Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Growing Up....Together

**Ten Things Tuesday is coming tomorrow because I wrote the post and then left it on my work computer and now I'm at home. Oops.

Kev and I have a unique story in many ways, in that we were high school sweethearts that never really dated. We met when I was a freshman and Kev was a sophomore, when he tried to sell a frisbee to my then-boyfriend and I. I think we declined. Then-boyfriend and I broke up a few weeks later, and I began an epic AIM flirtation each night that ended with a magical date at Great America and the promise that when Kev got his license the following week, that I would be his girlfriend. The license was acquired, and with it, the realization that sophomores with cars are way too cool for freshman girls. Through it all, though, we continued our nightly AIM conversations. We talked about his girlfriend, my boyfriends, and argued about books, bands, and people we both knew.

Although we didn't date, and went to different colleges, we got together to catch up the summer after I finished college and the rest, as they say, was history.
Kev and I, first summer dating, 2007

When I look back at our year of dating, our year of engagement and our first year of marriage, I remember endless nights at bars. Spending time with a core group of friends every weekend that got bigger as we spent more time together. Date nights where we wore sweatpants and champagne and played video games and Jeopardy against each other. We were out nearly constantly, and we looked forward to meeting up with the group, getting belligerent, and then coming home and gossiping about it the next morning.

Now, though, things have changed.

Somewhere in the subsequent two years, Kev and I have grown up. I'm not sure if it's the fact that we have a place of our own now, or that we started grad school, or that we just appreciate each other more, but cooking a dinner in and hanging out on our deck with a glass of wine has replaced the rounds of shots. We've become a little slower to recover from the nights we do get crazy, and we are better at saying no if we just don't feel like going out.

And you know what? It's pretty heavenly. I really, really like being more grown up and slowing down. If the last four years have brought about this much change, the next four and the four after that will be pretty good too.

I really, really love being married to the guy I'm married to.

Us, June 2011, making a rare appearance at the bar we used to nearly live at.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Job = Crazy Busy

Today was the first day of school, an Institute Day where I sat in lots of meetings designed to get me pumped for a new school year. The people at my new job seem awesome, although the workload is shocking and overwhelming. I came home today with a whopping headache, threw up from the nausea that ensued, took a nap, and then finished a rad book, and now I think I'm ready for tomorrow. I'm equal parts thrilled and terrified, but for now, I'm trying to be.....

Source: reddit.com via Beck on Pinterest

....more Ginny than Bella.

Thank you imgur
Longer post tomorrow, until then, goodnight friends

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Oh, friends. After all of my lamenting that I wasn't prepared, I went in and did it. I came. I saw. I conquered. I finished the Rock N' Roll Half Marathon in 2:26.

Now, I know that this is not the fastest time, or even the time I was hoping for when I started training. But is it a time I'm proud of? Yes, undoubtably. Would I run this race again, even though it meant training during one of the hottest summers in recent Chicago history? Yes. Was it worth attending a bar crawl for four hours the night before and not touching any alcohol in preparation? Also yes.

Overall, I was really pleased with the course itself. I thought running through the loop was fun, and ending with glimpses of the lakefront was also great. I thought the course itself was extremely well organized, with lots of water stations, drizzle stations, bands,and mile markers staggered about. Somehow the locations of all of these things seemed to break up the miles for me, so that it went by a lot faster than I thought it would. I also ran my first race with a pace group, whom I stumbled upon at around mile 6. The group was running with a pacer from Fleet Feet Sports, a great running store in Chicago. The girl had us running 5 minutes and walking one with a goal time of 2:30. I think the run-walk strategy also helped to distract me, and I got to hear a lot of random conversations about people's daughters' periods and such. Strange, but interesting.

My one beef about this race as a whole was the incredibly long gear check wait at the finish. I had to wait nearly 15 minute in the line- way too long when I still had my hot boyfriend (yes, I try to get away with calling Kev that still) to find. Special thanks to him for showing up at the finish line at 9:00 am after staying out until almost one the night before at previously mentioned bar crawl.

Finishing this race (my first formal one in two years, since my pre-RA days) was big for me. Last year, I had a terrible year professionally at work, with lots of drama. I let myself get bogged down, and I wasn't always the best that I could have been for the students. I know, also, that my biggest problem is follow-through. I say I will do something, but often I wait until it is convenient for me, or until I have to at the very last minute (hello, training). When I was diagnosed with RA, I thought my running days were over. And yet, I put my mind to something, and even though I wasn't perfectly in shape, I went for it. Despite my 10 pill a day RA regiment, I did it. Despite my self-doubts, I did it. And through it all, I learned that the only one standing in my way is myself.

I'm hoping to take this mentality into the back-to-school portion of August. I want to have a kickass year. More on that tomorrow.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Family Vacation

Let me tell you a little bit about my family. I am the oldest of four kids (spawned in seven years, no less). My parents are quirky, hilarious, and still happily in love after thirty years of marriage. My mom recently graduated from a three year masters' program in clinical nursing. Kev fits right in. We are pretty awesome.

To celebrate my mom's recent graduation, we headed up to my parents' lake house on a teensy lake in Wisconsin. Kev stayed for the first weekend, and I decided to stay a few extra days. Because, you know, I can. Go summer vacation. During this extended period of time with all of us in one place. I made the following observations.

Water trampolines are awesome.

I am getting too old to wander around without makeup on. Especially compared to my model-esque younger sister.

Going on vacation with my parents automatically makes me act like a child. I think I left this glass of blackberry lemonade out all day long, much to my mother's consternation.

The Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, Wisconsin makes the best bloody marys ever. Oh, and smoked string cheese. String cheese that tastes like summer sausage? Yes, please.

The lake is unbelievably beautiful.

I hope my dad catches the big one someday. His perseverance is amazing.

I love my weirdo family. Why must you all go back to schools far away when summer ends?

What are your favorite family vacation memories?
Do you regress around your family? Or are you still adults around them?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ten Things Tuesday

This photo is random, just like our usual Tuesday chats.

1. I am feeling incredibly lazy today, which is sad because I was super productive yesterday. My to-do list is not shrinking. Nor is my ass, because I'm also not running today apparently. Curses.

2. I discovered an ab machine at the fancy new gym I joined. You kneel on this thing and then rotate a bunch of weights to work the obliques and abdominals. Today it hurts to breath. Maybe this will be the cure for the slight beer/food belly I am sporting.

3. I filled out a ton of paperwork yesterday for my new job, and holy crap is it weird to have everything filled out as Nicole Gas. Even though it's been two years, I still find it kind of crazy to see my new last name in print, especially when I have to fill out big things.

4. It's also weird to put Kev as my emergency contact and not my mommy. He's terrible about picking up his phone. I hope in case of emergency that I won't lose my ability to text him, otherwise he'll never know to panic.

5. I was just looking through my blog stats and somebody found my website by googling stripper poles. I have so many questions that I'm afraid to ask about that. Yikes.

6. I just started reading Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad today and it's awesome. I would love to make a soundtrack to that book- music is just so alive on it. I'm also a sucker for a good book told from multiple perspectives. That's totally my jam.

7. I have to run ten miles tomorrow. Ew. I'm really hoping my mojo will come back and I can get up and do it in the morning so I can take a nap before going to a friend's cookout at night. My eight miler on Friday went pretty well, so I'm hoping this one will too. Eek. The half marathon is less than two weeks away.

8.I feel like every time I go on facebook someone I am friends with is announcing a pregnancy. I'm okay with this, but for the love of all things holy please, people, refrain from making an ultrasound photo your profile pic. I have no need to see your uterus. Thanks.

9. I just remembered why I'm so unproductive today. Kev and I had a bottle of wine at dinner, then went to play bar trivia with some friends, where I had way more than the one beer I was going to allow myself. Damn you, summer, you sneaky minx.

10. I have spent way too many calories and dollars on stupid things this summer. Off to go find some moderation.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Here Comes August

Today is August 1st, people. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I am a teacher. You also know that I had a very rough year at my old school, that ended in me taking on a new position. Next year, I'm going from teaching sheltered English Kindergarten to junior high ELL. The two work environments so far seem to be completely different from one another, and honestly, that might be just what my career needs right now. A fresh start, a new challenge, new friends and frenemies at work.

The arrival of August usually inspires a mix of dread and hope in my teacher friends and I. After six weeks of relaxation, occasional babysitting, drinking more than usual, and spending way too much money, I'm growing excited for the routine that the school year brings to my life. I'm looking forward to the challenges and mental puzzles that come with learning a new curriculum, and I can't wait to get to know and love my new students. And yet, August also makes me feel a little nostalgic. Another summer is winding down. I should have read more books, done more photographing, spent less time on pinterest (let me know if you want an invite). I should have blogged more, spent more time with my grandparents. Ran more. Drank less. The list goes on.

Teaching is one of the few jobs that comes with its own New Year, separate from the calendar. Each August, we go back into our classrooms with new resolutions, new ideas. We vow to be more patient, less gossipy. More focused, less stressed. Give more feedback, give fewer sarcastic remarks. We, as teachers, want to develop systems for ourselves that really work, that allow us to work smarter, so that we can juggle the balance between teaching and being part of our own families. All of these resolutions brew all summer, and then really start in August.

If you are a teacher, what are your new year's resolutions? If you are a parent or friend of a teacher/student, what do you think my resolutions should be this year?

Happy August!