Friday, August 29, 2014

Power Up

As the first week of teaching began, I found myself feeling utterly and completely exhausted. I didn't know how I was going to get through the zombie phase, but I found a few little "tricks" to help me push past it. I share them with you, in case you need to power up too!

1.) Workout
You have to force yourself to get moving.
On Monday and Wednesday, I did a one hour yoga class, Thursday was a 54 minute elliptical workout with changing resistance, and today, I made up a weight lifting circuit of 6 moves doing 10 reps of each. I did the circuit twice with a 10 minute bike in the middle and 25 minutes on the arc to follow. Total time was 55 minutes. It was really hard to make myself go to class or keep moving (I'm out of shape after doing whatever I wanted all summer), but once I was done, I had SO MUCH MORE ENERGY. Each time, I took advantage of the new burst of motivation and used it to my advantage to make dinner (Monday), clean my kitchen (Wednesday), clean the apartment and fold laundry (Thursday) or power through work emails (today).

2.) Start Eating Healthy
When I'm eating healthy food, I'm eating SO MUCH MORE FOOD, and for that reason, eating healthy can be a bit inconvenient (because you have to plan ahead). But honestly, good nutrition pays off big time in helping to avoid the afternoon slump. Snacks this week include: grapes and cottage cheese or cheddar cheese, apple and peanut butter, cucumbers or bell peppers plain, or a Stacy Smoothie. For lunch, I ate lots of salads (one version I love to makes involves lettuce, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of this dressing--it's so good).

3.) Resist the Urge to Stay Up Late
At 11:05PM last night, all I wanted to do was stay up and watch just one more episode of The Tudors, my Netflix obsession. That choice would have had me falling asleep during my workout. Screens of all kinds make it easy to lose track of time. Make sure you set your own bedtime (just like your parents did when you were a kid) and stick to it.

4.) Stop Snoozing.
I first wrote about how to avoid snooze and why here.
Hitting snooze equals stress in the morning and stress in the morning only means you feel more exhausted earlier in the day. Today, I ditched snooze and was 10 minutes early instead of right of time. I get a feeling of calm when I have a few minutes before my students start walking in, and I swear, it makes me a more energetic teacher. The energy seems to last all day too.

5.) Power Your Morning
Coffee, peppermint soap in the shower, and eating some protein first thing are all things that help me feel immediately awake. Find what makes waking up a little better for you and use it. I'm going to change the alarm sound on my phone--I associate it with too much negative. I need to wake up to something new! I wrote some other positive morning tips here.

Happy Labor Day weekend everyone! I hope you get lots of rest and get to do all the things you most want to do!

Monday, August 25, 2014

New (To Us) Eats in Midland

Brendan and I had a great weekend before the official start of the semester.

We tried two new (to us) places to eat in Midland. The first was Grub Burger, which has been open for six weeks. This place reminded us a lot of Hopdoddy's in Austin. They have the same concept where you wait in a long line, order your food (gourmet burgers and many beers on tap are their specialties), and waiters bring your food to the table when it's ready. We showed up at around 7:30PM on a Friday night, and we waited about 20-25 minutes in line. The line isn't bad. It moves quickly, and we even got free samples of milkshakes. Once we ordered our food, they brought the drinks after a few minutes, and the rest of the food followed. We maybe waited 15 minutes for our food after ordering. The food was delicious--especially my veggie burger. Brendan's mushroom burger and the sweet potato fries were good. Brendan was especially impressed with the number of beers on tap, and I had a glass of wine. Our total bill was $34.00. Not bad for dinner for two!

We will definitely be back to Grub Burger Bar. It is great for families, groups of friends, or a couple. We wouldn't recommend it for a first date though. Inside, it is loud (we sat outside), and the atmosphere wouldn't be ideal for getting to know someone for the first time. It's the perfect place for a casual dinner though.

On Saturday morning, we got up and did our normal farmer's market run. Afterwards, we were starving, so we headed to the Super Burrito in search of a good breakfast taco. This place is right down the street from the farmer's market, and I can't believe we never went in here before. Not only do they make the best breakfast taco we've found in town (in my opinion), but the prices are really reasonable ($9 for 2 regular burritos and 2 drinks), and I like the laid back and welcoming atmosphere as well. I had the potato and egg taco and added cheese, while Brendan ate the chile relleno and egg taco. Both were good!

We got to see friends this weekend, and we attended the Midland fair with these guys:

Should we give them a real cute family award, or what?!

We also cleaned our closet, cooked some good food, went to the grocery store, and watched several episodes of The Tudors, my new Netflix obsession.

Today was the first day of class, and we both had a good time being in the classroom again and meeting all our students. Fall 2014 semester has begun--ready or not!

I'm a little in shock still, but I'm sure I'll get used to my routine soon. This week is pretty easy (no office hours or tutoring yet), so I'll be able to slowly adjust.

I hope your weekend was a wonderful one! If you are a student or a teacher going back to class today, good luck!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Three Years in Midland

Brendan and I moved to Midland three years ago today.
I remember the actual moving day extremely well: We moved here on a Friday. My dad drove our U-haul, I drove my car, and Brendan drove his car. I was mad we took a wrong turn and added another hour and a half to our drive. We met a team of our new co-worker's church friends that evening, and they helped us unload everything into our third floor walk up apartment. I remember the co-worker asking us if we collected little tables (we don't, we just happened to have about twenty between the two of us). I remember ordering awful pizza for everyone afterwards. I remember going to HEB (grocery store) that night for beer and finding it overwhelmingly large. I thought to myself, we will avoid this place at all costs! I remember freaking out that we were actually going to live here, and I remember Brendan telling me to chill out. Honestly, that day wasn't the best day, but the days since have surprised me in so many ways...

First of all, I'm surprised we're still in the same apartment! When we moved here, I think we both saw the apartment as temporary, however, we knew nothing about the Midland housing market and how it was about to change. We also didn't realize we'd end up loving the apartment. Though there are a few things that discourage me about living here, and though I keep saying I'm "so ready for the house to be built," I can promise that I will bawl when it's actually time to move. We just signed a lease to stay here through February 2015, meaning by the time we move, we'll have lived in this apartment for three and a half years. We've experienced so many wonderful things here, it would be nostalgia overload to even go into. This is the first place we lived together, and it has been a comfortable place to live.

Second surprise? Remember the awful pizza from moving day? That place is actually decent. It turns out, we just ordered the wrong thing. Is it on par with pizza from New York or Austin? No. But once I gave it another chance (after a couple of years here), it wasn't so bad. Sometimes I pick up pizza there for dinner. Never say never!

Speaking of, that HEB is now my go to place for groceries. I even go there on a weekend afternoon. Heck, I've been in there on Superbowl Sunday. I'm no longer overwhelmed. I have that place memorized!

And while I may have doubted we could "actually live here" on moving day, we do. And you know what? I've found a lot to like. I love my job, my friends, my yoga class, the drive-in, the farmer's market, and exploring nearby areas. I've found a nail salon, my favorite lunch and dinner spots, a place to get wine, and a cleaning service that makes my life much happier. We've joined Midland Community Theater and Museum of the Southwest, and those places have added entertainment and social events to our calendar. Like all places, there is actually more to do and be involved with than we really have time for. I'm always hearing about cool things (wine club, outdoor club, etc.) that I'd love to join if only there were more hours in my week. While we don't envision ourselves staying here forever, one thing that Midland (and Lake Charles) has taught me is that I can be happy wherever I am, as long as I have good friends. I've also learned that there is more to a place than meets the eye and to reserve my judgement in the future. Plus, just because something is different than what you are used to, it isn't necessarily a negative thing. Different experiences can be good!

Here's to the places that you end up by chance and to making a home where you land. Thanks for a good three years Midland!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

99 Days of Summer

Today is our 99th and final day of summer. While writing that makes me sad, I'm also really thankful for this time that we've been given together. I feel like we made the most of each and every day. Enjoy my completely out of order (to mimic the state of my brain) photographic ode to summer vacation 2014. We lived it, we loved it, we'll miss it!

I hope everyone has a great Sunday. I'll be busy getting my act together and telling myself tomorrow's 7:00am wake up "won't be so bad." I'm looking forward to being in the classroom again, but next week is all about meetings.

Here's to wonderful memories to look back on!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Building a House, Month 3 & 4 or, The Waiting Game

When we last left off in the building a house posts, I was eating really good pizza and our lot looked like this:

Lot on May 31st
In other words, nothing had happened yet (our lot is literally the dirt, not the homes in the background), and unfortunately, nothing would happen until the city of Midland approved our plans. Given that the city is in a boom (everyone is building), Brendan and I braced ourselves for the wait to take awhile. Luckily, we were pretty distracted while traveling Europe, and we didn't have much time to think about it.

On July 13th, we heard from the builders:

"We received your permit back from the city.  That means we are free to start construction on your lot.  So soon we should start the boards for slab and rough plumbing." 

On August 2nd, our realtor sent us this photo: 

Lot on August 2nd 
This is the beginning of framing for foundation (again, our home is the dirt, not the home in the background, which, by the way, was nothing but framed in the May 31st picture above. The house you can see shows the back of that other words, our backyard and their backyard will be separated by an alley).  

On August 12th, the lot was finally ready for the slab to be poured: 

August 12

August 12
Once the concrete foundation is down, we are looking at 150 days (or 5 months) until completion. While we're still on track for a January closing, if any part of the process is delayed (which is bound to happen), it could be later. We're okay with that, and we realize the process is really out of our control. (Side note: isn't that blue sky beautiful?) 

In other news, we are back in Midland and enjoying the last week of summer vacation. We had a great time with my family in Austin, but unfortunately, we didn't really take pictures.

The highlights were seeing family, seeing Port Authority at Hyde Park Theatre and drinks with friends after, playing Ticket to Ride with family, LOTS of good meals out, and best of all...

Celebrating the engagement of these two lovebirds:

That's right, my little cousin Amanda is engaged to Matt! I found out in Berlin via Facetime, and tears of happiness were shed! The two have been dating a little over seven years, so Matt is already part of the family. They are a wonderful pair, and we couldn't be happier to have another family wedding to look forward to (this one in fall of 2015). We went on a double date to sushi restaurant Musashino to celebrate. It was honestly some of the best sushi I've had in Austin. I LOVED it and highly recommend it. But also, it was just really special to talk wedding with Amanda, who is as close to a "little sister" as I've ever had. We have SO MANY hilarious memories, and I look forward to building many new ones that now include Brendan and Matt :)

Lola and Zoe are extremely happy to be home in Midland, and Brendan and I are enjoying getting back into our normal routine. It felt GREAT to cook our own dinners again. I even went back to yoga class, which was awesome, but so, so hard after being out of class for three months! We've had lots of laundry, unpacking, and organization to do, but we're taking it all in stride. We're back to work on Monday, so we're trying to treasure the last days of what has been a great summer vacation.

Here's to "home," both our current one, and the one that is just a pile of dirt right now!

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Sorry to leave the blog world hanging. We've been enjoying time with our family. 

On July 30th, we made it to Newark and Brendan's dad picked us up at the airport to bring us to CT. It was the longest travel day ever and it was so good to be home! 

We spent 3 nights in CT, mostly catching up with the grandparents but also enjoying a sailing adventure that left me hanging on for dear life! 

On Saturday, we enjoyed beautiful quilts and seeing family at grandma Nancy's quilt show, and then we left for Maine! 

Our 5 nights in Maine were perfect! So many good times with family: fishing, swimming, kayaking, cooking, s'mores, blueberry picking, and game playing were amoung the highlights! 

I caught 2 large mouth bass this year (don't worry, I put them back!) and Brendan caught 4 or 5. I find fishing pretty addicting. 

I love our Maine schedule. It was relaxing and the perfect way to recover from our high intensity Europe travels. It was nice to have such quality times with family. Brendan's mom even helped perfect my pancake making skills. I'm a pro now! We had really great weather too. 

We left Maine and returned to Austin (it took 3 flights and 11 hours) for a few days with my family before heading home. A post on that later, but I will say Lola and Zoe are happy we're back!

Here's to our great memories made in Connecticut and Maine this summer! We had a blast and so enjoyed our "vacation from our vacation."
<3 S&B 
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