Morning

2015/01/28

Every morning I am here an hour before school. Some days kids come for tutoring, some days not. (Today I had 6.) The quiet never lasts long enough. This semester is proving hard for me. My teaching is going better, but I feel myself more emotional and annoyed with the students. Which is the exact opposite of what these kids need. Breathe.

Hike

2015/01/26

I feel like I dwell a lot on this little facet of my personality, but sunshine makes me happy. Every year I seem to lose yet more ability to handle even mildly cold temperatures so hiking on a brilliantly sunny day at 70 degrees suits me just fine.
It's time to start getting ready for another grand canyon trip. I had one scheduled for last September, but my summer backpacking caused me to develop a medium case of plantar fasciitis and I had to cancel. Sad for sure but I suppose one can't expect to hike the grand canyon *every* year. Unless one is as spoiled as me.


Cold

2015/01/10

What better way to enjoy Austin's first freezing rain of the season than with a five mile run? (I'm not sure Cinnamon agreed.) Notice the tiny icicles hanging from the street sign, they made me feel some somewhat heroic about my endeavor. Clearly all my Utah cred has disappeared since I find engaging in this weather remarkable at all.

Xandy and I have a competition to see who can take the most steps in January and it's giving my lack luster running a much needed boost. 18,655 steps today. Take that sister!

Books 2014

2015/01/09

I read 26 books in 2014 and I feel that is a few inches in the right direction. I finally bought a kindle at the end of the summer and it (along with the library's recently improved e-book catalog) has really invigorated my love of reading. That and my somewhat conflicted decision to give up book clubs more or less. I'm just doing better right now reading what suits my fancy. I get grumpy when I'm told what to read apparently.

My five star titles were:



Year in Review 2014

2015/01/04

And maybe a bit of 2013. I realize that this annual update didn't make it's way out of my head last year so I have a little catch up to do.

If I had to bullet list (as I am known to do) some of the major sections of my last two years, they would be:
  • Travel. Man, as I type out this list I'm realizing how much enjoyment I've gotten from moving about the past couple of years. I really love having a trip, no matter how bit or small, on the horizon to look forward to. I've logged a lot of miles recently. Hopefully I'll get further afield in the next year or two, although as of right now I don't have anything specific planned.
 
New Orleans Jazz Fest, April 2013
Port Aransas, May 2013
Las Vegas, June 2013
Washington D.C., June 2013
Mexican Cruise, July 2013
Grand Canyon, September 2013
New Orleans Mardi Gras, Mar 2014
Sam Houston National Forest, Mar 2014
Lost Maples State Park, April 2014
New Orleans, June 2014
Ink's Lake, June 2014
Virginia section of the AT, July 2014
Blacksburg VA, July 2014
Washington D.C., July 2014
New Orleans and Gulf Coast Mississippi, August 2014
Greenville SC, Sept 2014
Kansas City MO, Oct 2014
Albuquerque NM, Oct 2014
New Orleans, Dec 2014
  • Austin. How I love my adopted city. Some big highlights from the past few years are a newly discovered love of tubing, of course plenty of live music, lots of time exploring the greenbelts, and some great visits from family. Anna came in both June and November this year and October last year. Ben also came in June this year and I think having all four siblings together was one of the highlights of my year.


  • Teaching. This is a sector of my life that has gotten adequate coverage here so I won't belabor the point. Two-and-a-half years in I'm feeling pretty on top of my game. Well, kinda anyway. I'd never be bold enough to say I've got this thing down. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'd do some major wheedling to get another week of winter break, but such is life. Last year Austin had a bizarre cold snap and we ended up with something like three "snow days" in the early part of the second semester and a handful of bad weather delays. It's gonna be rough this year making it through to spring break without those bonus days in home in bed.

  • Tessa. My lovely Tessa has handled middle school with 20 times more grace than I ever dreamed and 100 times more skill than I ever mustered. She gets excellent grades in all her classes. A good chunk of this is natural ability (I frequently remind her to thank her parents for good test taking genes) but I've also seen her transition this last year to a very responsible and proactive approach to her school work and that makes me the most proud. She has a real talent for her fine art courses. Her choir is fabulous and her work in varsity choir this year has been amazing. She stared in a production of Snew White last December and I was honestly amazed at her poise and natural ability. And even though she won't let me sneak a peak at her sketch book, her art class has taken something of a central focus recently and the snippets I've seen are amazing. In addition to all of that, she's been on the cheer squad for the past two years and despite my personal and not very well disguised reluctance to embrace cheer, it has been a stellar experience for her and I'm really proud of her commitment to her team. She is of course thirteen and that doesn't come without it's own set of challenges, but she is honestly a great joy for me to be around. Her sense of snark is hilarious to yours truly and her droll wit keeps me extremely amused.


  • Sylvie. My dear, sensitive Sylvie has continued to blossom. Every year I am more and more impressed with her character as she comes into her own. Recently she has taken up a real intrinsic motivation at school and she has some pretty big academic ambitions. She is hoping to attend a Math and Science magnet middle school next year and eventually attend the Liberal Arts and Science Academy here in Austin, which is currently ranked in the top 10 schools nationwide. Her Math aptitude is at times shocking and it is one of my great pleasures to watch her figure problems out. She has been participating with her schools Math Pentathlon team and will begin competitions this spring. I'm kicking myself as I have to report here yet again that piano lessons are still on hiatus. This is turning into a big parental regret. But she and I have been talking about it again lately and I hope to make that happen this year once we get settled in a new house. Her music talent is great and thankfully she's had her excellent school choir program as an outlet. She just finished her 5th grade production of Dr. Seuss on the Loose and it was great to see the buzz of excitement in her as they practiced and performed. She is currently obsessed with all things Sims, which is find more personally palatable to her previous obsession with Minecraft, but either way her screen addiction is very real and something we battle with from time to time. She is still a sensitive soul and tempers are not always even keel, but at heart she is the kid that asks if she can rub my feet from time to time and gives the best hugs.


  • The transition from married to unmarried. Of course this has been difficult for my girls, but Dave and I have made the transition very gradual and open and I think this has helped a lot for my precious girls. This has been priority number one for both of us. Since our separation about a year and a half ago and eventual divorce, we have remained in the same house and will continue to do so until we sell, hopefully at the end of this school year. The girls will be finishing 5th and 8th grades and this seemed like the best time to transition to new locations and schools. This has been a nontraditional arrangement to be sure but I think we have made it work well. It has given the girls a lot of time to process things and deal with it in their own time. Things between Dave and I are quite amicable, but I think we are both very much looking forward to getting our own spaces and moving forward.
  • Nathan. Fellow Math teacher and the most deep thinking, generous, honest, rationally objective, and integrity filled human I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Not to mention probably the smartest person I've met and frustratingly good at all games and all competitive feats. He is highly skilled at striking up conversation with friends and strangers alike. He lives in the moment and has helped me see the joy in that. He also has an incredible loathing for owning or procuring possessions and having his picture taken. I love him.

I'm not really sure what 2015 has in store for me. I am an organizer and a planner and a scheduler at heart but I've learned over the past few years to take things as they are, giving each shimmering, glorious moment, as well as the muddier ones, their proper due.


Eat more chicken

2015/01/02

Who knows about resolutions, but we did start 2015 right with a challenge. Tessa has been complaining forever that she never gets to order enough food to sate her teenage appetite. So today we ordered a chick-fil-a party plater and saw how far she could get. I think just her reaction when she saw them handing it out the drive through window was worth the (steep) price of admission. The suggested servings for the 200 nugget platter was for 25 people, but the five of us almost finished it off. Sylvie ate twenty, Haley and I were in the mid twenties each (not really feeling the competitive burn, just enjoying some chicken nuggets), Tessa hit 40 total, but unsurprisingly Nathan bested everyone with 80. And he claims room to spare. I think Tessa could have gone further but she prepared poorly by eating a smoothie at the mall just before. Silly girl. Of course Tessa absolutely refused to let me take a picture so you'll just have to imagine the gluttony.

New Year

2015/01/01

In New Orleans for New Year's. A quick trip to visit Nathan's family and a wonderful way to ring in the new year. We had a big party at the house and I was so glad to be a part of the festivities. Unfortunately the pit in my stomach that is Monday morning classes is already making an appearance. The break is always too short.