Conehead & Bathroom Etiquette


You’d think it would take more than two days back to begin blogging about the pup’s bowel movements.  No sir.  Not here on Rate Your World.  Just keepin’ it real friends.

In his old age, Dakota is definitely having trouble controlling his poop.  Some days he won’t poop for over 24 hours, others he can’t help but poop inside (at least I choose to believe he can’t help it, since he’s usually the best behaved dog ever).

On this morning’s walk we hit a new low.  As we walked outside this morning, I spotted a neighbor dog heading our way.  Considering how much Dakota still hates other dogs, we immediately turned the other direction.  We then walked down the long hall outside my apartment, and apparently he just couldn’t hold it.  He started pooping as I dragged him down the hallway to escape the other dog.  As soon as we made it to the other side I waited for the other dog to go inside, returned to pick up his poop, just to find him peeing all over the walkway.  Couldn’t wait 30 seconds until we hit the grass.  That or he wanted to make it very clear to all the other dogs in the apartment complex that this hallway is HIS.

Geez oh pete.  It was quite the morning walk.  The good news?  He didn’t poop on anyone’s porch, their belongings, or inside my apartment.  He definitely earns +2 for that.


I have no idea what instigates it, but every once in a while something happens to one of Murph’s paws, and he just can’t leave it alone.  He licks and licks and licks until the pad on his foot has come off, he bleeds all over my apartment, and is forced to limp around on 3 legs.  The only solution?  Bringing out the trusty conehead.

Boy does it make my heart hurt and laugh at the same time.  And sadly it often lasts for 1-2 weeks before he finally gives up on trying to tear it off long enough to let the paw heal.  It’s gonna be a looooong 2 weeks if he keeps this up.

Below 5 because of how much I pity the little guy, but definitely +1 for entertainment value.  Especially when it snows out and it becomes his own little shovel.


I really believe the musical soundtrack of any video, but especially a wedding video, makes it or breaks it.  Just try watching any of these videos without sound and you’ll see exactly what I mean.  And because of my love of music, I actually LOVE this part of the editing process.  However, the more videos I edit, the more I realize I need to widen my collection of both artists and songs that can be used.  Eventually I’m going to run out, AND the more I have the easier it will be to find the perfect song for each couple/video.  Feel free to pass along any suggestions of artists OR songs in the comments.

In the meantime, one of my most recent videos which I think has the perfect song match 🙂


TSP and Two Lazy Pups








TOP SECRET PROJECT #1 (of 2011 at least): 10

Thanks to an old friend who randomly introduced us over e-mail, I’ve recently become involved with what I can only (at this time) call Top Secret Project #1 of this year.  Getting to think about all the components of a dream school, put them together in writing, and hopefully get them approved by the state, possibly leading to the opening of a new school as soon as 2012 is exciting to say the least.  I am lucky, excited and honored to have been included in the project.  This morning was another great morning of work with amazing people 🙂


Remember the good old days when you could sit around at a coffee shop for hours with college friends and spout intellectual theory and discuss the way the world should work?  Dropping big, academic words left and right to impress others, win the debate, or just convince yourself that your education really was worth the $40,000/year?

Yeah, the good old days.  I do miss those conversations (minus the pretention and big words that I preferred to substitute with smaller, easier to pronounce and understand words), but I don’t miss the kids in my classes who did this ALL THE TIME, about everything.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s what drove me away from academics (higher-level anyways), and from DC.  There’s a nice balance between the world of academia and the world of application.

BUT, that said, taking a trip down memory lane this morning was fun 🙂  One of the teachers I mentored this summer wrote me asking if she could pick my brain about feminism and teaching, as she’s currently working on her Women and Gender studies capstone, and also a NC Teaching Fellow.  I happily agreed, as she was one of my favorite teachers (shhh… we don’t really have favorites), and I love thinking about these things.  Turned out to be an amazing addition to the morning, as it reminded me that sometimes I can get too bogged down in actionable conversations and tangible takeaways, and no longer seek out the bigger picture, theory conversations that I did used to love.

She also enlightened me with her e-mail organization, the one compartment of my life I have yet to master in terms of organization (not counting my car…).  Check out the product a short two hours later:


Add in some intense labeling (color-coded of course), a three-tier starring system, and multiple inboxes, and I’m ready to take over the world.  The real test will be if it stands up over time, so I’ll revisit this rating in a week or two.

After this motivating coffee date, and the reclaiming of my inbox, I headed home to see this:





While it does make me jealous at times (-1), overall I’ll take this over THIS any day.  Thank you Murphy for growing up, and Kota for being so darn cute.  And for cleaning out my empty peanut butter jars with your giant tongue.  The recycling people thank you.

That’s all for now folks.  Until next time, just living for the tens 🙂

Hawaii’s Over the Hill…

It feels like it’s been a while since the framily got together (not counting the trip to Maine Paul, Ben & I just got back from- more on that later), so I was left with no option but to host a little get together this weekend.

Clearly it was only appropriate the theme was a Hawaiian Luau, considering that Sunday was the 52nd anniversary of their statehood.  Chuquin and I headed out that afternoon and did our best to find some things to spice up the apartment.  I’d say we did pretty well…


Only things missing were grass skirts and coconut bras…


Finding great leis was a bit harder than anticipated, however.  I knew immediately where to head, as I’ve hit up Party City for leis in the past (surprisingly effective classroom incentive for my 11th graders).   But I did not anticipate quite how expensive they’d be… $2 a pop for the average ones, and $3-$4 for the super colorful, thick and flowery ones.  I fell in love immediately with a bright yellow one, but forced myself to put it back when I realized I couldn’t afford one for everyone.  Bad taste for the hostess to sport a high-end lei while handing out the skimpy ones.

Ultimately we went with lei headbands, as they were two for $1, so I could purchase enough for everyone.  I added in a couple colorful smaller neck leis as well, and I’d say the combo did the trick.  That said, if money were no option we would have scored some awesome fluorescent ones.



I haven’t been this ecstatic about a new food option since Friday.  We picked up a bunch of stuff at Trader Joe’s in the morning, and after playing some beach volleyball out back decided to throw it all together.  We did pretty well, ending up with guacamole (it’s so good any country/state would be lucky to have it as part of their cuisine), fruit salsa, homemade tortilla chips, and lastly this delicious pizza.

I can’t claim any credit, as it was entirely Chuquin, but please allow me to gush for a minute.  It started with the $1.09 whole wheat dough from Trader Joes, covered with an olive oil/rosemary/Italian season blend, then topped with cut up pineapple (okay, I’ll take credit for this), and some mozerella soy cheese.  Yup, that’s right.  SOY CHEESE.  Those non-believers have never tried this brand, on this pizza.  LIFE CHANGING.  And I’d say that almost everyone who tried it would agree.

Couldn’t resist, and made a quesidilla tonight with the leftovers.  Almost as good, but not quite.


While pineapple is certainly vegan, virtually every recipe we found online was not.  Hence why guacamole became Hawaiian due to my ability to make/change the house rules.


While I hate to be a pain to those who haven’t chosen a vegan lifestyle, I’m constantly debating with myself whether or not I can ask others to do their best to bring vegan foods while I’m hosting.  While the cheeses and eggs don’t bother me much, I must admit I really am not a fan of tons of meat parading in whenever I host dinners.  Last night had to have been the most vegan friendly dinner we’ve had, with the only exception being a little tuna.  And what’s more Hawaiian than tuna???  Exceptions can sometimes be happily made 🙂

Check out my plate full of delicious veganness…


There was no hulaing, but they certainly looked good… the headband leis fit their necks perfectly J  In fact, they’re still wearing them today…



All in all another successful framily dinner.  The framily is constantly growing and changing, and it was great to have a whole bunch of new folks join.  Thanks Jill, Steve, Dan, Amanda, Jordan, Emily, Chris, Mauro & Chuquin!


Until next time, just living for the tens 🙂

Murph’s GIANT Bone

While at Target on Tuesday I walked past the dog section and had to glimpse (per usual).  IMMEDIATELY catching my eye was the largest dog bone I’ve ever seen in my life.  And oddly enough, the first thing I thought about was Murphy.

Not Dakota, my 80 lb. chocolate lab, but instead my 20 lb. puggle.  Because he’s so obsessed with food I could only imagine the excitement he would attack it with, and how hilarious it would be to watch him dragging, carrying, and struggling with this humongous bone would be.

Turns out I was not disappointed, as he has done all of the above.

Plus try desperately to bring it to bed with him.  Which is clearly impossible as he can barely jump up on the bed as it is, and can barely carry the bone on the floor, so it is QUITE entertaining to watch him attempt to jump on the bed with the bone in tow.

-1 for the gross thought of having a slobbery bone in my bed, and the whining that comes with me throwing the bone out of the bedroom so he’ll actually go to sleep.

Turkey Day 2010


If there were two, and they were Murphy and Dakota, or even Maggie and Dakota, this rating would be several points higher.  However, when you’ve got these three all together in one house, it’s CRAZY.

First, you’ve got Murphy and Maggie chasing each other around, with Maggie’s high pitched puppy yelping, literally one yelp per step (so imagine her sprinting, taking about 3 steps a second).

Then, add food in the mix and you’ve got two puggles, with killer instincts when it comes to food, about to draw blood.

Luckily Maggie and Dakota continue their love affair, which is both adorable and convenient.  Except when Maggie insists on following Dakota around everywhere and humping his legs.  Nice one Maggie.

However, the rating is still above a five, as I love dogs, I love my dogs even more, and I LOVE the motivator to walk 6 miles every day (yes, my parents are insane- one 3 mile walk, or even 2 1.5 mile walks are just not enough.  We took TWO 3 mile walks every day I was home).



Another reason I love holidays is the free time to actually read a book or two.  While I headed home with Manhunt in tow, a recommendation of a student as it follows the entire story of John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln assassination, I ended up reading a new book I recently discovered called Scratch Beginnings.  The concept is interesting, and I must admit I went into the read with mixed feelings, yet open minded to what I would find.

The author, Adam Shepard, decides to take off from Raleigh NC and head to Charleston SC with $25, a train ticket and a sleeping bag.  His goal is to prove that the American dream is still alive and well by making $2,500, furnishing an apartment and buying a car by the end of a year.

The book is mostly spent telling the stories of those he encounters along the way, and how he ended up making it happen within 8 months.  The epilogue talks a bit about the bigger issues of poverty in America, and what this social experiment means for the American dream and how we begin to address the problems that are preventing some from getting there and causing others to stand still where they are.

While I’m not sure I agree (yet) with all issues and opinions presented, it was a pretty great instigator for Thanksgiving conversation among my family, and has given me a much needed reason to reflect on my own thoughts.  I find I spend so much time thinking about day-to-day survival in the world of teaching that I forget about the things that brought me here (and back) in the first place.  I’m going back to reread Nickel and Dimed now, which was part of the inspiration for Scratch Beginnings, and I think I’ll have a more solid grasp of my thoughts at the end.  In the meantime, it comes as a highly recommended read 🙂


I’m pretty lucky to have a mom who supports whatever my eating habits are (as they’ve grown progressively more restrictive over time).  This year she had the added challenge of creating a vegan Thanksgiving dinner.  I will note that this is a challenge created by her, as I insisted that PB & J was good enough for this vegan.

Despite that, I must admit I’m grateful for the effort as I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner as much as everyone else 🙂  Mashed potatoes (with fake butter and soy milk), corn, pumpkin rolls and stuffing not actually stuffed inside the turkey… A. MA. ZING.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that a point must be subtracted for the sickness I caused by eating too much.  Not unusual, not unfamiliar, but nonetheless pretty miserable.

This year was a small Thanksgiving, as it was just the immediate family and Ned, a blind man my mom met through the Blind Association and has now become a family friend over the past 7 (?) years.


Posing with 3 dogs is not easy.  Why we insist on including all three, I’m not quite sure.  It does, however, provide some entertainment.

So considering the fact that we had to get all three dogs to look at the camera, while also catching all of us with our eyes open, I’d say we did pretty good 🙂

-2 for my decision (or lack of awareness really) to wear a shirt with reflective tape on it.  Oops… turns out it’s nothing a little iPhoto editing can’t fix 🙂


While a 5 hour drive is definitely not bad, and I actually really appreciate the alone time to listen to incredible music, sing along, and brainstorm brilliant ideas for the classroom (or atleast ideas I think are brilliant :)), it’s also nice to use the time to catch up with people I don’t talk to nearly enough.  And people I already spend too much time talking to.  Either way, the “company” is great, and without a headset I’d be way more of a hazard on the road.

-1 for the difficulty it can sometimes cause hearing, or making me sound like I’m in a wind tunnel.

-1 for the hazard of attempting to plug in the headset, and get each ear piece in the right ear, during the 15 seconds I have while my phone is ringing.  Why don’t I just leave it plugged in, you wonder?  Sadly my phone doesn’t actually ring if I leave it in, meaning I have to unplug and replug each time.  Not cool…


This rating is not an indication of my love of my kids, or my love for teaching, but instead my extroverted self sad at leaving people again.  Sometimes I love living alone, don’t get me wrong, but it’s always an adjustment for me to leave a house full of people and animals for my house in Gaston where it’s just me and the pups.  Thank goodness for the pups 🙂

The GREAT news is that these next three weeks may possibly be my favorite three weeks of the year.  I love holiday season more than anything, and tonight I’m planning to put on Elf and put up the tree… followed by three weeks of good friends, great holiday parties (including the first ever hosted at my Gaston house!) and Secret Santa wonderfulness at school.  I CANNOT WAIT!  I’m even thinking of attempting Christmas lights on my house (and/or fence) this year…

Until next time, just living for the tens 🙂

Puppy Parade

*This is the first guest rating (of hopefully many), coming from Cheryl Smith, my twin sister and most avid blog follower.*

Sometimes it feels like everyone around me has adorable dogs, except for me.  I find this makes me want one even more than I did before!  The reality of it is, working in the city and commuting an hour each way to work, every day, just doesn’t seem realistic or fair to a dog.  Therefore, I have had to live vicariously through everyone else.

Luckily I am not alone in this, as my coworker seems to suffer the same problem.  Our way of coping is by dog sitting as much as possible, and surrounding ourselves with as many adorable dog pictures as we can.  It’s only somewhat embarrassing when people walk by our desks and ask if all of these dogs are ours, to which the response is, “Actually I don’t have a dog…  These are just my friends’ and families’ dogs.”

Therefore, as my first guest post I decided to rate the cubicle wall of my coworker.  Because of his love for everyone else’s animals, even those people he doesn’t even know, I had to rate this an 8.

Puppy Cuddling

While many have probably believed by now that this blog has gone extinct, I am here tonight to prove otherwise.

Returning to the classroom, this time to teach U.S. History and AP U.S. History, has been about as time consuming as I predicted, and sadly this blog has become one of the boxes on my to do list found under the ‘nice to have’ column rather than ‘must have’ column.  However, tonight’s occurrence has forced me to return.

Those loyal readers may recall my dream that one day my two dogs would be found cuddling like those on adorable postcards and greeting cards found at Hallmark and on those mass forward emails.  While this was my original goal in getting a second dog, I soon had to readjust my expectations when I fell in love with Dakota, who did not love the idea of cuddling with other dogs quite as much as I loved the idea of him doing it.

And tonight, after a long weekend with the parents and their puggle Maggie, this is what I found on my living room couch 🙂

Can’t rate this anything but a 10 🙂

Hopefully there will soon to be more where this post came from…