Tuesday, February 28, 2017

2017: February Check-in

Friends, I tell you - February and March are the hardest months of the year for me. It's my busy season at work plus this is when winter starts to feel really long and dreary. It seems like we should be heading into spring but there is still a long way to go.

Given that caveat you might be expecting me to report that February was a complete disaster! But that's not the case. It's just that I can tell things are starting to fray around the edges. I'm not eating quite as well or getting quite enough sleep. I missed a couple workouts. I'm not quite a patient or mindful or budget-conscious as I'd like to be.

This is my ninth busy season so none of this is unexpected. My strategy is: HOLD ON. Don't panic. Do the best you can. Realize that things will slide but don't give up entirely.

Moving on the February report - The four categories I'm planning to check in monthly on are: Exercise, Mood, Books, & Budget.

But first... Just because I love this sweet face so much!


Exercise

The Goal: 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 feel like my best self. I try to run 3x/week and do 21 Day Fix workouts 3x/week.


The Reality: I ran 59 miles in February (up from 53 miles in January) and I started my official training for the Shiprock Half Marathon on May 13th. I realized that the 21DF workouts have become a little rote after six months so I poked around on YouTube and found some similar but different (and free!) workouts by FitnessBlender (Thanks Leigh!) and BodyFit by Amy. I did 10 total cross-training workouts in February.

Mood

The Goal: My goal is to be more mindful, to be more present, to single-task, and to spend less time on my phone. The word of the year is REST.


The Reality: It'll probably come as no surprise that this is the area that has suffered the most as I've gotten busier at work. I'm still trying to present, especially when I'm with the kids, and single-tasking has become even more important as I try to be as efficient as possible, but I've definitely been more anxious and tense. I have been successful at decreasing my phone use to <30 minutes per day though!


Books

The Goal: I decided to try to read one non-fiction book per month this year.


The Reality: Yes! I read two non-fiction books this month - I'll tell you more about them in the next Show Us Your Books link-up on March 14th. Here's my TBR for March:


I'm half-way through The Hating Game and it's super cute.

Budget

The Goal: My goals here are a) Don't buy any clothes for myself until May, and b) Be more careful with random discretionary spending.


The Reality: I have been successful at (a) for FOUR months now, which is probably a record, although I did buy new running shoes. For (b) - I kept track of things I bought that we didn't exactly need, all of which are for Swede this month: 1) a couple new puzzles as I mentioned in my February Favorites, 2) Boden gave me $10 for my half-birthday so I bought two short-sleeve t-shirts for summer, and 3) I decided to try a three month subscription to Lillypost to get some fun new books.

Swede picked out this dog t-shirt herself and it's a new favorite.


Also! I have been keeping the Food page updated with new recipes we've been trying for dinner and weekend baking projects, and the first month of the Pen Pal Project was really fun! [Anyone who is interested in that should message Steph the Bookworm on Facebook and she can get your hooked up!]

That's all! Are you still holding strong to your goals for 2017?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Five Favorites - February 2017

Happy Friday! Today I'm linking up with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for the Friday Five 2.0 to tell you about some of my favorite things this month.

1) Earlier this month I shared a list of my favorite running stuff and mentioned that I don't have a favorite shoe. Well - That is no longer true! I have found my running shoe soul mate. Two weeks ago I went down to my local running store and tried on ALL the shoes. I ended up with the Saucony Freedom ISO. I love them! They fit like a glove and so cushy. Also I love the bright color.


2) Swede's favorite thing this month is puzzles. We have done puzzles now and then the past couple years but suddenly she LOVES them. We have really liked the Melissa & Doug wooden jigsaw puzzles in 12-, 24-, and 48-pieces but they are all too easy for her now so it's time to move on up!


3) This year we decided to hire house-cleaners twice a month and it has been so nice. It is a big luxury and I feel very lucky that we can afford it. Although maybe the reason I feel that we can afford it is because I stopped buying clothes... Even if so - It's well worth it! Jonathan did most of the cleaning before so you wouldn't think it would impact my life so much but the real benefit is that we can have more fun as a family together on the weekends.

4) My Friday night routine after the kids go to bed: 30 minutes of yoga and then a bubble bath with Dr. Teal's. This reminds me of my favorite Bath & Body Works Eucalyptus Spearmint Stress Relief line but it's a) cheaper and b) available at the grocery store versus going all the way across town to B&BW.


5) Steph has started up Blogger Pen Pal Project that I did last month with her and Alexandra. It's so fun to get fun mail! And it's a good way to finally use all those cute notecard sets you've been given as gifts throughout the years. Let me know if you want to join in!


That's all! Are you doing anything fun this weekend? Jonathan and I have a date night planned tomorrow for the first time in a while, I have my first long run of official training for the Shiprock Half Marathon, and I'm planning to make Peanut Butter & Jelly Crumb Muffins with Swede.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Planner Post

Looking through someone else's planner is one of those nerdy and perhaps boring but also kinda fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpses into everyday life that some of us, myself included, love so much.

This is my fourth year using an Erin Condren Life Planner. I really do like it but I was just about to look for something else this year because they are so expensive ($50+) when I remembered I had a $25 off coupon which I used during a 20% sale. So I was glad to get my 2017 ECLP for a more reasonable price.

One of the fun things about an ECLP is the dozens of cover options that you can choose from. This year I went for these colorful hearts.


Pilot Precise V5 pens have been my favorites for approximately 20 years. This year I bought a multi-color pack and I'm trying out a new color-coding system. For the first couple weeks of the year I kept forgetting which color was for which category but I have it figured out now.

This is a pretty big planner. It lives on the corner of my desk. I don't throw it into my purse and take it everywhere with me. If I'm out and about and need to write down an appointment or something else to remember I'll put a note in my phone then transfer it to the planner later.

I use this planner primarily for my personal life. Most appointments, meetings, and reminders for work stay in my work Outlook calendar.

At the start of the planner there is a section for goals. I filled this out but honestly don't refer back to it very often. What I use and love are the monthly and weekly pages. There are tabs for each month which make it easy to flip through quickly.

Each month has a double page like this:


The planner comes with several pages in the back filled with these colorful stickers. There is one full page of "Birthday" stickers, one page with a variety of pre-printed occasions, and two pages of blank stickers. I never come close to using them all up.

On the right side of the monthly calendar is a section for Goals and To-Dos. This is where I write down anything that has to happen at some point during the month.

I note my actual workouts on the monthly calendar once I've done them.

Each week has a double page like this:



These are the past two weeks. In the top left there is a section for the "Thankful Thought." [The week of February 6th, aka "Healthy Kids," I am not even kidding, is the only week this entire year that one or both kids did not had a cold.]

I've been trying to schedule all my blog posts for the month ahead all at once so I'll put those in, and I'll add various appointments that I know about well in advance, but for the most part I fill this out on the Friday before the week starts.

On the far left I make a list of anything that has to happen at some point during the week. I use the sections within each day for a rough morning/daytime/evening plan. Once I've figured out a meal plan, which I also do on Friday, I add in our dinners for the week in the blank lines at the bottom of each day.

You can customize these pages by choosing a neutral palate versus a colorful palate and a vertical versus a horizontal layout of the days.

I've seen a couple other planner posts recently and my planner is pretty blank in comparison to Alexandra and Melissa. For a moment I thought that maybe I'm not getting my money's worth if I don't use up every square inch. But I realized that the blank space in my planner gives me the sense that there is blank space (aka free time and breathing room in between tasks) in my life which helps me to feel less rushed and stressed overall.

Before each month there is a blank page and a pretty cover page for the month with a quote. I use the blank page to write down blog ideas, my current favorite things, and any shopping that I've done or plan to do.


At the back of the planner there are some additional blank pages. I keep some lists here with gift ideas, recipes to try, long-term to-do list items, etc.

There is a new spread this year of the 2018 calendar. I am not quite ready to think about 2018 though! I think I would rather have a year-at-a-glance feature for the current year instead. There is a complete 2017 calendar at the beginning of the planner but it doesn't have the nice lines to note down the big events for each month.


Wow - I bet you can't believe how much I had to say about my planner! Do you use a paper planner? Which one is your favorite? I think the ECLP is pretty similar to a few others like The Happy Planner and Plum but we are are all very loyal to our own!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Belated Valentine's Day Post

I know I'm a little late to the Valentine's Day party but I decided to join in the Show Us Your Books chat on Tuesday and share a few thoughts on Valentine's Day today.

I've never been that into Valentine's Day as a lovey-dovey holiday. The fanciest official Valentine's Day celebration was that Jonathan and I went to see Romeo & Juliet at the Colorado Ballet several years ago. But usually it's more like maybe (and that's a big maybe since the kids) I'll try to make a nicer dinner at home. I guess I've been in the It's-just-a-made-up-holiday-by-Hallmark camp all these years.

However! I love having fun little traditions with the kids and this gives me another opportunity. Also, I like the idea of celebrating everyone and everything we love. Swede's answer: Mommy and Daddy, our house, and BREAKFAST! [We were eating breakfast at the time.]

Some things we (aka Swede and I because Abel is too young to get it) did this year:

1) We made baked doughnuts with vanilla glaze and Valentine's sprinkles one weekend, and Linzer cookies the next.




2) We've been enjoying some Valentine's Day books, especially Here Comes Valentine's Cat and The Day It Rained Hearts.

3) Getting Valentine's Day cards from grandparents in the mail is very fun!

4) Swede had her first Valentine's Day party at preschool. We picked up these Peanuts cards for her to give to her friends since she loves the Peanuts movie and holiday shows. She wore her most Valentine-y outfit that day too!


Every year I say that this will be the year I'm going to get that adorable heart-shaped waffle iron, but this year, again, I did not. I have grand plans of doing a fun Valentine's breakfast with heart-shaped chocolate chip waffles and whipped cream and raspberries, but weekday mornings are pretty rushed around here. Maybe next year! Or maybe the next year that Valentine's Day falls on a weekend.

That's all! I hope that your Valentine's Day was filled with love and fun.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Reading Roundup - January 2017

Happy Book Day! This year has started out well for me with some good books in January. As usual I'm linking up with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books.

Here's what I read:


1) Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard. 4/5 stars. This is one of those books that you can see the train wreck coming from a long way ahead and are powerless to stop it. That said - I did really like it. The main character, Helen, is at an all-time low, divorced and having recently lost custody of her son due to a DUI, when she gets swept into the circle of rich and charismatic Swift and Ava Havilland. But ultimately their friendship comes at too high of a price.


2) The Trespasser by Tana French. 4/5 stars. This is the sixth book in the Dublin Murder Squad series. It follows Antoinette Conway who was a side character in The Secret Place. The neat thing about this series is that she takes a side character from a previous book to become the main character in the next book. I like her writing and the world that she's created and the fact that the characters - detectives, murderers, and victims alive - are more developed with a deeper psychological drama going on than in a simple procedural murder mystery - Although I think that piece was not quite as well done here versus earlier books in the series.


3) The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick. 3.5/5 stars. This is the third book recommended to me by my friend Chesleigh that features elderly British widowers. The first two being Major Pettigrew, which I loved, and Harold Fry, which I didn't. This one is in the middle. I liked it but didn't love it. After his wife's death, Arthur Pepper discovers a hidden charm bracelet that leads him to discover the many adventures that she had before they met and prompts him to embark on some adventures of his own.


4) News of the World by Paulette Jiles. 5/5 stars. I loved this book. But I do love stories of frontier America, so I was well disposed to like it from the start. Set in Texas in 1875, Captain Jefferson Kidd makes a living travelling from one small town to the next doing live newspaper readings. He is charged with returning a ten-year-old girl, who has been raised in a Native American tribe for the past four years, to her nearest relations, 400 miles away. The psychology of white children raised in Native American tribes is fascinating on its own, but the writing is also beautiful and I loved watching the relationship grow between the old man and the girl.


5) The Mothers by Brit Bennett. 3/5 stars. I didn't love this book as much as others did. I agree that it was well-written, and the plot, while sad, was compelling, and I liked the "chorus" of Mothers, but I never really felt that I KNEW the characters. Nadia and Luke have a brief yet intense relationship in their youth which results in an unplanned pregnancy and secret abortion - I don't think that's a spoiler, You find out on the first page - the ramifications of which haunt both their lives for years to come. This book made me realize that, while I remain pro-choice, I think abortion is a really sad thing.


6) Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin. 5/5 stars. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Gretchen Rubin is my guru! I enjoyed the first two Happiness Project books but I think this book goes a step beyond and really breaks out step-by-step how we create and maintain the everyday habits that have a great impact on overall happiness and well-being. One of the important concepts here is that we have to shape our habits with regards to our individual personalities. She has various frameworks - Are you an Upholder/Obliger/Questioner/Rebel? Are you a lark or an owl? Are you a marathoner of a sprinter? and various techniques - Scheduling, Monitoring, Pairing - that we can use to develop and maintain habits depending on our personal strengths and weaknesses.

That's all! I hope that you had a good month of reading too!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

On (Not) Talking About Politics

OK - I'm a little nervous about this one! I have not been very (aka at all) vocal here on the blog about the current political situation, but I've been feeling increasing uncomfortable that I've been going along chit-chatting about my everyday life as if things are completely normal and fine, so I'm going to take a few moments here to be more serious.

Please feel free to skip this post if this isn't your cup of tea - Regularly scheduled programming will resume next week. I also hope that we can stay friends if you don't agree with everything that I'm going to say. Although... If you're pretty firmly in the other camp then I'm not sure we're right for each other after all.

I read this post - Thanks to Katie for pointing it out to me - and I do agree with much that Hallie says. Many of the points she makes for keeping politics OFF the blog are exactly how I feel. It's intimidating to talk about the big issues - What if I'm missing something or sound like an idiot? I like to keep it light. I think it's still important and OK to remain happy and optimistic and to continue to care about everyday life stuff like running and kids and food and books. 

But it DOES feel like there is an elephant in the room to never ever mention all that is going on outside my little bubble. I have mentioned in the past that I feel this way if Jonathan and I are having a rough patch. I want to keep our relationship issues private but it feels disingenuous to never mention the larger issues that do very seriously impact our lives.

So, I just feel that I need to say something. Here we go: I am very anxious, confused, ashamed, upset, angry, and fearful regarding the current and future state of the country. I feel that many things going on right now are simply not right.

This article is also very good, but very scary, regarding the potential (or perhaps, current) failure of our fabled three-part check-and-balances democratic system. It helps me to understand why Republican members of Congress will not stand up to a president who is so obviously unhinged. Although - Bravo to Judge James Robart and to the Federal Appeals Court for upholding the ruling against Trump's immigration ban.

It's easy to point fingers and to say, "These people are evil and stupid and cowardly." But I'm trying to reframe the dialog, in my head and out loud, especially in front of the kids, to: Here are some things that people have said or done that we DO NOT believe in. 

And here are some things we DO believe in: Tolerance. Respect. Equality.


A couple weeks ago Jonathan told me he wanted to get a bumper sticker for our car. The first option that he thought I would go along with was: "My dog is smarter than your president", because he knows how obsessed I am with Gumball. I vetoed that one because I think the last thing we need is more insults and more negativity. So now we have a "Love trumps hate" bumper sticker on our car, because I think that sends a better message. We believe in love and goodness and decency, and we believe that the good will prevail.

That's all.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Five Favorites - Running Edition

Hey Friends! Today I'm going to share with you all my favorite running stuff, as well as pretty much every race photo I could find from the last 8 years.

[I am linking up with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for the Friday Five 2.0!]

1) Favorite songs to listen to while running:
     - The Rat by The Walkman - It's pretty much impossible for me to hear the opening drums to this song while running and not immediately switch into another gear.
     - Titanium by David Guetta


2) Favorite race distance: I'll tell you how many races I've done at various distances, and you tell me what my favorite is - Ready?
     - Full Marathon: 2
     - Half Marathon: 26
     - 10-Mile: 6
     - 10K: 5
     - 5-Mile: 5
     - 5K: 11
You are correct! I love half marathons.

3) Favorite outfit: I'm almost always on the treadmill these days so these aren't typical winter running choices.
     - Relay 2.0 Capris from Athleta
     - Double Dare Sports Bra from Athleta
     - Resolution Tank from Eddie Bauer - This is a basic racerback tech shirt at an unbeatable price - $25 but I got mine - I have 3 - on sale for $15 each!


4) Favorite running fuel: I am not at all particular. Anything works. Maybe GU is my favorite because it's the easiest - Less energy expended by chewing means more energy for running! I haven't been running very far lately but as I get to 8+ miles as my long run I like to have something mid-way through.

5) Favorite running shoes: I don't know! I wore various iterations of the Nike Pegasus for over a decade, but the latest version didn't work for me, so I tried the Brooks Glycerin. I like them but I don't love them so I think I'll keep looking. The next time I have a free afternoon (Ha!) I want to go to the running store and try on every pair they have. Until then... I might try the Mizuno Wave Rider. 

That's all! Fellow runners: Do you listen to music when you run? I only do when I'm on the treadmill - Never outside. What's your favorite race distance? Most importantly - What is your favorite running shoe?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Weekend [Feb 5, 2017]

Hey Friends! I hope that you had a nice weekend. Did you watch the Super Bowl? More importantly - Did you have any good Super Bowl snacks?

Some notes from the weekend here:

1) A great 8-mile run for me on Saturday morning. It felt effortless!

2) Jonathan brought home these pretty flowers. Just because.


3) We wore funny hats. Just because.


4) We bought a new mattress! Am I officially old because I'm excited about a new mattress? [Don't answer that.]


5) I made a whole chicken in the slow-cooker for dinner on Saturday - Thanks to Heather and Brie for alerting me to this genius idea!

 6) I don't know why, but Abel in this photo looks like he belong in the '50s. He looks so darn wholesome. And eerily reminiscent of a photo of my dad at this same age. I should make it black-and-white and do a side-by-side comparison.


7) Abel's nap schedule had us going to church at 8 a.m. the past few months but it's shifted yet again and we're back to the 9:30 a.m. service which means a more leisurely Sunday morning. 

8) This is the first photo taken of Swede and Abel together in at least six months in which one of them is not blurry and/or crying. Progress!


9) My parents came over to watch the first half of the Super Bowl and have snacks. There were nachos.


10) I don't have anything else to say but I feel like I can't end a list at #9.

Upcoming this week:

Meals

Mon: Broccoli Shells & Cheese from Budget Bytes. Plus ham because we had some leftover from this soup last week <--Super good BTW!

Tue: Frozen Lasagna. [Bonus Swede-ism from the last time we had a frozen lasagna. My mom: What are you having for dinner? Me: Frozen lasagna. Swede: I like my lasagna better warmed up!]

Wed: Burritos


Fri: Pizza

Workouts

I think it's time to switch up my cross-training because the 21 Day Fix workouts are starting to feel too rote. Suggestions?

Mon: Run 5 miles
Tue: Upper Fix
Wed: Run 5 miles
Thu: Lower Fix
Fri: Yoga
Sat: Run 8 miles
Sun: Rest

That's all! I hope that you had a nice weekend. Anything fun going on this week?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

That's Life [Episode 1]

Happy Groundhog Day! What's the story - Early spring? I hope so.

I saw this format on Amanda's blog and thought it would be a fun way to chit-chat about things that are going on. Linking up as usual with Kristen and Gretchen for What's New With You!

Mom Life: So I re-read a couple posts I wrote about a year ago - On Parenting and Coffee Date #3 - And my first thought was: "Thank goodness I don't feel that way anymore!" It's not that I don't ever feel tired, frustrated, impatient, or anxious. And there are definitely many tough moments with the kids. When they are both crying at the same time I think I'll go crazy, and there's a major competition going on these days over toys and hugs. BUT - I don't feel perpetually overwhelmed and/or frazzled, so that's good. I hope I don't jinx myself by saying this, but I feel (most of the time) calm & peaceful, that I'm doing OK at being patient, loving, & fun, that I have things under control, and that what needs to get done is getting done.


My favorite kids:



Blog Life: This is what I've figured out after one and a half years of blogging: I'm not going to be famous, and that's OK. I spend basically no time promoting and/or attempting to grow the blog. What I like best about blogging is 1) the journaling aspect - It's a really fun way to record my life, and 2) the connections I've made with some of you nice fellow bloggers out there - I really feel like we're friends! [And if you don't comment, please do! And then we can become friends.] So I'm just going to keep chit-chatting about everyday life, and I hope you keep following along.

Work Life: I've mentioned it before but I'm starting into my busy season at work, so I apologize in advance if I'm posting and commenting a little less frequently the next couple months. I spent the first couple weeks in January feeling a little glum as I dreaded the onslaught of work, but now that it's starting I remember that this is actually the type of work that I like best, that I'm good at my job, and that being efficient and productive makes the day more enjoyable.


My office:


Social Life: I've lived in Durango for almost three years now and I am finally starting to make some local friends. Today for the first time I am meeting two friends downtown for happy hour, which is what I've been saying for three years that I miss the most about Denver - Chatting with my girl friends after work over a glass of red wine. [PS: Dear Denver Friends, You know I still love and miss you!] I have a couple other potential friends that I've been trying to work up the nerve to reach out to, but making friends can be so difficult and awkward in the early stages, especially for introverts.

That's all! What's new with you?