Friday, November 13, 2015

This is what happens when you start teaching extra classes...

Remember when I promised to post more frequently? Well, the week after I did that I found out one of the other teachers was leaving our program and they couldn't hire a replacement before the end of the semester. So here I am teaching an extra two classes a week! Her students are awesome and it's a lot of fun, but needless to say, it hasn't left me with a lot of free time!  and now I'm trying to remember where we left things here :)

Biggest and most important thing: My half marathon! I finished! I didn't get sick! I was 15 seconds away from beating a secret time goal!  (My real goal was to just finish the race, but who doesn't have some secret amazing thing they want?) All super good things. And if my GPS watch hadn't died at mile 7, I think I could've easily beaten the aforementioned secret time goal. Side note: GPS was fully charged that morning. Lately it's been lasting about 3 miles before the battery dies. A new one is NUMBER ONE on my Christmas List - (Hear that, mom or J? ;))   I've been running less since then, but there are two spring half marathons in my future, so the break from running longer distances can't last too long!

Other happenings:

We went to a young adult church retreat a few weeks ago. The topic was nostalgia/Back to The Future (because it was October 2015 and how could you not have that as your theme??) My biggest takeaway? "Live life like you're creating moments to be nostalgic for in the future." Love it!

Also in October, I went to my first TESOL Conference (our state chapter). It was great. I really enjoyed it, learned a lot, and picked up some great materials for my classes. It was very rejuvenating in the middle of a crazy busy semester. And a good reminder of how much I love what I do. :)

Free books and a tote bag! What more could a teacher ask for??

Last week was Mr. Conway's birthday! Hard to believe our little guy is 5 years old! I'm using this as an excuse to post more pictures of him, but really - who needs an excuse for Conway pictures??


I'm really enjoying this time of year. It's football season. J and I went to a great Halloween Party. I did some very fun Halloween activities in my classes (including pumpkin carving with my highest level group).  We also cut out paper snowflakes (because following multi-step written directions is one of our benchmarks to meet! Who said it had to be boring?)   I'm really looking forward to our Thanksgiving parties and to visiting my family for Thanksgiving itself.  I've started making my holiday shopping list (though have only purchased one little tiny stocking stuffer!) And it doesn't hurt that we've had unseasonably beautiful weather (though there is a chance of snow tonight..)  We even did some work clearing out our garden bed and planting garlic this past week. Note: After New Year's Day, my love of this season is officially over! Then it's just cold, dark and snowy ;)

30 pumpkins = a pumpkin patch in the trunk of my car!
The finished products!

Cowboys and Indians! Get it?? 
Snowflakes in the classroom
   Speaking of holiday shopping - I've been quite busy with Thirty-One! I've had two vendor events so far and have one more vendor event and a holiday open house :) Today is also my Thirty-One anniversary! Hard to believe it's been a year since I started this adventure. It's been fun and I'm excited to see what the next year brings.

Hope all my lovely readers are doing well and I hope to update again soon! (But, realistically, we'll see what happens ;) )

And one last picture - the vase and flowers J bought me just because :) He's the best!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hi. Remember me?

I love this ridiculous selfie with Conway. Found it on my phone when I was looking through pictures for this post. 

So. Hi. It's been a while. Last time I wrote, I was finishing up the summer term and now we're over a month into the fall semester! Time flies! Teaching is going well, and I'm enjoying getting to know my new groups of students. But things have been very busy. Fortunately, one of my classes is ending next week and it'll be nice to have an evening home again! (Which is also a little sad, because that class is a ton of fun and I'll miss it! But I will not miss what I affectionately call "12 hour Tuesdays"...)  I can't really recap everything that's happened since my last post, but I'll share some photo highlights with a little bit of commentary :)

First! We went to the Virginia beach at the end of August with a huge group of my friends. It was great and they are the best.

 I did some light summer reading, including this one (The School to Prison Pipelne). I also finished Born with Teeth, Bossypants, and another Akunin mystery novel or two. Sadly, reading has stalled since then! I even have two very sad library books I've renewed multiple times waiting for me to read them.. 

We went bike riding. 

And played mini golf.

We also went stand up paddle boarding. Which was awesome. I want to do it all the time :)

I enjoyed running along the boardwalk. 

We stopped on the way home at two of my favorite Williamsburg places. Pierce's... 

And Sno To Go!

We stopped at a rest stop with some pretty sunflowers :) Nothing special about this picture, I just like it.

The following weekend we were in the DC area. This is my obligatory "First ride on the Silver Line" picture. Granted, it's several months after many of my other friends posted theirs. But still. I have one ;) 

We were in the area for my good friend from college and grad school's wedding, which was just lovely. We had a great time!

Conway was pretty tuckered out from the trip! 

I finished this lace-back shirt, which I designed myself and made without a pattern.  I'm not the most technically skilled sewer (sewist?), but I enjoy the process for sure :) Now I just need to figure out how and where to wear this!

This dress isn't new, but it's one of my favorites and I finally got a nice picture of it :) I submitted it to a sewing contest, which it didn't win - but I did at least make the "here are some entries!" photo montage ;)

And this past weekend we took Conway to our church's blessing of the animals. It's complete chaos, but always a fun time. 

A few other random big things that I don't really have pictures of...

My doctor put me on a new diet to try to resolve some chronic stomach issues. I decided to cut out both what she recommended I cut as well as some other things I know cause issues for me. Sadly, it doesn't leave me with a lot of things I can eat - but I'm making do...  Cross your fingers that maybe some answers come of this! 

In early September I got a tattoo. There are (of course) pictures of this, but I've decided to not post them widely/publicly. If you want to see one, just let me know and I'm happy to share. I had made the appointment back in June and my artist had a long waiting list. She was totally worth it, though. I'm completely in love with the tattoo! 

Running has been going well.  I did the Beat The Blerch virtual half marathon back in August and I have a real half marathon this weekend. Wish me luck!  I'll try to remember to report back when I'm done!

And now that I feel like I've caught up and that posting won't be a huge deal / effort, I can try to get back to more regular posts...  (We'll see if this actually happens or not!) 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Reading, Running, and a StrideBox review

It's hard for me to believe the summer is almost over! I have one (ONE!) class left to teach for my summer session. Then a week off and back at it for the fall. So much craziness :) I've also just started teaching a new class for employees at a local hospital and it's been so much fun so far! Very different from my other classes and I love it.

J and I have been making the most of these last few weeks of summer. Lots of good food from our garden and our CSA box. And finally using our grill.  We've gone to a few more sporting events, including a baseball game with awesome fireworks, and an arena football game where we got to sit in a corporate suite!

In less fun and exciting news, I had some more medical tests done last week to try to figure out what's been going on with my stomach for the past (almost) two years. We may be a little closer to an answer, but I'm not going to count my chickens before they hatch. I won't get into much detail about personal medical stuff on this blog, and we're still waiting on biopsy results, but I do currently have an ulcer.  It's funny - when you feel sick for so long, you start to hope for tests results that show something is actually wrong with you and it's not all in your head...  Think good thoughts for me that we may solve this mystery!

On a happier note - I've been doing a lot of reading this summer. I've probably read more for fun this summer than I have in the past few years combined. I'm working my way through Boris Akunin's entire Fandorin series (I think I've finished 4 so far and have the next two checked out of the library), and have also read a couple of random books on creativity and organization (Such as Getting Things Done, and Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind). Side note: I'm trying very hard to implement the "two minute rule" from Getting Things Done. I found the rest of the organization tips a little overwhelming for my current situation - but the suggestion that if something takes less than 2 minutes to complete - just go ahead and do it. That I can get behind!)  I already blogged about reading 10% Happier (which I highly recommend!). I'm currently reading Amy Poehler's Yes Please and have Kate Mulgrew's Born with Teeth and Tina Fey's Bossypants checked out. I made a few recipes from Linda Ly's The CSA Cookbook and all were lovely and delicious.  And in true Erin fashion, I also have The School to Prison Pipeline: Structuring Legal Reform By Catherine Kim on my summer reading list ;)    I feel like there's something I'm forgetting, but even with that list it's a lot! I've been inspired by both my work teaching that literature seminar for adults in the workplace back in June and by my awesome friend Amanda's blog: Amanda Loves Words     So - if I ever finish my giant pile checked out from the library, does anyone have any other recommendations for me? ;)

My running has been going well so far this summer. I finished a ten-mile race last week! I wasn't fast, but I finished and I didn't get sick during the race. So I consider that a win in my book! :) Plus I got a shiny new medal!  Next up is a virtual half marathon, followed by a real half marathon in October...   I have to admit that one of the ways I got myself back into regular training and running longer distances was straight up bribery. ;) After getting my first box as a birthday gift (thanks, mom!) I subscribed to StrideBox. (Note: they don't have a referral program yet, so I'm sharing this just because I love it so much) Every month you get a surprise box of running related goodies. I told myself I could use one item from the box for each run over 5 miles. (two for 10 miles!) And it's been a fun way to try new products and keep my mileage up ;)  Not all of the products have been winners, but there's been at least one product from each box so far that I've liked enough to buy :)

May StrideBox

I ended up buying the Osmo Active Hydration power from this box. I've used it on several of my runs in hotter weather and during my ten-mile race.

June StrideBox

In this box I really liked the MESTRENGTH recovery drink powder. I've found it really helps after my long runs or other tough workouts :) I also really like the Ruby's Lube and might buy it instead of BodyGlide *gasp*! 

July StideBox

I really like the Huma energy gels from this box! I bought more to use during my ten-mile race and they *knock on wood* don't seem to upset my stomach :) Yay! 

August StrideBox

Just got this one in the mail! I haven't had a chance to use anything yet, but I generally love the Honey Stingers chews and can't wait to try this flavor :) 

And that's it from me for this evening! I leave you with a few more questions (in addition to my above request for book recommendations ;) )  Have you ever tried a running (or other) subscription box? Did you discover something you love? 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Thirty-One Conference 2015

I'm really excited to finally be sitting down to write this and share about my conference experience! I've been very busy since I came home, but fortunately it's been a lot of fun stuff including my first double-digit long run in almost 2 years (10 mile race next weekend!), a cookout with J's coworkers, a 14-mile bike ride that was part of a friend's birthday celebration (he did 40 for his 40th!), and the Cleveland World Festival today. I've been loving getting to spend so much time outdoors this week :)

Now, on to conference...
I have to say that I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the conference, so I tried to go in with an open mind. And I am so, so glad I went.  Just in case anyone was worried, I didn’t leave there wanting to quit my day job and just sell Thirty-One for a living. ;) If anything, it strengthened my commitment to using my talents to change lives... and my talents are much more about teaching than sales :) 

My top 5 takeaways:

1. I’ve already shared this on Facebook, but love your journey.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  You don’t *need* to know where you are going to end up (this is a big one for me!). Everyone moves through life differently. There’s no sense in feeling sorry for yourself because others are “doing better” than you. We all have a different journey, so focus on the path you are taking and try to enjoy the ride. Choose to be happy where you are.

2. Success without joy is worthless. Not that every moment is going to be amazing and perfect. Work will be hard. But it has to give something back to you and not just suck all your energy.

3. The question “How is someone’s life better after crossing my path?”  It doesn’t have to be something life-changing every day. But what can you do to help someone feel a little bit brighter?

4. How to stop catastrophizing. Again, another big one for me. The speaker who talked about this suggested, after thinking of your crazy worst case scenario, acknowledge that thought and then try to think of an equally crazy best case scenario. And then find something much more likely in the middle. I’ve been working on this and it seems to work well so far!

5. Whatever your vision is, keep it in front of you. Remind yourself of it. And replenish your energy from goal fatigue by celebrating small milestones along the way.

Of course, I got some great business ideas, too. But those 5 things are so incredibly valuable for helping me be the best possible version of myself in ALL aspects of my life.

Here are some other things I loved about the conference: 

New products and patterns

 This is the new Fashion Games bag. It comes in three different colors and they're all lovely. It would make a very nice work bag. 

Those of us who like more neutral colors are in for a treat this season.

Those who like blue, green, and teal are also in luck :)

Here's a great setup of all the different totes Thirty-One offers! We have a bag for that :)

Kitchen organizing ideas!

Awesome things Thirty-One does for consultants

Like I said, while I'm not going to quit my day job,  I am definitely feeling inspired to help others discover the Thirty-One opportunity. The company really is good to its consultants, does so much to give back to the community, and is all about empowering women to do good in the world.

All of this is included in the new consultant enrollment kit! $99 for over $400 in products and business supplies to get you started. I have several of the items in this kit and they are great. I use them all the time! 

Conference amenities. We got all this just for attending the conference! I'm really excited about the Soft Utility Tote and the Everything Crossbody (on special in August)!

New personalization options

I love the new "I (heart) ________" design!  You can customize the color of the text and of the heart :)

The large initial is another new option coming soon for our bags!

You can now get the Thirty-One Gives logo on your products. What an awesome way to help others learn about the Thirty-One Gives charity!

Thirty-One celebrity encounters

I was randomly selected for a photo op with Thirty-One founder Cindy Monroe! Pretty awesome :)

I also met Janet Kinkade, who designs Thirty-One's new JK by Thirty-One jewelry line.

Other fun things in and around Columbus

I finally stopped at Grandpa's Cheesebarn on the way down to Columbus. Oh my goodness. Cheese heaven. I want to go back and eat more samples and buy more cheese.

Shakespeare in the park with my awesome friends who let me stay with them conference weekend. You guys are the best! 

And, of course, the aforementioned friends' adorable little kitty :)  I don't get to spend a lot of time with cats, so it was fun to hang around two of them for the weekend.

And that's it from me for now! I hope everyone had a great weekend and that you found something in this post that helps you strive towards the life you want to live :)