One Lucky Girl

Welp… it’s been a big week around these parts.

It was the first week of school. My first official week as a teacher and Bridget’s first week as a middle schooler.

Add to that list my birthday, Brent and my tenth wedding anniversary, two doctor’s visits and Penelope’s first “Back to School Night” for preschool. It was madness.

Monday had been the day we had been waiting for all summer. We woke up early and spent extra time fixing our hair while Brent and Penelope made breakfast. That morning Brent had made his signature “McDaddle Sandwiches” per Bridget’s request. (For those of you who don’t know, a McDaddle is like a McDonald’s sausage McMuffin only this one is made with turkey sausage and is prepared by a guy named Brent… aka Dad.) After breakfast we took our annual first day of school pictures.


Sweet girl… nervous but excited.


A failed attempt at a photo in the sunshine…


Ahhh… much better. The last mommy snuggle of the morning.

I can’t believe how big my baby girl has gotten. She was all lovey dovey while we were home but as soon as we pulled into the parking lot she instantly morphed into that kid who couldn’t stand to be seen with her parents. As soon as we let her out of the car she fled from us as fast as she could without a second glance… far from any chance of being embarrassed. Later on when we passed each other in the hall I tried to play it cool and not make any sudden movements for fear of doing something wrong. Surprisingly she pulled away from her new friends, gave me a big hug and kiss and said, “Hi Mommy”.

It melted my heart.

Adjusting to my new working mom schedule has been crazy but luckily for me Brent was home for most of the week. Every time I got home from work the house was clean, the laundry was done and dinner was ready. Brent and I both agreed that he is a much better housewife than I am.

When Wednesday rolled around he got up early to get me coffee for my birthday. After school I came home to see that Penelope had picked out a bouquet of balloons and Bridget had bought me a shirt that coordinated with the shirt she picked out for herself for picture day.

“That way when we look in the year book we’ll match.”

Unfortunately, my boobs were too big  and couldn’t fit in it so I couldn’t wear it but I was still touched by the fact that she wanted us to match. (Hopefully once I shed a little more weight I’ll be able to surprise her by squeezing into it for the spring pictures.)

We made plans to go to The Cheescake Factory for an early dinner but made an exit when we discovered the traffic was standstill in the direction that we needed to go. So, instead we headed back toward our house and ate at the nearby Texas Roadhouse where I chugged down two margaritas. The atmosphere was perfect because it reminded me of home. I’ve been really homesick lately and it just seemed to hit the spot.

After our dinner we were too full to order dessert but as soon as we got home Brent insisted I get ready to go for a bike ride. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough you know that I love my bike rides. But I was so full I wasn’t sure if it was such a good idea. Brent was very persistent about it so I changed into some stretchy pants and obliged. Bridget offered to stay home with Penelope so that we could go alone. I missed both of my girls from working so much lately and almost insisted that they just come along with us but changed my mind when I saw them snuggling together in the living room watching The Little Mermaid.

Brent and I took off on our bikes giggling like two sixth graders in love and headed toward my favorite bike trail


As we were riding along Brent kept complaining about how his bike felt weird. He said that he thought something was wrong with the chain. I was starting to get bummed out because I was really enjoying myself and didn’t want to have to turn around. At one point on the trail he had to stop to tend to his bike. I was riding ahead of him and he called me over so that he could compare our bikes. He wanted to see if the chain on his bike looked like mine. I got off of my bike and walked it over to him. Instead of turning it around on the narrow bike trail I just backed it up which proved to be trickier than I thought it would be. Once I managed to finagle my way over I looked up to see him down on one knee with a jewelry box in his hand. Inside was a ring to replace the one I had lost at the beginning of the summer and he looked up at me and asked me if I would stay married to him.


It was the sweetest thing ever!

You see, Brent hasn’t always been so romantic. In fact, my first proposal was awful. We were in a long distance relationship and on one of his visits out to see me we had bought the ring together. When he left to go back to Colorado he took the ring with him and I had pleaded with him… “Do something special with it.” The next time I went to visit him we were at his parents house where we had just stuffed ourselves on chicken enchiladas. We talked about the ring we had bought and he decided to show it to them. After they all looked at it he turned to me and nonchalantly  said, “You want this?”


He repeated, “Do you want this?”

I shook my head pleading with my eyes… do something special. “No.”

Then he gave me his puppy dog look and I realized that he was serious. “Do you want it?”


His mom said, “Is that it? Are you engaged? YAY!!!”

Then he tried to make out with me in front of his parents, and promptly went downstairs with his little brother to play video games.

He has never heard the end of it… until now.

Ten years later I got the proposal I had always hoped for and what made it even better was that Bridget was in on it.  She even helped him pick out the ring which has little hearts on the sides hidden within the intricate design. The only problem is that it doesn’t fit on my fat finger. This would have embarrassed me beyond belief ten years ago but after being together for ten years it didn’t even matter, nothing a quick trip to the jeweler couldn’t fix. (Plus, I found it rather endearing that my family doesn’t seem to register the full capacity of my girth… #vikinggirlproblems.)

Later on during the bike ride Bridget couldn’t stand the suspense any longer and texted Brent to see how it went.


As soon as we got home we were greeted by the girls. Bridget made sure that I knew that she helped pick out the ring and Penelope made sure that I knew that she had picked out the Balloons. “I pick out balloooons… HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”

In fact, every day this week when she passes my wilting balloons she repeats the same phrase and then dramatically runs to me for a big hug and a slobbery kiss. I think it’s adorable, therefore, I refuse to throw away the deflated balloons dangling from the banister of our stairs.

Thursday was our actual anniversary. Brent and I had agreed earlier on that we would actually celebrate it this coming Sunday since we had to attend Penelope’s preschool open house that day. I cried later that night because I felt bad about it.  Here he had done this grand gesture and I didn’t even buy him a card.

Brent was sitting in the basement playing video games when I went downstairs to try and get his attention.  I wanted to let him know how much I loved him and how grateful I was for him and how sorry I was for not doing something super special for him. He wanted to let me know that I was in his way and that if I really loved him then I should simply move so that his fake baseball player could get a homerun.

Some things never change I guess…

To be honest I don’t think I would want it to because I am one lucky girl ;)


“Do Ya’ll Even Know What That Is?”

It’s the Saturday before I go back to middle school… for good.

I’m sitting in my living room pondering which movie I should choose to watch on Netflix. I’m in my pajamas wearing my old man glasses. The glasses that I picked out prior to the realization that I had gotten so near sighted that when my actual lenses were put in place I no longer looked like a hipster but like the old guy from The Neverending Story.


I was sorely disappointed to see my beady eyes staring back at me. I would prefer to have the opposite prescription. Personally, I think I would make a better Professor Trelawney.


(Side Note: If you don’t know who these people are you should leave.)

Here I am writing up my long overdue blog post in my jammies with a glob of toothpaste on my nose. I’m not quite sure why the toothpaste is sitting there other than the fact that I have a pimple trying to make an appearance and it felt like the right thing to do. It’s probably some puberty trick I learned back in the day when I read Cosmo Seventeen Magazine. Seventeen Magazine was where I got the zit advice. Cosmo was something that my friends and I would steal from an older sister so that we could be thoroughly confused by the sex advice.

“Uhhh… they want you to stick your finger where?! Do ya’ll even know what that is?”

(I grew up in Texas- hence, the ya’ll.)

I was super relieved to later find out that things were much less complicated than Cosmo had made it out to be. On the plus side, I stayed a virgin for a long time due to the fact that I was completely freaked out by what I had read…

Hmmm… I’m not quite sure how I ended up talking about that. Weird.

I think the point is, I’m officially a middle school teacher and yet I feel almost exactly like I did before the first day of school when I was a middle school student.

Apparently not much has changed in twenty years. (Let’s not tell 7th grade Nina that, she would be sorely disappointed).

Anyway, Bridget is on a sleep over tonight and Brent has been at work seven of the past nine days.  I don’t mean the usual 9-5 gig, I mean seven 24 hour shifts. (He has to cover for the firefighters that were called for a wildland deployment.) This means when I get home from work overwhelmed to the max I still don’t get a break for another four hours until Penelope goes to sleep. And even then I can’t complain because Brent has it way worse than I do.

Why do you always have to be a one-upper Brent?!

It could have been worse. I was this close to being summoned for jury duty during my first week of work. That would have been awful. Luckily my number wasn’t called.

Instead, I spent this past week juggling two schools and setting up all of my classes. I teach at one school in the morning and at another school in the afternoon.  I had twice the information to digest, twice the emails to sift through and twice the staff lunches to attend. Other than the staff goodies I had been given I can’t even tell you what I ate this past week. I was too busy to eat my feelings.

Initially, I had planned on having Bridget take my monthly pictures for me last Sunday so that I could get back into weight loss blog mode. But when Sunday rolled around I realized that she was still on her Girl Scout Trip and wouldn’t be back until later. I decided it was all for the best because I wasn’t really ready to face the music. I really would rather pretend like I didn’t gain weight this summer and I’m really dreading posting my weight up again.

I curse myself for writing this blog and inviting you to join me in my struggles. It’s only fun when I’m winning. The honesty that is required for writing this blog is killing me!

That being said, I can’t keep pushing it off forever. But I’m still alone and I don’t have anyone to take my monthly picture for me tomorrow. I’m tempted to do it on Monday but that is the first day of school and that’s the day I’m supposed to be taking pictures of Bridget as she makes her transition from elementary school kid to middle school kid. It seems a bit self involved to make her take pictures of me so that I can post them on my blog on that day.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t even be my own friend if I did that.

So, I’ll just have to figure that out later. Maybe I’ll do it on Wednesday because that’s my birthday. You’re allowed to be self involved on your birthday.

But… just because I can’t take my monthly picture it doesn’t mean I can’t start making strides. My first line of business is to look up make ahead recipes that I can freeze that involve humongous zucchinis. This sucker got a little out of hand while I was tending to my classroom instead of my garden.


Apparently, I have a little bit of a zucchini problem…


I have about ten mutant zucchinis that need to be prepped and cooked in one form or fashion… preferably in a manner that will help me lose weight.

I’ll keep you posted on how that goes. In the meantime, I’m going to go wash this toothpaste off of my nose because it’s starting to burn. Then I’m going to see if I can stay up late enough to finish a movie. I’ve gotta live it up while I can!  There is only a day and a half of summer left as far as I’m concerned.

OMG… You Are Not For Real

You know how I got that teaching job? Well, things got crazy around here… real quick.

I’ve been going to trainings and meetings. I’ve been researching and planning. Oh and don’t even get me started on the shopping- shopping for my classroom, shopping for my wardrobe, shopping for Bridget’s school supplies. The only thing I haven’t been shopping for lately is groceries.

I’ve been trying to spend some good old fashioned quality time with my kiddos before things get even crazier at work but Penelope came home from her vacation with a whole new attitude…

“No! Don’t talk!”

“No! Don’t look at me!”

“No! It’s mines!”

“No! I’m the boss!”

All I want to do is snuggle her but she’s been so sassy lately I’ve spent more time clamping my lips together between my teeth and putting her in time out. When I resort to physically biting my lips together I have found that I am physically trying to hold my temper at bay. Having this whole to attitude pop up right before I put her into day care has me a little concerned. I don’t want her getting away with it during the day. I want it to be nipped in the bud.

Bridget on the other hand has been a complete anxiety attack waiting to happen. In fact, we went to her school’s registration today where she got to decorate her locker and explore a bit. Before we showed up she gave us guidelines for not embarrassing her.

Apparently it didn’t work…


(Brent and I practiced our best middle school selfie faces because selfies didn’t exist when we were in middle school)

Bridget was only a bit embarrassed by our behavior. Fortunately for her, I’m just down the hall if she needs me. Or… if she wants me to show her new friends my Beyonce moves all she has to do is knock.


She told me that wouldn’t be necessary.


I’m sure she’ll change her mind… and when she does I’ll be ready.

The only problem with that is, I don’t think they’re ready for this jelly.

Let’s just say that I finally stepped on the scale this week for the first time after my ectopic surgery. It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it downright hurt my feelings. I was a bit of an emotional wreck after losing the baby and I tried to eat and drink my way through it.


The funny part is that I wasn’t even all that hungry. I didn’t eat all that much but when I did eat it was complete crap. Then that made me feel like crap so then I ate even crappier. I knew it all had to end at some point. But I had some sort of mental block about doing a weight loss challenge because the last time I tried to do that I was pregnant (but didn’t know it). I’ve been avoiding it because it reminds me of my tubal pregnancy.

However, after stepping on the scale I’ve decided that’s just something I’m going to have to get over. It’s so bad in fact, I’m not even going to post the weight just yet. I’m going to do an official weigh-in with pictures to show you just how downhill I’ve gone. Then I’m going to come up with a plan and implement it. I know things are crazy with my new teaching job but I think it’s the perfect time to change habits.

That being said, I better go! I’ve got a classroom to get together and a meeting to go to!

*WARNING- I didn’t edit this post because I didn’t have time. Don’t judge me!*

What Not To Say on a Job Interview

You may or may not know this about me, but sometimes I say stupid stuff. Weird things pop into my head and if I’m not careful they come spewing out of my mouth at the strangest times. Those who know and love me have grown to find it endearing, funny even. Those who don’t know me can tend to think that I am… well, weird.

Most of the time when I’m around strangers I can get a handle on it. I’m fully aware that some people can only handle so much personality from one person. Yet, when I’m nervous like say… at a job interview, sometimes there is no telling what I’ll say.

That being said, let me share three phrases with you that should never be said while you are trying to convince someone to give you a job.

1.) “Oh! We’re role playing?!”

2.) “Yeah… I werked it ;)

3.) “You know what? I’m gonna cheat… I’m cheating!”

Unfortunately for me I was feeling a bit off the morning I went in for my final job interview of the summer and ALL of those things were said at one point… including the winky face. As soon as I got back into my car after walking out of the school I was tempted to bang my head on my steering wheel over and over again. I didn’t though, instead I gave myself an internal scolding, “Nina! What the hell is your problem?!?!” and then I scolded myself again for finally being able to keep my thoughts in my head where they belong versus out of my mouth where they don’t.

Earlier this summer I had gone on a few interviews for Middle School Language Arts teaching positions. I got rejected once, offered one job (that I turned down), and then offered another opportunity to teach as a long term sub. The school that offered me the long term sub position told me to go ahead and apply for other jobs throughout the summer knowing that I had this offer to fall back on if necessary. (I’m pretty sure it was my consolation prize.)

Brent and I decided that since I was still on the fence about working full time again I should just go for the long term sub position. Penelope is still little and I know how time intensive teaching is, especially during your first year.

I was resolved on this decision, but then I stumbled upon a dream scenario. Part-time teaching at two schools within walking distance to my house, one of which Bridget is going to attend. I would teach two classes in the morning at one school and two classes at the other. I would have plenty of time throughout the day to finish all of my work so that I wouldn’t have to bring it home with me at night. I didn’t know whether or not I should apply for it. After all of the drama my summer entailed I was late turning in my teaching license and I didn’t think I would receive it on time for teaching at the beginning of the year.  I didn’t want to apply for this job and not get it because I was an idiot and didn’t take care of things  when I should have.

I debated and debated… I had been feeling pretty low after the surgery I didn’t think I could handle the rejection that I was sure to endure. But then for some reason on the last minute I submitted all of the required elements to apply and just waited to see what would happen. What did I have to lose? Worst case scenario I would gain more interview experience.

Shortly after, I got a call for an interview then my hopes started to soar. This was after all a unique job that was uniquely perfect for me, it was almost like it was tailor made.

I found myself becoming increasingly excited about the prospect of getting this job.  During the weekend I tried to mentally prepare myself for the interview by having the most relaxing weekend ever. On Saturday morning Penelope and I went on our usual morning bike ride and came across our beloved hot air balloons.


My friend/neighbor, KJ took this picture.

When Sunday rolled around Brent and I took Penelope for an early morning hike.


It was so beautiful I couldn’t believe that we waited so long to take our first hike of the summer!


Then, I remembered that we had to carry a monkey on our back so I figured that was the reason for our delay.


After the hike we got back in time to eat breakfast before heading out for our Sunday Funday farmer’s market/book store routine.  We sampled some fruit…

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and then read some books…


… then went home and sampled some more fruit.


After nap we went to a friend’s house for some yard games followed by a visit downtown Littleton for some food truck fun and a glass of wine. It was great!

Then someone decided to have a toddler fit and threw my phone against the wall and broke it to pieces… little shit. I was going to need that to hear back about my interview. It really bothered me and kind of ruined the mood for the day.

I was still irritated about it the next morning. Instead of taking my phone with me I took my computer and left early in order to get a coffee and decompress before the interview. It actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. When I showed up to the school I sat across from someone else who was also interviewing for the same job. She had two huge binders sitting in her lap and looked super prepared. My first internal reaction was, “Shit! I should have done that too!” Then as I looked through the interview questions the secretary gave me I dug through my laptop and found a power point that I had made during my student teaching that correlated perfectly with an answer I had to give.

Ha! Take that super prepared applicant!

As I sat in the office waiting for my turn to interview I began to get even more nervous.  Then my thoughts went back to my broken phone sitting on my kitchen counter and I got irritated. Before I knew it, it was my turn and I was still feeling a little off. So what did I do? I overcompensated…

My personality was turned up ten notches instead of five and I said things I would never normally say in an interview. I sat there with two principals and two other teachers and I just put on a show. The more they laughed the more obnoxious I got. After having to role play a teacher student conference with one of the other teachers I just sat back and said, “Well… that was awkward. I must have left my Mary Katherine Gallager at home.”


(Click here to see a reenactment of the interview.)

Turns out I didn’t leave Mary at home at all…

A few hours later I got a phone call from the school. But I missed it because my phone was in shreds. I got it repaired that night and tried to call the principal back who had left his cell number but didn’t get a response. On the voice mail he said that he just had a few more questions to wrap up the process.

I kept wracking my brain. What did he want to know?!

“So Nina, can you tell me why you are such a weirdo?”

No, I have no idea.

“Do you normally behave this way in front of people?”

No… okay fine. Yes.

I had to wait until the next morning to find out what he wanted to ask me. I was out on a walk with my friend power pushing Penelope’s stroller. I was a bit confused and out of breath when I answered. And then the questions came…

“Hi Nina, do you want this job? Because if you do it’s yours.”


I was so excited! Brent was at home packing for our family vacation to Minnesota when I called him to share the news. Then I got even more news…

“You’ll have to start this Monday at 7:30 in the morning. We have an orientation you will have to attend.”

Our flight wasn’t schedule to come in until noon on Monday. After a few more calls it was determined that if I really wanted this job I would have to stay home from my trip.

So this morning I woke up early and dropped Brent and Penelope off at the airport in the rain. I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I went to one of my favorite coffee shops from my college days.


That’s where I am right now, among the hipsters writing my blog and drinking an over sized coffee.


I keep feeling like I need to hurry home, but then I realize no one is waiting for me. I don’t know what to do with all of this freedom. It makes me think of the afternoons I spent between classes pretending I wasn’t a suburban housewife.


Who knows I might just have to channel a little Coco Robicheaux while I have the chance…

It’s Friday… I’m in Love


Happy Friday!

I’m just sitting outside with a homemade cup of iced coffee writing this post while avoiding the mess that awaits me as soon as I step foot in my house. Penelope and I have been alone for the past three days and it looks like a toddler bomb went off. I’ll clean one area and while I do that she’ll “explore” another area. Then when I go to clean the mess she just made she’ll go and undo everything I had managed to accomplish… and so goes the cycle. It’s maddening.


The uncleaner.

That’s why moms have wine club book club. By the way did you see the trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey? I didn’t either… that’s filth. I would never be caught out in public watching such a film. I’ll just rent it later.

I forgot how exhausting it was to be a stay-at-home-mom. But I do have to admit that it does have its perks. For instance, this morning Penelope and I got to have breakfast with one of our favorite friends KJ (aka Auntie Kake). Then we got to go on a nice morning stroll afterwards. It was awesome.

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We’ve finally gotten in our summer time groove and I’m loving every minute of it! Every day entails swimming. And every time I ride my bike to the pool I have flashbacks to my own childhood. There’s something about the smell of sunblock, chlorine and fresh-cut grass… it just puts a perma-grin on my face.

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It’s always the same routine… 1) Chase Penelope around the house trying to apply sunscreen while she runs around naked. 2) Open the door and chase her from the front yard to the back yard and back around to the front where the raspberry bush is. 3) Eat all of the ripe raspberries and a few of the green ones too. 4) Load up in the bike and make our way to the pool.

“No! MY pool!”

Correction: Make our way to Penelope’s pool.

“I need monkey!”

5) Run back inside dig through the toy box until we find monkey and load back up into the bike so that we can finally go swimming.


You see, Penelope and monkey have a history together…


He just can’t be left behind.

Yesterday we managed to play at the pool for about an hour before a huge rain cloud started to descend upon us. I could hear the thunder rumbling from a distance so I packed up all of our stuff. By the time I had unlocked my bike the rain started to come down and Penelope was giggling uncontrollably. I started off pedaling as fast as I could but got lured into the moment and slowed down. I could feel the heat radiating off of the asphalt as the cool rain hit my skin. It brought me back to all of the times when I would play in the rain as a kid. When we got too cold we would lie down on the warm concrete of my dad’s driveway and squint up at the sky while we absorbed the heat. It was so comfortable, like a big warm hug on a cold winter day.

By the time we got home I was tempted to make another loop around the block but the lightening had made an appearance so we went inside and got ready for nap time instead.

Later that afternoon I was reminded that I am indeed an adult and not a school girl on summer vacation. I got a phone call from the school where I was offered a long term substitute position to see if I was still interested. Instead of starting mid-September like we had discussed they want me to start mid-August. I was torn because I have one last job interview this Monday for a part time position at two middle schools that are located near/in my neighborhood. I have no idea which job I’ll end up getting. Either way, my summer is quickly drawing to a close and so is my time as a stay-at-home mom. I’m super excited and super sad all at the same time.

I’m a little nervous about not knowing which job I’ll have but there really isn’t much to do about that for now so I guess I’ll just keep living it up Sandlot style.

So far this week the only exercise I’ve had has been in the form of riding my bike and chasing my kid around. I’ve finally broken out of my funk from the surgery.  Now all I have to do now is clean things up a bit. I need to establish some sort of work out routine and brave the scale to see where I am. I also need to get over the fact that my kitchen is the hottest room in the house when it comes to dinner time and start cooking again. The basil in my yard is thriving so I’ve been living off of bread coated in cheese, tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar. I’ve also been washing it down with wine because that just seems like the right thing to do.

We’re going on vacation next week for a family reunion so I decided not to weigh myself until I get back. Then I’ll see where I’m at and establish better habits. Then this will become a weight loss blog again and you won’t have to endure so many garden posts while I avoid what’s really going on.

Do you ever feel like you just need a health do-over? What are your go-to moves for starting fresh?