Saturday, April 30, 2011

Nebraska

I like going somewhere I've never been before.  I generally prefer a little time to plan ahead.  But with this Big Deal at Work, I've been booked as part of a group (me, my boss, her boss) that has to travel to the locations that are part of this whole situation.

We're going to Nebraska.

I know nothing about Nebraska.  Well, I know that Lincoln is the capitol and I'm not going there.  And that Omaha is the biggest city in Nebraska and I am going there. 

I thought I should do some learning before I go visit this state.

Did you know that Nebraska is home to Boys Town?  Made famous by the old movie... it's still a thriving and important organization.  Boys Town is one of my favorite classic films- I would love to visit this organizaiton and see the memorabilia.  Plus, the actual Boys Town is exactly the kind of place I'd want to be involved with and support.  Besides- who wouldn't want to see the World's Largest Ball of Stamps?

Established in 1917 by Father Edward J. Flanagan, Boys Town is a national organization saving children and healing families across America. The village was made famous by the 1938 award-winning movie "Boys Town," staring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. The Hall of History features Tracy's Academy Award and presents an exciting review of Boys Town's founding and impact on the lives of children. The Father Flanagan House Museum is the renovated home of Boys Town's founder and features a glimpse at early life at Boys Town. Other attractions on the 900-acre site include Father Flanagan's Tomb, Dowd Memorial Chapel, Chambers Chapel, Garden of the Bible, the "Two Brothers" statue and the Leon Myers Stamp Center that houses the "World's Largest Ball of Stamps."

There's a castle in Omaha!!  Joslyn Castle and I want to go but I know I won't have time.

Malcolm X was born in Nebraska- you can visit his birthsite in Omaha.

Kool-Aid was created in Nebraska in 1927.

CliffsNotes were invented in Nebraska!

The population of Omaha is less than 500,000.

Arbor Day was founded in Nebraska.

The state motto is "Equality before the law."

The reuben (sandwich) was created in Nebraska!

Nebraska has more miles of river than any other state.

The zoo in Omaha has an indoor rainforest- Lied Jungle!

911 was developed and first used in Nebraska.

The largest kolache festival is held in Nebraska (I WANNA GO FOR THAT!!!).

I guess there really is a lot of interesting stuff in Nebraska.  I won't get to explore any of it or visit any of it.  If I'm lucky, I might drive past something.  That's the problem with business travel- there's no time for fun.  This trip especially will not have time for fun- any time not on work sites will be spent focused on the issues and discussing what we've discussed and seen.

But at least I'll know a few fun facts and interesting tidbits about the state that I'm visiting!
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Fragments: To Do List

Mommy's Idea

Life has been a whirlwind lately.  Fragments seems like a great time to try and organize my thoughts a bit.  Today's Fragments... my current to-do list!

- Zumba for Autism (tonight)  This is a great annual event at a local gym.  The Zumba instructor has a child with autism and is very passionate about supporting autism research.  There will be a variety of vendors there and the Zumba class goes on for something like 90 minutes!  That's a lot of calories to burn and money to spend on a good cause!

- Mow the yard  With the rain and rain and rain and rain that we've seen, there hasn't been enough dry time to get out and mow the grass.  Plus, all that rain makes the grass grow more. Double edged sword.  And when we last checked the mower a week or so ago, it wouldn't start.  But the back yard has become an insane jungle of grass, weeds, and dandelions.  I'm afraid something could be stalking about and our poor little 8 lb poodle won't come back after doing her morning business.

- Pack for my business trip  I tend to leave packing until the last minute.  But I'd like to possibly get a head start on it by planning ahead the clothes I want to pack, get that laundry done, get the bag packed.  I have to leave my house at o'dark:thirty Monday morning to catch a 6:40 a.m. flight so grabbing last minute stuff to throw in my bag isn't an option.  Plus, I have to run while away so I want to be sure I pack all my needed workout clothes and shoes. 

- Blogger meet up!  I'm meeting up with a few bloggers for dinner Saturday night!  I'm very excited to spend time with some women that I've been getting to know more and more online over the past few months.

- Podcast  I'm a regular contributor on Jeff's podcast now!  It was supposed to be him and his 2 closest guy friends but one of the guys keeps having scheduling conflicts and I keep filling in so I am declaring myself the official 3rd member of the 2 AM Podcast.  We usually record on Sunday evenings but this Sunday evening works for no one so we're trying to find a different time- maybe tonight.  When we are on our Sunday schedule, we also air live on Ustream if you ever have nothing to do on a Sunday evening around 8 pm EST.

- Write a sermon  I'm preaching again at church!!  And this time, my message is one I'm very passionate about so I'm eager to get down to the real writing of my message.  it's all swirling around in my head and I have lots of notes on paper- just have to bring it all together.

- Run  I have to have to have to keep running.  I might not get the distance in that I want.  But I have to stick to running on my running days because I have my first ever half marathon on May 7!!! 

- Most important of all... find time to ENJOY my husband and my kids.  That's always the biggest challenge when things get so busy and there are so many demands. 

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Some Days Just Need Wine

Remember my post about my job changes?

The stress hasn't let up.  I'm handling it fine.  To be honest, I'm even enjoying it.  But there is a cost and that adds stress.  I'm running at full speed all day long.  I'm going in a little early, I'm working at home in the evening.  I'm sitting in lots of meetings and conference calls.  I have "important people" coming into my office all day long. 

This week and next, I am committed to sticking to my fitness plan at the very least.  That's what slid last week and resulted in that horrible 10 mile run experience.

This week, I got a brief run in on Monday.  I got a good workout in on Tuesday.  I got a very brief run/walk on Weds evening.  So I'm mostly on track with fitness. 

This week, I'm not eating.

My typical day is getting to work, getting my coffee, check e-mails, maybe an early morning meeting, make breakfast and eat at my desk.  More work, go work out, back to the desk for a conference call, make lunch and eat at my desk, etc.  Some days there might be a snack in the late morning or afternoon.

Tuesday, I ate breakfast at 9.  Smart Ones frozen things- scrambled eggs, potatoes, I add sriracha sauce.  Went to the gym at lunch.  Got back and the crap hit the fan and it was suddenly the end of the day and as I drove home I realized... I'd never eaten lunch.

Wednesday, I came in early, meetings started up immediately.  I look at the clock and it's noon.  No breakfast, time to eat lunch.  Got lunch.  Then the evening was packed with an event for school where I enjoyed a couple of snacks but then went to church, went for a brief run/walk with a friend, never ate dinner.

Came home and made popcorn.

And poured a glass of Chateau Thomas Malbec. 

Aaaaahhhhhhh...

Next week, I'm traveling for work.  Related to this new stuff I'm doing.  Very last minute planned trip but it will be an important one.  I'm taking some of the stress of being stretched thin off by lining up some GREAT guest bloggers.  I'm very excited about the line up and topics I'm seeing so far!! 

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Things I Love About Spring

We've had constant rain here.  The forecast at the end of last week said we would get rain at least once a day for the next 6 days.  All this rain is causing flooding and everyone is tired of the gray clouds and lack of sun.  Thought it might be a good time to remember the things I like about spring to get through these rainy days!

My lilac bush is blooming.  I love my lilac bush and want to plant another.  I actually bought it at Costco and I've loved watching it grow bigger and more full every spring.

I'm wearing dresses!  I wore a dress on Monday and again today.  I love the easiness of wearing a dress- no matching stuff, no putting things together.  Dresses are already put together. 

Wearing dresses means shaving my legs more often.  Not that I like to shave my legs but I do like my legs when they are shaved.

Not only is it more pleasant to run outside, I see tons of people out and about being active!  Walkers, runners, joggers, cyclers.  I love seeing the playgrounds in use, the dog walkers out for a stroll.

I start to see my neighbors more often.  We all hibernate for the winter and start to come out of our caves a bit more in the spring.

I get to start planning my veggie garden!

Produce selection is better.

Farmers Markets will start soon!

It's fun to plan weekends with nicer weather.  I can handle a trip to the Zoo when it is raining since there are enough indoor areas.  Light rain never stops me!

TV gets goooood.  Seasons are gearing up for finales and sweeps and story lines are getting intense.  Anyone else ready with a box of tissues for The Office this Thursday?

And this spring... I'm spending time... PLANNING OUR SUMMER VACATION!  It's so nice to escape into dreaming about time off.  No big reveals about our plans until we commit financially, though. 

What do you love about spring?

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I've Lost My Mind

Yesterday, I posted about that horrible 10 mile run.

For weeks now, I've been dreading running.  I've been wishing the stupid half marathon would just be here and be over already. 

But then a funny thing happened.

I went for an easy run Monday.  2.5 miles.  I walked anytime I wanted or needed to.  I paid attention to my breathing and my form and any twinges or soreness.  And it was actually kind of... fun.  And that's what I needed and that's what I missed on Saturday.  Saturday was miserable.  Monday was fun.

Today, a Groupon went up for Team In Training.  $25 and I will get a lot of training and coaching and motivation.  I will have assistance and motivation to raise money for a great cause.  There will be fun and parties and a dinner to celebrate. 

I've just committed to doing another half marathon.  The Indianapolis Marathon.

I've lost my mind.

I'm doing a half marathon May 6.
I'm doing a 50K bike ride June 18.
I'm doing a 5K June 25.
I'm doing another bike ride (details TBD) in mid-September.
I'm doing a half marathon Oct 15.

A year ago... when I was still so new into this journey... no way could I have imagined committing to these things.

I was talking to someone today who has made a lot of changes in his life and has been making healthy choices, getting back into running and fitness.  For him, it's a return to the way he used to be.  He used to run marathons and do lots of endurance events and weight lifting. 

I don't have that background. 

In high school, I walked to lots of places because that was my main mode of transportation.  I played volleyball for a season or two.  I got involved in our outdoor club and was into hiking and camping and such.  But my draw was to the arts- singing and theatre.  Got to college, became more sedentary, became more focused on the arts, started the weight gain.  I didn't have an athletic, healthy background to fall back on to help me out.  I didn't have an "I used to be healthy and thin."  Because in high school, I was mildly active, not really athletic, and thin only because I had a great metabolism. 

So I think about that background.  And I think about where I came from (my first marriage would have resulted in me easily weighing in at 300 pounds by now since my ex was a 400 lb guy who loved beer and fried chicken and pizza and such) and where I am now...

And I'm pretty stinking amazed. 

Then I spend some time scrolling down the news feed on Facebook and I see so many of my friends posting about going out for a run, working on improving their mile time, posting their cardio workouts and strength training routines.  I am not taking credit for their healthy choices- but I know that when you keep getting messages and seeing others make good choices, it's infectious and you start to think you can do it and then you dip your toe in the water and suddenly...

You're training for half marathons and 50K bike rides.

I've lost my mind.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

10 Mile Report

I made sure not to write anything when I first got home.  Because it would have been a really whiney and complain-y post with a lot of venting.

It stunk.

The weather was great.  The sun came out, the temp was fine.  It was a little muggy but there was enough of a breeze that it was tolerable. 

The crowd was fine, the set up for the race was fine. 

I was not fine.

I know a long list of things I haven't done right to prepare lately.  And maybe that's the good thing to come out of this 10 mile event- I know how important it is to stick with my training for the next 2 weeks.  I haven't been eating right.  I haven't been getting my regular scheduled runs in during the week.  I ran the 15K, I ran less than 3 miles the following Weds, I ran a 5K this past Saturday, I got 1 mile in on the treadmill on Thursday.  Not nearly enough mileage. 

I couldn't even run a 4 minute interval today.  I was exhausted within minutes of starting. 

I was done by mile 6 and spent the next 4 miles entertaining thoughts of flagging down a race volunteer and quitting.  I was tired, I could feel a huge blister on the bottom of my left foot, my left ankle was hurting because my form was bad because I was trying to adjust for the blister, my hips hurt, and I had no energy.  None. 

But if I quit, Christy would quit.  I felt bad enough that she was walking every time I walked.  Which was almost the entire last 4 miles.  I tried over and over to dig deep and walk fast, maybe jog a little.  I encouraged her several times to go ahead and run without me.  I knew she could do better if she'd just leave me.  But she stayed with me until the last .25 of a mile when I practically forced her to run ahead.

It was... grueling.  And it was primarily mental.  My energy had crashed and I didn't have the mental power to pull myself through.  All systems wanted to shut down.

And when I got within that final .10 of a mile, maybe less, I dug deep and found the last few steps of run I had left.  I felt like a failure.  When Christy took off, I cried.  Not because she left me.  But because I'd been holding in those tears of frustration for over an hour.  Because when I was alone, I could let myself really feel that fail.  My frustration was overwhelming.  I had done the 15K and it had been hard but I hadn't felt like my body was failing me.  I wanted to dig deep and push through and find my rhythm and all that jazz.  But I couldn't.

I held it together again until I'd dropped Christy off and I called my husband to tell him how I felt like a failure.  And I choked up while we talked.  And I cried while I soaked in Epsom salt in the bathtub while Jeff took the kids out to lunch.  I had a nice pity party and then had to face the music.

One thing that I've really loved about this running journey is the connections I've made to others.  I've been able to support others and also received fantastic advice and support and encouragement along the way.  I think, in some way, I felt like I'd let all those people down because I just couldn't run.

I posted my failure on DailyMile and on Facebook.

I call it a fail. Yes, I finished. No, I wasn't dead last. But I am remarkably frustrated and my performance was abysmal and I'm sore and blistered and doubting my body.


There's no emoticon for feeling like an awful failure. Hm. I finished. I walked most of it. I'm sore and blistered. I'm mad that my performance stank. I'm mad that work has overwhelmed my schedule so I haven't been running like I should. "I finished" is the only accomplishment.

The best part of having a solid group of people who support your efforts is that they are there for the hard lessons and failures, too.  I got awesome responses.

From Emily: The only fail would be not to try or to give up. Even if you walk the entire mini and are sore and blistered after- you will be able to say you COMPLETED a HALF MARATHON. Do not sell short what you have accomplished. To some- just having the guts to get out there and start the race makes you a hero in their eyes. You INSPIRE people. Doesn't have to be fast, doesn't have to be pretty. To take from modern vernacular "It do what it do, baby" :)

From Ashli: You did not fail. Sure, maybe you didn't meet your expectations, but fail, no way. You are strong and had the courage to get out there and just do it. Maybe you aren't a runner for life most of us aren't, but this season, this moment, you are out there trying to find your groove. Hang in there and I am praying for peace and understanding for my dear friend :)

From Jill: You finished! I say you won. Good for you :)

From Elizabeth: It's not how you finish that's important and measures your success. It's the fact that you did the race and completed it... soreness, blisters and all :)

From Beth: Liz, I'm so sorry. Any run like that is frustrating, and a race is even more frustrating. I will point out that "I finished" is still a BIG accomplishment.... 10 miles is really far, whether you walk or run it. But I know it's frustrating. I think you rock, and you're doing the best you can with your current schedule & responsibilities!

From Renee: A year or two ago, there is no way you would have even thought about doing something like this. Today, you completed a major accomplishment. Be proud of how far you've come, I know I am.

And there were many, many more.

The first bit of encouragement that started to lift my spirits came from my husband. I was whining, choked with tears of frustration, that I'd gotten to mile 6 and wanted to quit and had to fight that desire for the remaining 4 miles and that I'd never felt that way before- I've never had to fight to keep myself from quitting.

"But you fought it. It was hard but you fought it. I say... you won the battle."

You can see why I married him.

As I write this, my hips are sore.  The worst is the blisters.  I have a large blister under a thick callous on the ball of my left foot under my big toe and a less drastic but still painful calloused blister deep in my right heel. 

But I've learned an important lesson.  I know that I need a strategy for the next 2 weeks.  If work continues to interfere with my lunchtime workouts/runs, I'm going to have to plan to walk more than I run and that means wearing my walking shoes rather than my running shoes.  I have to commit to healthier fueling and hydrating. 

I learned a lot about my horrible 10 mile event.  But I'm slowly licking my wounds and ending my pity party.  I'm ready to put it behind me and get down to the business of running so that my first ever half marathon will have me elated at the finish line. 

I know that I can cross that finish line and feel good about my performance.  I don't have to be fastest, I don't have to place at a certain point, I don't have to beat my previous times. 

I just want to know I did the best I could. 

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter 2011

Happy Easter!

This morning, the kids will wake up and be very excited about their baskets filled with candy and movies and treats. 

This morning, I will be performing a monologue at church.  I'll be opening each service as Mary Magdalene- it's a very moving monologue of Mary's experience and her finding the tomb empty and so on. 

This afternoon, we will enjoy a meal with Jeff's family. 

This evening, we will enjoy time at home and then the guys will come over to record the next 2 A.M. Podcast.

And through it all, I will be thanking God for the most incredible sacrifice and miracle of His Son, Jesus Christ.



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Saturday, April 23, 2011

6 Words: Repeat

Another Saturday.

Another Run.

Ten Miles.



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Friday, April 22, 2011

Hoppy Friday Fragments!

Mommy's Idea

So glad it's Friday and that the weekend is ahead of us.  I think we might actually end up with a little down time this weekend- down time that we will fill with a list of things that need to get done around the house.

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We're supposed to get rain for the next 7 days here in Indiana.  This has 2 immediate impacts on our plans.  The first is that it means yet another rainy run for me.  Christy and I are doing a 10 mile event tomorrow morning as our last long run before the half marathon on May 7.  The second is that the final chance for an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids has been cancelled.  We didn't make it to the one at church because we were at a birthday party.  We were planning on the first ever egg hunt being held at my office but they've cancelled it in advance due to the forecast and the amount of rain we've already received.  So it looks like Mom and Dad will be hiding eggs around the house Saturday night!

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I need to get going on our Easter baskets.  We don't do the Easter Bunny thing.  The baskets are from us to the kids.  I know there will be Peeps and I know there will be fancy iced cookies from our favorite local bakery.  There might be some bubbles since that's a big fun thing this year.  Maybe a movie or book for each.  I wonder if I could get some sushi to put in Teagan's basket? 

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I have a friend that I've talked about before- Lindsey (she's a Mother Who Moves Me).  Well, big news for Lindsey this week!  She gave birth to twin boys!!  Congrats to Lindsey and Mike and Ava and welcome to Andrew and Ben!

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I am terribly behind on blog reading.  Trying to get around to some today- I've got a bajillion tabs open with blogs and hope to click over when I get brief breaks from work.

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Here's something irritating.  Blogger changed the posting so we have more options and it's improved and blah blah blah.  My issue is tha tonce they switched it, the old version's html stopped working correctly.  If I go back to an old post, there are no line breaks anymore.  I have to go in and add them back.  Grrrrr...

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I'm still obsessing over planning a summer vacation.  I'm hoping I can convince Jeff to go for at least one of my ideas but I'm thinking it might need to wait a few years so that Zach can fully understand.  There is a bed and breakfast near Shipshewana called Farmstead.  It's a working farm and you can stay there and get up bright and early and help with chores and everything.  You can kind of experience what it's like to live on an Amish farm- right down to having no electricity.  Wouldn't that be awesome??  From the book "101 Things To Do In Shipshewana"

The Farmstead Bed & Breakfast presents a rare opportunity to actually stay at an Amish home.  You'll stay in the Dawdy Haus, the extension of the home where the grandparents traditionally live, and can freely roam the farm and even help with chores if you'd like!  Owners Kenneth and Colleen Yoder will make breakfast for you and take you on a complimentary buggy ride.  Kids are definitely welcome, and will enjoy the farm's steer, Persheron draft horses, chickens, fainting goats (yes, they are what the name implies), cats and dogs.  This is the real thing.  No electricity. No television.  No phone.  Just old-fashioned, traditional farm life.

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Stress at work has led to a really crappy diet.  And not just the "I don't have time to eat so I'm choosing crappy junk" kind of bad choices, either.  I mean like "my response to stress and relaxing from a stressful day is grabbing chips or pretzels and chip dip and vegging on the couch."  I think I'm starting to feel more in control of the new responsibilities at work and I hope that sense of control flows into my eating very soon.  Although it's funny- my bad food choice days now compared to how I was eating 18 months ago aren't even an issue.  I'm still relatively healthy on a general scale but I'm not healthy on MY scale!

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Video: the family singing Happy Birthday to my Grandma for the celebration of turning 90!


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I hope you have some fun and rest and relaxation ahead in your weekend!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Summer Vacation

I'm not sure I ever had to write an actual essay on "What I Did On My Summer Vacation."  That's a good thing because summers didn't usually include a vacation when I was growing up.  Our summer break and travel was used to visit family.  My parents would try to throw a few fun things in here and there but the purpose of our travel wasn't to relax and have fun- it was to spend time with family so it never felt like a "real" vacation.

In 2008, we took our first real summer vacation.  In 2009, I wanted to repeat that trip.  But it wasn't meant to be.  So we took a long weekend in Cincinnati instead.  Spent some time with my family and then had a hotel and did touristy things like go to the Cincinnati Zoo and the Museum Center

In 2009, we opted to stay local and visit some fun spots in Indiana.  We went to Holiday World and visited some other spots in southern Indiana (Lincoln State Park, for example).  We also took a weekend in Fort Wayne.

This year, I think we're going to stick with Indiana again.  I'll be honest- I would truly love it if we could go to Sesame Place.  But gas prices don't make it feel like a good idea, honestly.  The drive requires an overnight stay halfway there- it's 600 miles away from home.  Right now, the idea of all the planning is exhausting to me.

I was excited to attend an Indiana Tourism Media Marketplace yesterday.  I attended this event last year and loved learning so much about the state I've called home for over a decade. 

Here are the things I'm excited to consider for summer fun in 2011:

I am leaning towards a trip to Indiana Dunes.  I always hear great things about the Dunes and the idea of a beach in land locked Indiana is just too incredible to pass up.  How have I been here this long and never been there?  A couple of days relaxing in the sun on the beach... kids splashing in the waves... building sand castles... it just sounds awesome.  And there are all kinds of non-beach things in the area that I want to check out, too.  I love all of the minor league baseball in Indiana.  We have our own Indianapolis Indians, we took in a Fort Wayne Tin Caps game last summer, and now it's on my list to see a Gary SouthShore RailCats game!  I think my kids would love a visit at Broken Wagon Bison Ranch. And I know they'd enjoy Albanese Confectionary and some fun at BellaBoo's.

About 90 minutes away is Shipshewana, IN and loads of Amish Country.  We can take a horse and buggy tour, visit Amish Acres, visit Black Pine Animal Sanctuary or Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park, and maybe take a ride on the Dixie Stern-Wheeler.  I'd also love some outdoor time to explore the various Quilt Gardens.

If I get really ambitious, I'd enjoy coming home a different route so we could sepnd a day and night in Fort Wayne again.  Last year, we had a great time at that Tin Caps baseball game and at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.  We also loved discovering the Firefighter's Museum and Fort Wayne Museum of Art.  This year, I want to make sure to visit the downtown public library as I hear their children's section is pretty special and we never made it to the Botantical Conservatory.

Looking at it all laid out, I think we could plan a week long getaway if we're going to cover everything and still have some down time on the beach!

I'm also excited to spend some time closer to home doing some cycling on the Ride Hendricks County routes.  And I when Christy and I do that Girlfriend Ride I wrote about yesterday, I want to spend some time exploring Bloomington and Nashville and Columbus.  There's fun stuff to do as a grown up and also fun family stuff... but I'll have to plan that trip another day!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Athletic Adventures

Today is April 20.  On May 7, I will participate in my first ever half marathon

To be honest, I am not prepared.  I've completed each of the training races and have pretty well stuck to my 14-15 minute per mile penguin pace.  I've done 2 5K events, a 10K, and a 15K since I started training for this goal. 

With my recent work changes, my training has taken a backseat.  I ran last Wednesday at lunch- less than 3 miles.  I ran a 5K on Saturday.  I haven't run since.  My next opportunity to run might be later today but chances are good it won't be until tomorrow and then I'm set for a long run on Saturday.

I'm also facing burnout.  I'm getting tired of running.  The work schedule is giving me a forced break which is making me want to run.  And that's good.  But I also know that once I get past the 13.1 miles, I will need a break from running.

I won't stop.  But I do want to scale back until it's just fun again.  I think 5K is a great distance and I think I'll even enjoy doing a 10K event now and again. 

Christy and I have chosen our next athletic adventure and it's going to come up fast.

On June 18, we're going to do the Girlfriend Ride.  And we're going to try and make a girlfriend weekend out of it by heading down to Columbus on Friday (it's about an hour away) instead of trying to get down there really freakin' early on Saturday.  The bike ride is a fundraiser for a local domestic violence shelter in that county so this is for a good cause, too. 

I have a great bike.  I bought it about 6 years ago.  I'd gotten a promotion and good raise at work and decided to celebrate by buying bikes.  So Jeff and I actually have matching bikes.  We rode a few times and then I ended up pregnant and was advised against riding by my OB.  The bike has pretty much just been in the garage ever since.

It's time to haul out that bike, get it checked out, dig out the bike rack (might have to invest in a new one that works with my minivan since we bought ours back when I drove a tiny Toyota Echo), find my helmet.  As soon as I'm done running 13.1 miles, it's time to start riding in preparation for the Girlfriend Ride.

I don't know a lot about this event.  I have a friend who has done it and says it's a great time.  I know there are 3 courses- 10K, 25K, or 50K.  And apparently Christy and I are insane because we signed up for the 50K.  That's 31 miles.  And we aren't currently riding bikes. 

It's not a race, it's not competitive, there are stops along the way. 

And I'd better enjoy it because I won 2 registrations for The Hope Ride in September. 

What are your athletic adventures lately?  What goals have you set?

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Race for the Cure 2011

It was a mighty team of moms who met early on a Saturday morning at a fantastic Komen Race for the Cure.  Some of us have been doing this for years, some of us have been doing this just a couple of years, and it was a first time event for some.


I made new friends and spent time with friends I've had the honor of knowing for a couple of years now.




Just like last year, the most moving part of the event was the Survivors' Parade before the walk/run started.  You have to arrive early- it starts at 7:30.  But to cheer and high five women who fought cancer 20 years ago, 10 years ago... to applaud the women who are 5 year survivors... to see the pain and pride and the tears in the eyes of the women who are 1 year survivors, many showing signs of still being in the trenches... it's an immensely powerful event.

My favorite moment from this year's event was when I got to help a 20 year survivor in the parade.  She was pushing her husband in his wheelchair but the ground was very muddy and they were struggling to make it down the path.  I didn't think about- I just asked if she wanted help.  She and I each took a side and lifted from the front and pushed from the back and made it down the path together.  For those few mintues, I got to be part of this little family and they were such kind, loving people.  I was honored to have a small part in their experience.  Later, it hit me that no one else had offered to help her.  I was rather surprised by that.  They'd already come a bit down the course and there had been event volunteers and volunteers specific to the parade.  But no one else offered to help.

After the parade, our team headed to our meeting spot for our group picture.  We headed indoors to use the facilities and then came back out.  Soon, it was time for the few runners to head to the starting line.  The 3 of us headed out- and this pic almost captured my heel kick of celebration!!


Last year's 5K was filled with learning.  I was still so new to running.  My focus was on what to eat, how to fuel, how to hydrate, how much sleep I'd gotten, what I wore, and so on.  I wasn't sure when or if I'd be able to run at all.  I ended up only running a bit and walking msot due to the crush of the crowd. 

This year, I was focused on just having fun.  This was a 5K- a distance I get close to on my lunch hour runs.  This is a distance that is normal for me now.  I could completely focus on the purpose of the event and why I'd been working to raise money for Susan G. Komen of Central Indiana.  As I ran, I focused some on my form but more on why I was running.  I ran almost the entire first mile.  And when I felt tired or wanted to walk, I thought about the people who had donated in support of my efforts.  I thought about the reason I was running.  I thought about Michele and Tim and the kids and her sister.  I thought about the life they now live without her.  And I thought about the importance of taking care of yourself, of knowing your body, of pushing for care and answers and treatment.  I let myself revisit those days back in 2009 when I ended up involved with this family.  And I ran.  I didn't run my fastest or my best.  But that wasn't why I was there. 

I was racing for the cure.  And along the way, I realized more and more that the slogan of the event was true.

I am the cure.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Isn't It Interesting?

Isn't it interesting how life isn't the same for everyone?  How we all make our own choices?  And how what works for you may not work for me but it does work for you so it's all good?

Last night, I was thinking about the different families I know and the different choices these families have made.  I know I'm not on the inside of these families so there is no way for me to know if all are truly happy with life as they've chosen it or happened into it.  But it's fascinating to me to see how something that really wouldn't work for me can be such a good thing for someone else.  And that because we have all these different ways of raising kids and have all these different family dynamics, we end up with such an incredible array of personalities and gifts in the world.

And then I started to wonder why a situation is seen as more acceptable in one instance than it is in another.

For example, a family where dad travels often.

In family one, Dad is a soldier and is deployed to Afghanistan.  He's on his second tour.  He is obviously risking his life while he's away on a tour that lasts 6 months, 12 months. While he's been away, he's missed birthdays and anniversaries and even the birth of a child.  His spouse has struggled to keep the family going as a single parent who deeply misses that soldier and worries about that soldier's safety. 

In family two, Dad is the head of a high powered company.  He travels globally for business and is often gone for a couple of weeks at a time.  When he is home, work often keeps him at the office late and might even keep him busy on weekends.  He works hard to provide a lifestyle that guarantees that his children will never go without the best education, food, clothing, and opportunities.  He's missed his kids' birthday parties, his parents' 50th wedding anniversary, and doesn't have a connection to people in his community or neighborhood.

How different are those 2 situations?

I think there is a tendency to see the soldier as self-sacrificing, putting his own life at risk, and therefore his situation feels different than the guy we see as choosing money over his family. 

But do we know the background?  Do we know enough to make any conclusions?

Of course not.

Maybe that soldier is volunteering for deployment.  Does that make it different?  Maybe he's not active duty anymore and he's actually going overseas as a contract employee.  Does that make a difference?

Maybe that CEO grew up poor and will do anything to guarantee his family never knows how that feels.  Maybe he has a plan where he will get to retire within the next few years and will then be home practically full time. 

And all of that got me thinking about the Mommy Wars.  We fight about every possible choice a mom can make.  Breastfeeding, formula feeding, disposable diapers, cloth diapers, store bought baby food, homemade baby food, sleep schedule, natural sleep patterns, private school, public school, homeschool, unschool, gentle discipline, disciplinarian, 1 kid, 15 kids, working mom, stay at home mom, Christian mom, Muslim mom, Jewish mom, Pagan mom, Atheist mom. 

It's never ending.

Isn't the bottom line the same?  As long as a child isn't being hurt... as long as those kids are loved and cared for... aren't we all doing the best we can with what we have?

I'm sure there are people who look at my life and have plenty to criticize.  I don't clean house often enough.  There's too much clutter.  Our yard isn't the best on the block.  My daughter's hair isn't always brushed.  I work full time, as does my husband.  I go out with friends, I am busy with church, I run and do active things and rely on my husband to take care of our kids when I do those things.  He's a gamer and takes a weekend here and there to go out of town, he takes a week each summer- all away time for his hobby.  We eat out more than we eat at home.  We are often overwhelmed by a busy schedule.  We watch too much TV and enjoy our smart phones and laptops and cable. 

Even the things that can be seen as good to some can be seen with criticism by others- raising our kids in a church, focusing our diets to include fruits and veggies and controlling sugar intake and avoiding fast food, consistent bedtime as regularly as possible, teaching and practicing compassion and giving.

What on earth is my point in all of this rambling?

We all make choices.  The majority of us are doing the best we can with what we have.  Every person has goals and dreams.  We all have unique backgrounds and experiences.  We all have different talents and gifts. 

And if we'd all make an effort to focus our energy on developing ourselves and making our own best choices, there would be a lot less energy to spend on criticizing others and judging others and questioning others.  Do something positive with your energy- self focus and improvement- and you automatically put out positive energy to others.  You will end up inspiring someone, helping someone, connecting with someone.

Isn't it interesting?

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Six Words: Running for a Cure

5K Komen - Cure.

Thanks!



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Friday, April 15, 2011

TGI Fragments!

Mommy's Idea

Happy Friday! This has been one heck of a week.  I'm tired and there's been some stress but it's all good. 

*****

I just caught this story about a 7 year old who got plastic surgery to change something about her appearance.  The story was laid out to sound like this little girl was being bullied and teased but the little girl didn't seem to think so.  The story bothers me.  Maybe if there had been teasing and bullying that had impacted her in a negative way?  Maybe if there was medical reason to fix the "issue?"  But her health wasn't impacted... I just can't imagine the lesson she really learns from this.

*****

Busy and fun weekend ahead! 
  • Tomorrow is Race for the Cure.  If you've been wanting to donate to support my efforts but haven't yet, please do!!  You can read here about why this event is important to me and you can go here to donate in support of my participating.
  • As soon as I cross the finish line, there is no time to celebrate or chat or wait for my walking teammates.  I've got to keep running directly to my car and get back home, pick up the family, and get to Cincinnati to celebrate my Grandma's 90th birthday!!  It's an amazing milestone.  Best of all, all of her kids will be there.  My mom, Aunt Martha, Aunt Kathy, Aunt Liz, and Uncle Tim.  Some spouses will be there, too.  I'm eager to see my Uncle Galen since I haven't seen him in years!  My brothers will both be there, Ted's girlfriend Em will be there, my kids will be there.  This is going to be... epic!
  • Sunday morning is church and this is Palm Sunday so the kids all get called out of church and they lead our Palm Sunday Processional.  They wave palm branches and the congregation sings and the kids join in on the chorus.  Since I teach our Sunday morning kids' choir, I get to help lead the processional.  And this is a milestone Sunday as I just found out that Teagan will get to acolyte first service for the very first time (that means lighting the alter candles as church is starting).
  • Sunday afternoon is a birthday party for a set of triplets from Teagan's school.  The entire family is invited.  Sounds like there's going to be a big turnout.  It's at a movie theatre and we get to see "Rio."  I'm really excited!  The downfall is that we might mis sout on the Easter Carnival that afternoon at church.  We will swing by after the movie and if it's still on, we're going!
*****

Important lesson learned: If you are on iron supplements and you forget to take your nightly dose 2 nights in a row and think it's a good idea to just take one on an empty stomach in the morning... it's not.  Don't do it. 

*****

My friend Nancy is moving away.  It's been in process for a while. Her husband got an opportunity with a company that he couldn't pass up and they've been living in 2 places for months now.  She'll be 2 hours away.  Her daughter is a little younger than Teagan.  While I know I'm not Nancy's best friend and I know I'm not the person it's hardest to leave behind... I'm sad because I'm really going to miss my friend.  We met through Indy Moms and became friends.  She eventually started coming to church at The Promise ( my church).  I got used to seeing her and her daughter (and sometimes her husband) on Sunday mornings.  Then she started attending Wednesday evenings (when we have dinner and small groups) and that's when I think we really got closer.  We got to chat and eat together and watch our kids run around together.  She's been there when I needed to vent or just needed a hug.  I'm incredibly thankful that we have the internet to stay in touch but... I'm going to miss my friend.

*****

Ever have one of those days where you just need this:


Yeah, me too.

*****

Enjoy your Friday and your weekend!!  Leave me a comment and tell me what's going on in your fragmented world!

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Change: A Post About My Job

I don't really talk a lot about my job.  I work for a very large company and I like my job and I like working (most of the time).  I have an office, I'm in a middle management type of corporate job.  I have good benefits and I generally like my co-workers and all that. 

I've got changes happening at work.  More responsibility.  Taking on work for other product lines. 

For the past year or so, my primary job function has been bringing product from our sister plant in Sweden to the US.  Initially, it was just the finished products they manufactured and then I got involved in the semi-finished goods that now come to my location and are used in manufacturing.  The product line includes all kinds of cool stuff like this and this and this and lots of other stuff that isn't available commercially.  It's called active hearing protection and involves protecting the hearing but using electronics that detect sound levels to determine how much protection you need.

A few months ago, I picked up a piece of another product line.  Fall protection.  Fall protection is important for window washers and construction workers and so on.  My responsibility is in the area of retractables- so you can hook into your work area and the lead that keeps you connected can retract as you move.  Like one of those dog leashes but these retractables can handle the weight and force of a big fall.

Recently picked up resonsibility for PCB- printed circuit boards.  They are used in our active hearing products so it makes sense that I'd pick those up.

And now, domestically produced safety eyewear.  I will be managing a plant that makes lenses and sends them to a facility that puts lenses into frames and packages the product and then ships the finished product to our distribution center.  Or something along those lines.  I'm just now getting into this one so it's all new to me.

Here's the kicker.  That active hearing stuff was a huge mess when I got it and it took a lot of work to get it fixed up and in a more managable place.  We've got a good team of people involved and while I can't say it runs smoothly, I can say it has improved greatly.

That fall protection stuff... I was told it would be difficult but it hasn't been so bad.  It's just a couple of suppliers and there are bigger issues than my piece of the puzzle. 

PCB's are somewhat new to me and there will be a good amount of manual work required.  I will be juggling semi-finished goods from at least 3 different countries being sent to a 4th country to put the product together and then ship it to us for our own manufacturing.  There's a lot of paperwork shuffling that goes on and a lot of involvement in our inventory management system.

And it looks like this new eyewear job will be a beast.  I've got some huge issues to tackle immediately that relate to a change in manufacturing location. 

So I'm going to be pretty busy over the next few weeks as my already full schedule fills up with more weekly meetings and conference calls.  I'm worried about my existing responsibilities slipping.  It's a whole new balancing act and I'm going to have to really put in some time to figure out the best way to manage all of these new expectations.  Wish me luck, send up some prayers for me, give me words of sage advice.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why Yes! That Would Be Nice!

There are no gift giving occassions afoot.  However, it struck me today that there are a few things I wouldn't mind having if we had the money for them right now.

A Bissell Spotbot.  I'm not overly concerned that it be this pet version.  I'd just really like something that can clean up the spots left by my aging poodle and by my messy kids.  I've got random spots on my floor and would love it if I could set this contraption down and have those stains and messes be gone!  Runs around $130.
I'd also like to renew my membership to Conner Prairie.  Family membership is $70, the place is near our house, the kids always have a great time, and there is a great indoor play space for rainy days! 


Shoes.  I wish I could find shoes that I really love.  What I need are a good pair of easy to slip on and off work shoes- a pair in black and a pair in brown.  And I'd love a pair of fun casual shoes that are easy to slip on and run around in.  So maybe I'll get a chance to try on some of these Crocs someday... but I'm not usually one to spend $30-$50 on shoes.



Oh! And I think I need a new swimsuit this year.  What I have now is my old maternity suit and the top gets very floaty in the water.  I'm a traditional one piece kind of a mom.  I hear good things about the suits at Lands' End. But I can't fathom spending up to $100 on a swimsuit so I'll probably just hit Meijer and try a bunch of suits on and see what works best.  But if money was no object...


And something I do plan to pick up one of these days- The Hunger Games.  Or even just the entire series.  I haven't heard any criticism of these books from anyone who has read them.


How about you?  What are some things on your wish list?  If you had some fun money to just go out and spend on anything... what would you treat yourself to?

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Recovery

I'm having a hard time recovering from the past few days.  My energy is low and I'd really like to just lie around all day.

Next time I plan for the kids to spend a few nights at Grandma's, I need to make sure that there is down time at home and that they aren't there just so I can be too busy.  Because I really wore myself out with my schedule and activity Thursday-Sunday. 

I'm carefully watching my diet to make sure I'm getting iron and protein.  I'm taking my supplements, staying hydrated. 

Saturday was full of rain and storms.  Sunday was sunny and warm.  Today is back to rain and storms and dark gray skies.  That's a downer, too.  And my morning is packed full of meeting after meeting after meeting.  Non stop from 9:00 until 11:30 and then it starts up again at 1:30 and 2:00.  Not sure how I will get any actual work done. 

So it's a blechy Monday.  I'm recovering from the weekend but might need recovery from today!

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

What. A. Day!

Yesterday was a day that is going to require some serious recovery.  And this is an insanely long post.

It started with a bad night's sleep Friday night.  I was awake at least twice- the get out of bed and use the bathroom kind of awake.  Interrupted sleep the night before my longest run to date did not feel good when that alarm went off at 5:30.

Got up and took my time getting ready.  Toasted a bagel, added some cream cheese and ate about 3 bites and my nervous stomach couldn't handle any more.  Left home at 6:30 to pick up Christy and go meet Ashli.  Got a text from Ashli- she was sick and wouldn't be running.  (She's fine last I heard, thankfully.  Not a serious bug or anything.)

Christy and I got downtown at the exact right time.  We got ourselves together and ready for our run.  headed to the meeting point and waited in line for that most important last potty break.  Headed outside to join the pack and it was suddenly go time. 

The first 5 miles were pretty dang good.  We set ourselves up to do intervals- run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute.  And we were doing it and only adjusting for hills (running on all downhills and walking all uphills).  Christy and I were talking, I saw several people I know, Christy and I even sang a little bit!  Then mile 5 hit...

...and my energy took a little drop.  I kept going.  I still managed to keep mainly to the intervals but did have a few walk breaks in the midst of the 4 minutes.  I also managed a few intervals where I'd start back to running, run through the walk break, and then run the next interval. 

Mile 5 is also when I felt the first few raindrops.  And by mile 6, it was full on raining.  And then lightning.  Flashing across the sky.  Not often, never felt in danger or scared.  Being soaked by the rain was far more misery inducing.  My shirt was so wet that I couldn't use my sleeves to wipe my nose or face because I just ended up wringing water out of my sleeve and down my face. 

Mile 5 is also when I realized I was getting some blisters and raw spots on certain spots on my foot.  I felt them when I ran and not when I walked and that made it really hard to keep running.  Then the rain started by mile 6 and my shoes were now wet and that made it a bit worse.

Don't want TMI?  Don't read this paragraph.  I hit a porta potty between mile 6 and 7 (I think).  Had to.  It was required.  The crappy part of running and having started my period the day before is that I was running on the worst and heaviest and crampiest day of my cycle (thank heavens for Pamprin).  I have never had to change a tampon in a porta potty and I hope I never have to again.  Might happen next month... but I can pray I get to run that race without my cycle.

The big struggle was mile 7 to the end.  My energy was drained.  It took a lot of deep down digging to find the motivation to keep going.  The last mile almost did me in.  I was walking more than I wanted to but I was still moving forward and that was what mattered.  We got to the 9 mile time clock and the race volunteer is rolling up the yellow caution flag and pulling out his red flag... we had .3 miles to go and they were calling the event due to weather.  The had stopped the clock and were no longer timing.  .3 miles to go.  Christy was pissed.  I was drained and it almost sucked the last ounce of motivation.  Once I got to the end, I was pissed.  But also too beat to care.  Now I'm looking back and really wishing I had a clue what my official time was.  My estimate is 2 hours 25 minutes.

We hobbled to the car.  I had to go down a short flight of steps and it was torture.  Getting to the car and sitting down to take off my shoes was painful but also amazingly wonderful.

One of the best things about the run was that I never had the muscle pain I normally have.  Since going minimalist, the arches, ankles, knees never bother me but I started having really tight calves and would have to stretch after the first and second mile or so.  This long run... never had an issue with my calves!  Instead, my hips were (and still are) sore. 

My form fell apart pretty hardcore by the end because I was so exhausted.  But I think I kept it together pretty well for most of the run.

The drive home was miserable.  Christy and I were complaining the whole time.  I was mad about being so miserable because I wanted to celebrate and feel proud.  But I was cold and sore and tired and just wanted to be home and in a hot shower.

And it was an amazing shower.  Washed my hair and then put the bath stopped in and poured some epsom salt in the tub to soak my feet.  Aaaaaaaah.....

Out of the shower and it was time to go drive the van for 2 hours to pick up the kids.  That was hard.  Run 9.3 miles the first half of the day and then sit in a car and drive for the second half of the day. 

But I was so glad to see the kids.  My mom was exhausted.  It always makes me feel a little better when my kids wear out my mom and she expresses that she had no time to get anything done around the house.  Validates my life a little bit, you know?  I got my fill of hugs and snuggles and kisses and then was pretty quickly overwhelmed by their energy again.

Here's the misadventures from just a 2 hour drive home:

1. I promised the kids that if they used their very best manners at the special dinner we had with my grandparents, I would drive thru Dunkin' Donuts on the way home.  I wanted coffee for the drive and I also wanted to treat myself with a donut.  However, the place was practically out of donuts!  Zach got the last chocolate donut.  Teagan had her first ever jelly donut.  I got no donut.  Which is really fine.  But given that I burned over 2,500 calories that morning and had eaten less than 1,000 calories all day long... I was looking forward to that treat. 

2.  Zach urgently needed to go poop when we were just 15 minutes from home.  Pulled off the highway and found a gas station.  Get inside, pants down and- uh oh!  He thought he'd had gas but... nope.  Accident.  Got him cleaned up, introduced him to "going commando," and we were back on our way.  Home for an oatmeal bath- which freaked him out at first- to soothe the redness from where he sat in poo.

But there is always a silver lining.

I ran in a low point of health.  But my breathing was better.  I feel like just the little bit of dietary changes and the iron supplements could possibly be helping just a little already and that has me excited to see where my energy is in a month (iron supplementation takes 4-6 week to really impact the blood). 

I ran in really, really, really crappy weather.  I hated running in that rain, in that thunder and lightning.  Hated it.  But that means that almost any other weather conditions will be awesome in comparison on the day of the Mini.

I found what I think is a good plan for fueling for longer runs.  I had those few bites of a bagel just to get something solid in my stomach.  Christy gave me a chocolate Boost in the car (360 calories and loaded with vitamins and minerals).  Had a bottle of 5 Hour Energy (cannot drink coffee before a run or else...).  Had a lightly diluted Gatorade post game protein recovery for my during the run fuel (I'm guessing I consumed about 60 calories there). 

The weird part... I had no interest in eating after the race.  I grabbed a banana at the finish line.  Ate it.  Didn't want a cookie or bagel.  Didn't feel dehydrated in the slightest so didn't even take a water.  And didn't feel like eating until I was about to hit the road to drive to Ohio- 2 hours after the race.  Ate a grilled chicken sandwich from Wendy's, drank a diet coke (a rare choice for me but I wanted caffeine).  Got to Cincy and had a handful of popcorn at my mom's.  Didn't eat again until dinner at 5:00 and that was also the first time I felt actually hungry.  Had some orange slices, a small cup of chicken noodle soup, and a piece of white fish with a cream sauce and some fake crab (we ate at a dining room in a retirement home with a controlled menu so it was pretty dang healthy).  Would've had green beans but Zach ate every single one of them.  Then had my 32 oz mocha with coffee from Dunkin' Donuts.  My single splurge.  I look back over my eating and calorie burn and am just... floored!

I also expected to be exhausted but I am typing this at 10 pm and am not quite ready to give in and go to sleep just yet.  Need to because I've got a busy morning ahead of me with the kids and church. 

And the best silver lining of all was this gorgeous sky as I left Cincinnati.  The sun was determined that it was going to break through the storm clouds!




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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Six Words: 15K

15K Today.
Started my period.
Sucks.


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Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Fragments- Insanity Edition

Mommy's Idea

It's Friday, Friday- Gotta Fragment on Friday
Everybody's lookin' forward to my Fragments, Fragments

Fragmentin', fragmentin' (yeah)
Fragmentin', fragmentin' (yeah)
Mrs. Four Four Four Four
Lookin' forward to my Fragments!


The drive to Ohio was fine.  The drive home from Ohio was fine.  Dropping off the kids was fine.  Going to music team at church was fine.  Hanging out with Jennifer after music team was great!  Coming home to a quiet house was great!  Sleeping with the bed all to myself was great!  Waking up refreshed after a complete night's sleep was amazing!  I'm starting to really understand why my mom made sure I spent a week with my grandparents every summer and often over winter break, too...

*~*~*~*~*

I have a new post up at FitCity today!! It's an update about the healthy food at my kids' preschool.  It's a follow up to the post I wrote at the start of the school year.  Check it out- even better would be if you left me a comment!

*~*~*~*~*

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to complete a 15K.  Say what?!?!?  Do you know how far 15 kilometers is??  9.3 MILES.  I'm not feeling awesomely confident about this.  I'm a little anxious, a little excited, and really hoping I feel great after finishing because that will then be a great confidence booster for the half marathon.  You know... that half marathon that is less than 30 days away!!  ACK!  This is that Insanity part... I'm really starting to question my sanity about this whole running long distances thing.

*~*~*~*~*

Dear marketers, If you are going to approach a blogger about doing advertising for your company/product/service, please be aware that bloggers are not stupid and that there are many of us who won't be so in awe of a name brand contacting us that we are willing to provide free advertising for a product we know nothing about, have never used, aren't being offered, and aren't being paid for.

Dear bloggers, Please don't feed those marketers!  Your space is valuable- it's like a billboard on the information highway.  Value your space and your readers and seek out mutually beneficial relationships!

Thank you.

*~*~*~*~*



OK, maybe not much of a vlog attempt.  And not a great conolation prize unless you're really eager to know random stuff about me.  Ah well... 

Have a great weekend!!  Anything fun going on?
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

FitCity: Little Explorers: A Healthy Menu


In September, I blogged about the changes made at my kids’ preschool in regards to having a healthier environment.  Healthier food, more activity.  I promised that I would follow up to see where things were later in the year.  I have- and I’m excited to share some healthy food information!

There is a new cook at the school.  Her name is Caryn Allen.  Caryn has a catering company called Casserollin’ so she is skilled in cooking for groups.  And she is definitely skilled.

When I see the weekly menus, I drool.  I’ve tried suggesting that the leftovers from lunch be packed up and made available as brown bag leftover lunches for parents to buy at the end of the day.  I’ve been there when she is cooking and it smells delicious.  It smells like my mom’s kitchen.  You know that smell?  Real food… comfort food… cooking in the kitchen. 

Here are some examples of the lunches that Caryn serves:
  • Meatloaf, corn, dinner roll, fresh fruit
  • Breakfast burritos (eggs, sauage, cheese in soft shell) with salsa, Hashrounds, fresh fruit
  • Pulled pork BBQ on bun, sweet potato fries, fresh fruit
  • Nachos, salad (lettuce, carrots, tomato), fresh fruit
  • Spaghetti and meatballs, fresh fruit, breadstick
The best part?  Caryn knows how to get veggies into these kids.  She is divinely skilled with spinach.  She adds spinach to the meatballs and the kids never know.  Those nachos?  It’s chips and the meat they dip into is black beans, ground beef, and corn.  When the school celebrated Dr. Seuss and she was tasked with making Green Eggs and Ham, she didn’t use any artificial coloring to create those green eggs.  I was so inspired by her green eggs that I took her idea and created a casserole (I’ll share the recipe in a bit).

According to Caryn, the kids will always eat well (asking for multiple servings) when she serves any kind of breakfast for lunch, BBQ chicken pizza, spaghetti and meatballs (with spinach enriching those meatballs), and tacos or nachos.  Most surprising to her is how much all the kids have come to love caesar salad!  Another observation she’s had is that when a “good” eater sits next to another good eater- they both eat well.  But the picky eaters tend to bring down the borderline eaters to a picky level.  To me, that’s exactly what plays out at home.  When kids have parents and siblings who eat well, eat healthy, try new foods, they are more likely to have a healthier diet and be good eaters.

I had the pleasure of eating lunch with my kids at school recently.  Caryn made teriyaki chicken, teriyaki rice, broccoli, and fresh fruit in a yogurt and honey sauce.  The chicken had pineapple on it.  The yogurt was sweetened and flavored by Caryn.  I cleaned my plate!! 

Caryn has gotten rid of the last items that still contained high fructose corn syrup- she’s even found a Log Cabin pancake syrup that doesn’t contain it!  She is committed to serving fresh fruit- there were 4 fresh pineapples in the kitchen when I spoke with her.  The fruit I had included fresh banana, kiwi, melon. 

I’m pretty picky about what my kids eat.  I’m up front with them about sugary junk versus healthy options.  We talk openly in our house about sugary junk being a rare treat.  We talk about how chicken helps your muscles and cheese helps your bones and carrots help your eyes and so on.  I love knowing that they are served a healthy, balanced meal at school.  I love knowing that the food on that plate is very similar to what I serve the kids at home.

Something really exciting is that Caryn is working with the school’s owner/director, Lori Lorenz, to develop more food into the curriculum in the classroom and in the upcoming summer camp program.  The classrooms have learning play centers and there is talk about incorporating a cooking/food center with a focus on fruits and veggies and healthy foods.  This summer, Caryn wants the kids to learn to make a simple breakfast for their families, to measure water and flour and such, and wants to introduce fun foods like fondue.  (No, grown ups can’t sign up for the camp… yes, I asked.)

The big concern about healthy food is always the money spent.  According to Lori, the spending and savings still hasn’t changed.  She says Caryn is skilled at buying on sale, with coupons, and so on.  She says that there are times Caryn will come in with bags and bags and bags of food and a receipt as long as her arm and the total is practically a drop in the bucket.  It is possible to eat healthy on a budget!

I do believe I promised you a recipe.  This is an adaption of a recipe a friend shared and the tricks Caryn used to green up those eggs.

I used about 3/4 bag of refrigerated hash browns, I bought diced ham and sauteed it with some chopped onion. I put the hash browns in a casserole dish then the onion/ham on top, took a handful of shredded cheese and layered that on the meat. In a blender, I combined 8 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 2 handfuls of baby spinach, and the meaty green parts of about 4 green onions. Pour over the casserole. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top and then bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. I took it out and cut into it and it was still watery so cooked it about 10 more minutes.  The casserole fed 2 adults breakfast for a week.  It was super easy and yummy when reheated and with the spinach and eggs, this is a great source of protein, iron, Vitamin A, and calcium.

Special thanks to Little Explorers for letting me be part of the changes made this year!


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To Grandmother's House We Go!

Short post. Busy couple of days. But so eager for them!

Today, Jeff is off on a gaming weekend with a couple of his buddies. I had a scheduling conflict. 15K event on Saturday, no husband to stay with the kids, hate to try to find someone willing to watch my kids at 6:30 in the morning on a Saturday. It's spring break here so Teagan doesn't have school. The kids are having fun at their school- but it's more like Spring Break Camp. This means there is no school, lessons, etc to miss.

I'm taking my kids to Grandma's house. I will have true time alone. I can seriously barely contain my excitement. It isn't like I'll have a lot of free time. I have to rush back from Ohio for music team practice. I have to go to work on Friday. I have to go run 9.3 miles on Saturday morning. And I will have a bed to myself. And I won't have to make dinner for anyone. And I won't have to rush anyone out the door. And I won't have to fight over what shirt goes with which skirt. And I won't have to convince anyone to eat just a few more bites. And I won't have to wrangle anyone at bedtime. And I won't have to cut someone else's food before my own. And I don't have to be home by any certain time or bear responsibility for anyone's care before my own wants.

I will miss my kids and my husband.

A little...

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