Sunday, December 19, 2010

12 Days of Christmas

One of the many perks of being a teacher (no, I'm not going to say the 2 weeks off work I get during Christmas) is getting hooked up at Christmas time with gifts from your students. The school I work at definitely has some very generous families. Starting on the Monday of the last week before break, the gifts start piling in. Most students bring their gift on Friday, and I feel like it is a scene out of the movie Christmas Story, where all the students bring their gift up to their teacher's desk. It's a little different for me, in that I stand at the door to greet my students, and they just start handing gifts off to me right there at the door.

Chocolate. Well, every year has a different variety, so I thought I would share some of my 2010 Christmas gifts from my students. The theme for this year was definitely chocolate. Take a look at my stash of chocolate. I added it up, and I received over six pounds of chocolate.
Gift Cards. The next runner up was coffee gift cards. That is usually pretty common, but last year I got tons of Target gift cards, so I was getting a little excited about that since Target is my favorite store! I did get two Target gift cards, but Peet's and Starbucks were the winners. Some of my students like to be a little more creative in their gift card giving, so I also got a gift card to Bebe, The Elephant Bar, etc
Please also note the electric plug in travel coffee mug

Jewelry. Middle school students are really into giving jewelry to their teachers. This year I received a pearl necklace, and a home made earring and necklace set. However, none of these compare to the necklace I received two years ago. One of my all time favorite gifts.Home decor. This is where it starts getting fun! A few candles, some great soaps from Bath & Body Works, coasters, a crystal mantel cloak, green beaded pillow case covers, and a Taj Mahal :)

And a quick look at all the home decor I received this year is below...Whatever this Christmas season brings you in gifts, I hope you remember the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ. Wishing you a very blessed Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sharks Game

For the past few years, I have really wanted to go to a Sharks hockey game. To be honest, I'm really not that into the Sharks, but I've been to two Stockton Thunder minor league hockey games, and they were so fun. I figured that going to see a professional game would be even more exciting. Plus, my brother-in-law is a huge Sharks fan (my 3 year-old niece has known how to do the Shark 'jaws' during a power play since the time she was 18 months), so I've had the family enthusiasm spurring me on! must admit, hockey is a great, fast paced sport to watch.

I've never been to a professional football game or basketball game either, but I didn't put a 49ner game or Warriors game on my list of 30 Before 30. The Sharks are who I wanted to see!

Well, it's funny because the first time Jason and I ever hung out was at a Stockton Thunder game (you can get the whole scoop in my previous post One Year Ago). Well, one year and exactly one week later, we went to our second hockey game together...this time it was the Sharks, though! Jason had been wanting to take me for awhile, and we finally had a wide open night. We didn't start looking for tickets until about two hours before the game. Jason went on craigslist to find season ticket holders trying to get rid of their tickets. About an hour before the game started, he struck a deal with a guy, and we got AWESOME seats for half the original price. (Seriously, this is the way to get tickets if you can wait until the last minute).

So we made our way to San Jose (in the pouring rain) and had a great time at the Sharks game. Unfortunately the Sharks lost 3-0 to the Blue Jackets, but we did see a good fight :) I was blown away by how clean the rank was and all the fans are so fun! And, I must say, any sport's stadium that has fully padded chairs is okay in my book! I definitely want to make it to another Sharks game in the near future...and hopefully see them score at least one goal...

Monday, November 1, 2010

One Year Ago...

I met my future husband. And now, five months from tomorrow we will be married. Wow! The saying, "A lot can change in a year" sure has applied to me this past year!

Jason and I met on November 1, 2009 at the young adult's group at our church. He was sitting in the seat behind me, so that's how I noticed him. After the group ended, I went to use the restroom, and as I was walking back in, he was on his way out. I stopped and introduced myself and then sent him on his way, as he appeared to be in a rush out, and I didn't want to keep him. While I thought I was being friendly to the new guy by saying hi, he interpreted my actions as rude because I seemed so quick to say hi and then bye...

One week later, we crossed paths once again at church. This time I was on my way out, but I had a quick question I needed to ask our pastor before leaving. I saw that Jason was talking with our pastor, so I stood to the side, waiting for them to finish their conversation...trying to be polite and not interrupt. After a minute or so, their conversation was interrupted by someone else, so I figured this would be an opportune time to slide in and quickly ask my question. Well, our pastor is an extremely relational guy, so he was more concerned about making sure that I had met Jason. So, right away, he asks, "Rebecca, have you met Jason?" I was so focused on being quick with my question so as to not interrupt their conversation, that I flippantly responded, "Yeah, we met last week..." and then proceeded in asking my question to our pastor. Jason again interpreted my actions as rude. This time I agree how he could see that...but that was never the intent :)

Fast forward one more week. This time it's Saturday night, and a bunch of people from church had planned to go to a hockey game. Turns out that Jason signed up to go as well. Also turns out that we happened to ride together in the same car to the game with two other friends. Here is when we really began to get to know each other, as it was a good 45 minute drive. Jason then conveniently seated himself next to me at the hockey game, so the conversations continued. We all went to dessert afterward, and what do you know, who did I find sitting across from me there...? Yes, Jason.

The next week was full of facebook messages back and forth that led to what I call our fake first date. Our church was helping out with a fair trade organization during the holidays, and we could volunteer to go to the organization's warehouse to help box packages. Since it was my Thanksgiving Break, I had signed up to help on Tuesday. Jason had signed up for the same day because it was his day off. This was not planned, but when Jason heard I was going on the same day he was, he suggested we carpool out together since it was about a 30 minute drive from where we lived. So, he came and picked me up, we drove out there together, volunteered for a few hours, and then he took me to dinner after. Hence, the fake date. Nice work, buddy.

Well, the first real date happened just a few days later on Saturday, November 28th. At this point we had talked on the phone every day since the fake date. It was a Saturday, and neither of us had plans for the evening, so he asked to take me out. He knew I loved the city (especially during the holidays), and while he is not such a fan of the city, he still took me there. We walked around Ghirardelli Square and ended up having dinner at Aliotos, right along on the water. Before we knew it, we were the only ones left in the restaurant and figured it was time to go since they were trying to set up for the next day.

I really didn't think ten months later we would be engaged! But God has blessed me with an amazing man, and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with him. It's funny because when I made my 30 Before 30 list, I can't tell you how many people asked if I was going to put 'Get Married' on my list. Part of the reason why I even made my list was because I didn't want to dwell on being married by the time I was 30. I didn't want to feel like I hadn't lived life fully by age 30 if I wasn't yet married. But, I guess things happen when you least expect it...God surprised me on this one, and I must say it was a very good surprise!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

13.1 Miles!

Well, first let me start off by saying, "I made it!" After 12 weeks of training, I finally ran my first 1/2 marathon! I really didn't think that day would ever come. Then, 10 months ago (last December) when my friend Kristina and I signed up for the San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon, I still didn't think that day would ever come, being that it was so far away. But this past Sunday at 8am in San Jose, we set off to conquer those 13.1 miles!

Right before the craziness ensued!

I hadn't really set a goal time for myself, but Jason told me that I was going to do it in under 2 hours. So, I did the math on that and figured I would have to run at a 9:14 mile pace the entire 13 miles. I didn't think that I could make that happen. But, once the race started, I kept hitting each mile mark between 8:45 and 9 minutes, so then it was on! I was determined to finish under 2 hours!

The first 10 to 11 miles were great! They completely shut down the streets of downtown San Jose, along with some of the nearby neighborhoods, and people just fill the streets to cheer you on! The energy was contagious and added to the already adrenaline rush. People would stand outside their houses drinking their morning coffee and clap for you. The downtown streets were filled with thousands of enthusiastic 'fans'. Since it was a rock 'n roll marathon, there was a band playing every mile. It was great inspiration because every time you heard the band, you knew you were nearing the completion of another mile! Plus, some people even set up their own mini-bands in front of their houses - little kids playing on their toy drum sets...and one guy even had his own electric guitar and was jamming out in his driveway (with an amplifier and all)! It was so much fun!! Until I hit mile 11...

Here I am at mile 4 - smiling and happy

Kristina and I had only trained up to 10 miles, and there is definitely something to be said about muscle memory. Once I started nearing the 11 mile mark, my legs were like, "Um, I've never ran this far at this pace..." and they started to freak out on me. They started to fill with lactic acid and began to get extremely tight. The thing with this though is that stopping only intensifies the cramping and tightening, so you have no choice but to push through it if you want to finish. Thankfully the last 2 miles of the race are through the downtown area, which is laden with people cheering and screaming. It definitely helped me push through those last 2 miles. They are a complete blur to me, but I know I did it because I crossed that finish line! And, I did it in under 2 hours, finishing in 1:57:20! I placed 2,325 out of over 13,000 (604th female and 119th in my age group).

Focused on the finish - I can see it!

Straining - almost there!

Done and VERY happy about it :)

Would I do it again? Absolutely. I would just make sure that I trained up to 11 or 12 miles. The pain I'm in right now is pretty awful, and I literally walk like I have two braces on my legs...but I'm sure I will soon forget about the pain and remember the excitement of finishing 13.1 miles after months of training!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Not that I believe in superstition, but I had never caught a bouquet at a wedding before...until 4 months ago. In May, at my friend Travis' wedding, I caught the bouquet. Two months after that, I caught (or picked up) the bouquet at my friend Megan's wedding. Less than two months after that...I was engaged!

Last Sunday, 9-19-10, Jason proposed in San Francisco!

It started off like any normal and then some afternoon errands. The day before, my sister Elyse had decided to take a trip to Hawaii to visit a friend since she has a bunch of frequent flyer miles to use up. Upon hearing this, Jason immediately offered to take her to the airport. On Saturday evening, he suggested that we make a day out of it and hangout in the city after. (Little did I know that he had picked up my ring that morning - He was actually going to try and wait...yeah right...until the following weekend to propose because we already had plans to go into the city that weekend).

So on Sunday afternoon we headed out to SFO and dropped my sister off at the airport. The plan was to then go and walk along the Land's End Trail, which runs from Ocean Beach to Baker Beach (I told him he should have proposed on Baker Beach since that is his last name - but he claims it is a nudist beach...)

After a pit stop at Coffee Bean (well done), we made our way down to the water. About 5 minutes away, the song "Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flats came on the radio, which Jason and I had previously discussed as a song we wanted played at our wedding. (Apparently Jason was fighting tears the whole time the song was playing...knowing that he would soon be proposing to me).

A few minutes later, we were parked and walking along the Land's End Trail. Any suspicion that I may have had of Jason proposing was soon dissipated by Jason's lack of decisiveness about where to go along the trail. (Apparently he was looking for a place called Mile Point Beach...I saw about 3 signs indicating its location...but I guess Jason was too nervous to notice them). So we're walking along and hit a bunch of stairs that go down to the water. Jason didn't know if these were the stairs that led to Mile Point Beach, so he didn't want us to walk down them and discover it was the wrong spot...and then make me walk further. We kept walking, but the trail soon ended, with about 50-75 stairs that you could then walk up. At this point, I think Jason just didn't know what to do or where to go, so he started asking me what I wanted to do (again - suspicion of proposal was out the window because he clearly didn't seem to have a plan...). I said I didn't care (typical), and we decided to turn around and go down the first set of stairs that we passed. Well, good thing we did because these were the stairs that led to Mile Point Beach - the proposal spot. Once you go down the stairs, you walk along this cliff type trail that takes you to a big cliff that overlooks the water. On a clear day, it is a gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge (which we will have to see another time). I was standing on the edge, looking out on the water and Jason was behind me. He then grabbed my waste and began turning me around towards him. As he did so, he began bending down on one knee. My knees began trembling.

Despite the distraction of a group of about 25 people on the cliff that was 20-30 feet below us, I actually remember everything that Jason said when he proposed! (As soon as he got down on his knee, this guy decided it was a great time to start yelling, "Did she say YES?!" I wanted to yell back at him, "Dude, give the guy a chance to ask me!") Upon my YES, the crowd below began cheering and shouting hoorays for us! We didn't have a camera on us (My camera was in my purse, which I left in the car, not thinking I would need anything from it...) We asked someone to take some pictures for us on their camera, and I gave them my email, so we got some pictures!

Here we are on the upper cliff area where he proposed

Down on the lower area by the water
Here is a picture from the internet of the spot he proposed (taken from the upper cliff looking down on the lower cliff)

He proposed on the upper cliff, and the group of people were on the lower part where the circle is

Here we are later that night at my sister and brother-in-laws

It was such a wonderful moment. And...I LOVE my ring!! It is exactly what I wanted - Jason did great (although apparently my ring was quite the burden/5 ton weight for him to bare, as it took almost 3 months for my ring to arrive...well, at least for the correct ring to arrive...long story. But, he was going CRAZY with all the waiting).

We are SO excited to get married - and aren't wasting anytime doing so. The date is set for April 2, 2011 - just about 6 months away. Things are falling into place very smoothly so far - church and reception venue are booked, photographer and caterer are just about in place...AND...I found my dress! It was the first one I tried on, was everything I wanted, and I had no reason to look anymore. Pictures to come in April :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Labor Day Hike

Last Monday for Labor Day, Jason and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather. We figured that since it was in the high 90's out our way, that it would be much nicer along the water. We headed out to Stinson Beach to hike around Mt. Tamalpais. I had heard from a few people that Mt. Tam is a great place to hike, and now I want to extend the recommendation to all of you! It is gorgeous - full of redwood trees combined with an ocean view - can't get much better than that.

After our 2.5 hour drive (yes, it was so backed up on Hwy 1 getting into Stinson Beach - took over an hour to go just a few miles), we were more than ready to start our hike. We started at the Matt Davis trail head, and went from there. That trail took us to the ranger station, and from there, we took the Dipsy trail back down. Overall, it was about a 7.5 mile hike and took us about 3 hours. If you have a weekend afternoon free, I highly recommend it. It was beautiful. Here are a few pictures to convince you to go!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Back to School...

Well, school starts tomorrow, which means summer is officially over! I think that this was by far the fastest summer ever! Because I had seven trips planned between the June 4th and August 5th (click here for my pre-summer post), it made my summer fly by because I never really settled in. But, I must say that I had a blast this summer with all of my trips.

I've been in my classroom this last week, getting things all organized and ready for my 4th year of teaching (I can't believe I'm entering year four!) Here is my classroom, all set and ready for the 175 little 6th graders that will be my students this year...

For the first time in three years, I didn't feel like I had to spend the last two weeks of summer living in my classroom. This is the first year that I didn't switch classrooms, and it's also the first year that I am teaching the exact same curriculum as I did the year before. I definitely feel much more prepared and relaxed going into this school year than I have in any of the previous years. I hoping that it will be a great year. Farewell summer, welcome year 4!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hearst Castle

One of my best friends (Yay, Meg!) from college got married this past weekend in San Luis Obispo. While that could be a whole post in and of itself (such a fun wedding/college reunion), this post is dedicated to what I did the day AFTER her wedding...

Funny how I went to college only 45 minutes away from Hearst Castle and somehow during those four years at Cal Poly, I never made it to Hearst Castle. Well, it only took me another four years since graduating college to actually get in my tour of Hearst Castle. With that, the day after Meg's wedding, Jason and I made the short drive from San Luis Obispo to San Simeon, the home of Hearst Castle.

I really didn't know much about Hearst Castle (or William Randolph Hearst) going into the tour, but boy did I learn a lot! The tour started with a five mile bus ride through the hills to make the 1000 foot ascent up to Hearst Castle. The bus ride gives you a history of the Hearst Family and the construction of the castle, plus a beautiful view to enjoy along the way.

View from Hearst Castle

Upon arriving at the castle, we were shown the outside of one of the many guests houses (or mansions) - this guest house has 18 rooms! (We saw four bedrooms and a sitting room).

Casa Del Sol - Spanish Style

We then saw the outside pool and wow, this was awesome. Mr. Hearst and his wife were all about bringing European culture and architecture to their estate, and the pool was one of my favorite demonstrations of that. Loved the ancient Roman and Greek history here.

The Neptune Pool and Roman Pool

Apart from the pool, the gardens were probably my favorite part. The vegetation was so colorful - I couldn't stop taking pictures.

The last stop of the tour was the main house. We viewed two of the sitting rooms, the dining room, the billiard room, and the theater. And of course, we couldn't have a complete tour without viewing the indoor pool.

Casa Grande - The main house

Assembly Room

The Refectory - one very long table

The Indoor Pool

I had so much fun exploring Hearst Castle and feeling a part of another century. Too bad I waited so many years to visit when I was so close for so many years...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Training is in Full Swing!

Running a half-marathon is one of the check-offs on my '30 before 30'. I started training about three weeks ago for my half-marathon, giving myself twelve weeks of training before I actually run my first half-marathon on October 3rd! (I'm running the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon with my friend Kristina). My new running shoes and my nike+ipod are a good motivator to get me out running. (The nike+ipod is awesome! It is a small chip that I put in my shoe, and then there is another piece that I attach to my ipod. It keeps track of all my runs, telling me how far I went, what my pace was per mile, how many calories I burned, etc. I can then plug the piece into my computer and it creates graphs and what-not. Basically, perfect for me!)

My new running shoes

My nike+ipod ~ love!

I figured it might be good for me to do a few smaller races leading up to my half-marathon (well, Jason more so decided for me or rather highly encouraged...), so this past Saturday we both ran in Brazen's Bad Bass at Lake Chabot. (Jason was ecstatic about doing our first race together - especially because I have been refusing to run with him because I think I'll be too slow). I ran the 10k and Jason did the half-marathon.

Right before the race...

Again, Jason was very excited!

The challenging part was that the run was 50% trail and 50% paved - which means for me I literally had to run 1.5 miles straight uphill. But, I must say that it was a GREAT experience, and I absolutely loved it. Jason and I both did really well, too. We were both very pleased with our times - I ran my 10k in 1:02 and he did his half-marathon in 2:08. Considering that we were running straight-up hill for a quarter of our race, we were happy. I ended up coming in 5th for my age group (and 35th overall out of 140), and Jason got 2nd in his age group (and 37th overall out of 95).

Just about at the finish line!

Besides the fact that it still hurts to walk (that downhill is brutal on your body), I had a blast! I could definitely see myself doing a few more of these leading up to my half-marathon. The only downfall is that it sure isn't cheap to do these races. However, they sure can become addicting!