Please excuse the construction!

Our engagement story

Back when me and Chase had only been dating for a short time (a few months), he took me to his hometown to meet his family and see where he came from. This was doubly interesting since our schools were kind of state football finals rivals and the reason that I had first introduced myself to him was because he was wearing his high school logo gear and I was sad my high school had lost in the football semi-finals. Well, Chase did come from a very beautiful town with a state park. He took me up there and I remember thinking how gorgeous it was up forward to the holidays 2014. Around the holidays, we decided to start looking at engagement rings. (Our engagement story actually starts almost six months before we officially got engaged.)

I had a particular store that I really wanted to ring shopping at and it was about an hour and a half away from my house, so we couldn't just go at any point in time. We had to plan it. So while we planned around the holidays to go ring shopping, it was January 10th before we could actually go. 

On our way to the ring store, or maybe it was before we had left, Chase turned to me and said, "now don't get your hopes up...we're just looking today." So I tried not to get too excited.

At the store, we quickly settled on getting a solitaire and started looking at diamonds. While the sales lady that was working with us was trying to find a diamond somewhere in the store to show us, Chase turned to me and said, "is this the one? Do you love it?" I nodded, and then he surprised me by saying, "well, then I don't see why we shouldn't get it today." I was beyond excited and then proceeded to take 4x the amount of time to pick out the diamond. Chase purchased it that day, but it unfortunately had to be ordered. It would come in 4-6 weeks.

I kept an impressive tally of how long it had been since we purchased the ring. Valentine's day hit at exactly 5 weeks post-purchase, and indeed, he may have proposed then if the ring had been in by then. But it wasn't. 

At one day before exactly 6 weeks, Chase got a call from the jewelry store saying that the ring had come in. I know because on that day, Chase was standing in the kitchen when his phone rang and I told him that he better answer it because it could be the jewelry store. It turns out that they had left him a voicemail the previous day so he knew it likely was them. (It was!) Trying not to be suspicious, he answered it upstairs, and then realizing that he wasn't being mysterious at all, said, "well, I guess the cat's out of the bag," because he's not terribly great at keeping things from me.

And speaking of keeping things from me, I kept waiting for something to indicate that he was going to pick up the ring, and it came to me about a week and a half later. We had a very specific ritual that we always followed on the way home from work. A snapchat followed by a phone call. The snapchat came but the phonecall didn't come until almost two hours later, which is exactly how long it would've taken him to go to pick up with ring. (I was right!)

But the proposal didn't come yet....March passed without a proposal, followed by April, and May. At that point, I either assumed that he was going to propose at the beach vacation we had planned with my parents in June or in his hometown. The weekend before we were heading to the beach, we decided to head back to his hometown. I was trying not to get my hopes up and just let it happen when it was going to happen. Chase had even said something about getting the timing right, so I assumed we were waiting for a specific date and not a location. However, before we left for his hometown, I was on the phone with my mom when she said, "I think your dad is on the phone with Chase!" 

I immediately assumed that he was on the phone asking for my dad's blessing. I knew he was planning to do this last minute since if my mom found out, she likely wouldn't be able to keep it a secret. (See above!)

My mom said, "oh, he's not on the phone with Chase. He's on the phone with [someone from work]." I didn't quite buy it (but it turns out my mom totally did!). But I still tried not to get my hopes up.

When Chase came by to pick me up to head down to his hometown, he mentioned that we hadn't visited that state park in a while. At that point, I was decently certain that he might be proposing. I tried to keep down my excitement, but I just knew. 

Saturday morning, we were trying to decide exactly when we would be going to the park and I had to work really hard to keep myself from suggesting that we go that morning, which would obviously give away that I knew what might be coming. We ended up going about 6:30PM. Right before we went, Chase changed from his basketball shorts to his cargo shorts....another clue that he was going to propose (pocket to hide the ring box in!). I tried to keep myself from looking at his pockets to see if they looked like they were holding something, but I thought I caught a glance nonetheless. The entire ride to the park, I didn't hear a word anyone said in the car because I was so excited.

When we got to the big overlook, Chase asked to take a photo with me, and then after the first photo, turned and said "I think you've waited for this long enough." And then he got down on one knee and said some romantic things about how he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I was so excited I don't think I even actually said yes, but I did nod rather enthusiastically. 

The "let's take a picture" picture

The "you've waited for this long enough" prelude

and....down on the knee

putting it on me


Peanut Butter Pupcake Recipe

A little over a week ago, I blogged about Harper's second birthday

Not only did Harper turn two, but her best friend and "cousin" Lexi (my mom's Golden Retriever) also turned two. When I brought home Harper, my mom got the doggy itch and less than a week later, Lexi came home. 

And they have been getting into trouble ever since.

Because we're crazy dog people, we had another birthday party for the pups.

And what birthday party would be complete without a cake? Or, in this case, a pupcake!

Peanut Butter Pupcake
(Adapted from the Brown-eyed Baker)

1 cup rye flour
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 ounces applesauce (about 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup honey
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix flour, oatmeal, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix the peanut butter, vegetable oil, applesauce, honey, and egg. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Lightly spray a baking round with cooking spray; pour batter into baking round and smooth.

Very thick pupcake batter

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Baked pupcake, complete with toothpick tester holes. 

The cake's texture reminds me of cornbread, and the dogs loved it. 
Pupcake with marks from the cooling rack (they went away after a bit!)
This morning, Harper was very insistent upon getting up. I thought she needed to use the restroom, but instead of going to the door to ask to go outside, she went into the kitchen and pointed out where I had the leftover pupcake stored. Rotten pup!

I'm sure your pup will enjoy the pupcake as much as the pups at our doggy birthday party!

This post is linked up to: The Bajan Texan, Modern Pilgrim, The Blissful Bee, Paper and FoxLittle Red Brick House

Unbreakable: standing up and quitting my job

At this point, the circumstances surrounding why The Incident occurred don't really matter. What I can say is that there was some disjointed communication and lack of clear instructions (in my opinion) and therefore what I produced was not what my boss, and the President of our company, expected. I sincerely believe she was/is in the wrong and that I was not provided with coherent instructions to understand what was expected of me and she felt that I just have been able to glean and infer what she expected. 

She began work (it seemed) on a very important proposal last Thursday. I helped her Thursday and Friday. I continued to work on Monday and Tuesday, while she was out of town. We communicated almost exclusively via email and the messages weren't simply between between me and her; they were also with a man from another firm she was partnering with. The emails were actually more between her and him than between me and her. 

Nonetheless, I was stressed about figuring out what I was even supposed to be doing, and completing some of the tasks on the list that were logistically difficult (like getting the printer to print out names on the tab dividers, which it was not designed to do). I stayed late on Tuesday evening working on the proposal and didn't get to take my lunch Thursday, Friday, Monday, or Tuesday.

Wednesday, the day the proposal was due, she was visibly angry when I got into work. To be honest, I was quite angry as well, because I felt like I had been thrown under the bus a bit, as I had never received the clear check-list of what she wanted me to complete, which I had specifically asked for. Instead, I had to repeatedly email her for clarifications on what I was supposed to be doing. She was angry because she felt that I had decided not to do anything at all, and had not stepped up to the plate. In reality, I made myself a checklist based on our final conversation Tuesday evening, and went home after I felt I had done everything that was expected of me.  

After lunch on Wednesday, she sat me down and asked me how I felt that the proposal had gone. I told her, frankly, that I felt like it was a train wreck. I cited the jumbled communication and the unclear expectations. But then I very quickly realized that she felt that the problems within the proposal had been of my own and my own choice not to 'step up.' She accepted none of the blame for the situation, and instead felt that I had slighted her.

The talk quickly spiraled out of the context of the proposal and into my job performance in general as well as my future endeavors. She went on to yell at me for every thing she had had an issue with in regards to my job performance within the last year and a half that I had worked for the company. You didn't do that. You failed at this. I didn't like this. I tested you here and you failed. I was frankly quite upset with this, as "I've only been supportive of you since you started here!!" was not an excuse to suddenly lay me out for everything she had wanted to say things about in the first place, but the line was crossed when she stepped into my personal life and my future. She said, "If you really think you did your best on that, then you will fail in life. It will be too hard. You won't be able to manage a classroom of even two year olds. You will fail as a teacher. And kids in general? Forget trying to be a mother. You won't be able to do that, either."

After those comments, I didn't feel like I was getting a job review. I felt like I was getting harassed. 

Despite the fact that I was visibly upset, she continued to berate me over things like keeping my desk clean, refilling the drink supplies (why don't we have a 'you take one out, you put one in' system?), etc. It was like she wanted to make me feel as little as possible. She stuck the knife in, and then twisted it a few times. I thought perhaps she was hoping I would walk out the door and never come back.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt quote as a motivational poster, via Buzzfeed

I recommended that since I was so upset, I should take the rest of the day to calm down and then we could start fresh the following day. Because no one wants a sobbing receptionist in their lobby, right? Instead, she told me that I did not deserve that. 

I spent the rest of the day trying to hide out, breaking down cardboard in the parking garage and hiding in the basement. 

I discussed my options with my mother and with Chase and decided I needed to have a chat with my immediate boss/superior. During that talk, I outlined the situation and stated that I had felt harassed, that I felt she had crossed the line of appropriate behavior during a job performance review, that I had felt her comments were cruel and pointed, and that I was no longer comfortable working for the company. I told him that I was not necessarily giving my two weeks, but that I felt it was going to be best for me and the company to part ways. 

For the first time, in days, I felt in charge. I felt like I had stood up to something that was wrong. I had been mistreated, and I had calmly reacted and said I would not stand for it; that the way I had been treated was not okay. 

The next day, the president learned that I had basically resigned, and we had a much more mature conversation. I told her that it felt like she was trying to get me to quit during The Incident, that I felt harassed, and that I honestly had misunderstood her in several ways. I told her I didn't feel emotionally safe or welcome, and that I was no longer comfortable. She said that millennials are different than the people that she's used to dealing with and we're not self-starters, which is something I very much disagree with. Every generation is very different from the generation that begets it, but since the beginning of time, adults have been claiming that young people are lazy, weird, and going to ruin the world, so it's just not a valid statement. I did not mention that I felt that she had procrastinated the project, which would've stirred up more stuff. She told me that making me quit was not her intention. I think she intended her little talk to "straighten me out" and "get me in line." 

She asked me to try to explain what she could've done differently, and why I quit, and I tried to explain that the best way to reach out and change a person isn't to attack them and tell them that they're going to fail, but to try to understand, empathize, and show that you genuinely want to help them because you believe in them. I actually watched a video on this in regards to the classroom about a month ago. If your students fail a test, don't berate them, tell them they're lazy and if they don't suck it up they'll never succeed. If your students fail, re-evaluate your own methods and be kind when discussing the test. This video originated in the about the '60s. When I told her about how I believed (and apparently research proves!) you should interact with a person, she said that it must just be a generational thing, because that's how she was told to straighten up when she was younger. Change, or fail. Change, or your life will be miserable. Again, that video was around when she was young. Teachers already knew that they needed to be kind and not threaten their students. 

Again, despite our conversation, it still seemed like her message was "it's you, not me."

Today, a couple days after The Incident, I am 100% certain that she did not mean for me to quit. She did not mean to drive me away. She sincerely believes that she had given me a stern, yet reasonable talk encouraging me to become more organized or fail—although my main concern with the proposal was that the material was not presented to me in an organized and reasonable-to-follow manner. While this is unfortunate, I do not necessarily regret my decision to tell my boss that I could not remain with the company. Regardless of the intentions of her speech/berating, it was cruel, demeaning, and honestly crossed the line. At that point, the only power I had was to choose to take myself from the situation and illustrate how NOT okay The Incident was.

Why yes, my desk is too messy (although I cleaned it ferociously after The Incident), but the fact that I am messy stems from the creative spirit within me. I get distracted, I pile things on top of other things. But the fact that I am messy and often toss my clothes in the floor beside my bed rather than walk to my closet and throw them in the dirty clothes hamper has no weight on how I plan lessons for my future classroom, nor will it impact how I manage my classroom. Yes, my desk may be messy, but many teachers have messy desks! I have a 4.0 in grad school. My disorganization is in no way impeding my ability to succeed (and I have always been notoriously well-organized when it comes to schoolwork). I might sometimes have a collection of cups on my bedside table, but that will not make me a bad mother.

Again, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt quote as a motivational poster, via Buzzfeed

**Thanks to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for being incredibly funny but outlandishly empowering. I love that show!

Happy second birthday, Harper!!

Today my beautiful puppy turns two. In honor of her second birthday, here is a snapshot of her last year.

March 2014

Harper and Lexi had a joint birthday party, where they had a blast!

April 2014

Harper had fun with one of her favorite humans

She smiled a lot.

May 2014

She enjoyed the swimming pool with her best friend

June 2014

Mommy took Harper to the ER Vet, where we took this pitiful selfie.

It turns out she had a bad UTI.
She also took this picture that evening, already feeling better with medicine.

July 2014

She asked to go play more.
*Some dogs are allergic to corn; Harper is not. Also, dogs cannot digest corn cobs, and consuming a whole corn cob can and likely will result in surgery, so do not let your dog eat corn on the cob unsupervised!!!!!!

She waited in bed for her Mommy, who had to visit her Granny in the hospital a lot.

August 2014

She was occasionally adorably darpy. 
But she was always adorable.

September 2014

Mama let her play fetch in the bedroom
And she played fetch outside.

She tried to make friends with Chase's roommate's dog.

October 2014

She pointed out the location of the chuck-it
She occasionally rested after playing ball.

November 2014

She was photogenic.
She inspected the tinsel.

December 2014

She celebrated Christmas with some rough-housing
She loved on one of her favorite humans

January 2015

She stayed with her grandparents and was accused of chasing the Chihuahua, and was probably guilty.
She made herself at home on the bed.
And wore Chase's Boston hat.

February 2015

She smiled for the camera.
She played in the snow in her coat, a day after her and mommy were locked in the cold.
She loved the snow

March 2015

She played in a second snow storm.

She learned a new trick!

She pulled a muscle and scared her mom. (We went to the ER again!)
She turned two!

I was hacked.

This morning while I was at work, one of my friends texted me with the message, "Ray Bans Sale??" 

My first thoughts were, well that's nice, I would like to have some RayBans, but even with my tax return money, I don't feel comfortable spending my money on $100 sunglasses, even though I love RayBans and am so sad that I misplaced my pair of them. Even if there's an amazing sale or you have a coupon for me. 

But then I received another text message from someone else. "I think you got hacked. I was tagged in an photo album about a RayBans sale."

I quickly pulled up my Facebook page, which I don't even fool with very often, to find that I had posted a lovely album with photos of "RayBans" on sale for like $20. (Yeah, right.)

My stomach kind of dropped, because I don't consider myself to be the kind of person that would be an easy target.

I don't log in my Facebook account on the iPads when I visit the Apple store. While my password isn't as intense as the one Chase designed for the wifi, I don't have a password like 1234, either. I wouldn't be fooled if someone sent me an email and told me I needed to change my Facebook password. I don't have access to the email account associated with my Facebook account. I don't even use Facebook very often. 

So how did I get hacked?

That's the part that makes me feel so uncomfortable. Do I have keystroke logging software on my phone? Was a hacker/spambot able to crack my password or my security questions? Security questions, despite their name, aren't that secure at all. People are intense over-sharers these days, and it's not uncommon to see someone post a photo of them during their childhood: #throwbackthursday to when I grew up on Apple Street. Or today just remembering my beloved childhood dog, Sparticus. Or photo of my mom, Mary Smith Jones, when she was in middle school. Yes, those are a little too blatant, but people share a lot...and they share things like that.

I didn't think I was one of those people. 

But somehow, someone hacked me. Maybe all they did was post an album that linked to a fraudulent RayBan sale probably based in a foreign country, but it was startling and a major invasion of my privacy. 

It's easy to think that something won't happen to you. I won't get heart disease because I eat healthy. I won't get lung cancer because I don't smoke. I won't get robbed because I don't flaunt my wealth. (Also, I'm not wealthy, so perhaps that should read 'I won't get robbed because I'm not wealthy.') I won't get hacked because I am an intelligent, informed internet citizen. 

Bad things can happen, despite our best efforts to avoid them. 

But don't tempt fate and over-share information or do any of the things I listed in the "I don't...." paragraph.

Thanks for stopping by! I would love it if you left me a comment.

On coaching kids & this year's season

I have been a rec cheerleading coach for six years now, coaching six or seven different teams in cheerleading, and usually kindergarten through second graders (but I have worked with the third through sixth group a few times). I originally sought out this opportunity because I needed volunteer hours for my sorority, but it turned into something much more than that...I got nearly double the hours I needed and I continued to coach once I graduated college. Coaching youth cheerleading is near to my heart, and I am pursuing teaching because of it. 

This season has been full of trials and is a very interesting one that might potentially be my last year coaching cheerleading for many years. Next fall I hope to be teaching in a classroom and I won't want to put anything else on my plate. Also, the current cheerleading coordinator is retiring and therefore I may not get a call next year if they happen to be short on cheerleading coaches because the new coordinator may not know that I've coached in the past and am good at it. 

This year was very different than many of my past seasons, and not necessarily in a good way. Don't get me wrong, I have had a great group of girls and I have absolutely loved working with them and seeing them grow. 

This year, the rec department decided to move the cheerleading practices to a local elementary school versus having them in the rec department. This meant that we lost practices when school wasn't in session. Also, we didn't get to practice when the exhibition was postponed because the rec department hadn't planned to pay a gym supervisor; if we had been practicing at the rec department, this wouldn't have been a problem, as there would've been a staff member in the rec department. 

At the end of each season, the cheerleaders get to perform in an exhibition. It's the culmination of the season where they show off everything that they have learned. My first year coaching, it was an actual competition, where the rec department awarded places to the teams. (We got 2nd overall my first year.) The next year, they changed it to an exhibition, but the girls still performed their competition-style dance and cheer. This continued for years. Last year the exhibition wasn't on its own day, but was in between two games during the basketball tournament, which was admittedly a little less special, as the rec department used to make a full day of the event, inviting local high school teams to perform, too. This year there isn't going to be an exhibition, and to be honest, I'm both disappointed and relieved.

Another of the struggles of this season is the fact that we ended up with much less practice time than expected. The rec department had set a tentative date for the exhibition, and I calculated and counted on three more practices before the exhibition. The next week we were hit with our first major snow storm, and the rec department immediately cancelled everything, including my Sunday practice. The next week, they moved the exhibition up because one team couldn't make it, and I was down to one practice. I used that one practice to the best of my ability and made the girls practice for two hours instead of one, but we were still very shaky on our dance routine. I had counted on three practices, not one. We were hit by a second snow storm, so the exhibition was rescheduled again. 

The exhibition has been rescheduled at least four times. Last Friday evening, they cancelled the exhibition again, which was at the time scheduled for 3/12. They said they would reevaluate the date on Monday, and Monday morning I got an email that it was scheduled for the very next day. Not surprisingly, most of the coaches couldn't make the exhibition due to prior plans/short notice, so the rec department decided to cancel it outright. 

Part of me is incredibly disappointed. The girls worked so incredibly hard and learned so much this season. But on the other hand, I'm relieved. They didn't really know their dance routine, so I would've had to try to sit in front of them and do it with them. And I majorly shortened the long cheer, taking out the most fun parts: the cool signs and the knee stand stunt. 

We have one final game tonight. I will distribute the trophies and hand out the participation certificates. I have gone back and forth as to whether or not they should perform their dance routine. It's a mess, but I think I did a great job choreographing it. And they spent so much time working on it. I hate for them to have spent all of that time learning it for nothing. But the decision isn't just 100% mine. I want this season to be something special for the girls, too. One parent already sent me a message saying that her daughter loved the dance and wanted to perform it.

I'm not sure how it'll go, but if they want to do it, we will do it.

Because, after all, it's about the kids