Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017: January Check-in

Hey Friends! I'm going to try a new thing this year - To check in monthly regarding my 2017 Goals. [As opposed to my typical approach to announce them in January never to be mentioned again.] I've identified my four major goals as: Exercise, Mood, Books, and Budget. Here's how things went in January...

But first, because every post needs a photo of Swede, and this also goes along with the word of the year:


Exercise

My official goal for 2017 is to PR the half marathon, but aside from that I like to exercise most days to be healthy and to feel like my best self. I try to run 3x/week and do 21 Day Fix workouts 3x/week. I haven't started officially training for a half marathon yet but I've definitely started pre-training by adding in some longer/faster/hillier runs. In January - I ran 53 miles and did 11 21DF workouts.

Mood

This is the hardest area to measure progress. My goal is to be more mindful, to be more present, to single-task, to spend less time on my phone. The word of the year is REST. 

Some days are good - I feel focused yet relaxed, efficient and productive at work, present and engaged with the kids, at peace with life in general. Other days are less good - I feel scatter-brained, anxious, tense, irritable... You get the idea. 

I do feel like I'm more aware when I'm not being mindful, even though I can't always manage to turn around a bad day once I'm deep in it, so that might be a step in the right direction. I downloaded the Moment app to track my phone use and it's about an hour per day - I'd like this to be closer to 30 minutes.


Books

I decided to try to read one non-fiction book per month this year. In 2016 - which I only just now went back to figure out - I read seven non-fiction books. This month I read Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin. My next few non-fiction selections are below... You may notice a trend.


Budget

My goals here are a) Don't buy any clothes for myself until May, and b) Be more careful with random discretionary spending. I have been successful at (a) for three months now, which is probably a record. For (b) - I kept track of things I bought that we didn't exactly need:

For the kids - It's too easy to buy things for the kids with the justification that it's not for ME, and also I have the absurd idea that someday I'll find the perfect toy which will occupy a 14-month-old for more than five minutes - I bought: 1) a Kidoozie Funtime Tractor, 2) a Little People Sounds & Surprises Dollhouse, 3) a DVD of Beauty & the Beast, and 4) new clothes from Carters: a 5-pack of onsies for Abel and two pairs of leggings for Swede. 


For myself I bought: 1) the Bloom Daily Planner pad I mentioned in my January Favorites last week, and 2) all the Danish books.

Jonathan and I also spent a little time reviewing and updating our monthly budget, and I want try a little harder to stay within those parameters.

Another couple random goals/projects I have going on this year is I've been updating the Food tab here on the blog with our weekly meal plan. I'm also trying to send more paper mail - It's so fun to get things in the mail! So I'm doing a pen pal project in February with Stephanie and Alexandra.

That's all! Did you make any goals for 2017? How is it going so far?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Five Favorites - January 2017

Hey Friends - I've been trying for ten minutes but I can't think of anything to say to get this post started. January feels a little dull to me this year, or maybe I'm the one that's feeling a little dull, now that all the holiday excitement is over. Here are some things that we have been enjoying though:

1) My parents gave us this beautiful print for Christmas that fit perfectly on an empty wall in our bedroom. I love seeing it there every day.


 2) The long reign of Peppa Pig is finally coming to an end for Swede, and we've started watching movies together. The first one she loved was The Polar Express which we watched almost every day during the last three weeks of December. Now we've started into the Disney classics. Cinderella is the current favorite. She wants to be called Cinderella, her shoes are glass slippers, and the car is a carriage. Next up - My personal favorite: Beauty and the Beast. We rarely sit through a whole movie but will watch 30-45 minutes at a time and finish in 1-3 days.

3) My Crock-Pot, which I'd had for four years & was even then a hand-me-down in trade for a hair dryer from my friend Ashley, stopped working on New Year's Eve. I remember the exact date because I had to do the BBQ sauce & grape jelly meatballs for our appetizer party in the oven instead of the Crock-Pot as planned. We use the Crock-Pot at least once a week so I didn't waste any time getting a replacement. I decided on this Cuisinart which has a great feature that you can brown meat directly in the Crock-Pot before adding the rest of the ingredients.

4) I don't really need these Bloom Daily Sheets since I have an Erin Condren Life Planner that I use and love, but... I realized that I use the ECLP more for weekly/monthly planning and I was making daily to-do lists on post-its, so I picked this up when I bought a new Meal Planning pad for the fridge. I really like the format. Taking the time to fill out the Meal section in the morning has really helped me to cut back on mindless snacking.


5) Jonathan has reported back that the fancy schmancy French press I gave him for Christmas really IS that much better, so that's something to keep in mind for the coffee-lover in your life.

PS: Not to leave Abel out, because I realize this has become another Favorites from the Family post - I'd say his favorite thing right now is these shiny new front teeth!



That's all! What are your favorite things this month?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Weekend and Week Ahead [Jan 22, 2017]

Hey Friends! Did you have a good weekend? We had a big snowstorm on Friday night into Saturday morning and so I didn't make it to the gym for my run, which was pretty much the shortest route ever to a bad mood. Someday I will handle the inevitable changes to The PLAN with more grace. Swede and I did have some fun one-on-one playtime while Abel napped though which was really nice.


I did go snowshoeing with Abel and Gumball later which was a serious workout in 12+ inches of fresh snow. 


Jonathan and I went out to dinner on Saturday night. We started at Seasons - It was supposed to be a fancy celebratory dinner because we sold the old house, but nothing on the menu looked as good as the price tag, so after a drink we headed to Brew Pub & Kitchen for a low-key but more fun evening. 


On Sunday there was church, pancakes, another snowshoe with Abel and GB, watching Beauty & the Beast with Swede, some downtime while the kids both napped, a quick visit with my parents, and a surprisingly great family dinner. [I said to J: "This is my dream come true!" Everyone sitting together at the table and happy to be there. Often the case is that Abel is more than ready for bed and/or Swede is negotiating how many more bites she needs to eat before going to play.]




Upcoming this week:

Meals

Mon: Sesame Ginger Salmon from How Sweet Eats. With rice and Brussels sprouts.
Tue: Taco Tuesday!
Wed: Chicken Tikka Masala - My super easy Crock-Pot version is HERE
Thu: Butternut Squash Carbonara from How Sweet Eats
Fri: Baked Feta with Olives & Tomatoes - Similar to this one but with cherry tomatoes

Workouts

Mon: Upper Fix
Tue: Run 5 miles
Wed: Run 5 miles
Thu: Lower Fix
Fri: Yoga
Sat: Run 7 miles
Sun: Rest

Other

Random items on the to-do list for this week include: 1) Updating our Amazon Prime "Subscribe & Save" items, 2) I've been doing really well at not buying new clothes for myself but I do think the kids need a few more things for the rest of winter, and 3) I think we've decided to look into getting weekly or bi-weekly cleaning done, but now I have to do the actual looking-into.

That's all! I hope you have a great week.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Day in the Life

Hey Friends! I've been meaning to do a day-in-the-life post since... Well, I remember that I was planning to do one during maternity leave with Abel and that was a year ago! So it's been a while. But I finally managed to keep track of an entire day, so without further ado I give you: an everyday day in my very glamorous life.

A few notes: This was Monday, January 16th, 2017. I am 35, Swede is 3, and Abel is almost 14 months. My mom takes care of the kids Mon/Wed/Fri and they are at preschool on Tue/Thu. I work from home, about 35 hours a week in off season, and 45-55 hours a week in busy season.

4:50 a.m. Abel wakes up. He gets a fresh diaper and a bottle of milk then goes right back to sleep. My alarm was set to go off at 5 a.m. anyway so I just change into workout clothes and do 30 minutes of yoga.

5:35 a.m. Take a shower and get dressed for the day.

6:00 a.m. I make a vanilla latte, read the daily entry from Savor, and flip through my Beautiful Word Bible reading verses here and there for a while, then I look through my planner and get organized for the day and week ahead.


6:40 a.m. Swede wakes up. She gets dressed - Without any drama, Hooray! Is the era of the getting-dressed struggle coming to an end?! - and requests blueberry oatmeal (with sprinkles) for breakfast.

FYI: I bought this cow mug years before I was married or had kids

7:15 a.m. Abel wakes up - This is very late for him. He has some blueberry oatmeal too, and then we play for a while before I get him dressed too.


8:00 a.m. Take the kids over to my mom's house for the day and stay to chat for a few minutes.

8:30 a.m. Normally I would go back home to start work but today I have a doctor's appointment.

9:45 a.m. I get home from the doctor's office, grab one of the strawberry muffins that I made with Swede on Sunday, and start working. I'm heading into my busiest season at work so I spend most of the day getting organized.

11:30 a.m. Lunchtime! I have an apple, cheese, salami, and a few crackers with Rondele. I read and comment on a few blogs while I'm eating then get back to work.


2:00 p.m. I have a chocolate Shakeology blended with a banana.

3:30 p.m. Time to pick up the kids! Abel gives me the biggest smile when I walk in the door. I chat with my dad about the family beach vacation to La Jolla that we are planning for August!

4:00 p.m. Home with the kids. This is the most chaotic hour of the day. Today there was... playing, fighting over toys, sharing Puffs with the dog, getting into mischief, watching Cinderella, and making dinner.


5:00 pm. Dinnertime! We have Baked Chicken with Creamy Tomato Sauce from Dinner: A Love Story. Swede likes it. Abel is less impressed.

5:30 p.m. Swede watches more Cinderella while Jonathan does the dishes and I give Abel a bath and get him ready for bed.

6:00 p.m. I take GB on a walk and then we play fetch/chase with her new squeaky toy while Jonathan gives Swede a bath.


6:30 p.m. Story time with Swede! Her current favorites are: Dragon Was Terrible and The Night Gardener.

7:00 p.m. Working on my 2017 Race Calendar blog post with a glass of wine.

7:45 p.m. Get ready for bed, check on kids, who are both sleeping peacefully, and chat with Jonathan.

8:15 p.m. Reading in bed with GB. I read one chapter of Better than Before and then start News of the World.


8:45 p.m. I've been trying to be more diligent about getting to bed at 9-9:30 p.m. so I can wake up (more) easily at 5 a.m. I set the "Bedtime" feature on my phone to do an alarm at 8:45 p.m. to remind me to get ready for bed but I usually ignore it. I always have to finish another chapter!

9:05 p.m. Another new thing I'm trying is using the Headspace app for 10 minutes of meditation before bed.

9:15 p.m. Lights out!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2017 Race Calendar

Hey Friends! Today I'm going to share with you my race calendar for 2017. I am definitely one of those people who likes to make plans really, really far in advance. For example - I've already started thinking about my 2018 race calendar, and it might have a marathon on it!

But I'm getting ahead of myself - My goal for 2017 is to PR the half marathon. My current PR is 1:49:55 from the Denver Rock 'n' Roll in October 2012. After which I said, "OK - Now I'm ready to have a baby!" And I've spent the four years since either pregnant or getting back in shape after being pregnant. So now I'm excited and ready for a year when I can (hopefully) get faster and stronger.

I've never worked with a coach before, but Rebekah from Run Away from Zombies kindly offered to build me a training plan! She is a RRCA certified coach and has recently started offering personalized training plans. You should check out her blog which is packed with great running advice. I'm really excited to get started with this plan leading up to my first half marathon of the year in May or June.



Here's what I have on the schedule:

1) MAYBE - Shiprock Half Marathon, May 13th: This is a new-to-me race that I'd like to do it with my friend Chesleigh, but we haven't registered yet. It's a beautiful-scenery-but-no-crowd-support race (which is pretty much true of all the races on this list) near Shiprock, New Mexico. [So named due to a large rock that looks like, you guessed it, a ship - See below.]



2) Steamworks Half Marathon, June 10th. A classic. I've done this race five times. Usually with my dad and/or mom. It's a bit of a family tradition. Here is the race report from last year.

3) Thirsty 13 Half Marathon, August 26th . I think this race is my best chance at the PR. It's a newer local race that I've done twice, in 2014 and 2016. The course includes some nice downhill sections which I can do well on if adequately prepared.

4) MAYBE: My dad is trying to talk me into the Imogene Pass Run, a 17-mile trail race from Ouray to Telluride, on September 9th. I'm not sure since I won't do be doing much trail running this year, but he'll probably convince me because FOMO...



5) TBD. I want to do another half marathon in October but I don't know which one. I'd love to do The Other Half in Moab but I'm not sure about the travel logistics. The Durango Double, which is a trail half marathon on Saturday and a road half marathon on Sunday, is October 7-8. The Denver Rock 'n' Roll is October 15th. Or - Not a half marathon, but the Hot Chocolate 15K has always looked like fun. I'd have to try to coordinate either of those around a work trip. We'll see...

That's all! When I lived in Denver there were so many race options every single weekend that it was hard to narrow it down to 8-10 per year, but nowadays 4-5 seems more reasonable.

Runners! Do you have your race schedule planned out for 2017 or do you play it by ear? What's the most races you've done in a single year?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Week Ahead [Jan 15, 2017]

Hey Friends! I've decided to revitalize this series that fell off the radar during the busyness of moving in October, birthdays and Thanksgiving in November, and all things Christmas in December. It really is a good way for me to get organized for the week ahead though so I'm going to try to keep it going.

Random photo of the week

First - A quick review of the weekend: It was pretty quiet. Everyone (except for me, but I'm sure it's coming) is a little under the weather. I ran six miles on Saturday and we went to church on Sunday, but otherwise we stayed close to home. My weekly baking project with Swede was strawberry cheesecake streusel muffins. I'm reading The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper as well as Better than Before and watching the new season of Mozart in the Jungle.

Upcoming this week:


Meals


Mon: Baked Chicken with Creamy Tomato Sauce from Dinner: A Love Story

Tue: Southwest Scrambled Eggs from Budget Bytes
Wed: Five Vegetable Cheddar Soup from A Beautiful Mess
Thurs: Spuds Deluxe - My at-home version of J's favorite breakfast from Snooze
Fri: Buffalo Chicken Pizza from Seriously Delish

Workouts


I am doing a challenge group this month with Nicole as part of the Beachbody Health Bet, and I'm starting to build my mileage base for the half marathons I have planned this summer. [Check back on Tuesday for my 2017 Race Calendar!]


A requirement of the Health Bet is to photo your Shakeology.

Mon: 21DF Dirty 30
Tue: Run 5 miles
Wed: Run 5 miles
Thu: 21DF Cardio
Fri: 21DF Yoga
Sat: Run 7 miles
Sun: Rest

Other


There's not much going on except that I'm starting to get busy at work. I have a doctor's appointment on Monday, and Tuesday is a double birthday day for both my brother and my friend Gabbie. [Happy Birthday Rob! Happy Birthday Gabbie!] Otherwise I'm just trying to stay healthy, trying to stay in the moment, and trying to REST.


Also! Great news that I haven't shared yet: We sold our old house! You might remember me complaining in December how the first offer we had fell through. Luckily, a second (better!) offer came in on Christmas Eve and we closed last Wednesday - Hooray! It is such a relief to have that settled, and now we can really, truly enjoy our new house.


That's all!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Memories of my Grandma

Dear Friends, I have some sad news to share with you today: My grandma passed away last Friday. It wasn't a complete surprise - She had been struggling with lung cancer for the past year - But the suddenness of the final decline, in less than a week, was unexpected.

Let me tell you about her.


She was one of twelve children in a family who moved from the Dust Bowl to California during the Great Depression. She met my grandpa in California and they were married on September 11, 1949 - 67 years last fall!

She was of the generation that believed a proper dinner means meat and potatoes and a vegetable and salad and bread. And, obviously, tablecloths and placemats and napkins - She would be probably appalled at the haphazard dinner arrangements here! Although I am trying to change that... Setting the table is one of Swede's new "spons-bil-ties."

I grew up close to my grandparents in southern California and we visited with them frequently. When I was really little they lived on a farm called Olive Hill but my only memory from there is how my older cousins told me I was too little for the tree house. The house I remember best from my childhood had a great yard - It was like a jungle! We'd do Thanksgiving and Christmas together every year. I remember an extensive collection of Santa Claus figurines that I loved to examine in great detail. 

She wore this ring for a long time and now I am wearing it. It's engraved "EH to EW July 19, 1899" - These are long ago distant relatives.


Her name was Joyce Margaret - If Abel had been a girl we'd have named her Eloise Margaret.

She was a quilter. She made Christmas quilts for my brother and me when were kids with little illustrated made-up stories to go along with the design - Mine was an elf decorating a Christmas tree. She made the quilt I took to college. She made a quilt for Jonathan and me when we were married.

I remember her teaching me once how to deal cards. I started to deal her all her cards at once and she explained how you are supposed to deal back-and-forth. Card games we played together: Kings in the Corner, Casino, and always - Cribbage.

This photo is from the first time my grandparents met Swede in June 2014. I wish she had met Abel.


The last time I saw her was when I was Denver for work in October. She insisted that I take home some dish towels and tried to press a knife set on me until I reminded her that I couldn't take it on the airplane.

I keep going along doing life - working, taking care of the kids, making dinner - and then I'll be reminded that she's gone and it's so sad. She was a lot of pain at the end and while I am glad that she is at peace and in a better place, I feel sorry for those of us left behind, especially my grandpa.

As I'm reading through this post I feel like there aren't that many specific memories - It's just a general feeling of being loved. I feel really lucky to have known her and been so close for 35 years.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Reading Roundup - December 2016

Book Day! It feels a little strange to be talking about 2016 anymore since everyone is so focused on 2017 goals and plans, but I have to finish up my year in books. As usual I'm linking up with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books. I have really enjoyed being part of the online book community this past year!

I had a slow start to December due to above-average TV watching and one DNF, so I didn't finish a single book until the 21st, which made me feel a little antsy, but I ended the year at 60 books total, not including The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness which I'm talking about here even though I didn't finish it until January 1st.

1) To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey. 4/5 stars. This book had a slow start but I really liked it by the end. Set in the 1880's, it tells the story, via journal and letters, of Colonel Allen Forrester ,who leads a small expedition into a remote and previously impenetrable section of Alaskan wilderness, alternating with his wife Sophie's experience back at the military barrack in Vancouver. What elevates this book above a somewhat slogging expedition report (a la Shackleton, if that's your cup of tea) is a subtle vein of magic as Allen comes into contact with the native Alaskan tribes.


2) Loving My Actual Life: An Experience in Relishing What's Right in Front of Me by Alexandra Kuykendall. 4/5 stars. This book reminded me of Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project but with a Christian focus. The author focuses each month on one aspect of her life with the goal of appreciating and cherishing the everyday moments more. She has a nice list of suggestions at the back for small actions to take in each area that can have a true impact on our overall awareness and enjoyment of ordinary life.


3) Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss, and Hope in an African Slum by Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner. 3.5/5 stars. This is an incredible story which is both difficult and inspiring to read at times. Kennedy is from Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa, outside Nairobi, Kenya. The poverty, violence, heartbreak, and desperation that he tells about is truly horrible. Kennedy overcame an incredibly difficult childhood to start a nonprofit to help the people in the community, which Jessica volunteered at several years later. They fell in love and have since built the nonprofit, Shining Hope for Communities, into a huge force for good.


4) The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness by Maddie Dawson. 3.5/5 stars. The main character of this book, Nina, sets out to find her birth family after the death of her adoptive mom. The people and connections, and ultimately the family, that she meets along the way is messy and complicated and not at all what she expected or imagined, but the story is heartwarming. It's told mostly from Nina's perspective with occasional chapters by her sister and mother.


Swede's Book of the Month: Such a Little Mouse by Alice Schertle with illustrations by Stephanie Yue. This book is a really cute little tale of the changing seasons from the point of view of a little mouse exploring the wide world.


That's all! Here's my January 2017 TBR pile. I've started with Under the Influence because it's due back to the library first, but am looking forward to The Trespasser.


Here's to a great year of books in 2017!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 Goals

Hey Friends! I'm linking up with Kristen and Gretchen for What's New With You to talk about my goals for 2017. I have always loved the fresh start feeling of a new year, but I also love that I'm less obsessed than I have been in previous years with a dozen do-or-die resolutions in every aspect of life.

Spending time with my little ones is pretty darn important - This year and every year!
PS: Abe's cute bandana bib is from Melissa's Etsy shop Black River Boutique.

My only traditional goal this year is that I'd like to PR the half marathon. My current PR is 1:49:55 from October 2012, so it's been a while, but I am excited for a real year of running, aka not being pregnant or recovering from being pregnant, for the first time in four years.

Something else that I've been thinking about recently is trying to be more careful with my budget. Mostly to get out of the habit of making random impulse purchases without much thought other than "Ooh, I want this!" I feel like there are better uses for my discretionary income, specifically to save more and to give more. This is one reason I'm two months into a six month resolution to not buy any new clothes, but I also want to give more consideration to other purchases.

Other random goals: 1) To read one non-fiction book per month, but that not set in stone. 2) To continue previously successful resolutions to floss my teeth every day, keep the line-a-day journal, and to go to church regularly. 3) To get outside more - We've been feeling a little cabin-feverish lately!

I have been snowshoeing with Abe but need to get outside with Swede too.

Mostly - The biggest change that I want to make in 2017 is to focus on mindfulness. To be really present in each moment of this one and only life. To single-task instead of constantly multi-tasking, which I know is less efficient. To stop running through the to-do list for the rest of the day over and over in my mind. To spend less time on my phone - I'm going to download the Moment app to my new phone to track usage. I want to notice and appreciate the beauty of every day life rather than losing time in a wash of inattention.

If I have a word for the year I think that's it's REST. That's more a mental attitude than actually doing less or sitting around more. I just want more peace and contentment and less anxiety and tension. This verse from Jeremiah has been on my mind lately.


I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to keep track or stay accountable to these goals. Maybe a monthly check-in post... We'll see!

I wish you all a new year filled with peace and joy.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year's Weekend

Hey Friends - Happy New Year! It's here. 2017.

We had a nice low-key long weekend to close out 2016 and start 2017. On Saturday - A five run at the gym and then a trip to the library with the kids. A snowshoe hike with Abel and GB.


NYE Snowshoe

And then - A fun New Year's Eve party with my parents. We made appetizers and played Ticket to Ride.

The appetizer menu, for posterity:

    - Cheesy Southwest dip
    - Apple & Brie puff pastry bites
    - Bell pepper & Parmesan Bruschetta
    - Grape jelly & BBQ Meatballs


Grammy and Abel

Snacks!

On Sunday - Eggs Benedict for breakfast. Church. A relaxing tea & book moment for me while the kids napped. Oh, and we knocked out Swede's New Year's Resolution which was to go to the supermarket. [Not sure why she says supermarket because I always call it a grocery store.]

The joy of simultaneous nap time


New Year's Day shenanigans with my best girl

On Monday - Another five mile run at the gym. Another snowy hike with GB. We wandered around downtown and seriously contemplating buying a Kidoozie Funtime Tractor from the toy store even though it was just Christmas.

Abel & Horsey the Cow


The Strater Hotel in downtown Durango


January 2017 TBR List

What's next? I'm trying to get in the habit of waking up before the kids to exercise and shower. I think I might try to read one non-fiction book per month. And I've decided to update the "Food" page with our weekly meal plans. I think it'll be helpful to have all the links to my tried-and-true recipes in one place. Here's what we're having this week:

Mon: Spanish Chickpea Stir-Fry from Real Simple
Tue: Creamy Vegetarian Enchilada Pasta from Budget Bytes
Wed: Pizza - Kale Pesto, Mozzarella, Tomato
Thu: Creamy White Chicken Chili from Gimme Some Oven
Fri: Rubens [I always try to have the most "fun" meal on Friday.]

I'll be back on Thursday to talk more about my goals and plans for 2017!