Whatcha been…?

I’m only just getting around to filling out this “Whatcha been…?” questionnaire. Meh, only two months late…. ūüėČ

Whatcha been reading?: ¬†Mostly books that are part of a series. I’m a long-time fan of Bernard Cornwell and The Last Kingdom series in particular, so I devoured¬†The Flame Bearer (book 10) when it was released at the end of November. I’ve also been reading and listening to (Kindle/Audible whisper-sync) The Dresden Files, but I’ve finished what’s out and am impatiently waiting for more. I got sucked into the¬†Outlander books a few weeks ago, mostly because I wanted to watch the series (Graham McTavish in a kilt–need I say more?) and I generally like to read the book(s) before watching any adaptation. I thought it was pretty silly at first, but¬†it’s growing on me.

Whatcha been watching?: Outlander, not surprisingly. I’m actually not the biggest fan of the show, eye-candy aside, but I feel like I’m invested at this point. I also watched the latest season of Black Mirror, but wasn’t terribly impressed. The first two seasons were awesome, so that was a bit of a let-down. I’m enjoying¬†The Crown, though.

Whatcha been writing?: Law school application essays and manuscript reviews, mostly. Nothing fun.

Whatcha been learning?:¬†I keep telling myself that I’m going to dust off my German, but nope. ūüėõ I finally bought a¬†German audiobook version of one of my favorite Bernard Cornwell novels, so maybe I’ll actually get around to listening to it.

Whatcha been doing that‚Äôs new?: ¬†I’ve been TEACHING. I’ve picked up a second job as an adjunct instructor at the local community college. I’m teaching an evening Intro to Bio class. It’s an adventure.

Whatcha been thinking about?:¬†I love Alma’s book club idea, although it’s going to take a lot of discipline on my part to actually participate. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my impending career change. I applied to some law schools back in December and have gotten some offers and some interview requests. I will be attending law school in the fall, but it’ll be a few months before I make a final decision on which school.


Whatcha been…?

I know we haven’t posted in a long while but I thought of a simple, fun way that we can update each other. ¬†Each month we can answer a few questions about what we have been doing, reading, watching, eating, etc., hence the name “Whatcha been…?” ¬†The first person to post can think of questions for everyone else to answer. ¬†You can do as much or as little as you have time for. ¬†Here’s mine below:

Whatcha been reading?:  I just finished the book Demelza by Winston Graham.  It is one of the books in the Poldark series which I first came upon when I watched the 1975 BBC version on Netflix (despite bad hair, bad teeth, awful cinematography, it was great).  Recently, I started watching the PBS version on Amazon and I love it.  When I found out it was a book series, I had to start reading it.

Whatcha been watching?: Becoming JaneРcried terribly afterwards.  I never realized Jane Austen was never married.  Also, Aftermath on Netflix, it is a Korean show about a kid who falls off of a roof and then he can tell when people are about to die or about to kill.

Whatcha been writing?: I don’t normally write anything when I am not in school so, the last thing I wrote (besides this blog post) was a ten page paper about the best practices for socializing a new employee onto a team. ¬†Riveting, eh? ¬†That is Industrial and Organizational Psychology for you.

Whatcha been learning?: Well, gross, besides everything in grad school, I am still trying to learn French but I have not been going to the free community class at the Catholic church because of my work schedule.  I am also secretly trying to learn Korean because it is more interesting than French.  (Secretly because I told myself I was learning French next).  I also just finished the 10 day boot camp at skillcrush (https://learn.skillcrush.com/skillcrush-10-day-bootcamp/).  It is just a brief overview of some coding information.  I am attempting to learn about Ruby and Python so that I can potentially use it in a career setting.

Whatcha been doing that’s new?: ¬†We have been trying to eat healthy (that is not new) but we still like going out to eat. ¬†We feel it is healthier when we make all of our food from scratch but once a month, Blake and I drop Clark off at his grandmother’s and go out to a new restaurant to try something different. ¬†Last month we went to the Maple Street Biscuit Company and it was amazing!

Whatcha been thinking about?: Start a book club with me on goodreads, please, please.  We can create a private book club and we can take turns reading books that each one of us picks out.  Or, start writing reviews on this blog about what you read.

When you have time, post your answers to the same questions.

If I Could Spend a Day with You…

I have been thinking a lot about trying to plan a time to get together with all of you but with my school schedule, Blake’s work schedules and probably all of your schedules and the distance between each of us, it is just not a reality.¬† Ultimately, we will probably meet again at our 10 year reunion the weekend of April 22-23 because all of you will be there, right?¬† I want to keep up with this blog in an effort to stay in contact with you and to communicate my thoughts and memories and to hear from you in return.¬† That being said, I have been thinking about what I would do with each of you if I were able to spend one day with you, just you.

In alphabetical order:

Ashley: I know I said just you but I would like to see for a little bit how our children play together.  Liam and Clark are just a year a part and so they might be buddies.  After we let them play for a while, we will let their daddies take them while we go play.  We would probably try hard to think of something to do but in reality would probably end up just going to Starbucks and then Target.

Brooke: Clark loves little girls and your house is full of them so I would love to see how they play together for a while.  We would then leave the kids to go shopping and probably for a long while.

Ellen: We have never done this in the past but I would like to go hiking with Ellen.  We both like it and there are a lot of good spots to go hiking in my area and probably in her area too so no matter where we are, we have a good chance of finding a good trail, a good mountain or something to hike.  I imagine we would talk about work for her, school for me, our families and whatever else.  We could end the day with a good meal at a restaurant.

Roberta: This is easy.  I would love to sit and watch Roberta while she cooked something delicious, hopefully Korean, and talk about our memories together.  I would love to laugh about Renaissance Poetry, ridiculous things that happened in London and what has happened since.  Then, we would watch a movie together, hopefully a scary one, which would lead to us not sleeping at all that night.


My Life Since College…

This is what I have been doing since we graduated from college…


June 6, 2006, I left for Utah to go to the Missionary Training Center to learn Spanish and to learn how to be a missionary. I left Utah in August and was placed in a small suburb just outside El Paso, Texas. I lived there for 6 months and then in February I moved to Tucson, Arizona- the scariest place I have ever lived-ever!


In February and March, I was hospitalized twice for salmonella poisoning.  I actually was pretty fluent by nine months into my mission.  I stayed in Tucson for 12 weeks but due to safety concerns they moved me to Nogales, Arizona. Nogales is right on the border of Mexico. After 6 months I was moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico which was my favorite place in my whole mission.  In November of 2007, I came home to Tennessee. While I was gone on my mission, my mother moved to Cleveland, Tennessee and I came to live with her for a while. I got a part time job as a substitute at a daycare- which was awful but paid the bills.


In February 2008, I started working for Youth Villages. I started working out with families that had children that they were at risk for being taken into state’s juvenile justice system. In May, I changed programs and started working with teenagers who were in state’s custody and were aging out (they were never adopted or returned to parent before turning 18). In September I moved out of my mother’s home and into an apartment in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In August, my husband came home from being a missionary in South Dakota. We started dating in November, got engaged in December and were married by March 2009.


On March 28, 2009, Blake and I were married in an LDS Temple in Atlanta, Georgia. We honeymooned in Savannah and loved it. We usually try to go back there since we like it so much.¬† Blake decided it was time to go back to college to finish his degree in Physics. He worked part time at a local hotel and went to college starting in the fall. In December 2009, on my birthday, I was hospitalized for what they thought was my gall bladder but turned out to be, salmonella poisoning, yet again. This time, I ate a whole bunch of baklava from Wal-Mart, don’t judge.


We adopted a rabbit from a Mennonite farm. By adopting it I mean that we saved it from being eaten. He is still alive today and is the only animal that Clark is not afraid of. Clark helps us take care of him.

Blake started attending a University in Chattanooga. In October, I was promoted to supervisor. My office was in Chattanooga but when I was a specialist I had sessions all over the place and did paperwork from home. As a supervisor I would have to be in the office a lot more. I hated my 30 minute commute each day and Blake was wasting time driving that he could be studying and working. It just made since to move to Chattanooga.


In January, we moved to a small town that is basically connected to Chattanooga but it is older so it is cheaper and safer to live there. I finally decided to pursue my Master’s degree in Counseling at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I started the process of applying and taking the GRE, gross. I attended our five year class reunion!


I was accepted to University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Blake did an internship with Volkswagen at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville under a grant from the National Science Foundation. I don’t understand what it was about so I won’t even try to explain. He lived on campus in Knoxville and came home on the weekends. Although I missed him it was kind of fun to live on my own. I started running a lot more and we started training for a half marathon. I didn’t actually intend to run a race because I get really nervous about running in races but I just wanted to run more.

I attended my 10 year high school reunion. The kickoff was a football game at the high school. It was the first and last football game I ever attended there. The next day we had a dinner at a fancy place on the river. I remembered why I skipped school so much. I probably won’t attend anymore high school reunions.

I started graduate school in August and loved it. In November, I found out that I was pregnant. After years of not being able to have a baby, I am suddenly pregnant after finally starting graduate school. December was the absolute worse month of my life. I had one staff that was planning to take maternity leave but just before she went out on leave, another staff member that I supervised went out on leave for medical reasons. I had two staff members on leave and no one to help me cover their work with ridiculous morning sickness, all day. I literally had to do the work of three people. I worked every single day of the week all day and well into the night. I was exhausted and just really frustrated with having to do so much work.


Work got a little better this year but I got more and more pregnant. Blake graduated from UTC as an Outstanding Senior with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics. In May, Blake left to live in Oak Ridge, Tennessee for an internship with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It was something about batteries, that is all I know. Blake rented an apartment and lived in Oak Ridge during the week but came back home on the weekends. The internship was from May until August and the plan was for Blake to come home for one week for me to have the baby and then the whole family would live in Oak Ridge for the rest of the summer. Instead, I was induced on July 19th and was in labor for 16 hours before Clark was finally born at midnight on July 20th via Cesarian section. Since I was labor so long, an infection developed in my placenta and Clark had an infection. Once my placenta was gone, I no longer had the infection but Clark still had an infection and he had to be placed in the NICU until it cleared. As they were sewing up my incision, my doctor stepped away to leave on vacation and the doctor from the hospital finished the job.

Clark was pretty much the best baby ever. He came out screaming but as soon as Blake started talking to him he stopped crying. I was only able to see him for a few seconds and to touch his cheek before they took him away to the NICU. We couldn’t go see him there until 10 am the next morning. When we walked in and saw him in his little crib he smiled at us. Once I walked in the NICU to visit and a nurse was holding him and all the other nurses were surrounding him laughing and cooing at him. He was the fattest baby in the NICU at 8 pounds and 9 ounces. Most of the other babies were premature and tiny.

The day before Blake had to return to Oak Ridge, my incision started bleeding heavily. I called the nurse’s line and they asked me to come in the next day to see the doctor. In the doctor’s office they had to reopen my incision because some had burst open already from the bleeding. Having my stitches being ripped open without anesthesia was more painful than labor pains! At some point they gave me a shot in the incision of local anesthesia which never really took effect. The doctor who walked away while I was on the table said that she would have put more stitches in my incision so that it wouldn’t split. They couldn’t sew me back up so they had to pack the gaping hole with gauze, put a bandage over it and wait for it to heal back together. It took over three months. I had a home health nurse that came in to change the bandages during the week while Blake was gone and on the weekends he changed them. I was shocked that he would actually try; I thought it was so disgusting and disturbing that I never looked at my incision.

I finished out the year by turning 30.  


We bought a house in January!

I found out I was accepted to the I/O Psychology program at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga!

Throughout the year, I helped plan a community event that targeted foster youth and foster parents with the country music singer, Jimmy Wayne who was a former foster youth. It took a lot of work to get everything together and to collaborate with all the other agencies in the area was frustrating but it was worth it. The youth really enjoyed it.

Blake got a new job in August at a company called Lamberti as a process technician. He was testing pharmaceutical drugs for quality control at a small lab before and it just didn’t pay enough for us to live on one income. So, when he got the job at Lamberti we spent the rest of the year paying off whatever debt we could, my car, hospital bills, etc. In December, I put in my notice.


I worked out my notice and my last day was February 2nd. I am still adjusting to being at home full time. I will start the I/O Psychology program in August. Since January, I have been taking a French class which I will probably never grasp but I am going to keep trying. I am looking forward to seeing each of you at our 10 year reunion next year!


My Turn!

This is a fantastic idea. We all have such crazy schedules, what a wonderful way for all of us to catch up in one spot!

Oh where to begin… Monday – Friday are kind of a blur for me, it seems. Sarietta and I wake up around 5:45 or 6 to get ready for work/school. When I say 5:45 or 6, I mean my alarm starts going off then, but usually it’s more like 6:15… haha. We get all of our stuff done to be on the road to work by 6:40 for our 35 minute drive to the school. Once we arrive, we get my room ready for the day and I take her to her classroom. By 7:30, I’m back in my room and ready for students. I like my job, it’s fun and changes everyday. There have been some rough patches this year, but I am thankful I am finally in a school district and a good one at that. ¬†Students dismiss at 2pm and then I finally get to pick Sarietta up at 2:10 or so.¬†She hangs out in my room while I get paperwork done, set up for the next day. When we have meetings, she attends them with me and is generally good for the duration of them. She’s such a little grown up even though she’s only 5.

While we are at school, David is home with Liam. I think they typically start their day around 9 or so (lucky!) and eat and play for most of the day. ¬†Liam goes to my mom’s each day at 2:30 and David goes to work from 3 until 11. ¬†Usually by 3:15 or so, Sarietta and I pack up and head to my mom’s to get the small one. We sometimes hang out there for a while, but on Monday’s and Wednesday’s, we stay for only a few minutes. On those days, Sarietta has karate and we have to eat dinner and get there by 6:30. We are usually there until around 8 or so. On Tuesday’s I usually work until at least 5, sometimes 6 if we have a lot going on. Once we all get home, it’s dinner time that I have to make while Sarietta and Liam are playing in their¬†rooms or watching tv. There are lots of interruptions and most nights it may be 8pm before we eat, but that is life. After dinner, it’s bath time and reading then off to bed by 9. ¬†Sarietta always drifts off quickly but Liam is consistent in his need for snuggles or “nuggles” as he calls them. I usually lay in his bed with him for about 15 minutes, singing to him and giggling. He is a silly, fun little boy. ¬†Sometimes, if Sarietta doesn’t go right to sleep I will go in there with her and talk for a while. She doesn’t often nap at school, but when she does, it takes her forever to fall asleep at night.

Once they are in bed, I always PLAN to go to bed by 10:30. 90 % of the time that doesn’t happen. I usually sew or catch up on my tv shows I record. ¬†Sometimes, I do actually make it to bed by 10:30… not normally though. I usually stay up so I can at least see David for a few minutes when he gets home at 11:30. I always stay up Friday nights to see him.

On Saturdays and Sundays, we do all of our grocery shopping and if I am lucky I get to see Sarah and Regina for a bit ūüôā ¬†David usually works on Saturdays so we typically do lunch and then I take him to work. On Sundays, we sometimes go to church, but we aren’t very regular. This is something I want to change. ¬†If we do go to church, we usually have lunch with David’s parents and then go home to have a lazy day and sometimes nap.

And then it all starts again!

Some random tidbits that have happened in the last year or so:

  • I have a huge passion for sewing. I started my own business in January 2014 and mainly make purses and baby items. I am a fabric addict and I love, love, love making all these wonderful things! I named my business Sew, Actually with David’s help and it has been a real blessing to us! ūüôā

    Sarietta as Spider Girl and Liam as Gnomeo from Gnomeo and Juliet: Halloween 2014

  • I recently became in contact with long lost family members. It’s been amazing. I am so grateful to be able to get to know them and it has really been life changing in more ways than one!
  • I’ve realized that the hardest part is David working 2nd shift. We recently took our first weekend trip without the children. This is something we had never done before and while parts of the trip were frustrating (hotel issues, etc), it was so nice to have time with him alone. I think we get wrapped up in all the craziness and we forget to take time for ourselves.
  • I just started using Young Living Essential Oils! Holy Crap, I am in love! It’s just been amazing!!

Well, I think that is all for now. I am really enjoying reading these so far! Miss you all! And I look forward to reading more ūüôāsignature

My Mini, Premature Mid-Life Crisis

In 2012, I started a Masters of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. It was a 60 hour program which included a practicum and an internship. After completing the 60 hours I would have complete so many hours of supervision while seeing clients. You have to either get a job that pays for the license supervision or pay out of pocket for the supervision. I would also have to take three big tests in Tennessee or two if I did the process in Georgia. Then I would still have to start out making around $40,000, if I got lucky, and would probably have to start out with a company that was not the ideal job because of being new to the field. I wouldn’t be able to bill insurance directly until I was licensed for about three years or so. Before I had my son it didn’t matter the process or the amount of time it would take in school and through the license process. The amount of money for school and the lack of money that I would make in the job wasn’t a concern.

After years of being married and never being able to get pregnant, the same semester I finally stopped procrastinating going to graduate school, I got pregnant. After I had my son, I decided that I wanted to finish my education to be able to obtain a good job if I needed to ever work but that I really wanted to stay at home with him once we were financially able. Finishing up a 60 hour program and years of supervision just to work a stressful job for little money didn’t seem like a smart idea.

Also, I started working at a non-profit mental health agency in 2008 as a Transitional Living Specialist. In 2010, I was promoted to a supervisor. Specialists are basic a mix between a counselor, coach, mentor and teacher. The supervisor is just an extension of that and helps to supervise and develop the specialist. We went into the clients home and in the community. It was very stressful and after years of really difficult and disturbing cases, I came to the conclusion I no longer wanted to be a licensed counselor. I make it sound simpler than it really was. It was really kind of like a big pre-mid-life crisis for me. I have wanted to be a counselor since I was seven years old. I researched, prayed, talked to licensed counselors and I/O Psychologists before I finally came to the decision.

I searched around for other programs that I could finish quicker and with the end result being an office job with a good salary. The university in my city has a Research Psychology program and an Industrial/Organizational Psychology program. I preferred to do the Research program but to be able to really do what I want to do I would need a Doctorate degree. I researched what I/O Psychologists do and at entry level they are basically Human Resource Generalist which start out usually around $50,000 and there are always a lot of job postings at the different companies here. I figure that every job has it’s own amount of stress but in an HR job I probably won’t ever have to chase a runaway teenager down a railroad track or witness a drive by shooting when I am 7 months pregnant.


Ellen’s Regular Week :)

Ok, let’s give this a whirl! ¬†Thanks, Alma, for setting all of this up… and to Roberta for your wonderful directions ūüôā ¬†I’ll probably make my own account later. ¬†I’ve often wondered what everyone has been up to myself, but I realize I’ve been pretty bad at staying in touch actively. LOVE Facebook for at least brief glimpses into everyone’s lives at least!

I am still working at the State of Nevada Welfare Department–I started there almost a year and a half ago after the fiasco of having to leave my last job at the Housing Authority. ¬†I truly miss it. While I still work with the same clientele, it’s been a difficult transition going from Director of Public Housing at my old job to an entry level worker at the welfare department where it’s a bureaucratic nightmare. ¬†No one wants a “peon’s” insights or suggestions, and if you ask too many questions you’re considered an upstart. ¬†God forbid anyone in my unit suggest to my supervisor that she hold a meeting… that kind of thing. ¬†My boss is incompetent and lazy (most of the employee population can be described as that, sadly), and there really isn’t any upward mobility, so needless to say, I’ve been looking elsewhere. ¬†I’ve been desperately trying not to fall into complacency there, but it’s difficult when no one cares if you go above and beyond, and slackers get away with everything. ¬†It’s a far cry from my old job where I worked 50-60 hrs/wk and my boss appreciated my efforts. ¬†Thankfully the Executive Director at the Housing Authority is retiring this Friday (Yay Good Friday!) and there’s an entry level position I’m submitting an application for on that day. ¬†I don’t mind starting over since there is a lot of upward mobility there and people know my work ethic.

At welfare there are days I feel like an adult babysitter since my job entails making sure anyone receiving Federal cash assistance is meeting a certain amount of self-sufficiency activity hours per week. On the upside, it’s truly a joy when I’ve been able to be a personal cheerleader for someone after he/she successfully completed a high school equivalency program or obtained employment. ¬†Most people don’t want to be on the TANF program, and¬†thankfully it’s a minority that try to live off of it and jerk me around. ¬†I enjoy my coworkers within my unit immensely, and it’s never a dull day with the clients. ¬†ūüôā

Most evenings are pretty chill in the Escobar household, though this past month I started participating in mixed Martial Arts. ¬†Mikey has been going there for 8+ years and is a 2nd degree blackbelt, and for years he’s encouraged me to go. ¬†They had a special for the month of March where family members could attend for free, so I finally decided to check it out. ¬†It’s been exciting, hard work, and I’m meeting some new friends. ¬†My shins hurt like a mother from Thai Boxing, but as they say, “no pain, no gain!” ¬†I’m going to focus on the stand-up classes for awhile so I can build my core up again, but then I want to start going to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes again. ¬†I did some of those this past month, but I strained a hip muscle while attempting to buck off people heavier than me, lol. ¬†My massage therapist had a fun time working out my glutes, let me tell you! Otherwise we enjoy walking in the evenings, and sometimes I hit the gym to go to water aerobics or to power lift (I won’t lie… figuring out how to use some of the power rack equipment with good form has boosted my self-confidence!). ¬†At home I’m lazier, but I’ll find Mikey doing his Convict Conditioning program which I don’t do consistently enough, haha.

After our evening workouts, we check on our eBay businesses (we resell stuff from Kohls primarily), and prepare outgoing packages while we eat dinner and watch a show. ¬†We’re currently watching “Breaking Bad” on Netflix, which I’m enjoying. ¬†Mikey crossed the $20K gross threshold¬†on eBay this year and had to pay taxes (I think after expenses and taxes, he was left with about $2K, oops), but mine is still more of a “hobby” so I can fly under the radar. ¬†Our house rather looks like a department store, haha, but it’s fun hunting for things on 90% clearance and having a little extra income. ¬†Today I’ve been balancing my time between listing items and doing yardwork ūüôā

Saturdays we usually get up and make a delicious breakfast of homemade hash browns, eggs, and nitrate-free bacon along with our twice-daily green smoothies. ¬†We’ve gone pretty much close to organic and non-processed as possible. ¬†Sometimes we hang out with Mikey’s family… we try to spend some time with his mom since she doesn’t drive and is retired now. ¬†I usually go with her to church on Sundays since her kids¬†aren’t active anymore. ¬†Otherwise we use the weekends to spend time together, relax, and do cooking/other housework. ¬†Yesterday I repaired my dripping shower faucet ūüôā ¬†I’ve really come to enjoy plumbing repairs over the years, and there’s something empowering about doing it myself. ¬†I learned a lot from my former maintenance guys that I supervised.

With the mild winter we’ve had this year and the ever increasing warm temperatures, we’ll be starting to plan mini-excursions around Nevada for the summer time. ¬†We really like going to nowhere Nevada and explore/hike. ¬†Our next step will be to invest in some actual backpacking gear so we can stay overnight in the wilderness rather than always returning after a few hours of hiking. ¬†I’m always amazed that I never hiked when I lived in the South, especially with all the wooded areas and beautiful waterfalls. ¬†We’ve never gone down to Vegas to see trails there, but I just heard about some areas down there called the Gold Butte that I want to check out. It apparently has some amazing rock formations and is fairly close to the Grand Canyon. ¬†But if not there this year, then I have yet to check out Yosemite National Park and some others that are relatively closer. ¬†Last summer for our anniversary we went to the Great Basin National Park in Ely, NV (7-ish hrs away) and tried to find some ghost towns (most were unsuccessful ventures, lol), and then went with Mike’s family to Elko, NV (5-ish hrs away) where we hike in the Ruby Mountains annually. ¬†Both were really fun trips, though I was fairly wary driving to Ely since the majority of it is driving along the “Loneliest Highway” in the nation and I was terrified we’d get stranded in the middle of the desert for some reason. ¬†But, then I overcame those fears in order to go off-roading in my little Civic (yes, I still have that sucker!) to see petroglyphs and earthquake faults. ¬†ūüôā

So to wrap stuff up for now, you can see my life isn’t all THAT exciting, haha. ¬†But I try to stay busy, partake in self-improvement activities, and veg on weekends. ¬†I’m re-reading my favorite book series currently (The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan–Ashley–you really should start it!!!). ¬†I hope everyone has a fabulous upcoming week and a nice Easter! ¬†Miss all of you!