Monday, February 28, 2011

Death of a Gym Rat

I cancelled my gym membership today. 

This summer, it was announced that my hospital-based gym was being bought out by a partnership consisting of some guy from Topeka and a local business owner.

I was devastated.  I had been going to Mercy for  almost 3 years and loved everything about it.  And now I was being forced to change?!

The new "owners" essentially bought out the memberships as well, so I was naturally grandfathered into the new gym.  At one point, I received a "please-come-back-for-only-$17-a-month" flier from the gym I went to when first out of college.  I ALMOST took the bait and went back to Pro Fitness but I was worried about losing my gym buddies and my spinning classes.

Fast forward to December and my new gym was finally open.  It was huge.  It was impersonal.  When you walk in, there's dozens of cardio machines staring right at you along with the members working out on them.  Next to the check-in table was a storefront for clothing and yoga mats featuring the gym's logo. I hated everything about the new place.

Since it's opening, I've been 5 times.  The first four times weren't a big deal.  But the last time--there was a 90-lb waif walking around the weight area wearing only a sports bra and volleyball shorts.  That was the straw that broke the camel's back. 

I hated the Rec at K-State.  Tons of meat-heads and half-naked girls who would get made up just to go to the gym...Now, they were taking over Max. 

I'm actually excited about cancelling my membership. 

At the end of March, I will be taking a Bootcamp class three days a week at 5:45am for 8 weeks...back at Pro Fitness, of all places!  Parking will be ten-times easier at 5:45 am rather than 5:45pm and I'll have my work-out done for the day...and considering it's a group that you get to know, there will be no bailing out on class just to hit the snooze button a few more times.  The 8-weeks will also take me right up to the end of the school year and at that point, I'll figure something out...but I know I'll never go back to Max-the-Meat Market again!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Slippin' & Slidin'

Our kitchen has hideous blonde-colored wood laminate flooring.  From day one, I never liked it nor understood why it was in the kitchen.  The rest of the house has the original oak floors...I figured there was probably carpet covering the living areas at one point and someone decided to install the laminate in the kitchen...then eventually took up the carpet--thus, the mismatched wood??? But we figured we would just live with it.

Around early December, the exisiting laminate floor starting slipping & sliding around and we would find large gaps between the boards.  Upon further review, we noticed there was no quarter-round installed by the baseboards and the cuts were terrible--this was an obvious DIY project gone bad.

We had a professional come by to look at our floor and estimate what it would cost to lay down new laminate that would match our original oak floors.  Turns out, there is original wood under the laminate.  We're doing everything we can do to preserve the dignity of our old home and this was exciting news!

Justin and I are not DIY'rs at all.  We had the contractor write up an estimate to see what it would cost for them to tear up the laminate and refinish the floor.  After the sticker shock of a $1300+ bid, we decided we could give it a shot ourselves!

I have to admit that doing it "ourselves" may really mean having Mom & Dad come down to help...especially since we had no idea what we could find once the laminate was removed!

I don't have any pictures, but unfortunately the wood floor is a soft wood--most likely, pine.  When we removed a few boards and the padding we immediately noticed the pieces of wood were wider than the oak everywhere else in the house--and it had also been painted at one point in time. The reason for the mismatched flooring was becoming a bit more obvious.

Now we're back to square one.  Do we find a laminate that is a close match to the original oak?  Do we spring for hardwood?  Or do we switch it up and consider laying a vinyl or stone floor?  In consideration of the living/dining areas' open layout and the straight visual line into the kitchen from the front door, I would like to keep the wood-look.  But does our wallet always match our "wants"???

I'm hoping we can price some options in the next few weeks.  I have to admit that I am disappointed in how the floors turned out but it's not the end of the world.  After all, we did just save ourselves some money by not letting the professionals tear into it for us!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An Aldi's Favorite

I love Aldi's...absolutely love it!  I remember the first time I went in there out of curiosity with my baby brother and was convinced I would NEVER go back...but now we're there every Sunday!

When it comes to your staples, they rock.  42-cent Rotel and green beans, 99-cent Pam cooking spray and Prego spaghetti sauce, $1.29 peanut butter, $1.69 frozen garlic bread and gigantic bags of rice, $2.49 Wholly Guacomole...the list goes on.

Granted, there are some things that are more expensive at Aldi's than at your regular supermarket (ie usually eggs & milk).  Then there are some things that the lower price is indicative of the item's quality (ie frozen chicken breasts).  After a few trials and errors, you quickly find out what you can save on at Aldi's and what's worth paying a few extra dollars for at Dillon's!

One of my all-time favorite things from Aldi's is a "Special Purchase" as they call only comes around about once every three months and it's in stores during the next 7 days!

The Priano Spicy Arrabiata Sauce (on the right) ROCKS.  As you're well aware, we like our food with a little heat and at first the idea of spicy spaghetti turned me off.

However, I decided to try it last time they stocked it and it's perfect.  It's just a tad spicy--not spicy enough to open up your sinuses or sting your taste buds, but rather just warm enough to be different than typical tomato sauce.  And the Italian flavor is still in tact! 

I'm not sure how they do it but I'll be sure to look at the ingredient list when we buy them out of the Arrabiata Sauce on Sunday!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sleeping Like a Baby

Maybe you saw my post from Valentine's Day...maybe you didn't.  Our new Tempurpedic mattress was delivered that evening and it's been heaven ever since!

Why do we love it?

1.  It's a whole 12" inches wider and 4" longer than our old queen...therefore, at 6'10" Justin has two extra inches of matress before his feet fall off the end!

2.  With the extra width, I no longer find myself waking up with half my body draped over Justin.  After the first night, he commented on how I didn't cuddle him that night.  Who said I was ever cuddling him?!

3.  I no longer "roll" into Justin.  On the rare occassion that I would try to stay on "my side," I would still wake up in Justin's culvert.  He weighs almost twice as much as I do and the poor spring matress just didn't cooperate with me.  Thank god for memory foam!

4.  The animals love it.  Yes, the dog sleeps with us.  And the cat?  He comes in during the middle of the night and hops in the bed as well.  Both of them can really put on the dead weight.  I have no clue how many times I would wake up to them hogging the bed but they felt like they weighed 30 pounds when I'd try to move them!  Now they can find their own spots and nobody touches each other--it's awesome!

5.  I've been sleeping like a baby this past week.  I have only woken up once in the middle of the night, just to fall right back asleep.  I'm out cold.  Justin is out cold.  We don't even hear the live band up the street once our heads hit the pillow!

5.  The best part--it gives me an opportunity to "redecorate."  What a Marcene thing to do!  My grandma was notorious for finding reasons to redecorate/buy furniture and I think I have a bit of that myself...but hey, it was Justin's idea to get a new bed so I blame him!

After many weeks of searching, we found the perfect bed and ordered it...I just can't wait until it arrives!  We're foregoing the modern bedding in favor of some hippy-modern floral duvet cover we bought with our Christmas money...bear with me, but I think it will be a cool combination when all said and done!  Now time to brighten up the curtains, find a cheap night stand of the proper proportion and we'll be good to go :-)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day in Our House

Valentine's Day is not a big day in our house.  If you read my post from yesterday, I'm used to it being a birthday of all things! 

So...what was our first Valentine's as husband and wife like???

Well, honestly--I couldn't wait to call it a night.  I had one of the worst nights of sleep in a long time Sunday night...maybe it was because I was anxious about our new matress set being delivered the next day?!

A bed to fit Justin!  Now we can redecorate the room :-)

There was definately no candle-light dinner last night.  Especially considering this is what our table looks like right now...
One of the clawfeet decided to separate from the we're trying our hand at furniture repair.  We'll see how it goes!

In fact, our  traditional Valentine's Day meal isn't the most  romantic...

It started when all the restaurants we could afford on our first Valentine's Day were full...and now it's the perfect fit for us!

On top of that, I was not in the greatest of moods last night...who knew that when I picked out Justin's card almost 2 weeks ago, it'd be an extremely accurate portrayal of me by the time I got home!

Front of the card...

But the inside of the card definately sums up my beliefs regarding the commercialism of Valentine's Day...

However, the icing on the our first Valentine's-Day-Together-as-Mr & Mrs cake was a Wildcat win over KU.  I think we were all in awe but thank God our boys decided to show up last night and play like they're capable of!  And they won by 16--yes, 16--points!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Birthday to Our Valentine!

Growing up the only birthday I could remember was my sister's as it was on Valentine's Day.  As a little squirt, I knew her birthday was getting close once you started seeing all the red and hearts in the stores.

Honestly, I have never asked what her thoughts were about having a birthday on a holiday--but to me, it didn't even seem like a holiday to me as Valentine's Day was always a BIRTHDAY party!  As Mom didn't have one of the almost-too-commonly-scheduled C-Sections of today, I guess Tawnya was the one who ultimately decided to be a Valentine's Day baby ;-)

I won't let the cat out of the bag and reveal her age, but I will say that she's obviously older than me if she's my older sister!

We had plenty of fun times together...Dressing our cats up in doll clothes and carrying them around the farm in baskets or pushing them around in strollers...making baby Shawn eat "homemade cakes and cookies" that really turned out to be mud pies...watching Tawnya run over Shawn with the riding lawn mower one 4th of July (that's probably it's own entire post!)...the time Tawnya & Heather T convinced me that my bangs would become wind-proof if I sprayed them 50 times with hairspray...riding into school with Tawnya in her 1986 cherry red Mustang convertible that I always secretly wanted...waiting for her to get tired of her clothes so that I could *finally* wear them...traveling through England together for 3 weeks while I was in high school and Tawnya was in college--and looking at every single church that ever existed while we were there!

Oh, the good times!  Our grown-up lives haven't allowed us to spend extended periods of time together but we still manage to enjoy each other's company at holidays, birthday weekends and girls' trips to Lawrence. 

Happy Birthday to our Valentine, Tawnya!  Not sure if she remembers this song but everytime I think about it I go back to those days of cruising to school in the 'Stang!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Up In Smoke

My brain is fried...I have taught the same two lessons...10 times just four days.  I'm not sure if I even know how to create an original sentence at this point!  All I know to do is hit "repeat" and I'm good to go for the next 50 minutes.

This semester of Life Skills has me spending 95% of my time with 8th Graders...the curriculum for their level does not cover the individual substances as they would already have had that information during the 6th grade instruction.  Instead, we discuss in more detail what drug abuse is, why people use substances and how drug abuse occurs.  If I have to say the word tolerance or dopamine ever again, I may just lose it!

I have always said, I think we're starting Life Skills too late.  Personally, I think we need to start it in the early years of Elementary School and continue with the supplemental lessons as children grow.  I have had some uphill battles getting into classrooms (but I ultimately win considering Life Skills was mandated by the Superintendent!) and I completely realize that teachers' schedules and expectations are already outrageous as they are...However, research and common sense both tell you that when students make good decisions, it reflects in their classroom work/attendance/ability to retain information.  Hello, better assessment scores!!!

One common topic that the students love is marijuana.  Am I surprised?  No!  It is such a socially accepted drug and thanks to the recent legalization debate, they seem to "know" plenty about it!  Maybe the following comments will shed light on why I think we need to start the conversation earlier:

--In front of the class, without hesitation an elementary student recalled making AND consuming marijuana brownies...Did this surprise me?  No.  Am I concerned about this student?  Yes.

--One student asked me:  "What IS marijuana?  Like, I've never even heard the word before."  Were they living under a rock?  I'm not sure.  Is it good to be that naive?  No.  Am I concerned?  Yes.

--Just last week, a student said to me "I know they make cigarettes in a factory--I can't remember where, but they do.  What factories make marijuana?"  Once again, is it good to be so naive?  No.  Does that alarm me?  Yes.

--Yesterday, a student raised his hand and asked "What's the best kind of weed?"  Did I know what he was trying to get at?  Most definately.  My answer?  A very long, drawn out (but not detailed!) explanation about how THC content is determined by the cultivation process which I hoped would bore him to tears.  His hand then went back up and he said, "But you didn't answer my question."  Was he going to stop testing me and/or acquiring information for "personal gain"?  Nope!

--Countless times, I have students tell me that medical marijuana is the best thing ever.  Do they realize that marijuana has over 400 chemicals in it?  No.  Do they realize it contains tar--just like what is used on our roads and causes black lungs?  No.  Do they realize it contains carbon monoxide--a lethal colorless, odorless gas?  No.  Do they know that companies already manufacture pharmaceuticals that contain THC for pain management?  No.

And even crazier--did you know that only a handful of today's 8th Graders know who Cheech & Chong are?!  Whatever happened to the infamous stoners being infamous?!  A few additional students are able to recall the movie "How High" but when you mention the "Harold & Kumar" series, ALL hands go up!  Does this make me feel old?  Yes!

Anyhow, it's amazing to see the spectrum of students and their knowledge bases...Those who are so naive that it puts them at risk...and those who know more than they ever should.  Do I believe that all 800+ of my students will follow the advice of the Life Skills curriculum?  H-E-double hockey sticks no.  BUT I hope that education will give the naive students enough information to make a good decision and for those who are experienced beyond their time, maybe they will think twice about doing something later on.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kicked to the Curb

After being cooped up for 3 days, I talked Justin into leaving the house Wednesday evening and going to a different store to try out beds again...

An hour later and we were new "owners" of a memory foam Cal King!  We went in with no intention of buying--just looking--but the salesman hooked us up with a deal that we just couldn't pass up...I'm not sure if the deals were a result of the weather slowing down business or if it was because of his apparent man-crush on Justin.  I'm not kidding--he called his best friend while we were still in the store to say that "Justin Williams" was in there shopping...I was a little embarassed and wanted to go barf in a corner somewhere, but I held it together long enough that it might have worked in our favor!

Our new bed will arrive in 7-10 days so we figured it was best to go ahead and take care of our guest bed.  The plan has been to replace our bed with something that would fit Justin and swap out the guest bed with our current set-up.

I didn't even want to bring the guest bed with us when we moved to our new was my bed from college but it had definately seen better days!  However, I figured it was better than having nothing whenever guests stayed over...

When everyone came into town for New Year's we gave them the heads up on being careful with the bed...but after 5 of us sitting on it one morning, I decided it was maybe "ok" after all!

We woke up this morning and started tearing apart the bed...after removing the matress (it's a platform style) this is what we found...

I have NO idea how somebody avoided getting killed while sleeping on this crazy thing--if you look closely, you'll even be able to see duck tape holding together a few boards.  Rather than trying to offer it to someone or sell it on Craigslist, it was kicked to the curb!  The next time we have guests stay over they won't have to pray for their dear life come bedtime :-)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Any Given Day

In my post-collegiate years, I have not read books for fun like I hoped I would.  I'm terrible about picking up a book and never getting past the first couple dozen pages.

During our wedding weekend, my grandpa's wife was reading a book, Any Given Day, that my mother had loaned her.  Pat said it was about a little old lady--Jessie Lee Brown Foveaux--who lived in Manhattan, KS most of her life and the author recounted all her memories of our community in her book.  My old roommate, Jill, and I found ourselves talking about various Manhattan "things" throughout the weekend and when we had no idea what the answer could be we'd laugh about asking Pat to look it up in the book for us!

A few weeks later Mom gave the book to me and I thought "Ehhhhhh, we'll see if I ever get around to it" and stuck it away in the bottom of our china hutch.

The past three days--yes, three....not one, or two but THREE days--of school were cancelled due to the "snowpocolypse" and in order to keep any cabin fever at bay, I decided to dig the book out.  By Wednesday evening, I had finished it.

I cannot remember the last time I read a book in just three days!  I found myself getting my chores done as quickly as possible so I could return to the book.  The book is basically a memoire that Jesse wrote for her family at the age of 99 while living in her house at 3rd & Thurston.  It was refreshing to read about her simple childhood in Washington & Missouri...and it was neat to read her recollection of Manhattan as it was when her family moved here.  After a short stint in Lucas, KS she returned to Manhattan and spent the rest of her years here.

Honestly, I thought it would be a lot like reading someone's diary--and can you say BORING?!  But it was nothing like that.  The life lessons she discusses and her ability to trump adversity are priceless.  I found myself unable to sleep last night as different parts of the book kept running through my head--and even today, additional stories and references kept popping into my mind.  It's one of those books that will definately stick with me for some time. 

If you're up for a good read, I would definately suggest Any Given Day by Jessie Lee Brown Foveaux.  If I'm able to read through it in 3 days, I know some of you avid readers could finish it much more quickly! 

And you know what else is great about the book?  The price! It's currently listed on for $2.40 AND it qualifies for free'd be well worth your time and money!