Sunday, October 4, 2015

Spirits Lifting

I have been having a difficult time feeling normal since the news of Thursday's tragedy at Umpqua Community College. I can't stop thinking about it--the teacher and students that lost their lives, the young man who felt so isolated and angry that he felt hurting others was the answer, and all the families reeling from the events.

I was in seventh grade when Columbine made national news. In eighth grade, a student brought a gun to my middle school; police were brought in, and the weapon was never fired. Still, I keep thinking: how long has it been since I felt "totally safe" at school?

I love teaching. There is a joy in it that I feel like is a part of me. My mom fondly tells stories about how I would play school as a child, always assigning myself the role of teacher and forcing my brother, my cat, and my stuffed animals to participate as my "students." Teaching brings me a happiness that I know that no other job could; however, I long to live in a country where we can all be totally safe at school. Things seem to only be moving further from fixing the problems (and YES, I did call my representatives and voice my strong opposition to this bill before it passed). So, I do feel a heightened anxiety lately. My husband, mother, father in-law, cousins, and too many friends to count work at or attend schools. I refuse to believe that there is nothing we can do to improve the situation, and I hope we start making changes (for instance, prioritizing school security just as much as we prioritize airport security) soon. Until then, you can find me in the classroom showing my students that they matter to me and helping them become empathetic, creative, and critical thinkers. If we can't solve the problems, I have no doubts that, one day, they will.

All of this said, I've done a lot of things since Thursday's bad news that have lifted my spirits.

On Thursday night, the college hosted Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra on an outdoor stage. The weather was perfect, and the music was amazing. We had amazing seats, right up close. We were laughing about how if the concert had been in Central Park, we wouldn't have even been able to see. It was such a nice event. I hope Jazz Under the Stars becomes a regular thing for us.

Friday morning, this little cutie was born. He is the son of my cousin Stephen and his wife Casey. Welcome Callen...the first boy in the Austin family since my brother was born over 26 years ago! I can't wait to meet this little one in could my spirits not be lifted by a new baby joining the family?

Also, Friday was the first day that felt like FALL, and this trend continued all weekend (it drizzled all day today). I spent Friday night curled up with a book, which always is a good use of time in my opinion. I'm so happy to see the temperatures in the 90s go! HELLOOOOO OCTOBER.

Saturday morning, I went to barre class, and I came home to Brendan's home-cooked migas. That man, he's some husband, and I swear, these were the best ever migas!

We had pesto for dinner on Saturday night that my cousin Amanda made and froze over her labor day visit.

Looking at our basil plants, I think we might need to make a few more batches soon:

On Saturday night, we went to our happy place, the drive in.

We saw The Martian, which you've probably heard by now is excellent and The Maze Runner sequel, which was not so good. Still, the trip was worth it for the first movie!

Also on Saturday, we hung some constellation prints in our dining room, so the walls are no longer completely bare. It took us awhile to get the spacing just right, but it was worth it.

For tonight's dining room dinner, I made stuffed butternut squash from my cookbook Takes One Pot. The recipe is great, but the cookbook isn't exactly honest. More like, Takes One Pot, One Bowl, A Cutting Board, A Knife, A Spoon, and a Baking Pan. 

While dinner was in the oven, I made the Asian Salad recipe from the cookbook, so I'd have a quick grab and go meal for lunch this week. Yum; I can't wait to try the dressing, which used lemongrass and mint from my own backyard. 

Lola was shocked that she wasn't invited to dinner: 

We're both a little annoyed with her because she woke us up all throughout the night last night. She was good during the week, but obviously, she did not want us to enjoy our one day for sleeping in. I loved on her LOTS today, so let's hope she lets us get some rest tonight. It's just now 9:30, and I can barely keep my eyes open! 

I hope that everyone had an uplifting weekend and is prepared for a good week. Let this be a reminder to find happiness where you can and when you can. 


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