Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You've Got A Friend

I spent a lovely evening with 2 of my girlfriends last night. One has just been smacked with a break up- the end of an engagement and the discovery of some lies and a messy situation. She'll be fine but 3 days after it all happened, she needed a fun night out filled with a little wine, a lot of sushi, and an enormous amount of laughter. I'm very fortunate to have friends that I know I can call on for exactly that. I have a friend who will fight to save my marriage if I ever get so low that I feel like I have to get out without really strong cause. She and I have this same passionate foundation about marriage, kids, and divorce. I take great comfort in knowing there is someone in our lives who know Jeff and I well enough that she can step in and intervene if things are ever in a really dark and desperate place. I have a friend that is everything I need in an understanding parenting resource. In so many ways, she is the parent I strive to be. She is so deeply connected to her child and I truly love that about her. She has a similar passionate foundation about parenting- our philosophies are almost identical. I have a friend who lives far away but is connected to my soul. No matter what is going on in my life or in his life, I know that a phone call and a tone of voice and he will know or I will know and there doesn't have to be a lot of explaining or questions. We just know. We've had this deep connection since we met. Our lives have taken vastly different paths and I am so amazingly proud of him- and I know that he is so amazingly proud of me, too. I have a friend who I learn so much about just from being near her energy. We know each other mostly online but have gotten our kids together a couple of times. She has a child with autism and her grace and patience are amazing. She just plain old "gets it." I learn so much from her in every interaction and am so blessed to know her. She's one of those people that I know I could call on for just about anything- she would literally give the shirt off her back. I have a friend that I don't get to see as often as I would like. We meet for breakfast from time to time to connect and catch up. We e-mail and talk on the phone sometimes, too. There isn't regular contact but we do enjoy each other's company every time we are together. In many ways, we are very different from each other. But in really important ways, we are very much the same. I have a friend I met in high school but didn't really become close to until college. We don't live in the same city so we don't get to see each other often. But we have reconnected as adults, as mothers, as wives. We make an effort to stay connected and to even get our families together for fun and quality time. She is smart and funny, as is her husband. She is strong and loving. She is whimsical and fun. I have a friend who is passionate about life and spirituality. I have a friend who is loving and kind beyond measure. I have a friend who has fortitude and chutzpah beyond most anything I've ever encountered. I have a friend with seemingly boundless energy that she uses in a positive way. I am so very blessed to have all of these amazing people in my life. I have a husband who is my everyday everything- my soul mate, my best friend, my lover, my partner. I have friends through a variety of places- blogging, church, a local moms' website, a national moms' website, work. I have friends from a variety of backgrounds. I have friends living a wide variety of different lifestyles. I have friends I can hug, hold, laugh with, cry with... I have shoulders to lean on and arms that are open to me at any time. It's amazing to look around you and really recognize how much love is in your life. Have you ever stopped to really inventory the blessings of the people in your life? From deep, passionate, strong friendships to casual, fun, important acquaintances... our connections to other people are what make life tick. To all my friends, every single one of you, I love you and am so thankful to have you in my life in any capacity. Photobucket

Monday, August 30, 2010

You Are Beautiful

We were doing some grocery shopping at Target the other day. Sidebar: Yes, I am still shopping at Target. I work for a large company based in Minnesota, too. And it is entirely possible for the corporate powers-that-be and maybe even a singular power to make a decision that I have no input into and I would hate for my job to be put in peril because of the bad decision making of one. I think there is more power in communication, voting, and information. For example, Target offers health benefits to same sex partners of employees who are eligible for benefits. I like to support the LGBT people who work for Target and who continue to work for Target. I believe that those who choose to boycott should absolutely do so. For example, I have a huge list of reasons why I haven't shopped at Wal Mart in 10 years. But I don't hold any judgement against those who continue to shop there, even once they know about the practices and choices of Wal Mart. So we were shopping at Target. And Zach noticed a cardboard yellow school bus filled with apples. I stepped over to investigate and noticed the sign:

Operation Beautiful is similar to what I do with my inspirational notes via Facebook and even on this blog. Several months ago, there were some people on Facebook that wanted to tear me down for my notes. What's funny about it- I just did my little notes because I felt moved to do them. And people started to ask me when I'd do another one because they enjoyed them so much. And if I stopped for a few weeks, someone would ask when they'd see another one go up. And when I'd post one, I'd get comments and messages about how "I really needed to hear this right now." Seeing the note on the sign at Target reminded me that those notes really are important. That note wasn't written specifically for me- but I sure enjoyed seeing it. I even got out my pen and wrote a note back: "Thanks! U 2! :)" How about you? Is there something small you can do today to help someone smile? What if you participated in Operation Beautiful and left a note or shared a note with friends to let them know they are loved, they are beautiful, they are amazing? Need a simple idea that you can do that won't cost a single cent? Photobucket

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Melting Pot

My husband took me to one of my favorite restaurants for dinner. The Melting Pot I fell in love with fondue as a child. My mom made it for us. I remember her talking about fondue parties and such. I remember my Aunt Liz making fondue for us- it was "real" fondue. Not just melted cheese, but melted cheese with alcohol and garlic and strong flavors. Years later, I ate at The Melting Pot for the first time. I don't remember my first time clearly. But I do remember the 3 times I have now been in the last 6 years. On the occassion of my 30th birthday, a friend arranged a large dinner at The Melting Pot with a group of women from church. I ended up getting stuck working late on a huge project at work and was desperately trying to get out of the office. I rushed across town- they wouldn't seat the party until all were present. I got there and my surprise walked in- Jeff had come to celebrate with us! It was a night of a lot of laughter and story telling. About 3 years later, after expanding our family by one Teagan but not yet expecting there to ever be a Zach, Jeff and I were sent out for a date night and my mom paid for part of it and either Mom or Christy babysat. It was one of our first nights out without her, one of our first date nights. I had wine- maybe even 2 glasses. We sat in a cozy corner table designed for a romantic dinner. We didn't sit across from each other but we sat at the corners of a small table with a high booth surrounding us. We cuddled and talked and the experience was deeply relaxing and connecting. Now I turn 36. My husband knows that I want a night out where I don't have to plan or decide what we are doing or where we are going. I do so much of the planning for our family. My husband also knows that I'm not going to want an ordinary dining experience. We are a family that eats out so I'm used to picking from a menu and having my food brought to me from the kitchen. The Melting Pot was a fantastic meal- but an even better experience- last time. And Jeff worked hard to maintain the sense of surprise. I kept my eyes closed as we drove. He took alternate routes and even took a spin through a few parking lots to throw my sense of direction off track. He led me, eyes closed, from our parking spot into the restaurant. It was the best trust walk ever. He opened the door and I opened my eyes- and was so thrilled! We were led to our table- where a gorgeous red rose was waiting for me. Jeff had arranged for it. *sigh* Like last time, we did The Big Night Out. It's one price for the couple and includes all 4 courses- cheese fondue, salad, main course, and a chocolate fondue dessert. Jeff very graciously told me to order anything I wanted- he would eat any weird stuff I chose with a smile on his face. But I can't enjoy my eating experience if the other person really hates what we're eating. So I did choose items that were friendly for bothh of us. That meant no spin-artichoke fondue. Even the classic swiss might have been too strong for my hubby. We went with the cheddar. It's served with apples, bread, and raw veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots for dipping. It was quite yummy! Can't go wrong with melted cheese and the intense depth of flavors added in by the beer, garlic, and worcestershire. I tried the lettuce wraps for my salad. Jeff had the traditional house salad with ranch dressing. The wraps were tasty and interesting but I would have enjoyed the spinach and mushroom salad better, I think. But who goes to The Melting Pot for the salad?? Up next was the main course. We went with the mojo style of cooking- so many of my favorite flavors! You choose the variety of meat/seafood//fish from the menu and then you choose the cooking style. If flavor scares you, there is a more bland option- basic bouillon. But the mojo style is a chicken bouillon flavored with freshly squeezed orange juice and lime juice (they literally squeeze it in at the table), cilantro, garlic, jerk easoning, and cumin. The entree is served raw and you cook it in the communal pot on the table. Lobster tail, shrimp, steak, ahi tuna, chicken, potsickers, pork. All flavored in a variety of yummy seasonings and flavors- the shrimp was some sort of chili lime, the steak was teriyaki, the tuna was a black sesame encrusted bite of yumminess. You also get a side of veggies- we had potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms- and you cook them in the pot as well. In addition, the food is served with an enormous variety of dipping sauces. My favorite was a special sriracha aioli sauce. After cooking and dipping and eating and trying and savoring... the best part of the meal as to be the dessert! You get to choose from a large variety of options- bananas foster or turtle or plain chocolate (milk dakr, or white). We went for a dark chocolate with marshmallow swirled in- and the flambee it tableside! Whoohoo! You are serve a plate of dippers- strawberries, sliced banana, pound cake, brownie bites, cheesecake, rice krispie treats, and 2 kinds of large marshmallows. I also had 2 martinis- one was a lemmonade and elderflower martini and the other had a lot of fruit flavors. I don't recall the names but they were tasty! Best of all, Jeff and I had 2 solid hours were all we did was sit, relax, talk, eat, drink. There were no demands of being taken to the potty, no complaints about how hot something was, no wrinkled noses at the veggies, no fighting or whining. It's a meal that you don't rush through. It isn't a restaurant where you feel like you have to move along so they can turn the table. It's a place to sit, eat great food, and really enjoy your time and company. It was definitely a great birthday dinner! Photobucket

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Destination: Unknown

Jeff is taking me out tonight. I know that the kids go over to his parents' house around 6 or 6:30. I know there is a reservation at 7:30. I know I should wear a dress. Beyond that, I have no idea where he is taking me! Anyone want to make guesses as to what plans my wonderful husband has planned for me? Photobucket

Friday, August 27, 2010

Feeling Good in My Friday Birthday Afterglow

Mommy's Idea First and foremost- I had an awesome birthday!! The celebrating began Weds night when Christy took me out to Chatham Tap for a glass of wine, appetizer, dessert. We sat outside on the patio and enjoyed the gorgeous evening. Have you noticed the amazing full moon?? It must have been ordered up just for my birthday, right? Same with the incredibly beautiful weather we had here yesterday- blue skies, sunshine, 78 degrees. I received 1 present- a cookbook called Crave by Maureen McKeon. It's amazing. Christy gave it to me. A co-worker friend brought in cinnamon rolls and a birthday balloon. After work, Jeff, Christy, the kids and I had dinner at my favorite sushi place- Wild Ginger. Christy and I also enjoyed a wine tasting at Chateau Thomas (right next door). I received more birthday greetings than I could count. I had at least 2 voicemails of people singing to me, my boss' boss sang to me (briefly), Teagan sang to me and numerous co-workers wished me a happy day. Tonight, I'm going out with a group of friend to celebrate another friend's birthday, too! Best of all is my gift from my husband. I love that man. He is taking me out Saturday night. And I have no idea what we are doing or where we are going. I need to dress up. He's making all the decisions and arrangements- from babysitter to plans. I am so excited and so looking forward to it. This is seriously something I've wanted for a long time!! Birthday celebrations and expressions of love and caring make me feel good! ***** I found a great way to look thin in pictures! Check it out! Position yourself behind beautiful flowers! Family pictures make me feel good!

My Aunt Kathy wanted me to make sure that everyone who read the iPad post knows that she isn't an old lady. She sent me a recent pic that shows her lovely smile- and her entire tomato harvest from her backyard garden. All 2 cherry tomatoes!

My Aunt Kathy and her 2 tomatoes make me feel good!

***** I know a single mom who is really struggling right now and I don't know the best way to help her. Time and money. Too many jobs, not enough down time, expenses coming up for her child that might stress the budget. Minimal help from the father. It hurts my heart to see her struggling and I wish I could do something for her. She's come a long way in the past year and the road certainly isn't easy but she is strong and courageous. Women like her make me feel good. ***** Do youhave a post you wrote this week that you are really proud of? Something that... if a new reader came along, THIS is the post you'd want them to read because it really refelcts you or your blog? If so, link up tomorrow for Saturday Sampling hosted by Mrs4444. I've found some great reads out there through this meme!! Connecting to others through their words makes me feel good! ***** I posted a series of links and videos this week and there was a YouTube video of an animation done for the StoryCorps project that NPR does. It's an amazing series- I love it. And that video, which I sincerely hoped you clicked over and watched, touched me so very deeply- Danny and Annie. Anytime there are people who can love each other through difficult, impossible times... even if it means they don't both get to come out of it together... it's deeply touching and it's what I hope and believe I have in my marriage. StoryCorps has another one that touched me- this time, a husband and wife talking about his early stages of Alzheimer's and how it impacts him and their marriage. Please go listen if you can. You can read it but to listen to it, you really get the emotion between these 2 people. Love in the truest sense- love that is chosen in hard times- makes me feel good. ***** Photobucket

Thursday, August 26, 2010


For my birthday, I want:
A date night with my husband
A night out with friends
My birth story as told by my mom
More followers and oodles and oodles of comments
An iPad. Not really.
Lots of hugs and kisses from my kids
Random strangers singing birthday songs to me
Rainbows, unicorns, and happiness for all!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mission Statement

Saturday evening, I was very flattered to be invited to a casual get together of some women bloggers who had attend the Blog Indiana conference held last week. There were Twitterers and bloggers of all variety at this get together of about 15 women.

I sat next to Heather of Just Heather and the founder of Inexpensively. She is an outrageously fun woman! She is so full of energy that is absolutely contagious and she is smart as a whip when it comes to all things social media. I had a lot of laughs sitting next to her and also gained some knowledge.

There was one bit of advice she gave me that I've actually been mulling over for a while now. It's something I've certainly heard before but never actually tried to do.

Develop a mission statement.

As Heather said, it doesn't have to be published, it doesn't have to be grand. But it helps you stay focused on why you do what you do.

I've thought about it before but I guess I'd always had a hard time figuring out what my purpose was in this blogging thing.

I started it on a whim; actually, I was forced into by Christy. But I love it and I keep going so there must be some reason, some purpose.

There are blogs dedicated to weight loss and fitness. There are blogs detailing the experiences of women escaping domestic violence situations. There are blogs dedicated to bringing a face and voice to homelessness. There are travel blogs and RVing gay couples on a year long adventure across the country blogs. There are cooking blogs and journal blogs and parenting blogs of every ilk. There aer humor blogs and political blogs and education blogs and military blogs and religious blogs that run the spectrum.

Where on earth do I fit into all of that?

I'm a mom so does that mean I'm a Mommy Blogger? I talk about my faith so does that mean I'm a Religion Blogger? I sometimes talk about current social issues and my opinions on them so does that make me a Political Blogger? I'm very open about my mission to become a Healthier Me and I even blog for FitCity Indy so does that mean I'm a Fitness Blogger?

It struck me on Saturday, as I studied the women who surrounded the table, that I don't have to fit into any sort of category in order to realize my mission. As I met most of the women and talked with them about blogging and life and kids and jobs, it struck me that the joy I get from blogging is the connections I make with other people.

Over the past few years, I find that I easily unfollow someone on Twitter or that I stop reading their blog if I never feel that any effort is made to connect back. It doesn't have to be a reply to every comment or an e-mail back for every comment. It doesn't have to be commenting on every blog post I write. It doesn't have to be a constant Twitter-fest or daily comments on my Facebook page. Don't get me wrong- I love all of that! And I do my best to give those connections back to people.

What I don't understand is when zero effort is made to connect back to a reader who has made the effort to reach out to you. I get it with the really big bloggers- that homeschooling mom on a ranch or that mom who has been on Oprah and just bought a new house thanks to her blogging career. When you get hundreds of comments on a single post or your contests receive thousands of entries, it's tough to connect back. That's when writing style is what really connects you, I think.

But when you aren't a big national sensation and you still look to your local network to lift you up and you really depend on each and every reader to be part of your blog... give back a little!

I started blogging because I had something I wanted, even needed, to put out here. For whomever to find. Sometimes, it's a light hearted something. Sometimes, it's a serious topic. Sometimes it's about my kids. Sometimes about my marriage. Sometimes even about working.  I put my thoughts and experiences and opinions and philosophies and fun times out here on my personal blog. I've never had a goal in mind of what was to come of it. In all honesty, I never dreamed I'd have readers beyond Christy and Jeff.

My mission statement?

To write in an open, honest, and true voice about my life and thoughts. In so doing, I will connect with other people both local and global. Through these connections, I can become a better person and possibly help someone else better themselves as well.

And so, dear readers, I turn the floor to you. Do you agree with my mission statement? Am I fulfilling my mission?



Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Links and Fun Stuff

I have come across a plethora of interesting or fun or deeply moving stuff online recently so I just had to come and share it here. *** First, an artist who isn't to be missed! His name is James Hance and he does amazingly fun mash ups of things like Star Wars & Winnie the Pooh or the Muppets & Star Wars. My personal fave was on his Paintings/Prints page of Superman and Super Grover. Such fun stuff!! Go spend a few minutes and you will be grinning from ear to ear! *** Yesterday, I logged into iGoogle and my YouTube widget was this guy from a blog called haRdLy NOrMal who posts videos under invisiblepeopletv on YouTube (and there is an InvisiblePeople website, too). His name is Mark and he has experienced homelessness and is now working to bring a face and voice to the rapidly growing problem of homelessness in this country. The stories he shares are amazing and several of the videos moved me to tears. Bookmark it and start watching when you have time to be focused and moved. You won't regret clicking over, I promise. Hopefully, you will be moved deeply enough that you will want to share this project, too. *** Many people have heard of Antoine Dodson by now. He was on the news after the attempted rape of his sister. He very passionately addressed the criminal via news camera. The Gregory Brothers saw it and did their auto-tune magic to it. They typiclly use their tricks on politicians and newscasters. However, the Antoine Dodson magic is being sold on iTunes and has hit the Billboard charts at #85! Antoine has even started his own webpage and is hoping to make enough money from all of this to get him and his family out of the projects. Best part? I learned about it from NPR. *** I'm not much of a football fan. I'm not really much of a sports fan in all honesty. But I follow enough to know the current events and I frequent enough restaurants that air ESPN non-stop that I tend to hear the top stories. Plus, Jeff is a sports guy and he keeps me in the loop as well. You'd have to be living under a rock to not know all the Brett Favre retirement stuff- retiring and then not and then so and then not and then so and then... you get the idea. I came across this funny video... *** And after all those smiles and laughs, I want to leave you with something that will leave you smiling amidst many tears. This is a truly magical and real story about love and marriage. I think we all want what these 2 people have had the joy of experiencing. I think there is an important lesson, too- love is an action and both of them are action oriented people who put in the effort to make their marriage what it is. It is too wide to embed so please click over to YouTube and watch StoryCorps' Danny and Annie. May we all be so blessed to know such deep love and devotion at some point in our lives. *** Photobucket

Monday, August 23, 2010

iPad: Bridging Generations

I have had no desire to get an iPad. None. Even when Pioneer Woman does a giveaway... if the prize is an iPad, I'm just really not all that interested. I enter with the intent of selling it or something. I've never wanted an iTouch or iPhone or iWhatever. But I learned a little something about technology this weekend. My Aunt Kathy had come from San Francisco to Cincinnati for this get together. My Aunt Martha and Uncle Jesse came from the Lexington, KY area. Last week was my Grandpa's birthday, my parent's 26th wedding anniversary, my brother's 18th birthday, and my birthday is coming up very soon. So late August is a great time to get together and celebrate! Aunt Kathy, towards the end of our visit, brought out her iPad. She apparently bought it somewhat recently, partially in preparation for this trip. It's smaller than I had anticipated. She had a nice little holder for it, too. First, she wooed Teagan and my Grandma with a funny cat app that I also have on my Droid. You can feed him, pet him to make him purr, or do mean stuff to him. The app also records noise around it and repeats it back in a funny voice for the cat. Much hilarity ensued. Next, Aunt Kathy let Teagan play with the Toy Story app. It had finger painting pages where Teagan could pick a color and then run her finger on the screen to apply that color to the Toy Story image. Very cool. But best of all was this Cat in the Hat app. Teagan could turn the pages with a swipe across the screen. She could read the words to her Great-Grandma and Great-Aunt Kathy. Or she could tap the words and the narrator would read the page for her. Best of all, my daughter, thanks to my Aunt Kathy and this new-fangled iPad, spent some quality time in an exciting and intriguing way with my Grandma. The brightness of the screen made the image easier for my Grandma to see the pages than if they'd been reading a paper copy. I almost hate saying that. I've been pretty anti-Kindle and iPad for the simple fact that I love holding a book in my hand. But knowing that there are true advantages- and having to admit that the advantages could go far beyond my limited experience and expectations- makes it a more appealing product.
And what was Zach doing during all of this fun? Was Zach enjoying some coloring or book reading on this techie device?
Nope. He'd had a busy day! He was tuckered! One of the teachers at school loves the way Zach falls alseep on his cot. He sucks his thumb but lays on his back so his thumb starts to slooooowly slide out of his mouth. He fish hooks himself a few times before totally falling into a deep sleep. Then he lays all sprawled out and adorable.
He did take some advantage of technology for his naptime. You will notice he's snoozing on a rolling, adjustable chair designed for video gaming. We attempted a bed on the couch but my brother Daniel was taking it over (heehee). My mom made a great nest in a recliner for him but he kept sliding off of it. He eventually came to this funny little thing and decided it was enough like a school nap cot that he could make do...
Technology can bridge the gap between generations. Who knew?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Missing Out? Nah...

I am a happy and content person. I love my life. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love my husband and kids and even admit to not hating my job. I'm secure in who I am and my purpose in life. I feel fulfilled in my relationship with God. I like me- I love me! I like how normal my life is... especially when I look back at the chaos of my past. There was a time that I never could have imagined life being as normal as it is now. I live in the suburbs, have 2 kids and a dog, drive a minivan and one of those kids even played soccer! I work in a middle management type job in corporate America. My husband works on computers. We are solidly middle class and very average, normal, content, secure, and happy. I've worked very hard to get to such a normal place. In my past, there has been chaos and turbulence and emotional unrest. I've received diagnoses and been hospitalized and there are years of therapy tucked away behind me. I have stories I could tell about the things done to me, the things I lived through, and how I survived it all. But what I love is that life went from such insanity to such normalcy and I have nothing but deep appreciation for that. Really. I do. But... There is a part of me that gets a little jealous. A little wistful. Feels a little bit of longing... Life is all about choices and sometimes, the choice that is what I want and that is best for me and my family is still not always the easiest choice to make. Sometimes, other choices aren't even really an option but it's still nice to dream about and wish I could... I know that there may be people who look at my life and maybe see me as having and doing the things they want to have and do. They very well may be just as satisfied and content with their lives- but something about my choices is attractive to them. I have friends who have been attending a 2 day blogging and social media conference for Indiana bloggers. I couldn't justify the time off of work to attend Friday's session. I'm committed to a family event all day Saturday so can't attend that day, either. There is a group of women from my church who are attending a large overnight conference in downtown Indy this weekend that I would truly love to have been part of- for the experience the conference had to offer and also for the time with the amazing women that I call my church family. I couldn't even think of going to BlogHer because Jeff was out of town for GenCon at the same time. I have friends who meet up for dinner and drinks multiple times each week. They throw parties for each other. I'm just outside of this group- still connected but not in the same way I once was. And even if I was- I'm a mom now. I can't manage a night out until midnight during the week- or even on the weekend for that matter. I can't get drunk and crash on someone else's couch or expect someone else to get me home. I can't spend money every week on dinners in restaurants where meals don't come with a drink and a free toy or at least crayons. I have a friend who is about to jet off to Paris for 2 weeks and I'm going to miss her like crazy. It's going to be weird without her being a daily part of my life for those 2 weeks. I also wish I could go off on a trip and explore a place that is new to me- full of new places and art and food and people. But at the same time, I can't imagine going off and spending a significant amount of money on myself and not including my family, my kids, in the experience. Life is all about choices. I wouldn't give up what I have for a trip to Paris or a chance to go to BlogHer. I wouldn't miss a day with my grandparents, seeing my kids with their great-grandparents, my aunts, my family for a day at a blogging conference. I wouldn't give up my kids' college funds for dinners out with friends. I might sometimes feel a bit wistful for that "glamorous" side of living... but I am going to keep choosing the normal I've fought so hard to achieve and live. And I will keep enjoying the stories and tales that others share of their adventures, meals, drinks, parties, and trips. It's really the best way to live the best of both worlds. At least for now. Photobucket

Friday, August 20, 2010

Focusing on Feeling Good in Fragments

Mommy's Idea Click above to visit our hostesses- and I hope you join in on the fun! I'm having to search a little to find some feel good fragments as I write this Thursday evening. It's been a tough day- I've watched several friends get pretty deeply hurt and angry over things said in an online forum. I don't know if the computer gives people false courage to say things or if it's a matter of not coming across the right way or some big mix of all of it. But it certainly seems like underlying, deeply entrenched truth can come out when certain fear-triggering words and topics come up and then good people get hurt. It sucks. Taking some time to focus on the things this week that left me feeling good is exactly what I need. 1. I got to go to the Indiana State Fair two more times!! Jeff and I took the kids down for dinner and fun on Tuesday evening. Christy and I went and spent our annual long day on Wednesday. We start the day with the FFA pancake breakfast and then take our time enjoying anything and everything! We spent 3 hours in the Home and Family Arts Building, enjoying all of the baked goods on display, painted artowrk, photography- all the work of Hoosiers. 2. I got the green light for a FitCity blog idea that I came up with. It's going to take work and research and phone calls... and I am very eager to work on it! 3. Sometimes, it's great fun to rediscover the art of cuddling. 4. Both kids have had fantastic weeks at school and at home. Teagan is struggling a little at the end of the day- but her body is adjusting to not being able to nap in the afternoon. She gave up naps at home at least a year ago. And even though she fought them at school and tried to set up a system to no thave to take one- she slept hard for 2 hours every day. No naps in Kindergarten, though! Zach starts the preschool program on Monday and we go to meet the teacher and see the classroom on Sunday. 5. We are heading to Cincinnati for a family gathering and I am very much looking forward to it. My grandparents have moved to Cincinnati and are living in a retirement community close to my parents. My Aunt Kathy is coming from San Francisco and my Aunt Martha is coming from Lexington and my brothers will both be there and there will be great food and great company. My kids are really eager to go visit- it's all they've been talking about! 6. Happy Birthday to my little brother, Daniel! 18 years old today. I remember when he was born! I remember so much of his growing up! I can't believe he is a legal adult and starting his senior year of high school and working on figuring out what he wants to do with his life. And I just have to share this pic I snagged of the back of a pick-up truck on my way the other day! How about you? How has your week been? Photobucket

Thursday, August 19, 2010

FitCity: How To Run

Today you will find me at FitCity Indy - blogging about how to run! I've been learning a lot over the past few months about running barefoot, minimalist running, Pose technique, Chi running, and more. It would mean a lot to me if you would click over, read, and leave a comment!


March 1, I started a journey to become a Healthier Me.  I set a goal to run the Fishers Freedom Festival 5K.  Achieving that goal meant changing my eating habits pretty drastically and before I knew it, my lifestyle had changed. 

For those early months, I had an awesome routine and I felt great about it.  I was eating clean, I was exercising my recommended 60 minutes per day, I was working my way through theCouch to 5K program.  I dropped 2 clothing sizes and pretty much marveled at how my body was changing and strengthening.

After running my first 5K and getting so much out of that experience, I knew 2 things.  1. I needed a brief break from running.  2. I needed to learn more about how to run.

I took a solid 2 week break with no running.  During that time, I spent a lot of time reading and researching running form and training methods.  I picked up a couple of books about running-Chi Running and Run Like A Mother.  I read Gordon Pirie’s Running Fast and Injury Free.  I researched the Pose and Evolution methods of running.  I started to learn a lot about minimalist and barefoot running.  I remember posting here on FitCity when I saw a barefoot runner at theSubway Fun Run with Jared and now I wish I would have gone up and talked to him.  I watchedvideo after video after video and was very excited to listen to a radio show on the subject.

I decided to change my running form.  I wanted to be faster and I wanted to run in a more natural style (like kids run) and I wanted to run in such a way that would better prevent injury.

I started to really focus on how my foot hits the ground.  The more I learned and read about the heel strike, mid-foot strike, and forefoot strike, the more I knew I needed to make a change. 

I started to focus on my arms pulling back instead of pumping forward.

I started out barefoot in the grass.  Running barefoot really connected me to my body and how it works.  I could clearly tell the difference between the times my heel would strike the ground first and when I would land on my forefoot.  When I ran with my running shoes on, I was almost disconnected from my feet because they were so padded.  I was losing the most sensory part of my running gear- my feet.  I would run for 60 seconds in the grass and then walk to recover.  I basically did Week 1 of the Couch to 5K program twice in the grass, barefoot.  And it felt good and it felt right and I felt like I connected in a different way.

I’m not aiming to become a barefoot runner.  I’m not willing to shell out the money for a pair ofVibrams, either.  But I did search for new, lighter shoes. 

I found lighter shoes.  I had been running in a pretty chunky shoe with lots of cushioning that was designed to help with my pronation.  However, if I don’t heel strike, pronation isn’t an issue.  Heavy, chunky shoes add weight to my feet and make it more of a burden to lift my foot as I run.

I’ve basically had to start from square one with my running.  My body is healthier and stronger now.  But this new way of running is naturally faster so my endurance has to be relearned and strengthened all over again.  I’m learning how to breathe and how to control my pace all over again.

The most important thing that I have learned is that there is only one way to absolutely, completely, totally fail.  There is only one thing that guarantees success vs failure.  With all the reading and researching and watching and listening about foot strike and posture and knees and arms and breathing and gear and shoes and trails and hills and injuries and so on, there was one thing that I took away from all of it as the single most important key to running.  Truly, if anyone follows this one thing that I’ve learned, anyone can become a runner.

You have to start.

If you don’t choose to go out and run, it really doesn’t matter how you foot strike or how straight your posture is or how bent your knees are.  If you don’t get on the treadmill or get out into the street and put one foot in front of the other, it won’t matter how you breathe or what your cadence is or how many steps per second you are taking.

In order to learn how to run, you have to get up and start running.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Dinner Flow

Monday night, I had planned one of Teagan's favorite meals to celebrate her first day of Kindergarten. My kids hate spaghetti. Yes, it's really weird. Teagan won't touch spaghetti, Zach kind of tolerates it. However, they eat lasagna and they eat ravioli. Jeff and I enjoy spaghetti- however, his acid reflux can prevent him from enjoying tomato sauce so he has to limit pasta dishes and pizza sometimes. I have to admit that I haven't been cooking dinner lately. A good week for cooking means I've actually made dinner once a week- and then I'm doing really easy and fast meals. There are a lot of reasons for this. I hate heating up my kitchen when the house is warm from the hot sun. I prefer to have my time at home be spent with my family instead of me stuck in the kitchen. But the biggest reason is that I cook to please people and when my cooking doesn't please anyone, I stop doing it. It's my own personal hang up, I know. But there is something so special about making something that you know you make really well and that you know is a favorite dish of someone you love and you know that making this special, yummy dish is a sign of love and affection towards that person. It's a way of making them feel special, of showing them that they matter to you. I have a lot of memories of food made especially for me or seeing food be prepared lovingly specifically for someone. My Grandma did it (strawberry bavarian cream, shrimp cocktail, 7-Up, split pea soup) and my Mom does it (Ryan's potatoes, Jeff's angel food cake, Martha's cheesecake)- and I do it, too. Cooking is more than just the preparation of nourishment for our bodies. Cooking a meal is a chosen act of love and caring for the people in my family. When that act of love is met with "But I don't like ____" and "it's ok" and "well, there's nothing wrong with it" and "can I just have ____ instead," well, there isn't much drive to continue on that path. I've lost the drive. Monday night, I had planned an Italian dinner. Ravioli for the kids (the cheese filled kind from the refrigerated section- I won't do the canned stuff) and spaghetti for me and Jeff- with freshly grated romano cheese. I had bread from Scholar's Inn- a special Italian style. I was going to make garlic bread and even a special artichoke-parm spread toasted bread for me. Bad sign #1 Jeff's acid reflux had a big flare up so no tomato sauce for him. Bad sign #2 Upon pick up from school, both kids immediately turned their noses up to the idea of ravioli. Bad sign #3 The bread was moldy. Very moldy. So my big Italian dinner plan was done. Not going to happen. Part of me wanted to make the whole big dinner anyway. But I would have just been setting up the family for upset tummies and fights and I'd only end up frustrated and disappointed. So we ended up going home and everyone just ate what they wanted. I still made ravioli for Teagan. She didn't want tomato sauce so I drizzled on some lemon pepper olive oil instead. She helped me grate the romano on top. And then she refused to eat it. So she had watermelon and blueberries for dinner instead. Zach had yogurt, applesauce, and 2 slices of Hormel natural salami and a Trader Joe's blueberry cereal bar. Jeff had leftovers from Texas Roadhouse- steak, green beans, mashed potatoes. I had lemon pepper linguini from the Broad Ripple Farmer's Market. I drizzled with lemon pepper oil and added capers and romano. And everyone was content with their meal. Maybe that's the thing that really matters. We all ate together and each person was satisfied with the food they consumed. I'm proud of myself for being able to go with the flow- the dinner flow. I didn't need to be best or right or have things go my way. I made food for myself that I enjoyed. I prepared food for my family that they enjoyed. We kept our choices healthy. We sat together and ate our food and enjoyed the company as we decompressed from our day. And those are the things that really matter. Photobucket

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How to Celebrate the First Day

Sometimes, I read about other people's traditions and I get a little jealous that I didn't already know about it. There are a few things I've been able to adopt from early on that I can truly call traditions in our family. Every Christmas, the kids open a present on Christmas Eve. This present is new pajamas and that year's ornament. Every summer, we go to the Indiana State Fair and visit the coppersmith in the Pioneer Village. We get cookie cutters made of copper from the kids' hand prints. This is the annual birthday gift we give my mom because her kitchen is decorated in copper. And now we have started First Day of School Traditions. Some of these are things I picked up from others who were already going through the first day back thing. Some are things I saw other kids doing when I was growing up. To be honest, I don't recall any first day of school traditions when I was growing up. Maybe that's part of why I want it to be an exciting event for my kids- because my memories are full of gaps when it comes to starting school each year. First, shopping for school clothes. Nothing starts the year off like a new outfit and new shoes. Second, Teagan got to choose what we did for dinner. She chose the Pizza Hut pizza buffet. Third, we read The Kissing Hand at bedtime. Fourth, Teagan got to choose breakfast- we had cinnamon rolls. Fifth, we took pics on the front steps with Teagan holding a sign stating her name, grade, the year, and the name of her school. Sixth, after a quiet dinner at home (made up of everyone just chowing down on what sounded best to my hungry and tired bunch- dinner was mostly fruit for the kids), we ended the evening with homemade root beer floats. Those are traditions I think we can keep up with year after year. Photobucket

Monday, August 16, 2010


The school district we live in started school last week. Nearby school districts started last week. A few start today and tomorrow. I took great pleasure in watching on Facebook as the morning pictures poured in of kids waiting for the school bus or on the front porch with their back pack. I loved reading the status updates at the end of the day as moms picked up kids and reported back about the classroom, the teacher, the friends. Teagan starts Kindergarten today. There isn't much fanfare, unfortunately. We're making an effort to make it a big deal. Sunday night, Jeff and I read The Kissing Hand to her (thanks to fellow Indy Mom TriciaK for that idea). This morning, we took pictures in her new first day of school outfit, with her backpack on, and holding a little year/date/grade/name sign (thanks to Lana for that idea). I made her a breakfast of her choosing- cinnamon rolls. We will celebrate with homemade root beer floats at the end of the day. We haven't had to buy school supplies- but we did get a pencil box and pencils. We don't have to deal with the bus. We aren't worried about which teacher she will have. Last year, we chose Little Explorers as our preschool. Little Explorers is the best place for our kids and the staff and philosophies of the school are in line with our own. So it made perfect sense that we would want Teagan to lay her educational foundation here- in Kindergarten. One of the main reasons we chose Little Explorers was for Miss Sally. Miss Sally is the Kindergarten teacher and she is a very special woman. I won't get all the facts exactly right- but right enough that you will get the picture. She's been teaching for 35 years. She's been married to her husband a few years longer than she's been teaching. She comes in to school an hour before the day (and I mean the daycare day, not the school day) starts every day. Her husband comes with her and they spend time, together, doing things in her classroom. She brings in classroom pets- Spidey (the *shiver* tarantula), hermit crabs, fish, and a gerbil (or hamster or mouse- some sort of small furry thing)- and she takes them home on weekends. She has fun and fantastic ideas for these little people that are fortunate enough to find themselves in her classroom. Miss Sally has been part of Teagan's life for the past year. She is often the teacher in charge of the early morning kids- before the no-daycare kids show up for the day. So Teagan is already very familiar with her teacher and with the school and with the classroom. There is no bus. Mom and Dad Taxi Cabs, at your service. It's a private school and tuition pays for supplies. In some ways, it feels like we are missing out on some of those "first day of school" experiences. Then I stop and think about the last 5 years and 5 months. I remember her birth and the way she reached out to grab my finger just seconds before they had to take her from me to clear her lungs of possible meconium. I remember the way she nursed. I remember the nights, the long nights, of pacing and pacing with her, trying to keep her content. I remember her need to be so very close to us, as much as possible. I remember her little bald fuzzy head. I remember her first little golden curls. I remember all the ways that she has grown and changed to come to this moment, to this time. She is ready. She is eager. She is excited. She doesn't know what all the year will hold for her. But she loves to learn and she is eager to please. Today, my baby girl starts Kindergarten. There is no fanfare of school supplies and yellow bus trips. But it is still a milestone. It is still an important day, one of a long list of firsts. Photobucket

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Library

We try to make regular treks to the public library. We had fallen out of the habit for a while and went 3 weeks ago. We picked out 8 books and found 4 that were real treasures! The classics are classic for a reason. Madeline is endearing, simple, and tender. You are allowed a lot of imagination and treated to some beautiful scenes of Paris. Madeline is character of a girl- even though we only learn about her in a few lines. Both of my kids loved reading madeline and requested it over and over! We picked up It's Hard to Be Five at the request of one of my blog readers. I can't thank you enough! This book opened my eyes to some of Teagan's behavior and I think it helped her see that she can control the urges and feelings that have been burbling up.
Smash! Crash! was a book I picked up on a whim and kept because it had big trucks so I knew Zach would enjoy it. Both kids loved it! It's a whole little town on truck characters- we intend to look up other titles. We had great fun reading this book and the kids would really get into the smash and crash parts. One morning, Jeff and kids lined up various trucks in the living room and the acted out the book! Truly a fun read!
Ken's Cloud was another book that I just happened to pick up and it is a sweet and creative little tale about a little boy who is bored with his toys so he finds a cloud to come and play in his room. Very imaginative.
We had to return our books on Saturday and didn't have a chance to go in and pick up new books. But we did enjoy some of the books our of our very large home collection at bedtime last night. I'm starting a list of books to look for when we next visit the library. Top of the list is The Story of Ferdinand.
Help me build my list! What other fantastic books should we look for?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thoughts on this Healthier Me Stuff

From time to time, when someone hasn't seen me in a while, or when they see me in a different style of clothing, they will say, "Wow! Skinny! Really! Look at you!" Skinny? Hm. I'm still hanging above the 200 lb mark. And, to be honest, I'm ok with that. I do look different than I did months ago. I think I still haven't fully come to terms with how rotund I was- and how much more rotund I easily could have become. I have heard people talk about being fat and having a skinny person inside who wants out. Sometimes, I feel like I'm becoming this healthy person with an unhealthy person inside who is screaming to be released and reign supreme over my choices again. I have this belly. It used to be a firmly fat and round belly and it is becoming a loose and flabby belly- like a pouch of skin. I look at my thighs when I'm sitting and they are leaner and stronger. My calves and ankles are shapely and strong. I have muscles in my arms that I can feel at random moments. When I do a plank at the gym, I look down and see my toes instead of my stomach. My stomach doesn't brush the floor when I do push ups. When I crunch, my gut doesn't prohibit my movement. I can spend 11 hours walking around the State Fair and not be in severe pain that night or the next day. Last year, I couldn't last that long at the State Fair and I know it was due to my state of minimal fitness. Sometimes, I feel really fat. Sometimes, I feel like I don't know what I'm doing. Sometimes, I think it would just be easier to go back to how I was eating before. Sometimes, I feel very strong and I see an athletic body in the mirror. Sometimes, I feel like I'm in control and on track and pumped for more. Sometimes, I shock myself with how eager I am to run, to lift weights, to sweat. Sometimes, I am super excited about fruits and vegetables. Sometimes, I can't wait to discuss the menu at a restaurant and play the game of figuring out what meal is healthy enough for my standards. Sometimes, I fall head over heels in love with something I've never tried before. But then there are other times that I just want to throw in the towel and eat a Big Mac. Times that I want to grab a half gallon of ice cream, plunk down on the couch with a big spoon, and go to town. I wonder if there needs to be time for mourning in weight loss. I wonder if I need to let go of that fat girl, mourn her. But that feels really scary to think about. So here's where I am now- more than 5 months into this plan. I continue to exercise but my dedication has faltered. I used to go to the gym at lunch and then go home and do another 30 minutes of activity. Now I go to the gym at lunch. I do boot camp 2 times each week and abs blast once a week. I'm still busy and active in everyday life but I'm not making the effort to get that extra 30 minutes in each day and I can really tell the difference. I need to pump it back up. I have cut way back on my running. I read once that some runners need a break after a race. That was, apparently, me. I needed a break. And I took it. And I am very slowly getting back into running. But this time, I am seeking to avoid injury and to improve speed and endurance. I'm working improving my running form. I'm learning from the minimalist runners and from methods like Pose and Chi. I'm wearing a lighter weight shoe and focusing on a fore-mid foot strike instead of a heel strike (which part of your foot hits the ground when you run). I'm focusing on breathing and how my arms work with my running form. I feel like I had a big breakthrough this week when I'd had a stressful morning at work and my huge desire was to go run the tension right out of my body. And I did. So I do feel like I am back on track for running- like my fire has been freshly sparked. Eating is pretty good. I'm not tracking what I eat and I'm not counting calories. If I was weighing in and trying to lose a certain amount of weight, I would do those things. But for now, I'm really just focused on living a generally healthy lifestyle. Yes, I've been going overboard on treats. Yes, I've eaten fried crap at the State Fair. Yes, I've turned to food for comfort. And I'm ok with all of that. I am still working on keeping life focused on healthy choices and living. And I am still struggling through it sometimes. The good news is that it has all become pretty habitual at this point. What I am fighting is my mind. And I don't know how long it takes to win that war. Photobucket

Friday, August 13, 2010

Feeling Fragments. Feeling Good.

Mommy's Idea First, my Feel Good Friday Fragment: Teagan has had an AWESOME week at school. If you are a new visitor to my blog (hi!!!), we've been struggling a lot since the end of June with a very sudden onset of some really yucky and very un-like-our-kid behaviors from our 5 1/2 year old daughter. I blogged about it a lot in July if you are really itnerested. It's all normal stuff- no concern about needing to see a doc or anything. But it's made for a very frustrating summer and there have been times that fun stuff has had to be sacrificed. Ever since last Wednesday, when I laid down the law and flat out told her that the meltdowns and screaming and fighting and hurting others at school is not allowed... things have changed. Thursday at school- perfect. Thursday evening at home- perfect. Friday we went to the Fair and she did great. Saturday ended with a meltdown but she was exhausted and still working through the awesomeness of the previous days. And we've been on a great streak ever since. It hasn't been perfect at home but it has been massively improved. She has gotten daily excellent reports at school- she's back to being the Teagan they knew 2 months ago. She's helpful, thoughtful, kind and considerate. Kindergarten starts on Monday and I'm so glad that we can start it from this better place! *****
Weird pics for the week:
This was captured by phone at the State Fair. Who wears short shorts? He wears short shorts! A parade! Personally, I'd dress up a bit more if I was going down Main St on a tractor... Next 2 are for my bloggy buddy, Garret. (Took this one from the ferris wheel- pretended you might be in one of them. Ha!) ***** If you'd like to see nice pics from the Indiana State Fair, please visit my picture blog. ***** Saw this while driving the other day. Pic doesn't capture it very well. But the image on this van is creepy. I get what compression gear does and what it's for... I just didn't realize people bought them to hide their yeti-hairy-legs and feet. Or that a company would seriously want to advertise themselves with this image! Saw this on our way to our playdate on Saturday- dog hanging out back and ARF on the license plate. Ha!
***** I suppose I can't say too much about it... but Jeff's workplace has been under semi-lockdown all week due to serious and scary threats made by an ex-employee. The company has even had to cancel the Employee Appreciation event at the Indianapolis Zoo this weekend. I'm bummed- but we will still go to the Zoo with the kids since they already knew we were going.


There is a local food truck called West Coast Tacos. They do lunch and dinner service. They announce their location on Facebook and Twitter. I've never been able to try them because it's never convenient for me. But people rave about these tacos. They are coming to Conner Prairie on Saturday for lunch service. We might need to go... Plus, we're members of Conner Prairie and the kids haven't had a good chance to go this summer.


I'm going out with a new group of women tonight! My friend, Emily (met her through blogging), is getting a group of her friends together for food and drinks and fun at Scotty's Brewhouse (one of my favorite establishments) and very kindly invited me to join them. I think I will only know Emily so I'm a little nervous about meeting all these new people... but am really looking forward to martinis and the dessert menu.


Jeff is detailing out the events of the game he played with cast members of the web series The Guild. Go read about it on his blog- This Is Jeffardy.


How has your week been? Any good weekend plans? Photobucket