Sunday, December 21, 2008

Oh the weather outside is FRIGHTFUL...

We've had so much snow these past few days in chilly Buffalo. It's hard to say just how much because it's blowing around and causing huge drifts that could be misleading, but I'd say at least a foot...maybe more...and the snow's not stopping!! The whole city is basically snowed in--schools are closed, church was canceled today after Sacrament Meeting, and it was quite the endeavor to navigate our little Civic through the drifts on the way home.

Ryan has been shoveling walks non-stop. He shovels ours, and a couple hours later, it needs to be shoveled again. I am his cheerleader: I watch through the window and make sure the heat is turned up for when he's done. Am I a good wife or what?? He's also been helping neighbors dig out their cars and clear their driveways. He's a good man with a sore back.

Here is some video footage, although I'm not sure it does it justice. We are just praying we can fly out on Wednesday morning and make it to Idaho to celebrate Christmas with Ryan's family.

With the storm, it's been hard to get out and do anything fun the past couple of days, and I am going a little "stir crazy," but we are making the most of our snow-bound days.

We have some friends from church who live on our street, so the other night, we walked down to their home and watched WALL-E. This is the dessert I made for the evening. I am quite proud of my homemaking skills.

Tonight, we had a few of the neighborhood kids over to decorate a gingerbread house. They love "Mr. Ryan."

So, I have to go now because I am actually going to venture out into the snow to help Ryan shovel the driveway...this is about his fifth time doing it in the last two days...

P.S. I have to add that this morning was one of the weirdest storms I've ever encountered: There was thunder and lightning during the blizzard. WHAT THE??!! Buffalo is such an odd place!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Waste of a Perfectly Good Snow Day...

I woke up this morning absolutely dreading going to school: It was freezing in our apartment, I was exhausted, all my clothes are dirty and I had no idea what to wear, Ry is done with school and was going to be home all day without me...I don't know if I've ever NOT wanted to go to school so much.

That's when I got the glorious phone call: Snow Day!!

Rejoicing and thanking Heaven for sending me a Christmas present, I snuggled back into bed for a couple more hours of sleep.

Well, it's now almost 3:00 in the afternoon, and I am feeling very grumpy. How often do I get snow days? Not often at all. Why would I waste one? I've done nothing either productive OR fun today. I've just lazed around in my bathrobe. I HATE THAT.

I could've woken up at a decent time and been productive: I could've done the laundry, graded all my students' projects that have been sitting in a stack on my desk for the past week, and gone to the gym.

OR I could've slept in and then spent the day being unproductive and having fun: I could've made a yummy, fun breakfast and watched Elf while sipping hot cocoa with Ry or read a good book or written my Christmas cards.

I DID NEITHER. I woke up late, felt mad at myself for waking up late, laid in bed for another hour feeling mad that I woke up late, and then wandered around the apartment feeling mad that I woke up late.

Come on, Rachel, either be productive or do something fun. Don't just waste the day away wishing that you were being productive.

I frustrate myself so much sometimes.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mishap at the Gym

Last night, I had a very traumatic mishap at the gym. Only now am I able to write about it and laugh. Last night, I was not laughing.

To start off, the good news is...I'm running again. For those of you who knew me in a former life before I became a perpetually-stressed teacher, I used to be somewhat of a runner. In college, I ran 4-6 miles every weekday and often more than that on weekends. I ran six half marathons and seriously considered going for the full marathon...but then I became a teacher. In my first year of teaching, I had 207 students, I didn't know what in the heck I was doing, and I basically spent 20 hours a day planning lessons and grading papers. Surviving became my top priority-- certainly not running. I was lucky to get an hour-long night's sleep, let alone an hour-long run. Well, that's an exaggeration. I usually got at least 3-4 hours of sleep. Needless to say, that year, I stopped running all together.

Over the last couple of years, teaching has gotten a little easier, but somehow I haven't been able to convince myself to start running again. Oh, I've gone through spurts when I'd run for a week or two...but my heart wasn't in it.

Well, folks, I've recommitted myself, and I am proud to say that most nights these days, you will find me at the UB Gym pounding the treadmill or the elliptical machine, trying to get back in shape. I hope my determination to keep it up lasts longer than a few weeks.

After last night, I'm not sure it will...

When I got to the gym, I was very disappointed to see that all of the machines in the Cardio Room were in use. The Cardio Room is where the girls and the wimpy guys hang out, and this is where I am comfortable. The only other treadmills are in...the dreaded Weight Room.

The Weight Room is where all the buff bodybuilder dudes hang out, and, before last night, I had never stepped a toe in there. But since I was in a hurry and couldn't wait for a machine in the Cardio Room, I nervously approached the off-limits Weight Room. With much trepedation, I crept inside, trying not to be noticed. I looked around for a sign I thought for sure would be on the wall: "No Girls Allowed." (Or more appropriately, "No Weakling White Girls Allowed.")

Of course, no one in there was on the treadmills...they were benching 300 I quickly found a machine and sheepishly started jogging at my very moderate pace. Feeling sure that everyone was watching me and rolling their eyes, I increased the speed a little. After about 15 minutes, I started to feel really tired and hot. What's wrong with me? I wondered. Why am I such a wimp??

That's the last thing I remember--at least while standing on two feet.

Suddenly, I was flat on my back on top of a rack of weights about six feet away from the treadmill. My body tumbled off the rack and onto the floor. I had not fallen off the treadmill...oh no no...I had flown off the treadmill.

You can imagine the reactions: Everyone in the entire place--every single bodybuilding meathead--froze mid-lift and stared. No one ran over to help me--it's like they didn't know what to do.

Jumping to my feet, I started exclaiming, "I'm okay! I'm okay!" and dashed back to my treadmill. Not a soul moved. They just kept staring. Turning towards the wall, so I wouldn't have to face any of them, I pretended to start know, just a little post-exercise, non-chalant strech, right? Well, no one was buying it. They continued staring, as I not-so-convincingly played it cool and finished my stretches. Too bad my treadmill was still running beside me. That didn't add to my "cool" facade.

Realizing that I was going to have to turn around and make my graceful exit eventually, I finally grabbed my sweatshirt and made a bee-line for the door. I swear to you, no one had moved a muscle or said a word. They were still staring at me--completely frozen in shock.

Trying to make a joke out of myself, as I walked by a big black guy near the door, I said, "Well, I guess that's my clue to call it a night!" He didn't respond. He sat there open-mouthed as I turned and ran out.

As soon as I was out of the Weight Room, I was sobbing. I wasn't hurt; I was just so so so mortified. You know that feeling? When you're so embarrassed that you just start to cry?? I immediately called Ryan and blubbered, "Ryan, something r-r-really bad just happened!"

Of course, he thought I'd been attacked or something, so he asked in a panic, "What's going on?!"

"I f-f-fell off the treadmill!! Sob sob sob."

Thankfully, I have a very sweet and understanding husband who was willing to drive me to teach my Seminary Bible Study class at the church (I was going straight from the gym) and listen to me bawling about how, "I can't do anything right! Not even run on a treadmill!!"

I know my reaction was overly dramatic and emotional, but sometimes when things like this happen to me, it's an outlet for all the other frustrations I've been holding in. I was initially crying because I was embarrassed by my impromptu stunt woman act at the gym, but it then turned into, "I'm a terrible Seminary teacher...I'm exhausted...School is so hard...I miss my mom at Christmastime...Why don't I do more to achieve my goals??" and the list went on and on.

By the time I got to Seminary, I was a wreck. I changed out of my sweaty work out clothes in the bathroom, put on some new mascara, and somehow held it together to teach about Angels for 45 minutes.

I still don't know what happened at the gym. What caused me to go flying off the treadmill? I didn't trip--I know that much. I think I either blacked out or fell asleep. Option #1 is possible because I hadn't eaten much throughout the day, but Option #2 is possible as well because I am quite sleep deprived and fall asleep in unbelievable places.

Needless to say, I ate a big dinner before going to the gym tonight. And I avoided the Weight fact, I don't think I'll ever be able to go in there again.

I told my students the story today, and they thought it was hilarious. Their favorite part was that I pretended to non-chalantly stretch afterwards. One of them said that I better watch out; from now on when people spot me at the gym, they will point and laugh and say, "There's the girl who flew off the treadmill!!"  

Let's hope that never happens, or my new-found dedication to running might swiftly and decisively END.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Highlight of Thanksgiving Weekend...

Every year, my family looks forward to the highlight of Thanksgiving Weekend...
It's not my dad's delectable pumpkin chiffon pie or my aunt's mouth-watering orange rolls.

It's not the hilarious conversations around the Thanksgiving table with my cousins, sisters, and grandparents. (During the middle of dinner this year, in the midst of a conversation completely dominated by me and my chatty sisters, my grandpa suddenly announced, "Ryan, I wish you would SHUT UP once in a while!")

It's not sleeping in late and then snuggling with Ryan for another hour.

It's not chilly jogs around the neighborhood with my dad, Ry, and my brothers-in-law.

It's not the new release movies that Dad pays for us to see at the theater. (What a treat! We saw two this weekend!)

It's not even gabbing with my sisters, who are my best friends in the world, until all hours of the night. (Aren't we pretty in this photo?:) )

The highlight of Thanksgiving Weekend is always...drum roll, please...the Annual Knock Out Tournament with the Labondes!!

The LaBondes are my cousins from Grand Junction, Colorado who are so fun to be around. The kids are significantly younger than us, but they have been a huge part of our lives, and they are actually more like siblings than cousins. Unlike the clumbsy, uncoordinated Westover side of the family, the LaBondes are actually amazingly athletic, so every year at Thanksgiving, we have a Knock Out basketball tournament with them on our driveway.

Highlights of this year's event included...
-My dad getting "knocked out" by six year old, Marcus.
-My aunt almost peeing her pants when running after the ball. (I have to admit, she is the one member of her family who is not athletic, and she claims that it gets harder to control your bladder at her age.)
-My little sister actually winning one of the games (with much help and cheating from one of the youngest LaBonde cousins.)
-Ryan beating the LaBondes in two or three games. (Finally...someone athletic in our family!)
-Me making a few "swoosh" shots from the free-throw line. It was a complete fluke.
-Chanting, cheering, jeering, and celebrating...the neighbors think we are insane!

To be honest, I'm not sure why this tradition is so much fun, but it is always my favorite part of Thanksgiving weekend.
P.S. All of the above traditions that didn't make the "highlight" status are actually also highlights!! I love my family. They are so much fun!!