Passport Stamps

In preparation for my cruise next week, I needed a new passport. Mine expired in 2013 and sadly, I’ve had no reason to renew it in the las couple of years. I am actually going to just be using my birth certificate and driver’s license (and also bringing a print-out of the policy so if they give me any trouble, I’m not stuck on the boat…) but had fun going through my stamps. Here are the places I’ve been lucky enough to visit:

Costa Rica (2003): This trip was the reason why I needed my passport! I went to Costa Rica imagesbetween my sophomore and junior year of high school. It was one of those EF tours organized by my biology teacher, with about 15 students from school. The trip was so long ago that I don’t remember most of it but the highlight was definitely zip lining through the rainforest and white water rafting. I haven’t been rafting since, but loved it so much! Our guide intentionally tipped the raft and while I still don’t forgive him for that, I survived!

Mexico (2005): When I say Mexico, you’re picturing the beaches of Cancun or Cabo but the only Mexico I’ve seen so far is Tijuana. I went in 2005 with my church, just for the day, to help build a home for a family. Tijuana was one of the saddest places I’ve seen.

Unknown-4Canada (2006): And when I say Canada, you’re picturing Vancouver or Toronto. Freshman year
of college, a few of my friends and I went to Nelson, a tiny little city north of Spokane, only about 2 hours across the boarder.



Zambia (2008): I spent about four weeks in Zambezi, Zambia with my college’s leadership program. We engaged in servant leadership with the community, starting different programs from computer literary, health, and teaching. I taught 9th grade English and Geography at the Unknown-1local basic school. I would walk to the school, about half a mile maybe, every morning for classes and walk back after and help with the literacy program we were also running. Adults would walk for miles, one way, to come spend their afternoons with us. This was the first year of the program, and since then, it has grown immensely and I’m really proud of the work Gonzaga continues to do there. While here, too, we got to go on a safari (it has nothing on the Wild Animal Park) and explore Victoria Falls.

London (2008): Okay, this BARELY counts but I do have a stamp so I’m calling it good. We Unknown-2stopped in London for a short 24 hours (maybe less) on our way back from Zambia. I don’t actually remember what we did but I think we walked around and saw the big sights?

Zambia (2010): I spent another four weeks in Zambia (this time in Monze), working with pre-service teachers. We lived on campus with the students and observed them in their student teaching positions, led professional development with the facility, started a library/literacy center, etc. I am not sure what the status of the program is now as it was also the first year that Gonzaga’s School of Education sent teachers. We had plenty of time to explore including my favorite place again, Victoria Falls.

Unknown-3Botswana (2010): I went on an over-night safari in Botswana. We were only there for a short 24 hours but I did get a stamp so it totally counts!

London (2010): Again, I got to hang out in London on the way back from Zambia (also stopping in Johannesburg– no stamp because we didn’t leave the airport). We had our bags with us but took the tube in to central London and walked around the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and had lunch in Piccadilly Circus (where we saw Usher).

And that’s it for my international travels! I have a super long list of where I want to go eventually. Traveling is expensive and unfortunately my teacher salary doesn’t allow me to travel as much as I’d like but I’m still young. Still plenty of time to see the world!


What’s Up Wednesday


I haven’t posted in awhile so today is a good time to link up again this month with Mix and Match Mama for What’s Up Wednesday. Here are all the things that I’ve been up to this month.


What I’m eating this week:

I LOVE pizza (hence the blog title!) and am always looking for healthier ways to eat my favorite food. I’ve been getting naan and putting homemade sauce on it with fat-free cheese. Yummy! The homemade sauce is super easy to make and has way less sugar than any of the sauces you find in the store. My grandpa also sent me back with some homemade sauce a few weeks ago which I will also use on some pizza!

What I’m reminiscing about:

 In sad news, we said goodbye to our pup, Maggie, last week. I wrote about her in a post last week. I was home over the weekend and the house just seemed empty without her. The picture below was her looking up at me on my way out the door one day a few years ago. She hated suitcases- I swear she knew that they meant you were leaving. I’ll miss this sweet little face looking up at me.


What I’m loving:

I’m loving college basketball and am, of course, cheering for my Bulldogs! WE MADE IT TO THE FINAL FOUR! Dad and I got tickets to the game in Phoenix and will be flying in for a short 24 hour trip (I tried every which way to justify taking two days off of work to plan to go in for Mondays game but just couldn’t). It was super spontaneous and the high prices were justified by it being an early birthday present for my dad (his bday isn’t until June…).  And my wonderful grandparents offered to pay for flights so we wouldn’t have to drive. As you can see, the whole family is excited about the Zags!

What I’ve been up to:

I’ve just been busy. Conferences are this week so that’ll be two very late work days but  thankfully I’ve been able to decompress after work with a good book and I am still going out to Corona most weekends. Michael’s schedule changes in April so until then, I’ll be maximizing my Pippa time! He and I went to see Beauty and the Beast last Sunday. I didn’t love it but do recommend if you like the original. I thought some of the new songs they added were unnecessary but you can never go wrong with a book-loving princess. Michael looked over at me during the movie when Belle saw the castle’s crazy big library… he knows I would never leave that room.


What I’m dreading:

I don’t think I’m really dreading anything at the moment!

What I’m working on:

While we’ve been in our new school for a few weeks, I am still working on getting everything organized and set up. The last of the bulletin boards arrived last week so time to get student work up! I took a picture in the process of getting this one up…


What I’m excited about:

There’s a lot of wonderful things happening right now which is a 180 from several weeks ago when I just felt so much stress and anxiety and felt like everything was going wrong. I won’t go into very many details but I got some medical results last week that I am super excited about. I have a follow-up appointment on Friday so we will find out the next steps but, for now, a huge weight is off my shoulders. It’s been wonderful being close to home and being able to have my parents and Michael at all my doctor’s appointments. All this stuff was a whole new territory for me so I am thankful they made the time to make sure I wasn’t alone during any of it.

What I’m watching/reading:

I am watching lots of Reality TV as always. This is Us ended a couple weeks ago so Reality TV it is. I am finding myself wanting to read more in the evenings so I usually have shows stacked up when I am ready to watch. I did re-watch the first episode of Season 2 of Broadchurch with my mom over the weekend and will probably continue. It’s been awhile since I saw it so I got hooked back in. If you haven’t seen it, add it to you queue!


And as far as what I’m reading, my March book review post will be here later this week! I started a ton of books this month but only finished about 5. There are too many good books and not enough time so why keep reading something you’re not enjoying? That was my mantra this month.

What I’m listening to:

I’m loving all of Ed Sheeran’s new stuff. I’ve been listening to his new album on repeat for weeks! I tried to get concert tickets for his show at the Staples Center and unfortunately, have no tickets in hand. My co-workers and I had everything set to get them during the pre-sale and couldn’t believe the cheapest were $99 (plus fees) for the seats wayyyyyy up there. We should have just bought them though because tickets on StubHub are way more than that now! Ugh. Sorry Ed, maybe next time.


What I’m wearing:

 I am back to wearing sandals on most days because the weather is super nice but did want to share my favorite pair of flats with you. My feet are super sensitive (as in 99% of shoes give me blisters). My mom loves Sam Eldeman and has tried to get me to buy the flats for months. It’s hard to justify a pair of shoes that are over $100, but I did find some at Nordstrom Rack (animal print, too!) for under $60 so I snatched them up. THEY ARE LIKE WEARING SLIPPERS! You best believe that I will be buying more pairs in the future. And I definitely won’t be so hesitant about paying because I know how comfortable they are. If you have sensitive feet like me, be sure to try these ones on!


What I’m doing this weekend:

I’ll be in Phoenix to see Gonzaga take on South Carolina! And Tricia and Jolene were texted the second we got tickets so hopefully I will be able to see them on Saturday night!


What I’m looking forward to next month:

I can’t wait for the cruise and me and Michael’s mini-vacay to SF! I plan to be in full tourist mode. We just made reservations for Alcatraz and Michael is checking out seats for a Giants game (what luck that his favorite team, the Diamondbacks, are playing when we are there). T-minus 7 school days until spring break!

What else is new: 

That’s about it. It’s been a busy few weeks to say the least.

Little Miss Mags

Today, my family had to say goodbye to little miss Maggie, our 12 year old Welsh Corgi. I am thankful that I was able to be out at my parent’s house last weekend so I could tell her goodbye and that I love her one last time. The only other goodbye I vividly remember saying to her was the one right before I left for college freshman year. I picked puppy Maggie up out of pen, held her close to me, and said goodbye. This goodbye was a million times harder.

Maggie was Erin’s dog. After we decided her service dog wasn’t working for her, Erin got Maggie as more of a companion dog. She was the best companion dog we could have asked for. Maggie was spunky and was just a plain weirdo in the best way. Even though Erin never uttered a word to her, Maggie knew who her person was. She provided comfort during hospital stays and was just a friend who kept Erin company around the house. On one of my visits home during college, I tried to get Maggie to sleep in my room. It didn’t work. She wanted to sleep in her bedroom with her person.

Over the last couple of months, specifically the last few weeks, Maggie’s health had gotten progressively worse. She was having a really hard time moving, would go to the bathroom in the house, and didn’t finish her food. Maggie LOVED food so I think this was what really indicated that she wasn’t feeling well. Maggie also loved her people so much. She loved getting her belly rubbed and would roll right over the second you starting petting her. In the last few days, she was in so much pain that she didn’t want any of us touching her. I’d get down on the floor to talk to her and pet her and she would snip at me or get up and move. It was hard not to take it personally or not be sad that I didn’t really get to say a proper goodbye because she didn’t want me near her, but I think that was her telling us how poorly she was feeling.

What helps a little bit is knowing that Maggie knew it was time. She didn’t fight it and even the vet said she was “worn out.” I am thankful that my dad was there with her, too. I was talking with my mom and we both agreed that Maggie is now with Wayne in doggie heaven and Wayne, who did not particularly like Maggie, is saying “Are you kidding me? Why are you here?!” While Wayne is sitting by the pool, Maggie is definitely laying on her back, waiting for a Puppachino to arrive.

It’s been extremely hard losing two dogs basically within a year of each other. It still feels weird looking out the kitchen window and not seeing Wayne and I know it’ll now be weird to visit home and not be greeted by Maggie. In instances like this, I am envious of the people who don’t have dogs because they will never know the heartbreak. But when I really think about it, it makes me feel sorry for them because they will also never know the unconditional love that they bring.






Things That Make Me Happy

Today is International Day of Happiness. I had no idea that such a day existed but when we have days like National Go Barefoot Day (June 1) and National Carrot Cake Day (February 3), it makes sense we should have a day for happiness, too.


When we have a hard day at work or are stressed out about things, it’s easy to be unhappy and think that everything is going wrong. I know I am completely guilty of this. It’s all about attitude and how you approach your day. And also seeing the little things, in the midst of the other junk that goes on during your day, that make you happy.

Here is a (short) list of the things that make me happy:

  1. Pippa and Maggie greeting me when I visit my parents
  2. Flannel sheets in winter
  3. Good previews before a movie (the previews before Beauty and the Beast were awful!)
  4. Dole Whips from Disneyland
  5. Shoes that don’t give me blisters (I have very sensitive feet)
  6. A new episode of my favorite show
  7. Sky-blue pink sunsets
  8. Cracking the spine of a new book
  9. Remembering to charge my phone at night
  10. Getting snail mail (bills don’t count)
  11. Finding a hair salon that actually knows how to cut my bangs
  12. Sleeping in until my alarm (this is rare)
  13. When my commute is less than 35 minutes
  14. Being done with a workout
  15. Pizza (I’d be happy only eating pizza for the rest of my life)
  16. The smell of rain
  17. Happy hour with friends that lasts way longer than an hour
  18. Christmas lights
  19. Fresh flowers
  20. A row all to myself on a plane

What things make you happy?



Happy Birthday, Pippa!

Today, Pippa turns ONE! It’s hard to believe this little pup has only been with us for a year (and even less than since we got her when she was 6 weeks old!). I know everyone says they have the sweetest dog, but really, Pippy is THE sweetest!

We (I say we, but really I mean my parents) got Pippa in May of last year. This was about 5 months after we had to put our 14-year old Welsh Corgi, Wayne, down due to health issues. That may be one of the hardest goodbyes I’ve ever had to say– people, included. I can just imagine Wayne, who loved relaxing by the pool, giving the side-eye to Pippa if she ever tried to play with him. He would have none of her antics that’s for sure!

It was love at first sight when I met Pippa. My parents got her about a week before I moved back to California and I remember walking in the front door on the Friday that school ended (I wasted no time in leaving Arizona), saw her straight ahead in the family room, and squealed. The squeal scared her and she hid, but I’m pretty sure it was love at first sight for her, too!

My favorite thing about Pippa is how much she loves her people. She is so affectionate and loves curling up next to you. She is also the best greeter whenever you walk through the door. You could be gone for 5 minutes, or in my case, sometimes weeks, but she is just as excited to see you. And having a dog with a tail is seriously the best! We had tailless dogs for 14 years (Maggie is our other pup, a Welsh Corgi like Wayne) and I love being able to see how happy Pippa is with the wagging of her tail! She also has such expressive ears and eyes that look at you with love (seriously!).

Pippa sleeps in my parent’s room and used to put her little hands (yes, hands) up on their bed at about 2am and they would let her up. Let’s just say that Pippa no longer uses her own bed and is in bed with my parents all night. She sleeps with me whenever I stay over and my gosh, she is a massive bed hog! She always needs to be touching you so she curls up right next to you but in this process she basically throws herself at you. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and basically be hanging off the bed with Pippa right next to me and the whole rest of the bed wiiiiide open. She also loves to be right up by your face, so I am never surprised to wake up and have her nuzzled up by my neck.

I often ask my mom what she and I talked about before Pippa because I’m pretty sure 95% of our conversations involve her. I call every day on my way home from work and not too far into the conversation each time is “How is my Pippy?” I can’t even imagine if I was still in Arizona and only got to see her once every couple of months. It makes me sad to even think about! I texted my mom this morning and asked if this is what parents feel like when their children have birthdays– she said no 😉 .

I won’t see Pippy today on her actual birthday but I plan to celebrate with her on Saturday! Maybe a walk? A puppachino from Starbucks? She’s the birthday girl so she can choose! 🙂


College basketball, specifically March Madness, always makes me reminisce about my time at Gonzaga. If you’re into college basketball,  you’ve probably heard the name Gonzaga before. If you’re not into college basketball, you should still know the name Gonzaga because not only is it an awesome basketball school (currently a #1 seed in the tournament AND a lot of people like our chances to take it all… knock on wood!), but it’s just an all-around wonderful community that I’m thankful to have been apart of for undergrad and graduate school.



I really had no intentions of moving out of state for college. At the end of the applications and acceptance letters, my choices were narrowed down to two: Gonzaga University, a small liberal arts college in Spokane, Washington and UC Santa Barbara, a huge public university right on the water. I visited both schools and I honesty remember nothing about UCSB aside from how big the campus was and how everyone was sunbathing on the grass in their bathing suits. Gonzaga was a different story. I remember touring the campus with a small group and vividly picturing myself walking to classes and hanging on the grass with my friends. I wanted to dislike Gonzaga because I was still unsure about moving out of state but I couldn’t. I just felt like I was meant to be there. It’s kind of like people saying when you try on your wedding dress, you just know? Well, this was the same. Walking around campus (in the rain, of course), I just knew it was my school and was ready to immerse myself into the classes and activities.

I have a lot of pride in my alma mater because I know it is partly responsible for the young adult I have become. I am proud of the education I received there, but even more proud in how Gonzaga challenged me to look at the world/community in which I live. It’s here that I decided to become a teacher and here where I was given the opportunity to serve others around the country and in Zambia. It is also here that I met life-long friends who share the same passions I have. It’s great that basketball has put Gonzaga on the map. Applications and enrollment has steadily increased because of it, but I wish people knew about Gonzaga beyond the basketball court. I wish they knew the dialogues that challenged students in the classroom and knew about the hours of service learning that the students and faculty commit to each year. And I even wish they knew about Spokane. I may not have appreciated it when I was there, but it’s a city full of spirit and one that supports the Gonzaga community.

So if you are undecided on who to cheer for during the tournament, pick Gonzaga. Pick the small, liberal arts college in Eastern Washington that is much more than a basketball school.  I hope they are able to make it far in the tournament but if not, that’s okay, too. I’m thankful for any kind of coverage that continues to put Gonzaga on the map for any future students who a want “an exemplary learning community that educates (them) for lives of leadership and service for the common good.” That’s the first line in Gonzaga’s mission statement. How cool is that?



And here are some cool articles that you should check out:

It’s all academic for this No. 1 seed as Gonzaga puts class in class act

Where My Zags At?


Life Lately

I haven’t posted in about a week because I’ve been extremely busy/tried and really haven’t had a whole lot I need to say! Here are some things that I’ve been up to lately:

We moved into our new school on Monday! I posted about it earlier in the week so you can check that out if you want to see some pictures. The kids have been absolutely crazy this week. Is it a full moon or something? (Yes, I believe in the power of a full moon!) Hopefully once they get more settled in, they will calm back down a bit. I have my last formal observation next week so I am a little anxious for that. I’ve learned though that I can plan, plan, plan and things will still happen that I can’t account for. I’m happy with my evaluation scores so far so hopefully the last one will be just as strong.


Yes, I am still coughing. The cough tipped me off to something else though and I’ve had several doctor’s appointments with a couple more to come in the next few weeks. Perhaps I will share after I get more news but for now, any positive thoughts are appreciated!

Honestly, that’s about it. I’ve been so tired after work that I watch a television show* or two, read for a bit (on book 2 for March! would be 3 but it was boring), and am asleep by 9pm. Talk about old lady! Michael and I are still working very opposite hours. Some days he doesn’t start until around 3pm! I’m off at 3:45 so our work hours barely even overlap. His April schedule is much better though; it all depends on what shows he’s working on. He’s been working weekends too, so I have been out in Corona a lot. I am okay with the drive (beats 5 hours from Arizona) and it means I get to have a slumber party with Pippa! Stay tuned for a Pippa post next week– she’s turning ONE!!

And a few things I am looking forward to? Tricia is in town next week! She is visiting LA with the Igwe clan but she carved out some time to see me. We are going to hang out at Pump because where else would we go? We had such a fun time there over the summer that a repeat trip is necessary. Spring break is also about a month away and I cannot wait. It’ll be busy… cruise to start it off and then right to SF. I will have a few days once those two trips are done to just relax and gear up for the last couple months of the school year.

What have you been up to lately? I hope you have a great weekend!

*Most of what I watch is reality tv (Bachelor finale on Monday! Both of those girls deserve better than Nick…), but the one show I do not miss each week is This Is Us. Seriously, this show. I don’t know how a show can make you feel so many emotions in 40 minutes. I think I text Whitney the same text every week… something like “omg. I can’t!” or “noooo.”  Everyone in my family watches. Even my dad, so you know it’s good. If you haven’t seen it yet, check your OnDemand and get going! The last episode of the season is next Tuesday and if it’s about what I think it’s about, I may need to use the note that Milo shared on his Twitter:


First Day of School Take Two

Yesterday was the first day at our new campus! We are a new school (right now, we have 6th, 7th, and 9th grade. Next year, we will be adding 8th and 10th grade) so we have been at a temporary site since the start of the year while our school was being built. Move-in day was on Friday and yesterday was the kid’s first day on site.

Let me start off by saying how much I love my school. This is my 7th year teaching (what?!) and this is by far been the most challenging and most rewarding year. I am not going to say anything about my previous school other than share that I ruminated on leaving the field of teaching so many times during my time there. My new school is a complete 180 from what I was used to. My admin could not be more supportive, there are so many opportunities for professional growth, and my kids are the best. Seriously. I miss them when I’m not at school! I mean, I love my weekends but I am always happy to see my students. I don’t dread coming to work like I used to.

Several of my students came on Friday to help with moving and setting up the new classes. It was so much fun seeing their faces light up. They deserve this new school so much and I am really proud at how our new campus is going to help our community. Yesterday the students swarmed into the building when the first bell rang and they were in awe of the simplest things– bulletin boards in the hallways, the colored tile on the floors…

I am still in the process of setting up my classroom but here are some pictures so far. I am waiting on a few bulletin boards to be put up and I am setting up a reading area complete with a rug and pillows but you can wait to see that until it’s all finished 🙂




Album Review: Ed Sheeran’s Divide



Ed Sheeran’s new album, Divide, dropped on Friday. I didn’t listen to it until Saturday morning but since then, it has been playing nonstop. I listened while I lesson planned, I listened while I read, I listened while I drove back to LA from my parent’s house. I am listening as I write this and I am already looking forward to my commute in the morning where I can keep listening. Perhaps I should introduce my students to it, too! They ARE always requesting music while we are working…

I’ve loved Ed Sheeran since his early days– Lego House and Give Me Love being my faves from his first album. And his most underrated song? Definitely Tenerife Sea on his album, Multiply. See, I know Ed Sheeran. And this newest record is right up there with his other ones.

Here are my favorite songs off his new album:

Perfect This one gave me goosebumps. I am a sucker for sweet lyrics and how can you get any sweeter than these?

I’m dancing in the dark, with you between my arms
Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favorite song
When I saw you in that dress, looking so beautiful
I don’t deserve this, darling you look perfect tonight

Galway Girl– Thank goodness Ed breaks up his slow songs with some more upbeat ones. My emotions can only take so much! Right away this one took me back to PS I Love You. This is a fun one to sing along to!

Happier– This one is sweet and sad and everything that Ed Sheeran songs usually are. I think most people can relate to at least one thing in this song.

Supermarket Flowers– I have tears in my eyes every time I listen to this one. I thought it was written for his mom but it’s actually written for his grandmother from his mom’s point of view. The lyrics that got me?:

So I’ll sing Hallelujah, you were an angel in the shape of my mum
When I fell down you’d be there holding me up
Spread your wings as you go
And when God takes you back
He’ll say Hallelujah, you’re home

Have you listened to any new songs yet? What are your faves?

Read, Read, Read!

Happy Read Across America Day! This day, celebrated annually on March 2nd– Dr. Seuss’ birthday, urges us to read, read, read. I don’t teach elementary school (though some days it seems like it!), so we don’t have anything special planned but I do my best, on a daily basis, to encourage my students to ALWAYS be reading. Be sure to celebrate Read Across America Day by spending a few minutes with your favorite books!