Playing catch-up

So much has happened since I last posted that I don't even know where to begin. I am still teaching high school English, only now I teach 11th and 12th graders in Dual Enrollment Composition, Dual Enrollment Intro to Fiction, and AP English Literature. This upcoming school year will be my second year teaching these courses. I am enjoying it immensely, though the workload has intensified tenfold -- the biggest difference between 9th graders in regular English and 11th/12th graders in advanced English is that the upperclassmen actually DO their classwork. Which equals more grading for me. Oy. But it is nice to teach students who are overall inspired and disciplined.

As of June 2015, I have officially been living one year with my fiancé. We lived in our first apartment from June 2014 until April 2015, at which point we moved into the apartment we are living in now. I loved our first apartment -- it had a covered garage and had the best view of downtown Miami, especially at night. So when our landlord called in March to let us know he was moving his daughter into our apartment, I was devastated. But there are some upsides to our new apartment. It's only five minutes away (if that) from our old place; it's got two bathrooms, one more than the other; our current bedroom is much bigger; we now have a pool; and best of all, it's $200 cheaper in rent, only $1100 a month. Sure, our second floor apartment may not have the spectacular view that our other place did (we look out onto a motel, ick), and it's a little louder here because many of our neighbors have kids, but it's all right. After I got over the initial disappointment of losing our amazing first apartment, I was surprised how easily our second place began feeling like home. We have yet to try the pool, but hopefully we'll get around to that before our summer vacation runs out.

So you've probably noticed that I've been calling Andy my fiancé. That happened on February 21st. It was something I was hoping for, daring not to expect too much, and while the circumstances surrounding that happy day were not the best, it was still a very happy surprise. February was a tough month for all of us. My father passed away on February 10th after battling colon cancer for seven months. He had been hospitalized with pneumonia but was expected to recover and go home in a few days. So that late night phone call from my mom was not at all expected, and the first few days felt like a nightmare I couldn't shake. The engagement was like a ray of light, one I clung to. And then the distractions of having to move, plus going back to work, helped give me focus and comfort. But I will not lie -- this has been the hardest thing I've ever gone through. My mother and brother have both been incredibly strong, and that has helped me. Andy and my friends have been great, too.

Originally, we had planned on getting married in December, but we have since decided to get married in February. It is the month in which we met, he proposed to me in this month, and while my father may have passed in this month, that doesn't mean February can't be a time for celebration and remembrance both. We have even chosen a date and location -- February 21, Sunday (the same date he proposed, natch) at the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant. The restaurant is beautiful, styled after the 1940's wartime, complete with airplanes and jeeps on display in the front yard. It faces the Miami International Airport and has a beautiful little garden in the back, where our ceremony will take place. Right now we are in the process of choosing our priest and seeing if the Catholic Church will grant us permission to wed outside of an actual church. We had originally planned to wed in a church but the exorbitant "deposit" and "donation" fees scared us away. Besides, as Andy says, God will still be there.

Truthfully, I'm glad we are getting married in February. Not only does this give us more time to plan and save up money, but it gives me more time to meet my weight loss goal. After dad got sick, I kind of let myself go and gained a ton of weight. This summer I finally decided to refocus, not just for the sake of my wedding but mostly for my health -- my blood pressure has been high even on medication. When my cardiologist threatened to put me on even more medication, this time to control my heart rate, I decided enough was enough. I promised her I would focus on diet and exercise. So I've been doing Weight Watchers again, which helped me lose weight back in 2011. It's completely points based, which really helps me control my portions. I've been working out 30 minutes a day to Leslie Sansone's workout videos, which are basically really intense walking-based exercise routines. When I've lost some more weight and have built up some endurance, I'll go back to Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. That workout is a bit too intense for me right now. I also got myself a Fitbit, which is basically a wristwatch that monitors your steps, heart rate, and calories burned. It's a good way to track my exercise and monitor my heart rate, which happily hasn't been that high since I started dieting and working out.

Since I started my weight loss journey three weeks ago, I've lost 9 pounds. I'd like to lose at least 50 more pounds by February. It won't be easy, but I know I can do it.

I go back to school in two weeks to get my classroom ready, and school resumes in three weeks. Part of me is kicking and screaming at the notion, wishing time could stand still. But the other part of me is excited and looking forward to a new school year. A lot is going to happen in 2015-2016. I can't wait to see what the year brings.

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