Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Recovering from Texas

Oh it's been a busy, busy few days.  I was in San Antonio for a conference over the weekend. It was lovely to catch up with some friends and colleagues I haven't seen in a long time. And a little surreal to attend my first post-PhD conference. The film series I helped organize went very well, as did my presentation on my roundtable.  And I even got in a run along the Riverwalk in 65* weather! Won't be seeing those temperatures around here for a long time.... 

A few pictures from the trip... 
Helping with pre-trip laundry :)

Riverwalk Christmas Tree

Obligatory Alamo picture

Gotta have a good steak in Texas!

It was a little strange telling my colleagues what I've been up to. Many had heard I got a job, but no matter how much I love my job, it still felt awkward saying "yes, but it's not technically in our field."  But times are changing and people finally seem to be starting to realize that the tenure-track is not the only option. I got some lovely advice on being an independent scholar, which left me feeling happy and energized about research again. And I was super happy to hear a (male!) colleague in a tenure-track job (or perhaps already tenured, I've lost track!) respond to the question "What have you been up to?" with the answer "Raising my children. Oh, and teaching." Love it. 

Watched the Browns game at a bar in the airport while I enjoyed some Texas BBQ

While I was gone, I asked my lovely husband to go to the store and pick up some Thanksgiving cookies for my Monday evening class, since we were having a Thanksgiving party and I wouldn't have time to get them myself (got back late on Sunday night from Texas).  When I arrived home, I found him making cookies because he didn't find any cookies he thought were Thanksgiving-appropriate.  Have I mentioned lately that he's the best?

Doesn't that cookie look amazing? They tasted great, too!

On a related note, it's impossible to find anything Thanksgiving-themed. It's all Christmas. I wanted some little trinket (stickers, pencils, anything) to give away as bingo prizes in my classes. Nothing! 

I spent Monday night after class baking 4 pies for my Tuesday classes. My morning class had a potluck Thanksgiving party and it was great to get to try goodies from all over the world. In both classes we went over the Libby's Traditional Pumpkin Pie recipe before we ate :) It was a great way to practice a really useful English skill (reading a recipe). And the students all said they loved the pie!
"Lesson Planning"

Explaining the phrase "they learned to hunt turkeys" to my level 0 students.

Today we are celebrating our 6-month wedding anniversary! With flowers, champagne.... and discussing all of our health insurance options because it's open enrollment period. Hooray for being grown ups. ;)

 And I'll leave you with this outtake from some pictures I took for an upcoming Thirty-One Gifts event :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thank goodness for yoga

This, my friends, is what greeted me in my car this morning. With the wind chill, it was -7* when I walked the dog this morning. It's way too early to be this cold! And way too early to have this much snow.  I'm going to a conference in Texas this week. I'm not really ready for it and that was stressing me out. But now I just want to be somewhere warm and where the ground isn't snowy/icy. And hopefully I'll finish my presentations and packing in time... 

Yesterday morning when I was loading my bags of books into the car, I stepped on the edge of the recessed drain cover in the middle of our driveway (which I didn't see because of all the snow). And twisted my ankle pretty badly. Ugh. Thank goodness for yoga and all of the balancing work I do there. My ankles are nice and strong. Don't get my wrong - it still hurts a lot, but I think it's only a mild sprain instead of something much, much worse. (For a split second I thought I might have broken it, that's how crazily it twisted!) 

On a happier note, classes have been going well. We did a fun activity in my evening class last night where everyone wrote a few sentences about themselves in the first person, then we passed the papers around and they read sentences about each other in the third person. It was really neat to get to learn a little more about each other while practicing grammar!  In my morning class today we talked about holiday celebrations/traditions. Next week we'll be having a Thanksgiving potluck and I'm looking forward to seeing what my students bring in. (One brought in cookies today - always a treat!) Now if only the heater in that classroom would start working. My poor students were all bundled up in their winter coats and gloves during class today!

Finally, I just wanted to share an example that illustrates why I like the term "ESOL" (English for Speakers of Other Languages) instead of "ESL" (English as a Second Language).  My afternoon class is an absolute beginner (level 0) group. I was chatting with one of my students before class today. She's from a country where she grew up speaking two languages. Her mother immigrated to that country, and my student knows the language of her mother's native country, too.  So while she's a very beginner in English, it's already her FOURTH language. I am seriously impressed! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

It's really winter

It's snowing again. Yesterday it stopped for a little bit. But it's snowing again. Another 3-5 inches tomorrow,says the weather report. One of the things that's been really hard for me to adjust to is how life just goes on when it snows. This would close schools where I come from in Virginia! Regardless, I'm surviving. Complaining, but surviving. I used my Starbucks rewards for a free venti Chestnut Praline Latte on Friday while I worked on paperwork for work. And yesterday I went to run club and survived six snowy miles. My legs are definitely not used to slushy roads!

A few pictures from Friday:

In this picture, he's saying "mom, stop taking pictures so we can go for a walk!"

This was on Friday morning and it continued to snow all day Friday...

In this picture, he's saying "mom, stop taking pictures so we can go back inside!"

Bundled up for a cold and snowy run Saturday morning!

Friday was also the first hockey game of the season. Definitely feels like winter! Other fun events of the weekend included the New Pornographers concert (which, mom, I promise has nothing to do with pornography!) and the church craft fair. The woman I learned to knit from had a booth with some quilting and embroidery that her and her husband made.

I also finally made the lunch box I planned on making in August or so. I'm in love! 

Love this fabric!

Velcro closure on the inside.

The outer material is a laminated cotton and the inner material is PUL. There is a layer of insulated batting, so it will keep lunch at the appropriate temperature. The lining is waterpoof and the whole thing is machine washable, so it will be easy to clean if I do spill anything. I made this using my go-to basic bag formula (it's not really a pattern, per se.) I'm hoping to post a tutorial over my winter break!

The other exciting thing was that this box came in the mail :)

But more about that at a later date!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Winter's first "snow stick"

Welcome to winter! We've had a couple of flurries here and there, but today was winter's first "snow stick" :) My band rehearsal was even cancelled because of the weather. This photo is from my drive to work this morning (taken while stopped, of course!)
I only teach one class on Thursdays and today's class went well. I had three new students, which always makes me a little nervous because you never *really* know what their abilities are until they're in your classroom (regardless of what their intake test scores say).  But all three seem like really nice people :) One even came up to me after class to tell me that she thought I was a good teacher. There are so many days when I doubt myself, so that was really nice to hear. I love it when students take the time to say things like that :)

I also like it when students bring me treats! These are some Russian chocolates from one of my students. Yum! Anyway - today in class we talked some about holidays (we'll do more next week), and did some reading from one of my new favorite books: Can You Believe It? Stories and Idioms from Real Life, Book 3. This book not only has some really interesting/crazy true stories, but is great for teaching idioms. It's also nice to use in a mixed-level class, because the stories are pretty easy, but even the more advanced students learn some new expressions. Today's favorite idiom was "to sleep on it."

Also wanted to share my outfit for today. The cardigan (and pants, not pictured) are from my favorite online consignment store, Twice. The scarf I made myself from yarn I fell in love with at Michaels (when I was not there to look at yarn, but I just couldn't help it!) . It's Patons Cobbles Yarn, a superbulky (and quite soft) yarn. I only bought one skein, but it was enough for this seed stitch cowl. And it knitted up quickly on size 15 needles!

Nice and cozy for chilly winter days like today!

I also made the shirt I'm wearing today. I always get really excited when I wear clothes I've made myself and they don't spontaneously combust or otherwise fall apart :) This is the Natty Top. It's a pretty easy (and free!) pattern.  I made it this weekend from fabric left over from a skirt I did a few months ago. I altered it slightly to give it a little bit of a cowl neck and to better fit my own body (aka: a smaller size in the chest and a bigger one in the hips!) One of the things I love about sewing my own clothes is that, at least in theory, I can make them fit *me*. 

And here's a shot of the shirt without the cardigan. I'm definitely hoping to make more of these when I've got time!

That's it from me for now. Have a lovely day and stay warm :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

First post

Just trying to figure this out. Stay tuned for my adventures in teaching, crafting, running, and anything else I feel like writing about! Expect more quick little snippets from my life, assorted musings, and random anecdotes than fully-formed essays.