Friday, November 30, 2012

It's Friday, Friday, gettin' down on Fri-iday

Friday nights are my absolute favorite time of the week these days.

As soon as I get home from school on Friday, I feel like the world is limitless. It's such a nice relief to come home and not stress about making sure I have everything ready for tomorrow, revamping my planned lesson based on the feedback I got from the kids that day, creating videos to supplement for the kids that need an extra boost, answering emails from parents and students about the next day, and all those other wonderful mid-week things that come along with teaching 8th grade.

But Friday. Oh, how I love Friday.

Friday means Saturday comes next. And though Chris and I have had shoots every Saturday and Sunday for as long as I can think back right now, at least I don't have to plan anything. Friday means I can come home and organize all the stuff that I've let fall into disarray during the week. Tonight I came home and did the dishes, and gosh did it feel good. When Chris came home we laid down and talked about our days while the cats sat on our backs. For the last hour I've been looking up crafty things I want to do so I have stuff to add to my Christmas list, because Chris' mom just called him and told him I didn't have enough stuff on my list. (#firstworldproblems)

I'm catching up on NCIS. I did our finances for the beginning of December. I paid a huge chunk off my student loans (woot!). I did laundry and took out the trash. I bought our first real Christmas stockings off of Etsy and then surfed for things Chris would like (sneakily, since he's right here next to me).

Tomorrow I can lesson plan, and grade, and make videos. Right now, it's still Friday night, and I'm going to eat pumpkin pie and buy Christmas presents.

Photo courtesy of indoor lighting and the not-so-great camera flip feature of my iphone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Christmas pictures

We got an email today from Chris' mom about doing family Christmas pictures while we're up in Redlands for Thanksgiving. That of course led to me reminding Chris we need to do our own Christmas pics. Which led to the following conversation:

C: "Everybody wants Christmas pictures from me!"

J: "Well, I don't want it to be like last year where I looked like crap just because we ran out of time and happened to find a wild field at sunset after a family shoot."

C: "That's not my fault. You should be prepared at all times for Christmas photos."

Touche. From here until December 25, I'll be glamming it up on a daily basis.

Flashback to last year's "just-finished-a-shoot-and-hey!-look-there's-a-cool-field" last minute photo shoot.

And for those of you who are noticing that it's been almost two months since my last post, yes, I am still alive. Teaching 8th grade Algebra is literally taking up all of my time. Between lesson planning, and making instructional videos, and grading, and inputting grades, and creating tests and bellwarmers and interesting activities, I think I'm just lucky to be able to sleep. First years at a new school are the worst. Fortunately, my co-workers are all great and encouraging.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

FYI, faithful readers!

So it seems my illustrious 8th graders have started googling me. And sadly, it's very easy to find me thanks to a certain Mr. Shall-remain-nameless-because-saying-the-name-will-just-give-another-google-hit-to-my-blog. Let's just say his name is long and Italian and I'm married to him, putting me at the forefront of all Google searches. Oh, the good old days of being Jordan Peck and nothing at all ever coming up about me in a Google search, mostly thanks to some midwestern basketball player with my name who hogged enough Google search pages that people (well, me) just got tired of looking.

Anyway, just an FYI, that I will probably either password protect this blog soon or move the blog entirely to a new address. Those pesky 8th graders are just getting too smart. If you want to stay in the loop, please email me or leave me a comment with your email so I can make sure to get you the password/new link, whichever may happen. :)

And if you're an 8th grader in Mrs. T.'s room, go do your homework!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I wish I had time for...

... making my bed in the morning
... organizing my house
... creating awesome, technologically amazing lesson plans
... just lounging around with my husband
... taking longer naps (because I have to fit a nap into my schedule now. There's no option when I get home after dealing with kids all day. Sometimes I'm afraid I'll fall asleep in my car on my ten minute drive home.)
... scrapbooking
... making dinner
... more than five minutes to eat my lunch Monday through Friday
... creating
... photo editing regularly
... watching movies
... playing
... etc.

As my new principal put it, it takes awhile to find your "teacher legs." Week three has come and gone, and we're on the brink of week four. There's so much to learn and do and be. Credential programs are pretty much a waste; you don't learn how to be a teacher until you teach.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Here we go!

Sooooo... I haven't really announced this on the blog yet, but I suppose I should get around to it before school actually starts. I got a job teaching 8th grade math at a local charter school, hurray! It has been an exciting, nerve-wracking, sad, learning-filled, freak out of a few weeks. I had my last few weeks at the Woodman classroom. I had to say good-bye to amazing co-workers who I've grown to love so much. I carried a heavy heart knowing that the job I wanted so badly, and had worked so hard for, was not meant to be, and that maybe, just maybe, I was fighting too hard for it. I spent a week with brand new co-workers. I've read packets and handouts and PDFs and about procedures and curriculum and expectations. My head is full. I finally let my classroom today around 6:30, knowing I was missing some things for the first day, but realizing that I needed to get out of there and just review my notes and lists someplace else if I wanted to keep going. Chris is asleep now (we have a really early morning shoot), and I'm still going full speed. Making new lists of things forgotten, entering in all my modules, sorting my 130 8th graders into teams, reading the student handbook so I know what the rules are. 

Life's a bit crazy right now. I keep thinking once school starts and we get into a routine, things will get much saner, but then I remember that I'll be dealing with even more stuff: lesson planning and tutoring in my spare time and keeping track of grades and all that teacher stuff. A list of 130 kids makes me wish I'd gotten my credential to teach the little kids- you get maybe 30 there, and that's it. 30 kids to focus on sounds so much more manageable than 130. Big sigh. 

Here's some fun pictures I've taken throughout this process. Can you tell I like things to be pretty? :)

Things I've learned about bulletin boards:

1. Draw sketches first.
2. Measure the board before you go to Joann's (on two different occasions) and purchase material just a little too short. 
3. Borders are invincible. You just tug a little and the staples go flying and the border is still in pristine condition.
4. Most borders suck. Go for solid colors. 
5. Fabric is much easier to cover boards with than I would have thought. Burlap was a great suggestion I found online, and it looks awesome. It also makes a giant dusty mess all over the floor, desk, and laptop case. 

All righty, I'm going to try to lesson plan myself to sleep now. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It's my birthday!

In case you don't know me personally, this is how I feel about August 8:

Yep, that's how it goes. Midnight to midnight.

Today's festivities included going to work and getting balloons, a lovely plant that Michelle swears is impossible to kill (going in my new classroom!), and getting a homemade farewell cake from several of my students.

Then I came home and refused to do any work. No photo editing. No lesson planning. I surfed the internet. I read some blogs on google reader. I looked up cool ideas I haven't had time for lately.

Then Sonia came and picked me up for a little teacher shopping (she was shopping for Paul). After a trip to Staples, Target, Joann's, and Target again, I came out ahead with a full supply of green binders for each of my units, an awesome stapler, and dry erase markers and crayons (thanks to my roomie Sonia who grabbed them for me as a birthday gift). We went out for frozen yogurt and sat out in the car talking for awhile, and I just freaking love that girl. : ) It's so great having good girl friendships.

When I came back home, I found a lovely card from my husband! It was full of loving loveliness just for me. Thank you, Chris, I love you too!

And now here we are, nine minutes till August 9th. I'm officially 28. It's already proving to be an intense, nerve-wracking, exciting and scary, crazy fun and crazy stressful year. Am I ready for it? Sometimes I think I am, and sometimes I think I'm going nuts with the pressure. Luckily I have a wonderful husband who thinks I'm going to have an awesome year, and delightful friends who encourage and support me daily.

So here's to the 29th year of my existence. (This is me clinking my peach champagne at the screen.) Cheers!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Babies + Green Smoothies

This happened in our little condo today. Jesse and Lily stopped by for a bit, and we happened to have some really green smoothie leftover from dinner. Hannah and Abi just ate that thing up, straight out of the only plastic cup we had in the house.

Babies + green smoothies = awesome

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Chris coming home from work is always the highlight of Jack's day.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wedding Crasher

This little guy wandered into the middle of Taylor and Buck's ceremony yesterday, and I mean literally in the middle of it. They were standing up in front of everyone when this little guy waltzed in and stole the show. I was seriously contemplating how I could store him in my car for the rest of the day and take him home with us! Jack and Sawyer would totally love a new little brother, right?

Thursday, July 12, 2012


The other day, when I was trying to grow plants from food (that's a whole different post), I decided I had a lot of food that needed to be used up. Spinach, cilantro, some shredded chicken, and lots of celery. And since I love just throwing things into my crockpot and seeing what happens, I thought I'd give 10-bean soup a whirl. I was feeling good about it, despite my 30% success rate with making soups. (But those 30% are good, let me tell you. Another 30% is good according to Chris, but not to my picky taste, and the last 40% is just not.)

If I may say so, this one came out in the 30% success pool. And it's filling and good for you to boot.

1) Assemble the main characters: In this case it was chicken broth and dried 10-bean soup from Sprouts. (Isn't it pretty in a mason jar? My new dry goods storage system.)

2) Still chicken broth, but I wanted to point out, as this is the first time I've used this particular broth, that this brand comes out dark yellow and really smells like delightful chicken broth right out of the carton. Seriously, my soup smelled and looked like soup immediately thanks to this broth. I think it came from Sprouts along with the above Sprouts branded one.

3) All right, lets start chucking things in there. First, some beans. I used about a third of my jar, which I think was way too much in retrospect. I forgot that dried beans soak up liquid, whoops!

4) I had lentils, too, so in they went for extra dose of protein. You know, along with those ten different kinds of beans.

5) Shredded chicken.

6) Chopped carrots. Why are they in a square? I don't know how it happened. It just did.

7) Lots of chopped celery.

8) I've never used dried garbanzo beans until this soup. They're thick, so I was a little worried that they wouldn't soften enough during the cooking time without soaking overnight, but they were nice and squishy by the end!

9) I love cilantro in soup.

10) Nosy cat. (Not part of the ingredients.)

11) Spinach goes in everything, by the way.

12) Not the greatest picture at all, but it shows the final mess. Not appealing looking, I know.

13) Forgot, I had to use up this dill, too. In it went!

14) And while my back was turned to the crockpot, this little stinker found his favorite spot, despite the ominous water bottle waiting to squirt his cat butt off the counter. 

The verdict?

My take: After pulling it out of the freezer for a quick and easy meal tonight, it's still holding strong. I think I'll add some more spice to it next time, maybe cumin seed or red pepper flakes. I like my soups best when they make me cry, and this one's about a 2 on the spicy scale. Still delicious, still healthy, still filling. 

Chris says, "Mmmmm.... good," and then returns to playing his Star Wars computer game. Sigh. I need to feed him when he's not concentrating so hard on his screen.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Green Lunch

Here's a secret: I'm trying to eat healthier, but I fail a lot.

I feel like I eat okay for the most part. I don't go through the drive-thru everyday for a cheeseburger and fries, but I do go through quite often for that 69 cent coke. I eat lots of different fruits and veggies in my green smoothies, but past that I find it difficult to incorporate them into the rest of my day. I'm an emotional eater, I've discovered. I like to snack when I'm working on projects, and my life is one big project right now. My favorite comfort food is canned chili, 600 calories a pop. I could go on, but now I'm getting depressed.

The point is, when I do spend some time making something healthy, I'm pretty proud of it. And I take pictures of it. (Okay, I'll take pictures of anything, regardless, but I do like to document my good food choices.) 

There's a sandwich recipe that I pinned a few weeks back that I've been eager to try, only four ingredients, but it seems I'm almost one short. Spinach, avocado, pesto, and mozarella. We never have mozarella, and I may be new to cooking, but I know enough now that you can't just substitute cheeses whenever you feel like it. So I adapted a little: I took the spinach, avocado, and pesto and made a sandwich with some leftover shredded chicken. 

That would have been the end of this little experimental meal, but while the bread was toasting, I was clearing out the fridge of older food and realized my day old mustard greens were already wilting. Day old! Sheesh. So I looked up a quick recipe for cooking those babies up, too.

Now, I've never been a big fan of cooked greens (neither has Chris), but I figure I need to learn to like it to continue my healthfulness and get my greens more often in the day than just smoothie time. I was surprised how easy the recipe was, and the greens really weren't that bad cooked. (We both agreed on this.) However, mustard greens are pretty distinct tasting, so I don't think I'll be cooking those ones again. They're fine in smoothies (as long as you really counteract the bitter taste with a lot of fruit), but it was a little too much as its own side dish. Looks pretty though, doesn't it? Such a lovely green lunch. :)

And of course Jack's there too, taking advantage of me not watching that side of the kitchen. My focus on the fridge clearing and bread toasting apparently gave him time to sneak up and camp out to watch the countertop happenings from his favorite vantage point. He most definitely got squirted in the face after this picture was snapped.

Where did my week off go?

I had such plans for this week off. This is our "summer break" right now, a week off over the Fourth of July week. Working at a year-round school ain't all it's cracked up to be sometimes.

What was I going to do this week? Well, I had a great list:

1. Organize our whole house
2. Organize the photos on my phone and laptop and update our backup drive
3. Scrapbook
4. Finish editing Melody and Chris Holz' baby gender reveal photos
5. Finish populating a book for Glen's company
6. Get my work pants hemmed.
7. Watch lots of NCIS. 

And somehow it's Friday, and I really can't say I could scratch more than watching NCIS off this list. And that's only because I finally found a great website to watch episodes for free (one that actually works consistently). I did a bang up job getting started on the house cleaning on Monday, but that fizzled out as soon as the house heated up. I did do an iphone dump of photos that hopefully I'll be sharing soon (and should have been sharing over the week). Did not scrapbook. Not even digitally. Though I've worked on both the Holz photos and Glen's book, neither is as far along as I'd hoped. 

I did drop off my pants at the tailor's. Score one for me, though I still haven't technically completed the task and picked them up yet.

So what did I do all week long? I have been asking myself this same question. With the exception of Wednesday, when we went up to Matt and Donna's party in Ramona, I've pretty much been home all day by myself. I even woke up and started my day when Chris got up for work a couple times (though more often I slept in for a couple more hours). I couldn't fathom where all my time has gone. Yes, I've run errands that took about half the day. Yes, I did start a massive filing cabinet re-organization project which took awhile. But seriously? What have I been doing with myself? 

Well, let me tell you. I've been researching up to wazoo all the things I need to know before starting my first year as a new teacher. Yep, it looks like I'll have my very own teaching position soon. Not at the school where I work currently, which is a big bummer for me (I hate leaving people!), but at the school where Chris Holz has taught for the past few years. It's not official yet, but it's in the works. I've been getting emails from the eighth grade lead, meaning I'll be working at the middle school-- very exciting because I love that age group. So that's where all my time has gone. Researching online gradebooks and management systems like Schoology and Edmodo, reading tips for new teachers, trying to figure out the school's curriculum, going through old lesson plans I've used before and seeing what can transfer over. I have almost no details to go off as to what I'll be teaching, so I'm trying to just learn as much general stuff as possible. It's fun and exciting and super duper scary.

So that's why I didn't get to organize the house or scrapbook or finish editing projects or even update my blog. Not a terrible reason, I suppose. :)


In other news, just before my break started, I also finished my final Master's course. The Capstone was hell. Let me tell you, I earned that A. I don't always put a lot of effort into earning those A's, but this one was deserved. So happy to be finished. For a yeah-you-finished-your-masters! present, Chris bought us tickets for Les Miserables in September. Good seats, too, not our normal back-of-the-theater $30 tickets. We're in the loge, baby!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Palm Springs

We are living it up in Palm Springs this weekend. Got to Redlands last night and stayed with Kris and Becky overnight since the T family had taken over all the rooms at Chris' parent's house and spilled over to a local hotel. Casa de Cowen was exceptional, the bed was perfect and cozy, and Kris even set up a room fan for us- highly recommend their accommodations, definitely a five star on yelp.

Kris convinced us to wake up at 5am to cheer on his morning triathlon, and Chris only let me take half an hour for a nap, so I am sleepy! Luckily we hada restful car ride on the way to pick up Emily and baby Savannah from the Ontario airport. One quick stop at a Jack in the Box in the middle of nowhere for Savannah to be fed and for us to get milkshakes, and now we are on our way to the resort to meet up with the rest if the fam! Sadly, we only get to stay till tomorrow night, then it's back to real life for us. :( But a day is enough to sit out in the lazy river on a tube and get some color, so no complaints here! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Random Wednesday... oops, Thursday

It's 12:46am, I'm laying in bed waiting for sleep to overcome me, and sadly, it just isn't. Darn that ten minute nap at 7pm!

I figure it's a good time to blog.

In lieu of a real post that actually has some thought behind it, we're going with randoms from the last three days on the iPhone tonight/this morning. And let's be honest, my posts are always a lot more amusing when I don't think them through first.

Up first, the Captain Holz. I'm finally getting around to editing these (so sorry, Melody!) and I'm having a ton of fun with them. Mel's concerned that people will get the wrong idea based on Holz' face here, but let me clarify that this face is the "Captain Holz" face, and not a "oh, no, I'm having a girl!" face.

Since we're gearing up to launch our new website in about three weeks, Chris has been researching all kinds of goodies we'll need for our new branding materials. He decided we needed a stamp. This one here though is our personal logo, not our business logo. (That's right, we've got a personal logo. We are just awesome like that.) He says we'll use this on all our correspondence. I'm going to use it on the only piece of mail I send anymore, our HOA bill at the beginning of the month. I think they'll be impressed.

Monday night we walked down to Outback Steakhouse for dinner and dessert while I talked Chris' ear off about my lesson demo from that morning. We split the Sidney Sinfully Sundae, but I think they shorted us, because I remember it being HUGE last time.

Yesterday I made us ultimate shrimp barley bacon salads for dinner. I have never had such a huge salad in my life. It's really hard to gauge the size of a salad when all the ingredients are in their own separate bowls. I still ate the whole thing.

The Tony's! I heart them! And Neil Patric Harris. Life should be a musical, Neil. I would have so much more fun if I could express myself with a heartfelt song every five minutes.

Pinterest fail: make ahead oatmeal smoothies. Blech. But mason jars for the win! I shall put my tried and proven green smoothies in them instead.

More business prep: sample business cards from moo. They let you print cards with a variety of backgrounds which is rad. Seeing them all scattered across the desk makes me miss the days of yore when we actually printed our photos...

There was a lizard on our screen when I came home yesterday. 

That's all.

I finally began playing around with the iPad. Chris gave me permission to fill the bookshelf (with free books), so I've been busy hunting down public domain books, especially ones my kids read in high school that I never read or haven't read in a long time. I'm a little in love with reading on the iPad now. I tried so hard not to get into digital books, because I feel like I'm personally shooting Borders and Walden's and Bookstar in the face, but I love me some digital stuff! It was inevitable.... :(

They have discovered drawers and how fun it is to pull everything out of drawers. It started with my pajama drawer. Then my sock drawer. Then my underwear drawer. Today it escalated to the kitchen drawer where we keep all the dish towels. You'll notice this picture is not our kitchen. That's because along with pulling things out of drawers, Sawyer also has a love of dragging things from one room to the other. I'm a little impressed that he kept up with his little project long enough to pull six towels across the house.

My new workstation! I realized I hadn't grabbed a picture of it yet, and it's been a couple weeks since my darling husband created me a workspace to match his. The giant monitor is my new favorite thing, next to free iPad books. He even went out and bought me a Mac keyboard to complete the look. I'm loving this new space, though I'm thinking of sprucing it up a bit with some flowers or an interesting picture frame. Maybe during my summer break (read: week of July 4th, darn year round school)....

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Short and sweet

Busy weekend.
Capstone project in progress. (Two more weeks!)
Lesson plan demo is taking up my entire weekend. (Hard to make a perfect lesson plan when you've never seen the classroom, kids, or curriculum.)
Saw the Tony's finally. (Bright spot of my night.)
1:09 am: Should be asleep. Still thinking of lesson demo. (Taking over my entire weekend. Even sleep hours.)

Sigh. Next weekend will be better, yes?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fun with apps

Did you know there's a gif app? So easy, too! Here's a gif of my lovely husband shooting at our LA County Museum of Art trip over Memorial weekend.

Wish I had more time to update about life and projects, and about the fact that my first group of students graduated today (I've had them since they were little tenth graders!), but too much is going on right now. I even had to send my husband to dinner with Kris and Becky without me. (Sad face.)

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Yeah, it is.

What shall I do this weekend?

Work. Cook. Farmer's Market. Edit. Organize. Sleep.