Monday, January 20, 2014

What's Happening Lately: Goal Progress and Baby-Steps Back to Blogging

Let's bullet-point this b****.
  • Goal progress is slow, but there IS progress! I haven't been regulating my internet time as much as I should, but I HAVE been closing it down and finding something else to do, like reading or crocheting! I do need to start timing myself, though. I've managed to cook from home twice last week, too! Pre-cooking meat really helped. I'm planning on pre-cooking meat again today since I have today off for MLK, Jr. day, just taco meat and crumbled Italian sausage. I've been craving tostadas, so I'm definitely planning on having that tonight! :) I also might actually have the ingredients for a small roast tonight, too, in the slow-cooker... gonna look into that as soon as this is posted! (I use this recipe, and it is AMAZING. The carrots especially absorb the delicious broth, yuuuuum!)
  • One of my bestest friends is pregnant with her first child! (It's ok, she Facebook-announced it, so I'm clear to acknowledge it now ;D) I'm throwing her one of many baby showers - she's very loved. It's so fun clicking for ideas on Pinterest - I'm thinking the theme will be "little gentlemen", as she posted a very cute picture of her sonogram with a top-hat and bowtie added, which inspired me. :) Bowties and mustaches for the little man who's coming into their family! Of course there will be a post about it eventually. The shower is planned for mid-April!
  • It is not looking like I will have my job come next school year. On the plus side, it's because the woman who had to take time off this year is healthy enough to come back! On the minus side, I really love it there and I am hardcore bumming about it. :( I have yet to feel so welcome, supported, and like I really fit in at a school before, and I wish there was a way to keep me there. At least I'll get really great letters of recommendation. 
  • We're in the process of rental house-hunting! We checked out 4 places this weekend - the first two were great, the second pair weren't quite right for us. We'll be checking out more options this week to go for another round, as the company we'd be renting through for the 1st 2 properties we like takes applications on a 1st-come 1st served basis. Best to have a few more choices in case we didn't get our applications in soon enough. (There were a lot of lookers at both places, so it's very possible we didn't get our applications in first.) It's exciting and stressful at the same time, but I'm proud of ourselves that we're at the point in our adult lives where we can move forward in this manner; we've worked very hard to get to this point. Plus think of all the awesome home decorating I'll get to do now! AND THE SPACE OH MY GOSH WE ARE SO READY TO GET OUT OF THIS 1-BEDROOM APARTMENT. (We're looking at 3-bedroom houses - planning in advance in case we are lucky enough to be blessed with children while living there, and in the meantime I get a craft room, whooooo!)
  • Daisy got a furcut! It cracks me up, when we take her to PetsMart for grooming, it is almost guaranteed that she will come back to us with bows in her hair if she gets a female groomer working on her. I'm not complaining! It's the only time I could get away with bows in her fur, The Hubs hates that kind of thing. (This one didn't last very long, unfortunately.)

This week is the start of our second semester, which means wrapping up grades from last semester! So my week will be filled with grading like a madwoman, and starting a whole new class - Drama! It'll be my first year teaching a drama class (Don't worry, I have a degree in theater) AND my first time directing a school play! So excited! (I'm taking the easy way out and using a Broadway Jr. show, it's kind of designed to be directed by anyone regardless of theater background.) Despite my imminent unemployment (again), I'm feeling fairly positive. I had a breakdown on Friday, but The Hubs really worked on making me see that it's not the end of the world, even if it feels like it is. Can't guarantee that I'll stay so positive as the end of year nears, but right now I'm feeling ok. The world tends to work out as it should. Maybe I was here for this year only to help out the school while they were missing a vital cog in their machine, and I served that purpose and now it's time to move on to a school that needs me even more! (Here's hoping, anyway. :D)

Have a good week!

Monday, January 13, 2014

The First Week of School 2.0

It is amazing how little time it takes to completely lose one's stamina when the daily routine goes on vacation.

We just had our first week back to school, and it felt as if it was the first week of school all over again! My body wasn't used to all the work after two weeks off, and I couldn't sleep well because I had so much stuff to catch up on/do which is of course the thing I needed most was sleep.

Unfortunately, next week looks just as nutty, but my body seems to be re-adapting again. I failed to mention in last week's posts that I'm additionally hindered right now with a calf muscle strain that requires me to baby it, not exert myself too much (which as a teacher is kind of impossible), and wear a walking boot for support - which slows me down and DRIVES ME NUTS, UGH. My uninjured leg is suffering from the additional work it has to do, too. Needless to say, today was mostly resting it, but with the fun of babysitting our adorable goddaughter Emily with The Hubs. Luckily, for being just over 1 year old, she's remarkably easy to watch! We didn't have to chase her too much, and she was a breeze - all giggles and smiles!

In regards to the mini-goals for Jan.-March I posted about, I was better about my internet time, but cooking dinner at home pretty much didn't happen thanks to how hectic last week was. I was honestly not home earlier than 6pm any day last week! This week should be better, though, and I am planning on going grocery shopping Sunday, and pre-prepping my meals as much as I can after the grocery store so all I have to do is (hopefully) heat it in the oven, or mix the ingredients for 5 minutes before throwing it in the oven/saucepan. (Also, because I'm not busy enough, I'm also making a meal to take to a coworker who's out for health issues right now - but it's a recipe that I can easily double and make one for us at the same time!)

What am I making, you ask?

Spinach Tortellini Soup - it's delicious! I'm going to add turkey Italian sausage "meatballs" (where I squeezed the sausage filling out of the casing and rolled them into balls).

Enchilada casserole (This is the one I'm making two of - one for me, one for the coworker)

Chicken Broccoli casserole to serve over brown rice

Baked pork chops with Stove Top stuffing and veggies (this one I won't prep ahead, 'cuz pork chops don't take that long).

I plan to prep ahead by making the enchilada casserole ahead, then cooking the proteins ahead of time (except the pork chops). I only did four meals because Fridays are usually nights we eat out anyway - I'm just trying to make it the ONLY night we eat out this week. Fingers crossed!

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014: Goals for the Year, January-March

While I am nowhere near an expert at making goals, I have learned from teaching students how to set academic goals that they have to be reasonable, they have to be measurable, and they have to be ACCOMPLISH-ABLE. If you set a goal beyond the time frame available, then you're setting yourself up to fail. (For example, there's no way I could lose 50 lbs in 3 months, at least not without doing it in a very unhealthy manner.)

I also think setting goals for an entire year is a bit too much; stuff happens, and we can't always control what happens to us, just how we react to it. So it makes more sense to set a goal for a few months, and then re-assess at that point. If it's going well, keep going; if it's not working, try to figure out what the problem is and figure out a fix. So my 2014 goals will be for the overall year, with measurable steps along the way.

So what do I want out of 2014?

To be happy,


To be healthy.

So how do you measure happiness in a way to achieve a goal? By taking steps to fix the things that make me unhappy.

So as to not overwhelm myself, I have two mini-goals to help me achieve the two overarching goals of 2014, one for each.

Happiness: Break my internet habit. (Don't think I don't see the irony in blogging about this.) Seriously, though, when I come home, I zone out with my computer and iPhone. Some people use the TV, I use the internet. So much time is wasted where I could be doing something much more fulfilling, like crafting, or reading, or stuff around the house that needs to get done. I mean, we're hoping to move in the next 2 months, so I'll need to use at least a couple of evenings for packing, for example. Not to mention I just feel like I'm wasting my life away on the internet when I could be doing something more interesting or personally fulfilling.

So how will I stay off my favorite time-killer? 
  • Make plans on the weekends. Can't be on the computer if I'm out of the house. Luckily, I usually have plans on the weekend, so this won't be that much of a stretch. I'll just need to find ways to get out of the house during the day, esp. if The Hubs isn't interested in joining me. 
  • I want to stay off the internet at least 3 nights a week for now. Mondays and Fridays will be long days at work due to tutoring after school, so I think it's only fair to decompress with my internet crutch on those days, but I'll aim to stay off the internet Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I'll give myself an hour on a timer after dinner, and once that timer goes off, the computer is shut down. 
    • Of course, as we are house-hunting (renting, not buying) at the moment, I might have to go on if The Hubs needs me to check something out related to that. 
  • No using the internet on the phone if I've shut the computer down for the night. Leave my wifi off. NOTHING is so important that it can't wait until tomorrow. 
  • Playing games on my phone doesn't count as "more fulfilling activities". I can play on the phone a little before bed as long as it's not internet and it doesn't keep me up later than I need to be. (If it does, then it'll get limited. To be fair, though, I do read books on my iPhone.)

Health: Only eat out 4 times a week (including weekends). We have gotten into a NASTY take-out addiction. Part of it is my fault; my main household chore is cooking, and I haven't been doing it. Part of the problem was that I injured my calf, which has required me to be off of my feet for most of November, but it was a problem before that (which we blamed my coaching schedule for). The point is that I was working myself overtime, and using it as an excuse to not cook at home. Which means bad food, more money than we need to spend, and actually more time and effort than if I'd just cooked at home half the time. Seriously. We also tend to not cook on the weekends, which meant we were eating out a LOT. We're both tired of it, we're both frustrated that it wastes money, and honestly most convenient fast food doesn't taste that great. And since I'm the main cook, guess whose responsibility it is to fix this problem? That's right, THIS GAL.

So how will I ensure this happens?
  • When I'm cooking the current dinner, take out the meat from the freezer for the next meal and put it in the fridge. I tend to use this as an excuse for not cooking, because if I forgot (or "forgot") to defrost the meat, and I'm tired when I get home, then I don't want to wait for the meat to defrost in order to eat, right? GUESS I SHOULD ORDER OUT. So no more, darn it! Take out the food for tomorrow while cooking this evening's meal. Simple!
  • Get back to meal planning. It's not even that hard, and I have about a GAZILLION recipes saved to Pinterest - I even have an Excel spreadsheet AND a Google calendar set up for meal planning! So not only do I need to meal plan, but when I'm picking out the food from the freezer to defrost, I'll choose which meal to cook from the plan. 
  • Buy a frozen meal or two for "emergencies" (like something comes up that keeps me late, or I just am TOO DANG TIRED). Even buying a pre-made frozen meal is still cheaper than buying a fast-food meal. 
Fairly simple and attainable, and I've still left myself some squidge room to help me transition to these better behaviors. I feel confident going into these because they're not totally overwhelming, they feel manageable, and they're measurable. Even if I end up buying 5 meals out one week, but we've been doing better before then, I'll still feel successful.

I can't guarantee that I'll update regularly with my success, but I'll try. Baby steps into blogging regularly. ;D

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What's Happening Lately: 2013 in Review

It's amazing how fast time flies by. For example, I can't believe I haven't posted since September! Being a teacher is very busy, but not so busy that I couldn't have posted on here more, I'll admit. To be honest, though, I didn't have the time to do the types of posts I WANT to do. Recipes, projects, etc. I wasn't doing them like I wanted to before I took an unplanned sabbatical, though, so there ya go. I will confess that teaching/education is my passion, and while I could blog about that as well, I find I prefer to learn more than share at the moment in that area. Maybe when I'm feeling a little more experienced and feel I have new insight to provide. :)

Left to right, top to bottom: Volleyball signed by the team I coached, The Hubs and our dog Daisy, My goddaughter Emily and I taking selfies, the set from OSF's "A Streetcar Named Desire" which we saw on our summer vacation!

Let's do a little recap, though, to share what I've been up to/how this year has gone:
  • Professionally, it's been on an upswing, but 2013 was AWFUL job-wise. Without going into details (because you never know who cyberstalks you), I was in a bad situation at my last school that was just... it messed me up emotionally. Seriously, it induced regular panic attacks that even after the job was over I was still suffering from for months afterwards. I'm happy to say that I haven't had a panic attack since at least August! The fact that I'm at a school where I'm supported and encouraged really helps with this, though. My students are wonderful for the most part (there's always some knuckleheads, but most of them are just knuckleheads who need to test if someone cares), the staff is friendly and encouraging, and the support staff is on it like comet. I'm really happy there, and while there's a chance I might not be back next year (I'm on a temporary contract), it's nice to feel confident that the reason I might not be back has 100% NOTHING to do with me, and I'll always be grateful for this school reinvigorating my love for teaching and reaffirming that I AM a good teacher. 
  • Personally, things are mostly good. Friendships have strengthened, for the most part, and the few that have weakened aren't due to fights or hurt, just distance and time apart. It sucks, but it's also a part of life. Marriage is mostly good as well; there are things to work on, because we are human and we are fallible, but we have pledged to work on those things together, and we still love each other very much.
The highlights of this year have been:
  • My new job! Seriously, I love it there. 
    • Adding to the job enjoyment was coaching our middle school girls volleyball team - we made the playoffs! I was so proud of my girls. :)
  • My husband's job seriously improved as well, in very positive ways!
  • We became godparents to the adorable Emily, and it's been a blast spending time with her while also becoming closer to her mom (I am an old friend of her dad's, but I've grown closer to his wife/Emily's mom over this year also). 
  • Our trip to Ashland, Oregon! A great weekend away with wonderful theater, cute boutiques, and great food. :)
  • My 32nd birthday was just all-around awesome, for some reason. Probably because I forced myself to not make a big deal out of it, which resulted in my not over-thinking it and just ENJOYING the time with family and friends! :)
Overall, I've ended 2013 on a happy note, and I'm hoping it continues into 2014. We have a lot of stuff happening early this year - a trip to the Chicago area for my grandmother's 80th bday, moving to a bigger place, buying a new car for The Hubs (which is long overdue), and *sigh* possibly finding a new job. We're also hoping our family will be closer to expanding this year as well, but that depends on my continuing to control my health issues. 2014 is full of possibility, and I hope I will maximize those possibilities as much as I can!


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