Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekend Recap

This was the first weekend in a month that I haven't been out of town or had out of town guests, so I was really excited to have a low key weekend.  Houston even cooperated and delivered some incredible Spring-time weather! 

I had the day off from work, and I had plans to visit the school where I used to teach.  I had been wanting to visit ever since we moved back, but for one reason or another, I just hadn't gotten around to it.  A friend of mine who also used to teach there and left at the same time that I did asked me if I wanted to go with her for a visit, so I finally took advantage of the opportunity.  We went at lunch time and hung out with some of our old students in the cafeteria and visited with some of the teachers in the staff lounge.  It was really good to be back and to see familiar faces, but it was also a sort of strange feeling.  It felt simultaneously like everything and nothing had changed.  The highlight though was definitely getting hugs from some of my previous (now so tall!) students! 

Two of my favorites- now FOURTH graders!!
After my school visit, I met up with the realtor that helped us sell our house.  That house is back on the market, and she had asked me if I wanted to go with her on a fake "showing" to check it out.  That was another bittersweet experience/blast from the past.  There is something very weird about walking through your old house and seeing someone else's stuff everywhere.  Although we never intended to stay in that house for more than a few years, it kills me that the house is on the market now and we are in a one bedroom corporate apartment that seems to get smaller by the day.  Oh, and did I mention it's selling for nearly TWICE what we bought it for (don't get me started...).  Houston's real estate market totally blew in the short year and a half we were gone. 

Who put all this (super gaudy) furniture in my house? ;-)  I'm only a little bit sad it's not ours anymore...
We ended the night with fajitas and margaritas at one of our favorite Mexican food places. 

Saturday was a vey lazy, uneventful day. We slept super late and just did errands and chores around the apartment.  We had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Houston, Barnaby's, and were home by 9.  David passed out on the couch by ten at which time I grabbed the remote from his hand and immediately cued up my DVR list.  I spent the next couple hours drinking wine and catching up on Dancing With the Stars and some of my Oprah Winfrey Network shows.  Don't judge. 

Sun roof weather- finally!!!
My sister-in-law has been peer pressuring me to run a ten mile race in Austin with her on April 13.  I really really dislike running, but I told her I'd try to keep up a running regimen for a few weeks and see how it went before deciding if I thought I could even complete ten miles.  I started a couple weeks ago with 3 miles, then 4, then 5, and finally ran 6 miles last week.  So I told myself that if I could run seven miles on Sunday, then I would sign up.  When I woke up, I headed to Memorial Park since they have a nice 3 mile trail.  Seven miles was my goal.  I wish I was one of those people that could say "running clears my head" or that I was someone who gets that "I feel so great after I run" / runner's high thing.  Unfortunately, I'm not.  Running does not clear my head.  In fact, when I'm running, all I am thinking about is how much I want to stop running.  How productive and relaxing, right?  And when I'm finished, I don't have a runner's high- instead, I my knees hurt and I am grumpy.  How pleasant!  But all that aside, I met my seven mile goal and even went on to run 8! The reason I ended up with eight is because I was SO thirsty by that point, and I knew there was a drinking fountain at the end of the trail, and I figured I'd get there faster if I ran, so I just kept at it.  That was actually my fastest mile that morning :-)  There's a beer garden at the end of this race, so I'm anticipating that even though I will feel like collapsing, mile 10 will be my fastest :-)  At any rate, I am officially signed up for the race.  It's two weeks away- wish me luck! 

I hope everyone had a great weekend and a good week ahead!  Can you believe April is nearly here?!?!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Still here.  Still trying to build up some blogging momentum and motivation.  I have SO much to catch up on, that I kind of just don't know where to even start.  So then I don't. And the cycle continues.  So, since I have to start somewhere, and since the idea of digging into all the events of the past few months is a little much for me now, I'm going to start with things that are going on right now So on that note, here's a little "currently" post...


...Sitting... on my grandma's back porch in Wilson, North Carolina.  I'm here  visiting family and having a nice, relaxing time. 

...Eating... left over homemade fried chicken.  Friday would've been my grandpa's birthday (Georgie).  So in honor of his birthday, my mom, aunt, and grandma (Mimi) made one of his favorite meals: fried chicken, gravy, rice, and peas.  It was SO GOOD!  I know Georgie would have loved it.

...Running... well, trying to anyways.  My sister-in-law is trying to convince me to do the 10 by 20 race with her in Austin next month to celebrate our 30th birthdays.  I'm a pretty awful runner, and it's never truly been something I enjoy all that much, but I told her I'd think about it. The furthest I've ever run was for an 8K I did in Gladstone back in August.  And I have hardly done any running at all since then.. so 10 miles seems pretty ambitious, but I think being newly 30 is making me have a one-third life crisis want to try and give it a shot.  I ran five miles this morning, so I'm somewhat optimistic that it might be possible...

...Watching... on the reality TV rotation this time of year are some of my favorites: The Voice, Dancing With the Stars, and American Idol.  I'm not usually huge on DWTS, but I can sometimes actually get my husband to watch that one with me now since he has a super crush on Erin Andrews.  I'm also keeping up with March Madness... well, whenever Gonzaga is playing anyway.  Go Zags!  (Update: Zags lost to U of A... oh well, try again next year.)

...Reading... gossip mags.  When traveling, I always look forward to buying a gossip magazine, a soda, and hot tamales at the airport before my flight.  It's my little travel ritual.  I've also just started Mindy Khaling's Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? and just as suspected, it's pretty hilarious. 

...Obsessing over... my aunt's dog, Moritz.  He's a St. Bernard/Poodle mix... a St. Berdoodle, and he's adorable.  I can't get over how cute (and huge) he is!  And like most big dogs, he thinks he's a lap dog and will try to climb on your lap if you let him.  Their other dog is a mini dachshund, so the two are a pretty funny pair.   

...Working... at a new part time gig.  Since we moved back mid school year, it's pretty unlikely that I will be able to find a full time teaching job until next school year.  If that's what I even decide to continue to do, that is (but that's a different story...).  So for now, I'm working at a property management company.  It's nothing too exciting, really, but it's nice to have something to keep me busy.  It is kind of interesting, too, because most of their clients are expats who are renting their homes out while they are living/working abroad.  But the best bonus of all is that it will give me an insider look at what's available on the market for rent, since that's what it's looking like we will do after the lease is up on our current apartment. 

...Smelling... like Beyoncé.  No, really.  One of the perks of staying at my aunt's house while visiting family is that I share a bathroom with my fifteen year old twin cousins, and I get to play with all the fun products they have.  Today I opted for the Beyoncé "Heat" body wash.  Pretty hilarious, but also pretty amazing.  I did indeed feel like Beyoncé (and a little drunk in love) the whole day in case you were wondering. ;-) 

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Reflecting on 30

I will be turning the big 3-0 on Saturday.  How did THAT happen?!  I have mixed feelings about the whole thing.  I feel like it should feel different or somewhat monumental, but so far, I'm not too worked up about this milestone.  Let's hope it stays that way.  I did, however, want to do something to reflect back on my thirty years so far.  A fellow blogger, Julie, did this on her 30th, and I'm totally stealing the idea.  Thanks, Julie!! :-)  So in honor of my 30th birthday, I have recorded some of my favorite memories, stories, and reflections from each of my 30 years so far...

One: According to my parents, I was basically a dream baby/toddler.  Super cute (not biased at all), very easy going, well-behaved, and hardly cried. Their only complaints were that I was never a napper and I was always a night owl (Update: still hate napping, still a night owl).

Two: This is when my picky eating tendencies started (and lasted until college basically).  My mom said I was quite religious about always eating two fried eggs for breakfast. I didn't talk much- especially not to anyone other than my immediate family. My grandma and aunt were sure something was "wrong" with me. :-) Oh, and also noteworthy- my favorite little brother, Mark, was born! 

Three: At three I started dance lessons at the YMCA.  I was a very dedicated student and would regularly put on my tap shoes and tights and practice my moves on the coffee table.  This was also around the time that my cousins, sister, and I got really into my mom's Jane Fonda workout videos. We would get all decked out in our tights and leotards and get our sweat on with some awesome 80's jazzercise. There are some pretty amazing home videos documenting this.

Me and my bangs swimming with my cousin - Me and my bangs at the beach with my older sister
Four: I don't really think I TRULY remember anything (that isn't from photos, videos, or stories people tell) before age four. At four, I was in Preschool with my cousin and forever sidekick Lee Anne. I have lots of memories of my time in Preschool: Ms. Harshburger and Mrs. Morley were my teachers, playing on the playground, feeling special when my mom let me stay longer than the usual half day for "lunch bunch," bike parade, etc.  It was also at age four that I broke my right arm in two places.  My brother and I were playing some pretend game in which I was the queen (obviously), and I fell off of my throne (the built in cabinets) onto my toy shopping cart.  I didn't tell my mom what had happened because I think maybe I thought I would get in trouble for climbing up there (?).  Anyway, a couple days later she noticed I was eating with my left hand and then it turned out my arm was broken.  As even more evidence of what an odd (and painfully shy) child I was at this point, I was for some strange reason so embarassed of having to wear a cast that I decided to wrap a blanket/towel over my cast everyday since then no one would notice? SO strange, but so funny looking back on it. 

Five: Kindergarten! I loved Kindergarten!  Mrs. Combs was my teacher, and she was the best ever.  My favorite center was the rice /sand table.  I think my favorite thing I learned that year was how to draw a star... I still remember the little story she had that went along with it. 

Six: First grade with Mrs. Mroz at Saints Simon and Jude School. I liked wearing a uniform, and I'm almost positive that I was the teacher's pet :-)  I also randomly remember being so embarrassed (again painfully shy) when one of my friends told me that a boy in the class liked me.  Pretty sure I avoided him for the next five years.

Seven: This was the year that my older sister and I were allowed to fly BY OURSELVES from Arizona to Indiana for a fun cousins weekend with our grandparents.  It was SO much fun!  And kudos to my parents for letting us do that, because I'm pretty sure I'd be too paranoid if the tables were turned. 

Eight: This was probably a pretty scary year for my parents. I was psuper sick this year and ended up being hospitalized for double pneumonia, double collapsed lungs, low oxygen, among other things. I  missed 30 days of school that year. Our neighbors bought me the movie the Sound of Music as a get well gift and I watched it nearly everyday that I was home sick. I still know all the words and even some of the dances.

Nine: What I remember most from fourth grade is the big "cliques talk" that Sr. Marjorie gave to all of the girls.  I guess maybe this is when girls start getting mean?

Ten: 5th grade. This was the year it seemed like all the girls (myself included) started wearing bras and shaving.  My parents had decided that my sister and I could start shaving on our birthdays in fifth grade. Having to wait until March to have my sister teach me how to shave was almost unbearable and so embarrassing at the time.  (Update: I hate shaving now.) 

Eleven: I remember sixth grade being pretty awesome. I had an awesome teacher who had to have been only like 22- Ms. Lamy.  She made us memorize all of the prepositions in alphabetical order... I still remember most (aboard, about, above, across, after against, along, amid...). Not a very useful skill now, but a fun party trick.  The other sixth grade teacher who taught science was super strict and said very adult things to us that now make me laugh. Whenever someone would ask if we HAD to do something, she would say (in her very high super nasally voice), "all you HAVE to do is die and pay taxes." At the time, we were all just like, Um, ok?... now it's so funny (and very true!) to me.  Oh, and I also got braces.

Twelve: I FINALLY was old enough to be in the pointe class at my dance studio. Yay!  A few kids in my seventh grade class started meeting up in the bathroom to kiss (gasp!), which led to a very intricate bathroom pass procedure and a very memorable/embarrassing talk about the birds and the bees that involved rose petals and thorns.  My friends and I still laugh about this.

Thirteen: Being an 8th grader was pretty awesome. Passing intricately folded notes was the cool thing to do.  Class trip to Washington D.C. was a major highlight. 

Fourteen: I started high school at an all girls private school. I was super obsessed with teen stars like JTT, Devon Sawa, etc.  I was probably one of the most boring/well-behaved high schoolers and spent every weekend either babysitting or hanging out with my two best friends, Sarah and Kayli, watching Ten Things I Hate About You on repeat. 

Fifteen: NYSNC super fan- JC all the way!!! Attended my first of four NSYNC concerts. Enjoyed hilarious carpool adventures with my cousins everyday. 

Sixteen: I celebrated my sixteenth birthday in Tijuana, Mexico (of all places) on a Habitat For Humanity trip. It was an amazing experience, but I was super excited to get back and get my drivers' license! I also got my first job at sixteen working as a life guard and swim lesson teacher at the local public pools.  Scored a tan that I never thought was possible... and that I now (in my old age) TOTALLY regret.  Why... why?....

Sorry skin, please go easy on me in my thirties...
Seventeen: Got really into my dancing this year, took the SAT's/ACT's, got my first detention. (for talking during a fire drill, of all things).  Family cruise to Alaska- SO amazing!

Senior prom (sparkles!!!!) and a senior pre-graduation luncheon
Eighteen: Graduated high school and started college at Gonzaga University. I loved college and everything about it: living in the dorms (aside from the dysfunctional roommate that later withdrew), freshman mixers, parties, and having a sister who was a senior and old enough to buy disgusting booze (like Smirnoff Ice) for my friends and I.  Thanks, Lauren! :-)  Oh, and I most DEFNITELY (and quite easily) gained the freshman 15.

Highlighter parties were a thing. So was "pre-funking" in the all boys dorm.  Just babies we were!!
Nineteen: Sophomore year of college. I got really into my Spanish and Psychology classes and decided to double major. Between all that studying I was still getting my fill of college fun on the weekends. I think this was the year my friends and I were REALLY into drinking games. On a related note, I was baffled as to why I was still hanging onto my Freshman 15 (shaking my 30 year old head at myself...).

Twenty: I studied abroad in Granada, Spain.  I lived with a Spanish family and my bestie, Jen. We traveled a ton, drank lots of Sangria, ate lots of tapas, partied until the sun came up like any good Spaniard does, and somehow managed to avoid leaving with a euro-mullet.  Oh, and we also became pretty darn fluent in Spanish.  I also completed a major bucket list item when I traveled completely by myself to Mallorca, Spain for a weekend. 

Mi Hermana espanola and I in front of La Alhambra
Twenty-one: This was probably the best year of college. I lived off campus with five of my girlfriends in an amazingly huge house that was known as "The Dollhouse."  We adopted a homeless cat, took "family photos" for Christmas,  finally drank legally (and much more responsibly than in previous years), and just generally made the most of our last year of college with a few poor decisions sprinkled in here and there just because we were young and dumb.  

Typical... face in a Solo red cup...
Twenty-two: Graduated college and began the most challenging two years of my life when I joined Teach For America. I taught 7th and 8th grade math and science in South Central, Los Angeles. During my first year, I cried nearly every day on the way to and from school. However, I also knew all too well that however much I was struggling was NOTHING compared to what my students dealt with every day of their lives. My twenty-two year old mind and ways of thinking about the world were challenged and changed (for the good) more than they ever would have been otherwise. I grew up A LOT this year.  And this experience will continue to shape what I do with my life and how I think about the world for the rest of my life.  This was also the year that I met and later started dating my roommate's brother who would later become my husband. 

Twenty-three: Year two of TFA. More comfortable and confident in my teaching, but still a struggle. The coolest thing I ever did as a teacher though was doing a frog dissecting lesson. I'm still super proud (and surprised) that I did that! No idea how I managed it, but in between the most challenging/time consuming job I could imagine, I was able to complete my masters degree AND maintain a long distance relationship with David. 

Twenty-four: Completed my TFA committment, moved to Houston to continue our relationship finally in the same city, and continued teaching- but this time in an elementary setting. 

Twenty-Five: Met two of my favorite students of all time- Erik and Oscar. I still carry a little school photo of Erik around in my wallet.  These two students will stick with me forever. In the spring, I took a girls trip to Philly with Kayli and Sarah.  This was also the year that I found a suspicious looking spot in my hair line and soon found out it was skin cancer. Lucky for me, I caught it early enough and all turned out OK.  See why I curse those lifeguarding years already?...

Twenty-Six: 2010 was a busy and monumental year and probably the best year of my life so far. I got engaged in March and was married in December!  In between all of that, I was in two of my best friend's weddings, and David was the best man in one of his friend's weddings. It was the year of weddings, for sure.

Just after David proposed (hence the teary eyes) and our wedding day!
Twenty-Seven: We bought our first house and David started travelling more for work (a sign of things to come).

Twenty-Eight: At twenty eight, I found out we would be moving to Australia.  Lots of tears and transitions this year: quitting my job, saying goodbye to friends and family, moving across the world, living in a small town, adjusting to a new culture, suffering through a life without Diet Dr. Pepper, etc. But of course it turned out to be an amazing experience.  We traveled a TON, made new friends, and it was an amazing time of growth for our marriage as we depended only on each other and shared a new and sometimes scary experience. 

Twenty-Nine: Most of my 29th year was spent in Australia. I was finally more settled into our life there, loved checking places off our travel list, and had finally met a group of girls I became very close with.  Also noteworthy- I jumped off a bridge- no big deal.  Of course, big changes usually happen right when you get comfortable somewhere, and so right before Christmas, we were moved back to Houston. Still feeling "new again" here, still re-adjusting... slowly, but surely.

Thirty: TBD.  I'll keep you posted... :-) 

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Remember Me?...

Tap, tap.  Is this thing on?...

Remember that time I moved back to the US from Australia right before Christmas, and then fell off the face of the earth blogger?  Yeah... oops...

I'm actually quite disappointed in myself for letting that happen.  It's not that I forgot about blogging or documenting this major transition in our lives.  In fact, I thought about blogging quite often... but I guess I just never really got any further than that.  I had plenty of "mentally composed posts" floating around in my brain over the past nearly three months... important moments in our lives that I don't want to forget like our last day in Australia, stepping foot on American soil for the first time in a year and a half, Christmas, New Years, moving back to Houston, forgetting how to drive on the "right side" of the road, things I miss about Australia, things that now overwhelm me about America, a few fun weekend trips we've taken, and the many other interesting experiences in this process of repatriating... but I guess I dropped the ball. 

If I'm being honest, it started out that I was avoiding blogging because everything was just a bit too overwhelming, and I didn't want anything else added to my plate.  At that time, it sounded stressful to me, instead of fun, like it had before. But then it kind of turned into me being sad about leaving Australia- in denial, really.  And I think somehow I thought that blogging about it would make it more real.  It's actually still pretty hard for me to read all of the expat blogs I had been such a loyal reader of just a couple months ago (Sorry to some of my faves- Jen and Jenna).  I guess having to leave Australia much sooner and more quickly than we anticipated... and essentially having to leave my expat identity (and all the wonderful experiences I had) behind made it somewhat painful to read about others doing the fun expat things I used to do.  Yeah, serious denial.  So I just avoided it all together.   Makes sense, right?... (totally doesn't...)  And the longer I avoided blogging, the harder and more overwhelming it seemed to start up again. 

But here I am.  I want to continue blogging and documenting our lives.  I want to remember what it was like to move back to the US after living abroad.  And I want to record the experiences we have in our "new again" home in Houston.  So this is my first effort at putting a stop to the avoidance, denial, and procrastination.  It will surely take me a while to get caught up, but that will be my goal.  So please bear with me over the next several weeks as I try to get back into my groove.  And I hope you won't mind some seriously outdated recaps while I attempt to get caught up. 

And because no post is complete without a photo, here's one of my last views of Gladstone as we said goodbye for the last time. 

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