Campus Book Rentals, It's STILL Amazing!

Many of you might remember this post from last year. It's all about CampusBookRentals.com and how you can save an AWESOME amount of money, and make a bunch too (with their RentBack program). Take another look at the post, because it can save you some serious dough! Personally, my major doesn't require a lot of pricey books, but my husband's math-science-oriented program certainly does! We loved renting his books last year, so I highly recommend it!

When you use RentBack, you rent the books you've already bought and get paid every time the book is rented! (Multiple renting = Multiple payouts) Meaning, you make MORE money renting your book, then you would selling it for a one time sum.

But this year, I'm going to talk about something else. With every textbook rented, CampusBookRentals donates to Operation Smile.

Check out the story of this wonderful child here

Operation Smile is a children's medical charity that performs lip and cleft palate surgery. They also deliver postoperative and ongoing medical therapies to children in low and middle income countries.

What is a cleft lip? It's a physical separation in the upper lip. There's a lot of factors involved, but at the end of day, this isn't just an aesthetic issue. These children have troubles eating and getting proper nutrition, increased chance of ear infections and hearing loss, dental issues, and, of course, speech problems. But more importantly, cleft lip can greatly increase the odds of death in children before their first birthday.

So, what do children do if they can't afford the surgery to fix this devastating deformity? Well, unfortunately, they can do nothing without the help of organizations like Operation Smile. Operation Smile believes that  "Every child deserves access to safe, quality surgical care. Every child deserves a future filled with hope" (from their site).

Operation Smile works in over sixty countries, and works to save the lives of children.

And again, CampusBookRentals.com  donates to this beautiful, life-saving organization with EVERY textbook rental. With CampusBookRentals, people save money and lives. I can't think of a better way to get my textbooks (again). And it is incredibly easy to use.

Here's some more information.

How does it work?

And, again, check out this post for more information.


18 Days

In 18 days, Taylor and I will have been married for two years! It's been another crazy, fun, exciting, awesome year that I will discuss 18 days from now. There's something else in 18 days, and Taylor and I are anxiously waiting for the day. The day school starts.

We are the annoying kids that actually really love school! We've been going on weekly walks around campus, because we are just so excited. I've finally locked in my double-major, and Taylor is taking two math classes and a chemistry class. We're gonna be busy bees, but that's what we love! Thankfully, our jobs are perfectly suited for us and our schedules, and everything is appearing to go well. There's gonna be ups and downs all year long, but we have an optimistic outlook.

School, school, school! I just want it to start now!

I know.

I'm crazy.



We adopted a big, big cat named Tiger. He's adorable. He's so stinking cute and sweet! He loves people, cuddling, snuggling, attention, and love. I'm not even kidding! The cat doesn't have an ounce of "mean" in his body! He has two extra toes that we love extra, a green bow tie, and a big appetite. And that's basically Tiger in a nutshell.

We first saw him in a kennel at PetSmart. They keep sheltered cats there, because they're more likely to get adopted. He was sleeping. His big paw was draped across his eyes, so we could clearly see his little extra toe. It was instant love. We adopted him July 12th, 2014. :)

Yeah. He has a grumpy face, but it's very misleading.

Cats have long lives, so Tiger is gonna be around for a while. We couldn't be more happy. He'll be with us when we graduate school, have children, move to exciting places, everything! 

So, here's to growing our family just a little bit.

And here's to Tiger. May the odds be ever in his favor.

And that's how you write a post in five minutes or less.


Where Do I Fit In?

I've been watching a lot of 19 Kids and Counting lately ( I just love reality tv), and I've also been keeping up on the Ordain Women events and drama (Facebook is booming with it all). And between the two of them, a huge question has come to mind:

Where do I fit in as a women in the church, as a women in a family, as a women at a University, as a women in a job, as a women in this society? Where do I fit in?

The Duggar family from 19 Kids and Counting is very conservative. I'm conservative too, so I agree with a lot of their values, ideas, and so on. However, I do feel like there's a lot of gender stereotypes within this family. The girls cook and do most of the cleaning, and the boys do the outside work and car stuff. They like it that way. I understand a lot of the stereotypes, but I don't want to be the only one cooking and cleaning my life away. . .

And then there are feminists that believe women are oppressed. We should be treated better, we should be getting more, we deserve it. Ordain Women is an organization that believes women in the LDS church should have the priesthood (among other things). Some of the feminist ideals click with me, other ones do not.

So, as a women, what do I want?

I am different than a man. Physically, of course, but I do believe there are some other differences. That book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus isn't entirely inaccurate. In my opinion, anyway. I want to be treated equally with men, but I don't want to be treated the same.

I work with six men, and I'm the only girl. Sometimes, I want them to tone down their language or inappropriate jokes. Is that because I'm a girl, or because I just feel uncomfortable as a person? I'm a pretty good cook. Is that because I'm a girl, or because I like to cook? I love wearing dresses. Is that because I'm a girly girl, or because they're comfortable and I think their fun?

I don't want to be the same as a man. I like being a girl. I like that girls are different than men. I don't want to be treated less than a man, but I don't want to be treated better than a man either. Well, maybe I want to be treated better, but that's a little unfair in any case. If we treated women and men the exact same, would chivalry be dead?

It's confusing for me.

I'm having a feminine identity crisis.


My Major: A Nicaraguan Story

My majors, both of them, are on the list for top ten most pointless majors. This makes sense, because we measure the worth and value of things by the "pay-out." And by that I mean the money and materialistic aspect of it. I'm not going to gripe about how you and the world should measure the value of things differently. We're living in a material world after all. But I want to value things differently, and I do.

So to me, my major (I'm talking about the English one here) isn't pointless. And here's why:

While listening to RadioLab, as I often do (and you should too), I came across this story. It takes place in Nicaragua in the 1970's.

Imagine you cannot hear. Everyone around you is constantly speaking and interacting with each other, but you can't hear them. No one has taught you sign language. So basically, you have a few crude gestures to communicate with your family, but other than that nothing. You're cut off.

Unknowingly, you are one of hundreds of kids living life this way in Nicaragua. But in the late 70's everything changed when Hope Samoza established a new school for those with special disabilities. The deaf were included in this new school. So now, instead of deaf children being scattered about everywhere, they were together. For many of these children, it was their first time meeting and interacting with another deaf person.

Ann Senghas, Associate Professor of Psychology at Barnard, described it this way: "Before the world was going on around them and everyone was all talking and they were cut off from that. And suddenly, for the first time, they were all there and they were what was happening and they were what there was to talk about."

But here's the problem. NONE of these children have ever learned a language, and they all had different sets of rudimentary gestures that they used. Well, the classes didn't help much. The teachers didn't use signs and everything was said and done in Spanish. So they'd copy words and in their notebooks, but it was basically going right over their heads.

However, they were riding the bus for an hour everyday together,  playing during recess together and getting together at the park, and so on.  No one knows how, but they started to converge into a common system. In other words, they created a language.

A little over ten years later, Ann Senghas went to Nicaragua and decided to compare the original signers from ten years ago to the young current signers. She asked them to describe a certain cartoon and the differences were striking.

For one thing, the older kids used their whole bodies to sign. The cartoon character was acting eccentric, so they did too. The younger kids, however, used their hands and their wrists; it was much more "stylish."  But Senghas noticed something else. The older signers tended to describe all the events in the story. Only the events. While the younger kids would talk about the cartoon character's feelings. The kids were just better at thinking about thinking.

So, she decided to test this on all generations of deaf people in Nicaragua. She showed them a comic strip about two brothers. The big brother is playing with a train, and the little brother is watching him and wanting to play. The big brother puts it under the bed and leaves. While the big brother is gone, the little brother takes the train out and hides it in the toy box.

She then asked her participants, "Where is the big brother going to go to find his train. Is he going to look under the bed or is he going to look in the toy box?"

When she asked the children, most of them would say, "he's gonna look under the bed, because that's where he left it and he doesn't know that it's been moved to the toy box." Or something like that. That's the correct answer.

But, crazily enough, when she asked the older signers (30+ years old), they would say, "the toy box." They would pick the wrong one.

Why? This is insane. Why can't the older signers pass this test that involves thinking about what someone else is thinking?

Well, it could be that they don't have a word for it. The young signers have tons of words for thinking: believe, remember, forget, etc. The verb "think" may have somehow impacted our ability to think about other's thinking.

"Thinking about thinking. Understanding how other people understand. That's something that having language makes you better at," according to Ann Senghas.

Words can be like bridges that somehow get you to come to a new mental place that you may otherwise be cut off from. Words are beautiful. The symbols (either audibly or visually) allow us to feel and think things we could never do otherwise!

And I want to study those words. I want to combine those words in a way that creates an emotion or feeling for someone else. I want to study the way authors before me have done this.

English, or any language, isn't just some happy accident that has allowed us to communicate with one another. English is a tool that has opened up the gates of feeling, thinking, and believing.

It's awesome.

(Listen to this story here)
(Here's some more background)



It's almost time for more pictures :)

Wedding Day 
Wedding Day

First Year
Wedding Day

First Year
First Year

Wedding Day

Wedding Day 
First Year 


Bugging Out

Plans always change. It's annoying to think of this, especially when you're excited for the plans you've made. One of my changing plans is bugging me right now. I planned to major in both English and General Theatre. I want to get as much education as I can. Plus, most Theatre programs have Masters as terminal degrees. So, if I want to teach on a University level (which I do), and my road to a doctorate isn't working out, I can get a MFA in playwriting or directing and go from there. Bam. That's as far as I can go in that field.

But the Theatre program at USU has yet to get back to me. What if I just get an English degree. I just feel like I can do so much more than that! But what if I get a fulltime job? That's a ton of work. Do I really need to double major?

Also, I'm so sick of hearing "Get as much education as you can. Don't stop. Because once you have a baby it's so hard to go to school." Okay, yeah, I'm not a mom. I don't know how hard it is to go back to school, but everyone is different...Just because it was hard for you to go back to school won't mean it's hard for me. Some people find it really hard to work and go to school, but that's never been an issue for me. And I know people that work forty hours, have a baby, and go to school. It isn't ideal, but it's possible. Plus, I'm not even planning on having a baby, so what's that advice for?

I guess it's just weird that everyone kind of butts into your life. When you're a kid, it's fine. But eventually, you get to be an adult and make decisions. Sure, we're immature and super young adults, but adults nonetheless. Once the decision is made, it's made. That's it. Leave us alone.

Taylor and I were told that eventually you'll want to spend time alone and apart from each other. We were told that by a couple who was married for a year. It's been two years for us, and we still hate being without each other. It's not like they had bad advice, it's just that we are totally different.

I'm just saying, every story is different. Ours changes every day. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes I'm annoyed that things don't go the way I want them to. Sometimes the stupid page won't turn. Sometimes the pages turn too quickly. But we're writing it, and I'm happy that we're the authors.


Home Sweet Home: Our Little House

We moved! I'm pretty proud of our new little home, so I'm gonna show off with a bunch of pictures! Also, it's hard for my family and friends to get up here, and I'd like them to see my house!

This apartment is much bigger than the one we came from! Plus, there's actually rooms (our last apartment was a studio) and the bathroom and kitchen aren't carpeted. Ahhh...the simple joys. It's not completely put together yet, but it's getting there!
Oh, and some of the pictures are blurry. My bad...

This is our living room:

And this is our dining room:



We got some painting and decorating to do, but we already love it a lot. 


Portland-PSU Graduation

Taylor and I visited Portland this past week to attend his brother, Stuart's, graduation. It was a ton of fun and I'm really happy that we were invited to celebrate this day with family.

I'm proud of Stuart! I've only known him for about three years, but he transferred schools, got married, worked a lot, and graduated with Cum Laude!! That's really impressive. I've known people that find it hard to go to class with a relaxing part-time job, so it just goes to show that we limit ourselves. It's always inspiring to see people that don't.
Stuart taking on the world

Big Graduation! It's a big deal!
Taylor, Me, Jenny (Stuart's wife), Stu, Suzy (my mother-in-law)

Me and Taylor

We also got to explore Portland! We've been there a lot, and I always love it. It's my kind of town! Big, quirky, loud, weird...I just love it!

We went to this ice cream place called Salt & Straw. It was. . .very Portland. Organic and weird. I liked the atmosphere, but the ice cream flavors left much to be desired. Among their most popular flavors is peach and blue cheese. Sounds interesting and maybe good, but it's just gross. My ice cream tasted like bathroom cleaner and Taylor's tasted like alcohol. I think we both secretly liked 'em though, 'cause we ate it all.

Lavender ice cream
We ate at food trucks, hung out with family, went bowling, watched a lot of world cup games, and had a ton fun! Maybe we should go again next week? I wish!

Taylor...alone on a bench

He ate an octopus. 

Me being mean to Taylor's brother Ethan. Just poking fun. I like that kid!



I'm joining the Best F Words link-up again for Friday's Favorite F Word. I think it's cute. There's a lot of F words out there that aren't the F word, but naturally our minds do NOT go to those words when we hear "F-word," so it's a nice change of pace.

Today's F-word is "Face."

So, of course, here's my face:
I decided to take this word in a different direction than talking about face care. I hope that's alright.. Mostly because my face care is minimal and make-up use is only slightly better...oops. Don't do what I do, and take care of your faces!

Every face in the entire world is different. Your face is unique. Even identical twins have different faces, different looks, different ways of snickering or laughing or crying. Our faces are 100% individual, and that makes them special. 

I used to hate my face. Many times unflattering pictures or videos bring back those feelings. But when I think about it, the whole thing is kind of silly. First of all, when I pose all cute and big-eyed (seen above), I like my face. But even in real life or bad pictures, my face is my face. How can you think something is adorable one minute and then hate it the next? And what if you always hate your face? In every picture or video or reflection...? In my opinion, there are no ugly faces, just ugly expressions. Smiles are beautiful if they're genuine, frowns can be tender and sweet. We can all twist our faces into shapes that are unsightly; some people seem to struggle with that more than others (we all hate those people, right?). I kid, I kid.

But at the end of the day, I love the variety of faces here on Earth. I love how magnificent it is that we seem to never run out of faces. 

And out of all of those faces, I picked one of the best to see every morning.

And that is one adorable post :)
The Best F Words


Matt Walsh, Get Off My Internets

Most bloggers are familiar with "Get Off My Internets," or GOMI, a website dedicated to discussing blogs and bloggers that should get off the internet. Well, kind of. A lot of it is just a way for people to rant about things that annoy them when it comes to blogging. Quite frankly, I've only been to this site a couple of times when my blogger, twitter, and facebook feeds are all boring and I don't want to get off my bum and do stuff, but I appreciate the site. A little bit because I'm catty and a little bit because I think there's some funny stuff like, " Lifestyle Bloggers: You don't know how to live. They can help." It's just so snide! I love it. I don't have a GOMI account though, so I'm gonna write a GOMI post of my own dedicated to Matt Walsh.

Matt Walsh is a blogger trying to "slay truths" or whatever. It's fine. In fact, I believe that anything worth reading shouldn't be the sugar-coated nothingness that bloggers now-a-days tend to write in order to gain massive amount of followers without offending anyone. However, Matt Walsh hasn't mastered rhetoric, so he kind of just sounds like a ranting lunatic.

People share his posts all over my facebook feed to passively aggressively show an opinion they'd like to be not-so-passive about. The first time I decided I wanted this kid to GOMI was when I read one of his posts on pornography. He forgot, I guess, that sometimes people struggle with things that he doesn't fully understand. He thinks that just because he hasn't experienced certain things, he has earned the right to "know better." The logic simplified is this: I am a boy, therefore, I know better than to sit while I urinate. Sorry for the crass example, but that's basically what it is.

 He's very accusatory and just kind of beats his point over your head with an ax of sardonic English. He's a good writer, sure, but he's a terrible arguer. He doesn't write about the truth, as he so fervently believes. The guy simply writes his opinions in a rude way with absolutely no credit given to those that oppose him. Buddy, you gotta acknowledge the opposing side in an intelligent way. You can't simply say, "People that disagree with me may think this. But they're dumb. And I'm right." It just doesn't make for a good argument.

At the end of the day, people that agree with Matt on every point will continue to follow him, but he's not convincing the rest of us that he's right. So, it seems to me that the whole blog is pretty pointless.

Matt, I commend you for writing posts that are controversial, but please, get off my internets.


The Photoshop Craze

(Warning: This is a rant post. There's probably some grammar and spelling errors...)

If you think I'm going to write about how unethical, terrible, and negatively influential excessive photoshopping is, you're wrong. This post is not about the Photoshopping everything craze, it's about the sharing videos of how people photoshop everything craze.

I am a big big fan of Tina Fey and her book Bossypants, and I agree with her," Do I worry about overly retouched photos giving women unrealistic expectations and body image issues? I do. I think that we will soon see a rise in anorexia in women over seventy. Because only people over seventy are fooled by Photoshop."

I just saw another link on my FB feed to a site filled with celebrity before and after Photoshop photos. Who cares? Kristen Stewart's waist is actually three inches bigger? No way! That matters to me! In my opinion, if we all know that pictures are photoshopped, then what's the harm? We all know that people dye their hair, and we don't get upset because our hair is less yellow than theirs (again, I'm a big Bossypants fan).

Maybe I'm just sick of seeing articles, lists, photos, and videos fill up the internet with the evils of Photoshop. Is it possible that we watch these because we like to compare ourselves to more realistic images of beautiful people rather than unrealistic ones? Comparing is comparing. Is it really better to give ourselves uglier things to compare ourselves to so we feel better? I don't think so. I think it's just as damaging. Our generation already has inflated egos, and I don't believe we should rely on comparisons to increase injured self-image.

A healthy self-image comes from within. It comes from loving ourselves inside and out, and not caring about the little things. Not caring about the little zit. The little gush. The big zit. The lottle gush. Maybe this is the Yogi within me, but we should focus on serving others and finding peace within ourselves. When we do that, slowly our self-image woes disappear. Self-deprecation, low self-esteem and low self-image don't magically go away, and we probably all have those kinds of thoughts, but there's a better way to fight those feelings than seeking out the truth behind photoshopped images.

Also, Photoshop can be pretty cool! See?


College Plans-Short

I'm finally really getting into my major. If you examine that sentence, you'll see that I have a bit to go. In twoish years I will have a BA in English and a BA in Theatre (if all goes according to plan). After that, I'll be on my way to *drum roll* MORE SCHOOL! My plan is to keep on schooling it up until I get my doctorate in...something...English related...

Often times, students stop being students after getting their bachelor's degrees.There's nothing wrong with that, but quite frankly, an associate's degree is the new high school degree. SO, a bachelor's degree is the new associates. By the time, I've gotten my doctorate, it'll probably be the new master's and another degree will have been invented. In any case, I will be Dr. Rios, and I like the way that sounds.


Purple Hair 2

I wrote my last post mainly so that the "Share the Real" post wasn't the first thing you see when you come to my blog. I hate that picture. I hate it. I understand that writing another post to push that one down the screen defeats the purpose of the "Share the Real" post, but at least I can admit it. However, my last post lacked substance. It was the only thing I could think of at the time, and I wanted to show off my new hair.
However, there is something to purple hair. There is a real reason I dyed my hair purple. So, this is Purple Hair 2, the post on purple hair that actually has something to it.

My style, if you call that, is unique. Mostly because I like to dress a certain way, but I try to avoid getting labeled. I'm not a girly girl. I'm not a punk. I'm not a tomboy. I'm not a sophisticated lady. I'm just Nikole and I dress different all the time because I like it. However, there are things I like to remain consistent with my style.

1. White Skin.
My skin is so white, it's practically translucent. I've tanned before and I liked it at the time, but Taylor just loves my pasty, pale, white skin. I used to really hate it. I mean, I'm so white that my skin is barely different than my wedding dress. But now, I see beauty in it, and I don't really want to change it. And white skin offers a pallet for all sorts of fun looks. I guess, every skin color does, but I like my skin pallet being super white. So, I won't tan on purpose, and I'll dye my hair crazy to see the contrast against my skin.

2. Feathers
My nickname used to be Quail in high school. No matter what kind of outfit I'm sporting on any given day, feathers can, and should, be included. I don't wear feathers every day, and thinking about it, I'd like to wear them more often, but the fact remains that they go with everything. And I love them.

3. Inconsistency 
Yes, it is the surprise ending to this post that we all knew was coming.One of my style consistencies is that I like inconsistency. I get bored. I get bored with my clothes, my shoes, my jewelry, and my hair. I don't think I should stick with any style just because people think that I should. All of those quizzes online that tell you what your style is are weird. Why do you have to have a style? Why can't we all just wear what we think looks good and that we are comfortable in? Why is purple hair so weird when completely changing our hair to blonde, brown, or red isn't? Why can't I love black jeans and dark makeup one day, and then a floral dress the next? I can, and do, love glitter and purple and Tim Burton AND black lipstick. I think everyone has different tastes like that. I think that we just pretend we don't so that we can have an identifier. Belonging to something feels good, but we don't admit it. We like being girly or dark or whatever. We love it, but we pretend we don't. We pretend we're unique by loving everything we think the group we identify with loves. It's odd and confusing and I don't do that.

I belong to group inconsistency, and I love whatever the heck I want to.


Purple Hair

I dye my hair all the time. My natural color of hair is mousy and boring, and I like to feel, well, not mousy and boring. The first time I dyed my hair "crazy" and liked it was three years ago. My friends and I all decided to get a splash of red in our hair.Oh, and I wanted the red to be against black so it would stick out more. Almost everyone I talked to asked if I regretted the decision. After all, "dying your hair back from black is so hard!" Well. I don't care about dying my hair back to dull blond. So, no. I don't regret it.

Since then, I've tried a lot of different colors. I love them all.

Anyway, here's my latest change:
I kind of miss my blonde streak and the more naturalish look, but I change my hair so often for a reason. I love looking different and changing. I'll change it again. And again. And again.

But for now, I love my purple hair.