Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Stormy!

Well, today is January 31st, and this marks my 31st blog post... which means that SO FAR I have upheld my New Year's Resolution of writing in my blog every single day. We'll see if I can keep it up, but I'm enjoying it so far! :)

Now for the fun part of my post... SOMETIME in January was Stormy's birthday! She turned five! Unlike Gilligan's birthday (April 17th, 2007), I do not know the exact date of Stormy's birth, just that it was in January of 2007. She is Gilligan's big sister in age, but she will always be his little sister at heart. She's a tiny little thing, and I got her about four months after I got Gilligan. They are best buddies, and they love the run, play, and wreak general havoc in my apartment.

When I first went to Wayside Waifs to find another kitten for Gilligan, I decided to let a cat choose me. I walked around, talking to the workers, seeing if they had any opinions since I had a little baby kitten at home already. I quickly decided that I wanted a female because I didn't want two males competing over anything. I went inside a little room with a litter of kittens playing inside. I sat down on a bench, and Stormy (who was then named Samantha) jumped up onto my lap and started purring like I had never heard (and haven't since then, ironically). She wouldn't leave my lap, and I instantly knew it was her. She was the chosen one. I filled out all the paperwork and promised I'd be back in a few days to pick her up.

I swung by and got her on my way to my grandma's house for Thanksgiving break that year since that's where Gilligan stayed on all school breaks. I took her to the vet immediately because I worked at an animal hospital. I wanted to make sure she was okay and clear of everything before taking her back to Gilligan. She was fine, so onward we went! Gilligan saw Stormy and instantly saw a playmate. Stormy saw Gilligan and instantly saw a rival. They hissed at each other for about an hour, and my grandma and I were pretty nervous. I was wondering what I had done. Then, before even bedtime that night (maybe four hours later), we found the two curled up, snuggling and sleeping together in the same tiny cat bed, even though there were two separate ones for them. Sure, they fight occasionally like all siblings, but they are best buds. Stormy is an interesting character, and everyone who meets her remembers her.

When she first met Dan, she was sitting on his lap, and he was petting her. He stopped (for unknown reasons), and she let him know she meant business by biting all the way through the top of his hand! We weren't even dating at that point, so it's a miracle he ever came back. Now everyone refers to Stormy as Dan's cat. She LOVES him and follows him around everywhere on the weekends. She looks for him throughout the week when he's not here. And when he left for USAFA Basic Training in the summer of 2010, she was SO upset. She couldn't believe that we left the apartment together, yet I came home alone.  Luckily, he had left a pair of his ABUs on the couch, and Stormy curled up on them and moped for 24 full hours. She missed him more than I did!

Anyway, that's enough stories for now. I don't want to sound TOO crazy. You didn't think I was going to end this post before posting pictures, though, did you? Of course not! Here's my baby!

Well, that's enough pictures of my baby, but isn't she ADORABLE? See you in February! :)


Monday, January 30, 2012

Our First Wedding Contest

This evening, I entered Dan and I into a contest to win a $4,500 honeymoon to any of the Sandals resorts in the Caribbean of our choice. It's a long shot, I know, but the entry form required a picture and a small essay (no more than 250 words), and I enjoy writing, so I wrote the essay and snuck in a picture of us with Dan in uniform.

The contest was to make a "Bliss List", which is a list of things the couple wants to do together when they are married. This is our official entry. Yes, I realize some of it is worded semi-awkwardly, but that's because I had a REALLY tough time narrowing it down to 250 words. When I finished, I had 302 words, and that was after taking a conscientious effort to not exceed 250. Oops.

Here it is, along with the photograph we entered. The title is "A Military Love" -- hope that attracts people to it.

Dan and Janelle met in 2008, began dating in 2009, got engaged in 2011, and will be married in 2014. Dan is in the Air Force; Janelle is a teacher.

We cannot wait to be able to live together and see each other on a daily basis. The military makes that difficult for us, but once we’re married, we will be able to be a normal couple again after five years.

We cannot wait to travel the world together. We will be able to live in many different states and countries, and we’re ecstatic about that! We also want to travel on our own and enjoy taking in the world as a couple.

Before starting a family, we really want to run a marathon together. Before our wedding, we are running a half marathon, but it has been a major goal for both of us to complete a full marathon, and we will do that once we’re married!

We eventually want to start a family. Our ideal family would consist of two children to go along with the two cats we have now (and the dog we will get after we’re married). We can’t wait to raise them with love and respect.
Once we are more settled in our careers and are able to afford it, we want to buy an airplane so that we can fly our family on vacations and back home to see our families. Being able to do that is what we’re ultimately working toward. 

That is the picture I submitted with our entry. The judges will be voting in early March, and the finalists will have the chance to be voted on by others on Facebook in mid-March. I know it's a long shot, but I enjoyed submitting the entry, and here's to hoping! :)

To view the official entry, go here: ( Our Official Bliss List Entry ). I'm not sure if extra views will help us out at all at this point, but it can't hurt. 


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Review: Bumped

I finished my third book of 2012 last Monday. I know I should have written my book review the next day, but I had other topics to discuss, so late is better than never, right?

The book I finished is called Bumped, and it was written by Megan McCafferty. Many of you may know here for Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, Fourth Comings, and Perfect Fifths, which I read during college.

This book appealed to me because it seemed unlike any other novel I had ever read. It is about twin sisters in a dystopian future America. (Are you seeing a trend in the books I've been reading lately? Me too, but don't worry -- the book I'm reading now is a Nicholas Sparks novel). There names are Melody and Harmony (which REALLY bothered me at first). Melody lives in "Otherside", the area of the nation known for teenage girls selling their bodies and becoming pregnant by "bumping" with men whose sperm has been deemed worthy. Harmony lives in "Goodside", the part of the nation that is ultra religious and raises their females to be good wives and mothers. They get engaged and marry around 13 but mock people in "Otherside" for having babies for other couples. The reason teenage girls in "Otherside" bump, become pregnant, and sell the babies is because there is a virus that causes everyone over the age of 18 to become infertile. They literally cannot conceive anymore. (Yes, the plot IS as complicated as I am making it out to be). The girls are twins who were adopted individually at birth, and they find each other when they are 16. Harmony travels to "Otherside" to visit Melody, whose parents are out of town. After a giant mix up that Melody's best friend Zen is also involved in, the twins find themselves in an unlikely situation where they need to figure things out quickly. This book was SUPER CONFUSING, especially at the beginning. McCafferty made up an entire new language, it seems, and it took a long time to get used to. I would still recommend this book to people who enjoy dystopias or McCafferty's other works.

Because I cannot even begin to capture the entire plot of this novel, here is what McCafferty herself has to say about Bumped:

WHEN A VIRUS makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents must pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.
Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they search for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.
Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.
When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.
From New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty comes a strikingly original look at friendship, love, and sisterhood—in a future that is eerily believable.

All in all, Bumped was a fun, quick read, but it was not nearly as good as I'd hoped. I will, however, be reading the sequel Thumped when it comes out in April. Even if I didn't enjoy a story as much as I'd assumed, I always need to finish the series anyway.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

USAFA Flying Team Wings Ceremony

Yesterday afternoon, I snuck out of an after-school meeting just a few minutes early so I could head up to the Air Force Academy. There was an event I didn't want to miss! Dan's Flying Team had their Wings Ceremony last night, and I wanted to be there to see him find out his call sign, the name he will go by while flying. All of the three degrees found out their names last night. Everyone else on the team know everyone's but their own, so it was pretty humorous. 

I had a wonderful time at the ceremony and at the "bar" afterward. There is a small bar area inside the flying squadron at the airfield on base, so there were a couple kegs and a catered meal (appetizers and whatnot. After the ceremony, Dan (along with all of the other three degree cadets) had to eat two of the spiciest, hottest buffalo wings to be "initiated" in... and we all know Dan SUCKS with heat, so it was really amusing to watch. Look for the pictures at the end of this post. 

After everything on base, we headed to Dan's Flying Team Captain's house (not team captain... Air Force Captain)... for an AFTER party that was quite fun. They took the unfinished kegs over there for the 21+ crowd, and it was a lot of fun hanging out, playing Wii, and playing with his kids. We stayed for quite a while but were still home before 12:30... so much for college parties! haha! 

Anyway, Dan's call sign is.......... Tracy. Yes, it sounds boring and weird, but there were three guys named Dan on the team last year when Dan made it in, so they decided to call him "Dick" instead, since his real first name is Richard. During voting on names, however, they decided they couldn't really make "Dick" be his call sign because that is what he expected it to be... so they went with Tracy... as in Dick Tracy. Weird, I know, but it's kind of humorous.

Alrighty, here are the pictures I promised.

Hope you enjoyed! It was a lot of fun! :)

Until tomorrow,


Friday, January 27, 2012

Small Post

I need I make an update today to keep up with my resolution... But I'm not at home and probably won't be until after midnight.

Work was slightly better today, and I scooted out as quickly as possible to get up to the Academy. Dan had his Flying Team Wings Ceremony this evening, and it was a lot of fun. I'll make a big post about it tomorrow with the pictures.

It's difficult posting from my phone, and the battery is about to die... So I'll sign off for now.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Things That Cause Stress

Today is Thursday, so that means it’s writing prompt day!

Todays prompt: Write a list of things that "stress you out".

Since I am completely and 100% stressed out tonight, I figured there was no better time to make this list. I need to get this out anyway, so here goes.

Things That Stress Me Out:

1. My job. Seriously. I went to college for four years to become a teacher. I thought it would be amazing. I didn’t think it’d be stressful. I love adolescents. Why wouldn’t I love working with them on a daily basis? Well, I’ll tell you why. When there are 35-38 of them in EACH class ALL DAY LONG, it gets a little (a lot) overwhelming. They are talkative, rude, and disrespectful. They don’t listen to anything any adult says, and they cuss every day. They’re obnoxious and squirrelly, and teaching is NOTHING LIKE COLLEGE MAKES IT OUT TO BE. Now, maybe I am just at the wrong place. But the entire time I was going for my education degree, I wanted to work with high-risk students in a low-income school. I got my wish. And it’s not as fun as I’d hoped. I feel sick every morning driving to work, and I am utterly exhausted at the end of each day.

2. Lack of money. Yeah, I never thought I’d be one of THOSE people either. But here I am, always hoping I’ll make it to the end of the month before I run out of money. Yes, it was my choice to move into a bigger, nicer apartment that costs significantly more than the rent I was paying a year ago. Yes, it was my choice to buy a MacBook Pro last February that I am STILL paying off (but February is my last payment, so that will help). It is my choice to buy a lot of organic food, and that costs more… but I tell myself it’s for my health. I really can’t complain about my money situation because I never thought I’d be making as much money as I do--not that it’s a lot, by any means--but until you earn a salary, any number like that sounds crazy! I just need to be more responsible. I need to keep my receipts and track what I’m spending on. Dan recently introduced me to Mint.com, and it is helping me keep track of things electronically and categorize everything I purchase. It’s helping a little, but it is SO boring that I hate taking the time to actually use it.

3. Worrying about my fur-babies. My kittens (okay, so they’re four and five years old, but they’ll be my babies forever) always scare me. I am constantly thinking about the ‘what if’. What if I come home and something has happened to one or both of them? What would I do? How would I survive? I know I sound like a crazy cat lady more than ever, but these two little guys (okay, one’s a little gal) keep me happy each and every day. They are always excited to see me. I swear they should be dogs. Anyway, on Tuesday I had a HUGE scare. I was at work in Pueblo, an hour away from home, and I got a voicemail from my apartment complex at noon. They said that my cat Stormy was out roaming around and they wanted me to know so she wouldn’t get hit by a car. I frantically called them back, shaking as I spoke, and the lady said it was a “large, solid gray cat with no collar sitting outside my door.” I calmed down because Stormy is teeny tiny, gray with stripes, and wears a bright pink collar. But for the next five hours until I could make it home, I constantly thought: “What if they didn’t see her stripes? What if they think she’s a large cat? What if her collar fell off somewhere and it IS her?” The thoughts wouldn’t leave my mind, and I sped all the way home after work, only to open my door and have Gilligan come running to me. It’s usually Stormy who greets me at the door, so I freaked out and kept yelling for my little cupcakey girl (don’t ask)… and there she was, asleep on my bed, content and warm as ever. Crisis averted… this time. But they make me worry so much, and worry equals stress in my book.

4. Thinking about future deployments. Yes, I know that Dan being deployed is something that is many years away still. We will be married and maybe even have a child before that time comes. But the thought it always there, lingering in the back of my mind. It makes me question whether I am strong enough to be a military wife. I hate that feeling because I know I am strong. I can handle ANYTHING. I have gone through more than I have wanted to already, and I know that if others can face deployments head on, then so can I! But does anyone enjoy thinking about his or her significant other heading off to a war zone for an unspecified amount of time? I will be a mess when that time comes because it’s already stressing me out now. That’s not a good sign, but I know I am not alone. I have enough friends who are in relationships with military men, and they feel the same way. It’s something you HAVE to think about when investing so much into a relationship with the military. After all, everyone says I won’t be marrying JUST Dan Cook. I will also be marrying the Air Force… at least for 20 years. If I have him, I have to have everything that comes along with flying, deployments, being away, long distance, writing letters, change, and the unknown. I’m not READY, per se, but I am willing to take this journey.

5. Traffic. This one should be a no brainer for anyone who has ever met me (or anyone in my family). I got this road rage/aggression straight from my father, and I cannot help it. It’s genetic. Or so I say as I scream at people and flip them off. It is especially bad in Colorado. All my life, I thought the worst drivers in the world came from Johnson County, Kansas. Well, I was wrong. Come to El Paso County, Colorado (or Colorado Springs, in other words), and you will see a lot of beautiful, amazing sites. But be very careful because the drivers here are INSANE. No one thinks using a turn signal is necessary. Driving 45 in a 65 in perfect weather? Get used to it. How about 85 in a 65 when the roads are covered in ice and the snow is pounding down? Sounds safe, right? Well, that’s how Coloradans drive. Now, I am generalized, I know. It’s not EVERYBODY here. But it’s enough to notice every single time I get in my car to go anywhere, whether I’m driving an hour to work or a mile to the grocery store. It’s ridiculous, and I know road rage adds to my stress. It really does. I get extremely worked up for reasons I cannot control. It’s just something in me, and I don’t know how to stop it. I have been working on not flipping people off, though. I don’t want to do it to the wrong person – or worse yet, a parent of one of my students! How embarrassing would THAT be? Either way, it’s something that stresses me out on a daily basis, but I know it’s something I can work on that may just help me become a more calm, relaxed person. We’ll see. 

Wow, I feel a bit better after typing that all out. Writing is so therapeutic for me. I think everyone should try it because it really does help. That's why I have always loved writing, and I know it's something I will never give up. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Beer Cheese Soup

On Sunday, Dan and I made Beer Cheese Soup for dinner, and I promised the recipe. Here it is a few days late because I needed to make other posts on Monday and Tuesday. We made this soup a little spicier than it's supposed to be because we liked it that way and added extra hot sauce. We did NOT serve ours with popcorn, like suggested. We ate it just like a normal soup, and we had homemade beer bread made from the home-brew also to go with it. :)

Here's the recipe:

(click on the image to make the recipe larger)

Let me know if you make it and what you think. We found the recipe from AllRecipes.com.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

State of the Union Address

While watching President Obama's State of the Union Address this evening, I realized again and again why I voted for him in the first place over three years ago. Not only is he an amazing, charismatic speaker,  but he stands for (most of) the things I believe in. As with any politician, I do not agree with everything he says, but no one will EVER agree with everything a president promises. 

However, education is a major issue in my life. I grew up LOVING school. My mom had to MAKE me stay home when I had strep throat because I HATED missing a day. That lasted all through college, where I only missed one day of classes. I just loved being there! Of course, wanting to stay in school, I became a teacher. I love working with kids each day and helping them become better people. With so many budget cuts, though, I have been worried each year since graduation about whether I would have a job the following school-year. I have been so fortunate each time, and much of that is in thanks to President Obama. He TRULY THINKS education is important at EVERY LEVEL. Even if you don't agree with our president's politics, please be thankful for what he is doing for education.

Here is an excerpt from tonight's address, spoken by President Obama about the years to come:

These reforms will help people get jobs that are open today. But to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, our commitment to skills and education has to start earlier.
For less than 1% of what our nation spends on education each year, we've convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning -- the first time that's happened in a generation.
But challenges remain. And we know how to solve them.
At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced states to lay off thousands of teachers. We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies -- just to make a difference.
Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let's offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren't helping kids learn.
We also know that when students aren't allowed to walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. So tonight, I call on every state to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18.
When kids do graduate, the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college. At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars. And give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years.
Of course, it's not enough for us to increase student aid. We can't just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we'll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down. Recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who've done just that. Some schools re-design courses to help students finish more quickly. Some use better technology. The point is, it's possible. So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can't stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can't be a luxury -- it's an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.
Reading back through Obama's words makes me smile. And I know that many of my friends and family members are completely against our president. I don't care. I don't rub it in their faces (usually... except for this post) that I am liberal. I don't let our difference get in the way of our relationships. It's BEAUTIFUL that our nation is so diverse that we can all express our differences with no consequences. Isn't that an amazing thing? Watching the State of the Union Address was a wonderful experience for me tonight, and even if you disagree with Obama's politics, I hope you watched anyway, as being informed is an important part of the election this year.

God Bless AMERICA,