Sunday, January 18, 2015

the flu and you

so, the flu has over taken my home and workplace. keith and i both have it, the other teacher in my classroom has it, and countless children have been out of school with it. plus, who knows how many of them have it undiagnosed. being sick with the flu is a whole new level of sick. it's not something you can manage to struggle through a of work with [very well]. it makes you feel delirious. sensory perception is wayyyyy off. not to mention body aches and fatigues, to name a few. so, i'd like to share with you guys our journey with the flu. listed below are some of the things we've experienced, and it's not even over yet. flu, get on up outta here!


extreme sleeping. sleeping 40 of 48 hours has become the norm. 

sleep has now become a full-time job. this is because we are so exhausted we can hardly move. keeping our eyes open truly is work. 

food is no longer a priority. it all is disgusting. saltines and soup. that's it, if at all. however, if i could get an IV drip of fluids, i'd be in heaven. I'M SO THRISTY. 

a shower after 3 days without one feels magical. 

heating up tea, then forgetting about it leads to the ceramic tea pot bursting. thanks flu, for increasing my scatterbrainedness. as if i needed that. 

creating a swimming pool in your bed because you sweated ALL NIGHT LONG because your fever finally broke. yay! but now all the sheets, blankets, everything must be thrown out.

still sleeping in separate beds because one of us is still way sicker than the other. 

life with a puppy is now truly the most exhausting life ever. JUST LET ME SLEEP. 

binge watching on netflix has a whole new meaning. i started watching "hard time", a nat geo documentary. i was half way through it before i realized it is five years old. whatever. and then highly disappointed when the series ended after only six shows. SIX. what am i to watch now?! that is no binge watching...six shows. pssshh.

activity of the day: making kale soup, which was literally the easily thing to do. ingredients, get them and throw them in a pot. and done. this activity was also the most exhausting. 

did i mention the exhaustion? 

thinking you are on the mend and then the flu just laughs in your face.

deciding to go to work only because you haven't been all week. you go because you feel "you should" not really because "you can".

your spouse shows concern about the amount of weight you've lost. you know, because now you are so thin you look sickly. thanks, flu!

snot, phlegm, hacking, clogged head [just to name a few] have become accepted as part of the daily routine.

new household uniform: PAJAMAS and HOODIES with a blanket in tow.

i am happy to say, we are on the mend [finally!], and only minor symptoms are hanging around [stuffy head, fatigue]. i was fortunate to have a "mild" case of the flu, but i saw it's true effects on keith and my co-workers and i wouldn't wish that on anyone.

stay healthy this winter!!


Friday, January 9, 2015

a new year, a new you!

it's january!

that means it's time to get right. there are new workout plans. new fad diets. new, crazy "lose weight fast" plans. i've gotten plenty of fliers requesting me to join their gym for a nominal fee. i've also seen plenty of "runners" out on the street. and don't forget about those weight watches and jenny craig commericals.

i am happy for anyone who wants to make their body right. but it's hard work. it's a commitment and a lifestyle change. there is nothing "fast" about it. i've been doing what i've been doing for almost two years now and i still tweak it and change it to keep improving myself.

i have no huge goals for january or this year, other than to keep kicking ass [pretty great goal, eh?]. although, here are a few things i will be working on.

my strict workout plan:
i still do everyday. currently they are doing "HIITMAX" each day they post a video that is at least 12 minutes long. you start with workout 1 on monday. then on tuesday you will do workout 1 again and add the new video, workout 2. then on wednesday you will do workout 1, workout 2, and add workout 3....and so on until friday. it's really tough. i haven't been able to complete all five videos at one time, if that tells you anything.

here is the link for the first HIITMAX: workout 1 [if you'd like to check it out]
that post will explain the format in greater detail.

here is a link for the current "season". each "season" is 4/5 weeks long.
HIITMAX - season 3: workout 51 [start with fit test] and workout 52

in addition, each month bodyrock posts a calendar challenge, such as situps and pushups, or burpees. each day [or week] it progressively gets harder/more intense. i never choose to do them. well, this month i am. it is a combination of burpees, pushups, squats, and skipping [jumping rope].
check it out here: dailyhiit blog - january "just go" challenge

for the most part, i've always maintained a good eating regime. almost all homemade, organic, and clean diet. this month i want to eat as clean as possible. that means packaged foods. no pretzels, no tortilla chips. no beer [gasp!]. no eating out [although, we have a few farm-to-table restaurants that i could probably eat at].
the few things i kept: vanilla yogurt, whole milk, and coffee.

it takes a lot of planning to make sure there is enough food to feed this hungry face. especially when it all must be made from scratch. ALL OF IT. but it's fun to create new recipes and things to eat.

other thoughts...
i want to challenge myself more physically. so we will be looking to sign up for more 5k races, even if they are silly in nature. the first race? hopefully cupid's undie run in raleigh. and no, i am not kidding.

we also are going to join the gym [yes, even after i made the smart ass gym comment]. that probably won't happen for a couple of months due to other life events. we want to make sure we are using what we are paying for. so my best guess is april. we want to be a part of the gym for access to more things - variety of cardio machines, weights, classes, racquet ball, indoor pool, outdoor equipment [kayaks!]. this will also amp up our exercise regime and performance.

whew. that's a lot for just january. i'll follow up in february. but so far, so good. :)

do you have diet/exercise goals for this year?


Monday, December 22, 2014

rest sweetly now, layla

our lives changed forever on december 1.

it has taken me three weeks to even think about writing about this. as most of you already know, our sweet layla passed away.

it is difficult to describe the emotions that come with making a life ending medical decision for an animal you have shared your life with for 12 years.

heart broken.

we knew it was the best thing to do for her. based on the condition of her rapidly deteriorating legs, the vet determined she probably had a nerve and/or bone cancer. she was surprised layla's shoulder had not popped out of its socket yet.

there was nothing for us to do to save her.

it was only going to get worse.

she was living [and dying] in pain.

the hardest part about losing a pet is that they have become a part of your family. they are a part of your life. you have come to love and cherish them. you plan vacations around them [or including] them. they are a part of your day. you teach them things as they teach you things. you snuggle and play together. they make you happy.

animals teach us [or remind us] of compassion. loyalty. LOVE. wanting to please. happiness. pure joy. running and playing JUST BECAUSE. how to properly greet someone [slopping wet kisses, of course]. comfort. LOVE.

layla was all of these things. and so much more. she and i have lived in countless homes [eight...i think], been on even more trips and car rides. she's had many doggie friends [and doggie non-friends]. she was a prissy lady who was in charge. she was obedient, yet stubborn. she never met a human she didn't like [after all, they were going to love on her and give her pets - her all time favorite]. she was easily excited and always in the mix.

she shared everything with us. laughter. tears. joy. sickness. successes. loss. struggles. celebrations. she was there for it all. she was always by our side. she supported us as much as we did for her.

stanley laying with layla when she was really sick. what sweetness.

the more pets we have, the more i have learned that they just want to love and be loved.
and it hurts my heart that i can't love on her. ever again.

as much as it hurts every bit of my heart to lose my girl, sharing her life, well, i wouldn't trade it for anything.

12 years. so much happens in 12 years. i am so lucky to have had layla during such a challenging, chaotic and wonderful time in my life.
often times she was the only thing that was consistent. her loyalty and compassion never wavered. no matter what i was going through. she saw some pretty rough and dark days. she was always my shining light.

she was always there. to love. and be loved.

love your animals and your humans. i had 12 amazing years with my sweet dog. but often times we aren't granted so much time. we are never promised tomorrow. so hug your family and friends, sweetly squish your pets, and let them all that you love them.

because they love you too. as do i. thank you all for your love, support and compassion now and always. we can't thank you enough for being the amazing people that you are.

perhaps this wasn't the best pre-christmas post ever, but it was time for me to get out of my heart and head and down on "paper".

lots and lots and lot of love to you all.

happy holidays and merry christmas to everyone!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

special moments

throughout life we often have "ah ha" moments. special moments. those moments that ignite you and remind you of your life's purpose.

yesterday i had one of those moments.

throughout the year our school has various performances, feasts, and school community programs. events that we do together as a school. ages three to twelve. it truly is endearing. yesterday was our thanksgiving celebration and feast. it was a day of fun, games, singing, and eating. there are so many things about this event that moves me. the children plan almost every aspect of the day, with little adult intervention. they plan the games and activities that included face painting, arts and crafts, jumping rope, a snack station (because we all know kids are always hungry!), four square...the list goes on. they also prepared the feast environment. they arranged and set the tables, made name cards and napkin holders and decorated our dining space. it was beautiful.

their independence is remarkable.

before we all came together to give thanks and shared our meal as a school, we spent time with our music teacher singing songs that the children have been practicing for several weeks. the excitement, joy and level of participation is immeasurable. to hear a room full of children singing their hearts out, together is such a sweet sound. to hear this group of children sing, to hear their desire to perform for each other and with each other is truly amazing. this moment was blissful, carefree, and jubilant. these moments are often difficult to describe. it's a moment that feels so perfect in a world of imperfection. it's a moment of "wow! i am a part of something that is breathtaking!". it's a moment of wonderment. moments like these are so meaningful through something so simple.
so, it is difficult to describe because these moments don't happen everyday. that is what makes them extraordinary. that is why they ignite your soul.

it is moments like these that are so special. that remind you of the "why". why you are doing what you are doing. what makes it all worth it. some days our impact feels so small, but on days like this, when we are a community doing great things together, it reminds me of my "why".

no matter how small or large the impact we make on others, it's important. and they remember. so make it worth your while. remember your why.


Monday, November 10, 2014

semi-organic life

so. i made a change to my "workout" tab. some of you may have noticed. some of you may not. the "workout" tab really wasn't doing it for me anymore. i write down my daily workouts on paper. so, for me to log-in and also document it here, well, you can see i was really failing at that. plus, i never really received any feedback on it. so i am going with the assumption no one really benefited from it being there.

BUT! i have been wanting to write more about our lifestyle. not to shove it in anyone's face, but because i enjoy it and it excites me. and anything that creates passion, is worth sharing. and by writing about it, we can talk about it and share ideas, thoughts, concerns...anything!
the tab above is entitled "semi-organic life" because that is exactly how we live. we eat as clean and organically as we can. but, for us, we know that it's not possible all the time. my exercise and wellness regime is a huge part of my lifestyle too. so that will filter in here as well. my thought is to put up a regular blog post, much like this one is, and then store all of the "semi-organic life" blogs under that tab. it will be a away of categorizing some of my blog posts. so, if you are interested in just our lifestyle blogs, you can gain access to them all in one place instead of having to sift through everything.

so, what will i write about in "semi-organic life"?
  • food!
  • healthy eating
  • recipes [hopefully. i am so bad at writing down my recipes.]
  • workout ideas
  • my personal workout schedules/routines
  • workout goals
  • struggles with living an organic life [costs, resources, etc]
  • workout challenges [injury, illness, travel]
this is a new project for me. i am excited about it and look forward to continuing this journey with you all.


Sunday, October 5, 2014


just a quick note:
after writing this, i then realized how heavy it is. i don't usually have posts like this, but it is something that has been on my mind. i don't touch on all the reasons these things happen, but rather, i maintain a level of simplicity. i took this stand because when dealing with our very real societal concerns, sometimes it is necessary to look at through a different lens. 

i am around children everyday and what captures me the most is their overwhelming zest. their spirit and passion for life is immeasurable. they are so innocent. they are eager. excited. happy. thoughtful. silly. kind. inquisitive. compassionate.

then life happens.

life and exposure to our world slowly crushes these amazing characteristics of a child. of course, there are people in this world who possess these qualities, but not like when they were a child. not like when they truly did not care what others thought. not like when others did not shame them. not like when nothing else mattered.

the world changes us.

as i sit here and ponder this complex, yet simple notion, i wonder - can we avoid having the world change us? is it better that this cruel, challenging, true, and harsh world changes us?

is it better that people cannot manage the emotions that come with getting fired from a job so they return to that job and simply start killing people?
is it better that being transferred to a new job is difficult to deal with so the immediate solution seems to be to set fire to a local air traffic control center?

events are constantly happening in our country that shed light on people struggling with life. as of late, there are so many times that a person cannot handle life and the emotions it throws at them. they end up lashing out in very permanent ways.
the typical human life includes things like school, work, church [for some], obtaining food [groceries, restaurants], travel. all of these places require us to interact with each other. because these places are so necessary to survival, it seems fitting that they should be safe. we are far past the days of the cavemen. our lifestyle, especially in first-world america, is not based the evolutionary idea of "survival of the fittest". we are not fighting each other for resources. in fact, we have an abundance of everything we could possibly need. so much so that we often throw away things that others could use [food, clothes, household supplies].
since our primary concern is not the battle for resources, the places that we frequent for survival [work, school, places with food], should be safe. for them not to be is fundamentally wrong.
we must work everyday to earn money to pay for the food and the house we live it. work is necessary for survival in our first-world society. we must go to school everyday. education is required by law [until a certain age] and it fosters employment opportunities, which helps pay for the food and house. we must eat to live - that is basic biology. all of these things we must do in order to survive [and then to be successful] in our society. because these things are necessary, they should be safe. since we all must do them, and do them together - it should be safe. our schools, workplaces, stores, parks - none of theses places are a battleground. we are not at war.
we should not fear these places because of another person's emotions, difficult circumstances, or mismanaged situations.
we should be safe. so that we can survive.

in it's most simplest form, we all are just trying to survive life. what we do with this life is what makes it special. our chance at survival should not be affected because another person didn't want a chance at theirs.

how did we get to this point?

it's whenever that five-year-old lost their sparkle.
when the world took over and crushed that sweet, hopeful spirit.


Friday, October 3, 2014

the 2nd annual VOCV

hello and ohmigosh, it's friday!

we've been home from our family vacation for almost a week. it seems like the week before and the week after vacation are always completely nuts. am i right? the week before a vacation is crazy because you are are busy trying to organize, make lists, pack for you [and your family] - and packing doesn't include only clothes, you must bring food, entertainment [computers, games, workout gear], linens and household products [paper towels, soap, etc]. it's a lot. plus, you have your regular life to maintain during this week before your magical vacation. and once you return it feels like you are running on E, going 100mph, just trying to get through the week. there are 40 loads of laundry, groceries that need to be bought because there is nothing to eat, the house needs to be cleaned even though it sat clean and empty for a week [how does this happen!], there is this silly thing called work that you have to return to.
so yeah...that is three weeks of life that is just nuts all for a vacation. but it is worth every second of the crazy.

this was the 2nd annual vinson/o'connor clan vacation [VOCV - nice acronym, eh?]. our families met up in rehoboth beach, delaware. never heard of it? i hadn't either until we planned this little trip. southern delaware is beautiful. i keep telling everyone that i am not sure what i was expecting of DE, but what we found, definitely was not what i was expecting. what i loved the most is that it reminded me of home. everything about the landscape eastern north carolina is beautiful. it's luscious. green. full of farmland. vibrant. southern delaware was much of the same. farms as far as the eye could see, pine trees, beautiful beaches and marshlands.


we enjoyed relaxing, a lot. but we managed to do a lot too. here are some of the highlights of our trip.

cape henlopen state park 
this park was amazing, in many ways. it had well over 20 miles of biking trails [of varying terrain]. we biked as much as we could without our bodies revolting against us. we spent a good 3 days at that park, biking and saoking up all the history it had to offer. as cited from the park's website," With the onset of World War II, the U.S. Army established a military base at Cape Henlopen in 1941. Bunkers and gun emplacements were camouflaged among the dunes, and concrete observation towers were built along the coast to spot enemy ships." the history that lies inside this park is truly what attracted us to it. there are 13 observation towers along delaware's coast that were used during WWII. we were lucky enough to be able to climb one. it was amazing!


dogfish head
dogfish head brewery is located in rehoboth [the original brewery location, which is now a brewpub]. the current brewery is located in milton, delaware [which was only about 30 minutes away]. dogfish head [DFH] makes amazing beer. so knowing the brewery and brewpub were so close just made our trip. i think we went there every day of our vacation. and i am not even kidding. we enjoyed trying beers we can't get at home and beers they only serve at the brewpub and brewery. plus their food was delicious. we didn't mind becoming regulars for a week.


no sales tax
this should maybe be self-explanatory, but i'll offer some details anyway. there is no sales tax in delaware. i am not sure how many other states have this awesome law, but as a guest of delaware, i think it's wonderful. mostly because i benefit greatly from it. it is a very novel thing to see an item on the shelf for $12.99 and when you get to the register...guess what? the amount you owe is also $12.99!!! it's freaking amazing. and this also maybe shouldn't be so exciting, but whatever, it is.

time well spent with my family
this was by far my favorite part of the trip. we celebrated two birthdays, played cards against humanity [parents included. eep!], and shared lots of good beer [and wine and champagne!]. all of the silly and funny things that you do on vacation, you can take home with you as  memories, but you can't incorporate them into your life. well, because the people that made it funny aren't there [bye felicia!]. believe me you guys, it doesn't work - no one understands why they are being called felicia. but for real, i love learning more and more about my family. they live too far away and we don't get to do enough with each other, so this is our time to give each other a "crash course" on our lives over the past year. the more we do get together, the more we learn about each other and the closer we become. and that is truly what makes this vacation so special. vinson/o'connor clan, you all are wonderful, beautiful people. i can't wait for next year!