Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Spooky Halloween

It has been a very, very weird Halloween in good ol' Massachusetts.


It's October 30th. OCTOBER... not December, not January, not February, not even March. OCTOBER.

Yesterday started out like a normal October day. It was actually sunny and pretty cold. I had my class on teaching English Language Learners. It's 6 1/2 hours of class sitting in a windowless room, so even while I was checking the weather on my iPhone, I remained pretty oblivious. When I left class it was raining and I headed home to work out. After teaching for almost 6 years, I am seriously incapable of sitting for a day, which is good because according to Caroline it is not at all good for you.

My original Halloween plan was to meet some coworkers at a bar for a little bit and then head to my friend Sarah's house. Once the snow began and I drove to my friend's house to borrow a costume, I realized that I was pushing it even attending one party. It's really not normal to be worried about snow when celebrating Halloween. That's okay though- it ended up being much more relaxed just grabbing some food with Eric and then heading to Sarah's early.


I was an Oreo cookie- a costume made by my super talented friend for her daughter a couple of years ago. Amazing... especially for me who simply had to carry the costume in a bag, throw it over my head and I was good to go.



We headed home pretty early and thank goodness we did, the drive home was scary! The biggest problem was the trees down everywhere. However, when I went to bed last night, my yard was okay. Not so when I woke up this morning though. My favorite tree in my yard, a beautiful birch tree, was broken in two spots and other huge branches were down too.

So what did Eric and I do today? Went out in search of a chainsaw and spent the rest of the day doing damage control. Mainly Eric did this but I did shovel the walk way (can't have any Trick or Treaters slipping!) and move some branches to one pile. Eric mastered all things chainsaw.



Sigh. On a positive note, we still have power and hopefully still have school tomorrow (I'm not ready to start on the snow days in October). On a super positive note, we went to dinner with my parents at the best Italian restaurant ever. On super duper positive note, I get to wear pink pajamas to work tomorrow because my school is really weird and while the kids don't wear costumes to school, the teachers do...

I'll be Mercy Watson


Now if only I can make it through this week with Halloween on Monday... whoever decided Halloween would always be on October 31st rather than always be on a Friday or Saturday night was clearly not a teacher. Just sayin'

How was your weekend? Did you dress up for Halloween? What was the best costume you saw this weekend?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Highlights from a Connecticut Weekend

This past weekend, Eric, my parents and I headed down to southern CT to visit Caroline and Jake. It was Jake's "Parent's Weekend" at school and even though he is now a junior in college, I haven't been down to visit yet. It was well past time. Plus, as you probably know, Caroline moved to that area in July and while I've been lucky enough to see her several times, I have not yet seen her apartment.

I really like to visualize where people live so that was a big focus of my weekend. I know how important my house is to my happiness and daily life, so I like to see where others live. My brother moved off campus this year and essentially lives in a frat house, though not officially. They have basically declared the entire bottom floor as the party space. It works quite well apparently...


He also has a sweet room to himself upstairs with a nice little lounge space outside. There is definitely something to be said for moving off campus. If you saw Ash and my room senior year, you'd understand my point. Eric had to take off the closet door so we could both have a dresser in the room, and we shared one desk... at college... true story.

On Saturday, we got a quick tour of Jake's campus and then we tailgated before the football game. There were a lot of bagels involved, as there should be for an early morning tailgate.






After the football game, it was time to head down to Caroline's apartment. I failed to take any pictures, but luckily there are plenty available on her blog :) Her apartment is beautiful and in typical Caroline fashion, the decorations are awesome. It was fun to just relax at her apartment for awhile, read her magazines and learn about awesome apps for my new iphone. My current obsession is Pandora which I realize is not new by any means but I never listen to music on my computer so I never had any need for it before. After putting it on my phone, I was able to enjoy the Tim McGraw channel at the hotel gym this morning.

Finally, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at a restaurant called Fin where they have PINK sushi. Obviously I have a bias towards anything pink, but check out how cool this was:


This was actually my mom's order but it was pretty delicious. I also got some really good spring rolls and shrimp shumai. The only thing I got that I did not love was the miso baked eggplant, the miso sauce was a little much for me, but everything else was good. My parents have been raving about this restaurant for awhile now so we were excited to get to try it out.

This morning we met up again at Einstein Brothers bagels. Caroline introduced me to their bagels in Chicago and now I'm a little obsessed. I wouldn't say they are better than Panera, but they are a nice change every once in awhile. In addition to the great variety of bagels in the area, there was also no shortage of frozen yogurt. Why does it seem there is only a shortage of frozen yogurt right where I live?

Overall, a very successful and fun weekend. It's going to be a busy week with parent conferences and class on Saturday. If anyone has any brilliant ideas of what I should be for Halloween and/or can figure out a way for me to avoid dressing up, please let me know. Halloween is an awesome holiday for kids, and I LOVE giving out candy to the Trick or Treaters, but beyond that I could really do without it.

Tell me about...

*your college living experience- did you live on or off campus? how great was your place?

*your love for frozen yogurt- will you open a self serve fro yo place near me?

*do you like dressing up on Halloween?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Complaint Free Day

One of my personal goals at work this year was to be more positive (read: complain less). I'd say that goal was pretty good the first week and has gone steadily downhill from there. It seems each day Eric and I need a solid 30 minutes when we get home to just complain about all the ridiculousness that occurred at work that day. Yesterday I decided to take a step in the right direction as far as my goal and declare today a complaint free day. I should also mention that I am overall a very happy, positive person so I really just want to stop letting the stupid things of the day get in my way.


I knew it would be difficult. Any day it would be difficult but today would be especially hard. I had two meetings (one which I would be pulled out of my class for). I had parents coming in to do a special activity. The forecast called for cold, pouring rain to last all day (read: no recess all day, ah!). Oh, and I did not sleep well last night. Recipe for a day of no complaints? Probably not.

However, I did manage to last until about 2:30pm without one single complaint (at least that I noticed), at which point I decided since I already lost it, I might as well make up for all the complaints I had not yet uttered all day. Oops.

What did I learn on my no complaints quest?

1. You can say you are not going to complain today, you can tell everyone you know, but that will not stop the complaints from popping into your head. I complained SEVERAL times in my head before I finally let one out during a conversation with coworkers.

2. It's actually hard to know sometimes what is a complaint and what is simply an observation and/or informing someone of something. For example, I had a headache today (probably due to not sleeping). When I took some Advil someone asked me what was up, I said my head hurt... which COULD be a complaint, or it could simply be me just saying...

3. I actually think complaining is good sometimes- it helps you "vent" and sometimes it's a nice way to bond with people about things that you find mutually annoying :)

4. However, it's also kind of nice to try to go a day without complaining- it helps you to become more aware of how often you are doing it and hopefully work on becoming more positive overall.

Despite the fact that there were many things to complain about today, there were also some great things:

*I was super productive at work this morning before the kids arrived.

*I attempted a painting activity during our Pumpkin Math today and somehow it did not get everywhere or cause huge problems, wahoo.

*I always "complain" that dads never volunteer and today I had 5 parents come in, two of which were dads- yay! I also had another dad send me an e-mail volunteering to help with the next special activity. Dads just deal with kids in a different way than moms and it's fun to have both perspectives around.

*It was a very cold day of down pouring so Eric and I were not able to go for our planned run after school. But, I'm actually happy about this because I got my grocery shopping done and now I can run with Eric tomorrow- so yay.

*I rewarded myself for a so-so day with a delicious caramel brownie gelato from a really nice local gelato place that I don't get to go to nearly as often as I'd like because it closes at 6 every night :)


So overall, I'd say life is good!

How do you feel about complaining? Do you agree it has it's place sometimes...? Have you ever tried going a period of time without complaining?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

You Gotta Try It: Boot Camp Edition

One of the reasons (besides work always taking over my life) that I've been so busy lately is my two-time per week after work boot camp class. The work out was only 2 hours per week but it somehow occupied a lot more of my time!

As someone who LOVES to change up my work outs frequently, I loved boot camp. Despite trying hula hooping and jumping on a trampoline at a gym last year I had never before tried a boot camp class.

My boot camp was held outside at a park. Our "coach" runs a company in the Boston area so he has a lot of experience in this area. Every single class was different. The following is a list of some of the activities that we did.

Running: warm up, caravanning, uphill sprints etc

Step ups (usually involving really tall bleachers)

Jumping Jacks

Bear clawing/crab walking


Resistance bands: bicep curls, shoulder presses etc



Tricep dips on picnic benchesPush upsEndless squatsPartner/group games

All of this (and much more) was done in really cool ways. For example, we often rotated through stations so that as we were resting one muscle we were working another part of our body, always running in between each activity. Or, we would get a partner and while one partner was sprinting up a hill, the other was doing shoulder presses. One time we played a team game where one team wanted all of the cones to face down and the other wanted all the cones to face up. We had to run around trying to put all the cones they want our team wanted. The team that won got to pick what we did next.

I love this whole method of working out. We almost never fully rested, but we did have the opportunity to catch our breath as we did more muscle building activities and rest our muscles as we did some cardio. The hour totally flew by.

Sadly, boot camp is over for me since I needed to free up some afternoons for tutoring (and staying on top of my life). I'm looking forward to getting back to running with Eric and doing more of my own workouts, but I will miss it. I will probably do it again come spring when the weather is a bit nicer. If you ever have a chance to try a boot camp class, I highly recommend it.

Have you ever tried boot camp? What did you think? Are you the type of person who likes classes at the gym or do you prefer to work out solo?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Sport of Marathon Spectating

You may be laughing at the title of this post, but I'm not joking when I say that my legs were sore after WATCHING a marathon. No, I'm not in terrible shape, I never once had sore legs from two months of boot camp which often involved running up LOTS of hills!

Anyway, in case you missed the memo (aka me posting it EVERYWHERE) Caroline had a very successful first marathon!!! You can read about her experience on her blog, this post is all about my experience watching a marathon.

I'm no marathon watching rookie. My college was on the course of the Boston Marathon and "Marathon Monday" was easily one of the best days of the year. However, this was my first time watching a marathon that was NOT Boston!

My alarm went off bright and early, I debated what to wear for awhile, packed my purse, met "Team Caroline" at Starbucks and headed to Mile 4 to catch Caroline for the first time. I was lucky in that when of my friends from college just recently moved to Chicago and did all the work for me as far as figuring out the best places to watch from and how realistic it was to get from one to the other.

Gerry also made the AWESOME signs.


Mile 4 was pretty unsuccessful. We missed Caroline because she started earlier than we thought she was going to. We must have missed her by only a few minutes because we saw the pace group right behind her, but luckily we got a 10K text which told us she obviously passed us. Then we could head for Mile 11, which was only one street over for us!

Before Caroline reached Mile 11 I was starting to panic a little that we were trying to see her 4 times and what if we don't see her at all?!

This may have actually happened except for that Caroline picked US out and actually waved her hand in front of us to get our attention! We were all staring at the crowd trying to find her! At Mile 11 I ran with Caroline for a few minutes to take a picture and get a feel for how she was doing so far. She was still doing really well!


After I joined back up with the group, it was time for the crazy adventure of getting to Mile 17. We had to take the subway which was obviously packed. We couldn't even get on the first train and then we just barely fit on the second. Once we arrived at our stop, we still had a bit of a walk and after getting Caroline's half marathon text I was convinced we were not going to make it to Mile 17 before her. There was definitely some sprinting with purses and signs going on during that "walk." Luckily we made it in time to see a still smiling Caroline at Mile 17!


Also, Team Caroline grew at Mile 17 as Gerry's fiance joined the spectating as well as Caroline's college roommate Courtney!

The last place we wanted to see Caroline was at Mile 20, so we walked some more to get there, stopping on the way for some ice. My dad had the idea of cooling Caroline off with ice so we filled up a zip lock bag with ice ready for her to come by at Mile 20. Since we still had the rest of the giant bag of ice we bought at 711, we started just handed out ice to other marathoners. I should probably mention the temperature was in the upper 70s and possibly hotter in the sun so people were VERY appreciative.

I don't have a picture of Caroline at Mile 20, but she still looked awesome. I ran with her again just to make sure she felt awesome :) I don't think she really did, but I mean, who does at Mile 20? I asked her how she was doing and she said "ow!" haha, but luckily nothing in particular was hurting and I knew she was going to make it to Mile 26! Of course I launched into a quick motivational speech and then she was off!

Of course we took off walking again and headed for the finish line. There was really no way at all to see anyone crossing the finish line (or even close) unless you got there much earlier so we headed to our "meeting spot" with Caroline which was a big fountain. Other Chicago marathoners had told us that was a good spot to meet, but this year it was NOT because they fenced off the whole area and wouldn't let us in. Eventually we found Caroline and began a marathon photo taking session followed by a quest for bagels. Speaking of which, if you are lucky enough to live near an Einstein Bagels, please eat one for me.


The rest of the day was spent relaxing and eating dinner. Of course I enjoyed one last night of self serve frozen yogurt...


I could easily live in our hotel room in Chicago for a long while. Walking distance to one of my favorite restaurants ever, Starbucks, Whole Foods AND more than one frozen yogurt shop... what more could I ask for? We had a great weekend in Chicago, Caroline did awesome and when it was time to say one final good night to the city of Chicago, I was really quite sad...


If you managed to read all of this post, I am impressed :) Have you ever been to Chicago? Have you ever been tired from watching a marathon?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pre-Marathon Chicago

It's been a LOT of days since I blogged, probably the most days off since I started blogging 2 1/2 years ago. It was not a planned break or anything, I've just been super busy and when I did have down time I just really couldn't think of anything to blog about. Nothing like a little weekend trip to re-ignite the creativity!

This week Eric and I are in Chicago watching Caroline run the marathon! This is our third trip to Chicago in October (and we've never been in any other month). The first time we came it was to watch BC play Notre Dame, then we came to visit my college roommate Ash who went to med school here and now we are here for some marathon spectating. Luckily, one of my other college friends who is a marathoner herself lives in Chicago now and has totally taken control of our plans for tomorrow which include seeing Caroline at miles 4, 11, 17, 20 and the finish. I will be seriously impressed if we can pull this off.

Our trip yesterday involved a ridiculously great Big Bang Theory marathon on the plane (I love Jet Blue and their TVs), some also ridiculous traffic from the airport and some delicious Mexican food at a restaurant called Cantina 46. The night was finished off with a beautiful sunset.



Today was spent being a little bit touristy on a Chicago Foundation Architecture River Cruise. I got some amazing pictures of Chicago buildings...






Chicago is definitely a beautiful city. Today was my second time doing an Architecture River Cruise. I enjoy them, but if it was going to made with only me in mind I would request that there was a little less info about the Architecture. I enjoy learning as much as the next guy, but 90 minutes of straight lecture gets old. Today we probably just annoyed the others around us a bit by all chatting with each other while the lady was talking. Yes, teachers are the worst students. Teachers and businessmen/women as the case was today.

After that we headed over to Millennium Park to see "The Bean." Last time we were in Chicago we had a lot of fun at the bean, but today it was pretty crowded so we basically just took some pictures and then left. Okay fine, it was slightly more interesting than that when I decided to take a jumping picture in a dress... bad idea. Things got slightly worse than picture below...


Fortunately my underwear are basically like a bikini bottom so it's not as scandalous as it may first seem, but still pretty embarrassing. I held my dress down and did a very girly jump for all future pictures.


Obviously the future marathoner did NOT jump so I did not risk any future exposure :)



Look closely and you will see us in the picture below :)


Yes, I am still holding my dress down.

We finished the day with dinner at my favorite Chicago restaurant Rosebuds on Rush. Perfect carbo-loading for our favorite marathoner (and her crazy spectators). Tomorrow is going to be fantastic. I can't wait to hold up our awesome signs and try to sneak ice in Caroline's hat. It's going to be a great day!