Monday, December 27, 2010

Things I learned this week...

There is something oddly comforting about shopping at the Target you grew up shopping in. Even if it has been completely remodeled into a Super Target.

Scandinavians love to eat food that is white. It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with starch.

The Sonicare toothbrush will change your life.

Northeast Minneapolis is not really on the northeast side of Minneapolis. It's called Northeast because of the city's street naming system where all streets north and east of the Mississippi were labeled "NE." It is sometimes referred to as "Nordeast" as a tribute to the immigrant influence and their central European accents. It is also where I will be doing my student teaching starting January 19th.

Quitting my job last Thursday was ten times more difficult than I thought it was going to be. I have formed some amazing friendships here and I will miss them immensely. It will take a lot of effort not to shed any tears on January 7th, but you can bet that I will do my darndest to hold them back... at least until the car ride home. 

I have no problem squeezing glass ornaments (until they shatter in my hands) but I do have a hard time squeezing my new caroling Christmas bear. Also - some family memories really don't need to be posted on YouTube.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cherrrrrryyy Mistmas!!!

This sums up how I feel right about now.

Festive... but uff da.

I'll fill you in later. Right now it's time for me to get my Christmas on!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Miracle

Thanks to Operation Christmas Spirit, I had a major, life-altering revelation on the drive home from work today.

I was merrily singing along to the song Mele Kalikimaka, when it came to the second to the last line... I belted, "Mele Kalikimaka is the wiiiiissse wayyyy, to say Merry Christmas to yooouuuu..."


It is NOT "THE WISE WAY" to say Merry Christmas my friends. It is actually "HAWAII'S WAY!"

HOLY NIGHT! I can't believe I have gone all these years singing the wrong words. I feel like I have seen the light. This is truly a Christmas miracle. Go ahead and laugh, but don't you sit there and tell me you've never made an embarrassing song lyrics blunder. It happens ALL THE TIME. This, however, is bigger than just any old song. This is a classic Christmas carol.

My world will never be the same.

Operation Christmas Spirit

I woke up this morning feeling so relieved that I had made it through the week. Let's just say it has been quite a week. In the past five days, I have only eaten one meal at a table and that was yesterday, during my lunch break, with my Mom, at Target. Yikes. For the most part, it has all been positive and productive, but this morning, after the wave of relief washed over me, I realized that everything has been very much lacking in Christmas spirit.


I got up and immediately pulled a BRIGHT green top and snowflake socks out of my dresser. Okay, so maybe it was a tank top and maybe I wore it under a black shirt, but whatever, it's a cozy ski shirt and I like to take advantage of my casual Fridays, plus ski shirt = snow = winter = festive. Then, on the drive to work I FINALLY tuned my radio to 107.9 for some Christmas music and sang out loud to Feliz Navidad and I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas. Don't worry, the irony was not lost on me during the last song as I navigated my way down roads with entire lanes still missing under piles of snow.

From now until the 26th, I am all Christmas baby. Indeed, Andy Williams, it IS the most wonderful time of the year. Time for love, giving, caring, and peace. And Holidazzle, baking, candy cane socks, Toys for Tots, Elf, and in my Christmas mugs :) I am letting go of the stress and embracing the magic that is Christmas. I know it takes some effort, but I hope you can too.

Fah who For-aze
Dah who dor-aze
Welcome Christmas
Come this way!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The storm that was almost as epic as Halloween '91...

Are you sick of hearing the same old stories about people trying to dig their cars out or how the Metrodome roof collapsed? I know I am, but I am going to rehash the weekend anyway. So there. Like you have anything better to read about anyway.

So, the Midwest got puked on big time on Saturday. In my head, 20 inches didn't really sound that bad. I am used to thinking of "feet" of snow in terms of glorious powder days out West. I've driven up Little Cottonwood Canyon in much worse. No big deal, right?

Wrong. It was a huge deal. There is no where to put it. We got shut down. No bus service, highways closed, no concerts, even the plows were called off the roads for a while on Saturday because the visibility was ZERO. Schools are still closed today. People are just buried. This morning, out CFO is driving around and picking people up to bring them to work.

Here is a link to some crazy photos from the news, and here are some photos I took while stuck in my apartment over the weekend...

Saturday: It's snowing...

still snowing...

blowing and drifting...

Sunday A.M. - There are stairs under there somewhere.

Whoa drift.

Evidence that squirrels weigh less than the snow and cars do not.

There are stairs at the back door too. Those are grills to the right. That stupid orange shovel bit the dust after two hours :(

So far, however, ski practice is NOT cancelled for the evening. Here are the current conditions... note the "feels like" temperatures.... also note; practice begins this evening... after the temperature starts to drop... i.e. my face might FALL OFF.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why my feet are sweaty...

My feet are really sweaty. I have been wearing my new winter boots all day long. You see, I forgot my shoes this morning at home. I got some really cute new winter boots this year that make traveling through piles of snow much more manageable. I really, really like them, but I'm approaching eight hours of having them on and the fuzzy warm feeling is not as enjoyable anymore. Actually I am starting to feel a little claustrophobic. EhhhhhHHHHHH!

It my own fault for being forgetful. I must have too much on my mind right now. There is A LOT going on...

My truck randomly stalled out in the middle of the snowstorm last week right before I was supposed to pick up Jake from the airport.
Jake came home after being in Colorado for two weeks and then left again for a week in Michigan.
There was a gymnastics team building event thing where I found out I cannot do a pull-up anymore... not hanging from rings at least,
a couple big parties happened,
I finally found my missing candy cane socks,
skiing started,
finals this coming week,
preparing for next semester,
crazy happenings at work,

There are so many things to think about that I actually left my pants at work yesterday. Yeah. Not kidding. FORGOT MY PANTS. On Monday and Wednesday nights I am coaching skiing over at Highland Hills and I have to jet over there as fast as I can straight from work. Somehow in the process of changing from "Work Kate" to "Ski Coach Kate" I left my pants in the bathroom. Don't worry - I left with twice as many pants on than I came to work in, I just left the third pair behind. SO MANY PANTS. When I realized what I had done I called into work and asked one of my friendly coworkers if she could retrieve my pants that I had left in the bathroom. So far that conversation is in the lead for most awkward conversation of the week. Not far behind is the one-sided convo I had with a girl at practice who refused to speak to me followed by me accusing her of being an undercover spy... then there was the conversation where I tried to explain to a high school kid why the boys weren't allowed on the balance beam.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Whip My Hair

Have you heard the "Whip My Hair" song? I heard an interview the other day where they were discussing how Willow Smith is going to be a superstar. I was all "Who the heck is Willow Smith?" and "Maybe I should add her to my Fafarazzi team?" So I googled her.

You guys, Willow Smith is Will Smith's daughter and SHE IS NINE YEARS OLD!

Check this kid out...

Friday, November 5, 2010

A list of things I am grateful for this week...

A while back I started a gratitude journal with hopes that it would help me maintain a more positive outlook on life and remind me of how great things really are for me. Unfortunately, I am infamous for going from sleepy to out cold in about two seconds flat, so journaling before bed = kinda of hard for me. Although I haven't kept it up as much as I would like, it's something I try to do as often as I remember, provided that my eyes remain open long enough to jot a few things down. It actually has quite an effect on my disposition. Today, I am journaling right here on my blog.

Also, somewhat related is my recent spending freeze. I decided to see how much money I can save by only purchasing food and absolute necessities for the next month. Tough, right? Surprisingly, however, it hasn't been difficult at all. Part of the reason is that I have a tendency to seek out deals and free stuff. So be grateful that I am grateful and am sharing with you my gratitude list. It's full of free stuff! Plus, when you think about it, most of the stuff that is really awesome in life doesn't really cost that much, if anything at all.

1. $10 coupons at JCPenny, or as I like to call them, "free money."
Jake likes to make fun of my coupon obsession. I am a deal seeker and I am convinced that it probably makes me a better person, or least smarter, or maybe just a wee bit richer... Either way, he can snicker and tease me all he wants, because there is no minimum purchase on these JCPenny coupons. Next time you're there you should ask how to get on their coupon mailing list. Ten buck coupons means anything ten bucks or less is mine for the taking, and I got my eyes on those sassy triple packs of Christmas themed socks. Ho! Ho! Ho!

2. My awesome dental hygienist.
Getting your teeth cleaned is not really a fun thing to do, but the dental hygienest that cleans my teeth is hilarious. She is super sweet and polite but at the same time very quirky and little crazy. During my appointment this week, we waved at the cars out the window together while I was biting down on the xray film, giggled at the awkward noises made by the suction wand thingy, and she told me all about how she and her husband couldn't decide on who was going to be the designated driver on Halloween, so they stayed home and partied by themselves. I found it very entertaining. Funny people are great.

3. Laughing till I cry while watching funny shows about funny families with my own funny family.
On Wednesday night the Westby clan gathered for dinner at home. Mom made a delicious dinner AND my grandpa's apple pie. Sooooo good. Then we made out way to the living room to watch The Middle and Modern Family and laugh out loud till our eyes watered. This is something that has long embarrassed me - when I laugh hard, my eyes water A LOT. It looks like I am crying. This also happens to everyone in my family though. Laughing with tears in your eyes is much less awkward when everybody else is doing it too.

4. Being a ski coach
Winter is just around the corner, and while this might send some spiraling down into a deep seasonal depression, it makes me giddy with anticipation. Jake has been in Colorado for a week already this season at a Central Division training camp in Loveland and I am more than a little jealous. Skiing is a huge part of my life. Last year was the first season in fourteen years that I was not a part of a ski team in some way, shape or form. It was reeeeeally sad and I think I may have died a little inside. I participated in a fundraiser race, attended a couple events, and participated in some open training nights at Buck Hill, but it just wasn't the same. I felt so out of the loop, like a Gomer, a Yambo, completely out of touch with what was going on. I volunteered at a race in January and they gave me the job of handing out bibs. HANDING OUT BIBS! That's something ANYONE could do. I could be a gatekeeper, a hand timer, a starter, a course maintenance worker and you want me just to HAND OUT BIBS!?! I was so depressed. That's when I decided that I had to get back in the game and start coaching again. This year I am back at it and super excited. Just sent in my order for my sweet new coaches jacket yesterday. Did I mention that I GET PAID to do this too!? Now, if it would just snow!

5. Trick or Treats
Remember being a kid and thinking that when you were an adult you would be able to buy all the candy you wanted!? Well, I do. Anyway, the point is that even though I can, I don't. Thankfully everyone else is happy to give me candy this time of year. If I was ever sad about not fulfilling my childhood dream of keeping a stockpile of candy in my closet, Halloween has reminded me that there is a limit to how much candy one should eat. And by "reminded" I really mean that I am currently pushing that limit by walking the thin line between sugar high and self-induced diabetic coma. I can't help it. It's those delicious Kit Kat bars. Gimme a break.

6. Free undies at V.S.
Okay, this is one of those things that I may regret sharing with the world. Not that it's so embarrassing, I mean, everyone wears underwear right!? I mean it would be MORE embarrassing if I told you I didn't, right!? Oh geez... I am digging myself into a hole here, aren't I? Anyway, I am trying to tell you about Victoria's Secret's coupons. Folks, I have not purchase a pair of underwear in yearrrrs (again with the digging of the hole). The reason is that Victoria's Secret sends me coupons in the mail for free undees every month. That's right, I call them undees, deal with it. Sometimes they even send me ten dollar coupons too - like "free money" style with no minimum purchase. Every time I go in and redeem on of these things, they have me enter my email address or phone number and bingo bango I get on the list to receive even more free undees and ten dollar coupons.

7. Free baked goods at Panera
More free stuff? Yes sir. Our office spends a TON of money at the Panera across the street. Pretty much every other meeting involves food from Panera. Recently, they came out with a new deal called "My Panera" where you earn free food and beverages by swiping your My Panera card every time you visit. What does this mean for me? I get to swipe my card multiple times a week without spending A DIME. So when I am driving into work and I decide it's a blueberry muffin kind of morning I just pull in, hand them my card and score a free muffin. Yeah.

More stuff I am grateful for this week...
The glittering gems of hilarious drama/comedy that unfold at work and keep me from becoming a pile of mush, my wonderful boyfriend Jacob that is coming home TONIGHT, the YMCA and awesome group fitness classes, Oregon Chai, the right to vote, the fact that I only have five weeks of Physics left, and Boboli personal sized pizza crusts. OH! And it's FRIDAY!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Fall Ya'll

Pffffeeeewww! Blurg, I am wiped. This fall has flown by. Probably because I have been super busy with all kinds of exciting things. Let's sum it all up in a blog post, shall we?

It started with the second annual wine stomp. My lovely friend Carol and her husband Nick hosted a little gathering at their new home in Alexandria near the Carlos Creek Winery. We rocked the vineyard this year and had TWO of our three stomping teams make it to the semi-finals. Next year, I think we really have a good shot at winning the grand prize basket full of wine. It's probably fine that we wait a year anyway, seeing half of the ladies in our group were preggos (not my half!). I learned all about the nonsensical things that make pregnant ladies vom and celebrated my ability to touch raw meat and use toothpaste without gagging. I also bought a wine glass holster. Cheers!

Then Jacob's family came to visit for a couple weeks and his brother stayed with use for a weekend. On Friday night we enjoyed some wurst, beer, and sauerkraut balls at The Black Forest Inn's Oktoberfest celebration. That's right, SAUERKRAUT BALLS. Try saying that without giggling. HARD TO DO. Now enjoy a stein of Hacker Pschorr and try again. IMPOSSIBLE. It was David Hasselhoff night and we cleaned up in the raffle. Jacob took home a Night Rider stamp set. Adam, Jacob's brother, won a real dollar bill with David Hasselhoffs face in place of President Washington, and Trevor made us all jealous when he won a case of collectible Baywatch stickers. Wunderbar! The next day we UM YA YA'ed our way on down to St. Olaf for Homecoming. The weather was chilly, but the nostalgia warmed me right up, along with a large eight dollar pizza from the Pause Yummmmm...

The next week I did my Practicum for school. What is practicum? Practicum is where you spend a week observing and interacting in a classroom at the grade level for which you plan to be licensed, but do not plan to teach. So, since I plan to teach high school, I spent the week in a sixth grade class. That way, you have some experience in all areas of your licensure. Comprende? It was really fun to be in a classroom and even more fun not going to work. Man, sixth graders are weird though. One second they are talking about how they lost their tooth last weekend while chewing on the neck of their t-shirt, and next they are discussing phases of matter and whispering about so-and-so who got high last weekend at her cousin's party. Whoa.

Then, randomly, a train derailed behind our apartment.

On Friday, October 8th this girl *pointing to myself* turned 26 years old. You guys, I am closer to 30 than 20 now. SCARY. So, yeah it was my birthday and we did a little celebrating. Jacob put together a "roll your own sushi" party for me on Friday night, made me a cake, cleaned our apartment and hung the birthday banner. Then our Friends Trevor and Jean came over and rolled their own sushi while I rolled my own sushi and Jake rolled his own sushi. I highly recommend doing this. It was soooo fun and sooo delicious. We already had the sushi rolling mats but Jake got sushi-grade yellow tuna from Byerly's and cucumbers, carrots, green onions, avocado, cream cheese, Nori, sushi rice and edemame. My favorite part was the spicy mayo though. Here is a recipe on this great website that tells you how to make your own sushi. Looooovvve the spicy mayo.

The next day, my wonderful Mom, Dad and brother came over and took a bike ride over to the Sea Salt seafood eatery over by Minnehaha Falls. It was a gorgeous fall day and we got some good pics along the way. This is also something I recommend everyone do. There are bike paths all over this wonderful city and you should find one and make your way on over to the Sea Salt. Next year though - or tonight. They close tomorrow for the winter. Yeah, sorry - I should have told you sooner.

For my birthday I got a camera from my Mom and Dad, that I can fit into my pocket, like the kind normal people have. No more hauling the D60 around to events and totally intimidating everyone. My favorite brother Kale gave me an awesome gift certificate for Kiva. Have you heard of Kiva? It's a program where you loan money to entrepreneurs in need around the world. Instead of just giving them money, you empower them by giving them a loan, which they then use to build their business or support their livelihood. Then they pay you back! It's not guaranteed that you will get paid back, but I guess most people do, and then they loan that money again. It's pretty awesome. Jacob gave me a MEND bag from the Invisible Children organization. Another very awesome gift that gives back. The bag was made by Pamela Laker who was abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army in Northern Uganda until she escaped and Invisible Children found her and taught her how to make these bags. Now she is supporting her whole family with her new income and I have an awesome new messenger bag. Win win.

The following week I spent pulling together my 34 page practicum report, studying for a physics midterm, and registering for next semester after registration was already past due. What can I say, I was a little distracted.

Last week, I used birthday money and gift certificates I earned through my health insurance provider by being healthy to purchase an awesome new arts and crafts tool called a Silhouette. I have only tested it out twice, but I have so many plans for this thing. T-shirts, etched glass, temporary tattoos, cards, window decals, wall art, posters... the possibilities are endless. I will definitely be using it to beautify my future classroom too. Who says science can't be pretty?

My friend Jeni also had a birthday this month and a bunch of my good friends from high school all got together for a girls night on the town. So much fun!

So, it's Halloween this weekend. I probably could have waited and included it in this post too, but you're probably tired of hearing about all my antics. It's a lot, I know. I promise to try and space it out better, but it's hard to keep up. So much to do, so little time :) Oh, by the way, did I mention I have been playing badminton on Monday nights through Community Ed? No? Well, yeah... there's that too.

I need a nap.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


As a sat down with my bowl of cereal this morning the other morning, I was flipping through a magazine and came across an article on mantras. The author (do you call them an author? Maybe editor, writer?) Well, the lady that wrote the article was a very accomplished athlete who competed in rowing and ran marathons. At first, I was all, "oh she's one of those crazy overachieving types." I met a few of those nuts at Saint Olaf. The ones that track genetic inheritance, run 15 miles, perform symphonies and then volunteer at the hospital all on Wednesday before intramural kickball. Then she went on to discuss how during some of the most challenging moments in her life, she found herself using mantras to push her to complete or focus on the tasks at hand. The act of reciting a phrase over and over again, would give her the focus and determination she needed to overcome fear, push through "the wall," or keep it together when life became chaotic. It has been proven that by focusing on a mantra, you can divert your thoughts enough to become significantly less aware of the factors that might otherwise hold you back. 

Duh, right? Pretty sure I learned the same thing in Shrek when Donkey was crossing the bridge from the castle. 

"Don't look down, don't look down..." 

Then before you know it, he has made it all the way to the other side. All he had to do was focus on the words instead of on the fear. This is like life strategies for first graders here. Apparently, however, we are not giving this practice enough credit though. A mantra or repeated phrase can help you overcome pain, fear, frustration and can even help get you butt to the gym. 

"No more noodle arms, no more noodle arms..." 

...and BAM before I've had a chance to talk myself out of it, I'm pumping iron at the Y. Now, I realize that I might be using this term too loosely. In reality a mantra is a very spiritual tradition practiced in many religions. Guys, I don't actually know much about this at all. I'd love to learn though, so let me know if you've got the inside scoop. I have shared a few "Om's" in yoga a few times, but I am going to go out on a limb here and say that's it's really not the same thing. For now, I am just focusing on the power of the spoken word and the ability to refocus one's thoughts by simply repeating a "mantra."

I think this will be a really good tool for me. I have been struggling lately with too many goals and I am finding myself falling victim to the inevitable burnout that comes with trying to do too much at once. There's school, work, getting to the YMCA 12 times a month, trying to eat healthier, staying organized at home, spending less money, planning meals better, reading all those books before they are due back at the library, using fewer paper towels, those pants that need hemming, coaching skiing this winter, and then the endless list of projects that I would love to get done. Yeesh! Not sure why I have this overwhelming desire to try to to do everything well. I obviously can't to everything well. I can work at a few things and that's it, and yet I set the bar high for everything. Dumb. Maybe it's a symptom of a quarter life crisis? I've been doing all this questioning of my purpose and so on and so forth, so I can see that maybe being the root of all this. Either way, I need a tool to help me prioritize and focus. I need to start utilizing the mantra. I can see this working really well with the way my brain works. I am so easily distracted and tend to become completely fixated on something if it sparks my interest. If that something happens to be reorganizing my closet on a night when my Physics homework is due, my brain is very good at rationalizing the closet over the homework. In that moment before I decide to reorganize the closet, when I still have self-control, I am going to break out the mantra...

"School comes first, school comes first..."

I may or may not regress into one of those crazy people that is always talking to themselves. Just a warning.

And so I come to Desiderata. My Dad gave me a framed print of this poem as a gift when I graduated from college. My Dad always seems to know what I need well before I do. When I look at it, I always think about how perfect the words are. It was something that I had intended to read on a regular basis, but of course, in my quest to do everything, I end up looking at it very infrequently. No more. This can be my mantra. Maybe if I actually take Dad's advice and try reading and even reciting this poem on a more regular basis, it will help me refocus on what is important. Let go of the noise and haste and just focus on what I can do right instead of what I should be improving. 

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Friday, September 17, 2010

One of those days...

You guys. I'm just having one of those days. Friday's are supposed to be happy and I have been looking forward to this weekend for a long time, but it looks like I'll be working extra hard for it. Ugg. I guess these days just happen though. I mean, what will this day matter in five years, right!?! 

I need a glass of wine.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Deep Thoughts by Kate

I discovered some things recently that have made me very aware of my limited time here on earth and the potential that each days holds. Uh oh... Kate's gettin' all deep and philosophical. That's right people. If your not in the mood to jump into some deep self-reflection with me, I suggest hopping over to the kiddy pool at AFP and reflecting on someone else's life. Nothing too emotionally stirring there. The deepest thoughts I ever had while viewing other people's awkward family photos was "Oh geeeez! I totally rocked the greek column during my own senior photos session too!"

It began when I stumbled on this "scarf calendar" over at Swissmiss. Cute right? Somehow the longer I looked at it though, the more it began to represent my own brief existence. My inability to redo the past. The shortening of the scarf that is my life. Wuhhhhh Wuhhhaaaa! Debbie Downer!

Then, a couple days later, I discovered a site called Thought Questions where they continuously post really thought provoking questions set to beautiful photographs. These things suck me in. Part of me looks at them and is reminded of those lame motivation posters. You know the ones. They have a whole line of ironic/mocking versions... and for good reason. But then the other easily influenced/gullible side of me starts actually trying to answer these deep life questions.

Really guys - WHAT WILL THIS DAY MATTER IN FIVE YEARS!? I spent thirty-five dollars on a new haircut yesterday nobody even noticed today. I could have fed a starving child in Africa for like three months with that money. UGH!!!How many days would I go back and do differently if I could? What's holding me back from making the choices that I really want to make deep down. The other question I frequently come back to is, "If I could duplicate myself into life-coach kate and self-Kate, how would I direct my own life? What advice would I have for myself? How would I tell myself to live my best life possible?" 

I frequently think about these questions in regards to my future students too. I am already worried about them. I still remember what it was like to be in high school, but now that I'm on the other side of it, it's easier to see the hang ups and "major" obstacles for what they really were. I worry about the kids that I will undoubtably encounter that hold themselves back. The ones that can't see past high school or don't believe in their own potential. How can I get them to take a step back and start directing their own lives and making choices to live their best life? It's amazing the hope that people will have for others, but will then deny themselves. I think I found a tool that might help me address this in my future classroom though. A way to step out of oneself and give that inner voice an actual way to talk back. It's called Future Me and it's a website that allows you to send yourself messages in the future. Brilliant! Who knows you better than yourself, and how great to be able to remind yourself of your goals, weaknesses, and inspirations than - yourself! I sent future Kate an email congratulating her completing her master's program and reminded her of why she became passionate about this stuff in the first place! Way to go future Kate!

So, what will this day matter in five years? Will I even remember it in six months? Will I have at least made choices that will have have a positive impact on the future me? I suppose I could write future me an email and remind myself of today and the choices I made for future me and the choice that I hope future me will have made. I only get to do today once. Each of us only has one life and we only get one shot at today. Me, I'm going to go do some yoga tonight and improve the health of future me... but first I'm going to go climb my way out of these deep thoughts by giggling at some babies dressed as Chippendales on AFP...

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Not sure why Blogger won't let me format anything right. I hope this doesn't mean that all my posts are going to become gigantic paragraphs. Sorry peeps. I'll try to fix it later.

Geeking it up

Yesterday, when my friend Jean emailed me to ask if I wanted to be her badminton partner in a Mpls Community Ed Co-Rec league, I did a little happy dance at my desk. I love playing badminton and I'm actually pretty good. This fall, Jean and I will be spending Monday night in the Southwest high gym, mowing down the competition.

"Badminton!?" You ask, "What kind of a loser plays competitive badminton!?"

Me. And people - it's not the first time. I'll let you in on a little secret. I'm used to be a huge nerd. Not only was I on the badminton team in high school, I was on the exhibition squad. No, that does not mean that we went streaking through the gym with rackets, it means we weren't good enough for varsity... or J.V....or J.V. B squad. Good old Burnsville Senior High had a three-time State Championship badminton team when I joined in the ninth grade and they were on their way to a fourth, so there were a lot of wannbees like me who signed up and ended up spending most meets in the hall outside the gym unwrapping Starburst in our mouths (much to the chagrin of our orthodontists) with the hope that someday it would improve out make-out skills. This was all very unnecessary and ironic as none of us were obviously going to be making out with anybody. It's okay, go ahead (if you haven't already) and make an "L" with your fingers on your forehead.

When I wasn't playing badminton, I also enjoyed soccer and skiing. I missed a lot of social events for skiing. People would just forget I existed in the winter because I was gone every weekend and, between the homework and practices, there wasn't really any time to catch up with friends during the week either. I would get invited to stuff in the beginning of the year, but then people would finally give up, and come the late winter and spring dances, the invites had ceased completely. The first time I went to a dance was when I accompanied my friend Emily to Homecoming. She had to go because she got voted the honor of singing the "Homecoming song." But she didn't have a date. I wore one of her sisters old dresses, we showed up, she sang, we stood by the wall for a while like we were in a cliche scene from a Molly Ringwald 80's flick, and then we went to her house and watched movies with our hair in fancy up do's. The next year she became Homecoming Queen and I ended up at home again watching movies at home with less fancy hair.

What probably solidifies my role as uber-geek the most, however, was my role as President of the Science Club. Well, that and maybe a few other things like the peer-tutoring, National Honor Society membership, Science Quiz Bowl, or maybe Yearbook... which I only participated in because I was sick of them getting the nordic and alpine skiing pages confused every year. It was the coolest thing I had going for me and the least they could do was label it correctly in the yearbook. But the Science Club thing was really what did me in. I had a reputation and it stuck. Now, I am becoming a science teacher, and I don't know that I will ever attain my goal of becoming one of the cool kids. I really thought I had shaken the nerd status in college when I started buying pants with appropriate inseams and started getting invited to parties again... but alas, I cannot deny who I really am. I am a geek. I've even decided to start attending what is really just an adult version of the science club. It's called Cafe Scientific and it's at the Bryant Lake Bowl. I am super excited because we get to talk about science, but also because cool kids hang at the BLB and maybe they will notice me in the hall and say hi.

So, I guess all I want to say is that I have come full circle. I am back in the science club. Back on the badminton court. Still missing parties to go skiing. I am a nerd and I am proud of it. And despite all the social awkwardness, I found a very cute boy that is just as geeky in his own way, and we have a pretty good time together just geeking out. I realized this last weekend, as I was working on my physics homework and noticed him sitting on the couch, reading about Caravaggio, listening to NPR and wearing his safari hat. And then last night he told me he was going over to friends house next week to learn how to play Dungeons and Dragons. Match made in heaven.

You can take the braces off the geeky kid, but behind that straight set of teeth, there will always be a geek...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Comfort of Darkness

Fall, to me, has always felt like the beginning of the new year. Forget the awakening of spring or New Years - Fall is when I reflect, reevaluate my state of being, reset, and move forward. Time for trade ice cream for acorn squash and sandals for boots. I grow giddy at the thought of the coming crisp blue skies, scarves, and the musty smell of leaves on the ground. Get me a blanket, a hot chai, a good book and I will be a happy girl. I absolutely love fall.

Fall has a special mood for me that is paradoxically both heavy and light and the same time. Warm and cold. The Autumnal equinox. The beginning of the dark half of the year. Time to take stock of what we've got and prepare for the months ahead. Gather the harvest, revel in the beauty of nature and get everything in order before the chill of winter blows in. It's earthy, honest, pensive and grounding. And when else do you get to decorate with skeletons without catching strange glances from your neighbors?

Is it odd to find such the darkness and ominous mood so appealing? I find myself brooding over deep thoughts on life, death and purpose. I've been lulling myself in the grey music of Ray LaMontagne and Cat Power. I have abandoned some of the more superficial things in life, and refocused on relationships, learning, and being healthy. Don't worry Mom, I'm not depressed, it's just fall. I'm in it. I love this feeling. I feel revived. Back to the basics. Rooted.

But it's dark. I welcome the creepy, the gory, the heavy and emotional. I want to watch scary movies, hunt for mushrooms in the gloomy damp woods and read some Poe. Or maybe I'll read Stiff again. It's one of my favorite books ever and it's about human cadavers. I promise it's hilarious - you really should read it. Just not while you're eating.

I don't know if I can put a finger on it, but the refreshing darkness and the happy gloom of fall are creeping up and reviving me. I can feel fall almost like it's a tangible thing, but to describe all of it's complex and wonderful facets is like trying to hold tight to a fist full of sand. I thought maybe by writing about it that I could define it, but instead I feel like I just revealed myself as a moody creeper that enjoys reading about dead bodies and probably owns one too many scarves. I guess if the the shoe fits...

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Give me a C-U-T-E!
Give me a S-I-D-E-W-A-L-K! 
Give me an A-R-T!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Garage Sale Story

This past weekend, my lovely friend Jean, my awesome Mom and I hosted a garage sale. It was slammin'. First of all, my Mom is a garage sale maven and is also really good at making everything really fun. Plus, Jean is super cool and was very generous in letting us host the sale at her adorable new home in the Linden Hills neighborhood, complete with white picket fence, porch, bird bath and corner bakery.  I might be a touch jealous. We sold a ton of stuff, met a lot of really cool and nice people, got sunburned, drank wine and laughed a lot. It was awesome. I made about fifty bucks since I decided to price pretty much everything at 25¢, but that made it super easy to haul the leftovers to the thrift store at the end of the day. Ironically, I spent fifty bucks at the gas station on the way home, but I am still considering the whole day to be a huge success.

In the process of cleaning out my apartment and packing up my truck, two interesting (well interesting to me) things happened. First, one of my neighbors stole my really nice desk from behind out apartment building. The night before, it sat out by the back door for maybe two hours max while we hauled stuff over to Jean's cute house. When we came back, it was gone. VANISHED! I left a note on the back door for the day, asking that if someone possibly mistook it for free (although it had a price tag on it). I requested that they kindly return it. Nothing happened. I also asked "the friendly neighbors" if they had seen anything. They hadn't. THEN, last night, there was an old ugly desk sitting next to the dumpster. Grrrrrr...

Ears burning, I instantly began to plot my revenge.

So, "Operation: Find the evil desk stealer" has commenced. There are only four apartments that could have possibly taken it. Really, only two if you consider the proximity of where the desk was and who would have actually seen it. It's either the guy across the hall, which I assume we would have overheard hauling furniture OR it's the rude girl in the basement that never acknowledges anyone when they try to be nice and say hi to her. My money is on rude girl. As soon as I have confirmation on the nasty little thief, I will be withholding all friendly greetings from this evil desk stealer. Neighbors should never steal form neighbors. It's against the neighborly code. Did she not watch Mr. Roger's when she was little!?! I knew a psycho girl in college who shoved crickets under the door of a boy she didn't like...  if I spot that desk through rude girl's window, I may be making a little trip to the pet store.

I am open to alternative forms of revenge, however, so please comment if you have any suggestions.

So, what's the second interesting thing that happened? I found my old MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice and Paula Abdul tapes!!! Hammer Time and Ice, Ice Baby are great, but let me tell you -  that Paula can really transform a car ride. It's like an instant feel-good dance party once her beats start blasting from my speakers. Almost good enough to help me completely forget about "Operation: Find the evil desk stealer." Almost.

I am posting the video of my favorite track from her "Shut Up and Dance" album. I have many fond memories of dancing in front of my Barbie doll audience in the living room to this one. Looks like you can buy your own copy online for about five bucks. Totally worth it my friends. I would buy an extra copy but I'm a bit short on cash. Like about five bucks... which is how much I had that desk priced at...

Paula Abdul - Forever Your Girl
Uploaded by jpdc11. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

Friday, August 13, 2010


I don't actually want to become someone who sleeps till noon everyday, but I am super excited about leaving the office for my own classroom. I hope it has windows. I miss windows.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Another post about AFP... because I just really love them

I just never get tired of the site Awkward Family Photos. It cracks me up every time.  Brings me back to my brief stint as a portrait photographer. If you stop and think about the nearly impossible task of forcing people together into a small room in front of a draped piece of fabric and making them pose, smile, sit still and look natural all at the same time, it's no wonder there are so many hilariously bad portrait studio photos in the world. 

I've done some pretty cool things in my life, but portrait studio photography was not one of them. It's not something I would ever want my art professors at St. Olaf to know about. I did my best to try and convince the soccer moms and well-intentioned dads to go for the more tasteful photos, but all too often, the customers would get a tad overzealous with the matching outfits and draped tulle

There was no turning back once they started requesting things like back-lit hair, family pyramids, and the old random Grecian column. Can someone please tell me why Greek columns are such a staple of portrait photography studios? I may or may not have whipped out a killer arm shelf whilst leaning atop of a classic Greek column during my own low-budget senior year photo shoot, but I was young, naive, and shockingly not as cool as you might think. Pretty sure I spent more money on my science fair board than I did on my senior pictures. That, my friends, is what makes those awkward portrait photos so funny - because we've all been there. We all have them, and at some point, we've all rocked the arm shelf.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Instant Karma

I like to tease people in a non-malicious, lighthearted way. That's what we Westby's do. It's how we show love. We like to joke and tease, and on occasion, we openly laugh at people and their ridiculousness. We're not haters, we're just really good at finding the humor in things. And with our family, there are just so many things. You should hear us around the dinner table - but be careful if you do decide to join us. The moment you slip up, we're gonna be all over it.

One of my favorite people in the whole world is my friend Carol Klimek. She grew up on a farm north of the Twin Cities and, although she was just minutes from downtown, went to the same college as me and is now working towards becoming a physicians assistant at Augsburg in Minneapolis, I still love to tease her for being a country bumpkin, farm girl. Truth is, I love her family and their farm and I think they are the coolest people ever, but that doesn't stop me from poking fun. (Maybe I'm just jealous.) I was lucky enough to spend last weekend at her brother's farm celebrating his wedding and it was one of the best weddings I have ever been to. The pictures were so cute that I even decided to make one my profile picture. Me and Carol on a bright red tractor. Awwww!

So, randomly today, Carol calls to tell me that my brother was on the COVER of one of the family's farming magazines. At first I thought it was a clever joke. My brother's name is Kale... like the vegetable. I was immediately fantasizing about how I would frame the featured article of green leafy Kale and hang it in out parents house for him to notice on his next visit home. Gold! Then I got another message from her telling me that it was actually the flesh and bone version of Kale that I was on the cover for some tractor design competition. Ohhh... so much for the lettuce jokes...

My brother is not only special because he shares his name with a garnish. He is also brilliant when it comes to math and science. He is a top student at the University of Minnesota's Institute of Technology and he is majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Yeah. The competition it intense. I am constantly on my toes trying to stay on top as the favorite child, but he really makes it tough with all his winning and acing tests and being honored with lame academic blah blah blah...

So, anyway I couldn't let this go without getting a good jab in before Mom and Dad heard the news and started glowing with pride over their golden boy's glorious cover spread. I decided to go with the ever familiar farm jokes that I was so used to delivering to Carol. Yeah. That was gonna be my angle. I quickly crafted my clever message and posted it to his wall for all to see.


Then I realized quickly that this time the joke was on me...

Click to enlarge

It's hard to effectively tease someone about being on the cover of a tractor magazine when your message is flanked by a photograph of yourself sitting ON A TRACTOR!!!

I'm guessing that this might come up at the next Westby family dinner.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Me gloating again about the Mpls bike paths...

Yesterday our office closed for the afternoon and we all headed to the new twins stadium for a matinée game against the Cleveland Indians. It was my first visit to the new Target Field and I was very impressed. It was really beautiful. Even the big video screen thing looked awesome. I also loved how it felt to be nestled right in the middle of things with an amazing view of the city. You could look right down 6th Street! Our seats were in the shade, which made it even better. Despite my SPF 75, don't know how long I would have lasted in yesterday's sweltering heat if I had been sitting in the sun. The Twins redeemed themselves with a 6-0 win. They opened with a military tribute and four dudes parachuted with flags hanging from their feet. There were also fireworks and and an air force jet did a very close flyover, which was all the more exciting when you considered the proximity of the nearby Minneapolis skyline. It was quite a show. My very favorite part of the whole experience was how easy it was for me to get there. Once again, the bike paths led me right to where I wanted to go and I never even had to cross the street. From the moment I locked my apartment door, to the moment that they scanned my ticket at the gate, it took all of twenty minutes. I parked my bike right outside the gate free of charge and got home faster than it took some of my coworkers to get out of the parking ramps.

Minneapolis bikeways for the win!

Oh yeah, and the Twins too :)

 Check out our great seats!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What is that awful buzzing sound!?!

So, the 2010 World Cup is over. Spain has been crowned champions. South Africa has bid the crowds farewell. The vuvuzelas have been silenced... or have they?

What do you do with a vuvuzela after the World Cup?

Go pay BP a visit :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vac from the Sea

Three cheers for the "Vac from the Sea!"  

Electrolux is going to create a vacuum cleaner that is made from plastic scooped out of the ocean! Thank you Electrolux for bringing attention to the issue of plastic pollution in the oceans. I only wish I could own my very own recycled plastic vacuum cleaner!


Thanks to the relatively new phenomenon known as LivingSocial Deals and Groupon, Jake and I had the pleasure of attending a real-life Nascar race at Elko Speedway on Saturday night. For only ten dollars we scored two tickets, two beers, a tub of popcorn, permanently damaged hearing, some intense rural-midwestern culture, lots of really bad hair and several thrilling moments where we were almost struck by lightning. IT WAS AWESOME!

Ironically it was also Lighting Safety Awareness Week

Despite the fact that we were sitting in giant metal stands in the middle of a field, nobody seemed too concerned. After watching the bolts of lightning very clearly strike ground three separate times in the distance, we decided to move to a lower seating area made of less-conductive wood. After all, these were the same people who had shaved racing stripes into their children's mullets and were seated with their infants next to cars flying by at an ear-splitting 100+ MPH. I was not real keen on following their example. Finally when a few raindrops started to fall the announcer let us know that there was "a little weather coming in from the north and the west... and, well... yeeeahhhh..." No mention of possible electrocution. No suggestion to GET OFF THE GIANT METAL LIGHTING ROD IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD. All they told us was that they would keep going until the track was too wet for safe driving. Um... hello!?!? I was unaware that car racing was ever safe... AND I would have much rather been sitting on rubber tires with a helmet on.

Here is the radar image of the "weather" that engulfed the track moments later. We were in the red zone. Red=bad.

We left just as it started to pour. Lucky we brought an umbrella. Unluckily, Nascar fans think umbrellas are lame and they are not afraid to let you know.

On a related note, Brett Michaels is coming to Elko Speedway on August 20th for his Roses and Thorns tour. You know... just in case the Nascar isn't enough for ya.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Albatross and the Pacific Island Trash Vortex

Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer you guys, but there are just some things that have been really ruffling my feathers lately (pun intended). Luckily, I am not a bird living in the Gulf or near the Pacific Island Trash Vortex because the ruffling of feathers has become the very least of their problems. Have you heard of this massive amount of garbage floating around in the ocean? 

"It might sound like something out of an apocalyptic science fiction film, but I assure you—the Pacific Island Trash Vortex is very real indeed. It's essentially a huge carpet of garbage big enough to fill two Texases that's floating around due north of Hawaii. Still skeptical? Here's videographic proof of the Trash Vortex on the G Word. And here's a Greenpeace animation detailing the trash's path.

Okay, so there's a massive continent made of refuse floating around in the ocean. So what do we do about it? Let's not contribute to it, for starters."

So if this does not strike you has a HUGELY AWFUL SITUATION. Let me also share with you the story of the Albatross. The Albatross is an endangered species and in the Northern Pacific and albatross chicks are fed plastic garbage by their parents. The adult birds are confusing the plastic trash in the water for food and feeding it to the chicks. In September of 2009, photographer Chris Jordan went to document what was happening to these birds.

"On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.

To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world's most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent."

Just think of that every time time you put your groceries a plastic bag or take a swig from your bottled water. And be careful with that cap... it's a choking hazard.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Facing reality

I just saw this photo online and my stomach dropped. OH MY GOODNESS!!! This is a loon in case you can't tell from all the gobs of oil. He apparently drowned shortly after this photo was taken.

This is awful and the worst part is that nobody seems to be able to do anything about it. We're just pointing fingers and playing the blame game. What is wrong with us? How could we have created something so horrendous? It's just sick. It seems to me like people used to talk about the potential hazards of our non-sustainable way of life and warn that "someday we're going to start seeing enormous environmental disasters if we continue to live like we do." Well, things have been going downhill for a while now. Giant pieces of the ice caps have been crumbling away and melting into the ocean. Polar bears are drowning. AND NOW THIS! We screwed up big time. We screwed ourselves.

I'm not about to blame anyone else either. I am just another person who is living in their happy little oblivious bubble, totally detached from the reality of it all. It's so easy to ignore. We have made it so easy. I really feel like I need to try and make a change though. I'm starting by avoiding that all-to-convenient BP on my drive home from work every night. NO MORE BP.

I can already hear you saying, "That's totally lame Kate, you think this is all BP's fault?!? I know, I hear you -  so I am also going to try to start riding my bike to work. I'm hoping that everything works out. I used to ride to work in high school and I went over my handle bars twice and once ran into the side of a minivan. I'm going to pick out a new helmet today or tomorrow :) No more excuses though - It's really not that big of a deal! This tiny little sacrifice is NOTHING compared to the loss and destruction on the Gulf Coasts. There are so many reasons to bike instead of drive, and I'm not going to ignore them anymore.

I can totally do this...well, at least until November...

Friday, June 11, 2010

On a mission to carve some steasy arcs...

Who says you can't surf in Minnesota!?!

I have been looking forward to learning how to kitesurf since my boyfriend Jacob got back from a trip to South Padre Island this past spring. Hundreds of dollars and a week-long crash course later, he returned to MN an avid kitesurfer and promised that he would help me learn. Well, I finally was able to borrow a "trainer" kite and wet suit, so I think I might actually get to try it in the next coming weeks. We are heading up to Northern Michigan in July and I am hoping to get a lot of practice in during the trip. I have a lot of catching up to do, since Jake is already "getting lifted" now on a regular basis (that means jumping, for all you non-kiteboarders out there). I am pretty excited though. Here's hoping that the learning curve isn't too terribly steep and that I don't look like too much of a kook! It seems like there is definitely a strong little community of kiteboarders in the area though, which is really cool. LAKAWA is the local group dedicated to Minnesota kiteboarding and windsurfing. 

Wish me luck :)

These are some photos I snapped at Lake Waconia earlier this spring of Jake.