Monday, February 27, 2012

the countdown is on

school days until Spring Break: 27.5
days until my half marathon: 21
days of school left: 65.5
days until the greatest angry birds party of all time: 27
days until I get to see The Hunger Games: 26
months until my 10 year anniversary trip: 7

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Friday, February 24, 2012

links I love

Here are some things I've come across recently that I've enjoyed.  Maybe you will find something useful in them as well.  Happy Friday everyone!

  • My mom sent this to me a while back and I enjoyed reading it.  5 Unusual Ways to Raise Successful Children
  • I saw this on Hungry Runner Girl's blog and I especially loved numbers 8, 12, 24, 30 and 27 is my favorite.  30 Things Every Woman Should Know About Running
  • I've mentioned my frustration in searching for a To Do list app several times before on Twitter and now I've come across: appSmitten.  AppSmitten is a very cool service that helps you find good apps.  If you've ever looked and looked for an app to fill a specific need, you know that it can be quite time consuming, after all there are millions of apps these days.  AppSmitten helps you find useful ones so check it out if you're tired of downloading apps that turn out to be worthless.  (And for the sake of full-disclosure: I am participating in an affiliate program with appSmitten and will receive a small payment for each newsletter subscriber I send them.  However, I wouldn't promote it if I didn't think it was a useful service.)
  • 7 Ways to Follow ‘The Hunger Games’ Movie on Social Media - I am so excited I can hardly stand it.  Follow!  Like!  Follow!  I will get right on this as soon as I get home (because social media sites are blocked from work).
  • In a rut? Spice things up! - As Amy says, "While The Rut is fine and good and necessary, spicing up the routine every once in a while may take your marriage from fine to fabulous!"
Also, my husband sent me this earlier this week and I loved it.  Application for permission to date my daughter:

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power grains :: giveaway

A month or so ago the kind people at Van's sent me more goodies.  Remember when they sent me coupons for free products before?  This time the coupons were for high protein waffles.

First I looked for them in Harris Teeter because I knew they had started carrying Van's products and that was the closet store to me.  If you don't have a HT nearby you can always try Whole Foods.  My HT hasn't started carrying the protein ones yet, but hopefully they will soon.  

Anyway, here's what they had to say about their new waffles:

Van’s has just launched Power Grains, the first high protein waffle nationally available. Each serving, made with cracked red wheat and steel cut oats, offers 10 full grams of protein, more than an egg. As the journal Obesity recently found, eating a breakfast high in protein helps keep people feel full longer, with fewer food cravings, than other breakfasts.  And a study published in July by the International Journal of Obesity has found that children who eat breakfast tend to gain less weight over time than children who skip breakfast.

Like all of Van’s products, Power Grains are made with high-quality, natural ingredients and frozen for freshness so they don’t contain nasty preservatives. Van’s is proud of its ingredients, and makes its foods with the recipe list you’d use at home. (And Cooking Light just named our 8 Whole Grain waffle the best one on the market!)

Just like the others, I found these to be delicious.  I've been eating them with some homemade plum preserves that a student gave me spread on top and they seem to have more staying power than a typical carby breakfast (hello 10g of protein!) so I am a fan.  Thank you Van's!

If any of you would like to try these I've got a few extra coupons.  Please leave a comment below and I'll be sure to share the love until the product vouchers run out.


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Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Rules of Inheritance

I had the true joy of reading The Rules of Inheritance, a memoir by Claire Bidwell Smith a couple of weeks ago for BlogHer's Book Club.  It was one of the most moving books I've read in a long time and at times I found myself sobbing as I read.  

I have lost grandparents, an uncle, and family friends over the years, but I've never lost anyone that I was extremely close to.  I can't imagine having lost a parent or a sibling or a child.  I dread the day when that time comes. 

I thought a lot about being prepared for a death in the family when I read last month’s book club book The Underside of Joy.  As I read through The Rules of Inheritance, I thought again about caring for elderly parents, what paperwork needed to be completed in the case of a family emergency, and making sure that my children are protected in the case that my husband or I died suddenly.  I thought about preparing them for our death. These things are not fun to think about, but I'm glad that I have been reminded to.

I wasn't sure I was going to like this book.  I mean, it's non-fiction and I tend to be a fiction kind of girl, plus the author had a way with jumping from year to year with each chapter so I found myself often confused in the beginning.  Nevertheless, I was wrong.  

She has a vivid way of telling a story that just makes it seem so real.  It's as if you could feel every single thing she was feeling as you read the words.  One of my favorite quotes portrays this exactly: "On the sidewalk grief takes my hand, leading me home so that I can cry myself to sleep, flushed and sweaty, like a little girl."

I say that even though we don't want to we should think about dying and losing close family and what we will do and how we should feel.  It can only help.  I say you should read this book.  It will make you feel deeply.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.


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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

twenty eight months

Dear Joshua,

We moved you into a new bedroom this week.  We took your twin bed from your old room and put it together with another to make it a set of bunk beds and your sister is terribly jealous.  You sleep on the bottom bunk and in a new room and you haven't protested at all.  I am smitten with the spectacular way you call it your new "hunk bed" and I'm pretty certain that I'll pronounce it that way for years to come.  It makes me smile every time I hear you say it.

You've had an ear infection this month and were whiney enough to want to leave the circus early.  Still, it hasn't been too awful.  Really, the only thing that makes you awful is that pesky two year old inside you.  You fake cry whenever we turn off the TV.  You protest all baths, meals, and putting shoes and socks on to go somewhere.  You beg for certain songs on the radio and goodness knows you want Dora or Blue's Clues on TV all the live-long day and when you don't get your way you fling yourself wherever you can with such force that you are covered in little bumps and bruises.  It's just your way of trying to control what little you can in the great big world and I don't blame you even one tiny bit.  Even so, I can certainly wait for the terrible threes because I know they will only be more challenging.

One day, we were walking into school and there were footprints all over the walls with a name under them for each of the preschool graduates for this year.  You saw the footprints and immediately pointed at them and yelled out, "A clue!"  I had to think a minute to figure out that you were talking about the paw prints on Blue's Clues.  Funny boy.

You are in that mimicking stage where you go around doing all these things you've seen us do.  You'll take Daddy's measuring tape and hold it out against something and declare, "8, 9, 10!" over and over again with various objects.

We measured your height the other night and typically we do this in two separate rooms.  I really don't know why, but we've always measured your sister against the wall in one place and you against the wall in another place.  Recently, we measured you up against the spot where Julianna's height has always been marked and it was quite funny to see that you've just now reached the spot that she was at 23 months.

Speaking of your height, you're finally tall enough to open doors.  You open them and close them over and over again.  Your father cannot stand this.  I don't mind as much; it's the incessant whining and demanding I can't stand.  You say "thank you" quite often, but you almost never ask for things politely or use the word "please."  I guess you'll figure it out by the time you want to take a girl to prom.

Josh, you're still not a great eater.  In fact, the only thing we can count on you to eat regularly is a corn dog.  One day your teacher commented with excitement that you ate three corn dogs for lunch that day.  She said you peeled off the bread and ate the hot dogs out of them all just like you do at home.  The crazy thing is that you won't eat just a plain hot dog as well as you will a corn dog.

Something I don't think I've commented on before is how we'll be riding down the road and you'll start in on the game of A Thousand Questions and you'll inevitably ask about your seat  belt and why we have to wear it.  You'll ask about sitting in the front and you'll ask about why we don't want to wreck the car.  Then you almost always ask me to wreck the car.  It is so bizarre and hilarious at the same time (of course, I don't ever let you know that I find the conversation funny) how much the boy in you comes through in these kinds of conversations we have.  Julianna would have never asked me to wreck the car.  In fact, she never wanted to get hurt (unlike other children who intentionally whack their heads up side the coffee table).

One night this week as I was listening to Jules read a pretty long Dr. Seuss book to you before your nap I was once again struck with the realization that I am so fortunate to have you and your sister spaced so far apart.  She is at the perfect age to want to read to you and you are at the perfect age to want to listen to her.  While you don't get along all the time, you definitely do some things well together.

The fact is you adore your sister.  While she takes your toys a lot and she plays a little too rough with you sometimes you still love her deeply.  Sometimes on the way home from school you'll tell me, "I not wanna get Jules." And when I ask if you want me to leave her at school you always reply, "Yes."  Then one day this week Daddy had to pick Jules up for me so I could get to running practice quickly and when we pulled in the driveway you loudly announced, "We 'posed to get Jules!"  You add so much humor to my life, Joshy.

Some of my favorite things to do with you include snuggling on the couch (since you surprisingly still enjoy sitting in Mama's lap), watch you do puzzles on my phone or iPad, sing and dance to Big Bang Boom songs, and make play doh cookies with you.  We enjoy our hour together just the two of us when Julianna is in gymnastics class each week and we take regular trips to the grocery store and gas station.  Sometimes that can be so mundane but I realize that time together is special and you are usually so much more cooperative when you're not competing with an older sibling for your mom's attention so it's about as nice as it can be.  For now I'll just appreciate the two year old you who still loves to spend time with his Mama more than anything else.

I love you little Buddy.


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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

you couldn't pay me enough money to get on a motorcycle in a cage with seven others

Friday we went to the circus.  I won four tickets through Piedmont Parent and the kids were really excited about it.  I had already been telling Jules that we weren't going to go again because it was so expensive so then when I won the tickets we were thrilled.

The show started at 7:30 which is kinda late for us but beggars can't be choosers, right?  We headed to dinner in Greensboro after work and got to the coliseum right as the show was getting ready to start.

We had EXCELLENT seats.  We were pretty close to the middle, we were on the fourth row, and had an aisle seat!  You can see how close we were in this picture.  One time the clowns threw giant beach balls into the audience and it came straight toward us.  Lots of fun!

Josh clapped quite a bit of the time we were there.  He wasn't feeling the best and was definitely ready to go before the show was over.  We hated to make Jules leave earlier than she was ready though.  When we finally talked her into going it was about ten o'clock and as we made it to the top of the level we realized that the show was ending anyway so we got to see it all anyway.

Of course my cell phone pictures didn't turn out that great, but pictures of the circus never are really as good as the show anyway.

These performers were directly over the front row on several occasions.  It was a tightrope motorcycle and two very flexible acrobats hanging underneath.  So cool!

This makes our third trip to the circus since Julianna was born so I doubt we'll be going back anytime soon.  That is, unless Piedmont Parent comes through with free tickets again.  [Do you know how much is costs for a ticket to the circus these days?! Twenty-two dollars for a spinning light!]  Nevertheless, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip this year and are so thankful we go to go!

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

good day sunshine

This morning in the car Josh was telling me that the sun was in his eyes (as he does every morning).  Then he asked me what color the sun was.  I told him that I thought it was orangey yellow.

"Right Mom! It is yellow! And the other sun is white."

I said, "You mean the moon is white?"

He replied, "Yeah, the moon. Good job, Mom!"

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the secret's out

Every year for the last ten years my sister and I have given my mom a photo album for Christmas.  In the album we put pictures of our family events that happened during that previous year.  We started this right before printed photo books were becoming popular so our first couple of books were photo albums we bought.  You remember the kind that had pre-cut holes that you just had to slide the developed photograph down into?  Well, that's what the first two albums looked like. 

After that, when companies like Snapfish and Shutterfly started becoming popular we switched to creating the book online and laying out the digital copy before ordering the printed version.  These made for much nicer books and I'm often thankful for the fact that I can go back at any time and order a second copy for myself if I ever want to.

Anyway, these books have been greatly appreciated by my mother and she looks forward to opening her gift each year.  We joke with her that they take so much time that "this year's is definitely going to be the last!"  But without fail we always create another one for her the following year.  They've definitely gotten easier to make as we've gotten the hang of it and gotten more organized with uploading pictures throughout the year.

Next May my parents will celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary and my sister and I knew we wanted to do something extra special for them.  We played around with lots of ideas of what we could do with the album or maybe create a new album centered around their forty years together, but mostly we just knew we wanted to send them on a trip together.

We decided on San Antonio, Texas as the destination since both of my parents have mentioned always wanting to go to Texas.  In the fall we booked a hotel and plane tickets for their trip and over Christmas break we just needed to decide how to give it to them since our family really doesn't give gifts to each other for Christmas anymore.  We just do mom's album and then spend time together and that's what works best for us.

Anyway, we finally wrote a little poem that would explain where we were sending them and why.  We wrote forty lines (one for each of their forty years) and decided to mix them up and give them one line to the poem each day for the forty days after Christmas.  The plan was to put the first line to the poem in mom's coveted (and expected) Christmas album, but I don't know that that ever really happened.  They got the line anyway and began piecing together the other lines to the poem as we delivered them each day.

We made sure to give them very vague lines to the poem at first and as it got closer and closer to the end we had to give them more obvious ones.  It's been great fun though!  We subscribed to a lot of the daily deal sites for the San Antonio area and we bought a deal for a Segway tour and a local Italian restaurant.  We also got them a gift certificate to a local Mexican restaurant there that my brother-in-law raved about and we included lines about that in the poem.

Last week they got the last line of the poem and they finally figured out where they're going and when.  I hope they have as much fun on the trip as Whitney and I have had planning it for them.  After all, anyone who can spend forty years with either one of those two deserves a little vacation!  :o)

We love you Mom and Dad!

But we're not kidding about the fact that you've already received your last Christmas album from us so you better enjoy it!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

it's going to be a great year

I've been running regularly since Christmas.  In fact, I've been training for a half marathon.  I started running (again) the week before Christmas and worked my way up from half a mile to four and a half miles in three weeks.  On my own.  I think I'm most proud of that.

Anyway, then the first week of January I joined Feet Fleet's Half Marathon Training program and have slowly worked my way up to a ten mile long run.  We run with the group twice a week and on our own three other times a week.  In January alone I ran 85 miles.  I've come a long way and sometimes I still find myself somewhat surprised at what my body has been able to do.

On the other hand, I still have eleven, twelve, and thirteen mile long runs to go but I am confident that I can do it.  This has been a wonderful experience for me.  The race itself isn't until mid-March, but I've known from Day 1 that I could do it.  I really don't have a goal for the race except to finish it.

On my Thursday night runs by myself I usually find myself running a four mile route that takes me by the Caterpillar plant just as it's getting dark.  I run by empty tobacco fields and temporarily abandoned earth moving equipment.

It's been such a mild winter so far that I find the quiet of this run to be so relaxing and stress-relieving.  And the fact that I can even take pictures of this stuff while I'm running is an amazing enough feat in itself.

The only problem is seeing the silhouette of some of that huge machinery in the dark and imagining that it's going to pick up a leg and run after me.

At least it inspires me to move faster.

This morning's run was hard, but the best part is knowing that it doesn't matter.  I have plenty of other runs ahead of me and at least I got out there and did it.

I'm making progress towards those goals.

- What are you most proud of yourself for doing lately?
- How are your 2012 goals coming along?
- Also, what do you think that thing is?

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