Sunday, January 29, 2012

My (Active) Valentine's Day Plans

I asked Matt, tonight, what he wanted to do for Valentine's Day. It's always a little sentimental to ask him, around this time of January, about Valentine's Day because it calls to mind how we got married. Namely, after we decided we wanted to get married and when, we both put it out of mind until about this time in January when I asked him, casually, "did you still want to get married on Valentine's Day?" We had a little conversation about it and went down to get our marriage license, simple as that. Anyway, I asked him about what he wanted to do for our 12th anniversary and rather than deciding to go out to dinner, or exchange gifts, or buy flowers, he had a rather neat and quite original idea.

Here it is, he said, "let's take something up together." Let me tell you, my mind went completely off the mark with this one. As soon as he said it, all I could think was: couples yoga, ballroom dancing, cooking classes? Of course he didn't mean anything like that, he's inflexible, uncoordinated, and is not allowed to go anywhere near the kitchen. When I asked him for clarification, he said that since we were trying to get healthy together this year, that for our anniversary, in light and celebration of our marriage, we should take up some activity we can share and learn together. His first suggestion was basketball, but we decided on tennis... a game neither of us are competent to play, though he used to be, so he'll have me beat from the start. It's okay, it's about getting active, not about winning. I just hope it's not a problem since Matt usually hates games he's not good at.

So, sometime soon (maybe Monday after I get off work), we're going to go pick out tennis racquets, a can of tennis balls, and we'll also get a basketball. For me, this idea was remarkably romantic. He knows that losing weight is really important to me and that I've really had a lot of good luck with it so far--I've lost 23 lbs since December. And, I'm not the only one committed to it, he's doing fantastic as well. So rather than going out and breaking our new healthy lifestyle with fattening, fried, and creamy saucy foods we're going to have a nice meal, see my last post about the Chicken with Apples & Cider, and spend some time soaking up the sun and getting exercise. I'm also thinking we might have a nice picnic in the park, but I'm not sure about that yet. We'll see.

Brilliant, my husband, and so considerate of my efforts to look better, feel better, and improve my health. It means so much every day, but when he's so amazing for our anniversary it somehow means more. So, this is what we'll be doing this year, what about you? Are you planning to spend an evening in, go out somewhere, double date? I'd love to hear about your plans.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chicken with Apples & Cider

Its been a really long time since I've posed a recipe. Probably because it's been a long time since I've made anything I felt was absolutely remarkable. Tonight's dinner was just that, remarkable, so I'm going to share the recipe with you. If you enjoy cooking, and like apples, I really recommend this recipe. It's the perfect blend of sweet and savory.

Chicken with Apples & Cider
(From Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook)

  • 2 TBSP Vegetable Oil

  • 1 Granny Smith Apple, cored and sliced

  • 1 TBSP Packed dark brown sugar

  • 4 (4 OZ.) Skinless boneless chicken breasts

  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp Salt

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced & separated into rings

  • 1/2 c. Apple cider

  • 1/4 c. Cider vinegar

  • 2 c. Hot cooked wide egg noodles

In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat 1 TBSP oil. Saute the apples until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with brown sugar; cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 3-5 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate.

On a sheet of wax paper, pound chicken breasts flat and sprinkle with cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Heat remaining 1 TBSP of oil in the skillet over medium heat, saute chicken until browned, 4-5 minutes on each side. Transfer to another plate. Start egg noodles.

In the skillet, cook the onions, covered, until tender, 6-8 minutes; stir in the cider and vinegar. Reduce the heat and simmer 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet; simmer, spooning sauce over chicken until chicken is cooked through and liquid is reduced by half, 4-5 minutes.

Return the apples to the skillet; cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Arrange the heated noodles on plate, top with chicken mixture, spoon remaining liquid/sauce over chicken and noodles. Serve with green vegetables.

{Serves 4; 1 Chicken breast, 1/2 cup noodles, sauce; 352 Calories, 11g Fat, 1g Sat. Fat, 0g Trans Fat, 89mg Chol, 273mg Sodium, 36g Carbs, 2g Fiber, 27g Protein, 35mg Calcium; PointsPlus: 9}

This recipe was absolutely fantastic. I loved it and so did Matt. He liked it so much, in fact, that I'm going to make it again on Valentine's Day, with poached pairs, broccoli, and sugar-free pudding parfaits. Should be a nice meal. If you make it, please let me know if you enjoyed it--I'm sure you will!

Finally, I apologize for some of the slightly blurry pics. I took them with my iPhone 3GS and adjusted them with (an app I absolutely love). Some of them are okay, some slightly less so. There's just not enough light in my kitchen without natural light. Someday, I'm gonna get the iPhone 4 and my pics will improve (I hope).


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Teaching Without a Net

I have a meeting this morning, at 10:30 a.m., the first internship meeting of the new semester. I'm a little bit excited, a little bit nervous, but mostly I'm curious how this semester's going to go. You see, last semester we had a different internship coordinator. The university I attend has one professor do the first year, another do the first semester of the second year, and a third who takes care of the second semester of the second year. So, as of this semester, in my two years as GA, I've had three bosses, in addition to the department head. It takes a little bit of getting use to, but the switch is so swift and well handled, it's doesn't create a problem. The impending meeting, and Jodi's post about her new student teacher, has gotten me thinking about my experience this semester, and over the last two years, most particularly because this semester I'm completely on my own.

Let me explain. For the last year of our graduate assistantship, my fellow GA and I observed basic writing, taught basic writing labs, and then taught basic writing with an instructor (our boss) to oversee each and every class. It was never wracking, but having that moral support 10 feet away was also really reassuring. The following semester, Fall 2011, we observed a morning English 111 and then taught our own classes around mid-day, but there was no constant observation. We were on our own, except that we had an internship coordinator who we observed, who wrote all of the assignments, and who made all of the class presentation materials, like power point slides and peer review sheets. It was pretty much rinse and repeat, but it was a really good experience because we got to learn how the classroom worked, the speed at which things progressed, and the overall college freshman English experience. Our coordinator came into our classes a few times throughout the semester, to observe, and offer us guidance as to what we could be doing better, but overall, our classes were ours.

This semester, which is the fourth and final semester of the graduate assistantship, we teach English 112 (College Composition and Research), a class we've never so much as observed, save for our time as undergraduates, and we're doing it on our own. We don't have an observation period, we get to decide how our classes will be conducted, what assignments our students will do, what they'll read, when they'll read it, and design all of our own class materials. It's a huge responsibility, one we've undertaken with excitement and a little bit of nerves, and with the guidance of example assignments and syllabus of other professors and instructors who teach this course. So, we're not in the dark, but we are on our own. So far, this semester has been really awesome (except for my hip-mishap and missing a day, already).

Despite my excitement at doing everything on my own, and being in charge of my classroom completely, I'm a little bit sad that this semester ends my term as GA. Now, I have to go out and look for a teaching job, not an easy feat, and I'll probably have to accept adjunct jobs for the first few years, but I've decided that I'm okay with that. Though I've bounced back and forth about whether or not I want to teach, I've decided that it is what I want to do. It's the rewarding moments, the understanding that I was able to give something to my students, that makes this nearly-thankless job worth every second of frustration. My most amazing thesis director, Dr. Y, told me once that if teaching was what I wanted to do that I should just find a way to do it and go for it. She's right, even though that's easier said than done, so that's what I'm going to do... assuming I can find work doing it.

Well, it's almost time for my meeting so I had better find an easy place to end this thing. Dr. F, my internship coordinator, will be observing a few times throughout the semester, something I'm very nervous about, but I have faith that I'm doing a good job and that everything will be well. All I can do is my best, right?! ~.^

Monday, January 23, 2012


I'm just going to start things by saying, right out, that no one paid me to make this endorsement. Fitbit didn't contact me and I never received anything for free, I just really like the product and wanted to share this neat little gadget with you. Okay, that said, I am unabashedly in love with this little machine. Matt and I ordered them a week or so ago because we're serious about getting healthy and we felt it was an investment in our health. The Fitbit is $99 per unit, so it wasn't a tiny investment, but not huge either. Weight Watchers, which I recently joined, says that if you spend money on your quest to health that you're more likely to stick with it. I think it's true, though I'm nowhere near ready to make the monetary commitment involved in buying something as big as a treadmill--though I'd love to have one, for sure.

So, meet the Fitbit Ultra!! Mine is plum and Matt's is blue, so we can tell the difference right off. Getting the same color would have been crazy and besides, I really like the pink! The Fitbit is a little gadget that you wear all day that tells you how many steps you've taken, floors you've climbed, calories you've burned--both from activity and your body's natural metabolic calorie burn--alerts you to how active you are with this neat little flower (left picture) that grows and shrinks depending upon your activity level, has a clock, and offers you motivational pep-talks when you're moving. Very cool.
If you wear it at night, with the very comfortable included sleep cuff, it tells you how long it took you to go to sleep, how much sleep you actually got, how long you were actually in bed, how many times you woke up throughout the night, and how efficient your sleep is. Check out this screen shot of my first night's sleep information...

Yeah, I woke up 26 times--also, don't judge me for going to bed at 9:00 p.m., I had to be up early!  Anyway, waking up 26 times is astonishing, but I blame Matt. The man came to bed around 2:30am and kept making racket, and talking, and sighing because he couldn't go to sleep, which kept me awake. Then, of course, all of those pink lines that say I woke up between 5:30 and 6:15 a.m. were all the times I hit snooze on the alarm clock. Ha!
Okay, So the next thing to mention, in addition to how awesome the tracking is, is that the set up is really easy. We downloaded the software, opened an account (well, Matt did, I already had one... they're free!), plugged it in and it was fully charged in about an hour. Very user friendly. If you've ever used a traditional pedometer then you know exactly why ease of use is important. Every pedometer I've ever had requires you to tell it how wide your steps are and they're never completely accurate. This little machine has an integrated "altimeter" that tells you not only how many steps you've taken but how high you've climbed. Absolutely no step-measuring involved.

The package includes, for your $99, the Fitbit, a stand to sync/charge on, the sleep cuff, and a belt/garment clip to clip the Fitbit to your clothes (pictured above with the Fitbit). It's tiny, so wearing it is discreet and comfortable. I've been wearing it all day--they recommend women wear it attached to the bra--and it's not at all showing, but it's still tracking my information! How cool is that?! For today, it says that I've taken 3058 steps, walked 1.30 miles, burned 1715 calories (more than I've consumed, for sure), and climbed 7 floors--you can see my activity flower in the picture above.

Another awesome feature of this little machine is that it seems to have about 2.5 days worth of charge, if you wear it non-stop all day and all night. That's not a guarantee, that's just my observation, but I've not had it long yet so we'll see. It also syncs wireless-ly when you get within 15 feet of the charging station, assuming the charger/dock is plugged into a USB port on your computer and you have the software, which is part of the set-up process anyway. You can also sync it when you put it on the stand to charge. So it's always collecting information, which it will store for a long time, so if you can't sync it for several days that's not a problem. Then, it publishes your information, via graphs and charts, on your page on their website. Easy as that.

If you're looking for something like this, in order to better understand your current activity level and maybe step things up, then this little gadget is definitely a good investment. Try it out, you won't regret it, I promise.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bosque River Trail

I've said, a few times now, that Matt and I are getting some walking into our schedules. We're having a lovely time with it, too, so yesterday we decided to check out the Bosque River Trail, a walking trail that was recently constructed and that we hadn't tried yet. I looked it up on the net, found out a little bit about it, and we set off. We parked at the River Walk Laundry, which it turns out isn't the head of the trail. It also turns out that when you start that way you walk through a little run down neighborhood. So, we won't be going that way again.

The net said the path is 1.5 miles long, which seems like a nice distance since we're just starting out. Of course, what it neglected to mention is that that's only one way. The path isn't round, it's a trail so we had to walk one way, then back the other. By the time we were done, we'd walked almost 3 miles, which is about three times more than our usual walks. We're trying to ease into it and by the time that 3 miles was over, I felt like I was going to die! All in all, I felt like it could have been more clear about the distance.

Anyway, the walk started out really lovely, walking under this bridge. I love the way the two bridges intersect in the picture on the left! Once we were underway, the path was a lovely walk through an unpopulated area. Anywhere else and I might have felt unsafe, but Stephenville is so idyllic.

By the time we got to the place pictured on the left, we'd walked about 1.25 miles. We were tired, but not so much so that we couldn't enjoy it for a minute. There's a lovely little gazebo with some wildlife information, so we took a seat and rested for a sec. There's also a little sign, not behind where I was standing that says "end" to indicate that the trail comes to a stop there. So, we turned around and went back. We did stop a few times, to have a seat, and just enjoy the scenery. The afternoon was so, so beautiful!! The picture on the right shows the branches and the sky along the way.

I took many more pictures, but I didn't post them to, so I don't have them to share. Besides, I think the above pictures really capture the essence of the walk. If we do that path again, we'll start from the other end. We'll start at Graham Street (the picture on the bottom left) and walk the opposite direction of the way we did yesterday. Then, when we get to the residential, we'll turn and go back. It'll be a little bit more than a mile that way, I think, which is more than enough for us right now.

If you're ever in Stephenville, check it out. It's a nice little walk along a tiny little river. Best of all, it's well lit and it's safe!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Walking the Weekend Away

I said, in my last post, that I thought that Matt and I might start walking together for exercise, but that I didn't know. Turns out that we are, we started on Saturday (the day I actually authored that last post), and have decided that we'll walk every day. I'm thinking that we'll actually skip a day here and there, we'll need to rest, but we're going to go as often as possible. The problem with us, you see, is that if we skip that's it, we sort of forget we ever were walking. So, we need to get into a routine, which we've both agreed would be awesome, so we're going to give it an honest shot. I thought, though, that it might be fun to share some of the pictures I took during our weekend walks at the local city park.

Saturday was absolutely beautiful. We had food and, while we were out, decided to swing by the park for a walk. It was the perfectly perfect day, with the perfectly perfect weather, and we got in a nice one mile walk.

Matt got a little annoyed when, near the end of our walk, I stopped to take a few pictures. Still, I think they both came out really nice. Such a pretty day, definitely one to remember. Of course, by the time we got home my allergies were absolutely destroying me, but that's not enough to keep us inside. Central Texas can be so beautiful.

Then, there was Sunday. Sunday was windy and cold, but we got food and on the way to the park to walk, the birds were gathering. Matt says it's a bad sign, that the winter is ending here and that we won't have another freeze.

By the time we got out to the park the sun was starting to sink onto the western horizon. It was pretty, clouds starting to fill the sky, but it was quite chilly. That didn't stop us, we got our walk on anyway. We didn't quite get in one mile, only about 9/10 of a mile, but at least we managed to get some exercise.

Matt wouldn't have been in the first picture, except that when I stopped to snap the shot, he kept walking. It's also a little darker than I had intended, but the filter I chose when editing it was somewhat dark. By the time we were done, we were losing light really fast, but I still managed to catch that neat picture of the baseball fields anyway. Like Saturday, by the time we were home I couldn't much breathe. Especially because it was windy!

We're looking forward to many more lovely walks, especially since we've decided to splurge and buy ourselves Fitbit as a belated Christmas present. Oh, and there's another walking path in town, nearer us than the park, so we may take that one next time. We've not taken it yet because it's both new and a little creepy, but unlike the park path, the creepy one is lit which would allow us to walk at night. We'll see!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Smaller in 2012

I pulled a black, mid-calf length pencil skirt out of a pile of clothes last night and pulled it on. What's remarkable about this is that (a) I don't remember buying the skirt, (b) it still had it's original tags on it, and (c) it's two sizes smaller than all of the rest of my clothes. The third point is the most significant, the skirt is two sizes smaller than everything else I own. Now don't get me wrong, it could be that the skirt is rayon, nylon, spandex mix and is, therefore, forgiving, but it pulled right on and buttoned without an issue. It even looked pretty good on me, which I find surprising since my hips and thighs normally make wearing pencil skirts impossible.

So why am I sharing this tidbit of information? Well, it's simple. This little anecdote about the skirt is symptomatic of what's been going on with me lately. Namely, that I've lost about 20 pounds in the last few months. What's amazing about this is that I haven't been dieting, or exercising, all I've done is to cut sweets completely out of my diet. And I do mean completely. I don't eat anything that's not sugar-free anymore, which is actually quite liberating. When I initially noticed the weight loss, I confided to Matt that I was confused and that I didn't think I'd been eating that much junk food. The man just looked at me with sympathy and said, "Yes, honey, you have. You were eating a lot of sweets." At that moment I felt, I don't know, ashamed I think.

After noticing the weight loss, I've continued to swear off sugar, which I did initially because it hurts my teeth and not because I don't want it. It's a constant struggle, because I love sweets more than just about anything. I'd die for pie at any given moment, but I've been using this thing I didn't even know I had, this thing called willpower. Amazing, right, who knew?! What's funny is that I didn't actually notice the loss because I'd been weighing myself. My scale weighs about 10 lbs heavy (I'd love to have an accurate scale) so I avoid it like the plague because it makes me feel miserable. Anyway, while preparing to shower one morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought "hey, you look slimmer." I weighed after my shower and it turns out that I was actually slimmer! I'd lost 15 or so pounds by that point, which was fantastic and surprising. Recently, I've weighed again and am another 5 pounds down. Awesome!

Still, I've been concerned because it's never been easy for me to lose weight. Being in my early 30s, its been nearly impossible, in fact. I've dieted, worked out, and not noticed changes. Now, I'm dropping it and all I did was make one little dietary change. Seems very suspicious. Then I remembered that when my doctor prescribed me Fluoxetine she said that it might help me lose weight. So, maybe it's the combination of the Sprintec (birth control pills) and the Fluoxetine (for depression) that's regulating something in my system and making it possible for me to lose weight. I have no idea, but you had better believe that I'm going to talk to my doctor about it when I see her next week. It's especially significant because my doctor ran a whole lot of tests and found out that I don't have PCOS, my thyroid is perfectly normal, and so are the hormones in my pituitary gland. So, I'm healthy and capable of losing it, which is good news but also means that I'm to blame for not having lost it before. I was just doing something wrong.

I've also been sort of on the fence about it because a lot of my clothes still fit me fine. My jeans still fit, though they're a tiny bit loose, and so do most of my shirts. But, I feel better, the scale says I weight less, and my rings aren't completely fitting. Matt even said to me, the other day, that I look smaller. Awesome to hear that and so encouraging!! Anyway, at this point, to continue my weight loss, I'm going to start doing Weight Watchers this coming week. Wish me luck. I'm looking forward to it, actually, but I'm also nervous. Matt and I are also going to add walking to our daily routine (I hope) in hopes that a little bit of exercise will go a long way. He's always saying that he wants to walk, but every day comes and goes and we don't do it. One of these days, we just need to get out and go! For now, I think I am going to wear that skirt, maybe to work one day (big maybe!). I'm usually really self-conscious about wearing skirts, but I feel so good about the fact that that skirt fits me, I may just ignore my self-debasing concerns and rock it!

I hope this keeps up, I'm feeling very much like I won't have to be heavy forever and it feels good!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chewbi Climbing

I made this video the other day and just had to share. Chewbi is currently confined to an exercise pen, in the house, when we can't supervise him 100% or when he needs time to just play and be away from the other animals. We noticed the other day that he had learned to climb the side of the pen, onto the top of his crate. It's absolutely insane... dogs don't climb!

Sorry for the terrible quality. I took this vid with my iPhone 3GS. I'm thinking I'll make a better one another time, with my Flip Mino Camera, but for now, this is what I've got. I went ahead and made a better video, which shows him climbing twice. He's such a sweet little guy. Soon, if we don't move the crate away from the side of the exercise pen, he'll be able to jump out. I edited the video with YouTube's awesome video editing tools, complete with this really adorable campy music. Enjoy!

Wal-Mart, Valentine's Day, & A Happy Marriage

Matt and I were in Wal-Mart the other day, picking up food for our furbabies, when I noticed that they're already stocking Valentine's Day treats. For us, Christmas is barely a memory--in fact, our Christmas tree is still up--and the big box stores are already stocking up for the next big money holiday. It's almost whiplash inducing the way they skate from one holiday right into another without so much as taking a moment to breathe. It's insane!

Still, I love Valentine's Day so I can't help feeling a little giddy at seeing all the treats on the shelves, even if it is still January. Since I've sworn off sugar, Valentine's Day is a little less fun for me, but the fact that we celebrate our anniversary on Valentine's Day compensates. The holiday will always have a special place in my heart for this very reason, that it's our anniversary, even though I've gotten a whole host of varied responses to that little bit of knowledge; everything from "That's so corny" to "Aww, how romantic." The most annoying responses are the vitriolic insults from people who feel perpetually disappointed by the holiday, who shout that it's a consumerist holiday and proudly proclaim that they hate Valentine's Day.  Okay, so ignore it and don't take away my happy anniversary because you're miserable. Good.

This year, when the happy day comes, exactly a month from today, in fact, Matt and I will celebrate 12 year of happy marriage. It's always easy to remember how long we've been married because it's in the year (we got married in 2000). In May, we've been together for 13 years. That absolutely blows my mind. I cannot believe we've been married and happy for so long. Ups and downs aside, we've got a fantastic marriage that I'm pretty sure no one expected to last--him an avid believer that marriage was a mistake, me recently divorced. When we got together, we said we'd never get married, it was just something we wouldn't do. We'd live in sin forever (heh!), forsaking all others because we wanted to and not because the law forced us. After just six months together, much in love, we knew that wasn't a possibility. So, we went to the court house, got married, and have been that way ever since.

It's funny actually, because though we both knew we wanted to get married, neither of us mentioned it to the other. We just let it ride, not wanting to screw up a good thing. Then, one day, we got into a discussion about marriage and the truth came out. We couldn't quite decide if we'd get married on leap day or Valentine's Day, but we knew it would be one of them. After much discussion, we settled on Valentine's Day and I don't know about him, but I'm happy with that decision. Every year I look forward to Valentine's Day with much enthusiasm, knowing it's our special day, and he likes to joke that it's the day the whole world celebrates our love.

So, the next time you're in Wal-Mart, lamenting the already marketed Valentine's Day holiday, think about us. I always do, it's what makes everything okay for me. Come hell or high water, Matt and I have one another, while the rest of the world has chocolate hearts and red roses. That's more than good enough for me!

Image via Mommy Brain Reports

Monday, January 9, 2012

(Nearly) Back to Work & School

I know I already wrote a post today, but...

I'm sitting here, listening to the rain, wondering where the winter break has gone. Next week, I'm back to school and back to work. That means both teaching two sections of English 112 and working on my much neglected thesis. I'm excited and terrified in equal parts at the prospect of teaching a course I've never taught before, but I like the idea that I can make my own syllabus, decide on what my students will be doing from day to day, and create assignments for the papers based upon my teaching preferences. It's going to be a good semester, I think, but it's also going to be busy and I can already see that balancing work, school, and my personal life is going to be a nightmare. Let's just hope I have the perseverance to push forward and not procrastinate, like I've been doing, on my thesis.

So, I spent the whole day on Saturday working on my class syllabus and on assignment sheets for assignments 1-3. There are only five assignments for the whole semester, so I think I made pretty good headway. I talked to Marsha, my fellow GTA, quite a lot this weekend via email and we discussed some of what's to come this semester. Then, I sent my syllabus to Dr. F, my supervising professor, but now I'm thinking I might make some changes. It will depend largely on what he says and on how I'm feeling about things over the next day or two. I was thinking I'd remove the oral presentation component for my students and do conferences instead, but now I'm thinking I'll do both. I don't know. Still thinking it through. Either way, that won't come until paper four, so it's not that big a deal except that the semester schedule has to be on my syllabus.

Then there's the fact that I'm also a student, which is remarkably easy to forget as I'm going along, teaching my classes, getting carried away with work. I have to finish my thesis to graduate, but I'm feeling really overwhelmed and really disappointed in myself for not getting as much done over the winter break as I had planned. The plan was to finish two chapters, the reality was that I've not even finished one. I'm working on it, but it's nowhere near done. I know Dr. Y, my thesis advisor, is going to be really disappointed with my lack of progress, but I can't change the past. I can only work hard on it in the future. The problem is, I'm stuck. I've got horrible writers block/anxiety about chapter three, which is causing nothing to get done. It's silly, but this chapter is a real sticking point for me. Once it's done, chapter four will follow the same scheme, so that won't be a problem.  Looks, at this point, like I won't be graduating until August, rather than in May... what a bummer.

Otherwise, in preparation for the coming semester, I have meetings on Friday but am off the whole week otherwise. My thoughts are that if my syllabus gets approved by then, and it should considering how quickly the semester is approaching, that I'll make photocopies of the syllabus for my class, of the student info sheet, and of the first assignment sheet. That way, I'm prepared. It's a lot of copies, but it has to get done at some point and Friday seems like a good time.  Until then, however, I have to spend the week doing laundry. Matt and I have a ton of clothes, they're largely dirty, and it's going to take me ten loads (at least) to get them all done. But, since I'm going back to work, I'm going to need clean clothes, so it's not a task I can shrug off.

Cold Weather & The Shih-Tzu Pup

It poured rain here all night last night, and all morning this morning. I couldn't ask for better weather, except that despite changing our thermostat out for one that works, the heater still isn't heating. Since it's not a priority for us right now, as we can't afford to have it fixed, we're just dealing with the chill. It's only been in the mid-to-low 40s at the lowest, and has recently been as warm as 70 degrees here. While I want to remind Texas that it's January, and should be cold, the part of me that's freezing my tatas off is glad it's not colder, and is grateful for the warmer days. Even Matt isn't complaining about the warmer days, which is unusual, and a few days ago he actually said he's thankful that it's not colder. Fact is, Matt and I can deal with the cold, I only worry about Anakin, Galileo, and especially Chewbi, who's tiny and must get cold quite easily. Thankfully, he has a nice little crate where he can hide from the weather... wish I did!

Speaking of Chewbi, check this out...

He's getting so big and turning more and more gold every day--which I just realized is really hard to see from this picture. Goodness, he's adorable... naughty, but adorable. Exactly what you expect from a shih-tzu puppy. I think the thing I love the most about shih-tzu puppies is how unlike shih-tzus they actually look. I mean, he will grow up to look nothing like that, but it's an adorable process to watch! Ani went through it and is now a full grown dog and I can't wait to see what Chewbi looks like when he's all grown up! Speaking of Ani, he's still not really sure about him, but he's warming to him a little each day. He doesn't try to eat him anymore, so that's a plus, and he only barks at him when Chewbi barks at him first (an unfortunate habit Chewbi picked up from Ani).

Well, I set out with this post to talk about this being the last full week before school starts back and how I'm preparing, but it didn't really go that way, did it? We go back on the 17th, the day after MLK day, but my first class won't be until the 18th, since my classes are only MWF classes. Anyway, something to talk about next time! For now, I'm off. I still need to get around and brave the weather to go to Wal-Mart and get dog food so Ani and Chewbi don't starve. Poor little guys, what an inconvienient time to run out of food.

See ya next time!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A New Look

So, with the new year here, I decided that my blog needed a new theme. You have to admit, I haven't changed it in a long time, which is definitely not usual for me. With that in mind, I set out to find a new blog theme with only a few prerequisites in mind. First, it had to be free. That makes me sound cheap, but there are so many wonderful free themes, why pay? Second, it had to be feminine. During my search I found this pretty theme and though it's colorful, it's also quite simple. I don't know if I'll stick with it, but for the time being, it works.

The things I really like about it include the colors, the really pretty fonts for headers, and the fact that it is so well put together. It's really usable with no modifications to the code, which is both rare and wonderful. The things I'm really not crazy about are the huge, blocky headers on the sidebar. I'm of the opinion that the pretty, curvy font would have made better headers for the sidebar, and while I'm fairly sure that could be done, I have no idea how to do it and I don't want to mess with the code. Okay, so I changed my mind. I really like this theme, but it needed a few changes, so I set about making them. Turns out the code is so clean, the changes were really, really easy. The woman who coded this theme, Caroline Moore, is awesome, that's all I have to say about that!

Alright, so now tell me what you think; do you like it?  Feedback is always a good thing, it helps me to decide whether or not I'll keep it. For this one, I think I will. It's the prettiest new theme I've seen, and is so user-friendly, but I'd still like to hear what you think.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcoming 2012!!

Thank goodness 2012 is here!! Last year was terrible, but I'm hoping this year will be wonderful. I have so much planned for this year, so much to do, and I won't lie, I'm actually terrified!  This is the year I graduate with my MA, the year college is done for me, the year I go into the real world, and the year I hope we are able to move to CA! A lot has to happen for that stuff to work out, like I have to actually get busy working on my thesis so I can get finished, and Matt and I may have to be separated for a while so one of us can go to CA and look for a job, but the year is looking good from here and I hope it's a wonderful one. Wish us luck on having a better year than the last!

So, last year my resolutions were to take time out for myself and not feel guilty about it, stop procrastinating, write, and get more organized. I didn't do many of those things, but I think I did manage to do some writing (I got two chapters of my thesis written), and I managed to take time out for myself once in a while, but not nearly enough. What I didn't do was stop procrastinating, for the most part, nor did I get organized. Sadly, my biggest priority was the organization, which I failed to do and am still living surrounded by clutter.  There are few things I hate more than clutter!! Maybe, though, this year we'll be able to get rid of some of it. I sure hope that's true.

This year, my resolutions will be both more realistic and less, so here they are:

  1. Graduate--This should be easy, especially since I'll graduate in either May or August, depending upon how far I get with my thesis over the next month. Right now, it's looking like August.

  2. Move to CA--This one is the hard one right now. As of now, we barely make ends meet so saving to move is impossible. I think we'll work it out, even if it means one of us have to go to California, stay with my parents, and look for a job and the other one come after that. We hate to do that, but we will if we have to.

  3. De-clutter--This sort of goes with the move, so it's cheating. We'll see.

  4. Read--I really want to read more this year, but with teaching and writing, and trying to graduate, who knows if I'll have time.

  5. Lose some weight--I know, this one's traditional and maybe I'm setting myself up for failure, but I have a good start since I've managed to lose 15 lbs by laying off of junk food. I also want to give up diet coke, but I don't think I really can. So, I'll just drink more water to off set it. I'm going to join Weight Watchers to see what I can make of it.

That's it, and it's not a big list. Some of those things will be much harder than others. My biggest priorities are the first two, to graduate and to move to California, and hopefully this time next year I'll be telling you how we managed to get the move done. Finger's crossed.

For now, I'm off to get some reading in. It's thesis material, but it counts. I hope you all have a very happy new year, and that this year your dreams come true. Happy 2012!!