• Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 148 other followers

  • “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers” — Isaac Asimov

  • Recent Posts

  • Pages

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 170,139 hits

Goal Setting

A little over a year ago…September 7, 2015, to be exact…I took a BIG leap of faith and began taking control of my health.

That was the first day of my first Beachbody program.

It was ugly, y’all.  Although I didn’t look out of shape to most people, I felt so yucky.  I knew that I wasn’t where I needed to be.  I was getting very little exercise, except for a few weeks the summer prior, and my eating, although not terrible, was a bit random.

I followed the program pretty much to the letter, began using portion control as a nutritional help, and worked out five or six days a week (I can’t remember if I got one or two days off during that program).

The weight came off very quickly, as did the inches.  By the end of eight weeks, I’d lost fourteen pounds, and my measurements around all of my body parts had decreased.

I was hooked.  I was stronger physically and more confident emotionally.  Shopping was fun when I saw myself fitting into clothes the way I knew my petite body was supposed to.

I did TurboFire next.

This program was all about the cardio…so different from Piyo, which had focused on core strength and flexibilty.  I spent six months doing TurboFire and continued to chisel my body.

Next, I jumped into Hammer and Chisel.  Oh boy.  What a tough routine.  This was all about building muscle, with a healthy dose of cardio mixed in.  When the kids were younger, I had a gym membership and spent hours getting buff.  I knew it would be painful.

The Mr. bought me a set of weights, along with a workout bench, and I went to town…in my home.

I saw the changes I’d been looking for.  My abs finally decided to make an appearance.

Of course, I had to jump into a new routine when I finished, so I started 22 Minute Hard Corps.

The first day was no joke.  There wasn’t a day that went by when I wasn’t sweating and sore.

I am so happy to say that I FINISHED this program on Saturday!!!  I had gained a couple of pounds between the end of Hammer and Chisel and the middle of 22 Minute Hard Corps, so I did a gut check, literally, and reined myself back in, losing one of those pounds before Saturday.

As you can see, I lost some muscle definition in my abs and back.  I understand why, though.  This program didn’t use weights too often.  It was more about functional fitness, as Tony likes to say in his videos.

It was about building stamina and agility and body strength in a different way.  I definitely gained all of that.  I can do gorilla crawls and mountain climbers like there’s no tomorrow.  I’m pretty good at pumping out some push ups too.

During the time I did this program, I ran two or three virtual races and was able to do longer run intervals.  I have yet to run an entire race, but I’m not training exclusively for running, so I get it.

I have my next program ready to go, but first, I’m dedicating a couple of weeks to running some virtual races I’ve fallen behind on.

I think it’s important to take time out, though, to travel down memory lane.  It helps me remember what my goals were…to lose the flab and, originally, run a 5k…and to see what I’ve accomplished.

Although I still can’t run the entire 5k, I’ve done one in real life and will be doing another in a month.  I’ve done quite a few virtual races since last fall.  I’ve also accomplished every single other goal I set for myself.  I reached my target weight a few short months after I started exercising and have maintained it, with the exception of a pound gained and lost here and there.

With all of that said, I don’t necessarily advocate Beachbody, per se.  I don’t sell it.  I don’t want you to think that this is just a big pitch for it.  It just happens to be what fit into my life and personality (I love the calendars that come with the programs).

What I do challenge whoever I talk to about fitness…and I talk about it a lot…is to first decide what you want.  Then, create a plan.  Carve out time for it.  I’m all about the early-morning workout.  I know that I won’t have the energy in the afternoons to do it.  I also know that I need to do school stuff…lesson planning and grading…when I get home.  I make exercise a priority, which is a big reason why this has worked for me this past year.

Then, you have to watch what you eat.  That’s tough.  I keep up with my food log via the MyFitnessPal app.  I keep up with the calories I burn with my fitness watch.

Staying in shape is sooooooo much harder than it was when I was in my 20’s.  In a way, that’s not a bad thing, though.  I am so appreciative of what I’ve accomplished.  I know that blood (yes, there’s been blood…when I’ve fallen when out running), sweat, and tears have been a necessary part of the journey.

For so many years, I was that person who talked about doing something but didn’t stick with it.  I’m not that person any longer.

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!

Pokemon No

Guess what time it is?!  Yeah, it’s time for the Hodgepodge!  You’ll see the theme of time in this week’s questions.  Answer on your own blog and link up with Joyce.

1.  Pokemon Go…your thoughts? Are you playing? Do you even know what it is?

I have mixed feelings about this app.  The lengths people are going through to collect the characters is ridiculous.  People are throwing caution and respectability to the wind because of a virtual game.  Really?

On the plus side, it is getting people moving.  I use the app Charity Miles, which partners up with different sponsors who donate money for how far people move their bodies (inside, outside, and biking).  This app had record-breaking numbers a few days ago because of Pokemon Go, and charities benefited.

For fun, have you seen this video…Chardonnay Go?  Oh my.  It’s totally more my speed!!

By the way, when I was on the hunt for this video, I googled “Chardonnay Run” by mistake and discovered that there is a Chardonnay Run in San Diego!  It’s a 5k, and you get to do wine tasting after!  Sign me up!!

2.  What was something you collected as a child? Do you still have that collection? If you’re a parent what’s something your own children collected? Have you ever camped out, stood in a crazy long queue, or paid a ridiculous sum for a ‘collectible’?

I cannot think of anything I collected when I was a child.  I don’t have many things left from my childhood other than a few books.

My children collected a few things.  Chicky collected key chains and American Girl dolls.  Rooster collected Hot Wheels cars and baseball cards.  Both children had large collections of books.  Reading was a big thing in this house.

Have I ever stood in a long queue to get a collectible?  Not that I recall.  I never really bought in (pun intended) to fads such as Bratz dolls (remember those) or Pokemon cards.  We didn’t have the money, and I wanted my kids to be their own people.

3.  “Collect moments, not things”…tell us about a moment you’ve added to your collection this summer.

My summer has been especially quiet now that Rooster is officially on his own.  My social media posts have included a lot of beach and pool photos with the hubby.  We are empty nesters now and are learning how to live life in the slow lane.  We treasure our weekends and downtime from work.

4.  What’s something collecting dust in your home right now? Any plans to do something about it?

Ha!  What’s not collecting dust?  I’m home on summer break, and while I should be catching up on cleaning and whatnot, I’m filling my hours with other activities.

What I really need to do is go through my closet and prune rarely-worn / too-large clothes now that I’ve lost weight and am back in shape.

I also need to get in my attic and decide what needs to go.  Empty nesting has that effect on you…you want to purge.

5.  A favorite song relating to time?

A song I always use in the end-of-the-year slideshows that I make for my classes is Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day.

I first used this song when Chicky was a senior, and I put together the slideshow for her school’s soccer teams’ banquet.  This was her senior class song, and it spoke to me on so many levels.  I still think of that special soccer season with her (the girl’s team went to the Final Four playoffs…unheard of for Podunk, USA).

It seems that my life lately has constantly been about crossroads…paths diverging…saying goodbye to what has been known and hello to what is new.

This song ALWAYS brings tears to my eyes.

Oh, and here’s something for you…

I typed this post late yesterday afternoon and finished right before I left for dinner.  The hubby and I met some friends at a place on the beach.

When we arrived, our friends were sitting at a table behind the guy playing a guitar and singing.

The song?

Good Riddance.

I looked over at the Mr. and said, “Hey, I just blogged about this song.”

It was meant to be.

6.  What’s been your most frightening or your most interesting encounter with wildlife?

A number of years ago, the kids and I were taking down plywood that I’d put up around my screened-in porch after a hurricane had passed by.

When I lifted one piece, I discovered a very large, red snake that had somehow slithered between my brick and the wood.  The snake and the brick were the same color, so I almost put my hands on it!

I screamed bloody murder.

There were kids playing in the yard of the house behind mine, and they stood on their trampoline and stared at me.

Fortunately, the Mr. had come home on a break, and he was inside the house.  He came out, grabbed a stick, and took the snake to the pond across from our house.

Lord have mercy!!

7.  On July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong set his foot down on the moon. If you could travel to the moon would you go? Why or why not?

If I knew it was completely safe, I might.

I recently finished reading the Lunar Chronicles series that I bought for my classroom.  A good portion of these books take place on the moon, so now I’m curious about what it’s really like up there.

8.  My Random Thought

Can we talk fitness?

Oh my.

I’m working through my second round of Beachbody’s Hammer and Chisel (I don’t sell it, so please don’t think I’m trying to push this on you).

I’m working extra hard and seeing some great results.

What I like about doing this program again is that I can actually process some of the funny and motivational things Sagi and Autumn say during the workouts.

First of all, who made the schedule?  Look at what I circled below…two Leg Hammer workouts consecutively.  Say what?  These are after the other videos in the boxes.

You use a medicine ball with the leg workout, and it is so dang hard!  I’m only smiling because I’m done.

The payoff on Monday was worth it…BIG calorie burn!

Then yesterday, I did Chisel Agility, which I really like (except for the jumping moves, which are freaking hard).

Autumn said something toward the end that I had to write down, “She doesn’t quit when she’s tired.  She quits when she’s done.”

I’m going to use this quote in my classroom.  My students often get tired.  That’s when they need to push through.  The payoff will confidence and, although sometimes unseen, progress.  I’m proof of that.

It’s a great motto for life.

Monday

Because I’m trying really hard not to fall off the blogging train, I’m going to post something quick before the clock strikes midnight.

Today was a good day.

I had plans.

For an introverted teacher who spends ten months surrounded by lots and lots of people and two months shut away from the world, this is huge.

I got up early…for a summer day…and did my workout.

I started my second round of Hammer and Chisel last week.  I really need to blog about round 1.  I’ll get to that as soon as the Mr. takes my measurements.

Anyhoo, this morning, I added in an ab workout that’s not part of this program but one that I saw that Beachbody had tweeted out about.

Y’all…the first move.  Oh my golly.  It was brutal.  The bug move was fun, and the last move…totally had me smiling, in an ab torture kind of way.

Then, I jumped in the shower and got ready to head out.

I was on my way to meet a new-to-my-school reading teacher.  Along the way, I stopped at Fresh Market to hunt for brown rice syrup, an ingredient I need for a recipe I want to try.  I didn’t find it, so I moseyed on over to Ulta and catered to my inner diva with the purchase of a few bottles of nail polish.

Ahem.

Then, I met my now-new friend, J, at one of my favorite places to eat.

I asked for a certain seat, and here was my view…

Go ahead and be jealous.

J is just adorable, and I quickly took a liking to her.  We are going to have a lot of fun this year, and I know I’m going to learn a lot from her.

After we finished, I met her at our school and walked her around.  She got to see her new classroom, which she ogled over, and I gave her the low-down on teacher attire (no uniform for us!) and other things.  Then, we parted ways with her hugging me before she left!  Total sweetheart.  I can say this because I’m almost twice her age.  😛

I ran a few other errands, met up with Rooster’s girl, who came to the house to get some paperwork and then run more errands with me, and finished out my day with a bit of Food Network Star on the DVR and my current book, The Testing.

I am loving my lazy summer days.  They make up for the harried pace I run the rest of the year.

Summer Fun

Oy vey, but my blog stats really stink!  I am enjoying summer a little too much, if that’s possible.  I have so much to write about too.

One of these days I’ll get caught up.

For now, let’s begin with a brief post about some fun I’ve been having.

First of all, my brain is working again.  That’s probably because I’m actually sleeping more than eight hours each night.  My alarm clock is feeling neglected.

I’ve maintained my workout routine, albeit I’m not exercising at the butt crack of dawn.  I am completely in love with Beachbody.  For someone who was a skeptic for a couple of years and actually avoided conversations about it, I am hooked.  The structure has been good for me because I am a person who craves organization.  As a teacher, I’m burned out on keeping others organized, so the workout schedules that come with the programs remove the planning and thinking.  All I have to do is show up in front of my TV with a good attitude.

Something fun I’m doing right now is working out, virtually, with my friend, Rebecca.  She’s a way better blogger than I am…blogs real regularly and everything.  I really need to follow her example.

She and I decided to do Hammer and Chisel together.  I was ahead of her by a couple of days because she changed her rest day, but then I got behind her a few days when I went out of town for almost a week.  We post near-daily pictures on Instagram and even have a clever hashtag #chiseledknitters (because we are aiming to get chiseled, and we are both knitters).  Go ahead and marvel at our smartness.

We’ve decided to do a second round of Hammer and Chisel when we finish this one and then move into a new program together.  Today, I started Week 7.  There are eight weeks total.  I love, love, love this program because I’m lifting weights again.  The payoff has been amazing!!!

I bought a heart rate monitor to go with my Garmin Vivoactive fitness watch.  The strap goes around my chest and helps me monitor the number of calories I’m burning during non-running exercises (something I couldn’t do before).

Ignore the yard in the next collage. That’s a story for another day.

Another fun thing I got to do was eat lunch with my sweet friend, Jane.

I met her six years ago when I started teaching.  We were first-year teachers together at a small private school.  I’ve talked about her before.  She’s my friend and mama-figure all in one.  Our lunches stretch for hours…usually into dinner time…because we always have a lot to catch up on.  She retired at the end of the school year and moved to another part of the state for the summer.  I already miss her terribly.  Despite the age difference (only a year or two), we have so many things in common.

Of course, summer just wouldn’t be summer without cooking.  Now that I have time to look at recipes and grocery shop, I’m having fun trying new things.

Rooster’s girl’s father gave me three cookbooks.  This one has quickly become my favorite…

I’ve only had one recipe not turn out that great (taste-wise, it wasn’t my preference…not that it was bad or anything).  The recipes are extremely easy to make and only require a short list of ingredients.

This afternoon, I made the Creamy Mushroom Tomato Soup.  Oh my goodness…it was so easy!  It’s got a fresh flavor (I roasted the tomatoes myself), and each serving doesn’t have a lot of calories.

I’ve also been prowling for dessert recipes.  The Mr. likes having something sweet to munch on.  I hope he likes this Cracker Candy I quickly whipped up today after watching a video that’s been making the rounds on Facebook.

It is seriously the easiest recipe ever!  You wind up freezing it and then breaking it into pieces.  The center has something akin to caramel (it’s melted butter and brown sugar).  I veganized the recipe, of course.  I envision breaking up candy canes and sprinkling them over the top during the holidays.  Yum!

On Sunday, I made this No-Bake Peanut Butter Cup Pie, from Detoxinista.  Surprisingly, it’s not overly sweet, but it is addictive once you have a slice…or two…or three.

So, that’s just a small glimpse into what I’ve been up to.  It certainly isn’t everything, but maybe, if I feel up to it, I’ll post more sooner rather than later.

I do want to share about the big trip to Texas that I made three weeks ago.  That will actually have to be a series of posts because the awesomeness of it is just too much for one reading.

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.

Doing Christmas Stress-Free

Look…a second post in one week!

Go Me!

So, it’s Tuesday night.  I’ve officially been on Christmas vacation since 12:30 on Friday.

I’ve got to say that I think this is going to be one of my more relaxed Christmases in a while.  I think that the primary reason is because I’ve become very purposeful about balancing work and home.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating because I tend to be a slow learner and, I suspect, one or two of you might be as well.  Overachievers tend to gravitate toward one another, don’t you know.

Friday evening, before the Mr. and I went to dinner, I did a little DIY project and replaced Rooster’s bedroom door handles.

The door had quit latching, and the dogs were pushing their way in uninvited and lounging in his room when he wasn’t there.  Fortunately, a couple of summers ago, I’d ordered a slew of new door handles but had not installed all of them.  This was a rather fast and easy job.

The Mr. and I spent a few hours on Saturday shopping.  Although it was very cold and our mall is outside, we were able to flit in and out of stores fairly quickly.  We lucked out on a few great sales…one-day only affairs…and picked up nearly the remainder of the items on our list.

We also visited World Market, which had moved from town to the beach a year or so ago.  I love this store but haven’t gotten to shop there ever since it relocated.  I came back with a couple of different vegan/non-dairy teas and a vegan hot chocolate mix.  The hot chocolate…delicious!!!!  Look how frothy it got in the hot chocolate maker that the in-laws gave me for Christmas two or three years ago.  The mug?  It was a souvenir I picked up during our 2011 Alaskan cruise.

I got down to work wrapping, fortified with hot chocolate and football bowl games.

I only got nine presents done before we headed out to dinner, and I was too tired to continue after we got back.

After church and lunch the next day, I sat down and wrapped…for four or five hours…while finishing up recorded episodes of Arrow.  For the record, can the show’s writers please let the good guys be happy for longer than thirty seconds?  Oh, my heart.

I finished wrapping all but three or four gifts…items we were either trying to purchase accompanying items for or items we had to fully purchase.  Still, I was pleased.  The last few years, my Christmas spirit has been lacking, as has my energy, and the Mr. has had to do our wrapping for us.

Not so, this year!  Despite fighting the crud, STILL, I’ve been pacing myself, doing what I can when I can, resting when I need to, and resuming tasks when I feel up to it.  I even managed to add pretty ribbons this this year’s packages…sparkly additions that the Mr. doesn’t include.

I finished the last few presents tonight, and everything is loaded into bags and ready to be placed in the car in the morning when we depart for Bigger City, Florida, where the rest of our family resides.  We are leaving our pups in the care of a young man who puppy-sits/house-sits when we travel.

Another way I’ve kept the last few days stress-free is by reading.

I’m feeling like a bit of a cheat because I’ve got about four books going right now.  I have NEVER done this before; however, every time I order a new book, I have a burning desire to dive in.

Two books I’m focusing heavily on right now are Library of Souls, by Ransom Riggs (the third in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series) and Wrestling with Wonder, by Marlo Schalesky.

Library of Souls is as strange as its predecessors.  At first, I didn’t think I was going to like it, but I’ve slowly been drawn in, as I was with the other two books in this series.  I was moved when I read one thing in particular last night…

Jacob is a young boy who, in the first book, accidentally discovers a “loop” that takes him to a world unseen where the same day gets repeated over and over.  The children in this loop have special powers, and they are trying to stay hidden from such things as wights and hollowgasts.  Jacob learns that his grandfather was a part of this world.  Jacob becomes immersed in it and the battle to keep the kids, who he’s befriended, safe.

In the third book, he’s trying to rescue the kids and their caretakers, ancient women, from the people who have kidnapped them.  The process challenges his confidence in his own special abilities, which he’s discovered as the reader follows the story.

I love the excerpt above which maintains that we humans have many talents but miss out on them because we only nurture one or two.

How true is this?!  I know this is probably due to time constraints and the busy lives we lead, but I wonder how much of this isn’t also related to the lack of confidence we possess.  How many times have we thought that we couldn’t do something when, in reality, we haven’t either tried or have given up after trying once or twice?

I need to ponder on this more.

The other book that is really touching my heart right now is Wrestling with Wonder, which I discovered when I read a series of devotions about Mary in my Bible app.  I loved this devotion series so much that I had to buy the book.

It.  Is.  Amazing.

The author delves into the story of Jesus from Mary’s perspective.  As a mother, I can identify with this viewpoint.

Here’s what’s different though.  So many times the traditional stories from the Bible…the annunciation…Mary’s visit with Elizabeth…the birth of Jesus…are all told in such a way that everything is happy, clean, and all glowy.

These scenes are told in words Mary might have used.  Can you imagine being told you are pregnant…before you’ve had sex and gotten married to the man you’re engaged to?  Can you imagine traveling on a donkey or camel when you’re days away from giving birth…how uncomfortable that must have been?  I, personally, cannot imagine giving birth in a stinky barn without a person there who had some medical knowledge.

All of these events are considered blessings, though, and they are, but they happen in circumstances that are the farthest from ideal that you can get.

THIS is why I am loving this book so much.  Life often isn’t pretty.  There is so much sadness…so much heartbreak…so many challenging times.  Yet, God considers us blessed when we endure the events that hurt our hearts and test our faith.

My reading…setting goals (I want to finish both books before the break is over) and being purposeful about setting aside time to read each day…is keeping me centered and helping me indulge in activities that make me happy…that quiet my soul.

A third way I’m doing Christmas stress-free is by exercising.

I keep harping on this, but you need to hear the message.

Working out releases endorphin.  Endorphin gives you a natural high.  You get the satisfaction of having completed something that is good for you.

Although I hurt my rotator cuff when I started Piyo a few months ago, I’m pushing myself through that…through the crud that is still hanging on (hello runny nose that will not stop)…through the soreness from the crosses and jabs that I’m improving my form on.

Despite having to stop today’s video at least three times to catch my breath, I pushed through, as I do each time I work out.  This time I spend each day helps me burn calories and maintain a shape that keeps me mentally happy.

Today’s 40-minute workout…LOADS of calories evaporated…

The videos will be traveling with me, and I will be getting up at o’dark thirty to exercise before everyone else gets up.  I need this time to myself (or with Chicky, who mentioned that she wants to work out with me).

Living life purposely focused on things that are most important is becoming my mantra.  Not allowing myself to feel pressured to be all, do all, and go all places or participate in all things has lifted a huge burden from my shoulders and given me a sense of peace.  I think this is why I’m feeling a bit more Christmas spirit in my heart these days and why I’m especially able to enjoy my time away from work.

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.

%d bloggers like this: