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End of Summer and New Season Goals

This summer has been marked with a list of accomplishments...

1 trip to Valleyfair
7 bike rides to the Corner Store
9 books read (and counting)
10 meetings with potential vendors
12 trips to the library
15 games of PayDay
22 scoops of ice cream (approximately)
100+ episodes of cartoons

I don't know if you would necessarily call those accomplishments as much as they are ways to pass time while watching the four pre-teens this summer. I have to say, this summer has gone particularly well for me compared to other summers. It's no secret that summer is my least favorite season, but the kids have been active and interested all summer in what we do, and that's been a big help. I have one week left, and thankfully it is a full week, because it also marks the last opportunity to bring home a paycheck before student teaching. I've been praying a lot that God would bring an opportunity for me to make a bit of cash now and again during the school year so I don't have to rely solely on my savings.

I get to meet my cooperating teacher for my first assignment this week, and I couldn't be more excited. I am looking forward to getting back into a routine and having the responsibility of shaping young minds again. I thrive on routine, and that's my mode of survival for the coming school year. Some of the goals I have in mind are:

-waking up an hour before I have to leave, so I can get a home workout in most mornings
-meal prepping on Sundays for lunches
-packing wholesome snacks like almonds in my bag
-setting up a carpool with fellow student teachers
-taking walks during my lunch break (if I get one!)

I really want to maintain a healthy lifestyle while I am in the classroom, because it will help to have the energy and the mental strength to focus on my students. With wedding planning, preparing my application for licensure, and creating lesson plans, I will need all the help I can get!



Adventures in Homemaking: Month 1

Today marks one month since Justin has lived in what will be our apartment after marriage. If Justin has off from work, and I am not sleeping or working, I am most likely there. Sometimes, I'm there even when he isn't, making food or watching TV. 

The only real complaints that we have so far, is our (upstairs) neighbor lady slams the door every time she leaves and stomps around a lot. We have determined that we never want a bottom-unit again. Justin also gets frustrated when he can hear the kitchen appliances while we are watching TV, so he's changed his mind about an open floorplan (yes!!). Finally, we have a wonky fridge shelf that has made condiments fly out about half a dozen times now. I am still practicing patience with that one. 

I am treating these six months until we marry as a trial-run, or a soft-opening into what marriage might be like. 

Before Justin was even searching for an apartment, we talked about how my contribution would look, even though I wouldn't be living there. Besides helping with rent, I have been buying most of my groceries for a couple of years now, so I volunteered to buy his as well and just keep both in that refrigerator. I just need to remember that I do not eat as much as he does, so doubling my grocery amount is still not going to cut it. I think I figured out what types of things Justin naturally gravitates towards when fixing himself a work meal. 

The biggest thing that has helped manage my grocery budget is meal planning. I have my little calendar I got for free and I write down 3-4 meals each week that will give Justin enough leftovers for lunches and days we don't want to cook. Then, I write a grocery list only including the ingredients I need that aren't already in the apartment for that week's meals only. I then add things like produce for sides and snacks, and breakfast staples that he's gone through. This so far is a pretty good system. I have inherited from my mom an intense hatred for wasting food (that's money down the drain!), so this has given me more peace of mind that we WILL be able to finish this stuff. 

The first shopping trip, I got a bit more ambitious than I should have when it came to making things "from scratch." I have yeast for bread, but no desire to have to return to it after 6 hours, or to fire up the oven on these hot days. I've been using a lot of simple cleaning products like vinegar, soda, and dish soap for basically everything, and I feel duped by all the cleaning products that have previously seemed so appealing.  

A huge blessing is that Justin's mom is an avid gardener, and it is harvest season for berries! While we froze most of what she gave us, they will be put to good use once the replacement part for the blender is ordered. I think that my family really appreciates the bounty that the get from being related to me, as well. Up next-tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini!

Things I've learned:
-just because it's fish does not mean it's better for you (tilapia)
-Justin does NOT like mushrooms
-ground turkey is disgusting to cook but potentially unnoticeable if it's in a big dish
-Mom and Dad were not silly in laying berries to freeze on a baking sheet, THEN putting them in a bag
-wood floors are more comfortable than lawn chairs, in some cases 
-family is so giving with their time and possessions to help us start out. Thank you everyone!

The Trouble with Minimalism

This subject has been on my mind recently, what with all of the different movements gaining attraction in the world today. I'm talking specifically about minimalism, sustainability, zero waste, and other movements that aim to simplify and create time to make meaningful, informed decisions. It all sounds good, when you think about it. Who doesn't want more time in their day? Who doesn't, deep down, know that they need to focus their attention on maintaining relationships than maintaining their stuff.

I will admit, I watched a Netflix documentary on the subject of minimalism and I was intrigued. I went through loads of clothes, papers, and other items that I could skimp down on and "simplify."

It was when I was helping my fiance move into his apartment that I realized I might be too distracted by the movement, the cause, that it has started down the path of obsession. I found myself getting frustrated, even a little mad at Justin as I was packing up two boxes of his DVDs, thinking how could he possibly need all of them? Thinking that there is no way that he will ever play this game again, or watch this movie. I got upset with him wanting to go out and buy a bunch of stuff for his apartment, because I was thinking about the wedding registry that I had carefully created because I wanted it to be the best, most practical, "minimalist" list for our new lives together.

How unfair it was for me to get upset with someone that does not align themselves to the minimalist philosophy. I made him feel bad for valuing the things that he has accumulated over the years. He's not a packrat, there are memories infused to every one of those games, and he actually doesn't go out and buy useless things...ever. He appreciates quality over quantity and that will help us not have to keep replacing things over the years.

It wasn't fair. I had become too obsessed with being a "good" minimalist that I was somehow making my life and my thoughts more cluttered. I do think that's the danger of movements like this. People become so wrapped up in the idea that they need to be a "good" member of the group, and they feel guilty if they indulge. It's like a diet. If you're doing well on a low carb diet and you have a two-scoop ice cream cone well, you are probably going to feel guilty for the rest of the day. And why? It is not a sin to eat ice cream, just like it is not a sin to get enjoyment out of some of your things.

So why do some feel guilty about it? Well, I believe that is a combination of a couple of things. First, it's pride. We believe that we cannot possibly do wrong if all the "rules" are laid out for us, and we are going to be perfect at following this lifestyle. Secondly, I believe that the tempter is using these outlets to distract from what is really important: being lights of the world, and thinking on things above. We have the best intentions going into these self-help programs, but we cannot help ourselves. Once again, our best bet is asking the Lord to help guide us in our everyday lives.

In conclusion, I like the thoughts behind minimalism, because it takes the focus off of earthly possessions and tries to help people free up more time. However, I'm not going to stress too much about it anymore.

Engaged!

As of April 29, we are engaged! It definitely wasn't a surprise that it was coming, but it is still very exciting. It happened in Carson Park, while we were taking a walk around Half Moon Lake. I didn't take any pictures because I wanted us to just spend the first few hours together, telling family and close friends, and not being tempted to post on social media.

So far, we have a little bit planned. I found my wedding dress this weekend. We know where the reception will be and the date: January 20th of next year! I feel like I may regret that in the future, what with me finishing student teaching on January 19th. I can handle it, though.

We have also begun a registry. We are sticking to Amazon, because it is convenient for those who prefer online shopping, and because the selection is HUGE. It has been a lot of fun determining what pieces will go well together in our first home. We also went with Target because I know a lot of people (myself included) wait until the week of to find a wedding gift. No biggie, but I got them covered just in case.

As for our first home, it will be an apartment. Justin will live there until our wedding, and then I will move in. I am so excited to gradually put our things together and to streamline everything to fit into the apartment. I have been having a real minimalism kick, and I think it's here to stay. I am not hardcore by any means, but I appreciate only having things that are useful and beautiful, to a point. I have a few knick knacks that are very special to me, and I know Justin does, too.

I will keep updating as we have more details planned!

New baby nephew

Last Wednesday, Justin's family grew by one. We visited his brother and sister-in-law in the hospital a day later and got to meet little baby Nathan. His big brother was definitely enjoying the spotlight of mom and dad paying so close attention to him now that there were other people to hold his brother.

Baby Nathan is so sweet. It has been almost eight years since I have held a newborn baby boy that is that small, and I was definitely thinking about the first time that I got to hold baby Uriah a day after he was born. Uriah was a much bigger baby though. This time, my arms never got tired.

It will be so fun to see those brothers growing up together, especially since they are only 2 1/2 years apart.

I got a new job!

T-minus 11 days or 5 shifts until I am DONE working at Target!

Ideally, this would mark the very end of my days working in retail, but I can't predict the future.

I already have started working at my new job, at the Boys and Girls Club, and it's gone really well so far. It seems like I have a lot to learn still.

I'm just glad that I have an opportunity to get more related experience before I go straight into student teaching and then as a TEACHER!


Fun Weekend in St. Paul!

This weekend was so much fun and a much needed day date for Justin and I.
Our work and school schedules conflict so often recently, so I was really looking forward to spending a WHOLE DAY together! Not just three hours or so.

We drove to St. Paul in the late morning to go to the Science Museum. Justin really likes Science so I made the suggestion. He was the one who suggested the cities, but we didn't know what we wanted to do.

St. Paul from the car

When we got to the museum, it was much more kid centered than I thought it would be, but we got a lot out of the bottom floor, which was all about physics and math (go figure). It was also cool to see a real mummy and dinosaur bones. 

Justin looking at the amoebas on the human body floor

I took this photo to try to figure out how to make this for my future classroom ;)

The mythical creatures exhibit had a lot of cool statues, like this unicorn

Afterwards, we (I) got very hungry and walked a little bit down the road to Zamboni's Pizza. Justin had been saying all day about how we will be going right across the street later that evening. Well, right across the street is the Xcel Energy Center where the Minnesota Wild hockey team play. We have been talking about going to a Wild Game all year, and Justin's parents were almost going to get us tickets to a game for Christmas, but didn't know when we wanted to go. Since we had already gone somewhere that day, I thought he was just teasing. 

We did go to a game though! We sat in the very highest seats but it still felt like we had a good view. The game was a good one to watch because I got to see my first shootout and my favorite player (Mikko Koivu) won the whole game for us!

I kept saying all day how fun I was having. Although all day dates are few and far between for us, they sure are fun.