Friday, April 18, 2014

Back to reality

I once read a blogger admit that she waits to unpack after coming home from a trip for as long as possible. It's a way of avoiding the reality that her vacation is over.

That is exactly the state that I am in right now. I got back from LA about a week ago and still don't wanna be home from vacation yet.

Spring break in LA was everything I wanted/needed and more. I got to hang out with two of my best girlfriends and have adventures for the entire week.

It was rejuvenating. We stayed up late and woke up early. We had the sunshine in our faces all day and talked about all the things that were on our minds.

We nurtured each other a lot. I knew this would happen, but didn't expect it to be a central part of our trip. It was a really sweet time to be together.

One of my favorite things about traveling is that it provides space and time from your day-to-day life. During this time I usually am reminded to live in the moment and gain a new perspective on my life in the process.

So now I find myself in the aftermath of vacation time and facing reality, which can be a little overwhelming sometimes.

This weekend I have an enormous list of tasks to do, but I am going to make sure that I take some time to do something good for myself so that I don't feel like fun stuff only happens on vacation. If you're feeling tired too, you should do the same. ;)

How was your week?

Happy Friday!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The day Laszlo was born

A little more than a year ago I had one of the most mind-blowing experiences of my life. One of my best friends, Valerie, gave birth to her second son and I had the honor of being there with her.

Laszlo was born early in the morning. After a long night with the birth and working immediately after, I thought I would be tired, but instead I was wired. All I could do was sit down and write about my experience. I have been waiting to share it with Valerie for some time and thought I would share it on my blog as well.

This post comes in a time of need for Valerie's family. I want to share this experience with you to reach out to the blogging community to help her family. Laszlo was recently diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). There is a website set up with more information about his condition and ways to support him and his family through this trying time. Please consider visiting the site and giving anything you can. Also, please press the share button on your social media sites and spread the word. They need all the support they can get. Click here to go to the site.

Here's the story:

My heart is so full right now. I don't even know where to begin. Last night I was sitting up in bed with Brandon ranting about grad school when Danielle knocked on my door to tell me Steve called and it's time to go to the Birth House. I immediately got dressed and called Steve. Brandon agreed to go over to watch the house while Townes was sleeping.

Only a few seconds away from her house, we recieved a text message from Steve simply saying, "please hurry." As soon as we arrived at their house Valerie said hello-thank-you and let's go.

Time seemed to slow down as I was driving through the sleeping town. It was 3am and the street lights were glowing yellow and the full moon was heavy in the sky. I fixed my gaze at Valerie and Steve's car as I followed them to the birth house. I shut out all thoughts and tried to focus on the miracle that I was about to witness.

We were greeted by a warm and beautiful woman named Lisa who ushered us into a dimly lit room. Valerie led the way and immediately started undressing when she entered the room. Danielle, Steve and I unloaded our things in a pile on the floor, took off our shoes and started taking out all of the supplies we brought. Drinks, snacks, clothes, camera, etc.

Valerie's iPhone went into the dock of the stereo and jazz filled the room. There were candles flickering the various corners of the room. There was a big cozy bed, perfectly made with the coziest pillows and blankets. The bathtub was a big bowl in front of the bed. As I settled in I couldn't help feeling a little nervous and curious about what was about to happen.

Valerie sat in the tub with her arms resting on the sides as she began to focus on breathing through the contractions. Steve sat on the ledge of the tub with his arm cast covered in plastic.

While we were waiting for the birth to begin we gave Valerie a shoulder massage. She gave us a million thanks as her muscles collapsed. 

As the contractions became increasingly intense Valerie started to make sounds from deep within her body. They were operatic, calling out to the world about her experience.

We were all focused in the moment. Breathing and waiting to push.

When the jazz playlist was over another playlist was started. I noticed when a slow song started to play that perfectly accompanied the moment. It was right before Valerie needed to start pushing. "Wild is the Wind," by Cat Power. Tears rolled down Valerie's cheeks and she said, "It's almost time."

Her body held the memory of her first birth. She knew all the signs and feelings.

Steve anchored her. He was calm, centered, and totally in tuned with her movements and sounds. I felt completely inspired watching them.

After a series of painful contractions, Valerie was struck with one that floored her. Her scream echoed like an earthquake. The doctor told her to start pushing. We watched and breathed as she pushed the baby out. It was incredible.

She pushed four times and Laszlo was born about twenty minutes later. I couldn't believe my eyes. A human child just came out of her body. He was perfect. She was perfect. The whole world was perfect in that moment.

We all cried and I snapped a few pictures as best as I could. Danielle and I cut the umbilical cord together. Valerie sat in the tub for a little while longer with Laszlo on her chest. She had the most blissful look on her face.

Everntually the doctor took Laszlo onto the bed and went to work measuring him and checking him out. Valerie made her way onto the bed and Steve laid beside her. They gazed into each other's eyes, smiled, touched noses and kissed.

We all laid on the bed together looking at Laszlo in amazement. We drank coconut water and ate a box of handmade chocolate truffles.

An hour later we packed up the car and got ready to go back to our homes. I parked my car in at my apartment, put on some mascara, and ran four blocks down the street to work.

I feel incredibly blessed that I was able to be there and share that experience. It has imprinted my heart forever.

I have a new appreciations for all babies and mothers in the world because of this experience. They are a blessing that we should honor everyday of our lives.

Here is the playlist that we listened to during the birth. It brings me back to the whole experience every time I listen to it.

Thanks for reading this story. Please consider helping out Valerie and her family. Also, please spread the word. :)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring Break in SoCal

Today my spring break officially starts!!! And guess what!? I'm going to LA!

This trip is going to be with some of my closest girlfriends which makes it extra special! Ever since I went to Vegas with one of my girlfriends last year, I decided that every year I need at least one girl's trip. I love my friends so much and see it as a way to nurture those relationships.

This trip is going to have lots of shennagians and fun in the sun. Some plans we have in the works include:
  • Disneyland - None of us have ever been and a friend bought us tickets to go. Can you believe that? We're going to dress like princesses, eat cotton candy and scream our heads off on all the rides.
  • Joshua Tree - We plan on going out to the desert for some hiking and star gazing.
  • The beach - LA obviously doesn't provide beaches like the Caribbean but we still need to go.
  • Shopping - Duh!
  • Food - I'll be looking out for taco trucks, frozen yogurt stands and juice bars. When in Rome, right?
  • Lots of people watching, basking in the sun and chillin' with some iced beverages. I can't wait!

Have you ever been to LA? Any advice about what we should do/see in the City of Angels?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Motivational track and monthly goals

Today was the start of the second week of student teaching this quarter. Only nine more weeks to go until graduation! (10 technically because of spring break, but still, almost there!)

So far I love all my classes, my mentor teacher is sweet and supportive, and the students are super cool. I have a really good feeling about this quarter and I am so happy that it worked out that I was placed at a good school with a good mentor again.

Earlier in the month I made some goals for being productive and healthy and now it's time to check in with how I did.

Goal 1 // Get back into a workout routine

I did pretty good with this goal. I started running three times a week with sometimes an extra day of cross training. Ideally I would like to consistently lift weights or do yoga on my days off from running, but I am grateful that I have been able to make time in my busy schedule for any working out.

I noticed my stress levels are decreased and that I just feel better in general when I am working out regularly. The best part is the satisfaction that you get afterward and for the rest of the day. As I walk around with sore legs I keep patting myself on the back for getting a good run in.

Goal 2 // Spring cleaning

My goal was to get my closets cleaned out. I started to do this, but it is nowhere near done. Nevertheless I feel really good about starting the project. It's amazing how I magically have more clothes by going through my wardrobe and getting rid of old stuff I don't wear anymore. I do this about twice a year, and get the same reaction every time.

Goal 3 // Taxes and health care

I signed up for health care but still need to do taxes. :/


Goals for April

Goal 1 // Finish my Spring cleaning project

Already started this one! Should be easy to get done this month.

Goal 2 // Train for the half marathon in May


Goal 3 // Limit my unproductive time on the internet

Recently a friend told me about this program called RescueTime. It's a free software that hangs out in the background while you are using your computer. It keeps track of how long you spend on certain websites, programs and applications. I synched up my Adriod to my account so it is now keeping track of all screen time.

A little while ago I started writing down every dollar I spent to see where my money was going and what I should do for a budget. Having the awareness of how I spent my money helped me to be more conscientious in general. I'm interested to see if using RescueTime will have the same results.

The Monday motivational track this week is a remix of a classic Aaliyah song that I have been obsessed with. I thought it would go perfect with the April showers that is definitely in full effect here in the PNW.

What are your goals for the month?

Linking up with Melyssa!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lessons from failure

Today is the first day of student teaching in a new school. I am very excited and little nervous starting over in a new place.

My field placement officer changes everyone's placements for the second round of student teaching because he wants us to have a a variety of experience on our resumes. Last time I was placed in an urban school, and this time I am placed at a rural school.

I am excited to be in a new school and have a new set of challenges in front of me, however, I can't help but feel anxious about this quarter.

Last time I had student teaching I was extremely stressed out with my edTPA. It got so bad that I think I made myself sick.

Worst of all, I missed my deadline and ended up submitting the test late.

This wasn't techniqually a problem because it was a deadline set by my program. You can actually submit your test to Pearson anytime of the year.

Nevertheless, I still have fresh wounds from all the sleep deprivation, anxiety, and lack of good meals I suffered from during that time.

Will I be able to keep my head straight? I don't know. But I will try. After all, this is my last go at it until graduation! (Side-note: That's going to be the magic word for the next 11 weeks; G R A D U A T I O N).

Here's my plan for success:

1// Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.

This was really hard last quarter because it took me so long to write lesson plans for the different classes I was teaching (we use a crazy elaborate template in my program). Also, I am just new at this and everything is going to take me longer. If I want to get enough sleep I need to plan ahead and get my lesson plans done at school. That way I am not bringing any work home.

When I don't sleep enough I start to feel ill and desperate. It's really ugly and I am determined to not let it happen again.

2// Keep up with my exercise routine.

This is finally coming together for me in the last couple weeks and I am planning on keeping it going. Every Sunday I am going to plan what I am doing each day and enroll some of my workout buddies to tag along.

3// Let it go.

I can get so critical of myself to a fault. I always think, I can do better, or That's not good enough. I need to be ok with my best and just let it go. *deep breaths* *letting it go*

I came across this amazingly nerdy and inspiring video a while back that I thought would be perfect to share at the end of this post. It's about space and the universe. The first time I watched it I was like, WOW. Seriously, sometimes a little bit of science can give you the push you need to get through.

(If you don't want to watch a four minute video, skip to 3:15, where they get to the whole point of the video.)

What helps you stayed focused and motivated when you're all stressed out?

Happy Monday!

Linking up with Melyssa!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Video: Vancouver, B.C.

Lately I have been really into the idea of making videos of my adventures and posting them here. I have been surprised about how easy basic video editing can be and can't wait until I have the time to use better software and make more videos.

This winter I made a video of our trip to Vancouver as a gift for Brandon. As spring is officially here, I thought it was about time I shared the video on my blog.

Have a great rest of the weekend! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Fairmount Park - Riverside, CA

One of my favorite things to do when I travel to a new city is to hang out in the local parks. There's always something interesting happening in a park, even if it's just a lazy Sunday afternoon and people are hanging out.

Growing up in Boston, I loved going to the park during the summertime. I was lucky because there were several parks in my neighborhood I could choose from. The park was a destination that I could venture out to that was easy and required no planning or thinking ahead.

When Brandon and I went to visit his Dad and brother last Spring, we had a great time walking through the park. Since this was almost a year ago, I thought it would be fun to share some pics as a throwback thursday post.

Since our walk in the park was on a Sunday afternoon when the sun was setting, I thought it would only be appropriate to share an old school music video that literally is about being in this very park on a Sunday afternoon.

Have a great rest of the week!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Have you ever had the experience of finally figuring out all of your favorite places to visit on the last day of a trip or vacation? This happens all the time when I travel somewhere new, and I feel like this is happening now that I know I am moving from the PNW in the near future.

I think the reality of the limited time I have left here motivates me to think and plan all the fun stuff I have always wanted to do.

A couple months ago Brandon and I went to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge for the first time. This magical place is literally at our fingertips (about a 10 minute drive) and I was so happy that we finally made a trip out there to see it.

We brought some hot tea and a pair of binoculars to check out the birds. There is a long winding path that leads through brush, trees and mud flats. I was delighted to see so many people walking with family and loved ones on the day that we went.

Watching the birds and wildlife at the refuge is a very meditative activity. It involves a lot of listening, observing, leisurely walking along, and occasionally stopping to take in the scenery.

I know that this region of the country is one of the most beautiful because of the rich flora and fauna that comes with the heavy amounts of rain we get yearly. As next summer continues to approach little by little, I'm looking forward to discovering more treasures like the one.

Better late than never, right? ;)

Do you have a special place where you live that you haven't been to yet?

Linking up with Nicole!
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