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Posted at 12:39 AM 18 April 2011

goodbye, Stevie

Confession: I love television.

Deep in my heart of hearts, I secretly hate myself for wasting time whenever I sit entranced in front of that slave driver, Stevie the TV (Friends anyone?). As a lifelong reader (I seriously used to get in trouble for reading in my room instead of interacting with the family), my inner intellectual snob is rolling it’s eyes at me for not doing something mentally productive, like learning new vocabulary or stretching my creative muscles.

Before you judge me for being one of those people who mindlessly flips through the channels for hours on end, hear me out. I’m not a channel surfer. I don’t watch TV just to waste time. I get involved in shows. I find a show that catches my interest with an adventurous or hilarious story line, witty dialogue, and characters I can relate to. Examples: Lost, How I Met Your Mother, and 30 Rock.

[CBS Website]

As much as I have grown to love the characters on these shows, I always feel guilty after spending an hour in front of the TV. So I had to make a decision. It was time to move my computer to the guest room. Away from the television. I cannot believe the increase in my productivity since then! I’m a week ahead on lesson plans. I actually prep before the day of class. I even balance the budget with a smile on my face whilst humming along to “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Josh Groban. Best of all, I have time to focus on one of the things I love to do: relax and read. I read other people’s blogs. I read the Bible. I read my 4 books each month. I feel free. Next I’m going to have to squeeze writing into my schedule (besides writing this blog!).

My new work space. Plug in my headphones, tune out the world, and do work!

Yay productivity!

As much as Stevie the TV has become a friend to me over the last few months when Justin and I have very few friends our age in the area, I did what I had to do, and set a limit on my viewing habits:

  • While folding laundry
  • While eating lunch when I’m home alone
  • After reading and right before bed.

That doesn’t mean I don’t sneak in an extra show or 2 on the weekends that I DVR’d during the week, but I feel more at peace with my time management these days. To enhance my free time, I write a list of the most important things to do for the next day, and try to complete them in order from most to least difficult.

What are your time management tips and tricks?

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Posted at 10:17 PM 13 April 2011

St. Paul tourist

Home sweet home. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. It’s (gasp) boring.

I often get stuck in this mindset. It is nice to have my own belongings, the comfort of my own bed and shower, and to know where I’m going (most of the time) when I’m driving. But with that familiarity comes complacence and routine. This is what makes travel so appealing. It is new and exciting with places to see, things to do, and people to meet.

One of my life list goals is to become a tourist in my own city for this very reason. Why does home need to be boring? I am determined to have adventures and see new things right here in the Twin Cities.

I discovered so much to see and do in the area that I have decided to break it up into different posts. Today, I will start closest to home with St. Paul, MN.

  1. Cinco de Mayo Fiesta in the District Del Sol. Apparently this is the fiesta más caliente in Minnesota. There is supposed to be a selection of booths offering food, crafts, and information. With parades, salsa tasting, and cultural performances this Cinco de Mayo Fiesta seems like a fun way to celebrate this (kind of) fake holiday. 
  2. The King Tut Exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Justin and I were too broke after our wedding to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, which we were really bummed about. Now we have until September to see the great Egyptian ruler right here in our own city! The artifacts, Omnitheather film, and the history behind the exhibit sound fascinating. If my husband and I apply for an educator membership, the entire thing - museum entry fee, exhibit, and Omnitheater film - would only cost $18/person.
  3. Stroll down Grand Avenue on a fine summer day. I can just see it now: perusing the cute little shops and boutiques, enjoying an ice cream cone, and stopping for a glass of wine (or a beer) on the patio of a small street-side eatery. The perfect summer afternoon.
  4. Take a tour of the capitol building. Lucky for us, we have a piece of history not 15 minutes away from our house. It’s time for me to see the capitol building of the state where I live.
  5. The Wabasha Street Caves. These sandstone caves found in St. Paul have an interesting history. For only $6 you can take a 45 minute tour to find out about the “mobster massacres” and “ghostly lore.” Sounds eerie, and exciting!

With summer coming up, I have plenty of time to explore these 5 cultural and uniquely St. Paul places and events, plus other undiscovered nooks and crannies St. Paul has to offer.

What is the coolest thing you have seen or done in your own home town?

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Posted at 3:44 PM 12 April 2011

bon voyage!

When I was hired for my current part-time teaching job, I received the assignment of establishing a study abroad program at the very young and thus still very small school. Never one to shrink from a challenge, I embraced the new responsibility and researched high school study abroad programs on the internet for hours.

If ever there were a perfect extra-curricular task for me to organize, this would be it. After all, I have planned quite a few of my own trips, and even worked with my college Spanish professor to put together a study abroad program for myself and a classmate where our college previously had none.

Here are the steps for planning a trip for high school students abroad:

  1. Find a program. This was one of the biggest decisions I had to make. There are so many companies vying for your business, and it’s hard to know which one to trust. I went with one I had used for my study abroad trip to Ecuador: Language Link. These folks are professional, trustworthy, and helpful. My advice is to do your research, read reviews, and get recommendations from other teachers who have put together similar programs at their schools.
  2. Choose a destination. There are so many factors that come into play here. Cost is an issue, as well as safety, activities for the students, what language is spoken, and quality of the language schools. My personal favorite factor: where I, the chaperon, had not yet been to. Hey, a girl’s got to cross countries off her list, ok? My school ended up going with Costa Rica due to the rich cultural heritage, beautiful scenery, relatively low cost, and an exciting program put together for us. Itercultura Language School is our school of choice. Check out their website - the pictures look incredible!
    {pictures from the Intercultura website}
  3. Recruit some students! Obviously your trip would be impossible without this step. I sent out a letter to the parents to every student enrolled in Spanish classes. Announcements during assemblies, during homeroom, or in newsletters work as well. Don’t forget the power of persuasion “mano a mano.” The only reason I considered my first mission trip abroad was because my Spanish teacher sought me out and personally handed me an application. (Thanks Plugs). Remind students and parents that although this is often a huge financial commitment, it is a once-in-a-lifetime, eye-opening experience. 
  4. Parent Meetings. Once you have your group assembled, be sure to schedule monthly (ish) parent meetings to keep them updated with the progress of the trip. Topics to bring up at meetings are passports, payment schedules, fundraisers, and preparation tips for the trip.
  5. Book a flight. This should be done about 6 months in advance. The school or tour group you’re working with abroad will need this information to plan your airport transportation and home stay or hotel reservations. This was one of the most stressful aspects of the trip for me. Fortunately, my aunt is a travel agent who helped me out tremendously by finding the cheapest flight possible that worked with our schedule. Of course, this can technically be done online, but consider that you will want to pay for all of the tickets at once, and not out of your own bank account.
    (sorry April)
  6. Fundraise! Everyone hates fundraising. I know, and I do, too. However, these parents are paying top dollar for their students to get the best experience possible, so it is the least you can do to help them get some of their money back. Fundraising ideas: babysitting night, bagging groceries, movie nights, selling stuff (not my favorite), recycling fundraiser (best idea ever), and car wash. I am sure there are many other great ideas out there… be creative!
  7. Prepare! Get your students ready for the cultural changes they are about to encounter. Arm them with Spanish survival phrases (in case they didn’t pay attention in your class). Provide a packing list. (Mex04 Packing List: waterbottle, toothbrush, camera, the clothes you are wearing, swimsuit, underwear, journal. Total weight of luggage: 5lbs) Buy cute sundresses! (that’s just for you). Get all those medical documents and insurance forms you’ll need from the kids.
  8. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

I can’t wait to see my students catch that same travel fever I caught back in 2004 with the most amazing group of people in Sonora, Mexico. That trip was what made me decide to be a Spanish teacher. And here I am today.

How has travel changed your life?

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Posted at 11:23 PM 11 April 2011

box elder convos

The following conversations took place via text message between my sister Liz and me, and between Liz and Molly (another sister):

Liz and Em:

Liz: Box Elders FLY!! They became 10 times more lethal

Em: Oh yeah. They’re the whole package

Liz: Em, I have stories for you…one I thought I killed Monday when I was home was no longer under the boot I squashed him with. Instead, him and 4 others were surrounded my suitcase last night. I knew it was him because he had a limp where I crushed his back leg.

Em: They are impossible to kill. They could survive a nuclear holocaust.

Liz: I know. I fear they’re red striped backs more than Joan Cusack.

Em: They repulse me. Both the box elders and Joan Cusack.

Liz: Right….imagine this: box elder with Joan Cusack’s melon. Scariest beast I’ve ever seen.

Em: Ew

Liz: Is your BE situation under control at your house?

Em: No. they are everywhere I turn. I live in fear in my own house.

Liz:I’m so sorry to hear that

Liz and Molly:

Liz: Box Elders FLY!! They became 10 times more lethal

Molly: Right?! I had the same reaction when I discovered that. They’re like quadruple threats…The scariest kind of bug specimen that exists

Liz: Seriously…I’m terrified and I have to work in the basement. Molly, I have stories for you…one I thought I killed Monday when I was home was no longer under the boot I squashed him with. Instead, him and 4 others were surrounded my suitcase last night. I knew it was him because he had a limp where I crushed his back leg.

Molly: I’m laughing so hard right now. It’s as though he gathered the troops to get you. And I love that you “knew” it was him because he “limped”

Liz: Ha I would be laughing if it wasn’t so scary. I had dad killing these monsters left and right. I can barely breathe…

Molly: Oh I can only imagine. They are evil & multiplying in number

Liz: Maybe they have that regenerate feature….

Molly: I’d like to think they do

A special thanks to Liz for recording these conversations and emailing them to the family. It’s important to get the message out about the real and present danger of box elder bugs.

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Posted at 11:55 PM 10 April 2011

rejoining the world

We’ve all had those weeks (or days or fortnights). Nothing is especially wrong, but nothing feels right. We’re listless, restless, and aimless. Bored and complaining.

I myself just muddled through such a week. I found myself lacking motivation to do anything more than what was necessary to get by. I was not bettering myself as a person. I parked myself on the couch with a bowl of cereal and closed the curtains, hoping the rest of the world would go away. I couldn’t place a finger on what was bumming me out. I was just…down.

No more! Early morning church and 70 degree weather in Minnesota in April are just what I needed to help change my outlook. I am ready to rejoin the world full of productive and inspired people.

Here is a photo journal of what occurred in the past 24 hours to help bring me out of my rut:



Jewelry from Kohl’s (on sale!) and H&M

I realized this week that 75% of my wardrobe is still from high school. I now teach high school students. That seems like a problem to me. That can only mean one thing: new wardrobe! I did some jewelry and clothes shopping this weekend. Each month I will dedicate a little bit of money to accomplishing one of my life goals: Creating a Signature Look. I also purchased a zip-up hoodie (you can never have too many of those) from Kohl’s, and a white cotton button-up shirt from H&M.

Things I am looking to purchase in the next couple months: a maxi dress with tribal print, wedges and/or espadrilles for summer, drapey earth-toned tank tops, cute dresses for vegas!!!


I am flexing my creative muscles by attempting to create an inspiration board. I purchased four square, dark brown cork boards, some ribbon, and printed some pictures. I plan on making a collage of inspirational quotes, phrases, and pictures that reflect my goals. (If anyone has creative suggestions, feel free to comment!)


Lunch on the deck! Justin and I put together some crackers and cheese, apples, and a strawberry-chocolate smoothie for lunch, and decided to enjoy it in the beautiful sunshine!


It felt so relaxing to feel the warm sunshine on my face again.


This picture is of my passport- specifically my visa to Russia in 2007. (I went to Siberia for 3 weeks to teach vacation Bible school.) Today I had to apply for a new passport in preparation for my trip to Costa Rica. How unfair is it that girls have to pay $110 to change their name on their passports, and guys don’t have to do a darn thing! Rants aside, you have to send your old passport in when you apply for a new one, and I’m not sure if I’ll get the old one back, so I took pictures of all the stamps and visas I have amassed over the years. 

One thing I am very grateful for is that there was no government shutdown. I would have been in a pickle if I couldn’t get my new passport in time to lead my little lambs to a foreign country.

As usual, church was a refreshing part of my day. A sermon on being a servant to  others, and Bible study on the fruit of the spirit: gentleness.

After coaching my wonderful volleyball team this afternoon (last Sunday practice!) I came back, locked myself in our “office” (the guest room), and cranked out my lessons and worksheets for the week.

Welcome back, Emily.

What helps you break out of a rut?

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Posted at 11:41 PM 10 April 2011


What songs, books, or activities get you motivated?

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Tagged with motivation, music, books,
Posted at 12:43 PM 06 April 2011


I am in an inspiration rut! Picture this: you just came back from the most amazing trip of your life. It was fabulous! It was adventurous! It was inspirational! Then, you get back to real life. It’s kind of like everything is a let-down. Everything is so… mundane. Severely average. Intensely normal.

This is how I feel after reading a good book (or books). Why is real life not as sublime?

Here is my attempt to remind myself of things that inspire me and make me happy, in addition to venting about the things that bug me.

Songs I listen to when I need a pick-me-up

  1. Three Little Birds - Bob Marley
  2. Knee Deep - Zac Brown Band
  3. Only the Good Die Young - Billy Joel

Last 3 Books I’ve Read

  1. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
  2. Talent and the Secret Life of Teams - Terry Pettit
  3. The first 150 pages of War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

Things I’m thankful for

  1. The sunshine
  2. 3 decent substitute teaching experiences in a row
  3. the ability to exercise

Foods & Drinks that make me happy

  1. Margaritas with chips and salsa
  2. Fudgesicles that are only 40 calories- the perfect snack!
  3. Strawberry Banana smoothies that I have for lunch almost every day

Things I’m Looking Forward To

  1. the end of this school year (sorry students…it’s just…summer)
  2. Easter weekend with some of my sisters
  3. Vegas, Costa Rica, the Krause family vacation, and visiting home

Recent Pet Peaves

  1. all the songs on the radio recently about outer space and aliens (maybe it’s just me…I feel like there has been a bumper crop of songs with this theme.)
  2. box elder bugs…in my 23 years of existence, I have never seen one of these creepy crawlers until this past October…and they survived this cruel Minnesota winter only to invade every nook and cranny of my home!
  3. Shape-Ups and those 40-some-year-old ladies that the gym who wear them and gab with their friends instead of working out while sprawling across the machines or weights I need to complete my actual work out.

That about covers my recent thoughts, opinions, and musings. I need help getting re-inspired to get through these last 2 months of school. So, please tell me what you do to get inspired. What songs, books, or activities get you motivated?

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Posted at 12:42 PM 06 April 2011


My church’s Bible study has recently been discussing the Fruits of the Spirit, found in the book of Galatians, chapter 5. This past Sunday the theme was faithfulness. To understand faithfulness, we must first look at the perfect example: our God. When God makes a promise or covenant with his people, they can rely on him fully to follow through.

This week particularly intrigued me, given my recent musings on following through with my own goals. Sometimes I wonder if I am being selfish by focusing so much on myself and what I want, so it was good for me to look at goal-setting and achieving my life list from a Biblical perspective.

One of the sections of Scripture we perused was Matthew 25:14-30 The Parable of the Talents. When the Bible talks about talents it is referring to a unit of weight or money. I am no expert on Biblical weights and measurements, but I do know that a talent is a large sum of money, a bag of gold. (If anyone knows for sure what this is, feel free to leave a comment!).

Well, to summarize the parable, a man (a rich man) goes on a long journey, and entrusts one of his servants with five talents, another servant with two talents, and another with one. While he is gone, the servant with the five talents and the servant with two talents double their money. The servant with the smallest amount of money, however, hides his master’s money because he is afraid to fail or lose it somehow.

When the master returns, he praises the first two servants by saying: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” To the servant who hid the money, he says: “You wicked, lazy servant!” He admonishes him for not even putting the money in the bank to earn interest, takes the one talent and gives it to the servant with the 10 talents, and proceeds to throw him out.

Whether or not you are religious, this parable is packed with meaning for us today:

  • Money: You know what they say…”the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Why do you think that is? Rich people get and stay rich for a reason. They are smart with their money, and actively seek ways to invest that money for a profit. If God has blessed you with any amount of money, educate yourself enough to manage that gift wisely.
  • Responsibility: in school, at work, and in life, each person has a certain amount of responsibility, whether they want it or not. In fact, responsibility is a privilege! Think of first graders who are so excited to have their weekly classroom jobs. Hard-working high school students who are allowed into AP classes. Workers who are always looking for the challenging projects and assignments to get promoted. We learn from Joseph in the Bible to take even the smallest task or job and give it 100%. Eventually it will be noticed, acknowledged, and rewarded.
  • Ability: ask any coach. They would much rather have a mildly talented, yet hard working athlete than a lazy but gifted one. Same goes for teachers and their students. Like the servants, we are each allotted a certain amount of ability in different areas. Find your strengths, and work at them with all your heart. 

Faithfulness in your faith, your job, your home, your finances, your relationships, and your ability determines how far you get in life. Take the blessings you have and make the absolute most out of them. What an incredible God we have, who grants us so much awesome responsibility. His mercies are new every morning, and I, for one, will take advantage of every single one.

Will you be the wicked and lazy servant who is too afraid to fail, so he hides his talent?

Or are you the good and faithful servant who doubles what he has been given, and as a result is given more?

How will you make the most of what you have today?

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Posted at 10:33 PM 04 April 2011

someday i'll

I just found this blog about more Bucket List items. I love the way the blog uses captivating pictures to illustrate the beauty of other cultures and adventurous moments. Enjoy!

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Tagged with Bucket List,
Posted at 9:21 AM 02 April 2011