist in my hometown. I had been having a ton of foot pain in a foot I had previously had surgery on and not one doctor believed me that there was something wrong. They all thought that I was gunning for drugs rather than a solution. Until I finally had surgery in college my foot hurt every single day for as almost 10 years-which was dismissed by every single doctor except one. After an MRI and being told that I would just have to live with pain I hightailed it back to that doctor. After months of tests we discovered that I had an auto-immune disease that was probably causing a large part of my pain. Now that it is being treated my pain is getting better (without narcotics thank you very much!). I do know my own body and sometimes I'm really right-but other times the crazy just kind of takes over.

Case in point: Sophomore year of college I woke up with a large lump on my eyelid. There wasn't any pus or any thing so where did my mind immediately jump? I decided I had eye cancer and rushed off to student health accordingly. The doctor seemed to have trouble keeping a straight face as I explained that I had eye cancer and would probably need chemo. This was the same doctor that was tasked with dealing with me previously for swine flu (probably not), severe flu (also not severe, but was given IV fluids just to shut me up) and several other ailments that were deadly at the time.

He took one look at my eye and calmly stated that I had a stye on the underside of my eyelid. He told me to wear my glasses until it popped on its own and to stop sleeping in my contacts. I wasn't convinced and left the doctor in a huff-"How could he be so insensitive to my fears?" I raged at my mother on the phone as I begged her to book me an appointment with the nearest oncologist.  Luckily my mother has had tons of experience talking me down off ledges so she convinced me to wait a week until starting my cancer regime. She also talked me into applying a hot towel to my eye to speed up the process. A few days later the eye cancer was gone and once again my mother was right.

All of this leads back to my emergency room visit I alluded to a few days ago. I woke up on the Sunday before school started with a ton of back pain. For once my crazy didn't really kick in and I laid around in bed on a heating pad all day. Basically I used it as an excuse to get DH to rub my back and to not do any Sunday chores. I didn't call my mom all day (which is super unusual) because I felt so terrible. I knew I had to go to work the next day so I was really hoping I would feel better. DH spent most of the day shoveling snow without realizing how terrible I was feeling. When I finally decided that I should probably be seen by a doctor all the walk in care clinics were closed. Instead of rushing off to the ER I made the smart choice to call the on-call doctor to see if it could wait until the next day-he said we should come in.

When I can actually make smart health care decisions or when I wait to go to the doctor I usually wind up to be actually pretty sick. When I have the time and mental abilities to come up with my crazy scenarios it's usually something that's no big deal. I fully expected that this would actually be something serious-my back was really killing me at this point. I've had some pretty bad injuries and this was worse than anything I've ever experienced. It was right in the area of my kidneys so I totally expected a kidney stone or something like that.

The ER was slow, but I really didn't care until I got back to the room. We got triaged and taken back and then we waited FOREVER for a nurse to show up. Once she had taken vital and a urine sample she swept out and we were left alone for another hour. A PA shows up and explains that they had run some tests and I didn't have an infection-they wanted to order a CT scan to check out my kidneys. She also stated that she would get me some pain medication since at this point I was white as a sheet and writhing around trying to get comfortable (quietly so I didn't make a scene of course). We agreed and she left-it was another hour before the nurse came back to start my IV-and she didn't bring the promised pain medication. She did a great job getting the IV in quickly as I squeezed my eyes shut (I don't have a fear of needles, but I do pass out at the sight of blood-I can handle animal blood just not human blood-yes it's odd). DH asked very politely if she could get us a bandage or a wrap to cover the IV so I didn't have to look at the blood in it and she said she would. I was taken away for my CT scan shortly after that which went well and was over quickly. They used the strange dye that makes you feel like you're peeing yourself.

Just a warning for anyone who has to get the contrast dye-IT REALLY WILL FEEL LIKE YOU'RE PEEING YOURSELF! I was told this multiple times and I didn't really believe them. I was more focused on the fact that they told me it would make me feel warm-I was freezing to death so that sounded like a welcome side effect. The very nice radiologist came and got me from my room to take me for the CT scan. It was super embarrassing to be rolled through the waiting room in my hospital bed while wearing my super revealing hospital gown (that I hadn't let DH tie so he could rub my back). Of course one of my former students was in the waiting room with his family-he seemed to get a good laugh out of it. When we got the room I correctly assumed that I should lie on the table by the machine and went to get up-at the same time the radiologist reached out to help me up and he managed to totally grab my boob!

The poor guy turned bright red and I'm pretty sure he expected a screaming fit and a lawsuit. He seemed a bit taken aback when I made a VERY terrible joke (that I won't repeat) and started laughing. He apologized about a million times, but it wasn't that big of deal. When he injected the dye I was still giggling inwardly and then all of the sudden I was peeing myself. I shared this with the radiologist and he assured me that I wasn't. By this point crazy anxiety brain had taken over and I was convinced that I did pee myself.

Once we were done he rolled me back to my room and I still felt a little funny from the dye. The first words out of my mouth when I rejoined DH? "The radiologist grabbed my boob-can you check and see if I peed myself?" DH is actually a good sport (and a GREAT husband) because he checked and confirmed that I hadn't made a huge mess and he cracked up at the story. It took another few hours, but I finally got my pain medicine (3 hours after I was told I would get it and 30 minutes before we were allowed to leave).

So what was wrong? I was having an allergic reaction to a new medicine that I had started taking for my autoimmune disease. The shot of morphine they gave me before discharging me made me totally drunk, but didn't touch the back pain. It wasn't until I had skipped 2 doses of the medicine before the pain started to go away-no matter how many muscle relaxers and pain pills I took.

My lesson from all of this is a surprising one-my mother was RIGHT. It feels like every time I go to the doctor for one thing the medicine or the procedure causes another thing. Medical care is like the Domino theory except with ER visits instead of Communist Governments. My mom has a theory that if you never go to the doctor you never get sick. I think all my illnesses have come about from exposing myself to germs and medical care. My goal for 2015 is to avoid as much medical care as possible since if I get any sicker I'll probably die and that would be unfortunate. Is there a name for a hypochondriac that avoids medical care (besides lunatic)?

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Capital Idea

DH and I made a resolution to attempt to eat healthier in 2015. Neither of us are overweight, but our diet is more suitable for a broke, college student. Actually our diet is worse than when we were actually in college because at least in school we had meal plans. When we didn't feel like cooking it was pretty easy to walk to the nearest on campus restaurant for a quick meal-my college was really pushing healthy eating when we were there so our options were usually moderately healthy. Both DH and I are pretty decent cooks, but I hate doing it. After working 8-9 hours the LAST thing I feel like doing is standing in the kitchen. DH just doesn't have the skills to plan ahead so we actually have food in the house so he usually gets stuck trying to make dinner out of stale cereal and lunch meat.

When we lived in our old house (that was actually in a real town with restaurants and everything) we ate better (since there were restaurants). When we moved to the boonies we were comforted by the fact that our town had one restaurant. A week after we signed the contract on our house it burned down and we were out of dinner options. I discovered that I'm pretty awesome with a slow cooker and we did okay.

I've been having some stupid health issues lately and healthy eating is something that actually might help with that. I saw on Pinterest a recipe for making a whole roasted chicken and veggies in the slow cooker (Link: and I decided to give it a whirl. DH and I had great success making a turkey in November, so I figured chicken would be just as easy. I changed the recipe since I didn't have half the ingredients (a pretty typical thing in my house) and made a lemon pepper chicken type thing (with Kalamata olives since that seemed to go well).

All went well with the actual cooking of it until it was time to carve it. Carving things is DH's job since I tend to slice my finger along with the actual meat and he doesn't really like eating pieces of his wife's fingers mixed in with his dinner. I curled up on the couch while he happily wielded the big knife and ensured that his carving technique was perfect (and that when we finally ate dinner an hour later the chicken would be ice cold).  The dog begged for scraps (and was rewarded with a whole bowl of chicken juice that she would later puke up all over the living room) and DH and I continued our conversation.

We were thoughtfully discussing terrorism and the attacks on Paris and our thoughts on gun control. Our conversation was smart and thoughtful. We both have genius level IQ's (even though it may not seem like it sometimes) and we are both well-read so our conversations tend to lean toward the intellectual. We are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but we can have polite debates (at least most of the time). Keep all this in mind while I tell you what happened next.

I was delivering one of my monologues (this happens pretty frequently) on some obscure piece of French history (I believe I was discussing the Revolution) when DH interrupted me. In my book interrupting me during anything is a cardinal sin and DH knows this very well. His incredibly important idea? "I wonder if any company sells wishbones?" When I shot him a look that meant shut up and let me talk he interpreted it as tell me more (he's not very adept at reading facial expressions). He continued with "Think about it-they could make so much money especially if they already sell chicken since it doesn't cost them anything. They could probably make $2.00 if they sold them on Amazon. It's pure profit". He has since decided that we are starting a chicken wishbone business, so if anyone is interested contact DH for all your needs (wishbone related)!

My takeaway from all this-while DH is a genius his mind works in an incredibly strange way. He also listened when I spent an hour discussing digitalis poisoning and stabbing people with icicles, so I have to tolerate his brand of crazy. True love=tolerating the other person's baseline level of crazy.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

What was I thinking?

DH left today on a boy's weekend trip. Since the weekend was going to consist of looking at farm equipment I wisely made the decision to stay home with the dog. This choice also makes me look good so I can leave town next weekend without guilt-he really owes me one!

I had planned a relaxing spa day today and I was going to do absolutely nothing! Unfortunately my type-A took over and I spend about 5 hours stripping our house of Christmas decorations. It felt good to have it done (even though DH weaseled out of helping again-I'm pretty sure he does this intentionally).

My spa day was wonderful-at least until the masseuse burned me with a hot towel-I still have a nice burn mark on my shoulder.  I left totally relaxed-except for the slight burn. However, I've developed quite a high tolerance for pain and injury since I seem to do some sort of deadly injury to myself about once a week, so no harm done.

After I got home and had dinner (and took a shower to rinse off all the sticky oil) I jumped right into my next project. Over Christmas I went on the hunt to buy a new iPod since my 8 year old iPod Touch had finally died (probably because I left it in my car for two years). As I was trolling eBay I discovered that the iPod classic came in a 160 gb version and I was sold. I had already loaded all my music on it (all 15 gigs of it) so I decided to finally begin the task of digitizing my CD collection.

I've discovered that between 1998 and 2009 I fell into some sort of strange vacumn where my usually impeccable taste abandoned me. The first two CD's were JaRule and Nelly-I was a white girl from the suburbs why on earth did I think I was cool? After listening to a few of the songs again I realized that I TOTALLY get why parents get so upset about their kids listening to this type of music. All the stuff I didn't understand in the 8th grade I get now. I'm quite glad I didn't take life advice from this music or I would be a VERY different person. I remember thinking I was a gangster back in the day-now I look back on my middle school self and think about building a time machine so I can punch her in the face. I want to tell her "In no way did you look cool strutting by the lifeguard station blasting a song about a drive-by shooting in your one piece TYR swimsuit-you looked like a complete and total idiot. No one thought you were a gangster-they thought you were mentally insane".

Does this mean I'm actually grown up now? (Oh wait-I'm still enjoying my collection of gangsta rap....along with some Conway Twitty thrown in-now people just think I'm insane)

How to Impress your Boss

It's been freezing cold here for the past few days. I'm a Southern girl and Southern blood runs through my veins-any temperature under 60 is entirely too cold for me. I live in a permanent state of freezing and DH complains about my habit of cranking the thermostat up to 80 and sitting on the couch under an electric blanket on high. He's accused me of being a reptile more than once in our relationship, which should offend me, but I'm pretty sure it's true. Last summer during a 100 degree heatwave I spent a week with the air conditioning off-DH was quite pleased when he returned from a business trip to a house that felt like a wood-fired pizza oven (those are trendy now right?)

When the single digit weather hit this week all thoughts of dressing for cuteness went out the window-I was dressing purely for function. This meant jeans and thick sweaters-which worked great until I ran out of clean jeans on Wednesday. Unless sweatpants are suddenly considered appropriate work wear I was stuck wearing a dress to work. I attempted to make it warmer with tights and a layered sweater, but the minute I opened the back door I realized I would freeze on my way to the car.

The only practical solution was to layer fleece pajama pants over my dress, wrap a scarf around my head and brave the 20 foot walk to the detached garage (and of course the 10 minutes before my heated seats warmed up). I was quite proud of my innovative fashion sense as I strolled across the icy parking lot into school-my co-workers were shivering and I was toasty warm.

I stepped into the nicely heated building and ran directly into my principal-of course he was nattily attired in a sweater and dress pants. He gave my outfit a once over and I realized how ridiculous I looked. Imagine this: black J. Crew ski cap, black and red Target gloves with a tear in the finger and a strange red pattern along the hand, mint green Colombia jacket (that I've owned since I was in 8th grade) with a few chew marks at the bottom where the dog got her teeth in it and dirt marks from where I fell in the back yard playing with dog. Added to this stylish ensemble were my fuzzy blue pajama pants adorned with jumping and leaping sheep and black riding boots over them. The principal's expression conveyed that he was extremely impressed with my fashion choices (or thought I was slowly losing my mind). He was so impressed he didn't even say anything to me! I'm pretty sure this will reflect positively on me at my next performance review.

Of course when I got to my classroom I slipped off the outerwear that was concealing my work appropriate outfit-and I didn't see my boss the whole day. I'm pretty sure he thought I spent the whole day teaching in my pajamas (which sounds like a fine idea). Guess this is the price you pay for warmth.

Friday, January 9, 2015

An open letter to my dog's former owner

Almost two years ago you made a choice-you made the choice to take the puppy you had owned for 4 whole months to the animal shelter and leave her there. I don't know what prompted the choice you made and your reasoning behind the decision. Maybe you felt that you were making the right choice and the best choice-and in a way you were. The dog you dumped was lucky-she found a home, a good, loving home unlike so many other dogs who end up in shelters. In a way I should be thanking you because if you hadn't made the choice you did I wouldn't have found my soulmate and my best friend.

According to the paperwork you filled out (which you allowed to be shared with me) you are a single mom with three kids. You already owned 2 dogs when you brought mine home-the timing tells me she was probably an ill thought out Christmas present. I imagine your life is pretty busy-what made you think you had time raise another living being on top of the five you were already raising? I struggle to raise just a dog at times-I can't imagine having your life.

We know she was mistreated and we know she's hand shy. We also know that one of the worst forms of mistreatment is the neglect you heaped on her. Puppies are A LOT of work-in order for them to grow up to be well behaved dogs they must be trained, socialized, taken to vet and they take time and money. She wasn't socialized and that led to anxiety about new situations and people. She wasn't taken to the vet. No wonder you had problems with her.

When you dumped her you stated that there was nothing that could happen that would make you want to keep the dog. You said she had accidents on the floor, ran away sometimes (so you tied her up outside) and chewed on things. Might I point out that she was a 6 month old puppy? 6 month old puppies tend to chew on thing (to relieve teething pain or to relieve boredom), they have small bladders and they physically can't hold it-they must be taught and trained. To a dog the rug is a perfectly appropriate place to go to the bathroom until they are taught differently. A dog that is bored and allowed outside with no restraint will run away (trust me I learned that through experience). You stated that she threw up in the car-when your only experience with the car is scary situations (like leaving your mom or going to the animal shelter) you would probably throw up to. Puppies tend to get sick just like kids-the sensation of being in a car is a new one and they have to get used to it. Essentially you didn't have time for her and when the problems became too great you left her. After all she's just a dog and you can always find another free dog on Craigslist. You took a chance that because she was young and cute she would get a home and you did happen to be right.

You got rid of your problem and I have spent the past 2 years working to fix the problems YOU created. I won't let you duck responsibility for your actions-YOU made these problems and YOU left a mess for someone else to clean up.

When she came to us she was 15 pounds underweight. The first thing I did was take her to the vet to update any vaccines she needed and get her checked out. Once she finally had a reliable source of food she started to gain the weight again. I spent months working on finishing her potty training and working with her accidents. I bought more Nature's Miracle and paper towels than I care to admit. When she was left alone she chewed on our door frames, walls, shoes and anything else she could get her teeth into. Once again I paid the vet bill to find out this was not normal puppy chewing-this was separation anxiety. Experts think that separation anxiety is partially genetic so you're off the hook for that one, but I'm not sure that the environment she was living in helped her to feel secure. I paid for the medicine and spent months working on a desensitizing program. We worked our way up to now-she can stay alone for 8-9 hours with no anti-anxiety medicine. It took us almost 2 years to get to this point-in the beginning it was only 30 seconds. We realized her accidents that you so bitterly complained about were a symptom of her disease rather than willful defiance. She was just so utterly thrilled that we returned that she just couldn't contain herself any longer. As her anxiety decreased (and she grew up and gained bladder control) her accidents became less and less. Now they are pretty much a distant memory-all it took was time and patience.

When she got sick from eating drywall it was me who paid the expensive vet bill. Sacrifices were made that month in order to pay it, but it was paid and she got better. It was me who took 2 days off work, 2 days I really didn't have time to take, to take care of her. I was the one who woke up every two hours to give her the medicine she needed. I was the one who cleaned up after her when she lost control of her bowels in the middle of the night. She still got hugs and kisses even though she had made a mess.

I spent months unable to go on a date with my husband or even go grocery shopping without coming home to destruction. We gave up our social life and did the errands in shifts so she wouldn't have to be alone unless it was absolutely necessary. Our times away from the house consisted of work (where I worried about her all day), obedience class and drives around the block to get her used to the car.

We put in the time with her and we have been richly rewarded. She's funny, silly, messy, smart and loyal. She is my best friend and without her a little piece of my heart would be missing. When DH travels I no longer come home to a cold, empty house. I come home to endless unconditional love and a dog who loves to snuggle. When it's 8 degrees outside I have a foot warmer and she never has to worry about spending a night alone in the cold. She loves rides in the car now and I don't think I've been on more random country drives in my life. It makes her happy to watch the scenery and smell the smells. I can go to work, go on a date and travel again-but when I leave her I feel like there is something missing.

Essentially I have what everyone wants when they adopt a dog-a best friend. I assume that is probably what you wanted when you answered that internet ad. If you had been willing to put in the time and energy that is what you would have received, instead you gave up. The dog you gave up is not going to give her love away for free-she has to trust you and you have to show her that you are worthy for her to love you. You didn't take the time to build that bond and you were the one who lost out on one of the best dogs I've ever met.

I think about you a lot and I wonder if I could ever make the decision that you made. I envision scenarios where DH and I are broke and living out of our car. I envision DH and I dying. Somehow in every worst case scenario I can come up with I can't come up with one that would require us to put her back into a shelter. If we're alive we will find a way to care for her-if I gave her up it would be like giving up a piece of me and I couldn't do that to her. If we die we've made arrangements for her to be cared for. There is no way she will ever find herself in another bad situation. I think a lot about the day that she passes away-I know it will come and it devastates me to think about it. However, I know when she does take her last breath we will be there with her. To the very end she will know she was loved and when that day does come it will break my heart. However, I will be able to take comfort in the fact that she will have had a good life and we will have done the best we can for her.

In a way I'm happy you made the decision that you made because you gave me the piece of me I didn't know was missing. Yet I can't help but to be angry with you for giving up on her and for not seeing the dog I see. I mourn for your children who had to experience that loss and the fact that they have now learned that animals are disposable and when you get in over your head it's okay to pass that problem off to someone else. I'm angry that we don't have laws in place that would prevent you from ever owning another animal-from creating the same problems again and again. I can only hope that you learned something from your experience and that the other animals left in your care are being treated better than mine was. I have to thank you for giving me the best gift I've ever received, but I realize I'm the one who did the work. I earned her love and respect-something you never could do.

She's happy and loved now-and for that you should be thankful. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Suburbanite Version of Crack

As a stuffy, uptight person (and responsible grown-up) I can safely say that I don't consume drugs-except for the fun suburbanite version. No, I'm not talking about the ever so prevalent Ambien and Xanax (my dog needs the Xanax more than I do)-I'm talking about the siren song of overpriced pet products.

I tend to hit Petco and our local pet boutique like most people hit the grocery store. Apparently I eat less than other people, but my dog has more junk. Tuesday I stopped off at Petco to stock up on a few more cheap rawhides on the after Christmas sale. While I was perusing the options I came to the brilliant conclusion that I should do my Christmas shopping for next year and save some money! I danced around the clearance section delighted with the prospect of saving some cash. $150.00 later I was a lot less smug and the sizable cargo area of my SUV was full. Since I was at Petco I did earn 5% back and combined with my other ridiculous purchases of late I had 2 five dollar off coupons today! 

Last night was our first Canine Good Citizen class (the first step in earning my dog her therapy dog certification)-this marks the third obedience class we've taken (which means we've spent over $300.00 to train our dog). The problem isn't that my dog is stupid or that we don't put in the work-I work with her on her skills daily and she's smart as a whip (which is such a stupid expression). In fact she's often too smart for her own good. She knows EXACTLY what she is supposed to be doing-she just doesn't feel like doing it. When she's on her game she is the perfect dog. Trainer #1 (who honestly wasn't very good at his job-just goes to show that you shouldn't pick the dog training place that advertises on the gas station billboard) was convinced that there was some food product that would distract my dog from pulling on her leash and attacking every small, furry animal in a 20 block radius of our walking route.

We tried every high value treat in the book and nothing could beat the feeling you get from chasing a squirrel at 60 miles an hour down the road (bonus points are awarded if your mama is bouncing along the other end of the leash like a rubber ball shouting!). Last summer I was trapped in an orthopedic boot when the dog decided to run away from home. I was wearing a bathrobe and walking with a particularly snazzy cane (it glowed in the dark!)  I let her out in the unfenced portion of the yard for just a few minutes and she of course took off after a rabbit. She careened across the street and cornered the rabbit in the neighbor's flowerbed (which has more odd concrete lawn statues than flowers) and proceeded to knock over several of their decorations and bark her furry little head off (she doesn't want to actually eat the bunny-she just wants to be its friend-and chase it). I came running after her waving my cane with one hand and a handful of tasty roast beef in my other-she ignored me as I limped after her and continued to bark at the bunny. At this point the neighbors came outside-I would be remiss if I didn't mention that we had lived in our house for a year and half at this point and never actually spoken to our neighbors (What? I'm just not very social) so this was our first introduction. The roast beef didn't work to lure her from under the bushes while trying to make social chit chat (more like what the heck are you doing chit chat) so I resorted to physically pulling her out and carrying all 60 pounds of her back across the street. Once we got inside she morphed right back into her alter ego (Perfect Dog) and gobbled up the roast beef.

In preparation for class last night I has purchased a bag of expensive fancy wheat and corn free treats that smelled like a rotting deer carcass. After the intro and general housekeeping stuff (which I missed half of because I was busy trying to shush my dog, keep her in a sitting position, keep her from attempting to befriend the other dogs and shoot DH dirty looks for not helping all at one time) it was time for a demonstration of our leash skills. DH took the reins, as they were, for this one (since I prefer to experience my humiliation from the safety of my metal folding chair). As they demonstrated Massey demonstrated her complete lack of willingness to NOT choke herself in a quest to smell the other dogs until the trainer handed DH a handful of doggy crack (aka fancy treats). One sniff of those treats and she morphed right back into Perfect Dog. For the rest of class she turned up her snout at my treats and behaved perfectly for the fancy treats. We asked what brand they were and I was tasked with going to the store today to purchase them. We (meaning I) also decided we needed a fancy treat pouch so we could match all the other people in our class. DH didn't understand why we couldn't just use a cheap fanny pack, but a. I'm not sure that they still make fanny packs and b. I must have the fancy matching one so I fit in and make friends! 

Off I went to Petco, which was blissfully empty and quickly found the doggy crack and treat pouch. I should have been in and out in less than 10 minutes and my total should have been $40.00 (ridiculous for 2 items, but that's what happens when you adopt a dog). An hour (and $100.00) later I wandered out in a daze and filled up the cargo area again with toys, treats and a fun calendar for me (50% off!). That's when I realized that I spend more on my dog than I do on myself and she will be munching on $20.00 a tube dog food while I suck down Campbell's soup straight from the can. I think I can safely say that dog products are my crack-and oddly enough I'm okay with that

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Heigh ho, heigh ho back to school we go

Yesterday was the first day back with my 8th graders after a 19 day break! I was happy to be back with them, but dang was it hard getting back into the routine. I love the fact that teaching allows me the freedom that I want for my life since I do have these long breaks-but I love getting back to the structure of my classroom and having a routine for my day.

One stumbling block in my plan to finding a career that would allow me to stay home is the fact that I'm HORRIBLE without my routine. I made myself a 2 page list of things to accomplish over break and completed just a few of them. I can always find things to distract myself from the drudgery of work (like snuggling with DH or the cute puppy). Spending time with my family trumps every other thing in my life.

It was nice to be back to work, but oh how I haven't missed those 6:00 am wake-up calls! I'm definitely NOT a morning person-as evidenced by the fact that DH usually spends 20 minutes trying to get me out of bed in the morning! Yesterday was even tougher as I had spent Sunday night in the emergency room and I was still struggling through the effects of a morphine shot and a significant sleep deficit. (Nothing to be concerned about-just a small little thing that I will be discussing in more detail later). I made it through the day (just barely) and was so relieved when I finally got home.

Usually the first day back is tough for the kiddos as well-they are amped up to see their friends and SO not in the mood for schoolwork. I have pretty awesome classroom management skills so I don't usually deal with major problems, but we still have more than usual on days before and after break. Yesterday I explained to my kids that I wasn't feeling well and asked them for awesome sauce behavior and they ALL complied! It was awesome that they were compassionate and gave me what I needed to not go crazy. That's one reason why I LOVE teaching middle school-underneath all that kid behavior you start to get glimpses of the adults they are becoming (sometimes that's not a good thing).

Today I'm feeling much better and I've accomplished more today than I did over all of break! :) I even managed to get a massage and facial scheduled for myself on Saturday to give myself a mini-break! Many many doctors over the past 8 months have told me that I need to destress and try to find ways to relax. I will admit that I'm terrible at relaxing-I have a type-A personality for crying out loud! Relaxing is not in my vocabulary! DH is a total type-B and is probably the most laid back person I've ever met. He rarely yells at other drivers while I spend my 25 minute commute shouting at everyone else (I'm not really yelling-rather I'm providing corrections for their behavior). DH also doesn't panic if the suitcases aren't unpacked the minute we get home from a trip (he has a tendency to leave his packed suitcase in the middle of the living room floor for 2 weeks), but he does freak out over dishes in the sink. Honestly if I relaxed we would live in further squalor and disaster than we usually do since neither of us would be getting done-who would panic over the finances, the dog's vaccinations, her diet, the grocery shopping and the million and one things that need to get done. After the ER scare on Sunday I'm making a concerted effort to relax more and one way of doing that is to spend 75.00 on a spa day-I have a feeling that won't make me relax any more than burning it in the yard would but I'm giving it a shot.

I will say I feel a heck of a lot more relaxed now that I'm back at work and structured. I even got a ton of Christmas shopping done over my plan period today :)  

Monday, January 5, 2015

The stuff that Amazon sends me

I'm a savvy Amazon shopper (well I just buy tons of things and sign over half my paycheck to them every month). I exercise the buy with one click option way way too much-somehow I have to get the value from my Prime membership. Anything that allows me to shop from my couch is a win in my book! Today I decided to order a new cd from Buckcherry and shortly after the confirmation email popped up in my inbox and it was too funny not to share!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Cops is for Singles

While we were at my parent's house DH and I binged on cable television. We don't have cable-it seemed like every month the bill increased and we didn't really watch tv too much. We have an antenna for our tv, Netflix and Amazon Prime-plus I buy tons of movies and tv seasons so we're covered on the entertainment front. The only show we couldn't live without was Pretty Little Liars (we can't wait a year to find out who A is-or what A has been up to!), but we're able to buy the season pass from Amazon and see the episode the day after it airs! 

We've been without cable for two years and most of the time we don't miss it. It's a special treat when we visit the homesteads so we binge watch. We spent a whole day watching Moonshiners and I caught up on several hours of Storage Wars. After my parents went to bed DH and I would stay up and watch Cops (we lead an exciting life-right? This is why I suck at blogging). As we watched we noticed something interesting-the commercials seemed to be targeted at a certain demographic.

Each commercial break had several commercial for various dating sites (match, Farmers Only and a few others too inappropriate to post publicly). The other commercials that aired were distinctly male (ads for tools, sports stuff etc). This got DH and I talking-is it only single males that watch Cops? How do the advertisers figure out who watches what? 

Single women are targeted by shows like Say Yes to the Dress (or as I call it "the I'm putting myself into debt for a stupid dress" show), Bridezillas and if you're under 18 Teen Mom. Single men are apparently interested in Cops-why don't they have shows that are wedding themed (like Groomzillas or Say Yes to the Tux)?

My advice for single ladies? Switch off TLC and watch a few episodes of Cops. When a guy at the coolest singles hotspot (Wal-Mart, a bar, some other place I'm not cool enough to know about) decides to chat you up bring up the newest episode of Cops! It's a sure fire strategy! Apparently you don't have to check for the tell-tale tan line on the left ring finger-just ask about Cops. If they are single they'll know all about it-and if they're married they won't. 

I took a highly unscientific poll of all the single guys I know (about 15 of them) and all of them expressed a love for Cops so apparently the advertisers are right. So single ladies, develop a taste in Cops and go strut your stuff! 

Happy New Year!!

Well, we survived the drive home and made it safely into 2015. Now I get to spend the next 4 months writing the wrong date on my checks, forms and on the whiteboard every day (inevitably one of my 8th graders will point it out and my kiddos will mercilessly make fun of me....until they right the wrong year on an assignment).

Yesterday we left my parents' house about 1:00 in the afternoon-it was so tough to leave. Every visit, no matter how long it is, seems too short. When I visit them I have so much fun and it makes me realize how much I want them to live closer. My awesome dad spent about an hour loading up the SUV with 2 weeks worth of stuff-somehow he managed to fit everything in. I was pretty sure we would have to leave something behind, or tie the dog to the roof, but he managed to fit it all in. We couldn't see out of the rear view mirror, but who needs that anyways. 

The ride home took about an hour longer than it was supposed to. This is all because DH was driving. When I drive I follow the GPS and take the shortest route possible-I don't want to spend any more time than necessary in the car. DH, on the other hand, likes to take a new route each time and see new things (even if it's longer). He has no problem stopping at a gas station 3 miles off the interstate, whereas I try to stop only when my bladder is about to explode and only at a gas station right off the interstate. I run in and out without browsing and get back on the road. 

DH also tends to get distracted when driving; fun signs, interesting machinery, other vehicles etc are all apt to catch his attention. This tend to cause issues-such as missing our exit in Kansas City and driving an extra 25 minutes. 

We finally made it home and unloaded all the stuff. For the amount of stuff we had shoved into the car it only took us 2 hours to get it all unpacked and put away! 😃 We chowed down on a Tarte d'Alsace from Trader Joe's and watched some of the New Year's show in Miami (since we couldn't find the New York one on antenna vision) while sorting through all our mail. We finally got to see all the Christmas cards people sent us-I was surprised that we didn't get any letters this year only cards. It made me wonder if letters were passé (I sent one this year along with a cute photo card from Shutterfly-it was my first year sending Christmas cards so maybe I'm not up to date on the etiquette). DH went to bed shortly after midnight, and I stayed up until 2:30 reading.

We kept New Year's Day pretty relaxed-we both slept in and we let the dog sleep in bed with us last night (a rare treat for her when DH is home-standard when he isn't) so we had some family cuddle time. After we got up and around we headed to town to do our grocery shopping and to make a stop at Petco. After Christmas Petco puts their Christmas packaged toys and treats on sale for 50% off which means it's a great time to stock up for the year. My puppy LOVES rawhides-she gets a big rawhide once a month or so and she makes it last until she gets a new one. Raw hides are ridiculously expensive (10-15 bucks EACH) so we would be spending 100-180 bucks a year just to satisfy her need to chew. Rawhides are the only thing that she doesn't eat through in a day and she has so much fun carrying them around, burying them in one of her many hiding spots around the house and chewing on them. Plus, if she's chewing on a rawhide she's not chewing on my walls so that's a plus. Petco puts the Christmas rawhides for 50% off just because they are red and green, have holiday packaging or have cute bows. I'm pretty sure the dog doesn't care if her bones aren't seasonally appropriate so I buy a year's supply during the after Christmas sale and dole them out throughout the year.

We picked up 13 large rawhides and a package of treats for 53.00! Plus, the dog had fun on her outing to Petco (and she actually behaved on her leash! Score!). After grocery shopping we ran up to school to drop some stuff off and do some work in my classroom-DH got enlisted to do some heavy lifting and carry some boxes of books up to my 4th floor classroom! We grabbed some Taco Bell for a late lunch to celebrate our anniversary. It's really not as white trash as it sounds, when DH proposed in the middle of a massive New Year's party he handed me a Taco Bell sauce packet that said "Will you Marry me?" (Wait is that white trash?). Now it's tradition and a special reminder of that night!

We came home and did some work around the house which included cleaning the oven (and I managed not to set off the smoke alarm! Winning!). One of our friends came over in the evening for a dinner of cornbread muffins and black eyed peas and ham (according to DH if you don't eat black eyed peas on New Year's you will have bad luck). We all played Monopoly and watched some Big Bang Theory. I won at Monopoly for the first time in my life (well technically our friend and I decided that we tied)! We haven't seen this friend (he's my husband's best friend, best man in our wedding and a close friend of mine too-we usually see each other a couple of times a week) in about a month so it was awesome to get to catch up!

It was an awesome and relaxing day-just what we needed after a CRAZY two weeks. I realized I'm old when I enjoy a day at home more than any crazy party! How did you celebrate New Year's?