Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Week Ahead [Sept 25, 2016]

Hey Friends! Did you have a nice weekend? We appear to have a pretty standard blueprint for the weekends lately with slight variations. Here's how it went this time:

Saturday: Mooch around at home with the kids. Run 8 miles. Visit with Jonathan's parents.
Sunday: Mooch around at home with the kids. Church. Visit with my parents.

I also went on a short hike on the neighborhood trails with Abel and Gumball. And there were chocolate chip cookies. And pizza. And hugs. Swede has been super affectionate lately.

A couple photos:

Abel is ten months old! He is so close to walking. His first tooth just came in this week too. And he has slightly more hair than this photo would lead you to believe.


I taught Swede how to use the self-timer on my camera and she loves taking photos together. I'm sure it will be a short-lived phase but I'm not complaining.


Did I overdo the pepperoni?


The scrub oaks in my neighborhood aren't as spectacular as the aspens but it's still pretty.


Moving on! What's happening this week:

Meals

Mon: Slow-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup from Seriously Delish
Tue: The Best Easy Beef and Broccoli from Food.com
Wed: Ultimate Southwest Scrambled Eggs from Budget Bytes
Fri: Out! (See below)

Workouts

I gave up on 22-Minute Hard Corps and went back to 21 Day Fix. I think I'll have to upgrade to 21 Day Fix Extreme one of these days. I really enjoy the 21DF workouts but they are starting to get a little repetitive. Every week I try to do two 3-4 mile runs, one 8-mile run, and three 21DF workouts, either Upper Fix, Lower Fix, Dirty 30, or Total Body Cardio. I've given up thinking that I'll work out and/or be productive on Friday nights and have designated it to be Movie Night henceforth.

Other

   - I need to schedule a haircut appointment and hopefully can get in this week. Something I forgot about having short hair is how imperative it is to have regular haircuts to avoid the mullet situation.

   - On Friday there is a Parent Appreciation Night appetizers & drinks event for Swede's preschool. One of my current goals is to finally start making an effort to get connected in Durango and make some local friends, so this might be a good start.

One more photo for the road, because I can't help myself:


That's all! What's on your agenda this week?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fall Traditions

Here we are, Friends. It's officially autumn today. [Do you prefer to call it autumn or fall?] It's definitely starting to feel like the season has changed here. There's a chill in the air in the early morning and the leaves are starting to turn. This weekend we might take the annual drive up to Silverton to see the fall colors.

Fall Colors 2014

Fall Colors 2015

Here are some other fall activities that I'm hoping might become family traditions:

1) This year we are going to do the Peanuts Great Pumpkin Patch Express train ride. It's a thirty-minute train ride to a pumpkin patch. There are also hay rides, a bounce house, face painting, trick or treating... I'm trying to keep my expectations low, because you never know how these things will go with toddlers, but I hope that it's fun.


2) For the first time year I think we will try to carve a Jack-o-Lantern with Swede. The last time I carved a pumpkin was in 2013 just before she was born. This year Swede is dead set on carving a kitty cat face Jack o' Lantern. [She got the idea from one of the Halloween books we've been reading.]

Can you guess which one is mine?

3) I thought it might be a fun idea to get some seasonal books for the kids that I put away each year after the holiday so that they stay fresh and fun when it's time to get them back out the next year. Our favorites for Halloween are: Boo by Leslie Patricelli, Spooky Pookie by Sandra Boynton, Peppa's Halloween Party, and Penguin and Pumpkin by Salina Yoon.


4) We might try to visit a local farm with a corn maze this year, but October is getting pretty busy pretty fast, so I might put this on the agenda for future years. There's also another small pumpkin patch closer by that we visited last year with Swede that's a possibility if we have time.


5) And, of course... It's time to get stared baking all things pumpkin! We'll start with pumpkin-shaped frosted sugar cookies, then move on to pumpkin cheesecake bars and pumpkin spice cupcakes and... What's your favorite pumpkin- or fall-flavored dessert?


Does your family have any other fall traditions? Apple picking sounds like a good one but we don't have an orchard nearby here unfortunately.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Personal History of Running

Once upon a time, I did not like running. At all. I played soccer from fourth grade through high school and running (aka "conditioning") was a necessary evil. 

I would never ever have worn this shirt in high school!

Then I went to college and I replaced year-round daily soccer practice with eating all the food and drinking too much beer. Let's not discuss how far over the "Freshman 15" I went. My sophomore year I started running with my roommate Ali several times a week and returned to a healthy weight. My parents were living in Boise at that time and I started running with my dad on the river trail when I was home from college. 

This is the earliest running photo I could find - From 2009.

[Semi-unrelated note: It was a struggle to find any running photos pre-2011 (aka pre-getting-my-first-iPhone). Isn't it weird how "undocumented" life was before iPhones?]

I know that it was at some point in college when I started to like running, but honestly it's hard to remember a time when running wasn't an intrinsic part of myself. I remember doing a 12 mile run with my dad one summer in Boise and learning for the first time how you can be stronger at Mile 8 than Mile 1. In April of 2003 my dad and I ran the La Jolla Half Marathon in 1:49 (and I spent the subsequent 10 years trying to go <1:50 again).

Running twins with my mom in La Jolla circa 2011

After I graduated from college I lived in France for a year teaching English and joined a running club. I did a couple 10Ks and a half marathon over there, but I have no idea what my time was for any of those races. I also think it's weird that I didn't keep track of my race times in the early years.

At the Thirsty 13 Half Marathon with Jenny in 2014.

When I moved back to the U.S. I ended up in Orlando, Florida, for a couple years, and that's when I really became serious about running. I did many 5Ks and 10Ks, a few half marathons, and two full marathons. I trained with a group through the Track Shack, and was even a sponsored Track Shack runner for a season! My best ever race was a 10K in 47:33! I'm pretty sure that PR will stand forever.

At the Platte River Half Marathon with Chesleigh in 2012.

I moved to Colorado in 2007. [Almost ten years ago!] Since then... In 2007-2009 I was focused on going back to college and then starting my new career. Running was always a part of life but it was on the back burner. 

At the Frosty's Frozen Five-Mile with Megan in 2010.

In 2010-2011 I was really into trail running, culminating in the Trans-Rockies Run. 

I met Dean Karnazes!

In 2012 I was dead set on chasing down my half marathon PR from 2003 (and finally succeeded at the Denver Rock 'n' Roll). I ran six half marathons that year including the Savannah Rock 'n' Roll with some friends from my Florida days. My friend Chesleigh and I were running buddies that year, meeting weekly all summer for speed work at the track and doing many long runs together on the High Line Canal trail. 

Gumball enjoyed speed work at the track as well.

In 2013-2016 I've been alternately pregnant and getting back in shape. My goal for the next few years is to PR the half marathon again. That's my favorite distance of all time. And I'm maybe kinda sorta thinking about trying to do another full marathon in, let's say, 2018, but I'm definitely not committing to that. 


That brings me up to the current moment. A harder question to answer than all the facts presented hereto is WHY do I like running so much. And the answer is... I don't exactly know. The Type A numbers nerd inside me likes adding up miles, setting up training plans, tracking pace, recording data. I like the feeling of accomplishment after training and completing a race. I like that it can be solitary (just me and the road) or social (race day camaraderie and talking running with like-minded people). I love the rinsed-out feeling after a long run. I love the way every now and then you'll have a magical run when the miles scroll by effortlessly, and I will trudge and slog through many less inspired runs to recapture that feeling.

I'm linking up with Patty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! [I know I didn't stick to the designated prompt but I've been meaning to do this post for a while now and today seemed like the day.]

PS: And thanks to Lindsey for this idea!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Reading Roundup - August 2016

Book Day! Generally I think that I read about one book per week, but the past couple months I've had six to review. I don't know if I'm choosing shorter and/or quicker reads or if I'm spending more time reading this year, but I'm well ahead of schedule for my goal to read 46 books in 2016. [Which, granted, was a conservative estimate since I read 52 books exactly in 2015.] Here's the books that were added to the "Read" list in August.


1) The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe. 3/5 stars. This novel is based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, the first person of African-American decent to attend Vassar College (by passing as white). The book was interesting to me because it's a subject matter I hadn't ever thought about before. My only criticism is that the historical aspect of it wasn't entirely believable. The characters seem too modern. I have to think Edith Wharton is a better gauge of how the upper class really acted during the Gilded Age.


2) The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. 4.5/5 stars. I really liked this book. It was so different than many books I've read lately. It's mysterious and magical. I'm having a hard time summarizing the plot briefly, but you can check it out on Good Reads. [By the way - Let's be friends on Good Reads - THIS is me!] I enjoyed the writing, the era (Victorian London), and the characters. The only reason I deducted a half point from the full five stars is I was a little disappointed by some of the decisions made by the characters near the end.


3) Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazely. 3/5 stars. I read this one for Brie's book club - See HERE for more discussion. It's about two sisters who decide to keep in touch via snail mail for a year. It made me want to start writing actual letters again. [Although I have yet to do so.] I thought the first half of the book was funny and rang true, but the plot spiraled out of control in a fairly implausible way in the second half, then wrapped up a little too neatly.


4) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling. 4 stars. As you probably know - This is a screenplay for a new HP story about Harry's son Albus. It was so much fun going back to this world. My favorite character was Scorpio Malfoy, and I loved the different versions of Ron & Hermione. The screenplay format leaves something to be desired, but is an extremely quick read.


5) The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon. 3/5 stars. This book is set in England in 1976 and includes many pop culture references that I had to Google. It is told alternately by various inhabitants of a small town neighborhood and slowly unfolds the details of a mysterious tragedy that took place a decade earlier. I liked the main narrator, ten-year-old Gracie. She reminded me of Lizzie from Man at the Helm (reviewed in February). But I wish the whole book has been from her point of view instead of alternating to the other characters.


6) Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center. 4/5 stars. This was my second favorite book this month. [It was a runner-up pick for Brie's book club that I thought sounded good.] A year after her divorce, the main character, Helen, goes on a three-week wilderness survival adventure. To her unwelcome surprise she finds out her annoying younger brother's even-more-annoying friend is tagging along. I liked this book because A) I've always wanted to do an Outward Bound style trip like this, B) I liked the characters, and C) It had some surprisingly valuable thoughts on the nature of happiness.

Also, I've decided to start mentioning the books I did not finish, which isn't that common, but this month I started and abandoned You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. Normally I love self-help, but this one just didn't do it for me.

As usual I'm linking up with Stephanie and Jana!

Life According to Steph

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Week Ahead [Sept 11, 2016]

Hello Friends!

Another Sunday night getting organized for the week ahead!


Meals

This is Week 3 of a month-long meal plan from the latest Real Simple magazine. Honestly we haven't been impressed with many of the recipes. They are good but only one of the ten we've tried so far is a definite repeat. However it is a nice break from the weekly "What should we have for dinner?" brainstorming session.

Mon - Spaghetti Bolognese
Tue - Meatballs with Dilled Carrots [The recipe calls for lamb but we're doing beef.]
Fri - Pizza!

Workouts

Same old, Same old. I'm alternating running and strength workouts from 22-Minute Hard Corps and some yoga.
Mon - Resistance 1
Tue - Run 4 miles
Wed - Resistance 2
Thu - Run 4 miles
Fri - Yoga
Sat - Run 8 miles
Sun - Resistance 3

Other

 - This week is a busy one for me at work as I finish up the second biggest deadline of the year on Thursday.

 - On Friday I'm meeting the president of a new charter elementary school in the area - I might join the board! [As Treasurer.]

A couple notes from the weekend before I go: It was nice! Very low tantrum-to-fun ratio. My mom and I took the kids to the pool. Abel and I went to a little get-together with some other neighborhood moms and babies. Jonathan and I went out to Steamworks for our standing Saturday afternoon date. I took Abel and Gumball on a hike around the neighborhood. There were blueberry muffins. And a three mile run. It should have been eight miles but you can't win 'em all.

The only two photos from the weekend:

Hiking with Abel

Silly Swede! We were having a "garden party."

That's all! What's on the agenda for you this week?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Five Memories of Summer 2016

Do we all agree that Memorial Day and Labor Day are the bookends of summer? I know that fall doesn't officially start for another couple weeks but in my head (and in the weather) it's already here. So of course I'm looking back on the summer, and here are the memories that stand out in my mind.

1) That it was hard. I know I've mentioned it more than enough, but managing a toddler and a baby has been a difficult combination for me. I'm disappointed that we didn't get out more this summer. I was hoping to spend more time at the park, at the pool, on the river, going on bike rides, going hiking, and having picnics. But it turned out that in between the kids' napping schedules there was really only time for one activity per day, and that was often going to the gym on Saturday and going to church on Sunday. We did (and enjoyed) all the above activities probably once or twice, but far more time was spent on the day-to-day care and maintenance of small children with the inherent tantrums and fussy moments and tiredness and general wrangling/coercion/distraction/bribery.



2) We did have a Super Duper Weekend when Tyffani, Bryn, Elliott, and Bandersnatch came to visit!


3) I also had a great time celebrating my 35th birthday at home and in Denver.


4) Summer is race season in Colorado and I did one race per month: the Narrow Gauge 10-mile in May, the Steamworks Half Marathon in June, the Kennebec Mountain Run in July, and the Thirsty 13 Half Marathon in August.


5) That the kids are wonderful. The other side of my first point is that the kids are adorable and funny and smart and sweet and I love them with all my heart. I will forever remember this as the summer my babies were babies. I have so enjoyed watching Swede grow from a toddler into a little girl, and is happening so fast. She says the funniest things. She is creative and smart and I love that she loves to read. Abel is so darn cute I can't stand it. He is absolutely thrilled and enthusiastic about being alive to experience this world. I adore his smile and his laugh and his chubby legs and his sweet baby smell and his determined power crawl towards whatever mischief he can manage.



Coming up next week... How I'm going completely overboard planning fall activities and traditions.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day Weekend 2016

Hey Friends! Did you have a good long weekend? Mine was mostly uneventful but mostly nice. [That's a pretty standard description of every weekend these days really.] Spending time with the kids is the main feature with a few runs and books and a nice meal thrown in.

Saturday:

In the morning I ran 8 miles. That is my new standard "long run" distance. The first couple miles it felt like my arms and legs had been taken off my body overnight and put back on wrong. But then... The click. Runners - Do you know what I mean? That moment 2-3 miles into a long run when it all falls into place and you start to cruise along effortlessly? That's one of my favorite things about running.

Later... Swede lined up our dining room chairs and pretended they were a train. This was fun for at least an hour. She gave each and every one of her stuffed animal friends a ride. 


This photo of Abel laughing brings joy into my heart! He is such a happy little fellow. So quick to smile and laugh.


In the afternoon our weekly babysitter came over, so Jonathan and I headed out to try a new restaurant, Plate. I liked the queso with fresh tortilla chips and this "Aspen Lemonade."


Sunday:

Abel's current schedule is that he wakes up around 6:30-7 and takes his first nap around 9-9:30, which makes it difficult to get to our usual 9:30 church service. This week we went to the 8 o'clock service. The timing worked out better for Abel's first nap but it was a challenge to get out to door by 7:45!

Afterwards, Swede and I went on a nature walk, and Abel could not stop playing with this tennis ball.



We went over to Jonathan's parents' house for dinner - Fried chicken and baked beans and potato salad and homemade ice cream. [With many many sprinkles for Swede.] Isn't that just a classic Labor Day Weekend meal?

Monday:

I went on a hike around the neighborhood with Abel and Gumball in the morning, and then after Abel's first nap my mom and I took the kids to the river. [Which is what we did last year on Labor Day too!] Swede had a blast but Abel was more challenging given his propensity to put everything (sand, rocks) into his mouth.



After the afternoon naps things went a little sideways. Both kids woke up so cranky. So cranky! Abel was fussy, with nary a smile to be seen. And Swede - Let's just say it was a difficult afternoon and evening. The bright side is that I'm not entirely sorry to be heading back to work tomorrow... Sigh.

That's all! And onward we go into fall...