Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Habits vs. Goals {Part Two}

 (all photos taken on our recent Kanab/Arizona trip, where I crossed two things off my life's bucket list)

Back in the summer, I wrote a post all about how, after a massive life revelation, I was spending far too much time worried about "goals" and not nearly enough time worrying about "habits." From that time forth, I decided to throw out all my new year's resolutions for 2014 and start instead to incorporate more habits into my day-to-day existence.

And now has come the day of reckoning--that fateful day at the end of each year when the closing of another chapter prompts me to step back and reflect on all the progress that has been made (or not made) in the past 12 months.

So I ask myself:

Did focusing on habits rather than goals spur my personal progression to newer and greater heights?


That depends on what area of my life you're looking at.

But let's rewind a bit--here are my original 2014 new year's resolutions:

1. Keep a running diary--miles run, total time, fastest mile, etc.
2. Finish filling out the gratitude journal my sister bought me.
3. Clean or organize our home for 20 minutes on most days.
4. Complete a monthly goal related to being a better homemaker.
5. Make monthly progress on my bucket list items by setting sub-goals monthly.

Studying those goals, I realized that three out of the five WERE actually habits I wanted to incorporate (instead of just goals to accomplish and check off some list), so maybe I was a bit hasty in my resolution to throw out all my new year's resolutions.

Here's the funny thing--

Looking back, I realized that while habits are the ideal way of gradually working towards crossing things off my bucket list or becoming a better homemaker, I often didn't actually DO those habits unless I set monthly goals on them. Does that make sense? In other words, the only two real "goal" items on my list were things that probably SHOULD have been monthly goals for me, not re-set to try and become habits.

I guess it kind of makes sense, especially with the bucket list resolution---since a bucket list is comprised of things you haven't done previously, it makes sense that you would need more of a push to actually do them (which favors goal-setting instead of daily habit-forming).

But even though I essentially "threw out" these new year's resolutions, I was pleased, upon looking over them, that I could see significant progress on *most* of them. Back when I was still running three times a week (aka, before I got terribly sick in the first trimester of pregnancy and gave up running as a bad job), I faithfully kept a running diary. While it didn't totally revolutionize my running, it did help me in small ways--it helped me to see some patterns (especially with eating and exercising at certain times of day and the subsequent effects of those decisions), and on many days, it helped me to push myself just a little bit harder than I wanted to so that I could record a better number in the diary. I think when I pick running back up after this pregnancy, I'll continue with this particular habit.

I was pretty good at keeping the gratitude journal for the first month or so, but adding one more thing to my nighttime routine was starting to stress me out, so I ended up giving up the practice. I still want to finish filling out this journal, but maybe now I'll just try to do it once a week on a Sunday or something when I can carve out some time in the morning or afternoon.

As for the cleaning/organizing goal, I was REALLY up and down on this one. Pregnancy has really done a number on my personal motivation to do much of anything after work and my other obligations, so there were many weeks (especially when I still had morning sickness) that Matt shouldered pretty much all the housework. Now that I'm feeling better, I've been quite a bit better at staying on top of things, but our apartment is still messy/cluttered about 70% of the time. I think the key to fixing this one will largely be to just get rid of more stuff since I have a much easier time keeping things tidy when I have less stuff to keep track of.

As for being a better homemaker, I didn't do a lot of the traditional homemaker-type things (like crafting or sewing or bottling tomatoes), but I did manage to lower our monthly bills (until we moved to a more expensive place, that is), branch out quite a bit in my cooking, and play hostess at many parties this year. Looking at my personality, I'm not sure if crafting or sewing will ever be my thing, but they are skills I would like to develop at least a little bit. We shall see.

The bucket list goal surprised me quite a bit now that I'm reflecting on it. I managed to completely cross four items off the list (keep in mind, many of these bucket list items are pretty hefty ambitions), and I made a decent amount of progress on nine others. I realized that many of these wishes I have for my life will only be accomplished if they are pretty much constantly on my mind, which seems to be accomplished best through monthly goal-setting. So it looks like setting sub-goals to reach these bucket list dreams will hopefully be a more permanent feature.

Therefore, I conclude that I do, in fact, need to continue to set SOME goals for myself every month. I need to find a way to do it so that it enhances my wellbeing rather than adding stress to my life, but I have clearly proven time and time again that I get more accomplished when I write it down and reflect on it often (something that is much easier to do with goals than habits). However, as for some areas of my life---like reading, cleaning, and healthy eating/exercising--I need to focus more on habits than goals to get where I want to go. Maybe I'll start posting those habits on the fridge or something so I can also see them often?

Whew! That's a long summary. Now I just need to go reflect on what I want to actually hold myself accountable to in 365 days from now...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday Tell-All

Because I've got some random photos I need to dump somewhere and a lot of disconnected thoughts running around in my fuzzy little brain, I thought we'd do a Tuesday Tell-All for old times' sake.

*As an early Christmas splurge, Matt and I bought ourselves a new lens for the camera (although, if we're being honest, the lens was more for me than anyone!). For awhile, my frustration with photography had been steadily growing because I felt like I had maxed out what I could do with the lenses I already had. People kept telling me that it wasn't the lens, it was the photographer (and that equipment doesn't matter nearly as much as people say it does), but let me tell you this---I have noticed a HUGE difference in the quality of my images since buying the new lens, and it's made picture-taking fun again (which it hasn't really felt like fun for several months now). So if you find me taking pictures of all sorts of random things, you know why.

*This is the first year in my short history of being a teacher that we actually get two full weeks off for Christmas break. TWO FULL WEEKS! In years past, they've always tried to cut our vacation down to the bare minimum, which has meant going in to teach on the 23rd and coming back from the holiday on the 2nd. Before this year started though, the school board wised up and asked for input from parents and teachers, and it was decided (by a landslide, mind you) that we all prefer to have longer breaks during the year and a little bit shorter of a summer break overall. I can't wait!

*One of the things we'll be doing over the long vacation is taking a little trip down to Kanab (in Southern Utah) to volunteer at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. My husband's been puppy-hungry for years now, and it's slowly but surely gotten worse as he has semi-recently got hooked on the t.v. show The Dog Whisperer. To hopefully help keep some of his puppy hunger down (or just increase it, whatever), we've decided to spend three and a half days volunteering with the rescue animals at Best Friends.

*(We also decided to take the trip because we knew it would likely be our last hurrah before Baby comes in April, and who knows when the heck we'll find ourselves on vacation again after that.)

*The pregnancy insomnia has reached an all-new low point this week. I was so tired yesterday afternoon that I took my first nap in several weeks, and even though I was literally asleep for less than half an hour, it threw off my entire night of sleep when I tried to go to bed at my usual time later on. After tossing and turning, I finally got up and played Spider Solitaire and ate cereal and read blogs until I was slightly more tired, then I eventually feel asleep around 11:30 (which is a far cry from my usual 9 PM bedtime). Even though I'm exhausted today because of it, I absolutely refuse to take any naps until I'm on break (when it doesn't matter how late I get to bed at night).

*(The insomnia last night was only compounded by the fact that my body decided it was time to bring on the "fake" contractions off and on for several hours. I guess the good news about that was that it gave me a LOT of time to practice the hypnobirthing breathing/relaxation techniques I've been reading up on.)

*On Sunday morning, I got a frazzled phone call from our church congregation's choir director, who proceeded to inform me that our accompanist was stuck in Wyoming in a blizzard, and we were scheduled to perform our big Christmas program that very day in church. Since I was basically one of the few people in the ward left who could play the piano, I ended up taking over all the accompaniment for the day (thank goodness I'd practiced the music several times before!). While the accompanying wasn't a cause to stress me out at all, the fact that Matt and I were singing a duet together that day and had no accompanist WAS cause to stress me out. Luckily, we snagged a lady from one of the other wards who had just finished up playing in her own Christmas program, and she was able to sight read the music and accompany us on the spot. Thank goodness for talented people!

*(In case you were wondering, Matt and I sang a duet of "O Holy Night," with me singing the tenor part actually and him singing the baritone.)

*I am about two-thirds finished with my Christmas shopping at this point and am kind of dreading going out anymore. It seems like I always choose the worst times to go out and choose gifts, which means that a one-hour trip generally turns into a two- or three-hour trip. It just might happen that from next year on out, I will only be doing Christmas shopping online...

*I have a doctor's appointment scheduled tomorrow, the first since our 20-week ultrasound four weeks ago. At the beginning of our pregnancy, it seemed like we'd go FOREVER and EVER before getting to see the doctor. Now, I can hardly believe that it's already time for another one of them things. I can only imagine how I'll feel in a few weeks, when I start meeting with the doctor every two weeks, much less imagine how it will be to go in EVERY WEEK before long. Good thing that reading has finally started to agree with me again...

Monday, December 15, 2014

5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Started Teaching Middle School

 I am now well into my 3rd year teaching 7th grade, and while this year has been much more smooth-sailing than last year, I still often wonder if when the time comes to look for another teaching job, I should look into teaching an older age group. You see, there's a reason that teaching middle school has the stigma it does. However, there's also a reason that many of the teachers that start out teaching middle school never leave it.

Here are 5 things I wish I'd known before I took this job:

1. Teaching middle schoolers (grades 6-8) means that you straddle an awkward line between elementary and high school. It means that some of the teachers you work closely with will want to treat their kids like they're still in elementary (give them A's for effort! be like their mother!), and some teachers will have the opposite mindset (get them ready for high school! make them grow up!). Falling into the second camp myself, I quickly discovered that I butt heads more often than I thought I would with some other faculty members who have completely different mentalities than myself. It's not that one of us is right and the other wrong, but it is something I wish I would have known that I would be up against.

2. Middle schoolers have vastly different developmental rates, not just physically but mentally as well. Although this was a fact I'd learned frequently in all the psychology classes I took in college, it didn't "really" hit me until I was asked to teach 150 students who were developing at completely different rates. In 7th grade, I've hit just about everything on the spectrum, from kids who still pick their nose (and eat it!) and read at a 2nd grade level to kids who are reading books like The Count of Monte Cristo for fun and who can reason with me and write like they're in college (no joke). I know that teachers at all age groups will find vast variations within the students, but I think that those variations are by far the most pronounced in this particular age group. This developmental fact makes teaching critical thinking incredibly difficult because some students honestly have not developed the ability yet to think abstractly, so it's difficult to try and expect them to answer the higher-level questions as well as a student who has reached that developmental milestone.

3. Although people always bring up the awkwardness of the age group, one great thing about teaching middle school is that the students still have some fear of your authority, as well as complete and absolute trust that everything you say is the gospel truth. Because of this childlike trust, I have learned to be extra careful when it comes to sarcasm in the classroom---due to many students not having developed abstract thinking/judgment skills and due to their trust in absolutely everything you say, I've found it's far better to just avoid sarcasm altogether. Otherwise, I'll have kids going home every day to tattle to their parents how I told them that yes, I do indeed use the emergency "toilet" in the classroom whenever I'm too lazy to walk down the hall, or that no, we didn't in fact cover anything useful, practical, or important while they were gone on vacation to Florida and so they are therefore free from the responsibility of having to make any work up.

4. It's almost as painful watching kids go through adolescence as it was to go through it yourself. I am slowly becoming better at learning to laugh at the awkwardness inherent in the age group, but more often than not, my heart just cringes inside whenever I see students trying to hit on members of the opposite sex for the first time or when I see a kid trip over his too-big feet in the hall. Three years in, and the awkwardness doesn't get any less painful. And because kids at this age are so hypersensitive to what everyone else is doing socially and otherwise, you find that YOU (as the teacher) are just as scrutinized as everyone else. It's kind of like being 13 years old all over again, when you're paranoid that everyone is watching you---except that this time, everyone really is. I once had a girl in my creative writing class write the most detailed description of me and how I dressed/looked/acted and read it aloud to everyone during the sharing portion of the hour. Her spot-on descriptions both horrified and fascinated me--I had no idea I was being watched so closely all the time.

5. Because many students are not too apathetic towards school and learning (yet), you can expect more moments of unabashed enthusiasm from this age group than you could from a group of high schoolers. You can also expect more gifts on Christmas as well as on your birthday, so all in all, it's not too bad of a gig to get yourself into. Apart from the nose-picking, that is...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

11 Things That Have Surprised Me About Pregnancy

 Even though I've kept myself reasonably well-informed this pregnancy (by regularly reading books like What to Expect When You're Expecting and frequently doing Google searches on questions I have), there have still been several things that have totally surprised me about pregnancy.

In no particular order, here are 11 things that I DIDN'T exactly expect while I was expecting:

1. The lack of crying. Maybe it's because Hollywood and books and word on the street seem to all stereotype pregnant women as hormonal train wrecks who cry at car insurance commercials and weep over spilled flour, but I haven't found this to be true of my pregnancy. True, there were a couple incidents in my first trimester of serious emotional meltdowns, but I can count on less than one hand the times I've cried during this whole pregnancy. I was expecting a lot more tears, but since I'm not a big crier to begin with, I guess it makes sense.

2. The lack of rage. Once again, I'd been told that it's not unusual to randomly despise your husband's habits all of a sudden or to lash out at total strangers, but I would venture to say that I'm about the same temperament I've always been. Of course, I was never really one to have PMS too bad or anything either, so I guess it shouldn't be too surprising. (But now, after writing the last two things, I wonder if I should have asked those nearest and dearest to me if I really am acting as I say I am).

3. The lack of sleep. You hear all the time about how tired pregnancy makes you, and--granted--the first trimester definitely brought a fatigue unlike anything I'd ever experienced. However, as I worked my way into my 13th or 14th week, my fatigue drastically lifted, and I've found I actually have MORE energy than I normally do. The only problem with the uptick in energy and the downturn in fatigue? I've found that, for the first time in my life, I'm becoming a bit of an insomniac. Between frequent trips to the bathroom, not being able to find a comfortable sleeping position (since I've always been a stomach or back sleeper, not a side sleeper), and just general restlessness, I can't tell you the last time I had a truly restive night of 8-9 hours straight sleep.

4. The conflicting emotions about the pregnancy. It's easy to focus--when you're first pregnant, especially--on all the physical changes your body is undergoing (and all the physical changes looming in the near future). And while some of those have been a bit, uh, interesting to get used to, I was surprised most of all by the conflicting emotions I've felt about the pregnancy itself (and about the idea of being a mother in general). Maybe this one's unique to me (because I've always been super nervous about becoming a parent), but I seem to go between extremes--some days, I am beyond elated about our baby girl and can't wait to just meet her already. Other days, I'm terrified of what this new change will bring in our lives and just know that I'll be a dreadful failure at the whole parenthood thing. On days like that, I am more than happy that Baby Girl is still firmly inside me, kicking away.

5. The baby's kicks, turns, and flips. Although I knew to start expecting to feel some movement by the fourth and fifth month, I was still super surprised when I felt the first definite movement that was not digestion-related. I remember I was driving home from work when I felt my stomach flutter, and I was absolutely certain that the baby had just done a complete flip because that's exactly what it felt like. I was so surprised I almost pulled over to the side of the road just in case the baby had any more gymnastics in mind, but I somehow kept on driving (although I turned my audiobook off because the sensation had completely put me under a spell). When the movements became more regular, I was surprised at how soothing they were--they were a daily assurance that all was well, and it was like a secret little code between this little creature in my innards and me. The movements felt a little selfish, actually, because there were so many times I called Matt over to try and feel them for himself, but he never could. When the day finally came this very week that she kicked hard enough for us to see it from the outside and Matt finally felt her for the first time, that was another surprise---the intimacy and joy of that small (but hugely significant) little movement. We were a family about to be three, just starting to bond all together.

6. The fake contractions. I didn't even know Braxton Hicks contractions existed until I was a couple months into my pregnancy, and when I first started feeling my uterus seize up like a hand was clenching it, I thought that maybe the baby had just found a particularly sensitive area or something. Now that these fake contractions are becoming more regular, they don't shock me quite as much, but the twinges and cramps are still taking some getting used to.

7. The onslaught of advice and stories that seem to be much more tinged with negative than positive. With pregnancy, I expected the extra attention--the belly rubbing (although no strangers have attempted to touch mine--yet---),the constant asking how I'm feeling, the questioning about the baby's name and gender, and the well wishes of friends and strangers alike. What I wasn't so prepared for were the many dire warnings about everything from breastfeeding to sleepless nights to labor and delivery, and when I divulged that I planned to have the baby naturally through hypnobirthing methods, you'd think that I'd just spoken heresy or something by the way most people respond. Sometimes it can be difficult to stay positive amidst all the negativity, but then I'll talk to one of my sisters (who delivered almost all of their babies by natural childbirthing methods) or to a thriving new mom, and I feel my hope renewed that parenthood might turn out to be a lot like marriage for me---I might hear a ton of negative about it, but overall it's an enormously joyous and positive experience.

8. The skin discolorations. I know this one doesn't happen to everyone, but I have developed one of the not-so-pretty features of pregnancy that's known as "the pregnancy mask," which is where parts of your face become discolored temporarily due to hormones so that it looks like you are indeed wearing a mask. In my case, the discolorations are down the side of each nose and under my eyes, so it looks like I'm constantly sunburned and/or flushed. I think my students sometimes take it to mean that I'm frequently embarrassed to be talking about verbs or pronouns or something.

9. The sensitive joints. While I've been lucky not to suffer from back pain yet, lately the joints on my ankles and feet are starting to act up hardcore. Whenever I'm going downstairs, for example, I have to be uber-careful to  step  just right, otherwise it feels like my ankle will roll to the side and I'll sprain it right then and there. I can't explain it exactly, but it's like my shifting joints are always just seconds away from popping out of place, and it's made walking around a real hazard lately.

10. The unexpected triggers of nausea. In my first trimester, I felt really pretty sick almost the whole time. Very quickly, I learned to avoid the obvious culprits (certain food odors, dirty dishes, etc.), but a very surprising trigger of nausea for me was reading (a very inconvenient truth, considering my profession). I've talked to many a woman about pregnancy in the last five and a half months, but I'm apparently the absolute only one who has ever had nausea triggered by reading before. What gives?

11. The marvel I feel at my changing body. As a woman who was never eager to get pregnant, I always thought that when we did finally decide to have kids, I would feel like my body had been taken hostage by an alien parasite and that I'd detest my new shape and all the uncomfortable physical truths that come along with growing a baby. And while some of those things have been a little weird to get used to, I have overall felt an overwhelming sense of wonder at what my body can do. No longer am I worried about my body's shape or how attractive it might look to anyone else. No longer am I beating myself up over the fact that I haven't lifted weights in however long or that I've been slacking on running. Instead, I've cut my body a break this pregnancy, and you know what? It's been a pretty beautiful thing. (Here's hoping that feeling of wonder and beauty is there AFTER the baby is born too, eh?)

If you've been pregnant, what's the thing that surprised you the most?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

We've Reached the End

It's taken seven years, 15 semesters, thousands of dollars, and countless hours of work, stress, and anxiety, but guess what? Matt finally took his very last final of his whole undergraduate career yesterday afternoon.

It's bad enough to go through the stress of college yourself, but I think it's infinitely harder to stand to the side and watch your spouse go through it. In my case, watching Matt go through this ordeal was especially difficult because he disliked many of the courses he'd been forced to take since they nothing to do with his chosen field of study (physics, anyone?), so it was even worse for him to go through all the hoop-jumping that is life at a university. And while I actually LIKED school (largely because almost all of the classes I had to take were, you know, relevant), I couldn't like school for him, nor could I help him much with any of his homework or course load. Instead, I just had to stand back and let him fight his way through the madness on his own.

But in 6 weeks, it will officially be official when that special piece of paper comes in the mail--

My husband will be a college graduate with his degree in human movement science (pre-physical therapy).

So proud of you, dear! Thanks for sticking it out until the bitter end!

Now, if you'll excuse us, we're going to go continue our celebrations by drinking (yet more) sparkling apple cider and eating the cookies I made for tonight's party at our church.

Happy graduation, Matt!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Pregnant Teacher

  Note: I found this post filed under "drafts" and realized I'd never published it (because when I wrote it, no one knew our happy news). Even though I'm now more than 2/3 of the way through my second trimester (and this post deals with all the not-fun symptoms of my first trimester), I thought I'd publish it anyway, for my own sake if for nothing else.

Awhile back, when "A Day in the Life" posts were all the rage in my blog feed, I'd always intended to do one. I knew that one day--when I was no longer a teacher--I would want to look back and remember what each day was like at my first teaching job.

Well, I've now waited long enough that I am a PREGNANT teacher, which means that my schedule has gotten a bit more boring when it comes to free time (since all of that seems to be taken up by naps or complaining about my nausea). Since, as I write this, we have not announced to the world at large that I am expecting, I had planned to do a post that was just about what a normal teaching day would look like for me. However, I figured that the lack of running, donating plasma, and cooking in my time at home would be a dead giveaway to some people of the happy news, so I just decided to wait and post the honest-to-goodness truth of how it's been being a teacher during the first trimester of pregnancy.

A Day in the Life of a Pregnant Teacher

5:50 A.M. Alarm goes off, twenty minutes after it used to last year. I roll myself out of bed (which I have already done at least twice in the night--once to go to the bathroom, the other to go to the bathroom again and then eat something). Depending on which urge is worse when I first wake up for good, I either relieve myself or get a hard-boiled egg from the fridge.

6:00 A.M - 6:35 A.M. Good thing I've been doing the same makeup routine for months because my brain is still half-asleep as I get ready and all I can think is, "Every morning is the worst morning" (which is something my husband said the other morning as we woke up that was just too darn true to not keep repeating). Since I've showered the night before, it only takes 5-10 minutes to do something with my now-dry hair. While I have the best intentions to be finished getting ready by 6:20, I inevitably am not ready until at least 6:30, which means that my wonderful husband is forced to take on the task of packing my lunch (and usually does the job of making my breakfast too, which has been a peanut butter and jelly sandwich ever since I figured out that not only did the thought of it not make me sick, but that it actually helped to downplay my nausea as well). With Sea Bands firmly in place on my wrists and my sandwich in my hand, I head out the door.

6:35 - 7:08 A.M. I am on the road to work, a 33-minute commute in good weather. To make the time pass more enjoyably and to help me stay awake, I listen to audiobooks (right now I'm in the middle of Memoirs of a Geisha) or blast some upbeat music. Lucky for me, the route along which I drive is actually decently attractive (since it's out in the country and over a mountain). Nearly every day, I think about how I really shouldn't speed so much, but when you've got a one-lane highway and no cars in front of you, it's hard not to push close to 70 the whole way (despite the 60-mph speed limit). Besides, the thrill of possibly being pulled over is enough to make me not think about how well (or not well) that sandwich is settling.

7:09 - 7:25 A.M. I arrive in my classroom and prepare all the last-minute things I've conveniently put off for right before I need them (like making copies or updating the agenda on the board). I also try and fill up my water bottle with ice cold water before the day starts since pregnancy has turned me part camel. If I have time, I also check my email to make sure I haven't forgotten anything super urgent (or haven't gotten any last-minute super urgent requests) and walk what seems to be a half mile down to the office to check my teacher mailbox (I am in the classroom in the farthest possible corner of the school). If I am feeling particularly sick to my stomach, I don't make any walks, but rather heave some deep sighs and hunch down in my computer chair (after taking another bathroom break, of course).

7:26 A.M. - 8:34 A.M. Although the school day doesn't officially start until 7:40, I have a lot of eager learners in my first class who like to come almost 15 minutes early and get started on their self-starter right away. I don't usually mind, as this is one of the few chances all day I have to get to know the students outside of their behavior during the lesson. Sometimes though, I can feel particularly overwhelmed if I have a ton of stuff I still need to do to get ready and I have a huge line of students begging for my attention before the day's even started. After the tardy bell rings, I am in full-on teaching mode and luckily don't have too much focus left over for nausea and/or bladder urges.

8:38 - 9:32 A.M. Second hour. My first three full-length classes are all Language Arts, so I basically just repeat myself for three hours straight. Usually, this is one of the few times all day that I'm feeling all right because I'm close enough to my last meal that I'm not hungry, but I'm not so close to it that my stomach is freaking out. I've also fully woken up, so I'm not so grouchy.

9:36 - 9:44 A.M. We have 8 minutes for advisory, which is the most awkward chunk of time ever to have a group of students in your room. It's too long of a time to have nothing planned, but it's too short of a time to really get into anything. So I usually just try to drag out the announcements and remind them about emergency procedures in order to fill up the time.

9:48 - 10:13 A.M. The time we refer to as "WIN" (What I Need) Time. Basically, if you need to pull in a student to get extra help, they get a white ticket and they come to you during WIN time to make up work, get extra instruction/help, etc. If a student is doing just fine in your class, they get a colored ticket, which means they can go to a choice activity like basketball, electronics, or sewing. On Thursdays and Fridays, I pull in kids who need help. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I teach country swing dance as one of the choice activities. I used to love teaching dance, but trying to show the students the dance moves while feeling pregnant-sick is just not fun. Plus my heart rate rises much more quickly than it used to, so I get awkwardly winded as I'm trying to give explanations, which is kind of embarrassing. I honestly don't know how much longer I'll be able to effectively teach that dance class.

10:17 - 11:11 A.M. 3rd hour Language Arts class. I am convinced that this hour is cursed. In my three years of teaching, I have yet to have a high-functioning, high-performing 3rd hour. On the contrary, they are always (ALWAYS!) my lowest group, as well as my class that's the farthest behind. I don't know if it's because lunch is right after or just bad luck, but I have NEVER had an easy 3rd hour. Basically, if you can imagine trying to teach algebra to a 3-year-old, you'll get a feeling for how I feel every single day for 55 minutes.

11:11 - 11:41 A.M. Lunch. I tend to feel pretty sick every time I try to cook, so I haven't been bringing my own lunch every day like I used to. Instead, I usually drive over to the hospital (which has excellent food at really reasonable prices), and I try to slowly get some of that down. I haven't actually thrown up this pregnancy, but the intense nausea is nearly constant, which has totally killed my appetite. Plus, the ever-present unsettled stomach reminds me there's always the CHANCE that I might lose my lunch, so I never enjoy mealtimes too much. Lately they've just felt like a whole lot of work with little reward.

11:42 - 12:37 P.M. Prep hour. Even though it happens every day, I can never get over how blissful that hour of peace and quiet is. You don't realize how badly you crave quiet sometimes until you're surrounded with noise, questions, and just MOVEMENT all the time. Even though I'm almost always working hard through my prep hour, I still look forward to it each day. Bless you, prep hour--you save my sanity on a daily basis.

12:41 - 1:37 P.M. My first Spanish class of the day. Overall, of the two Spanish classes I have this first session, this first class is overall a little more "with it" and gets concepts easier, but it also is the class with two of my most difficult students, so it balances out in the end. A lot of my students will tell me Spanish is their favorite class, which makes me feel good because it takes a LOT out of me. It's funny how even though a class can be filled with mostly angels, a little devil or two can turn it into quite a nightmare (at least for the pregnant teacher with her extremely limited energy supply).

1:41 - 2:35 P.M. Last class of the day! It's another Spanish class, and overall, this one's quite a bit slower to catch onto concepts, which can always be a bit frustrating. I also have quite a few non-workers in the class (although luckily none of them are real behavioral problems). Basically, I'm completely wiped at this point, and it's all I can do to not put my head on the desk and just fall asleep. It's amazing that my sixth hour learns anything at all because my poor pregnant brain is so fatigued by the end of the day that I have a really hard time expressing myself. I'm also usually starting to get kind of hungry again at this point (since I couldn't choke down too much at lunch), so both me AND the students are watching the clock pretty closely and waiting to be saved by the bell.

2:36 - 4:30 P.M. I wish my workday was over when the kids left, but sadly, such is not the fate of most teachers. Most days, I stay at least an hour and a half after the kids have left so that I can catch up on some grading, prepare for the next day, or take care of the endless stream of paperwork and random tasks that is constantly coming my way. I am completely exhausted and sick by this point, but if I didn't stay after, I would fall behind, so I suck it up and make myself push through the fatigue.

4:30 - 5:05 P.M. Commute back home. This drive can either be relaxing or rip-my-hair-out frustrating depending on whether or not I get stuck behind some car or semi going 45 in the 60-mph. single-lane highway. Since I'm usually anxious to get home, the drive is more often frustrating than not. I'm convinced this daily commute has given me permanent road rage problems.

5:10 - 6:00 P.M. Figure out dinner. Food is on my mind a lot as a pregnant lady, but not for any good reasons--basically, I never want to eat but know that I have to frequently, so I'm always trying to figure out what sounds the least objectionable and what takes the least amount of work. I seriously cannot wait to have an appetite again. What will that be like?! It's been so long since it's been around, I feel like I might not even recognize it when it returns...

6:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M. On an ideal night, this is my total veg time. After somehow scrounging up a dinner and forcing myself to eat it, I just allow myself to completely relax and not do anything. At first, I felt pretty lazy doing this (since the housework or laundry or most of the cooking has not been done by me for months now), but my body is pretty strongly telling me at that point that it is absolutely, completely done (and that I'd better not push it anymore---or else!). Since reading has been making me feel totally sick this pregnancy (cue sad face), these veg sessions are basically just a long string of t.v. episodes we have on DVD.

8:00 P.M. Try as I might, most nights my body just doesn't want to be up until 9:30 like it used to be, so I usually start getting ready for bed by 8 (although let's face it---I've been in the loosest sweats and a t-shirt since the second I got home). Closer to the beginning of the first trimester, I was even in bed some nights as early as 6:30 or 7. Oh, the joys of first-trimester fatigue...

8:30 P.M. If all has gone well, I am in bed by this time, relieved to have been able to make it through another day. I know the first trimester sickness and fatigue won't last forever (or at least, it'd better not!), but it seems like every night when I hit the sheets, I am truly amazed I've made it through another day. (I'm also amazed that I actually have to wake up and do it all over again the next day, but that's a different story...)

So there you go---therein concludes an ultra-glamorous day in the life of a pregnant teacher.

I just know you've always wondered what it would be like.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I'm Glad God's the Editor of My Life

I've known for quite some time now that I really like feeling in control of my life---in control of my time, of my body, of my future, and of my circumstances. Of course, life experiences have taught me over and over again that although it's important for me to plan out the "story" of my life and how I'd like it to go and to end, I should plan on the Ultimate Editor throwing in some plot twists every now and then.

Last year at about this time, we were waiting (as we are waiting now) to hear back from physical therapy schools. It was Matt's first year applying, and though I'd heard it was highly competitive, I felt confident that he would be accepted somewhere so that we could forge ahead with the road we'd planned out. You see, I'm a woman with a constant plan--sure, there are times when I go into something and wing it, but not when it comes to our future; I had researched schools with Matt and prayed and double-checked that we'd correctly gone through the application short, I had done everything I could to ensure that my husband could continue going for his dream of becoming a physical therapist.

When the news came early this year that he hadn't been accepted into any schools that first year of applying, I put a brave face on, but I was pretty bummed out. I felt like we were about to enter into a year of limbo where we wouldn't really be getting any closer to the goals we'd set up for ourselves, and if there's anything I hate, it's feeling like I'm in limbo.

Fast forward to today--

I was in church, listening to some fabulous talks on gratitude and the actions that it causes us to take in our lives and the effect that it has on us, and all of a sudden, it started to hit me--

This last year--more than any other year of our marriage--has been a time of joy, progress, and blessings. It got me to thinking of all that I'd have missed out on had we moved as planned:

If we'd moved, I would have been pregnant for the first time in a place that was possibly far from family, which meant I couldn't have the physical support of a mom, sisters, and mother-in-law taking care of me by providing frozen meals, maternity clothes, and some much-needed advice.

If we'd moved, my husband never would have been called into the bishopric, which has been an incredible experience for us both. My husband has always been a wonderful man, but having this calling, I have literally seen his spiritual and social growth right before my eyes. I have seen the Lord magnify his capacity to love and serve and learn and teach, and the spiritual blessings this has brought into our home are incalculable.

If we'd moved, my last experiences teaching at the school I'm at would have been pretty bitter. I had a very difficult group of students last year, and had we moved, I might have left the teaching profession forever. I'm still not certain that I've found "the" teaching position for me, but this year has at least helped to lighten my teaching heart, which had been very heavy for much of last year.

If we'd moved, I would have missed out on many of the precious experiences I had with my grandma before her passing. I knew her time to go would come quickly, so I took full advantage of every opportunity I could to visit with her and spend time with her.  Those are some of my most cherished memories with Grandma Austin, and I never could have had most of them if we'd moved away.

If we'd moved, we never would have had "the summer of fun and games" with all the good people we've met in this area. For several months now (and especially in the summer), we've invited people over anywhere from 1-3 times a week for games and treats (and sometimes dinner), which has allowed us to build solid friendships and feel like we truly have a lot of support all around us whenever we might need it. I underestimated the importance of still having a healthy social life once we got married, but now I understand that those relationships are still so important.

If we'd moved, I would be having my baby in a place far from family, and I likely would start to feel pretty isolated as the weighty responsibilities of new parenthood settled upon me. Here in this place where we've set down roots, I feel the support at every turn--just today, I had somebody offer me their newborn baby girl clothes and somebody else check to make sure that everything was okay and that I didn't need anything. I know there are good people wherever we'll go, but because of all the time we've spent here, our support network is strong and sensitive to our needs.

There are many more blessings that have come about this past year as a result of our staying, and I won't list them all. But I want the records to show how grateful I am that my Heavenly Father knows the beginning to the end and that He is much more able to see what I need than I am.

I don't know what this next year will bring, but whether we end up being accepted into PT school or not, I know one thing's for sure--

We are writing our story with the help of the greatest Editor that ever will be.

 (Yet one more reason I'm glad we stayed---I would never have been able to go to my old roommate Jeralyn's reception a couple nights ago had we moved)

Matt & I Must Have a Problem with Celebrating Early...

Matt and I found out soon after getting married that it can be tricky establishing holiday traditions for ourselves since we live so close to our families. Because our folks live just over an hour's drive away, we've spent all three Thanksgivings and Christmases as a married couple with them. We consider it a great blessing to live so close to so many that we love, but over the years, we've been trying hard to establish some traditions that could just be "ours."

Even though from the beginning, people thought our "early Christmas" together was crazy, I've grown to absolutely love it, especially since it means that the actual holiday is focused less around gifts and more on family.

This year for Thanksgiving, we decided to try something different, too--a pre-Thanksgiving feast/game night with some of the good friends we've made here. If it weren't a space issue, we probably would have invited about 25 people, but our little apartment just couldn't take that much goodness, so we had to content ourselves with just under a dozen. To make it easier on ourselves, we just did a few of the basics (turkey, punch, carrots) and had everyone else bring the rest.

This was my first time ever cooking my own turkey, and let's just say, it came about thisclose to being an absolute fiasco. Friday afternoon (the day before the party), I had holed myself up in our "office" to work on editing some photos for clients, planning on going shopping for all the necessaries later that night after a friend's wedding reception. When Matt came home from school, he asked me if I'd started defrosting the turkey yet.

"Uh..." I started. "I kind of haven't really bought it yet."

So off we went in a frenzy to the store where we decided that a $40 price tag for a fresh turkey was too much, so we bought a frozen turkey for $14 and prayed that it would somehow work out. We raced home to start thawing it out in cold water and were about to head out the door to the reception when we realized that the sink wasn't completely stoppered up, forcing us to wait about another ten minutes until the OTHER side of the sink could be filled with water and the turkey placed inside its ice bath.

Coming back from the reception and dinner after, we were forced to concede  that two hours had made little difference to the bird, putting us both into a mild panic--we were trying an overnight slow cooking method favored by Matt's mom, and the turkey was supposed to go in about an hour after we got home. A large pot of boiling water later, we were finally able to scrape out the neck and innards and though the turkey was still cold and hard in more places than we would have liked, we popped it in the oven at about 10:30 p.m.

We had company staying over that night (my sister and her husband from out of town), and we worried we would wake them up when we got up at 6 a.m. to check the bird, so we got a flashlight and spoke in whispers as we both knelt in front of the oven the next morning, bleary-eyed and clueless, trying to figure out if the skin had pulled away from the legs yet (since we couldn't just stick a thermometer in, considering that the turkey was in an oven bag). After twenty minutes of solid deliberation, we decided to let it cook for an hour and a half longer, at which point we'd wake up my sister for a third opinion.

7:30 a.m. found three of us (Matt, my sister, and I) deliberating over cooking times per pound, how the fact that the turkey was partially defrosted might affect its done-ness, and how certain parts definitely appeared crispier than others. Finally, Matt just said, "I'm just taking it out. We can cook it more later if we need to."

The turkey had to sit outside for a couple hours before being carved, so we tried to not worry ourselves too much over it and busied ourselves cleaning house. Luckily, when we carved into the turkey awhile later, it appeared we were just about right---it was a little bit dry on the very outside, but the inside was cooked through and juicy, and I comforted myself that I hadn't completely ruined pre-Thanksgiving by treating myself to several hot slices sprinkled with salt. 

Turkey (almost-)fiasco aside, I think I could get used to this tradition...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Guess I'd Better Get Used to Pink...

Matt and I went in for my 20-week ultrasound this week, fully expecting that our hunch would be confirmed and that we would be told by the tech that it was  a boy kicking around in there.

Guess we'll never be trusting our hunches again!

Baby girl wasn't exactly being cooperative though, so it took almost 20 minutes (and a lot of very firm, uncomfortable stomach jostling) for us to find out. The funny thing is, when the tech all of a sudden said, "It's a girl!," both Matt and I were in shock a bit. In fact, both of us stopped just short of blurting aloud, "Are you sure?!"

When I confided that we'd thought it was a boy the whole time, the tech said she'd get another view just to double check, and, sure enough, it's definitely a girl in there.

We're so excited though, even if it means we'll have to play the name game all over again (since we'd firmly decided on a boy name, figuring we wouldn't need to worry about a girl name yet).

Besides marking the week we found out the gender, this week also seems to be the marker of when I could no longer hide the fact that I was expecting. Before, if I wore the right kind of drapey blouse or an oversized sweater, it just looked like I'd maybe gained a couple pounds (but not to the point where people started remarking on my belly).

That all changed this last week--as my uterus has moved up, so has the visibility of this baby, and everyone from my principal to my old college roommate's mom has started commenting on it. I decided the comments don't bug me as long as they're paired with adjectives like "cute," "adorable," and "little."

But, as I informed my husband one Sunday not too long ago, I don't appreciate being told that I look "very pregnant."

I know it will only get worse as time goes on as far as the comments go, but I'm happy as can be with my "little, adorable" baby bump right now.

I sure like 20-week pregnancy a lot more than I like 10-week pregnancy anyhow :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Lost Weeks

Sometimes I wonder if I'll look back at the last four and a half months of my life and wonder what in the world I was up to. I had relied on blogging as my personal journal for so long that now, looking back at the scarcity of posts, I'm wondering how I let so much time slip away.

And now that I've been away from regular blogging for what seems like such a very long time, it's like I have everything and nothing to say all at once.

I once told a friend who marveled at how I came up with daily blog topics that it is far easier to blog daily than to blog sporadically. She looked at me in disbelief, but I know all too well it's true--when you've made the commitment to come to the blank page night after night, you're constantly on the lookout for what to say. When you let yourself go off that schedule, well...

You get a rambling post like this one.

I can't tell you how many times I've realized over the past couple weeks that I took a bajillion pictures of something, only to never post about it (like the 4th of July or Halloween or our garden harvest).

I won't promise that I'll be better, but I find that I miss the daily practice of recording my thoughts, so who knows? Maybe you will see me more of me after all.

Things you might want to know:
-My students this year are overall quite delightful. It feels almost like a vacation after last year's nightmare.
-While the photography business thing is going along well, I've found that I've almost completely stopped taking pictures for pleasure. I need to remedy that, but it's a matter of finding time...maybe when the holidays hit and all this end-of-term grading is done, I'll let myself play around a little bit more.
-I am exactly 19 weeks today, just one week shy of being exactly halfway through this pregnancy. We find out next week at my 20-week ultrasound what we're having. Any guesses?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Thoughts on Pregnancy {Part Two}

 (Sorry for the poor-quality phone picture--I still haven't upgraded to a smartphone. 
Notice the SeaBands snugly in place on my wrists! Picture taken at about 9 weeks along)

These thoughts were written down five weeks ago when I still hadn't gone completely public with the announcement.

I am now 12 weeks along, and while I've gotten used to many of the symptoms that have come with the first trimester, I am ready for them to be over with. Everyone keeps telling me that the second trimester will be completely different and a million times better, so I just keep steeling myself to wait just a couple weeks longer.

One thing that surprised me about this whole pregnancy process was the relief I felt when we finally started telling people. I felt like such a liar going around for several weeks because I had this huge part of my life that I was holding back, and I just wanted to talk about it openly instead of trying to hide it. I also wanted to be able to talk to women who had been there before, but I was really determined to wait until that 10-week ultrasound before telling a soul.

I didn't end up making it, of course---when every day felt like a thousand hours, I just couldn't bring myself to wait so very long to have a confidante who actually knew what it felt like. So I spilled the beans at 9 weeks to my family (and a few days after that to Matt's family). And while I'd intended to to wait until I was well into the second trimester to tell people at work, that didn't work out so well either.

But telling people was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders--it became a bit addictive, actually.

(In case you're curious about how we spilled---for my family, I wore a shirt that said, "Baby is Loading" and laughed about how long it took everyone to notice. For Matt's family, we announced it at my niece's baptism, so I just used my loud teacher voice and told everyone that our present for our niece wouldn't be coming until April. Once again, it was funny how long it took some people to figure it out. I had always planned on doing something a bit more dramatic to announce it, but I was so sick and tired by that point, I just didn't care anymore.)

It's funny how my expectations of pregnancy and my reality of pregnancy have really not matched up. I was always seeing these clever ways on Facebook on and on Pinterest of announcing pregnancy, but when I was actually in the thick of it all, it was all I could do not to go around with a sign that said, "If I look grumpy and/or nauseated and/or hormonal, it's okay---I'm pregnant."

Hopefully I only have a couple more weeks of this icky-sick time to go...

Note: I am now 17 weeks, and I'm feeling loads better. I still have a picky appetite that I never had before and I still don't have any energy to do housework, but at least I don't have to worry about the nausea or fatigue so much anymore.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Baking Up a Little Autumn

Even though this here blog might not show it, I've been doing pretty well at going through my "To-Enjoy List" for autumn. Just last week, Matt and I went to the Thriller dance performance (so fun!), and I finally squeezed in a mini fall photo walk last weekend while we still have some leaves.

While I still haven't mustered up the stomach to try anything with pumpkin yet (the second trimester is going better, but not that much better), I did manage to make up a dish that just screams fall. No, really---it screams it. Watch out.

The best part about the whole dish? It helped alleviate some of the guilt I've been feeling because we haven't hardly used any produce from our garden since most of it makes me feel nauseated. Cheers to that!

Apple-a-Day Casserole (from Taste of Home's Prize-Winning Recipes 2007)

6 medium tart apples, peeled and sliced
6 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons cold butter

Combine apples and carrots; place in a greased shallow 2-qt. baking dish. Drizzle with orange juice. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender.

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and nutmeg; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over apple mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes longer or until the carrots are tender.

Happy fall baking!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Shifting of Priorities

I made a comment today that pregnancy has made me feel like a completely different person--one I've never met before, and one I'm definitely not used to. If you had asked me before to describe myself in 3 words, one word that I would ALWAYS include on the list would be "motivated."

Pregnancy has changed that word.

Even though I'm officially in the second trimester and feeling a bit more energetic and a lot less sick, I have found that the shift in priorities that came three months ago is still in effect--

Before, I spent an inordinate amount of time and energy worrying about the presentability of my apartment, my weight and overall fitness level, my to-do lists, my wardrobe, how many books I'd finished that month, the level of traffic on this here blog, etc. It's like I had this constant mental picture of what I wanted my life to be like and was constantly measuring myself against it to see if I was there or not.

(I'll let you in on a secret--I was rarely measuring up to where I thought I should be.)

The waning energy levels and morning sickness of last trimester made me quickly realize that I couldn't care about all that as much anymore. I no longer had the energy for much housework or extra grooming, to-do lists become somewhat of a joke, and--irony of ironies--reading makes this here English teacher feel even sicker to her stomach than usual, so I haven't touched a book in months.

My non-pregnant brain never could have grasped this level of un-motivated-ness. I would have judged myself for my complete and utter lack of concern about all the things I "should" be doing to keep up with outer appearances.

Now, I am in this almost-blissful state where I simply pour my energy into the most essential tasks for each day, and I let myself go for the rest of it.

It's pretty liberating, actually.

 Now, this is not to say I haven't been busy--I'm still putting in 50+ hours at the school to take care of all my teaching responsibilities, and in addition, I've been putting 10-15 hours a week into my photography business. I also got a new church calling (I'm in the stake young women presidency now), and I try to pull myself together enough to make sure that Matt doesn't feel neglected through all this.

And even though listing all of it out like that makes it seem like an exhaustive amount of work, just the fact that I've allowed myself to just go easy on myself for the rest of the things in my life has made it all seem do-able. In fact, I haven't felt this relaxed about life in general since before I started my teaching job. 

So even though pregnancy is still not my favorite, I have it to thank for this newfound loosening up.

Thanks, baby.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thoughts on Pregnancy {Part One}

 (pics taken on the day we found out we were expecting)

First of all, THANK YOU for your warm wishes and congratulations on yesterday's post. 
I have felt overwhelmed with love the past 24 hours, and I appreciate all your kind comments!

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was dying to talk about it all the time, 
so I started writing some of my thoughts down. Here's the first little bit.
(I am almost 13 weeks as of this posting, and I wrote down these thoughts about 5 weeks ago.)

As I write this, I am currently two days away from being 8 weeks pregnant, and we haven't told a single person yet. I'm dying to tell people, of course, but I want to wait until we have our first ultrasound and appointment with the doctor before blabbing our big news (even to our families). It's hard keeping it in though, especially since I've been hit with almost every pregnancy symptom in the book and have already gained quite a bit of weight, which has totally thrown me for a loop. But let me start at the beginning.

Matt and I aren't like a lot of other newlywed couples in this particular area of the world when it comes to expanding our family---we knew we'd be waiting awhile to have kids, and so we sailed by our first three years of marriage perfectly content with just the two of us (despite the questions from well-meaning friends, family, and even strangers about when we were going to have kids already). In fact, as I've mentioned in a post before, I've NEVER been baby hungry; I just always hoped that at some illusive point, I'd just magically know when it was time to get pregnant and be fine enough with the whole idea of it.

I know that backstory isn't exactly romantic or exciting--but what can I say? I didn't have any desire to get married until right before we got engaged, and so I wasn't exactly surprised when the baby syndrome played out similarly. Basically, Matt and I had always  had it decided that as soon as Matt graduated with his bachelor's degree, we would start trying (mostly due to my age, not because we'd be in any kind of good financial situation to do so). We also knew that the insurance would likely be coming through my teaching job, so there was the issue of timing within the framework of a school year to think about too, which meant we were basically hoping to plan to have the baby in the summer, if at all possible.

I had my IUD removed at the end of May, and we found out we were pregnant at the beginning of August. Although a part of my brain panicked (because our timing was a little early--we had only started trying as early as we did just in case we ran into problems), I overall felt a sense of calm and excitement about the whole thing. I always thought I'd be totally panicked when I got pregnant (just because I've heard so many horror stories about pregnancy and labor and delivery), but both Matt and I were surprisingly calm after I got that first positive plus sign. In fact, for several weeks at the beginning, it's almost like life just went on as usual, and I wondered if I'd just imagined the whole thing (despite the two positive pregnancy tests I'd taken).

Then, in my sixth week, my body started reacting so strongly to the pregnancy that there was no question in my mind what was really going on. I started to get the most intense nausea (right before the school year started, so convenient!), and I couldn't find the motivation to do anything--not housework, not running errands, not even standing up more than normal. The cravings started innocently enough (I've always been one to crave certain foods though), but it soon got to the point that the only thing my body decided it could stomach was whatever I happened to be craving at that moment. Everything else made me feel devastatingly sick, especially if I happened to get a whiff of it. By week 7, my morning sickness was so bad that it was waking me up at night and doubling me over during the day (although as of this writing, I still haven't actually thrown up yet).

And now, as I near the 8-week mark, I wonder if every single one of my coworkers has guessed what's happening---I mean, when you feel as sick I have and need to be eating every two seconds (and because I've gained about 10 pounds since May), it's hard to work full-time and keep it a secret from those around you (especially since I've been wearing Sea Bands 24/7 to try and stay atop of the nausea). Sometimes I want to tell just one more person so my poor husband isn't having to constantly listening to me moan about how awful I feel, but I really want to have the ultrasound first.

Just two and a half more weeks to go.

Update: I didn't actually make it two and a half weeks before telling people. I needed someone to commiserate with, so Matt and I ended up spilling the beans to our families at 9 weeks. Oops!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Required Reading

Looks like Matt and I have some required reading to do...
 good thing we've got until April 12 to do it!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Birthday Week

Well folks, I'm 28 big ones today. You wanna know how I celebrated? By having to work over 12 hours due to parent-teacher conferences while running on way less sleep than normal.

Luckily, although Matt nor I celebrated much for our birthdays this year (his was last week), we have an awesome trip coming up to look forward to.

Even though this school year is going off much more easily than last year's did, I still feel like I never have time for anything, which includes blogging. I apologize for the silence around here lately--I'm hoping I can get back on the blogging train soon enough.

For now, I'm just grateful for how rosy 28 looks already--sure, we don't really know what all is going to be happening over the next year (since Matt and I are in the process of applying to PT school again), but what we do know looks pretty promising.

Here's looking at you, 28---

Monday, September 15, 2014

Oh Sure--All of our Saturdays Look This Grand...

Well, we got a good start on my to-enjoy list for fall---right after I hit "publish" on my last post, I looked up the info on the closest you-pick apple orchard and found that it opened that very same day! Since mine and Matt's Saturday didn't have anything else set in stone, we packed ourselves up in our Buick and drove off to Paradise (literally, that's the name of it) to the cutest darn orchard you ever did see.

Welcome to Paradise Valley Orchard, an organic farm that boasts 23 varieties of apples and the best homemade cider I think I've ever had. We were helped right away by one of the staff, who pointed out which varieties were already ripe and then turned us loose with a bucket apiece.

I'd never been to a you-pick place before, but Matt and I have already decided to go back again and again. Not only was it the most sun-drenched, breezy autumn day, but as soon as we sunk our teeth into the first dusky, crisp apple, we knew we were going to have to return, and stat (especially when the Red Delicious comes into its own come November). Oh, and the best part? Each pound of apples costs only $1.50.

Yeah, if you're at all in the area, you need to check it out.

It's been awhile since I've done anything outside of work, laundry, cooking, and sleeping (hence the lack of exciting blog posts), so it was refreshing (to say the least) to yank myself out of my routine and get myself out into the beauties of the outside world. It made me even more motivated to check some more items off my fall to-enjoy list.

(Matt doing some heavy lifting after we'd filled our buckets)

Now, if you'll excuse me--I need to go sink my teeth into one of those round orbs of deliciousness that tastes like a perfect blend of summer rains, heavy sunshine, and that fine dust that only seems to coat home-grown apples.

Happy fall, everyone!
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