Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Checking In!

We're still around, but fully in survival mode. 

Our big news is that we're intensely grading before heading to Las Vegas this weekend for my cousin, Stephen's, wedding. Woo-hoo! Promise some updates on that when we return.

In the meantime, I managed to eat today, I managed to go to the gym, I managed to teach 2 classes, answer a ton of emails, office hour, make photocopies of my final exam, prep and send in my syllabus for the Fall, and grade 632 pages worth of journals. Yep, that was life today, and it's all I can do to still have my eyes open.

We hope whatever you're doing, it's a little saner than our lives. I'm just thankful I have Brendan here to help balance it all and to make this again for tonight's dinner.

But really, we can't complain. With summer a mere ten days away, we're working toward the finish line. And though grading is always work, it can be joyous work. To see some of my students writing passionately about literature...it makes me feel choked up every time. I feel like I shared an important part of myself with them in discussing stories, poetry, and plays all semester, and some of them really responded, and there is no greater feeling.

So, here we are...a week and a half left in the semester, and it's the busiest time ever. Bare with us, and we'll be more up to date in a couple of weeks.

<3 S, B, and those crazy cats L&Z

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Farm to Market Fresh

We've had a good end to the weekend. Though we mostly spent the day grading, there was also awesome homemade pizza involved:

My favorite pizza maker made this dough in our Kitchenaid mixer and used farmer's market heirloom tomatoes, farmer's market fennel, and mozzarella, purple onion, and garlic.

Thank you pizza maker man! While he was busy with the pizza, I put together this all green salad:

Grocery store greens were topped with farmer's market heirloom tomatoes and farmer's market cucumber in this fresh and tasty side. We love hitting up the market on Saturday, because it always makes for a very delicious Sunday.

Other than eating and grading, this is pretty much what we did all day:

How did you spend your "fun day?" Hope it was as cuddly and quiet as ours.

<3 S, B, L&Z

The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women, Stage 5 Recap

My Stage 1 Recap is here
My Stage 2 Recap is here My Stage 3 Recap is here
My Stage 4 Recap is here.

I'm sooo happy to report that I'm done with (as of Friday) Stage 5 of The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women. Like stage 4, I was slow this stage and took 5 weeks to get through the 8 workouts (still doing yoga and running in addition to the program). I'm fine with being delayed, especially while in survival mode. Like stage 2 and stage 4 were identical, stage 3 and stage 5 are also identical, so I thought it would be interesting to see how I've improved since stage 3. The first number listed is beginning of stage 3, while the second number is end of stage 5. 

Workout A 

One arm dumbbell snatch: from 10lbs to 20lbs. 
Dumbbell single-leg Romanian deadlift: from 10lbs to 50lbs 
Barbell bent over row: from 20lbs to 70lbs 
Dumbbell single arm overhead squat: from 5/10lbs (you do different weights in each hand) to 10/20lbs
Dumbbell incline bench press: from 30lbs to 50lbs 
Plank: from being able to hold it 50 seconds to being able to hold it for 2 minutes (3 sets!) 
Reverse wood chop: from 30lbs to 50lbs 
Body weight matrix (includes 24 squats, 24 lunges, 24 lunge jumps, and 24 squat jumps): from taking 6 minutes to taking 2 minutes and 52 seconds. <<The BWM was my nightmare in stage 3, but it wasn't so bad this stage. 

Workout B
Barbell Romanian Row from 30lbs to 70lbs Partial single leg squat: from body weight to 50lbs 
Wide-grip lat pulldown: from 65lbs to 70lbs (started this in stage 1 with 40lbs) 
Back extension: from body weight to 25lbs
YTWL: from 10lbs to 10lbs<no change, but I got better at it (hardest lift in the workouts!)
Swiss Ball Crunch: from 10lbs to 25lbs (started this with body weight in stage 1)
Hip Flexion (body weight...more prone jackknifes and reverse crunches)
Lateral Flexion (kept with the hardest variation) 
Prone Cobra: held it 90 seconds for all 3 sets (in all 4 workouts of stage 3), held it for 2 minutes for all 3 sets (in all 4 workouts of stage 5)
Interval training, 15 minutes: In this stage, I just ran as far and fast as I could for as long as I could. I took short walking breaks when needed. 

Here is a look at how my measurements changed: 

                     This Stage                        Total Change 
Bust               No change                             -1"                       
Band              -.50"                                   -1.25"
Right Bicep     No change                      No Change 
Left Bicep        No change                     No Change 
Waist                  -.50"                                   -1"
Right Thigh    No Change                            -.50"
Left Thigh      No Change                            -.50"
Hips               No Change                              -2"
Weight           -2.5lbs                                 -2.5lbs 
So I've lost 6.25" and 2.5 pounds since starting this program (combined with yoga, running, and trying to maintain a healthy diet) in October. Not bad! I didn't expect drastic changes, but I like that I've made gradual changes for the better. I feel healthy and fit and proud of myself for sticking with it. I'm going to take a one week break from New Rules, as is suggested between stages, and start on stage 6 this Friday (stage 6 is optional, but I've come this far, I'm NOT skipping it!) 

Tips for Stage 5

I stuck with 3 sets and worked on increasing weight this stage. 

Keep making yourself go to the gym, regardless of whether or not you want to...these workouts took between 1 hour, 15 minutes to 1 hour, 30 minutes, and sometimes, I just didn't feel up to spending that long in the gym, but when it was all done, I was always happy I did it. 

Going slower through the program is better than quitting the program, so cut yourself some slack if you take a week longer than prescribed. 

Get ready: 2 minute planks and prone cobras are no picnic, but listening to fun music helps distract (somewhat) from the pain...this is my same approach to running. 

Sometimes, you actually can increase weight, even when you don't think you can do it. Ask someone to lift the weight off the rack for you...you might not be able to lift off the rack even if you are actually  able to lift from the ground. Regardless, it is important to keep trying, even if sometimes, you really aren't ready for that increase. 

Having a spot on the Incline Bench Press is essential (thanks Brendan). Having a spot who argues with you...not so much, but I guess I am glad he convinced me I could do 50. 

On the mat, I really preferred 2 sets of 8 reps as opposed to 3 sets of 4 reps. I know it's not what the book says, but so few repetitions left me not feeling the burn I wanted to feel...so after the 2nd workout, I took this liberty and do not feel it hurt my workout at all. 

All of this has made me stronger in yoga...I love how it pays off. When I started this program, I thought it would be the physical differences that really motivated me, but since those have happened so gradually (I don't notice on a regular basis), I'm actually more motivated by my strength increasing. 

Here's to getting stronger! 
<3 S, B, L&Z 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bad Day Turned Better

Last night, I was so overtired from my over 12 hour workday, that I couldn't even fall asleep. Around 1am, Brendan gave me two Tylenol sleeping pills, and I was out...unfortunately for me, 9am rolled around, and I found it nearly impossible to get out of bed. I spent the morning in a post sleeping pill fog, and I wasn't in a good mood. A few things cheered me up though.

Firstly, while teaching, I took some time to work with a struggling student. In my peripheral vision, I noticed one of my better students helping out a student that had been absent. Essentially, he could have used the time for himself, but took some time to help another student get caught up and feel more confident. I take no credit for his actions, but witnessing them cheered me up immensely. A sweet reminder to take time to help.

Secondly, upon returning home, I texted my yoga buddy that I was too tired to make it. I told her I felt out of wack, but she convinced me yoga would make me feel better. Then, I stumbled across a co-worker's blog about balancing teaching, writing, parenting, and a healthy lifestyle, and I felt totally inspired. After some iced coffee energy, I knew I could make it work. As my friend predicted, yoga did make me feel better: a LOT better. The class was a hard one, focused on planks, sun salutations, handstands, balancing splits, hollow backs, and dolphins, and we all worked up quite a sweat. But when it was done, I felt SO much better.

And another thing that happened today? Brendan said he loves to make me happy. It was nice to hear that, even though I know that. I love him very much, and I remembered to give thanks for that.

So honestly, what turned my bad day better? Just a whole bunch of little things.

But the point is that, especially when you're in survival mode, you have to be aware enough to recognize those little things that are working to make it a better day.

And the other point is, next time, only take one Tylenol.

<3 a very exhausted S&B, and also L&Z

Monday, April 15, 2013

101,000 miles

Today, while I was driving "Goldie" (my VW Jetta), I hit 101,000 miles. It was a big moment because I was too distracted to notice making it to 100,000.

I purchased Goldie in early May of 2008, so I've almost had her 5 years. When I bought her, she only had 38,000 miles, so I've added 63,000 of my own. I cannot believe all the places that car has taken me: from Austin to Lake Charles when I moved, and back and forth many times (due to visiting family or hurricane evacuations)...on many trips to my grandmother's house in Houston...on two long road trips with friends, one to North Carolina for Will and Missy's wedding and one to Tybee Island, Georgia just for fun...on many a job interview (east and west Texas)...on the move to Midland and between here and San Angelo (to see family) and Austin (also to see family)...and on many weekend escapes (The Davis Mountains, Balmorhea, Marfa, Alpine, Big Bend National Park, Carlsbad, NM, and the Texas Hill Country to name a few). My life has seen SO MANY changes since I bought that car. I started and finished graduate school, moved to west Texas with my then boyfriend, got engaged, and started my first real job (which also involves hundreds of miles of commuting), and my trusty Jetta has seen me through it all.

I could shed a few tears, but I won't. Instead, I'll recap a few favorite memories with my trusty Jetta.

August/September 2008...Lola and Zoe were just kittens when we packed up and evacuated Lake Charles for both hurricane Gustav and Ike. The normally 5 hour drive took over 7 hours due to traffic. I still remember one trip where we had to keep them in the bathroom at my Dad's apartment (luckily, they were so tiny it didn't matter much to them). I was worried all of graduate school would be filled with evacuations, but luckily, those were the only two.

May 2009...Packed up the tiny Jetta with four people and a whole lot of luggage to make it to North Carolina for Will and Missy's wedding. It was a great trip, but we were all a little cramped in the Jetta, and stupidly, we brought the wedding present with us instead of giving it in Lake Charles. Someone had to hold the fragile wine glasses on his or her lap at all times...we went through all of this only to have Will and Missy transport the glasses back to Lake Charles. This is how four people don't think ahead! The drive took two days there and two days back, but was so worth it to celebrate at the wedding and to have a week of fun on the beach!

May 2010...Trip to Tybee Island, Georgia with a bunch of graduate school friends. We took three cars to get there and rented a beach house for the week. It took two days to get there and one very, very long day to get back. Brendan and I were still friends at this time, but he drove my car, and a rock chipped the windshield. It was an easy repair, and I still smile to myself when I notice the little chip.

July 2011...We drove from Austin to west Texas for one interview, came home to Austin and packed cleaned clothes, then left right away for east Texas for another interview...total driving time was over 10 hours in two days. It was so exhausting, but at the end of it, we had jobs. The next month, we drove to Lake Charles to pick up our stuff from storage and moved to Midland. West Texas for the win!

April 2012...Brendan's parents came to visit us and we took an epic trip to Big Bend National Park. Unfortunately, we took "Old Maverek Road," which, unbeknownst to us, was unpaved for 30 very bumpy miles and eventually caused 2 flat tires (one that night and one the next day). The bumpy road was so stressful for everyone involved, but especially made Brendan's mom and I highly anxious. Today, we laugh hysterically about it. At the time, not so much!

Oh Goldie, its been fun! I can't wait to see where the next 5 years take us.

Here's to that.
<3 Goldie's Main Passengers: S, B, L&Z

Monday, April 8, 2013

Survival Mode

Greetings from the last 5 weeks of the semester friends! Otherwise known as "Survival Mode."

As any college English teacher will tell you, it's a scary place to be. The last few weeks of the semester are incredibly hectic: filled with grading, emails, administrative tasks, sending grade reports, staying late, going to and presenting at student award ceremonies, meetings meetings meetings, and in general, utter chaos. In these last few weeks before summer, we're lucky if we remember to eat! Just kidding: we're still eating healthy and trying to get enough rest, but it is exhausting.

At least we had a nice weekend. We spent Saturday in San Angelo seeing my family. I got to watch little league games and an adorable performance of Pippi Longstocking the musical. My brother and Mom came from Austin and met us there.

Bren and Graham at the baseball field 

Mom with my favorite star, Kenna. 
We've also been keeping up with Game of Thrones and got to see friends here in town this weekend too. On Sunday, we rested a lot, and it was a really good feeling.

But today, it was back to Monday as usual. I'm very much in shock at how fast April is going. During yoga tonight, our teacher instructed us to stay focused on our body, as we live so much of our lives in our minds that we can sometimes neglect it. I thought this was really fitting advice to apply to survival mode, and I'm going to make sure I eat healthy, get rest, drink plenty of water, and make time for exercise this week. We may be eating leftovers and doing laundry at 11pm, but hey, we're surviving!

Speaking of rest...I need it. Tomorrow is an early day. I'm glad I got to check in though. We're still here, and I'll come out from under the avalanche of grading as often as possible.

Anyone out there in survival mode too?
We wish you the best of luck!
<3 S, B, and oblivious to our workload L&Z

Friday, April 5, 2013

3 Months to Go!!

Between Months 4 and 3, We: 

Bride: Undergarments for Dress Purchased
Bride: First Fitting Attended 
Groom: Suit Ordered 
Invitations for wedding, response cards, invitation for rehearsal dinner, extra events cards created/ordered
Groom: Bride's Ring Purchased 
Get Sixpence for my Shoe (a family friend is bringing one that has been in her family, a lucky sixpence!)
Supplies for Exit Purchased
Cake Serving Set Found (Using Brendan's Parents' knife from their wedding and a server his mom found for us that we'll make our own--a perfect combination). 

We Still Need To: 

Decide on music for ceremony/cocktail hour
Bride: Attend Hair and Make up Trial 2 (it is scheduled) 
Bride: Finish Dress Alterations (last 2 appointments are scheduled) 

Bride: Hair Accessories Purchased
Groom: Alter Suit
 Write Ceremony ScriptWrite Vows
Order Ring-bearer Gift
Finish up other attendant gifts 
Shop for and Stuff Welcome Bags
Write and Copy Note for Welcome Bags
Address and Mail Invitations
Create Programs for Wedding
Create Personalized Table Numbers
Create Escort Cards
Create Place Cards
Make Seating Arrangements
Walk Through Schedule with Day of Coordinator
Decide on Menu for Reception (after tasting--tasting scheduled)
Decide on Menu for Rehearsal Dinner
Bride: Purchase Groom's Ring (it has been ordered)
Bride: Purchase Groom's Wedding Gift

Groom: Purchase Bride's Wedding Gift
Purchase Alcohol for Reception/Rehearsal Dinner
Hire Bartender/Security for Rehearsal Dinner
Purchase Marriage License
Officiant: File Marriage License
Get Something "Old" (I asked my grandmother about this)
Purchase Garter
DIY Signs

Photo for Guest Book Table
Purchase Pens for Guest Book
Confirm Plans With all Vendors Prior to Wedding Day 
Get Favors Ready 
Find Card Box 
Get Flower Girl Baskets 
Have Cake Server Engraved
Bride: Get Ring Cleaned and Ready! 
Confirm Honeymoon Arrangements (Fun/Not so Fun Fact: Our flight times have changed 3 times...and in one version, we were somehow moved to two different planes...all fixed now though!) 
Reserve Accommodations for wedding night

The closer the wedding gets, the more we get checked off, but the longer our to-do list grows too. I'm kind of losing count now, but I think 24 people have made flight arrangements...and a long list of people that don't need to fly are making arrangements to come too. It's going to be really exciting and real once the RSVP cards start rolling in next month! A few days ago, we hit the double digits in our wedding countdown, and today...91 days to go! I couldn't be more excited or ready to marry Brendan. It's funny that even after planning for 10.5 months, we still actually have things to do! I'm so excited for everything that is to come. 

Hope our checklist is helpful to you too! 
Other checklists: 4 months to go
Over a year out to 5 months to go

<3 S, B, and oblivious to wedding planning L&Z
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