Sunday, November 13, 2011

fall fun... with dogs!

Fall is my favorite season.  I might say otherwise at the first snowfall, or when flowers begin to bloom, or during carefree hours spent poolside... but despite those wonderful things other seasons offer, I still think fall is my favorite.  

The feeling of fall is so refreshing - crisp and clean.  I love the fashions of fall - whipping out the scarves, boots, argyle, cardigans, etc.  Fall has football, Halloween, and Thanksgiving... all clearly very awesome. 

I wanted to blog about dogs.  But we (Tracy and I) recently took the dogs to Lake Thunderbird for some fall-time fun, so this post will be about both - dogs and fall.  

I live with 4 dogs (3 will be featured here) and I love them SO much!  I know... 4 dogs! haha They bring such happiness and love and loyalty to the home.   Their names are Bruno, Riley, Dan, and Sally.  They are all very sweet and well trained too - I feel like I'm in a good place to learn how to become a great dog owner. 

I wanted to make a video montage of our trip to the lake, but technical difficulties stood in my way. :( 

so here are some highlights:

video
Introducing Riley, Bruno, and Sally! 

and Tracy.

Playing at Lake Thunderbird




video

video
Playing in the water...

video
T and Sally leaping
haha

Love.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I want to ride my bicycle!

Cliff Bars have started a 2 mile challenge - to ride your bike, walk, or use public transportation for all your errands, activities, etc. within 2 miles from your home.  As you log points, it raises money for nonprofit organizations with missions to raise awareness and support for alternative transportation.  
Since getting my awesome bicycle, I have 117 miles and saved 107 lbs in CO2! 

Burn calories - not gas!

One of my goals for myself after leaving New York was to develop a healthy, active lifestyle.  I feel like riding my bike is making a great contribution to that goal, as well as being environmentally friendly.  I consider myself so lucky that I am able to take my bike so much! 

Love.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Home/Work

So, how is life in Norman?   Well, it is wonderful.  

Norman has been so surprisingly comforting.  A comfort that I didn't know I needed until I had it.  New York brought on a lot of anxiety and other negatively charged words/emotions to me that I hadn't really recognized,  and being in Norman is cleansing me of them.  I love being in my old town, surrounded by football lovers and that smaller town, southern(ish) charm.  Even though many-most have moved on, I still get to see a lot of old friends, which is one of the absolute best parts. 

Living with T & C has been so lovely!  I love chatting and laughing with them a lot.  Surprisingly, I really like living with 4 dogs too! haha They add a lot of life and activity to the house, which I love.  Plus they get SO excited to see you, and uncontrollably excited when its time to go on a walk.  Its so beautiful how easily pleased dogs can be. :)  
The house is beautiful too - I feel so lucky to have this backyard.  

How's work?  Well, it is a lot more boring, much less eventful, slight relative pay cut, slight purpose cut, but exactly what I wanted for right now.  I have my own office (so I feel real fancy)!
I ride my bike to work (amazing), work from 8-5 with a luxurious one-hour lunch break, and then I'm done.  No taking work home, no doing homework for class after - just done.  Life after work is mine.  It is so liberating.  The people I work with are also all fantastic - bright faces around the office all the time, but there is definitely a professional/personal boundary which I appreciate, especially after the lack thereof at my former job.  

Do I miss New York?  Of course.  

But I am so very happy with all the recent changes in my life.

All smiles!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

State Fair!

Yesterday, Brad and I went to the Oklahoma State Fair! 
 
While not as big or exciting as the Texas State Fair (but everything is bigger and better in Texas, right?) it was a lot of fun!  Although rain was in the forecast, it turned out to be a very nice day.  I was happy to see a plethora of food carts offering fried and non-fried items to eat on a stick.  I was a little disappointed to not find any crazy fried things, such as fried butter - perhaps another time.  We did have some delicious turkey legs! Yumm...

One of my favorite parts of fairs are the games!  I LOVE playing the games. Trying to knock over what looks like a reasonable amount of pins with a single ball... trying to toss a ring onto a bottle among a sea of bottles, etc.   It is all such a rip off, yet such a childlike delight.  And look what I won!
 
I named him Ernie. 

And at the very end we saw some trick dogs (pretty neat) and some native dancing.  We talked about how much we appreciate people embracing, celebrating, and continuing traditions in their cultures.  

I love Oklahoma.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Free Spirit

Meet my new bike!

I got lucky at the store and found this great used bike!  I rode her around town today and felt so happy and liberated.  Her name suits her well!  
I am so excited to ride her to work every day and be a bike commuter! 
One of the things I loved about NYC was taking public transportation everywhere... especially to work.  Well, what's better than that? A 15 minute bike ride! 
Soon, I am going to buy a basket for her too - then she will be complete. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ch-Ch-Changes

In a few hours, I'll be on a plane heading back to Texas/Oklahoma.  I'll officially end this phase in life and start a new one.  People have been asking me how I feel, or if I am ready, etc.  Through the process of this move, I have probably felt every emotion on the spectrum, but I can honestly say that now I am 75% happy and excited, and 25% sad.  It is hard to leave something/someplace/someone you love, but it is so much easier when you're going to something/someplace/someone else you love.  My friend Christie and I were talking about how sometimes it feels like life just leads you a certain way and without understanding it, once you get there, you just know it's right.  That's how I feel about this move. 

Among the many things, I will miss...

... taking public transportation everywhere.  
... an easy opportunity to do/eat/watch/etc. pretty much anything I could want... and usually at any time.
... Central Park and Prospect Park
... New England day trips - beautiful, quaint towns
... temperate summers and the crisp fall (but not the frigid winters!!)
... pizza, folded up, eaten on the street
... bagels - with that good ol' NYC tap water and Jewish recipe. mmm...
... brunching like nowhere else
... diversity 
... walking a lot every day 

most of all, 

... the people. I feel so blessed to have made such wonderful friends who were with me through the best and the worst - who made NYC feel like home.  I will miss them so much, but look forward to visits and chats and life long memories and friendships. 

Bye NYC - Love you, mean it. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

delectable doughnuts!

When somebody says to me, those are the best donuts in New York - maybe ever, I must have them. 

This morning I ventured into Queens to visit Peter Pan's Bakery. 
Coincidentally located at the corner of Manhattan Ave and Norman Ave - my past/present/future collision. 

The friendly staff and quintessential bakery shop look simply made me smile. 
They are best known for their red velvet donuts... and for a good reason!
 Don't worry - we didn't eat the whole box... yet. 

Nom nom nom... yummm

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hawaii pictures

Here are a few pictures from my trip to Hawaii that are from my friend Brittany's camera.  I wish I had pictures that captured every awesome moment, but here are just a few. 

After a looong trip, Brittany picked me up from the airport - greeting me with this beautiful lei! 

This is the kitchen - full of people - full of food. The house had such a happy, relaxed, familial quality to it! Many happy moments like this. 

Hanauma Bay - Brittany and I went snorkeling here with some cool fishies! 

Pictures from random hiking/sight seeing around the island.  It is just so incredibly beautiful there!



While we were watching the sunset in this cool little hidden spot a random wave just came out of nowhere and attacked Steve - not all of us, just Steve. I know its hard to appreciate this moment for those who were not there, but just look at the joy and laughter of this moment.   

We went to North Shore and went snorkeling with the sea turtles then made a bonfire and cooked dinner as the sunset and the stars came out.  A beautiful night!

Me and Mr. Sea Turtle - chillin.
 


I love Hawaii - so much.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pluot.

Plum + Apricot = Pluot = Amazing.  

Perfect soft/firm combination.
Perfect sweet/tart combination.
Perfectly juicy.
Perfectly delicious. 

I may have found my new favorite fruit.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hawaii!!!

I recently went on a trip to Hawaii to celebrate being done with TFA and grad school - it was amazing and I only hope I get to go back again in the future!  My camera broke the week before the trip (devastating) so I won't be able to include pictures, but these are the highlights of the trip:

People/Lifestyle
In the past couple years, I have truly realized that the people you are surrounded by make a tremendous impact on your experience/life.  I went on the trip with my friend Brittany - I couldn't have asked for a better travel partner.  To top that we stayed at her brother's house and were surrounded by tons of really great people.  Some of my favorite moments were just hanging around the house, feasting and drinking - it reminded me of college a lot.  I also want to take parts of their lifestyle and incorporate it into mine - they are incredibly active and emotionally relaxed.  They live for adventure, friends, new experiences, etc.

Beauty
I am used to seeing/hearing very beautiful, awe-inspiring things created by man - it is a whole different ballgame when it is all in nature.  Hawaii's landscape is truly incredible.  I even felt a bit silly - I had obviously seen pictures and videos of Hawaii, but seeing it person was somehow surprising.  I just couldn't believe it really existed.  

Top Activities:
- Surfing (way harder than it looks!)
- Snorkeling with sea turtles/reef and fishes
- Bonfire on the North Shore
- Hiking (amazing)

I loved Hawaii - it was the perfect trip. 
Smiling still.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

More Reflections

First, a celebration: I am done with grad school!!!!! 

My last post was a fresh reflection on the last two years teaching.  I have a few more thoughts, continuing the reflection:

Gratitude
I always knew I grew up in a good home/neighborhood/school/community/etc. but this experience has made me so much more grateful for the things I have been given in my life.  My public education was what all students in this nation deserve.  I was blessed with a strong, positive community.  I had many opportunities that lead me to become the person I am.  I think when we have a good thing, or have been given good things, it is often easy to forget that or take it for granted.  Or we may not even realize how good we do have it.  

Love for Diversity
One thing my upbringing did not allow me as much as I would have liked, however, is a diverse setting.  Living in New York and interacting with so many people who are so different from me has truly made me love   being surrounded by a variety of cultures and people.  

Motherhood
I truly feel like one huge purpose in my life is to be a wife and mother.  This experience has undoubtedly helped me prepare for that role.  My patience and understanding of children is strikingly different.  I honestly think I will be a much better mother, when that day comes.  

It's funny what diverging benefits come from one thing.  What did I expect when I applied almost 3 years ago?  I'm not really sure... but what I got was so much more. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

And it's over...

I am no longer a 1st grade teacher.

It's a weird thing to grasp.  I still have summer school to teach, but that will be an overall much different working situation.  I don't think I'll fully grasp this fact of life until I either have a new job or school starts... and I don't.  

These are my thoughts:

1. Emptiness.

I have poured myself, my life, and my time into teaching for the past two years.  In many ways, I lost touch with who I used to be... more like who I really am.  In reality, teaching became my identity.  And all of sudden, it no longer is.  I feel similar to when I decided to quit music.  An emptiness of sorts - this void of "what I do".   I am grateful, however, to fill that void with people and things that I love, and a job that ...better suits me.  I will always be affected and moved by this experience, but I am happy to say that I am ready to move on. 

2. Potential

I can say that I grew to be a good teacher.  My potential as a teacher, however, was not met.  I know that the teacher I could have been or could be has not been actualized.  This is a point of discomfort... but I know that I would never get to be that teacher at my current school.  Maybe I will one day return to teaching, to be that teacher. 

3. The problem exceeds my expectations.

At the start of this experience, I was largely unaware of the achievement gap in our public school system.  Over time I have realized that it is also a social gap and experiential gap and opportunity gap... etc.  I have realized that the system is often at fault.  I have realized that community and family situations play as large a role as teachers or schools.  I have realized that my work for the past two years is rather insignificant considering the work at hand.  TFA's motto is "One day, all children will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education."  I believe in the importance of this more now than ever, but I also worry about the realization of this statement more now than ever.  How will I continue to work for this in my future endeavors?  

4. Did you do what you came here to do?

This is the question TFA asks at the final meetings of the corps experience.  I have an unsettling answer: I don't know.  Yes, my kids made incredible growth and are over-prepared for 2nd grade... but the questions "Is it enough?" and "What more could I have done?" always take away from the ability to answer "Yes".    

5. What are the best parts?

In my exit interviews, I was asked about the best and worst parts of the job.  The best parts were easy:
1. My coworkers.
2. The kids.
3. The actual act of teaching/seeing results.

I am glad that I have dedicated two years of my life to this.  This experience has opened my outlook of the world in so many different ways.  I have found success where I started with such deep uncertainty.  I have grown to love a group of wonderful children.  I have been blessed with colleagues and friends who I love and respect and have learned a great deal from.  This experience has changed me, and I am grateful for that. 

Onward and upward...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stress...

Wrapping up the school year (9 more days!)
while...
Preparing for summer school.

Finishing up my masters (due July 10!)

Applying for jobs (such a process!)

I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed, to say the least.

One day - one thing at a time. 

Good news is I will never cease to enjoy life... more about that later!

Still smiling.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Martha's Vineyard

For Memorial Day Weekend, I went up to Martha's Vineyard with a group of friends.  It was so much fun!  The weekend was filled with laughter, amazing food (in unreasonable abundance), fun in the sun/nature, and just enjoying the company of the wonderful people around me.

Although I love, love, love living in the city - I need the escape.  This was a perfect way to spend the weekend without the buildings, the rush, and fuss. A few of my favorite photos from the mini-vaca.

Ferry ride to Martha's Vineyard.

Delicious clam chowder at Black Dog - a Martha's Vineyard staple. 

Photos from the "pond" - hanging out, skipping rocks, and kayaking!







Driving around with the windows down and the music up.


Amazing weekend.

Life is good.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June... really?

How is it already June?!

Am I really one month away from the end of my career teaching 1st grade?  

17 more days with kids in my class? 
(excluding summer school)

91 days left in NYC
(most likely... unless I figure out what I'm doing with my life before then and it changes)

2 more Saturdays of grad school
(Thank goodness)

June.

Who knew? 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Prezi = Love

I happened upon a new presentation software that is amazing! Prezi - check out their website.  It is actually unbelievably easy to use and will take any relatively cool presentation to impressive and memorable.

If only I had a presentation to give...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

yoga quote

Yoga always ends with a quote. Last night's quote was...

"What you're thinking is what you're becoming."
- Muhammad Ali

I believe in the reciprocal energies of this world and I believe in the power of thought.

and I love yoga.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Picnic Bliss

Spring is finally here! The winters are so long and hard, the spring is just so incredibly rewarding - liberating - joyous.  New Yorkers go crazy for it - the parks are packed with families, lovers, and friends just enjoying life in such a simple way - my favorite way.   The sun - flowers - air - smiles - its just a happier place.  

Pictures from a lovely Sunday afternoon - some fun in the sun in Central Park.

Some of our many picnic supplies
 Brit and Biz playing volleyball
 Lucy and her amazing dog, Penny
 Dave and Jen
 Brit and Alison - volleyball stars
Penny styling the latest fashions

Spring makes the world a happier place.

Friday, April 22, 2011

take a step back, breathe and smile

In college, when I decided to change my major, I felt like I had a mid-life crisis. This week felt eerily similar.

Last week, I had no idea what my future would really be... I had no details, no substantial plan, no specifics - I just knew that I was excited and it was going to work out - it was going to be great. For a variety of reasons, I lost all of that carefree, hopeful positivity this past week.

Then came the freak out. I was thinking about what I want in my near future: a steady job/career, a home/house, a family (husband, kids, dog - the whole shebang), and a close network of friends.

Freak out:
Steady job/Career - I'm quitting my job. I feel under-qualified for an adequate job in the field that I want. I feel utterly lost in attempting to job search. I will probably go to grad school, but can't next year so I'm in this odd temporary situation.

A home/house - You need money for this... and did I mention I'm quitting my job? and potentially/probably going to grad school? Now I'm not saying that I want to own a home right now - renting is very appropriate for me at this point in life - but the prospect of being 27 and in debt... doesn't help the prospect of owning a home.

A family - I've had one legitimate relationship. Ever. I feel very far away from this. Although I could get a dog in the near future, I suppose. Honestly, though - I'm fine with putting this off as long as I have a close network of friends.

A close network of friends - Just as I'm really developing that here, I'm leaving it. I also fear that I will never have a group of friends like I did in college. I just don't want to be lonely.

and take a deep breath in... and out.

I feel a lot better about all this now that I'm home. It's more like a "one step at a time" sort of thing. I guess that frequently follows a break down of sorts. Its like opening a new puzzle (I love puzzles) and at first, it looks daunting. But then you start with the edges, and it becomes doable. Does that make sense?
It also helps to focus on the present and the past - there has been and continues to be a lot of great things in life. I have no legitimate reason to doubt that my future will pan out in similar fashion.

In such uncertainty, it's nice to be able to say I know it'll work out and I'll continue to be happy.

The plan:
- enjoy life :)
- figure out the future... one step at a time

"Sometimes the best things come out of nowhere" - Megan

Thursday, April 14, 2011

favorites...

I already told you I'm becoming like Kirsten. I just found my favorite coffee shop in Brooklyn, thanks to my friend Emily. We met up to work on some grad work together, and lo and behold...

The Tea Lounge
It has it all:
- Tons of couches and chill seating
- Great food/drinks/etc - coffee/tea/wine/snack/meal - they've got it all!
- Lots of plugs for your computers
- Music (live and otherwise)
- Overall fun, chill feel

I love it - perfect for work, meet ups, or reading!

This is also very representative of how I'm currently feeling about my time in NYC. My first year could be easily summed up in one word: transition. I was transitioning into adult-hood, into the north-east, into teaching, into a new life, etc. I felt like the whole year I was dangling just above the ground just begging my feet to land solidly. Then, the beginning of the second year was full of so much unhappiness at work that it bled into my life in general. It was like my feet had finally landed, but they accidentally stepped on a nail. And now - finally - I feel like I am truly starting my life in NYC - truly feeling at home - truly feeling comfortable. And yet, in 19 weeks or less I'm 95% sure I'll be leaving. Part of me feels like I'm cutting it short. Part of me feels happy to have found this feeling and to enjoy it for the next few weeks. Part of me is glad to be leaving before I really establish this life and become attached... because then it only gets harder to leave. All that considered, at least I know I'll have a great time going out strong.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

new minor obsession.

I bought this book Thursday and I can't put it down! I'm borderline obsessed.

My friend Brittany is also reading it and I love being able to talk about it to her! (She's actually who recommended it to me.) We're going on a movie date when it comes out. And the movie looks just as fantastic as the book.

Eeek I love good books.

4 days till spring break in Portland!!

Side note: Can I have the beautiful spring sun and warmth without the icky spring storms?