Friday, October 28, 2011


I had to post a follow up to my earier post. Today in class,  one of my ELA kiddos the looked at me and giggling, asked, "Mrs. Lyon, do you have any cubs?"

It took some of my other students a few minutes to get it, and the student who asked the question seemed pretty proud of himself.

Needless to say, I told him that no, the Lyon household has no cubs for the time being, and lets get going on Language Arts.

5th Graders are so cute!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Before We Have Kids...

For much of our relationship, Ed and I have had a good timetable about when we'll be adding a little one to the Lyon household.
It's a baby "Lyon" - get it? :)

As we've gotten steadily closer to that time (sometime within the next few years) we have both felt the push to "take advantage" of life with just the two of us. However, it's pretty interesting what "take advantage" means for each person.

There are so many things that are limited once you have kids: travel, free time, relaxing weekend time,  couple time, wild nights out, crazy work hours, etc.

Of course, Ed and I have never been ones to stay out late, going to the popular places, but all the other activities are definitely part of our "just the two of us" life. Still, Ed and I don't necessarily see eye to eye on what we should be taking of advantage of on our weekends, which seem to represent for us the "free time" that we won't have when we have kids.

Ed is feeling very driven to go out exploring - spend a weekend in the Sierras, go out to Yosemite, go backpacking, etc. He wants to be out and having adventures. On the flip side, he also wants to spend a considerable amount of time working. For him, a perfect weekend combines a long hike/run, errands/chores, and working.

In contrast, my priority before we have kids is to soak in as much quiet lazy time as possible. My absolute perfect weekend morning entails waking up around 8am, heating up a pot of tea, and then reading in bed for the next two hours. After that, I would like to have a nice breakfast with Ed, and then read for another 30 or so minutes (or until I finish my book). Then, I would get ready for the day and do some work/errands. I would love to spend the other day out and about on a fun day trip, that would combine a run/hike on trails and exploring a new area. We both are very concious during our favorite weekend activities that we are so lucky to have the time to do them.

We've had some really good talks this weekend, and have realized (for the umpteenth time it seems) that, surprise, Ed, after spending all week working from home, wants to get out on the weekends to go to  new places, while I, after working away from home all week, want nothing more than to soak in some time at home. It makes perfect sense, based on our week's work, but it does make it tricky sometimes.

For instance, we were supposed to go to San Francisco today for a very long run (14ish) miles and then spend time in the city. It sounded amazing and fun and perfect. Last weekend. However, after a week at science camp and guests last week, and 12+ hour days with parent teacher conferences, on top of an all day training Saturday this week, I broke. I just couldn't handle not getting some time at home today.

So, Ed was wonderful and gave me exactly what I wanted. I got to sleep in, read most of an entire book, have a lazy breakfast, take a picnic hike up in the mountains, and get some work done.

I feel perfectly rested, now, and very content to go back to work tomorrow.

Both Ed and I know that we have this wonderfully limited period of time right now where we can be a bit selfish in our needs. So, for the next few years, I will be reading a lot of books in bed on Sunday mornings, and Ed will go out on adventures. And hopefully eventually we will have little ones that will want to do these same things...

Well, a girl can dream :)

Menu Planning Monday

When menu planning today, I decided to look back at the menu posts I was doing last fall, and found it super helpful in planning what we're eating this week. So, I decided I should probably start doing these again. In reading other blogs, it sounds like menu planning on the weekend isn't as common of an occurance as I have always thought. Growing up, we always planning the menu on the weekend and I've continued that into college and adult life. Apparently it's one of the things that is supposed to save you money at the store, since you do less impulse buying, but it does just make life easier.

So, here's our plan for the week!

Sunday - Rosemary Chicken, with roasted balsalmic onions and carrots and two potato gratin

This is a pretty easy sounding recipe from my WW cookbook. You simply cook onions (in wedges) in some oil in a skillet, and then add 1/4 cup balsalmic, 2 T honey, and 2 t Worcestershire sauce and cook for about five minutes. I'm thinking I might instead, start the onions and carrots on the stove, but then  just roast them in the oven, to make it a little easier (since I'm not sure how carrots would cook on the stove).

For the chicken, you season it with salt, pepper and rosemary and then cook it in the skillet. Easy as that.

The two potato gratin is to be the "adventure" part of this meal, since I've never made something like this before. We'll see how it turns out! But, with normal potatoes plus sweet potatoes, half and half, and gruyere, I am sure it will be lovely.

Monday - Dinner and Bill and Jenny's (our weekly tradition)

Tuesday - 5 Spice Pork

Wednesday - Thai Chicken Burgers

Thursday - Sausage and Potatoes

Friday - Mom and Dad visiting: Lasagna

This is the lasagna that I made for Ashley and James way back when I visited them in, I think, April. I've never had it myself, but Ashley gave it high marks so I figured we should try it. Honestly, I'm not sure where I got the recipe, but it was somewhere online:


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (28 ounce) jar sausage flavored spaghetti sauce
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 (8 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces provolone cheese, shredded
  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • lasagna noodles
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a skillet over medium heat season ground beef with garlic powder and oregano. Brown the meat and drain.
  3. In a large sauce pan add spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, and oregano; set aside. In a skillet heat olive oil. Saute garlic and onions for about 5 minutes. Mix sauteed onions and garlic with meat into the sauce and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Combine mozzarella and provolone cheeses in a medium bowl. In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, eggs, milk, and oregano.
  5. Layer a 9x13 inch baking pan with just enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. Lay three lasagna noodles in the pan. Cover with sauce, then with ricotta mixture then sprinkle with mozzarella/provolone mixture; repeat layering. Finish with a layer of noodles and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake covered in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes.
We'll see how that goes!

Saturday - Out!

Ed's off to the store right now to buy us all this loveliness. I am really looking forward to being home in the afternoons/evenings this week and cooking some delicious food :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Feeling Fall

While we are still getting some 80 degree days, the evenings, with their delicious crispness, have certainly heralded the arrival of fall. This year, I decided I wanted to actually do something in our house so that it felt like a different season in here as well. 

Ed hasn't exactly encouraged these decorations, but now that they are up, he seems happy with them. I love that our house looks "special" for these next few months.

When I first picked out the fall decor, some bright orange pumpkin placemats were on display at the front of Bed, Bath and Beyond. In all honesty, the were pretty silly looking. However, they were"cheap" and I thought they would look sort of cute. 

Felt Pumpkin Placemat
Well, when I got them home and set up, Ed took one look at them and made it pretty clear that he was not a fan. Deep down, I knew he was right. Maybe they would be fun with kids, but they wren't reallly the look I was going for.  and so I took them back and got these - classy, much more "grown up" and prefect for fall. 

I got the napkins at Sur la Table - a little bit of a splurge, but they feel very special. 

The candle holder is also new - it was a bit of an impulse buy from The Home Store (TJMaxx), but we have really enjoyed having more candles. This is one of those things that I fear we won't be able to have as much when we have kids, since it could be a bit of a hazard to have things burning with little ones crawling about :). We've since moved this to the top of the entertainment center, and with that, plus the candles on our coffee table lit, our living room is perfectly lit for watching a movie. 

And, of all of my decorations, this is my favorite. 

This, surprisingly enough has been the decor to cause the most controversy. While I was gone at science camp last week, I called Ed once. During the phone call, Ed told me that he had just spent the last half hour talking with our apartment manager. Apparently, we are not allowed to hang things on our door, unless it is for a holiday. Now, I would certainly say that this wreath falls under the category of holiday decor, to celebrate the holiday season of fall. However, apparently a season is too broad. 

Ed, being my amazing knight in shining honor, jumped to the defense of my pretty wreath, that I put together myself. My first wreath, that I seem to have a childlike pride over. He simply explain that, if it wasn't okay to decorate for fall, that this wreath would celebrate Halloween. Then, he would "put it up again" after Halloween to celebrate Thanksgiving. Then, of course, a Christmas/Winter wreath will follow. Technically, this falls under the rules, so we appear to be in the clear. 

When I enter and leave each day, I feel a little thrill at not only seeing my home so prettily decorated for fall, but also knowing that that wreath symbolizes our little victory over making our home a bit prettier. 

And, of course, it wouldn't be fall without the delicious smell of fresh pumpkin bread baking in the oven. 

Since the beginning of October, we have managed to polish off 3 loaves of pumpkin bread (one we made, one my mom shipped to us, and one was bought for s at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival). 

Needless to say, we are really enjoying this wonderful season.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What $500,000 Will Get You

As Ed's job applications have gone out to universities across the county, we've had fun daydreaming about buying our first house. Of course, depending on where we settle, that looks pretty different. For fun, here is what $500,000 (our relative house budget, depending on where we actually settle) will get you:

Manhattan, KS (Kansas State University)
1524 Barrington Drive, MANHATTAN, KS.
5 bed/ 5 bath/ 5,800 Sq Ft

Norfolk, VA (Old Dominion University)
9639 17TH BAY ST, Norfolk, VA.
4 Bed/3 Bath/ 2,200 square feet
Across the street from the beach
$227 per square foot

Boulder, CO (University of Colorado)
4222 Lee Hill Dr, Boulder, CO.
3 bed/ 3 bath/ 2,403 Sq Ft

Oxnard, CA (CSU Channel Islands)
3 Bed/ 3 Bath/ 2,464 Sq Ft
$201 per Square Foot

Auburn, AL (Auburn University)
6 Bed/ 5 Bath/ Sq Footage not known, but it looks big!
.57 corner acre lot with basement

San Jose, CA (CSU San Jose)
1434 JEFFERY AV, San Jose, CA.
3 bed/ 2 bath/ 1,285 sq feet

Columbia, MO (University of Missouri)
(I think this one is my favorite!)
6 bed/4 bath/ 5,156 Sq Ft

Saratoga Springs, NY (Empire State College)
 WALDEN CIRCLE, Stillwater, NY.
4 Bed/ 4 Bath/ 4171 Square Feet
$120 per square foot

Tempe, AZ (Arizona State)
2010 E BENDIX Drive, Tempe, AZ.
$495,000 (a note - I do not want to live in the southwest, and there were not a lot of homes to choose from)
6 bed/4 bath/ 3,488 Sq Ft

Fresno, CA (CSU Fresno)
7882 North Wheeler Ave, Fresno, CA.
4 bed/3 bath/ 3,001 sq ft
$167 per sq ft

Mountain View, CA (West Ed - Non Profit)
1983 SAN LUIS AV #2, Mountain View, CA.
2 bed/3 bath/ 1,171 sq ft

Sigh.....we live in such an expensive area!!! We are definitely torn between wanting to live somewhere affordable and loving the area we're in.

More likely than not, the decision won't be entirely in our hands, since it all depends of what jobs Ed is offered.

Still, it's fun to browse!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Science Camp!

The last week, I've gotten to experience what seems to be a rite of passage for 5th graders - 5th grade science camp. 

Since this is my first year teaching this grade, this was my first science camp experience since I was a kid myself. My own science camp memories have mostly faded, but I still remember the fun of the songs, skits, hikes by the river, and mealtimes that made camp so much fun. 

The kids, overall, had a blast. It was so much fun to see the kids in this new environment - those sleepy bedheads, hiking on trails, the stress of showers (all taken in swimsuits), checking on them as they went to sleep at night, and seeing them having a great time with old friends and new. 

I got to go on a bunch of short hikes with my students, seeing them exclaim as they saw a banana slug, an FBI (fungi, bacteria, invertebrate), or some other cool trailside sight. 

The week was certainly tiring, with one night up until midnight dealing with a kid issue, and needing to always be on call, but it was great all the same. 

This morning, as the kids packed up their things, loaded up the buses, and said their last goodbyes, there were certainly a few tears among the smiles, as the kids got to head back to real life and see the family they missed so much. 

I was also glad to be home with my family, Ed. We celebrated my arrival home with some deliciously spicy indian food (perfect after the passable but bland camp meals), a nice cold beer, and a two hour nap. 

I certainly do love teaching 5th grade!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Getting Tenure!

After three full years of teaching, two in Mountain View, I finally got what all teachers aspire to obtain - tenure. While I found out last year that I would be up for tenure, our ceremony was this past week. With four teachers nominated from our school alone, I was in good company! Ed, being the wonderful husband he is, drove up to show support. 

We decided to first celebrate by visiting a lovely tapas place in downtown Mountain View, Cascals. 

This was actually the first restaurant (I think) that I ate at in Mountain View, the first time I met the first of Ed's friends (wow, lots of firsts!). In any event, the food is tasty, and the happy hour prices for drinks.  

After devouring the bread and oil dip, we had the following lovely food. 

Dates wrapped in Serrano Ham and stuffed with cheese:

Scallops in a delicious butter sauce,

Short ribs in an mole sauce and a very good corn cake (possibly my favorite, on account of the sauce)

and banana leaf chicken.

After dinner, we hurried over to the district office, and the Board Meeting got restarted. The board members passed our nominations for tenure, and then we were called up to get our certificate, shake hands with our superintendent, assistant superintendents and board members, and a get a rose. I also got a flower from my BTSA mentor from last year, and a whole bouquet from a former student whose mother is a board member, along with a really sweet card. That was especially special, because I do have a lot of feelings about my teaching last year, and sometimes just feel like I wasn't a good teacher. However, to get such a nice card of recognition from a student was validation that I actually did do a pretty good job, even if it wasn't up to my standards. 

It was so nice to feel recognized for my teaching and to have reached the point where I can really feel like I'm no longer a "new" teacher. 

Tenured at last!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

San Jose Half Marathon

Last weekend I had the very good fortune to run my second half marathon in as many months. My friend Jenny convinced me to sign up as she, her husband, and friend all run this one together. I appreciated having a new training goal, which kept me motivated to maintain my fitness from the SF Marathon, and, before I knew it, race weekend was upon me. 

Now, when I was younger (read five years ago), I was very  nervous before the starts of races. I would collect race reports of the event months in advance, study the course, the whole nine yards. Now, in my defense, at that point I ran events that were almost exclusively marathon distance or longer and I would say they warrented some extra prep. However, in contrast, I've felt like the races I've done lately have certainly been approached with less thought than I feel like they necessarily deserve. 

Which is why, until the day before, I had no idea exactly where the race began, no idea what time it started, and no idea where the race went. I had vague recollections of completing the race 5 years prior, and figured I'd just go off of that for the most part. 

Ed and I headed to the expo on Saturday morning after catching a soccer game that a few of my students played in (wow, watching soccer is fun! I so hope when we have kids they play soccer. Of course, I seemed to be doing more cheering than the real parents were - not sure if that's a good thing!). On our way to downtown San Jose, both Ed and I realized that we hadn't really checked on the expo location. Good thing it hasn't changed in 5 years. 

By happenstance, our friends Bill and Jenny were also picking up their bibs at the same time, so we were able to meet up in the expo and then went out to a pre-race lunch together. It seemed like we all had a pretty laid back feeling about the race. 

That night, Ed fixed me a delicious pre-race meal - spaghetti bolognese with plenty of parmesean, and a very good bottle of beer to help me relax :). 

It was perfect, and I went to bed ready to run the next morning. I met up with our group a bit after 7 (traffic was apparently pretty bad for them). I decided to sneak into their much faster corral and try to stick with them during the race - a decision that I was glad I ended up making! 

After the traditional anthem, the gun fired and we were off. From the get go, we were really running, hitting a 10:30 pace, which worried me a little. After all, my best runs had me going an 11:12 pace, and that was when I felt fast! Luckily, after the first two miles, we settled into a somewhat more managable pace for me as we ran through the streets. 

Having never done a road race with friends before this year, I found it a lot of fun to have constant chatter to keep me company. Bill was full of energy, after taking a "Rocktane" gu (caffeine), and was literally zigzagging across the course, rocking out to the bands. 

At mile 4, I had a very welcome sight - Ed on the sidelines! I ran over to the side, got a kiss, and then jumped back in the race. 

Bill commented on how huge my smile was after I saw Ed. What can I say, I'm a girl very much in love. 

With that great boost, I was feeling pretty good, though I was still slightly worried about the wheels coming off of my run. I mentally prepared myself for having to ditch my group and slow down, but figure I'd wait until I absolutely had to. 

A little while later, we got to a stretch where you could see the other runners heading back the other direction, and we saw Bill's "twin" Meb - the record holder and eventual winner of the race. We also got to see Deena Kastor fly by. Seeing such amazing athletes added some energy to our steps. 

About 6 miles in, I had the funny surprise of running into Elise, a friend from my SF training group. We had done some of our training runs together, as we run a pretty similar pace. We stayed pretty close for a lot of the rest of the run and had fun chatting a bit. She's also signed up for the Oakland Marathon, so we might do some training runs together. 

By the time we got to mile 10, I was definitely feeling it, as was Bill. Amy and Jenny seemed stronger, and started pushing the pace a bit, and I struggled to hang on. At one point, around 12, they really picked it up, and I knew I couldn't hang onto that pace. Luckily, they slowed down enough. Still, our last miles were fast. From Mile 6 onward, they were all sub 11, excepting one that had a bathroom stop, and our last mile was a 9:33!

As we headed into the final stretch, we all kicked it into high gear, and I felt very happy to be running with such a strong group that pushed me so much. I felt a little woosy as I tried to hold onto the pace and, finally, we all crossed the finish line. 

While out of breath, we all felt great having completed this very fun race. Using a random nice person's phone, we were able to help Ed find us. We ended up being so much faster than I told him, he missed the finish, but seeing him at mile 4 was so great, I didn't mind. 

My next race planned race is the Oakland Marathon. We'll see if these legs have that distance still in them!


After relaxing in our room for a few hours, we left the inn to take the two minute walk downtown to buy a champagne stopper so that we could enjoy our new body of bubbly without having to drink the whole thing (not that we couldn't have drunk a whole bottle, but after wine tasting, and with plans to have wine with dinner, we figured we should be conservative). 

We bought a very nice stopper and then hurried back to have appetizers, which were laid out under a gazebo. With our delicious sparkling rose, we ate some fresh fruit and a very fabulous cheesy artichoke dip that we loved. 

We rested a bit more after snacks and then got ready for dinner. Before we left, Ed gave me my present, two perfect diamond studs that I have not taken off since I got them that night. 

We then headed the 200 or so feet to our dinner place (have I mentioned I loved the location of our inn?) "The Girl and the Fig."

We got there a few minutes late, but were seated right away at a nice table outside. The evening was perfect for outdoor dining, not too cold, and just lovely. We didn't even know there was outdoor seating, but it was quite expansive. 

Upon sitting, Ed ordered a "fig kiss" - a very yummy fig cocktail. I tried to order us a bottle of white with dinner (since I love white wine). Unfortunately (fortunately?) the waitress stopped us, as both our dishes were decidedly "red wine" meals. So, I had a glass of white as my pre-dinner drink, and it was lovely. 

Ed wore his brand new grey suit, which looked spectacular. 

We started by sharing a fig and arugular salad, with goat cheese, that was delicious. 

For dinner, I had roasted game hen and a ratatouille of vegetables. This was fabulous! I was especially impressed with the very yummy veggies. 

Ed was equally thrilled with his duck legs, on a bed of quinoa (I think). Also quite lovely. 

With it, we shared a delicious bottle of red. 

Our table neighbors offered to take our picture, so we took them up on it. Always fun to have a couple picture when we are not wearing running clothes :). 

After dinner, we went with the cheese plate, as a planned precurser to dinner. It was delicious, and very filling. So much so, that we couldn't even have dessert! (Ed argues that the cheese was the dessert, but I think real dessert needs to have a bit more sugar :) ). 

With very fully stomaches, we decided to walk around Sonoma Square after dinner, in the beautiful early fall air, enjoying reflecting on our lovely day. 

The next morning, we woke up earlier than expected, so Ed walked down tot he coffee shop at the end of the block and picked up some coffee and tea for us to enjoy. 

About an hour later, it was officially time for breakfast, so we headed to the main house and got to meet the other inn guests. There was a large group from Detroit, and another couple as well. We started with a tropical fruit parfait (very tasty, though I'm not a tropical fruit person as much). 

Then, we had the very spectacular banana's foster french toast, which was pretty darn spectacular. 

After breakfast, we headed out to get some exercise at the Jack London Park. We went out for a 3ish mile run/hike (very humid + very full = a very low key run). 

It was just beautiful. 

We headed up to the "pond" (dried up lake) where Jack London and co. used to come to swim. 

Then we kept going to get to this very nice view. 

Luckily, this was my favorite kind of hike - all uphill going out, all downhill coming back. 

Before we knew it, we were back on level ground. 

Part two of our morning included exploring Jack London's actual house. 

I thought that this was hilarious. 

It was very fun to see all the rooms, and imagine people living in them. 

The back garden was also very nice.

Ed is always excited to see backyard ponds, especially one that had such massive koi. 

After a few more minutes here, we headed back to the car, off to make use of the complimentary wine tasting card we got with our inn stay that promised us free wine tastings at 30 or so wineries.

Our first (and probably favorite) stop was the Benzinger winery,  a "biodynamic" winery that was very tasty. The woman pouring us tastes also took the complimentary tasting quite literally, and kept pouring and pouring - we must have each had 8 or so tastes! With such great service and wines, we did end up walking away with 2 bottles, a chardonney and a muscat that were delicious. 

Arms heavy with wine bottles, we headed off.

However, the grounds were beautiful, so we ended up spending just a bit more time taking in our surroundings. 

They had a very cool "learning center" here, that taught us all about making biodynamic wine.

Soon, however, our stomachs started overruling us, demanding we go get lunch. We had seen a farmer's market on the way into town, which seemed a perfect idea, so we headed there. However, we're apparently spoiled by our own farmer's market, as this one was very small and lacking any kind of take away to eat right now food. So we headed to an actual market. This ended up being a less than optimal decision, as it took about 30 minutes to get a sandwich from the sandwich counter - it was pretty ridiculous. But, we did eventually get out food and had a mini picnic at "Imagery" winery.

Much satiated, we were ready for tasting number two, at the apparent sister winery of our first choice. 

This was also good, though nothing ended up beating that first tasting of the day. 

Our third winery stop won hands down in view from the tasting bar. 

(what we saw out the big windows as we drank wines)

This winery (can't remember its name) was also good, but was a bit more formal (you could only pick specific tasting lists from their menu, which meant I couldn't stick with mostly whites, as I had been up until that point). Still, it was fun, and it marked our last full tasting of our afternoon. 

With one last view of the sonoma hills, 

We headed back into town. Ed had left a shirt at the inn, so we made a quick stop there. 

said "goodbye" to the Girl and the Fig,

And had one more tasting (just me this time) from a closeby tasting room that was on our card. Very yummy finish to the wine portion of our weekend. 

We tooka  last walk around Sonoma Square, saw the mission again, 

And got some birthday dessert in the form of ice cream. 

All in all, a perfect 26th birthday.