Friday, October 31, 2014

Things I'm Loving Friday XIV

FRIDAY! The sweetest day of the week for so many, and I am no exception to that rule. Though I certainly have nothing to complain about when I get home from school in no time at all. Just after pulling into my driveway yesterday afternoon, I laced up my running shoes and headed out to the bayou for a 7ish mile run. I told my mom that if I wasn't home in two hours, to send out an ambulance. Thankfully I didn't need one, and though it was a little on the warm side, it was an absolutely beautiful day for a run along my long-neglected bayou. Houston half, I'm coming for ya! And Dylan reprimanded me for leaving the gym without cooling down the other day, so I would like it to be known that I walked the remainder (about 7 minutes) of the way home. I know I should, but sometimes I just don't want to take the time to do it. Which will likely come back to bite me in the butt one of these days!

I then felt energized, and decided to put off any work that I may have to do in favor of running a few errands. Hey, they're important too, right? Anyway, I ended up half hour of errands with a stop at Salata in City Centre. I got my usual spring mix salad mixed with tomatoes, olives, alfalfa sprouts, chickpeas, celery, green bell peppers, and herb marinated grilled chicken, and topped with a scoop of herb lime vinaigrette. It hit the spot!

Things I'm Loving

It sure has been awhile since we have seen this little Friday feature on the blog.  But because I’m back on my blogging game, I decided to bring back some of my favorite features. So, here’s where I’ll share some of my recent favorites with you guys.

I’m a very sporadic yogurt eater. I’ll go on a yogurt kick, and eat it every single day, and then I won’t eat it again for a year. I often have a hard time finding a flavor that I actually enjoy eating, so it ends up going to waste. I was at the store one day when I saw the new Chobani Oats yogurt, and I decided to check it out because I thought the addition of the steel cut oats might help with the texture. From that day forward, I was hooked. My favorite flavors are the Blueberry and Apple Cinnamon. Y U M!

I don’t know how I found this Instagram page, but I am sure glad I did. I grew up with the Peanuts gang, and seeing daily posts and inspiration from Charlie and his crew never fails to bring a smile to my face.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer
I realize that I graduated college just over five months ago, but I just couldn’t decide what I wanted from my parents for graduation. At first I wanted a GoPro, but I was promptly laughed at for that decision, so I decided that a quality stand mixer would be my best investment. We had one at our house in Austin these past two years and it makes baking so much easier. I decided on the crisp red color, and it has been put to great use ever since it made its first appearance in my house.

I have had this popcorn before, but lately I cannot get enough. I love the crunch, and coming in at only 35 calories a cup, it’s a snack that can’t be beat. Though just try and stop at one cup! Mixing the salty of the popcorn with the sweet of chocolate is a combination that somehow manages to sneak its way into my every day.

On Wednesday I asked my students if they had purchased the new Taylor Swift album, and they all looked back at me like I was crazy. I guess I grew up with Taylor Swift, so the release of a new album still brings me some excitement (yes, I went out and bought a copy on Tuesday evening, and jammed to it all the way home. I will admit that it’s not my favorite of her albums, but I have no doubt that it will grow on me the more that I listen to it.


This Sweet Story
If reading this story doesn't make you reach for the tissues, something must be wrong with you. Just kidding, but it definitely brought a few tears to my eyes. It sounds like something out of a Nicholas Sparks book, except it's real life. I also have such a soft spot in my heart for the elderly, so I was a lost cause from the get-go.

And lest I forget, Happy Halloween! Though I love to dress up (and nothing can beat our gorilla/banana costume from last year), 

Halloween has never been one of my favorite holidays, especially because I got into a car accident one Halloween and ended up on the side of the road wearing a Halloween-themed sweater vest. Anyway, my students will probably already be bouncing off of the walls today, but I’m bringing them candy anyway. I’m playing a BINGO review game for our Odyssey exam in all of my classes, so a little more energy can’t hurt them, right? I'll hype them up on candy and then pass them off to the next teacher!

And after school I plan on getting in my car, stopping at Berripop Frozen Yogurt (there’s one by Bellaire!) to get a pint to take home with me, curling up with a blanket and a movie, and not moving from my spot on the couch. This will be my first Friday night without either a volleyball game or anyone coming in town (which don’t get me wrong, makes me happier than anything), but I’m going to relax and try not to fall asleep too early. My students would be disappointed to hear of my plans, but I have no doubt that I'll be happy as a clam.

Have a safe and happy Halloween, whatever it is that you may be doing. And be sure to enjoy your weekend – it should be a beautiful one!

And finally, I cannot end this post without a huge congratulations to my high school principal (the high school I attended, not the one at which I work), Christopher Juntti, for his recent promotion. He will now be the Executive Director of Operations for the Spring Branch Independent School District, and I have no doubt that he will do great things at that position. I knew it was only a matter of time before he was snatched up from Stratford, and he made Stratford America what it is today. But once a Spartan, always a Spartan!

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Happy Thursday! Is it just me, or has this week seemed to D-R-A-G on? I think it’s the fact that all I’m doing in my English classes is speed-reading through The Odyssey so that we will be finished by the time we test on Monday, but I feel as though it should definitely be Friday by now. But I did get a nice treat when I got to go HOME after school yesterday, missing any and all traffic, meaning I was sitting on my couch grading papers by about 3:30pm. So not only did I manage to get home and start grading, I was also able to work out and be totally done by 5:45pm. I think I might eventually need to start a new hobby, but for now, I’ll relish in this “extra” time I feel like I have!

This will just be a quick post, but I wanted to get back into the fitnessandfroyo groove and share yesterday’s workout. It is very similar to a workout that I found on Pinterest, just with a couple of changes. I completed three rounds of this workout, which didn’t take me that long, but sure left me sweaty and out of breath!

Once I finished three rounds of that, I headed right outside to a set of stairs, and dragged my heavy legs through three sets of 10 stair runs. Because the temperature wasn't quite as pleasant as the weather we had in the morning, my cheeks were fiery red as I was walking out of the MAC.

And I know this was one of my shorter posts, but I'm easing back into this whole blogging thing. So, if you are ever pressed for time, try a version of this workout - it packs a mean punch!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Here Comes a Comeback

Well. How do you even attempt to come back from a three month blogging hiatus? In the back of my mind, I knew this was going to happen, but I was holding onto the slightest of hopes that I could continue blogging every once in a while. And while my life has been extremely busy, I have absolutely had time to blog. But when I had that free time, I just didn't want to. I could use that time to grade, lesson plan, or maybe go get a pedicure. You tell me which one of those three things I probably did. Anyway, I am not sure how many readers I will even have left, but here's my attempt to summarize the three craziest months of my life. So, thank you in advance for sticking with me!

I have to rep Texas every day at school!
We left off with a post about the start of my volleyball season, as well as with the keys to my very own classroom. Let's back track a minute and let me tell you that as soon as I was given my very own classroom, I just as quickly had it taken away. It's sort of an unwritten tradition at Bellaire that more than a few teachers will have to float each year - it comes with the territory of having 200+ faculty members in a school of 3800+ students, with a building made for maybe 3/4 of that number. I was devastated, because I won't even lie, a big part of me was so excited to decorate a classroom. I believe I've mentioned that before. So, I was pretty bummed out, and may or may not have started crying right in the middle of the front office, but it's fine. What I learned that day is that my fellow Bellaire teachers are some of the nicest humans I have ever met. 

A sweet teacher passed this down to me from when she floated
And I may not have my own classroom, but I do have my own desk (that is currently cluttered with papers on papers on papers), so I do have a little place to call home. And the floating life isn't all bad - it's kind of nice to not have to worry about keeping up with a classroom, and it has forced me to become more organized (not that I had a huge problem with that, but it has reached a whole new level). You might not believe it by this picture, but I have this whole floating thing down to a science.

So, as far as my schedule goes, I teach two reading elective classes and two English classes. It took me a little while, but I can honestly and truly say that I love them. Freshmen are absolutely C R A Z Y, and they test my patience every single day, but they also make me laugh every single day (even when I maybe shouldn't). 

I've stayed up on all of teen lingo - you should tell your girlfriend that her eyebrows are 'on fleek,' it's a compliment, I promise - and every sneeze means someone has Ebola. Freshmen have the attention span of a flea, and they can't last more than about five minutes without their cell phone, but they're (mostly) sweet, hilarious, and have said things that melt my heart

I can honestly say that my job never gets boring. I have also learned that candy and sweet treats are the keys to getting them to pay attention and participate in class, so you better believe I've used that tactic once or twice. 

And volleyball. What a ride! I couldn't have asked for a more lively and spunky group of girls for my first season of coaching.

And they absolutely wear me out sometimes!
They are sweet and hilarious and impressionable and hard-working and they bring a lot of joy to my every day. Our season started out on a bit of a rocky note - I didn't have a clear setter, we were dealing with a couple of injuries, and while we could put up a good fight, we couldn't seem to finish a game. All of that changed about five games into the season, however. Well, not all of it, but it certainly took a turn for the better. The girls started playing like a team, and they (somewhat) learned that killer instinct that my dad always taught me to have whenever I played sports. We play our last game tonight (tear), and if we win that, we will have gone UNDEFEATED in district. We beat our rival Lamar in one of the most intense games I have ever been a part of, and I have been a part of some very intense rivalry games against Memorial. And while the road wasn't without some bumps, and I came home exhausted at the end of many 15+ hour days, I am so very thankful that I had the opportunity to coach. It's in my job description to teach them something, but they have taught me more than I could ever have hoped to teach them. I also have a lot more respect for all of my former coaches!

And as far as how I am doing in general. This could get cheesy and sappy and it could also take a while. I've had good days, and I've also had bad days. I've come home complaining to my parents about how there's absolutely no way I can do this for the rest of my life, and I even started looking for other jobs. Dramatic, I know. I think it was the fact that I leave the house before even my dad, and I get home far later than he does (but that also allows me to park my car in the driveway. Bright side, right?). I've felt as though I haven't had a spare moment to breathe, which isn't entirely true, and that I've bitten off more than I can chew, being both a first-year teacher and coach. And that last point might not be entirely untrue. I am not sure I quite knew what I was getting myself into, but I certainly jumped headfirst into this new life of mine. It has been a crazy whirlwind of new experiences, and I'm still not even sure who decided it was a good idea to put me in charge of 120ish high school students. I'm extremely grateful to be at Bellaire High School, because the people here are some of the absolute best. I never walk down the hall without someone asking me how I'm doing or if I need anything. The school is very laid-back, yet still remains competitive and fast-paced. I've learned so much in the short time that I've been here, and while there have certainly been days of doubt, and I occasionally question my decision to forgo a job at Stratford, where I would have had more than a few familiar faces, I absolutely know that I am where I am for a reason, and that I am at the very right place for me.

And because Dylan would probably have my head if I didn't dedicate a portion of this post to him, let's talk about that for a minute. You'll probably respond with a big "DUH" after reading this next statement, but long distance is hard.

I didn't realize how much I valued our daily time together until it was no longer an option. Though I maybe saw him for five minutes one day picking him up from school, now we go a couple of weeks without seeing one another. 

The Krispy to my Kreme
Which isn't that long, I realize, but it's certainly been an adjustment for me - not always knowing the day-to-day of what's going on in his life, and having schedules that sometimes overlap. While we do talk on the phone often, it's obviously not quite the same. He'll hate me for this, but I'm grateful for the way he has never stopped listening to me or cheering me on, how he never told me stop complaining, rather just taught me how to see the great in every day. I'm thankful for the grace and forgiveness he has showed me when I'll snap at him for no apparent reason, or passive aggressively tell him that everything's fine, when really I'm mad for no apparent reason. It's a vicious cycle. But we've done a good job of switching off going to Houston and Austin, 

and while I would love to still live in the same city as him, the reality is that we don't live in the same city, and there are some really good things that have come out of not living 150 miles away from one another. So far, I'd say we've done a pretty good job of figuring this whole thing out!

And don't get me wrong. I love being back in Houston. Despite the traffic, that I spend far too much time sitting in, I am so happy to be back in the city that I grew up in. Some of my best friends are here - from both high school and college - 

My two Houston Med School friends took a break from all the studying to catch up over fro-yo
Kayla doesn't live in Houston, but I've gotten to see her at a few UT games
and I've enjoyed a plethora of good times with all of them. Sarah and I have gone on numerous walks at Hermann Park,

I celebrated the engagement of the other half of the Stratford dynamic setter duo,

and I even got to have Jamie Lynn come in town one weekend. I certainly can't complain. I've even found some time to bake, 

and of course, some much-needed time to run. I sort of neglected the running thing for a while, in favor of some plyometrics training - it's just faster, to be honest, and time is of the essence - but I've recently been going on some 5+ mile runs that have provided me some time to de-stress, and have also made me more and more excited (and prepared) for the Houston half in January. I have so much going for me right now, which is why I think I worried my parents and Dylan when I came home so upset every single night (because they bore the brunt of most of it), but here's what I've learned thus far about this real world thing:

Working is hard. The transition from carefree college student to real-life adult with a real-life job that I can't just skip because I'm tired or don't feel like going was a big-time wake-up call for me. Not that I skipped classes, because I really didn't (I was such a goody two-shoes), but you know what I'm saying. I've gone through some major life changes these past few months, and though I haven't spent nearly enough time reflecting on and thanking Jesus for all that He has given me, He has never stopped providing, and I am so glad that He has me right where I am. I've learned that I can have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but that I can stop each day and know that I've got the best people by my side - cheering me on through my successes, continuing to encourage me through my failures, doing my laundry and my dishes, listening to me talk endlessly about my students, and so, so much more - and that's the sweetest gift of all. And if you made it this far, I applaud and thank YOU, and I hope to start making these posts FAR more regular! But as we all know, you definitely shouldn't hold me to that one!