Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Goals in Review

Yeah, sometimes 2011 goal accomplishing felt this futile, I won't lie.

Back in January, I posted my goals for the year with a lengthy musing on goals in general. From January until May I did monthly reviews- all found under the "2011 goals" tag. Then June and July were packed with traveling and school prep and people visiting from out of town, so I didn't do the monthly reviews, although I kept up with the goals. Unfortunately, I broke my foot right around the time I started school. The crutches, naturally, killed any working out, and the school going and student teaching began to eat almost every ounce of free time I had. I was impressed with my progress from January to July, but so many things fell apart in August to December. I feel I should almost break the year into two parts- Before Broken Foot/Grad School/Student Teaching and After. Let's just say "Before" and "After" for brevity's sake, shall we? Without further ado, the review...
At one point, as evidenced by this crappy phone pic, things were going pretty well in this department.
Food and Fitness
Do at least two cardio workouts a week + three additional workouts (any type including yoga):  
Before- I was rocking this goal. I was lifting weights again, doing yoga, bicycling up to 10 miles a day as a main form of transportation, and kicking ass at C25K 
After- Well, clearly I did a whole lot of nothing when I was on the crutches for 8 weeks between August and October. I got off the crutches October 9th, but just walking made my foot sore for a good month after that, so I officially started working out again November 9th. I made sporadic starts and stops, but was honestly terrified of hurting myself again so I shied away from working out. I've been doing much better in December, working out on average about twice a week for the month. So far the foot isn't hurting at all, and I've done spinning, yoga, and today I lifted heavy weights again with no pain. I have very high hopes for 2012 in this area.
Get down to one soda and one coffee per week or less:  
Before- I was probably averaging more like two each per week, which was still a huge positive change. After- Please. I was bored because I wasn't working out, exhausted from my new schedule, and turning to any kind of fun that could be had in the form of a beverage. Fail, miserable, miserable fail.
Give C25K another try (applies to cardio workout goal above):
See above- great Before, unable to do it even if I wanted to After and possibly not until February or March of next year.
I did more than just contribute to other people's projects, I promise.

Misc Goals and Projects
West Coast Swing lessons- aim for once a week, go at least twice a month; belly dancing lessons on Sundays:
These stopped over summer when we were doing all of our traveling (you pay for them on a monthly basis and it would have been a waste) with full intentions of picking up again once school started. Again, broken foot/crutches made this impossible, and by the time November 9th rolled around we were into holiday travel season and had planned to be out of town for 1/4 of November and half of December. 
Finish rainbow quilt, blue crocheted baby blanket, and Kate’s quilt- work on similar projects at least twice a month
I finished the blue baby blanket and Kate's quilt, but didn't touch the rainbow quilt. I also made a scarf and did some other crafting here and there, but all of that stopped once school started. It just wasn't a priority to me anymore, and I willfully stopped doing it.
Scan in journals/letters/cards; finish editing pictures & deleting unwanted pics; organizing files
I organized the journals/letters/cards in a major way. I threw away a good 75% of them when I went to Texas in April/May because many of them were just random birthday or Christmas cards with nothing more than a signature. I wanted to save and scan in cards with lengthy messages and personal notes in them, not just cute cards, you know? I did the same with letters, when I realize that many of the things I had saved were from when I was 18 years old, and the people and things that were important to me then just aren't anymore. In fact, when I cleaned out my hope chest I threw away all of my medals/trophies from high school, my scripts from One Act Play, etc. It felt good. I also threw away a lot of journals that were also more painful than anything, things I wouldn't want anyone else to read, things I barely wanted to read anymore. Again, I realized it wasn't worth the time to scan them in. I did well on scanning in the things I did care about from January-July, but I haven't touched this project since August. I kicked ass at the second part of this goal- my pictures are 80% sorted and edited (cropping, lighting, not Photoshop or anything crazy) and organized. I'm very happy with my progress on this entire goal, in both parts.
Update blog at least twice a week/creative writing once a week
Before- Yep.
After- Nope. 

Dinner theater performance at my placement high school

Career and Finances
Continue to volunteer with SSI and VE & complete Community Based Development Certificate:
Done and done! I actually finished the 4th and final class towards the certificate this semester, which meant at one point I was taking 4 classes 0_o  I'm excited to continue working with both of these organizations, I really believe in their work. Bobby and I were able to go to the fall gala for VE, and it was really moving and reminded me of why I work for free :)
Begin Teacher Certification program and internship in August:
Check! I currently have a 4.0 and things are going really well. As they should, considering how much work I've put into it.
Try to find a part time job that works around current internships:
I was offered one job at the beginning of September that I turned down- teaching English online- because while the pay was good for a part time job- $15 an hour- there was a lot of extra unpaid work. Basically, you didn't get paid unless you were teaching, so all prep work/grading/e-mails were unpaid. It worked out to less than $8 an hour, plus I would have had to get up at 5 a.m. four days a week (including Saturday) in order to do it. I then successfully applied to a local call center around the end of September. However, by that point I was knee deep into the reality of my student teaching/volunteering/full time grad school and my 50-60 hour weeks left not room for this. Bobby and I agreed that a part time job would be an unnecessary additional stress, and that I should focus on my internship. Thankfully I paid off all my debt two years ago except student loans, and those are deferred and interest free in school.

Personal Improvement
Read one book a week/52 books in a year:
Accomplished! Click the widget on my sidebar or go here to check out my books. I'm really glad I made reading a top priority this year.
Regular Spanish study- Rosetta Stone, books, Spanish Word of the Day- at least 3 times a week:
I should have taken this off of my list after the first two months of failure. With everything else I had going on, I just couldn't bring myself to make this a priority. I threw myself into reading and researching everything I could get my hands on about education/teaching from June until now, so any spare education time was spent on supporting my current endeavors in grad school/student teaching.
No more than one hour of internet during weekdays:
Nope. From January to August I probably averaged about two hours- for everything, from FB to blogs to news to whatever- but once I started school I would spend hours researching and looking for lesson plan ideas. I would also turn to internet for entertainment/winding down when my foot was broken. I think this needs to get better in 2012.
Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone Nat'l Park

Travel To-Do
Montana and Yellowstone Nat’l Park: Check. We turned this into a 12 day long, 3,000 mile road trip that included Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, and Utah. I never blogged about it, but it was amazing.
Badlands: Check
Go to at least one hot springs location: Nope.
Travel to Denver and Boulder at least twice each for events or day trips: Check. We more than accomplished this and it was nice to do some local exploring.
See a concert at Red Rocks: Nope. We had tickets to see Death Cab for Cutie, and it was two weeks after I broke my foot. It's a hike to get out there, and my foot was newly broken and sore, so Bobby went with a co-worker.
Travel to Texas at end of HP contract for an extended amount of time: Check. We also threw in the Thanksgiving trip as a bonus.
Sweet old pic of the 3 of us- I'm rocking the hell out of that side pony and yellow dress.

Call all grandparents and parents at least once a month/ Send more mail (specifically to Great Granny monthly): Accomplished. We also started a tradition of sending postcards to the kids in our family/grandparents/parents from all the places we travel. It began in Peru/Ecuador, and just kept going. My cousin's son and Bobby's niece and nephews really look forward to getting mail. I'm actually about to write a postcard to my Great Granny right now.

All in all, even with the derail that was "After" I feel pretty good about this year. The only place where I really feel like I failed miserably was regarding the Spanish study. I think I should have divided my year, preemptively, into Before School Starts and After School Starts. This would have been more reasonable. As a result, that's exactly what I'm doing for 2012 goals. I have goals for January- May, that take into account that beating that is full time graduate school and student teaching. Bobby and I hung out at a coffee shop and talked about our respective goals day before yesterday. I have 3 main areas of focus, with very specific goals, to keep it simple and sweet during next semester but still get the important things done. They'll probably go up on New Year's Day.

I have to say, all the self-reflection about goal setting and accomplishing things is making me feel even worse about the fact that I have severely procrastinated on a few important things for the start of next semester. Maybe my productive procrastination, in the form of writing this insanely long post, did serve a purpose after all other than contribute to my eventual carpal tunnel syndrome? We'll see.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Great Sand Dunes National Park

On the drive back from our Thanksgiving trip to Texas, we decided to hit up Great Sand Dunes National Park. They're the tallest sand dunes in North America, and they're at 8,000 feet elevation. As a bonus, it had snowed the night before. It was gorgeous, and totally surreal to see huge sand dunes ringed by snow capped mountains. We didn't have as much time there as we would have wanted, but since we have to go back to the general area for Royal Gorge sometime, we decided that we'd also re-visit the park. The dunes, for your viewing pleasure...

If you're ever in the area, please check it out. It's definitely worth driving a bit out of your way (two hours round trip for us added on) to experience it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

And So This (Was) Christmas

Last week of school before Christmas break- I actually had time to go out! A pre-Christmas miracle. Also, we look photo-shopped and insane.

Festive downtown

Tree, inside, before (we suspect) it tried to kill me.

Bobby came home from Texas bearing stocking gifts

We checked out the lights display at the park on the way home from the hive-free haven of our friends' house.

Blueberry Lemon Baked French Toast on Christmas morning- I managed to take the most unappetizing picture of it ever. Recipe here if you're interested.

White Christmas!

The hot tub in our new place wasn't up to par, so we drove over to our old apartment and used their facilities.


Christmas hot tub needs to be a permanent tradition.

I came home and cooked for about two hours. Poppy seed crusted butternut squash and pomegranates in kale salad with homemade dressing; roasted brussels sprouts; pan seared wild caught salmon; roasted fennel with red onions, oranges, and mint; Stove Top Stuffing out of a box (just to mix things up)

After dinner Bobby made a fire, so we could sort of enjoy the tree by the fire. I took a shower and curled up in my robe in front of it with all the lights off and candles lit while Bobby cleaned up after dinner. Then we stayed up talking for a few hours.

Christmas 2011 was great, hives and all.

Christmas Plagues, Hurray!

I've been eagerly awaiting Christmas break for a good while now. I have an entire month off of my graduate program, and I have 17 days off of student teaching. Here's how I planned it out- I would leave school on Friday, December 16th, attend two Christmas parties, and then do some things for my teaching certification (I have to submit scads of paperwork and evidence, it's obnoxious). I figured I'd be disgustingly lazy on Saturday, sleeping in, screwing around on the internet, eating crappy food, reading books, squandering time like a champ. Sunday I would clean the house from top to bottom, do all my laundry, finish up my evidence submitting for school to the CDE, and then Mon/Tues/Wed I would do the semester planning, syllabus writing, lesson planning (a huge project). This would, theoretically, leave me with 10 straight days during which I had no worries, cares, responsibilities, or deadlines/projects looming over my head.

So, everything went according to plan until Sunday night. I went to bed, happy and tired from a productive day, ready to wake up early and hit the library. Instead, I woke up at 4 a.m. itchy and fuzzy headed. There was a huge welt on my elbow, and on my knee. I thought I had been bitten by something. Bobby told me it looked liked hives (which I've never had). I went back to sleep, only to be awoken at 6 a.m. to lumpy, swollen hives all over both of my arms, my side, and my leg. Here's an idea, just picture this, you know, all over-

I took this picture and sent it to my mom so she could tell me if I was going to die. I'm only kind of kidding.
 We decided to head to Urgent Care, which opened at 7 a.m. By the time we got there, most of them had faded. I chalked it up to the cleaner I had used the day before during Winter Clean-a-thon 2011, the doctor gave me some steroid cream, and I went along my way. Later that night, they came back with a vengeance, this time all over my upper body, with huge dinner plate sized welts covering my stomach. I chugged Benadryl and conked out, sleeping from 6 to midnight and then from midnight until ten a.m. Vacation was off to a GREAT start, lemmetellya. Tuesday I spent the day at the library in order to stay out of the house. I came home, and promptly broke out in the worst hives yet covering my entire body and making me feel like my skin was going to burst it was so swollen, prompting Bobby to say "I didn't know it was possible for hives to look like that". It was gross. At this point we decided that I needed to leave the house and go to a friends' place. In the time it took us to drive 10 minutes, half the hives were gone, and by the time I had been at their house for half an hour, I was hive free. Clearly, our apartment was trying to kill me.

Bobby spent about 7 hours re-cleaning the house from top to bottom to get rid of the cleaner, as well as buying new pillows/comforter/towels just in case it was some funky dust allergy. I came home to find our tree on the back porch, visible only through the safety of the sliding glass door.

Banished, for crimes against my skin and immune system
I was hive free, but I had wasted 4 nights and 3 days high on Benadryl, getting little to nothing done because my brain was on a puffy cloud of medicine, sleeping up to 15 hours out of 24, and being woken up two or three times a night by the return of the hives when the medicine wore off. To say it sucked would be a bit of an understatement. I was after the first day, once the "this is ridiculous but what can you do other than laugh?" roll with it optimism wore off. Since Wednesday afternoon of last week I've been hive free, but, just to make up for it, I've had one day of a crushing sinus headache that lasted all day, and today I've been in bed after puking my guts up randomly this morning and then having chills and nausea all day. I am falling apart here, people! I read some David Sedaris to make me feel better about not having to work as a Christmas elf, and yeah, it helped a tiny little bit, but not much.

Good news is that the holiday weekend, including all day Friday, was great. Christmas Eve was spent with a good friend and Christmas Day proper was absolutely wonderful. So, I'm still grateful, if a bit bitter. It's like an 80/20 mix. I fully realize that having hives from a cleaning product and/or a totally unnecessary Christmas decoration in the form of a dead tree are pretty much standard first world problems, but hey, they're mine, and they tried to Grinch-snatch my Christmas vacation, so there it is.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Let's Talk About Thanksgiving, Since It's Almost Christmas

Bobby and I spent Thanksgiving in Dallas with our families and friends. Every time I go back to Dallas I'm reminded of just how much history I have there. My father has lived there since my parents divorced when I was 8, so I spent lots of summers and weekends and holidays there. Then I went to undergrad and graduate school at UTD, picking up the big group of friends I've had for a decade now. Entire neighborhoods hold an emotional history several layers deep, I have more stories than I can even remember that revolve around UTD's campus, and the bars/clubs/concert venues around Deep Ellum all have their own cache of good/bad/ridiculous memories. I don't know if I'll ever live in Dallas again- something about it feels "done" to me, as though I've had my time there and it's finished- but I do enjoy visiting. The night before Thanksgiving almost all of "The Group" got together at Vickery Park. Everyone was sober, so there is really no excuse for these pictures other than the fact that we tend to act like idiots when we get together. In a good way.

 We tried to go to this place called Urban Crust in downtown Plano, but they kind of laughed when we said we needed a table for about 20, which was apparently a two hour wait. Luckily enough, Vickery Park was across the street and has a) nicer staff b) a huge room in the back that does not have to be rented out and c) delicious food. Sometimes the manufactured snootiness of Plano makes me chuckle. Dear Urban Crust- You're not that special, or that fancy, or that cool. Love, All of Us

 They truly didn't try to match.

 This is about right...
 as is this. Again, we're all sober.

 I told Brooke on FB that her shirt tastes like My Little Pony Lumberjacks
 Love connection
 Staged. We're available for hire at your next get together.

 Security. This is what it looks like.

 We're good customers. Someone broke a glass, so Kate cleaned it up. We're thoughtful.
 Except for when we stand on the booths

We don't really think planking is cool. We are mocking it.

Triple stack mockery
 Jennifer is *not* impressed.
Apparently owling was in for a while, too. Mocked.

If there is one thing I never tire of making fun of, it is the hipster obsession with mustaches and "cute" (no, ladies, it's really not) scrunchy faces in pictures.

Thanksgiving Day proper kind of sucked due to some family drama, so I'll just leave it with the Pre-Thanksgiving Friendsgiving. Oh, and here's a picture of Bobby, Chris, and Brooke the next morning, running their own lil' Turkey Trot around the neighborhood:

 So committed!
 Right after this picture was taken, Kate and I hopped in the car for our own run- to Starbucks.