Monday, December 3, 2012

Quarter of a Century

As of Friday, November 30th, I am officially a quarter of a century old!! For those that have no idea what that means...I am the big 2-5! For the first time when people were asking "so do you feel older," I could actually say yes. There just seems to be something about kind of feels like I should start acting like an adult!

I have had the most fabulous birthday weekend! Everything really started on Thursday and concluded with a wonderful family lunch yesterday. It also trickled a little bit over to today with some birthday treats that were brought to school by colleagues and students. I feel so blessed by everyone in my life and would like to say a big THANK YOU for making me feel so loved!

When I walked into school on Thursday morning, I had an adorable surprise waiting for me at my door. Some of my sweet students decorated my door and came bearing balloons, hats and Nothing Bundt Cake Bundlets. Yummy! There was a party in my classroom on Thursday! I know I've said it before, but I will say it again - I absolutely love my students! They are seriously the greatest! 

On Tuesday I was convinced by a couple of my teacher friends that I should take the day off on Friday. It was so not like me, but I decided that I needed the personal day! Ben wanted to bring me lunch one day, so with me not being there Friday, he brought it to me on Thursday. A Zoe's Kitchen just opened in Flower Mound and I have been so excited to go. I love the one in Dallas, but still hadn't made it to the new one. Ben brought me the delicious Spinach Roll Ups. He also got to meet some of my students and co-workers which was super fun! The kids were so amazed at how big he is. One even asked me "can we call your husband Big Ben?" It was pretty cute! 

With all of our family and friend celebrations throughout the weekend, I told Ben that I would just love to go to breakfast on Friday morning. Ben had the grand idea that he should make me a special dinner on Thursday. I requested my absolute favorite - Miso Glazed Salmon! It was incredible...probably what I would request for my last meal! 

Delicious edamame on the side - I could eat edamame all day long
Friday morning, aka birthday morning, I slept in a little (8:00 AM) before Ben decided he was ready to give me my present. He did AMAZING!! I have been asking for a necklace that I can wear all the time and Ben definitely delivered. I haven't taken it off since. He even told me he didn't want me to wear it to the gym (I have since convinced him otherwise), so I took Baylor on a 4.2 mile walk instead. After presents were opened/I jumped on the bed with excitement for a little while, we got ready for breakfast. 

There is an adorable little place in Denton called Seven Mile Cafe. I absolutely love the atmosphere and the food is delicious! What is it about breakfast dates?! I love them! Maybe it's just that the day has just started and it's too early for anything to have started stressing you out or for something to have gone wrong. I just think they're perfect! This one was no exception. It was the perfect kick-off to my actual birthday. 

My plate of egg whites with avocado, mushrooms and feta + an english muffin and fruit
I spent the rest of the day getting things done. Mostly getting all of the decorations in order for the Clark Christmas! Ohmygoodness I love Christmas so much! I was thrilled to craft and get lots of our decorations under my belt. 

Our fabulous mantle - the ginormous stockings are the BEST!
I don't usually ask for everyone to get together, but I thought it would be fun to get together with friends for the big 2-5. Unfortunately, most of our friends were busy. Our best friends, Landon and Brenda were still free, so we got to enjoy a fabulous dinner at Brio in Southlake. If you haven't been to Brio, you need to find one. It is incredible! 

The rest of the weekend was absolutely amazing! I went with a group to see the Rockettes in Dallas and do a little shopping with my mother and sister-in-law. Then, Ben and I went with our friends Brenda and Landon to see Shane & Shane and Phil Wickham in concert. We went to this same concert last year and it is always absolutely incredible! Their voices are even better in person than they are on their CDs. It is un-flippin-believable!! 

Sunday's lunch with our families was also amazing. I love having everyone in my family around me! I guess you could say that this birthday was FABULOUS! I think this is going to be an incredible year! Thanks again to everyone who made my day special! 

My niece, Charlotte, wishing me a Happy Birthday! 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Back from the Dead (Happier Than Ever)

Almost three months since my last post...WOW!! Isn't a blog supposed to keep people updated on life?! Apparently I have failed there. My sincerest apologies.

In all honesty, the last three months have been a total blur. I have had the entire week off for Thanksgiving and still could not believe that it was already Thanksgiving Break. Volleyball season definitely made things absolutely fly by. They say time flies when you're having fun and I can say that the statement is absolutely, positively true.

They told us, the first year teachers, not to pack our weekends full of stuff during our first year. Tell that to all of our friends getting married and all of the events going on in town or through Ben's company. My schedule has been completely booked and I have been completely exhausted!

Lets start with my new job - aka my dream job.

My first game - I can't believe it's over
Although my week nights were booked - Monday for 7th grade (3 games), Tuesday working high school games and Thursday for 8th grade (2 games) - I loved coaching my girls. It was incredible seeing them improve from the beginning of the season to the end and falling more and more in love with the game. It is true what they say - coaches develop a special relationship with their athletes/students. I have had to limit lunches in my room to once a week, but I won't lie I love that my girls come to my room to eat with me. Or that they wait to walk down to the gym with me after class. There hasn't been a day yet that has been so bad it hasn't turned around once I walk into the gym. Playing volleyball or running with them at the end of the day doesn't hurt either! 

Now for classroom is filled with rambunctious boys the majority of my day. They say girls like to talk, well boys LOVE to talk. There are definitely days that I want to pull my hair out, but I still love being in the classroom. I won't lie, the classroom aspect was tough to get a handle on during volleyball season. The majority of my time was spent in the gym or at games, which didn't leave for a lot of lesson planning time. All grading and lesson planning was done at home, so my days were super long. Thankfully, I am at an incredible school with incredible teachers. My partner teacher(s) have been a ginormous help. I am getting a handle on lesson planning thanks to them and just like coaching, love to see my students "get it." 

Just when I thought I was completely failing my students - this feeling crept in quite a bit due to feeling very unprepared most days - we had a pep rally and at the end our Vice Principal announced the Teacher of the Month for both September and October. I was completely surprised when he announced my name for October. Yes, I cried. It totally gave me a new perspective and renewed my energy in the classroom. 

Moral of the story: I LOVE MY JOB!! I am exactly where I should be and am unbelievably thankful to finally be doing what I know I should have been doing all along. 

Other happenings in the Clark family - weddings, volleyball tournaments, baby showers, Cattle Baron's Ball, birthdays, engagements, company parties, Baylor Homecoming and trying to get together with our families plus have a little time to ourselves in between. Ben also started his own real estate company on top of everything, so needless to say, we are in a season that is very busy, but full of joy and excitement at the same time. Our lives are full and I am enjoying every minute! 

Cattle Baron's Ball 
Opening Day of Dove Season
Yes, my husband is fabulous and took me to see Twilight! 

Coaches at our feeder school 5K trying to raise money for iPads
Baby shower for some of our best friends - ps. we have like 10 friends who are pregnant right now
Baylor Homecoming with my BFF
Sweet Megan's wedding

Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot

Like I said, lots going on and I am loving it!!

Kisses from me and my fabulous girls!! 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I Survived

I not only survived my first week of school as a teacher/coach, but I absolutely loved it!! That's not to say I wasn't completely exhausted by the end of the week, okay maybe it hit me on Tuesday, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have the weekend to rest! I'm also a little sick. I think it's just from lack of sleep and constantly going going going, and possibly from a lack of nutrition as well. Nothing serious, just a sore throat and some drainage that I'm sure will clear up with rest.

I have now taught a couple of real lessons (not just school policies) and have all 3 of my volleyball teams set and ready to go. We had our volleyball parent meeting last night and it could not have gone better. The girls have made me feel so welcomed and the parents were incredibly sweet. I am so excited to kick off volleyball season on Wednesday!

It wouldn't be a first week of school without a little chaos, so lets start with Monday....I left my house at 6:20 AM, with way more than enough time to get there before our 8th graders got there for try outs at 7:00. We only live about 15 minutes away from my school, so I wasn't worried at all. I pull out of our neighborhood, go through the light to get to the on ramp and am pretty much at a dead stop. Of course, I panicked and may have illegally maneuvered my way onto the highway. I still got there in time, but it wasn't how I wanted to start the day. Then, after a great first day of tryouts, I went to get dressed for my classes and realized I had forgotten my clothes at home. Thank goodness I don't have a 2nd period class because I was able to run home. Just my luck...there was another wreck on the highway and I was again at a dead stop. I was a little frazzled, but I got back to school just in time!

Ready for Volleyball Tryouts
The rest of the day went really well! I left school around 6:30 PM full of energy and surprised myself by doing a walk/run workout covering a little over 4 miles! Plus, my wonderful friend, Chelsi, texted me on my way home from the gym and said she had a casserole in the oven and would love for Ben and I to come over. Total life saver!! I didn't plan a single dinner for this week, knowing that I wouldn't get home until 8:30 or 9:00 PM every night. She's amazing!! 

This workout flew by and was exactly what I needed. Below is the breakdown of the 42 minutes. 

0-4: 4.0 @ 7.5% incline  
4-8: 6.5 @ 1% incline 
Repeat minutes 0-8 2X (to 24 minutes)
24-26: 7.0 @ 1% incline 
26-27: 8.0 @ 1% incline 
27-28: 6.0 @ 1% incline 
Repeat minutes 24-28 3X (to 40 minutes)
40-42: 4.0 @ 5% incline 

The rest of the week went semi-smoothly. There was probably one hiccup each day, but all were minor. Tuesday I forgot my lunch and was pretty much hungry all day long. Wednesday I was getting ready in our athletic office and had to unplug an air freshener in order to plug my curling iron in. Little did I know that it was a scentsy and when I unplugged it I spilled the contents all over myself, the sink and bathroom floor. It's a lot harder than you think to clean up candle wax...not fun! On Thursday we had our first pep rally and it was so fun! I love the atmosphere of being back in school and athletics! I did forget to do something in the pep rally but it just made it all the more fun and frantic. On Friday we made our final cuts for volleyball which is always super hard. I also had on my lesson plans to show a couple videos in class about mood/tone, but unfortunately the district has not provided me with a computer yet and I couldn't show the videos without being on the network. My classes had to join another class which was fun, but I'm pretty frustrated about the computer situation. Oh well!! I'd say it was a pretty fantabulous week! 

I'm still trying to figure out how I am going to continue working out with my schedule and also need to figure out how to get the proper nutrition required to fuel me through my long days. This week I went to the gym after tryouts in the evening, but I don't want to get home at 9:00 every night. That's not fun for me or for Ben and is really not practical with our schedule. Hopefully I can start going to the gym before I get to morning tryouts. I think we're going to start having them at 7:30 or 7:45 instead of 7:00 which may not sound like a lot of extra time, but that would be enough for me to get in a workout and shower before getting to school without having to get up at 4:00 AM. 

I'm going to try and make a meal plan again this week and stick to it. The majority of my dinners this week consisted of some sort of bar and an apple or a bowl of cereal. Not exactly healthy for someone that is constantly moving throughout the day, going through volleyball tryouts and practice and working out on top of it all. I don't want to be sick all year. 

I am really enjoying my classes, my teams and all of my co-workers and cannot wait to see what the rest of this year has in store!!!! I am so happy to have found what I am supposed to be doing!! 

Some classroom pics:

My little corner - still needs some wall decor 

Computer and supply wall - hoping for more posters soon

My "About Me" bulletin board and Baylor wall 

Wall with Literary Terms 

Library Corner 

"Reading is a Hoot," "Tweet Up," and "Show Off" bulletin boards 

I am loving my room so far! I still hope to continue decorating it throughout the year, but I am thinking I'd like a paycheck first! Who knew decorating your room cost so much money?? And I'm not even an elementary teacher...I feel for them!

Any teachers our there have ideas for meals or workouts? I'd love any suggestions!! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

This vacation is never ending! I'm gonna try to jam our four days in Punta Cana into one post since I can't seem to find time to post lately. I have been busy busy busy with teaching stuff and the best part is I can't complain about a thing! I am having so much fun getting my classroom all set-up and meeting lots of other teachers. Now that I think about it, maybe I should do this post in the middle of the year so I can re-live vacation. My schedule is packed until November with lots and lots of volleyball! I can't wait! 

Back to Punta Cana...Ben and I got up bright and early on Tuesday to leave Grand Cayman and catch our flight to Miami and then to Punta Cana. I don't know what it is about traveling with your husband, but I love it! I feel so grown up! We arrived in Punta Cana a little after 2:00 and had arranged for the resort to pick us up from the airport. We were a little nervous about how the trip would go because we purchased it from LivingSocial, and although we did do lots of research, you just never know until you get there. Well, let me just say that Punta Cana Resort and Club sure knows how to make you feel special when they pick you up. We met our pick-up girl right after getting off the plane and were literally out of the airport within 4 minutes. She took us right through all of the lines, including customs and got us out of there and onto our resort. The VIP treatment is always all right with me!!

I still have no idea how Punta Cana is set-up, but it felt like Punta Cana Resort and Club was the entire town. It only took about 5 minutes to get to our destination. We were very impressed when we arrived. The views were absolutely gorgeous and we immediately made a friend in our bell hop, Jehnris!

After taking our bags to the room, we went straight to the restaurant by the pool for some lunch. We were STARVING!! While we were walking, we saw someone calling us over, so we made a little detour and it ended up being someone who was selling jewelry at their table. This may be my only complaint because they make me super uncomfortable, but they are only at the resort on Tuesday in a particular spot, so it wasn't that bad. Ben ended up buying me a beautiful blue necklace and then we practically ran to find some food. 

Our LivingSocial package was all-inclusive, so I was a little nervous about how the food would be, but everything we ate was delicious. We spent a little time at the beach before going on a tour of the resort with Jehnris. He was the biggest blessing! If he hadn't taken us on a tour we would have had no idea all of the places we could go in the resort or all the things we could do. Thank heavens for Jehnris! Plus, our tour took about 2 hours and we were able to talk to him about some awesome things that really made us fabulous friends even after our trip. 

We always enjoy late dinners on vacation and I love it! We headed back to the pool restaurant for some friend calamari and pizza. Doesn't really go together does it? Oh well, it was delicious! We also enjoyed some Amaretto Diet favorite!! 

On Wednesday, we enjoyed breakfast before heading to the beach to stake out a spot for beach volleyball that was supposed to happen around 11:30. We laid out and waited and waited for people to show up, but no one every showed up to play volleyball. I guess no one gets as excited as we do for a little competition on vacation! We went to Plan B and decided to go explore the lagoons! 

There's a long path you can take to get to the lagoons and to lots of other things within the resort, but we stuck to the first three lagoons. Holy cow...they are beautiful!! 

Lagoon #1
Lagoon #2
Lagoon #3
At Lagoon #3, there was a platform where you could jump off into the water. It was the only lagoon that you could jump into because it was about 25 feet deep. There was also a ginormous tree branch sticking out in the middle where I sat for a long time soaking up the sun. The lagoons were beyond beautiful! 

After spending a little time in Lagoon #3, we made our way back through the path and headed to the pool for lunch and some afternoon sun and drinks. The food was seriously so fresh! I absolutely loved everything that I had! 

Mango Shrimp Salad

Oh, and I surprised/made Ben really happy by eating just a few french fries off his plate! He had to capture the moment! 

We also had a daily tradition of heading to our room about an hour or so before dinner and lounging while watching TV. We didn't want to get too crispy, so we would always head in around 5:00 and watch a movie or my personal favorite of the trip, Dance Moms. Holy crazy moms and dance instructor! So entertaining! 

Dinner on Wednesday night was at Playa Blanca, a restaurant on the other side of the resort on the beach. We took a quick shuttle ride over and loved the views, the food and the wine for me and beer for Ben. Apparently the Presidente beer in Punta Cana is amazing! 

Can we just discuss these "chips" real quick?!?! How do they make these? They were like dessert! They were so thick and flakey...I had to close up the napkin to cut myself off before I ate every single one of them. 

After breakfast on Thursday we headed, on foot, to the La Cana Golf Club. I went immediately to a free private yoga lesson that was incredible. The spa holds yoga every Thursday morning, but again, I was the only one to show up, so I got a private lesson that gave me back my passion for yoga! I'm pretty sure the instructor got some pretty good giggles from my lack of flexibility, but I didn't mind one bit! 

I found Ben on the beach and we laid there for a while before having my favorite lunch of the trip at La Cana! Of course, I didn't take a picture, but it was a Tex Mex Wrap that was to die for! 

After lunch, we were ready for tee time! Well, Ben was ready to golf. I was ready to drive the cart! The La Cana golf course was the most beautiful golf course I have ever seen! I was kind of nervous that I would get bored during 18 holes of golf, but the time flew by with the incredible views. The houses surrounding the course are alone incredible, but there are also holes literally on the ocean as well. We were blown away by this course. 

Driving Range
Ben drove the first 2 holes before I decided to take over! 

We had so much fun playing golf and then watching soccer in the bar afterwards that I didn't want to go back, but of course, my stomach convinced me otherwise. This time, we took the shuttle back to the resort before lounging and then heading to dinner at La Choza. Another open air restaurant located on the beach. This one was just a short walk from our room. 

It rained on us a little as we walked there and was pretty windy when we first arrived, but the weather settled down and we had an amazing dinner. 

Appetizers - fried calamari and fish tacos 
After the amazing appetizers, I decided to finish my meal with something light and went with the black bean soup. Again, the food was incredible! 

I woke up early Friday morning to try and schedule a couple activities for us, but only had luck with one. We wanted to go horseback riding and on the segway tour, but horseback riding was full, so we went with the afternoon segway tour. 

We spent the morning at the beach and pool before heading to the segway place around 2:30. We were in a group with another family that was so sweet and we had a ton of fun with them and our hilarious guides. 

We went through the gardens that provide the greens, vegetables and some produce for the resort and the farm before heading to the beach. One of our guides took tons and tons of pictures and when we stopped on the beach he decided to have a photo session with Ben and me. Unfortunately, we didn't purchase any of the pictures, but it was pretty hilarious! After the beach we headed to the opposite end of the lagoons that we took on our first day. Our guide in the lagoons spoke 14 languages and was really funny! 

Ben showing off his back flip!
Ben and me jumping together!

After the lagoons, we headed over to the iguanas. I still cannot get over these creatures. They are just so weird to me! 

We absolutely loved the segway tour! In Ben's words, "we should get one of these!" They were super fun and our guides were fabulous! They were all from Haiti and absolutely loved Ben. They thought he played "futbol americano." 

Ben with our guide, Daniel 
We finished out the trip with a fabulous dinner at La Jolla on our last night. It was a restaurant that literally sat on the water and had incredible views. Ben and I decided to go out with a bang and since we hadn't really taken much advantage of the all-inclusive drinks this trip, we had a few margaritas at dinner. I decided to branch out and tried some conch! So so good!! We were also serenaded by a fabulous mariachi band that I called over a few extra times after my margarita and I'm pretty sure gave a fabulous tip! Needless to say, this dinner was so so fun! I am so lucky to be married to Ben and truly love our vacations together! 

Our friend Jehnris!

I was nervous about this conch, but it was incredible! 
My handsome man! 
My delicious couscous with conch, octopus and squid! 

Ben's yummy tuna
Love of my life!!