Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017: April Check-In

I decided to abandon my standard format for these posts this month. I might return to it in the future but I feel like a "Coffee Date" style post will suit me better for April.

Suffice to say, I didn't knock it out of the park in any of my established 2017 Goal categories. As Kerrie so eloquently put it a couple weeks ago: I have lost all my mojos. My running mojo. My reading mojo. My blogging mojo. My cooking mojo. My sticking-to-the-budget mojo. My being-a-fun-mom mojo. It's all starting to come back slowly, and I think I'm ready to refocus on my goals in May, but I don't really want to go through each category of not-success.

Step one in the plan to relax-and-recharge was a morning off last week in which a) I picked up my favorite Caramel Creme Latte from the Durango Coffee Company, b) spent a leisurely hour browsing at Maria's Bookshop, and then c) had a massage and pedicure at the Spaaah Shop. Bliss!

I have been in a major running slump the past month. It has been really tough and really discouraging. I ran 55 miles in April (versus 70 in March) and almost none of them felt good. I'm thinking (& hoping) this is just residual tiredness from the past couple months of busy season and that I'll rediscover my energy and joy for running again soon.

I decided to quit Instagram and Facebook and I have to say that I don't miss either! I thought I would miss IG especially but I realized that almost everyone I followed has a blog so I can catch up with you that way. I felt like I was getting too caught up in wanting my own IG feed to be just so - Having the right photos and the right variety of photos, the right captions and the right hashtags. And the instant gratification of how many likes you do or don't get... I know I'm overthinking everything, but it was too much for me! It's been a little weird to feel that impulse that "this would be a good IG photo moment!" and then a nice feeling of relief that I can just be in the moment versus trying to capture it.

Unrelated photos of the kids while on a nature walk:

However I still feel like I spend too much time of my phone. I have spent way too much time online shopping. In my defense I have been planning for a long time to refresh my summer wardrobe but now that that is taken care of I need to stop idly browsing the "New Arrivals" section of my favorite online retailers.

Food: There have been too many chips and not enough vegetables eaten recently. You'll notice I added fewer recipes to the "Food" page and developed a slight obsession with comforting breakfast-y meals for dinner (see also: Breakfast Casserole, Breakfast Nachos, Breakfast Pizza).

Going into the summer I want to:
- Stick to my training plan for running and do cross-training 3x/week including one yoga class at a real studio.
- Start playing the piano again regularly.
- Be cognizant of the budget and reign in impulse purchases and retail therapy.
- Spend less time (<30 minutes per day) on my phone.
- Try to be more present and mindful.
- Recommit to the word of the year: REST. I must resist the tyranny of the to-do list! It has to get done, but it doesn't all have to get done right now.

Unrelated photo of Swede helping wash the car:

That's all! I wish you a Happy May Day tomorrow! I've always thought "May" has a really cheerful ring to it.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Pros and Cons of Working from Home

Today marks three years since I moved from Denver to Durango and starting working from home. I kept the job that I had in Denver when we moved and have been working remotely ever since with occasional trips back to the main office.

My home office

In our old house my desk was in a corner of the living room so it's been really nice the last six months since we moved into our new house to have a dedicated office.

Here are some of my thoughts on the pros and cons of working from home...

The commute

This is a huge benefit to me. I love not spending time in traffic. Of course it depends how close you live to work. For three years in Denver I had a 45-60 minute commute, which was pretty awful, and then for the last two years I lived 5 minutes away from the office, which was pretty nice, but nothing beats zero minutes.

The only downside that I can think of is that I used to listen to NPR on the way to/from work and I am much less informed these days on local, national, and international news.

The schedule

I have a very flexible schedule but it is even more so while working from home. It's so easy, almost too easy at times, to take a quick break to fold the laundry or put dinner in the Crock-Pot, so I have to be really careful not to let home chores overwhelm my work responsibilities during work hours.

And vice versa. The downside, both to the flexible schedule and to working from home, is that it can be hard to draw the line between work and home. During busy season, my computer was always on, and I was always popping back into my office to check and respond to email.

The dress code

Pro: I can work in pajamas!
Con: I can work in pajamas.

I do love my comfy clothes, but I have to say that even when I'm not leaving the house, I feel so much better if I take the time to get ready for the day. Not that I'm wearing business casual around the house but I don't want to be embarrassed if I have to answer the door or run an errand. It helps me feel more professional too. 

Another thing to note is that if you're wearing yoga pants 24/7 you might not realize right away about those couple pounds you gained over the holidays...

Busy season uniform

The community

As an introvert I feel that I am well suited to work from home, but I do miss the camaraderie of the office from time to time. I met almost all my good friends in Denver through work. It has been much harder to make friends and get connected in the Durango community without the office environment. I do also miss going out for (free!) lunches and coffee dates. Sometimes I think it's healthier to work from home without the various free donuts, snacks, lunches, and drinks, but on the other hand, at home, the kitchen is always right there.

That's all! Do you, or have you ever, worked from home? If so - What do you think the greatest perks and drawbacks are?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Favorite Children's Books

Hello! Today I'm linking up with Lauren and Bre for Add It To My List. This time I thought I'd share some of my favorite children's books.

I have always loved children's books. During my sophomore year of college my roommate Ali and I would check out picture books from the Education section of the library and read them before bed. I remember being particularly enamored with Amos and Boris by William Steig.

I've always been in the habit of wandering through the kids section at bookstores and every once in a while before I had kids I'd pick up a book with "someday" in mind. I bought Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice from the BabyLit collection in Savannah in 2012.

Of course nowadays that I'm reading bedtime stories and nap time stories and breakfast time stories and any time stories, I am always on the lookout for new and fun stories because even the cutest books get tiresome at some point. We do go to the library every week but sometimes it's hit or miss, so if you have kids, or if you just love children's books, please give me suggestions!

Currently the #1 spot is held by Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins. It's about a grumpy bear who begrudgingly takes in four baby geese. Swede has this book memorized and it's so cute to hear her say phrases like "mistaken identity" and "explained migration."

Some other favorites are:

Bedtime for Monsters by Ed Vere
The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers
The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield
Snappsy the Alligator by Julie Falatko and Tim Miller

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Such a Little Mouse by Alice Schertle and Stephanie Yue
The Wonderful Habit of Rabbits by Douglas Florian and Sonia Sanchez
Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin

I picked up this set of ten fairy tales from Scholastic a while ago and was surprised by how much Swede loves them. I guess they are classics for a reason!

Abel is just now starting to be interested in books so I'm looking forward to getting out some of my favorite board books to share with him, such as the Penguin and Pinecone series by Salina Yoon, the "Baby" series by Leslie Patricelli, anything by Sandra Boynton, and anything Eric Carle.

That's all!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Weekend 2017

Greetings! We had a really nice Easter weekend - I hope that you did too!

The weekend started out with a five mile run on Saturday morning - OK, so this was not a highlight was the weekend, because it was miserable! I have seriously lost my running mojo these past couple weeks which is really discouraging. But that's not what I'm here to chat about today, so... 

Later in the morning the kids and I headed over to my parents house for an Easter egg hunt. It was a beautiful day and my mom's daffodil field bloomed perfectly in time for the holiday! Swede was very serious and focused on finding all the eggs. A girl on a mission! It took Abel a while to catch on but I think he enjoyed it too.

He's a good egg.

Amicable sibling moment - It DOES happen!

There was chocolate...

In the afternoon both kids took great naps and then Swede and I dyed eggs which was fun, and less messy than I anticipated - Bonus! I like the turquoise one the best.

In the evening our babysitter (who has been out of town for several weeks) came over so that Jonathan and I could celebrate 4/15 at one of our favorite restaurants - Cyprus Cafe. The deadline isn't until 4/18 this year but I finished up most of my work on Friday - Hooray! This lemon cocktail was delicious, and they have an intensely wonderful chocolate pot d'creme dessert that I can't resist.

On Sunday we went to the early church service and then headed over to Jonathan's parents' house. It was also my mother-in-law's birthday so they hosted brunch for all the aunts/uncles/cousins. There was ham, spinach salad, fruit salad, potato salad, deviled eggs (made by Jonathan and they were delicious) and a green-chili egg bake.

Plus... Cupcakes! There was a high level of chocolate consumption this weekend.

The kids were a little overstimulated from all the excitement and presents and chocolate so we had a low-key afternoon at home, leftovers for dinner, and an early bedtime for everyone.

That's all!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Race Recap: Run the Rim 10K

Welcome to my first race recap of 2017! This one wasn't on the original 2017 Race Calendar that I set up in January but I just couldn't wait until May to do my first race since last August. The main reason I wanted to do an earlier race was to gauge where I'm at with my training so far and to get a baseline going forward into the summer. But there was a secondary benefit which I didn't plan on that it reminded me of everything that I need to do going forward to have a successful race!

Honestly - I hesitate to call this a race because it was the smallest, low-budget, no-frills race you can possibly imagine. I think I'm being generous when I say there were 50 people. No chip timing. No mile markers. No aid stations. But it's to support scholarships for the Fort Lewis College Exercise Science Department so at least you can be sure 99% of your entry fee is going to the cause!

The race started at the clock tower on campus which is on a mesa above Durango and consisted of many loops around campus including along Rim Drive which overlooks town. There was a 5K which was a small loop and a big loop, and for the 10K you did both loops over again. I passed my car four separate times and every time I thought that maybe I should just hop in and go home! Mostly because that part of the course was really windy. Running into the wind is high on my list of least favorite things.

My splits were - 8:44, 8:31, 8:10, 9:00, 8:42, 8:41, and 2:46 for the last .3 (per Garmin) for a total time of 54:34 and an average pace of 8:40. I was hoping for closer to 8:30 but there were numerous things I could have done better leading up to and during the race, such as: a) going to bed at a reasonable time the night before - not at 11 p.m.! b) eating a proper dinner the night before - not Chinese food at 3 p.m.! c) bringing some water/fuel for during the race - even though it was *just* a 10K a GU before the race and at mile 3 would have been nice. That is was so windy was also not very helpful.

That's all! I hope you have a nice Easter weekend.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Reading Roundup - March 2017

Book Day! Here's what I read in March:

1) A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline. Based on real life, this book is the story of Christina Olsen's life on a remote farm in Maine in the early 20th century. She has a degenerative nerve condition which gradually cripples her. In her 40's she becomes friends with the painter Andrew Wyeth and inspires his most famous work "Christina's World." I really liked Christina Baker Kline's first book, Orphan Train, but for some reason I couldn't get into this one.

2) Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller. On the other hand, I did not like Claire Fuller's first book, Our Endless Numbered Days, but I did mostly enjoy this one although it does have the sad downward trajectory of a a relationship falling apart. A dozen years ago, before she disappeared, Ingrid Coleman wrote a series of letters to her husband Gil, telling the story of their life together, and hid them in books around their house. The book alternates back and forth between the letters and the modern day as Gil and Ingrid's two grown daughters come home to care for their ailing father.

3) My Not-So-Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. I never got into the Shopaholic series but I have enjoyed all Sophie Kinsella's other books and this one is no exception. It's about Katie Brenner, a small-town girl who is struggling to make it at an advertising agency in London, but you wouldn't know that by looking at her Instagram! While she projects the "perfect" image to the world she is obsessed by her boss, Demeter, who also appears to be perfect. But appearances (and Instagram) can be deceiving...

4) All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. This book is different. Do you ever feel like you're reading the same book over and over? This is not that. It's set in the 2016 that people in the '50s thought we'd have - Very Jetsons. But then the main character, Tom Barren, goes back in time and alters the trajectory of time to end up in the 2016 of today. It started out really good and interesting and funny, but the last third is really confusing with many alternative realities overlapping. I've continued to think about it since I finished the book but still can't make sense of how it all worked out!

Swede's book of the month: The Wonderful Habits of Rabbits by Douglas Florian, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez.

Also! Following in the footsteps of Steph and Erin and Audrey (and I know there are others) - Here are some books I'm giving away free to a good home! Let me know if you're interested in the comments and/or email me your address at noodletotherescue(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll send them to you. The only caveat is that you continue to share the love by passing them along when you are done.

- Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner
- My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman
- More than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting by Serena Miller and Paul Stutzman
- Finding Fraser by K.C. Dyer [If you like the Outlander series this is a fun read.]

That's all!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Me x 3

Hey Friends! It's been a while since I've done a random-things-about-me post so I'm borrowing this format from Steph. And because I don't have any photos to go along with this I've added in some from last weekend.

Here we go!

Three things I'd never give up: Coffee. Cheese. Cookies.

Three favorite vegetables: Kale. Butternut Squash. Beets. [Anyone want to guess what Jonathan's three least favorite vegetables are?]

Three shows I watched faithfully from beginning to end: Friends. Gilmore Girls. Firefly.

Three places I want to visit in the U.S.: Chicago. The Grand Canyon. Colonial Williamsburg.

Three places I want to visit outside the U.S.: To hike the Tour de Mont Blanc. A cruise in the Baltic. All-inclusive super-swanky Caribbean beach resort.

Three things I always have with me: Chap-Stick. A book. My phone. [Although I'm trying to leave the phone behind more often these days.]

Three things that are always in my car: Chap-Stick. Baby wipes. Quarters.

Three most recent phone calls were to/from: Other than my mom the only calls I've received in months are from clients or telemarketers, specifically this one recorded message that's offering to help with my student loans. [I don't have student loans.]

Three books I read and loved in college: Atlas Shrugged. 100 Years of Solitude. Gone with the Wind.

Three most used makeup products: Mascera. Eye Shadow. Lip Gloss. [Date night only. I don't wear make-up most of the time.]

Three things that make me laugh: My kids being silly and sweet. Puns. Captain Holt on Brooklyn 99.

Three things that make me cry: Bad things happening to children/animals. When I feel like a bad mom because I've snapped at the kids for no good reason except that I'm tired and stressed. The scene in pretty much any movie when the baby is born. [Obviously the last one is tears of happiness.]

Three things I frequently forget: My phone charger when going out of town. To reply to texts promptly, which drives me crazy because I can't believe I've become one of *those* people who drive me crazy by not responding to texts promptly. To buy stamps.

Three errands I love to run: I can't think of any errands I like to run. I do like having new books from the library but I will try to convince someone else to pick them up for me whenever possible.

Three famous people I'd like to meet: Ann Patchett. Shalane Flanagan. Emily Blunt.

Three famous people I'd like to avoid: Donald Trump. And pretty much any other member of the Republican party currently in power. Which I know is more than three but how can you narrow it down?

Three things I'd recommend: I am obsessed with these Chai Snickerdoodle cookies. I really like this Bubba Tumbler because it's 32 ounces so - I know this makes me sounds lazy, but so be it - I'm not always popping into the kitchen to refill my water glass, but the less I'm in the kitchen means the less opportunities I have to pick up a snack I probably don't need. And Boden is my go-to for fun cute bright clothes for me and the kids, and they have the best cashmere.

Three things I always look forward to: Birthdays. Holidays. Vacations.

Three things I always dread: Running errands. Listening to voice mail. Going to the dentist.

That's all! Have a nice day. :-)