Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lots of Competing- OH MY!

We had our third competition this last weekend, and while it was tougher judging, I couldn't have been prouder of my girls!

(My top tap group took a minute after their routine Sunday to go out and take pictures on the pier, since it was super nice out!)
All of my groups placed very well, including special awards on top of their already-good scores, and my Hard-Knock Life girls knocked it out of the park by winning a special judge's award, being category winners for teen tap groups, and second highest overall score for their age group!  BAAAAH proud teacher right here!

My duet ladies did amazing yet again, winning more overall high scores and a judge's special award for excellence.  They're kind of unstoppable!

(These are some of the fantastic people I get to work with!)
It was a fun but exhausting weekend for all of us.  I was at the DECC Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with a super long day on Saturday (minus running out to get take-out food, it was around 12 hours).  I did get a nice little break on Sunday morning, since I didn't have to be there for our group's Production performance.  I'll see it next weekend and at our special showing mid-May, so I took the morning to do something else awesome- seeing one of my oldest best friends, Sarah, and her adorable little boy Ben!

Sarah lives down next to my old hometown, and for some reason we've had a heckuva time trying to hang out in the last year.  I'm going to completely blame my crazy schedule and my unreliable car situation.  :)  The craziest thing is that when I do get to hang out with her and her family, Ben always doubles in size from the last time I see him.  It's really cool, but also reminds me how fast time flies!

(Look at how big he's getting!  And no, my hair is not that red in real life.  It was weird lighting...)
We had time for hugs and a short walk around the parking lot before he needed to settle down for his lunchtime nap on the drive back to the cities.  I'm excited to hopefully get down and spend at least a dinner or evening at their house in June.  They have a giant backyard with a firepit, and that sounds like the perfect way to hang out with friends on a summer night!
I wish I had knitting to show you from last weekend.  I wish I could take a great picture and say- "Look here, see?  Look at this gorgeous finished project!" Instead, I did 6 rounds on the Police Box Handwarmers.  6. Pitiful.  Luckily I'll have a car ride to do a bit more this weekend...

(Maeby taking a nap on a new-to-us ottoman- awesome new furniture from my aunt!  I'll show more when we get the full set.  We'll having matching furniture in our living room- I'll be a 'real' adult!) :)
I'm right back in to the craziness this week with dance every night to prep for our last competition this weekend.  I'm carpooling down with one of the other teachers on Friday before two full days of dance.  Then, next week, I get my first night off from dance in over 2 weeks (not counting driving Friday!) on Wednesday.  I think I need a full day off from everything sometime soon here- I had a temp around 100 degrees F both last night and the night before, and I've been getting through the day with ibuprofen to keep my fever down and the aches away.  It doesn't help that it's the last two weeks of school, and my papers-to-grade pile is almost as high as Maeby is fat.
Which, as you know, is pretty high. ;)
Super excited for the last performance this weekend- our ladies are going to be amazing!! 
And then-
a little bit of relaxation time.
Well, minus the grading time.
And knitting time.
Because I have a LOT of end-of-year gifts to finish...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

2015 Books, Pt 1

One of my goals for 2015 is to read 40 books.  I'm 1/4th of the way through and still going strong.  In fact, I'm in the middle of about five books right now, but I'm going to focus on my favorites of the first ten that I read this year.

Favorite Fiction: "Bellman & Black" by Diane Setterfield

I was a huge fan of Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale, her breakout novel.  Bellman and Black wasn't as good as Tale, but it was still my favorite fiction book from the first chunk of books I read.  It had a few families as the main characters, it was a little on the dark side, and it had a little bit of magic in it.   It helps that it was also set in Victorian times, my favorite period.  Setterfield is great at creating characters that you can't help but to root for, even as they spiral into an ultimate demise (spoiler alert?).  Great for reading on rainy days with a cup of tea or coffee.

Favorite Non-fiction: "The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way" by Amanda Ripley

This year, I'm trying to read a handful of books as part of my professional development as a teacher.  I want to be up-to-date on the evolving world of education, and this book is fantastic for that.  Ripley spends time outlining some of the top superpowers in K-12 education, shifting her focus from overall education to specific things schools do to promote different styles of learning.  She highlights where countries like Finland and South Korea get things right as well as where they get things wrong.  She discusses the evolving atmosphere in our current US education system, including standardized tests, subject matter, grit, parental involvement, and graduation standards.  It was a real eye-opener to look at the best parts of each educational system, and raised a lot of fantastic questions about where the US can go, both in early ed, public schools, and even the first few years of college.  It's a must-read for educators and parents!

I Wanted to Like it More, but Didn't: "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath

Yes, this is touted as one of the greatest coming-of-age stories out there, but Plath's novel just didn't hold the intrigue for me that I wanted it to.  I really enjoy Plath's essays and poetry, but her novel felt- and I wish it didn't- almost juvenile.  It wasn't that it was too simple, it just seemed to me that her main character's demise into the depression that led to her hospitalization seemed a bit abrupt and almost out of place.  I really wanted to enjoy it, but unfortunately it just didn't keep my attention as much as I would have hoped.

I've been leaning towards non-fiction lately, so a lot of the books I'm reading now are in that vein, but hopefully I'll find a good fiction book to enjoy after school is out.  I have to admit, I wasn't terribly impressed with any of the fiction I read at the beginning of this year.  If you have suggestions, let me know! :)  I'm always looking for a good book to read!
Hopefully this intrigues your own reading list!  I'm especially excited for my summer reading to take off; I usually read a book or two a week once I'm done grading papers.
Speaking of which, back to the grind... :)

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Yes, I realize it's been over a week since I posted.
Pretty sure it's mostly because my knitting has slowed down to a crawl.  I don't have much more to show you from the last time I posted pics.  Well, that's not completely true:
I cast on another gift knit for my other senior dancer soloist- a pair of U of M socks for her first year at college next year as a Golden Gopher.

The one nice thing?  This is a fantastic travel knit, so it'll hopefully be finished with a trip down to the cities next weekend for our last dance competition.  Car time = lots of knitting time!
There officially are 6 projects that I have listed as WIP on my Ravelry page.  3 of them have deadlines that are looming uncomfortably close, and I haven't actually cast on for the last of my gift knits for dancers yet.
This isn't taking into account the Ivy League Challenge, which might be more of a lofty dream at this point than an actual thing I can accomplish in the next 2 1/2 (??!!!) weeks.  What was I thinking?  Completing an entire fair isle fingering-weight vest in the midst of competition season and the last half of the semester?!
Haha, ooooh boy do I make myself laugh...
Right now I'm aiming at finishing solo and duet gifts before our competition showing, since that's the last time my solo and duet dancers perform. :(  We'll see if that even happens.
In other fun news, school has ramped up like crazy.  I have a stack of papers to grade and only 3 weeks left in the semester.  Luckily, I was assigned a couple of classes for fall semester, and hopefully I get at least one more to help with the whole income thing.  Big changes I'm excited about?  I'll be teaching an online course for the first time ever!  Second big change?

I switched books for my College Comp II class!  While this may seem like a tiny change to some, for a teacher, it's huge.  I've been using the Writer's Reference since I began at LSC.  It's a great reference book, but it doesn't have a lot of engaging readings or templates for writing rhetorically.  Graff's They Say/I Say is a fantastic tool for students to use (hopefully) beyond my class for any discipline, and has a lot of great essays for the students to read and comment on for class exercises throughout the semester in regards to argumentative writing.
Done nerding out about teacher stuff.  :)
(Gotta have a least a little bit about that once in awhile!)
Oh, and remember that partially dislocated kneecap?

I've graduated to kinesiology tape to support keeping my kneecap in place when doing my regular activities!  Super happy about that.  A week of not climbing and gentler dance made me very antsy.  While I do have to do the tape during more intense activity (basically dance and climbing, which is 6-7 days a week for me), the doc hopes I can wean off of it in a month if I keep up my rehab.  Bam!
Since I had to be gentler last weekend, I did my first Lake Superior dive for the season!

The water was a balmy 36 degrees, and I enjoyed a dive off of the Two Harbors peer with my dive partner Josh!  It was great to get back in the water, get used to my (new to me) drysuit, and get excited for diving in Key Largo with my parents in a couple weeks and wreck diving in Lake Superior this summer!
This weekend is the third of our four dance competitions, so I'll be running around, cheering on my dancers, and maybe even squeezing in a workout at VE during one of my breaks since it's a 5 minute walk from the performance hall.
Hopefully I will have some knitting to show you come Sunday evening...
Hold me to that, please...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Break Week

Last week was my week off from dance, and I used it to catch up on grading, catch up on lesson planning, switching and cleaning out my clothes closet, and getting more of our house spring-ready.

I was able to visit my family for Easter down in the Twin Cities, which was really fantastic!  Good times, jokes, and awesome food all around.
The only negative bit was that my "new" (15-year old) Xterra that I bought from my aunt (for a super good deal!) decided to just stop on my drive down, so we had to get it towed to my aunt and uncle's house for maintenance.

I'm lucky enough that I know people that can help me fix it for no more than a 6-pack, mostly because they enjoy the fun of fixing it!
I had to take a shuttle back to Duluth, but since Scott and I are used to only having one car, it's not a big deal that the Xterra stays down in the cities for a bit.  That's going to be my trip vehicle this summer, so I'd rather they take awhile to suss out all the issues before I drive it cross-country.

(Coffee curls are essential to good climbing!)
I trained a bunch during the week, especially on the gross and rainy days outside.  I'm getting more and more excited to go climb out at Palisade as the weather warms up and the sun is out more often!
The evenings let me have a little time for knitting.

(The Police Box Handwarmers are nearing completion.)

I started these handwarmers for myself to use in my freezing cold office.  Now that it's warmer, the AC is on, and it feels like the arctic in there...

I've done a little blazing ahead on the Ivy League Vest, but unfortunately I haven't had a ton of time to dedicate to it lately.  That just changed, but I'll get to that in a second.
Last Saturday, I ran in the Fitger's 5K with my friend Celeste!

It was the first time I've had a run since probably fall, so I liked to think of it as a nice little kick in the pants to get going.  I even fixed my running form to be on the balls of my feet, which helped immensely with both how tired I was and my breathing.  I was really psyched to begin running a few times a week to help get rid of the winter chubbs, but then... on Sunday night...

I partially dislocated my kneecap while awkwardly trying to stand up from a squat (super lame).  I got it checked- nothing was torn, so it shouldn't take too long to heal.  I just have to wear a brace for dancing and (light) climbing for a week, and I can't run for probably a week and a half.  My Ortho doctor is also a climber, so she understood that she had to give me exact time frames and perimeters for activity. :)
After that, just PT to strengthen the muscles surrounding my kneecaps, and for at least a month (maybe more) she recommended doing a tape job on my knee so when I do dance and climb and put stress on my knee, the tape can help hold my kneecap in place while the muscles get back to working properly again.
I guess I'll just have to work on upper body this week for training. :)
Oh- and more knitting time in the evenings (when I'm not grading)
Off now to grade papers outside- it's sunny and gorgeous out!  Happy Tuesday! :)