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Slaving Away at the Hodgepodge

Ok, so I’m not exactly slaving away with my answers this week, but I had a hard time finding a catchy title, so slaving it is!  Now, it sounds like Joyce is slaving away as she puts the finishing touches on her new house!  You go girl!  The sneak peeks hint at a gorgeous home!  Let’s get to my answers for her questions, shall we?

1.  What would you say is your strongest sense? 

My strongest sense would have to be smell.  I can smell a cigarette from a mile away, and I’m very sensitive to perfumes and lotions.

2.  Do you believe in the idea of a ‘sixth sense’? Why or why not?

I actually do believe in this.  I know it sounds strange coming from a Christian, but I’ve had too many strange things happen to doubt this.  I knew that something bad had happened to my dad the day he passed away.  I couldn’t explain it, but I got physically ill that afternoon.  I didn’t find out until late that night that he had died.

3.  When do you most feel like a slave to time? Explain.

I feel most like a slave to time when school is in session.  It is then when I live my life in 45-minute segments.  That’s why long holidays and, especially, summers are so precious to me…being free of time constraints.

4.  Have you ever worked in a restaurant? How would you rate the experience? If you could own a restaurant what kind would it be?

I have never worked in a restaurant.  If I could own one, I’d make it one that had a lot of vegan dishes that would appeal to the community as a whole.  One of my biggest frustrations is trying to find good food options when dining out.

5.  Ever traced your family tree? Share something interesting you learned there.

I have never traced my family tree.  I suspect that it would be interesting, though, because I already know that my dad’s side of the family is from France and Germany.  I can only imagine where their relatives came from.

6.  What did your childhood bedroom look like?

I lived in a lot of places when I was younger because my mom was always moving.  The house I spent the most time in was a plantation-style house.  My room was very large.  It had a fireplace in it until it was removed.  I had two closets and a room/attic thing off of it.  I never went in it, though, because it was rumored to have a fake leg in it from the previous owner.  The room was wallpapered, as was the custom back in the 80’s, and had plush carpeting.  I had a canopy bed, that I kept until the day I got married, and a large desk.

7.  Anyone who knows me knows I love_______________________?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to knit.

My latest creation…Hogwarts Express Shawl.

Look at the owls!

This was a very easy project, and I was able to use leftover beads from a previous project.

8.  My Random Thought

My 9th grade students have been working on an essay for the last month.  They’ve spent the past three weeks in the computer lab typing, peer-editing, and revising their essays.  Yesterday was the first day back in my classroom.  I found it very sweet to see the relief on their faces as they entered my room.  It was like they were coming home…to the books I’ve been adding…to their place of comfort.  I adore these kids.

Catching Up

I haven’t done such a great job with my blogging this last week and a half.  I have good reasons.  For now, why don’t we just let bygones be bygones and play a bit of catch-up.

I’ve been doing a ton of sleeping…ignoring the alarm I’ve had set for the last week in my pitiful attempt to start getting back into a routine.  I’ve been sleeping late and then, later in the day, squeezing in a nap whenever possible.

The dogs have complied.  They’re rather chill these days.

Of course, their patience does have limits.  Gambit gets all up in my grill if he even thinks I’m awake.

I’ve been doing some knitting.

With beads.

Which I had to order more of because the gal at the yarn store I visited a few months ago underestimated the amount I needed.

I ordered from GoodyBeads, and boy, was I impressed!  My beads came in record time, and I even got a bag of free beads AND a $5 coupon!  I’ll be ordering from this company again!

Do you see a bit of Harry Potter on the TV in the background of the picture above?

Well, in case you didn’t know, Sunday was HP’s birthday! My running club, the Hogwarts Running Club, is currently hosting a virtual race, the Fantastic Beasts 5K, and the suggested run date was Sunday.

Now, let me tell you that I like doing these races.  I like that the money is given to amazing charities.  I use the Charity Miles app to track my mileage.  They partner up with sponsors who donate for distances covered by its participants.  It’s a win-win all the way around.

What’s been bad, though, is that I am behind several races.  A great thing about virtual races is that you can run them when you want to.  You still get the bling.  You’re competing against yourself and your conscience.

Well, I’m behind a few races.  Life seriously got in the way.  I’ve been working out to a grueling Hammer and Chisel program.  I’m five weeks into my second go-round.  My muscles are sore, and it’s too humid in this Florida heat to get out later in the day.

Some of the races are longer, and there’s no way I can do them in one day.  That’s hard too.

My medals have been sitting in their envelopes…race shirts unworn.

I really wanted to do this one since it was only three miles and a special day indeed.

So, I did my H&C workout (two for the day) and then went outside…at 1pm…and walked/ran that sucker.

I hadn’t run since June 13th.  I still managed to do intervals where I jogged .75 mile and walked .25.  More than once.  Go me.

I was sweaty and tired when I finished, but boy was I proud of myself!

Look at that cute Harry Potter picture (top right).  I have SnapChat and use it; however, I didn’t know about filters until I saw something on Facebook.  It took me a little while to figure it out, but once I did, oh man.  There was a HP filter just for Sunday!

Let’s just say that I’ve been having a little too much fun with filters…

Personally, I like the one above.  Makes me feel like I’m back in the 70’s.  And yes, I am a child of the 70’s/80’s.

This week has been all about 4am alarms clocks.  Ugh.  Working out at 4:45 (because it takes me that long to crawl out of bed) is tough.

Yesterday, I felt okay, though, and perked up even more when I saw my bicep in the mirror.  Call me vain.  I don’t care.  I worked hard for that muscle!

I’m really, really proud of my workouts.  I’m getting so much stronger and am going up in weights about every week and a half thanks to my new commitment to log everything on the worksheets I found online.

Yes, that is 25 pounds.

Did you just faint?

I used them last week for dead lifts, which I absolutely love.  They do so much to strengthen your hamstrings which, in turn, help you shape your rear end.  Go me.

I’m also working in the yard…edging after the Mr. mows the front yard on his RIDING lawn mower (ahem)…and using the PUSH mower to do the back yard (ahem ahem).  I wear my heart rate monitor to record the calories I burn.

Almost 400 calories, y’all.  You know where that’s coming from?  Sweeping the debris down the sidewalk.  Talk about an arm and core workout!

Something else I’ve been doing is participating in a Book Love Summer Session on Facebook.

Penny Kittle wrote the book, and I follow her on Twitter.

Her book…her philosophy, in fact…is all about helping students develop a love for reading.  I read her book last summer and felt like I’d found the validation I needed for what I’d been doing (thanks to my wonderful friend, Barb, who first mentored me) in my classroom for the past five years.

I found out, by reading Twitter, that there was going to be a study session, and I signed up.

It’s very low key.  We listen to certain podcasts, because YES, there’s a Book Love Podcast…who knew!  Then, a facilitator posts questions, and we respond.

Ok.  So, confession time.  I don’t really like to listen to podcasts.  I did way back when, but I’m just not good at processing auditory stuff.  I am definitely a tactile learner, but…this podcast.  It’s something else.

Y’all.  I feel like I’ve found my people.  There have been book talks, encouragement, and ideas for fitting too many things in to too little time.

I have cried almost every time I’ve listened to a podcast.  There are testimonials.  There are stories of students’ lives that have been changed.  I see these things happen in my classroom every year, but listening to it online…it’s just so powerful.

Speaking of school, I ordered and received a new set of Kagan mats.  I really like these because I can flip them over and use the other side for something different.  I go through about two sets each year.

I attended training yesterday and today (my reason for getting up at the crack of dawn).  My district uses Canvas, a learning management system that allows students to access class content online.  I used it last year, and my students LOVED it.  It really facilitated things in my classroom.  Students had access to all of my Smartboard files and documents we worked on in class.  Even though I consider myself a fairly advanced user, I learned so much.  The training was low-key, and we were turned loose to create our own pages.  This time allowed me to make much-needed changes.

I’m still debating about which picture to use on the home screen my kids will see when they log in.  What are your thoughts?

Or this…

So yeah.  That’s a big chunk of what I’ve been up to. Ha!

Christmas in July?

Last week, I finished a project I’d started back in April or May…Heartwarming Stockings…a kit I purchased from Knit Picks.

I’d made a set of these stockings for the Mr. and me last fall.  When Rooster got engaged, I offered to make his girl her own stocking, which she eagerly said yes to.  Then, I decided to make Rooster a stocking as well so they would have a matching set.

I had almost enough yarn left over from my first set to make this set; however, I had to order a couple of skeins of yarn for Rooster’s girl’s stocking, so I cast on his while I waited for her yarn to arrive.

The great thing about this pattern is that you can customize it.  The pattern has a template, and you pick from various patterns offered for each section.  Rooster’s girl picked out everything, and I went from there.

When I finished Rooster’s stocking, I got to work on his girl’s.

I absolutely love the flowers on this stocking.

When I finished, both stockings got a lengthy bath to ensure that every fiber was soaked through.

Then, I blocked them.

I don’t know if you get a sense of how large these are just from looking at the photos.  I had written down the measurements, but I’ve lost the paper!  Ha!

Rooster’s girl asked if I was going to line them.

I said no, because I didn’t know how, but then I started thinking.

And I started Googling.

And after watching a couple of YouTube videos, I decided that I’d give it a shot.

After I took some measurements, I went to JoAnn Fabrics.

The colors I selected looked great; however, I should have taken a stocking with me, because I made a novice mistake and didn’t double my measurements (hello, this would be an inside lining…like a tube…hence double the amount of fabric required).

Money wasted.

And time.

Ugh.

By this time, Rooster’s girl had come to the house.  I can’t remember what we were doing, but she wound up running with me back to the store, where I got the correct amount of fabric.

I traced around each stocking with a permanent marker, giving myself about a half-inch extra space all around.

Now, I had the bright idea to use my sewing machine to stitch the two halves together.  I’d used my sewing machine, obtained as a gift from a yard sale eons ago, maybe once or twice over the years.

It’s a handy thing…folds down underneath the table.

This thing was d-i-r-t-y.

Look at all of that dust!!

Once I got it plugged in, I made sure it worked by turning on the light.

I got out the manual to make sure it was threaded correctly from the top and ran into a problem when I couldn’t get the bottom bobbin to thread properly.  Maybe my thread was too old…it did keep breaking.  Regardless, I spent at least an hour trying to get it to work before throwing up my hands in surrender.

I’d do things the hard way, thus continuing to live out my mom’s words from years ago…”If there’s a hard way to do something, you’ll find it.”

So, I got out my needle and quilting thread and used a whip stitch to stitch both halves together.

Then, I stuffed each lining into its respective stocking and stitched around the top of each stocking, just under the i-cord.

I was actually really pleased with my small, somewhat even stitches.

When all was said and done, I had two lined stockings.

I am so honored that Rooster’s girl allowed me the privilege of making something so special to commemorate what will be their first Christmas together as a married couple.

 

Big Island Wrapper

Summer vacation…it is so wonderful.

I’ve been splitting my time up into chunks — working out — running errands — reading — knitting — napping — watching TV.  Not necessarily in that order either.

My knitting.  Oh my.  I’m working on something for Rooster and his girl, but I had to order a skein of yarn for it, so I cast on a new project, Big Island Wrapper, on June 18th, using Knit Picks Billow yarn.

First of all, can we all give a big hallelujah for Ravelry?  I always research my projects beforehand…looking for errata and suggestions from others to make knitting each pattern easier.  I found out that there were several mistakes in the pattern.

Whew!

The connection sections can be knit a couple of different ways.  I didn’t like the look I was getting with the original way, so I tinked back and reknit, using the suggested changes posted by others.  You can read more specific details on my project page on Ravelry.

The yarn was easy to work with, although I didn’t like that it was thinner in some places than others.  It’s cotton, which I don’t usually knit with, so it’s heavier, but I like the way it slid through my fingers and off of the needles.

It was a fast knit, and before I knew it, I was giving it a bath.

Then, I blocked it.

I love the look of the netting stitch in the orange section.

I bound off using a picot edge…a lovely touch that beats adding fringe any day.

This is not the usually airy shawl that I’m known to make.

The heavier cotton gives it a solid drape.  It will be warm in the fall.

I am pleased with the way it turned out and the color scheme.  The palette is appropriate given my proximity to the ocean.

This shawl will probably be another favorite!  I look forward to wearing it in a few months.

New Years 2016

So, it’s been almost a week since I caught you up on what was happening around here on Christmas.

Chicky left around 6:30am on Sunday for her long drive home.  We followed suit about an hour and a half later.  When we got home, the dogs were very happy to see us.  I worked really all day and managed to get completely unpacked.  I put everything away and cleaned the house.  My Roomba had stopped running after it ran over its charging cord, so there was dog hair everywhere.  I also wanted to wash and dry the new set of sheets I’d gotten as a Christmas gift.

It was evening when I finally sat down to relax.

I recently started watching Agents of Shield on Netflix, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it.  It took about three full episodes before I got enough of the characters’ backstories to understand the premise of the show.  Now, I’m hooked.

The next morning, the dogs were more than happy to stay in bed…until about 11, I think.

That’s how we do things around here when we don’t have to work.

I immediately got down to business and did my TurboFire workout.  Then, I decided I needed to get outside and walk.  Molly was the chosen one.  She absolutely loved it and was the perfect walking buddy.

I worked on my Oakwood Poncho after having to tink back 80 rows because I’d followed the wrong chart.  Yeah, I’m stupid like that, although to be fair to me, the charts are not in the same order as the written instructions.

I’m actually happy that I had to re-do the colorwork…for the third time…because my first two attempts weren’t very good.  I’ve finally figured out how to change colors though!

Right side complete!

On Tuesday, I did my workout and then walked Gambit.  You can see, from the look on his face, how much fun he had.

On Wednesday, which was technically my “rest” day from my TurboFire program, I decided to do the “Drench” Piyo video.  Oh my.  This one completely kicks my butt every time I do it.  It’s sooooo hard!

Afterward, I took Molly for a walk…

I don’t know if I’ve told you, but in September, I joined the Harry Potter Running Club on Facebook.  Here’s the IRL website.  This club hosts virtual races, and the entry fees are donated to charity.  There’s a big competition on Facebook among houses for the House Cup, and miles are tracked through the Charity Miles app.  What is so cool about the app is that you select a charity, and various companies donate money every time you log miles.  I always select the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation because the Mr. has had Crohn’s Disease for twenty-eight years (as long as I’ve known him).

In addition to the above activities, there’s been lots of college bowl game watching around here.  Every.  Day.

I am not complaining.  I love college football and am thankful that I have a job that gives me the holidays off so I can watch these games.

I did another DIY project.  We’d recently started finding puddles of water on my laundry room floor when drying clothes, and I decided to replace the flex connection between the dryer and vent.  This fixed the problem.  No more leaks!

On New Year’s Eve, I did the Low HIIT 20 minute workout.  What absolute fun!  This workout is my favorite so far.  It goes by so quickly that you hardly know you’re exercising!  I then went for another walk, on the treadmill at the gym this time because it raining outside.

I ran ALL of those miles on the treadmill, to my shock and delight.  I firmly believe that the workouts I’ve been doing, along with the careful monitoring of my diet, have increased my endurance and made me stronger.

After getting cleaned up, I changed into comfy night clothes, appropriately themed considering that I’d be cheering AGAINST that non-SEC team in Florida that I cannot stand (they lost, by the way, hallelujah!) and the other team in Alabama, which did not lose, so I can have another chance to root against them at the end of the bowl series.

I also spent the day baking two desserts from my Vegan Pie in the Sky cookbook…

One of the best things about vegan baking is that I can lick the spoons, whisks, and bowls…

That brownie crust mixture was heavenly!

Dessert #2

Both desserts had to chill in the fridge for a few hours, so we had to wait until today to try them.

This morning (New Year’s), I didn’t get up until after 10am after turning off my alarm when it went off at 7.  I almost decided to skip my workout.  I wasn’t enamored with the idea of sweating for 40+ minutes, but I pushed through the voices in my head and pulled on my exercise clothes.

It’s funny.  I think so much negativity leaves the body with every sweat droplet that is released.  I felt terrific afterward!  I especially loved seeing the number of calories I burned.  I’m all about those calories, desperate to maintain my smaller size after all of my hard work in recent months.

I wanted to go for a walk, but the rain and cold weather made it un-doable…until later in the day.  As soon as the sky cleared up, I grabbed Pele, who’d been dying for his turn, and did a shorter walk.  He’s older and heavier and just can’t go as far.  He petered out before two miles were up, but I coaxed him home the last quarter mile, earning more miles for Hufflepuff and more money for my charity.  Oh, and by the way, I’ve been turning on my Charity Miles app and putting my phone in my Flipbelt when I do my TurboFire workout…any way to get mileage is acceptable!

Later this evening, I whipped up dinner for the family, including Rooster’s girlfriend, and then we indulged in the dessert I’d prepared yesterday.

The Brownie Bottom Peanut Butter Cheesecake doesn’t really taste like cheesecake, but the consistency is similar, and it is delicious!!!

That’s it from these here parts.  I hope you brought in the new year with family and friends and are fixing your eyes on Christ as you ring in 2016!  Much love to all of you!

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Shenanigans

It’s December 26th, and after a morning spent shopping with my Chicky, I am finally sitting down to process the past few days.

On Wednesday, the 23rd, we secured the house and pups, leaving them in the care of a trusted young man…one of Rooster’s best friends…and drove a couple of hours down the road to bigger city, Florida, where the rest of our crew lives.

Before we left, though, I had to get in another workout.  Even though Wednesdays are my “rest” days, I still like to exercise.  I’ve learned that my body needs to be pushed.

I decided to do a Piyo workout.  I’ve missed the stretching and strength exercises, so I put in the “Sweat” video, which didn’t seem nearly as difficult now that I’ve “graduated” from the program and have been doing TurboFire for over a month.  I’d like to think that speaks to the level of fitness I’m currently at…not high but farther along than four months ago.

Our drive went by quickly.  I spent the time either reading or knitting (I can’t remember which).  We spent the afternoon just chilling with the in-laws.  Chicky arrived later that afternoon, but she was fighting the crud, so she went to bed early.

Christmas Eve found me up early.  I didn’t want to miss a day of my workout program, but I also didn’t want anyone walking in on me.  I’m a bit shy about having people watch me.  I’m not exactly the most coordinated, although in my mind I look as good as Chalene Johnson.  Yes, I know I’m delusional.  Aren’t we all from time-to-time?

Getting ready in the dark so I don’t wake up the natives

After everyone got up, we did our traditional last-minute shopping and picked up a few small items that were probably unnecessary but gave us a reason to jaunt around town along with thousands of other similarly-minded people.

Because we were going to eat Christmas dinner for dinner (as opposed to the late lunch time we’ve done the past few Christmas seasons), the Mr., Chicky, Rooster, and I had some time to open gifts among ourselves.  Spending time as our small family unit rarely happens these days, as is the case when children grow up and leave home.  I think it’s still important, though.  Inside jokes and whatnot continue to remind us how much we love each other.

Chicky gave me this luscious silk/wool skein of yarn, which she had picked up this past summer when she traveled to the Amish country while vacationing in Philadelphia.  I think she purchased the yarn here.  She told me that she was going to buy me more yarn until she discovered that good yarn is expensive!  Rooster reminded her of my forays to the yarn store that’s an hour and a half away from me and how much I spend before I return home.  Yes, I’m a yarn snob.  I was touched that she 1) braved a yarn store and 2) got me something so dear to my heart.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures during our present opening.  I did receive a set of measuring cups and spoons from Rooster (these items were on my list), and the Mr. gave me a cute sweater from Old Navy, night clothes from Victoria Secret, and a flipbelt.

The Flipbelt. These are not my abs…these pictures will serve as motivation though.

After a delicious dinner (I ate mashed potatoes and field peas), we pulled out Phase 10, a card game Chicky had purchased the night before.  We had a lot of time to kill before church.

This was a lot of fun to play!  I highly recommend it!

After a few rounds, our group got ready for church and headed to the 9pm service.  This was the first time we had ever attended this late program…another sign that our children have become adults.  The pastor preached a great sermon with the highlight being the lighting of candles that we patrons held as the overhead lights were turned off.  Singing “Silent Night” with the candlelight flickering invoked a feeling of reverence befitting the Reason for the Season…the birth of the baby who would save mankind from its sins.

By the time we were finished, it was late, so it didn’t take us long to head to bed.

True to form, I arose early the next morning so I could do my ten-minute ab workout followed by the ten-minute stretch session that comes after each workout session.  The schedule worked out great, did it not?

Then, I got ready and sat…waiting…for the everyone else to wake up…

Because the kids are grown, we don’t open presents at 5am any more.

I decided to call my mom but had trouble putting on makeup, straightening my hair, and talking, so I dug out my ear buds and made myself hands-free.

Go ahead to tell me how brilliant I am.

This was a great way to pass the time.  Beauty at my age takes a while to obtain.

Once the Mr. and the kids were up, it was time to dig into our stockings.  Santa was good to me.

Isn’t my stocking pretty?  I love being able to say that I made it!

Super Sis and her family eventually made their way over after they’d finished opening their gifts, and after the customary Christmas morning photos in front of the tree (during which we really noticed how grown the kids had gotten), we dug in.

We always take turns opening presents, going in age order (youngest to oldest).

The theme the first round seemed to be opening what the other sister/brother clan had gifted.

Super Sis’s group gave me the stack of three purple gifts in the photo above.  One of the gifts was a set of measuring spoons (one can never have too many).  Another gift was this bowl…

Isn’t it cute?!

I also got this neat set of hand lotions.

The ingredients are all natural.  The one on the left has a lemon scent and is very invigorating.  The middle tube has an orange scent…a bit more muted but still pleasant.  The tube on the right has a floral scent and is stronger.  It provides a deeper conditioning, so I’ll probably use it on my feet.

A lot of laughter was exchanged as explanations were provided with each gift.

I had bought Super Sis an Origami Owl necklace and six charms.  I should have taken a picture of it.  She had randomly texted me a few months ago and told me that she had decided that she wanted one.  We’d given Coupon Queen a necklace for Mother’s Day (or her birthday…can’t remember which one since both are in May).

The in-laws gave me an individual sized crock pot, 400-thread cotton sheets, Bath and Body Works lotion, an Express store gift card, and cash.

It was a fun time…one we had to recoup from afterward.  Can you say nap time?!  This is another tradition of ours.

After a dinner of leftovers, we sat down and played a new game that one of my nephews taught us…”President.”

I.  Hate.  This.  Game.  It’s played with a deck of cards that are all dealt out.  The winner of each round is called President, the runner up is Vice President, the next two finishers are Secretaries, and the last two are Scum and Super Scum.  I cannot stand the last two titles.  If you’re Scum, you have to give away your best cards to the President/Vice President (depending on if you’re Scum or Super Scum).  In return, you get their worst cards.  So, what happens is that you rarely get out of Scum status.

I don’t like the names of the finishers, nor do I like giving away cards in this manner.  It’s just dumb.  Yes, I got a bad attitude, and yes, I probably showed my butt a bit.  It’s hard to be perfect 100% of the time.  Ha!

Bedtime provided a much-needed reset.

That brings me to today.  After an early, tough TurboFire workout, Chicky and I headed out to the store.  We hit Ulta so Chicky could exchange the Urban Decay eye shadow palette we’d given her…the same one as last year (hello. brain fart).  Best Buy was next so I could exchange a phone charger I’d bought for Rooster (hello, second brain fart…wrong pin connection…duh).

Then, we went to the mall so I could try on blue jeans at Express.  I’ve lost so much weight that I’ve had to go down a size (I’m not bragging, mind you, so don’t be hatin’).  Afterward, we ate lunch, and then Chicky got her makeup done at the MAC cosmetic stand near the food court.  I’ve never heard of this line before.  What lovely stuff!

I enjoyed watching the gal expertly apply primer, foundation, concealer, and blush.  Chicky doesn’t wear a lot of makeup, but that makeup really made her cheekbones pop!  I wound up helping her pay for her goodies.  Because we live six hours apart and only see each other every few months, I don’t get to pamper her often.

Because Chicky had decided to stay in town one extra day, we were not pressed for time.  I was grateful because I miss her when we’re apart.

The game plan for the rest of the day is to relax, visit more with family, and head home first thing in the morning.  We have fur babies who miss us, gifts to put away, and another week of downtime to enjoy.

I hope all of you had a great Christmas with friends and family.

While I Was Gone…

Lordy, but every time I write a post, it seems as though I’m apologizing!  My blogging…it just sucks right now.

Enough with that, though.  I’ll offer up no excuses.  It is what it is.  I’m choosing to spend down time not on the computer and, instead, watching television, knitting, and reading.

Anyhoo…

The burning question, if you’re not a friend on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter is:  What has Auburnchick been up to the past few weeks?

Well, let’s see…

I’ve been doing a LOT of teaching.  With this being December, we are hot and heavy into all things reading.  My kiddos are working hard on grammar, fiction reading, and main idea (our current unit).

Things are going swimmingly.  I’m extremely happy with my classes this year.  I’ve had fairly minor behavioral issues, and I’ve experienced a few surprises.  My students have been incredibly cooperative and trusting, allowing me to lead them in all things reading.  They don’t always like that I’m strict, but I think they understand that I’m consistent, firm, yet fair.

One thing I’m doing a better job at this year is balancing my life.  I’m lesson planning one night a week from home and getting the rest of my work done at school.  These purposeful decisions have allowed me to spend more time on myself and my family.

Probably the thing I’m most proud of is my fitness quest.  After jokingly being called “thick” by a student last school year, I made it my mission to take care of my body.  You know I started working out this past spring.  I worked out with weights this summer but tapered off when school began.  The start of the school year is when most teachers drop into a black hole.  It’s brutal setting up new classes…new routines…new everything (because the state of Florida constantly changes things).

That’s when I started working out from home with Beachbody’s Piyo program.

The diet plan and workout schedule helped me so much.  They provided the structure I desperately needed, and when I finished two months after starting it, I was fourteen pounds and 7.25 inches leaner, stronger, more flexible, and in the best shape I’ve been in for a long time.

I had seen a friend (a former teacher who I used to sub for who is now a full-time Beachbody coach) and her posts, but I’d resisted.  I’m completely sold on these programs now.  They work, if you have the self discipline to follow through (which I do, as you know, because I am the poster child for being an overachiever).

I love the free shirt I received after I uploaded before/after photos on Beachbody’s website…

The back of this shirt says it all.  I sincerely feel as though I have redefined myself.  I’ve developed healthier eating habits…keeping up with my portions in MyFitnessPal, a free app, and exercising nearly every morning.  Working out at 5:15am (thus getting up at 4:15am so I can read my First5 devotions) is sometimes challenging, but I’ve seen the payoff, and it’s totally worth it.

I have re-instilled the confidence that had slowly eroded away over the past few years, and I’m finding it a joy to pick out clothes each day.  They fit so much better now, and I’m getting into pants that had gotten extremely tight last year.

I jumped right into a new workout after “graduating” from Piyo.  I’m currently four weeks into TurboFire, which is an intense cardio program.  I selected it with a goal of burning the subcutaneous fat from my abs.  It’s lingering, despite the ab muscles I developed through my previous program.

TurboFire is no joke, let me tell you.  When I do the 40-minute workout, I burn nearly 400 calories.  It’s crazy, but I’m loving it!  Chalene Johnson is extremely motivating (and no, I’m not getting paid to say this).

Oh hey, do you like that picture up above?  Well, let me tell you about THAT.

See, with me getting into fitness and doing my first 5k in October, I started wanting a fitness watch.  After doing a LOT of research, I found one I liked and told the Mr. that this is what I wanted for Christmas.  He asked if I wanted to wait to get it, and I decided that no, I did not.  I even had a Best Buy coupon that was going to expire, so he let me order it.

I decided to get the Garmin Vivoactiv.

This arrived on my doorstep right as we were leaving for dinner. I had separation anxiety and took it with me…hence the restaurant menu.

I went back and forth between this and the Apple Watch but ultimately decided on this because of a few of the features it offered that the Apple version did not.  It’s also a watch that I thought would fit on my small wrist much better than the Fitbit Surge, which I’d read was fairly large for people with uber-small wrists like mine.

Being the techie that I am, it didn’t take me long to set it up and download widgets.  Don’t you love the clock I set up in the picture above?  It’s animated; the dog wags its tail…totally worth the itsy bit of extra battery it takes to run it.

Speaking of battery, this thing only requires a charge every 10-14 days…no kidding!  I have it connected to the GPS, and it still lasts FOREVER!  I love this thing and wear it CONSTANTLY, except for when it’s charging.

Things I like about it…

It connects via Bluetooth to my phone, so I receive various notifications on it.  I can read text messages, get weather updates, and even view calendar notifications on it!  I cannot respond to or generate any communication from it, but I can answer phone calls though it!  No, I can’t talk through it, but I can press an answer button it, and my phone will pick up!  It also has the capability of setting alarms, which I love!  It vibrates when it goes off, which is much less irritating than my regular alarm sounds, which I eventually ignore.

I love the step counter and derive much pleasure when I reach my goal of 10,000 steps.  A party goes off on my wrist when I do with the watch vibrating and displaying fireworks.  I do the happy dance every single time this happens.

Please excuse the random photos below.  They were not taken the same day, but they are various screen shots from the Garmin Connect app on my phone and photos of the watch’s widgets, so you can get idea of the data you can view.

Fireworks on my wrist…

Caloric breakdown…

It also connects to the app, MyFitnessPal, so all of my calories are updated seamlessly.  It keeps track of a variety of exercises too!  I’ve been extremely pleased with it.

Knitting-wise, I’ve been busy.  Here are a few pictures of things I’ve completed (I’ll try to post soon with specific details)…

Hearwarming Stockings for the Mr. and me…

The Mr.’s stocking

My stocking

I’ve made a few baby hats…two for a former student’s twins, and two for a friend’s grandson…

The yarn is TopThis, and it is FABULOUS to work with and comes in a large variety of animal themes!  It’s relatively inexpensive, so it makes for lovely gifts, should you choose to order it.

I’m currently working on a very large project…my Oakwood Poncho.

Thanksgiving rolled around, and the Mr.’s parents treated us to a Western Caribbean cruise.

Packing was a bear, let me tell you.

I’d created a plan for myself that week…trying to balance work and packing…and it was a relief when I finished everything with a minimal amount of stress.

It was a wonderfully-relaxing week that I’ll share about in some future post.

Getting back from vacation was not so much fun.  I got sick that Tuesday and had to take two days off of work.  I’d thought I could persevere, and I even went to work that Wednesday and attended a meeting before school.  However, I started crying toward the end of the meeting because I couldn’t figure out how I was going to make it through the day, and my friend/department head told me to ask one of our school’s secretaries if she could find a sub to cover my classes that day.

Cindy, sub extraordinaire, filled in with the subs that were already scheduled to work at our school, and after quickly creating lesson plans, I left school.  My poor first period class…they saw me crying, and my heart nearly burst when a couple of the girls teared up themselves.  I think it was hard for them to see me incapable of being the stoic teacher that I usually am.

I put in for a sub that night because I knew I was still too sick to go in the next day, and when nobody picked up, my fellow reading teachers filled in the gap and absorbed my students into their classrooms.  Reading teachers are the BEST!

I’ve been fighting the crud for over two weeks and think I’ve FINALLY turned the corner.  It’s taken LOTS of prayer and the preparation of homeopathic remedies.  I’d been unable to work out for two weeks and just got back into my routine this week.  This is the sickest I’ve been in about four years.  Not good stuff, let me tell you.

CVS remedy…

I googled for my own remedy (and have discovered that I do NOT like honey and am only consuming it because it’s supposed to be good for sore throats, which I STILL have…)…

My first workout after a two-week hiatus…

Despite being so sick, I managed to get most of January’s lesson plans written.  I especially wanted to get the first couple of weeks finished so I could go into Christmas Break without work on my mind.

 

Speaking of Christmas Break, I am now officially on my two-week vacation.

This was me, this morning, after my challenging/invigorating 40-minute workout.  Because I’m still recovering from the crud, I had to transform high-impact moves into low-impact ones (i.e. no jumping and less jogging/running in place).  I still burned a TON of calories and was ready to head into my school’s early release day…

Leaving school…well, I don’t think there are enough memes to show what I was really feeling.  My watch and this selfie tell the picture best though…

After I ran a few errands and grabbed lunch to go, I settled in for a two-hour nap…more recovery time so I can continue my quest for full healing from this horrid crud I’ve had…

That’s about it from my corner of the world.

I always say I’ll blog more, but I know I can’t promise.  My priorities are shifting; turning on my computer on my “off” days is less important.  Spending time unplugged (except for my phone) ranks near the top of my list these days.

However…I miss my writing and long to return to it more consistently.

We.  Shall.  See.

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