Christmas Dreaming

The build-up of Christmas is like nothing else.  The buzz of Santa, crazy Elf-on-a-Shelf shenanigans, crazy shoppers fighting over parking spaces, holiday music, holiday parties, the list goes on.  I miss the Christmas Eve excitement–needing to get to bed early so Santa could come, leaving out glittery oatmeal and carrots for the reindeer and cookies and milk for Santa (or if my brothers got to pick Santa’s beverage, a Heineken). We had our Christmas Eve fun, a few family games, crazy amounts of food, and I fell asleep so quickly I didn’t even hear Santa’s arrival.

IMG_1720Christmas brings a sense of calmness and happiness.  While two days of nonstop family time might test that calmness just a bit ;), it only comes once a year.  6 days to the New Year. 6 days to a fresh start, to new resolutions. 6 days left to get things done.  To clean my room (after some prompting by a certain 6 year old), to get into a running routine (half marathon less than 3 months away), to open my work bag. Though I suppose I can wait to open my bag until after January 1st. 3 more hours of Christmas…a girl can dream.

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

There have been many times this fall when I’ve thought, I miss writing on the blog. I miss having a place to share my thoughts, and I’ve had plenty of hilarious fourth grade adventures to share. And then things got busy again. Writing on the blog became something that I would do next week. Then the week after.  First year teaching is no joke.  The biggest lesson I’ve learned has been the importance of letting go. Letting go of stressing about lessons, trying to remember the exact words, letting go of not totally understanding what fourth graders are supposed to learn, and having to accept that I can learn as I go-as long as I know things a day before they do, I’m okay.

In a never-ending quest for balance, I discovered the best medicine for being overworked, under-rested and a little stressed (okay, a lot), was home. My family, my friends, my bed. Quick weekend trips home made all the difference. Even when one relaxing weekend was followed with a bout of shingles. No need to harp on that, but let’s just say that I wouldn’t wish shingles on anyone. Ever. I’m finally feeling healthy again, taking another look at priorities, recognizing the importance of fun, working out and setting goals. Oh and enjoying Christmas. A few people might even argue I’m a bit obsessed (ahem, roommates). Cookies. Snow. Hot chocolate. Cookies. Christmas lights. Presents. Wrapping paper. Holiday music. Cookies. Family. Break. Love. Clearly the roommates might be onto something 😉

Three more wake-ups and Christmas break awaits. My plan is to come back rested and relaxed, ready for the craziness and laughs our crew of 24 fourth graders provides everyday.  And whether or not I plan to, I need to start getting serious about running. Getting serious about my half-marathon in March and finishing Boston in  April. I’m setting the bar high for 2014. More running, more racing, more fun, more blogging. And I’m setting the bar high for the last two weeks of December. Cue the carols, its go time.

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Back to School, Fourth Grade Style

I think the perfect school schedule is 2 days on, 1 day off. Sadly, that is just how things fell into place for this week, but a girl can dream 😉 I am loving the fourth grade frenzy, getting to know 23 kiddos, learning how to co-teach and organizing to the max. Our classroom started out as rainforest themed, but we quickly realized including lions, zebras and giraffes didn’t really fit in….so we switched to wildlife. Moving into a new room, unpacking, organizing and decorating was A LOT of work,  but we definitely got a work out each day and a chance to build the classroom together.  The almost final product (because we both are obsessed and keep adding more to the wildlife decor):

ImageImageLesson #1 from teaching fourth grade: The kids will question EVERYTHING. Something seemingly simple like bring in 3 things for your Me Bag that represent you elicits questions such as Can I bring in a pet if it fits in the bag? Can I bring in a dead animal? Can I bring in pet hair? I can’t make this up. It’s clearly going to be a very educational year.

With all the learning I’ll be doing between the hours of 8 and 3, and all the set up and planning I’ll be doing before and after, I am back on the quest of finding balance, fitting in time with friends, runs, workouts, time for me…which is proving to be a bit challenging seeing as I could crawl into bed at 9pm every night. Maybe I’ll ask my fourth graders for suggestions, they seem to have lots of ideas 🙂

Run Strong

I’ve always been told about the importance of stretching, strength training and cross training in addition to running, but only recently bought into it and realized how much balance helps me as a runner. With a never-ending string of shin splints, calf strains, shin splints, I was desperate at the start of the summer to do WHATEVER I needed to do to get back in running shape. Thanks to PT and an amazingly patient therapist, holding myself accountable for doing my PT exercises at home, and focusing on stretching and icing, I know I am getting back to where I left off with my running. And it feels great.

During PT, I realized that I have a hard time balancing (bosu ball torture taught me something 😉 ) and that if I want my shins to feel good during and after running, I need to make sure my hip flexors, knees and ankles are STRONG.  After a run, the first thing I want to do is gorge myself on animal crackers, and the last thing I want to do is resistant band exercises….but ya gotta do what you gotta do. And I want to keep having great runs like this

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For me, strength training means resistance band exercises at home and focusing on strengthening my legs when working with the trainer at the gym.  Foam rolling has found its way back into my life as well, and while it isn’t so comfortable it definitely helps. A lot.

Moral of the blog post: you need to keep your body strong to run. And I need to run to keep my mind strong.

Keep Calm and Organize On

Moving was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be, though I’m not sure what I would’ve done without the gift of movers from my parents. Moving large pieces of furniture isn’t pretty to begin with, but moving them into a third floor walk-up is a whole other ballgame! I was able to get unpacked and settled pretty quickly, and LOVE the new place. Amazing location, nice space and great roommates, and the gentle rumbling of the T going by every few minutes. And by gentle I mean so loud you can’t hear the TV when it goes by 😉

Organizing and decorating a new space gave me the chance to declutter a bit, and I think I’ve been fairly successful (if I forget that 75% of my clothes are still in my parents’ house). Here’s a look at my bedroom:

ImageExcuse the clutter on my dresser…it is being moved momentarily! My favorite part of my new room are these shelves that my dad/Mr. Fix-It measured and installed:

ImageIn continuing with my organization frenzy, I’ve tried to develop a filing system for paperwork of my own. I hoped to find an awesome printed file box, but ended up settling for a clear one from Staples. My goal is to use it to hold files for 1.School district paperwork 2. Healthcare information 3. Apartment lease and bills 4. Receipts and other finance things….we’ll see how it goes but I’m optimistic I will keep things organized (as much as I can).

As a disclaimer, at least in my situation, organization comes with a price tag, many trips to Target, TJ Maxx and Homegoods and the occasional fight with power tools. Never a dull moment!

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday–organizing, planning for the week, and relaxing. Oh, and here’s a close-up of this canvas I found (on a NECESSARY shopping trip) that has lots of positive reminders 🙂

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What’s your favorite part about moving into a new space? decorating?

Any successful organization systems you like?

Ready, Set…

The last few weeks have felt like I was approaching the starting line of a race, completely uncertain if I was ready to go, but listening intently for the sound of the starting gun just the same. Today was “GO!” First up, new apartment. Tomorrow is the official move, and while I am excited for a new place, fabulous new roommates and new chances to decorate, I am dreading boxes, going up and downstairs and unpacking…just a bit. Next up, new school, new job, new classroom. I know I can do this, but it doesn’t make it any less overwhelming. I know it will be great and exciting, but that doesn’t make it any less scary.while certainly not e most flattering picture, this definitely summarizes my feelings when I was ready to get on the road back to Boston this afternoon.

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When my friend’s 3 year old asked me today if I wanted to come on the plane to vacation with him tomorrow, I considered it for a hot minute. If only I had a bit more summer freedom left 😉 Ready or not, it’s go time, and time to embrace the excitement of change, and a new empty room…

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Summer Slow-down

Every June, when school gets out, I am reminded of the flurry of excitement and lofty plans that summer brings. I was fortunate enough to go an amazing family trip this summer, and then was quickly reminded of the importance of slowing down. Persistent shin splints landed me back in PT, where I learned that I walk the wrong way. I’ve always been told that I walk incredibly fast and need to slow down, and apparently the way I walk was doing damage as well. With directions from the physical therapist to focus on how my foot hits the ground, I’m trying to be more mindful of walking heel-toe and making sure my foot isn’t turning inward.

I have been running, slowly trying to build back my speed and endurance, which is sadly a slow process. Lots of time with cousins provided a lovely distraction, as did a few paddle boarding adventures. Looking ahead to the busy fall I have with starting a new classroom made me appreciate my slower summer pace a bit more. As do pool days. And barbecues. And fun dinners out.

The giant box of fourth grade curriculum is beginning to cast its shadow on me, and I’m definitely getting busy preparing for fourth grade, but I’m focusing on enjoying the last weeks of summer. Getting back to running with my new purple sneakers. Registering to run Boston 2014 when the special entry period opens in a few weeks. Planning a beach day. Getting some family time in. Doing a little back-to-school shopping. Going to cheer on my Mets. I’ll be back blogging about the adventures of moving, fourth grade and training soon enough. For now enjoying the slow-down.

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A little reminder of my spring goal 🙂