Mental Break

I have found myself with an unexpected free period due to the fact that another teacher has a guest speaker and took 2/3 of my class as an audience. The rest are just sitting here having a pleasant free time/make up work session. This is a “just what the doctor ordered” situation because I am still recovering from yesterday.

Yesterday, I broke up a fight in my classroom during 3rd, had a parent meeting during my lunch, contacted upwards of five parents for behavior during 4th, had to creatively problem solve the surreptitious rubber band shooting war my 6th period was having, and found myself explaining to a clueless adolescent male the myriad reasons it is inappropriate for him to change clothes in front of people during class even if he is technically behind everyone.

It was a day.

Now that I have THREE whole breaking up fights experiences through my 12 years of teaching (two of which happened just this year), I feel I can definitively say that I would rather break up a boy fight than a girl fight any day of the week. In both boy fight cases, the boys had the presence of mind to quit hitting each other when I took the middle position. They may not quit posturing, yelling, and unintentionally spitting on me, but they haven’t harmed me yet (which is awesome because they could easily knock me right out if they so chose). The girl fight took four adults, some of which were grown men, and several helpful students (the few not recording it to post on social media) to break apart, and it didn’t end until the girls involved decided it ended. Pretty sure that girls might be willing to fight to the death if left unattended.

The more you know!

Alright, so accountability check on the half marathon training! It’s been hit and miss. Sergio went out of town a few weeks back and I pretty much fell off the wagon that week. I lost the whole wagon. It was not even in sight anymore. We got back on track that weekend, but it has become pretty evident that with Rolo’s activities and my work meetings, I may only be able to average three days a week rather than four (if I want to rest between). Sergio has done a better job of sticking with the schedule and increasing his distance. I kind of suck at the whole thing, but I haven’t quit, and that’s about all I can say for myself.

I need some book recs because I don’t know what to read. Please keep in mind that I don’t enjoy feeling feelings or unnecessary levels of drama based on miscommunication. Ok, book recs GO!

 

 

Mini Chef and More

Rosalind has somewhat mildly expressed a growing interest in helping in the kitchen. She has always helped out a bit with baking and decorating stuff, but she’s reached the point now where she can actually handle most daily bakes (like from a box mix) all alone. So we’ve slowly been teaching her how to do basic meals from time to time as well.

At least twice now, we’ve handed her some cookbooks and told her she’s in charge for the day. We don’t abandon her or anything, but she’s in charge of what we eat. It doesn’t always have to be from a cookbook, but the idea is the same.

This brought us to last week when Rosalind decided to make pasta from scratch AND a lemon tart. In order to aid her in this quest, we found a cooking store and bought a pasta machine and a tart pan. Neither were as expensive as I would have thought, but while I could take or leave the tart pan, I have to recommend the pasta machine as a legit purchase.

We’ve made fresh pasta in the past, and while they say you can roll it out and it will just be “rustic”, we have not found that rusticity to be so great. But Rolo’s pasta? It was so good that we considered just making it again the very next day. The tart was pretty good too! Rolo loves a lemon dessert.

As for the sauce on the pasta, we modified a simple Food Network sauce. I would totally put the recipe here if I could remember what the heck I did because I would like to recreate it one day, but my brain can’t even come up with the basics. Pancetta? Peas? White wine? Parm? But there was more. Garlic? Cream? I think so.

I enjoy knowing that Rosalind will be able to feed herself a warm meal one day, and maybe she’ll continue developing her interest in food, but I will also say, she DOES NOT possess the patience of a born chef. Last night we had her caramelizing some onions in our instapot on the patio (no stinky onion smell in the house!), and she randomly wandered inside more than once, totally leaving the onions to burn. Stirring is not a meditative act for her at this point. The onions were amazing, btw, so no harm.

In other unrelated news:

Big, loping tumbleweeds tickle me.

Random drawings that I find in Rolo’s lunch bag tickle me.

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The restaurant El Modelo in the South Valley is one of the best meals we’ve had yet. This was breakfast. You can see chorizo, bean, and egg stuffed sopapillas, Sergio’s menudo, and our smothered tamale. I wanna go back.

 

Quick Run/Quick Post

Accountability check: We ran both days this weekend as mandated by the training app. Full disclosure – I woke up this morning totally not in the mood and really hungry. Instead of running straight away and being content with a a stop at the end for a coffee, I convinced everyone we should go have a big breakfast. This is usually a recipe for letting ourselves off the hook for the day. But not today! Not failing on the internet is working as a motivator so far!

It also helped that Sergio found a new path for us to try in order to shake things up. We haven’t been out to see anything new around Albuquerque in a while, so he found a path to run in Petroglyph National Monument. It’s really just right in town. It’s not even a trek, but it is in the quadrant of town that we never have any reason to go to at all, so we had just not made it before today.

We took our human and fur children and devised a plan of running out ahead of them for a few minutes, circling back to them, and then running out ahead again. In this way, we kept an eye on everyone and managed our complete distance. Win/Win!

I would like to go back out again soon when we aren’t running by all the petroglyphs and study them a little closer. Saw some general designs, some animals, and maybe … an alien? Either way, it was a very pretty area to run, and the weather was exactly the kind I dreamt of having all those dark snowy days in Alaska.

 

Updates

I’ve started and abandoned a few different posts recently because my attention has been focused elsewhere. It’s one of those times where I can’t figure out where to start off again, so we’ll just do an updates post and start again. Sound fair?

Work:

So where has my attention been focused? Well, this is terrible to admit, but for the moment, it’s back on work. I think the first quarter fully kicked my ass, and then I spent second quarter in what I can only call a teacher depression. However, since we’ve come back from Christmas, my energy level is up, and it’s starting to feel like teaching again…as opposed to maintaining order (survival mode), I guess. So while this feeling lasts, I’m trying to implement some strategies from a SIX DAY training I just finished. I’ve never been out of a classroom for six days. I might as well put some of these ideas to good use because we’ll never get through the material now anyway. The nice thing is, the more effort I’ve been putting into the prep, the more fun it’s been to teach again. It’s kind of like working out in that way…which brings us to update number two!

Working Out:

The whole moving twice thing threw us off of our workout game quite a bit. To fix that, Sergio and I have decided to sign up for a half marathon to be run right before our trip abroad this summer. I’m not telling you guys this for any other reason than accountability. We’re using a training app, and I know that as soon as we surpass the mileage that I’m used to (which is where it started us), I will get lazy and whiny and probably not stick with it. But if I tell you, I’ll feel compelled to stick with it. We’ve run the training route on schedule three times this week. I pretty much hate every minute of it, but I feel a lot better. I think I’m seeing a pattern here?

Resolutions: 

Reminder: My resolutions were to 1) Keep a book in the bathroom (while also banning my phone from said location) and the Kindle consistently charged by the bed, and 2) Drink more water at work.

I’m on track to have read six books before the end of January. None of these are carryovers from 2018. Only one is a repeated read. So I think this might be the most successful resolution I’ve ever made. I do apologize that you have to know that I read in the bathroom. I think that is one of those universal secrets we’re supposed to leave unacknowledged to each other. My bad.

It took until this week to get a large container for water that I brink to work, but I began downing between 20 and 40 oz of water before I left for work and another 20 or more when I got home (and then any other water that I naturally drink in a day). This was still far under the recommended amount of water a person should have, but it turns out that I must have been barely above the “sustaining life” level of water drinking. I feel better, like, a DISTURBING amount better on a daily basis.

Rolo:

It took until just recently, but we finally got Rolo situated with equivalent, if different, activities. She used to do piano, swim, and go to Scouts. Now she is doing piano, singing in an after school choir, and about to join an after school track program for girls. A sport, an instrument, and a hobby. It only took nine months!

House:

We’ve replaced 18 light fixtures. We put the stairs on the back burner for now and just threw a white coat of paint on them while we accomplish other tasks. Except we aren’t accomplishing a ton of other tasks because we are just kind of living and going skiing and stuff. Or maybe it’s more appropriate to say that we’ve been focusing on decor and maintenance for now. Some real projects are in the works though! If anyone wants to come visit anytime soon, that would really get us motivated to finish some things.

Pets:

Eliot continues to be great. He was very cuddly when we returned home from Christmas break. Charlie is enormous. I don’t know what we’ll do if she doesn’t stop growing. She already has two cages and takes up 1/5 of Rolo’s room. I will NOT clean three cages.

Pictures: 

Here are some pictures from December through now. I’m very behind, I know.

P.S. The picture of my classroom toy shelf is to show that one of my students drew me that Dobby picture for Christmas. SOB!

According to Plan

When choosing New Mexico as a possible location for our home, one of the biggest draws was the proximity to skiing. All outdoor sports, really, but especially winter ones. I know that seems silly considering where we were coming from, but there were a lot of barriers to enjoying the outdoors in Alaska. The dark, the extreme cold, the moose population. We actually did go skiing in Alaska one time, but it was a fiasco. I can’t even remember if I wrote about it because it was such a mess of a day.

If you are wondering why we preferred New Mexico over the more popular ski state of Colorado, I invite you to peruse cost of living articles. Not to mention that I really preferred the general lack of winter weather that New Mexico offered outside of the mountain locations.

All of that intro/exposition is to let you know that we finally settled on our ski plan for this winter, and had our FIRST SKI DAY! And it was GLORIOUS!

First, the general info for those that might be curious. After moving cross country and buying a house, I wasn’t exactly prepared to buy three season passes to the bigger resort areas. Nor are we ready to buy our own equipment. We’re hoping to find some deals on that at the end of the season. Despite not wanting to sink a ton of money into season passes, we still really wanted to ski quite a bit this winter. After doing a decent amount of research, we settled on punch passes that allow us entry to a number of the smaller ski areas between Los Alamos and Durango. The initial draw to these areas was that children under ten ski free. FREE!

Our nearest location is Pajarito in Los Alamos. They also offer very affordable ski and snowboard classes. This was a plus because while Rolo can ski for free, she can’t actually, ya know, ski yet.

Yesterday we left the house at 6 am and arrived on the mountain at 8 am to make sure Rolo found a spot in the all day (first come/first served) snowboarding class. Yup. She chose snowboarding, and that’s fine by us. We know our family dynamic well enough to know that she’s probably better off learning a skill that we can’t help her with because our “help” can often end in her frustration.

We left Rolo in the capable hands of her instructor for the next FIVE hours, and literally skied until we were too exhausted to ski anymore. Not only did we have as good a time as we hoped, but it was also nearly 40 degrees and sunny. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. We were even home to care for our pets by the late afternoon.

And how did Rolo enjoy snowboarding? Well, she was as excited at the end of the day as she had been at the beginning, and she can’t wait to go back for the next level of lessons. That’s a success in my book.

Recaps and Resolutions

I think…did I manage…to take the whole month of December off accidentally? I think I might have. Sorry about that. Totally unintentional.

So let’s start fresh with the new year, shall we? Happy New Year! We didn’t celebrate this year because we had a very early flight that required a very early wake up call. We’re back home in Abq now, enjoying a snow day.

It’s time for resolution recap, resolution making, and maybe even a lackluster 2018 book review!

My 2018 resolutions were not the motivators for me that they had been in 2017, and since one of them was about reading, you can already see that I am not going to have much to say about book choices this year.

Why were my resolutions (read one challenging book for every one fun book, aiming for at least two per month and donate steadily to a cause of my choice) so easily broken this year? I think it can mostly be chalked up to the move, the new job, and the new house. All of my routines have been upended this year, and it’s taking some time to readjust. I guess it’s hard to focus on being a better person when there are multiple moves to accomplish.

To that end, my resolutions this year are a bit…less optimistic.

  1. Keep a book by the bed and in the bathroom (if Kindle, keep Kindle charged).
  2. Ban my phone from the bathroom so that I will pick up the book I’ve left in there.
  3. Drink a lot of water at work. The water there is not awesome, so the logistics of this one actually require more effort and organization than you would think.

Surely those things are accomplishable? Right? I guess we’ll see.

My 2018 book list is so pitifully short this year. Last year, I posted only a portion of my list, and then Barack Obama posted his, and it turned out we recommended a few of the same things. I felt pretty good at that time. He already posted his list this year, and nope, not a single commonality this time.

I think just about every book on this list is worth reading, so we’ll skip that part. I’ll just put a ! next to any book that I might go out of my way to recommend verbally to someone for any reason whatsoever. For example, the Mexican Daughterbook would be a good classroom read, and Year Oneis a good rec for a plane or beach read. Use your discretion.

What I Read: 

Lake Success – Gary Shteyngart

Year One – Nora Roberts !

The Hate You Give – Angie Thomas !

Less – Andrew Sean Greer !

Calypso – David Sedaris

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter – Erika L. Sanchez !

We Were Eight Years in Power – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman !

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz

Killers of the Flower Moon – David Grann !

Vacationland – John Hodgman

We listened to the next couple of books together as a family, and I highly recommend them both in that format, though be careful with one inappropriate spot in RPO if listening with kids:

The Princess Bride – William Goldman

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

As usual, everything else on my list is either a comic series, a reread, or a short story. In fact, this year, I also have another 4 – 7 books that I started in 2018, but haven’t yet gotten around to finishing. It’s okay because if I wrap them all up very soon, I will be able to pad my 2019 list! Silver lining!

 

 

We Christmased

We got a new tree to fill our larger space. We decorated it with some of our Alaska stuff and some of the Christmas stuff that was packed away for four years. I honestly don’t know what we’ll do when we get all of our stuff back because even this much fluffier tree is already teeming with ornaments.

Rolo and I also attended The Nutcracker Ballet after doing a little shopping for appropriately festive attire.

I’m missing the Alaska Christmas traditions a little right now (not including the forsaken ice park), but we’re working to establish fun new ones here. And guess what? Only eighteen days until we’ll be home for a fun, old-fashioned Baxley/Barron family Christmas.
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Failed

I woke up yesterday and realized that I had completely forgotten to post again. I’ve done that several times this month. There are just so many places for my brain to focus right now, and I’ve decided I’m okay with that.

Instead of deciding to rush a tiny thing out for no reason, I just decided that failure on this self-imposed task was fine this year. In the past, the posting everyday thing was meant to accomplish two goals. The first goal was to force good content out of me. The second came along in Alaska when I needed something to keep me distracted from the extreme dark and cold.

First of all, I was not producing very good content this year anyway. Instead I was just doing tweet level posts in order to meet a quota. Second, I found that I don’t need the distraction anymore.

(Side  note: I love the extended daylight that being back down state provides, but can we just go ahead and eradicate daylight savings time? It is the worst. Even stealing that one stupid hour of light from me has had an impact on my productivity and energy level. I’ll be organizing a march against DST soon. Join me.)

It’s so nice not to feel like I am just counting down November. I’ve even enjoyed this month for all of it’s extended fall qualities! What a relief. We’ve been running around like crazy people working on the house, moving out of the apartment (officially turned in our keys Tuesday), working, being parents, and hosting visitors. It’s a lot!

(Additional side note: Does it make me extremely annoying that I also find myself missing the calm, cozy routine of a quiet Alaskan winter while also celebrating that I’m not there doing that? Being a human is so complicated.)

Anyway, I started listening to Christmas music two days ago. We broke out some old Christmas boxes that Sergio’s parents delivered to us (they kindly stored many of our belongings while we lived in Alaska). We had the best time going through our stuff and reminiscing over what we found, or asking ourselves what something was and why we decided we should keep it. Four years away from things will break you from a decent amount of your sentimental attachments.

(Probably the final side note: We also kept some stuff that seems useless now because we were not sure we would make it in Alaska for a whole year, or more than one year. It seemed stupid to throw away utilitarian items that we might need again in six months if we ran screaming from Alaska. Now it seems silly when we have long since replaced those items with newer items, but that’s the reason some confusing things come out of the boxes. Most of the stuff is sentimental though.)

Our plan is to do something about a tree and outdoor decorations this weekend. We’ll eventually buy a big artificial tree, but I think we’ll participate in the Every Kid in a Park program’s tree program in which fourth graders get into National Parks free and then can also cut down a tree from National Park land. Might as well take advantage of that for the one year she is a fourth grader. Obligatory social media holiday decor pictures to come.

(Actual real final side note: Enjoy the rest of your November, everybody!)