Monday, November 30, 2015

Racing Through the Holiday

The holidays are quite a challenge for those who are trying to lose weight or get in shape. I would like to say I am doing better at both. However, I am proud to say that I did take advantage of two major opportunities this holiday weekend.

On Thanksgiving morning, Meg at Running Just As Fast She Can hosted the Screw the Turkey Trot I Hate Crowds Virtual Thanksgiving Day 5K/10K. In a virtual race, runners/walkers from all over do their race on their own and then report to the host. I invited friends and family to join me - I was proud of my three recruits :)
And off we walked. Turns out over the shoulder pictures are not my strong suit.
I caught this image of my husband and niece walking with Jabba the Hut. Actually, my sister and I got a little too close together.
See there really are four of us :)
I thought it was a little ironic that I was wearing a cross country t-shirt. The coach had given it to my husband on their trip to state a few weeks ago.
And what is a walk without a least one leaf picture. If you look closely you can see it is actually two leaves with their stems fused together.

I think my husband gets bonus points for toting the niece :)
After our walk it was time for some Thanksgiving dinner prep. First up Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Pecans and Cranberries. As you know I love butternut squash so this was a must try recipe for me.
The Brussels sprouts were tossed with olive oil and salt. The butternut was tossed with olive oil, maple syrup and cinnamon.
After the veggies are roasted they are tossed with pecan halves, dried cranberries and a touch more maple syrup. It was super colorful and tasty.
We always make my grandmother's homemade crescent rolls. I remember rolling them as a kid and now we are passing along the recipe to the next generation.
While rolls were baking, my niece and husband were setting up the Christmas trees. Which, of course, means there was goofing off.
Look how strong my husband is...umm.. I mean how light my niece is.  I don't know what I mean!!!  And yes, there is a video of her trying to get out of the tote, but I am not authorized to post it :)
Sunday morning was the next race of the weekend. Mary from Runs to Get Waisted, is part of my fabulous ladies group. She had been planning to run the Seattle marathon for months. Unfortunately, during her training her legs were extremely uncooperative and she ended up changing her plan to the half marathon. We all knew she was super disappointed so we concocted a plan to finish the marathon. On Sunday morning Mary and our ladies group completed the Carry Mary Marathon. Mary ran 13.1 miles in Seattle. The second 13.1 miles was run/walked by ladies in Louisiana, Nebraska, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Florida!  Mary finished in 3:04:32 and the rest of us finished our half in 3:27:43. What a great day, I am so proud to be part of such a wonderfully supportive group of ladies. Thank you Mary for the inspiration to get us out and moving. Congratulations on a great race and I can't wait to hear all the details!

My leg of the race was two miles. I was determined to walk as fast as I could. Although I have done plenty of walking for my Jedi challenge the last couple months, I have not raced and therefore, not pushed myself as hard as I could. Previously my fasted mile of the Jedi challenge was about 16:30. I had hoped to get a sub 16 minute mile and I was happily surprised to beat my previous mile by a full minute.  

I was so focused on walking I only took two pictures over the two miles...and you know that is a record in itself :)  And as you can see I was walking so fast everything was a blur!!
Although I was thrilled with my time the first mile it was NOT easy. There was some serious heavy breathing and the cold air stung my lungs - in fact they hurt the rest of the day. The whole time I was walking like a mad woman I thought about Mary out in Seattle running 13.1 miles. Surely, I could push myself hard for two. I knew she was challenging herself and I wanted to feel that challenge too. 

The first mile took quite a bit out of me and my second mile was about a minute slower. I still averaged until 16 minute miles and I was quite pleased :)
Surprisingly, my feet/legs held up better and I didn't have much pain in them later in the day as I thought I might. That might have been helped by all the resting of them I did continuing the Lord of the Rings movies with my husband - extended editions.
I am looking for more opportunities to do some holiday racing...stay tuned!  Do you have upcoming race plans?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Streaking with an Asterisk*

Saturday was a cold windy wet day. There were even some snow flurries, but nothing stuck. We all know what this weather means....soup season is here. I must admit I am not obsessed with soups, but they are definitely growing on me. When I saw this recipe it went to the top of my must try list. Spicy Chickpeas, Coconut and Tomato Soup. When I share a recipe I try to credit the original source. In this case I found the recipe on a blog named Julian the Thinker. That blogger linked the recipe back to another blog that appears to be written in Polish. The soup is called Pikantna zupa z cieciorki dla leniuchow. The ingredients do not by any stretch sound Polish to me, so I am guessing the recipe has another source, but I am at a dead end due to lack of Polish fluency.

Like most soups it tasted even better the next day.The soup is supposed to be sprinkled with parsley, but you know I always have cilantro on hand, so cilantro it is :)
I made a double batch of the soup. If I do that again I think I will only use 1/2 the turmeric, but other than that it was a nice change of pace for a tomato soup and tasty with a pita bread.

I think my niece is officially nesting. She decided to make a bunch of meals to put in the freezer for easy eating after she has the baby (just about a month away). I spent yesterday afternoon helping her make three meat lasagnas, one butternut/spinach lasagna, one spinach/mushroom lasagna and three shepherd pies. She still has several recipes on her list, but we definitely made a dent during our three hour cooking frenzy!
Stocking up their brand new freezer. The two veggie lasagnas are new recipes so it will be awhile before we know if they are good. In the meantime, if you are interested here are the recipes....Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna and Butternut and Spinach Lasagna. Funny thing about blog names. The second recipe came from Julia's Album, but the whole time I was looking at the recipe on my phone while we were cooking I thought it said "Julia's a Bum." It wasn't until I pulled it up on my computer this morning that I saw the true name...time for new glasses??
Now about that asterisk.  I have been so proud of my streak - I have done it no matter what, every day for 75 days. Yesterday I was just about to head out for a lunchtime walk when I got a call about a "Chemistry binder emergency" that involved me rushing the binder from its house to the high school instead. I left the school to go to my niece's to cook. When I finally got home from the three hour cooking frenzy, my feet/legs were in quite a bit of pain. I ate a fried egg sandwich and put my feet up for a few (planning to march to a tv show after I'd rested them). However, the next thing I knew it was 1 a.m.!!

Sooo...technically, I didn't get my walk in yesterday. I did walk first thing this morning and saw this beautiful sunrise :) And I had my best mile in a long while - 16:26!

I plan to walk again later today. If I do I will be adding a star to my streak chart for both days. I do understand there will be an asterisk on my streak (like I was on steroids or cheated a bit), but I am still proud of my accomplishment so far and will finish strong.

Today is a bittersweet day for my husband. He has been driving the same bus route for the past five years. After the Thanksgiving break he will start his new route. Although he is excited for his new route, he is sad to leave this group of kids.One little 2nd grader broke his heart when she cried all the way home the day he told them he was leaving. We rarely go anywhere local and don't have kids running up to say "hi". Our fridge always has pictures and the notes the kids give him, but this week it has been really filling up. I love the impact those kids have had on his life and I think he has had the same on them.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Little Less Happy

I am without a doubt a morning person. My most productive time around the house is in the morning before work. I get up with my husband and when he leaves for work I scurry around and do what needs to be done. Then I look over at the couch and see this. What a lazy puppy!
 Sometimes she just has to stare at the floor for entertainment. If only I could get that dog to get a job!
I stopped in Michael's the other day on my lunch hour. It looks like mini desserts are the party trend for the season. They had mini bowls, cups, plates....
...and forks.  You name it and they had mini-ed it. I admit I found the mini forks quite adorable. I suppose the mini craze could be good for us who need a little extra help with portion control. However, that might just open the door to sample several mini desserts. They say the first couple bites are the best...
Several days this week I ended up doing indoor marching, so it felt especially good to get out for a walk at lunch time yesterday. The final leaves are still stubbornly clinging to the branches on the barest of trees.
Then other trees seem to still be in full splendor.
I am so intrigued by the different ways leaves change color. All at once, around the edges, straight to brown or like this half and half color change.
The street was a crazy mess of paintings and flags. I can't even begin to fathom the project, but hopefully they know what they are doing - the flags are labeled "buried gas line".
 With the leaves off the trees I noticed a few houses I hadn't really noticed before.
 I seriously want to see inside this house. That much character.
I couldn't help think ahead a little to the Christmas season when I saw this holly tree with it lovely little red berries.
Last night we spent the evening with my inlaws. We had hoped to have a bonfire, but the winds changed our plans. We spent the evening playing games instead.
It was getting late and we almost lost my niece and Zommie. By the way, Zommie is "not" on the couch - Grandma doesn't let dogs on the couch ;)
The farm is a little different lately. First they lost Arry and then last week they lost their old Lab, Happy. That is really just too much for one month. My inlaws got Happy as a 5 week old puppy one December (his mother had died.) He was the first of the "farm" dogs that made the cross over to "house" dog (at least at night, or when it was cold, or when it was hot....)  Happy was a sweet old guy that just wanted to spend every minute with you.

Happy helped Millie get in touch with her inner Lab. He introduced her to a love of water and sticks.
Happy, you lived up to your name. R.I.P.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Thank you for all your kind remarks on yesterday's post. It was definitely a tough day, but I tried to make it relaxed yet productive. In the morning I got some important errands done - accomplishments always make me feel good. (Am I the only one who cleans house or organizes a closet then keeps stepping back into the room to admire it one more time?) In the afternoon, I spent some time sewing and organizing my craft room, while watching a Hallmark Christmas movie. Unfortunately, I had to abandon the movie, it was just too painful to watch with its horrendous dialog, annoying characters and the plot, ugh...Rodeo and Juliet...need I say more?

The highlight of the day was no doubt the barrage of messages I received in the morning from my Losing It Ladies. Their words were so kind and their actions even kinder. They told of donations they were making in memory of our sweet lost little one. Everything from buying strangers coffee at Starbucks & Panera, to taking tennis balls to all the dogs in the dog park, donations to the humane society and March of Dimes. I shared the messages with my husband - we were deeply touched by the generosity. We are truly grateful to call you friends.

We never really did anything to memorialize our loss. I have thought of a million things, but it never seems quite right or enough.What I have ultimately decided is that I need to find a way to not let this tragedy permanently derail my life. I don't want to be defined by letting this be a reason to give up. In the past year, I have gained 45 pounds - all that I had previously lost and a bit more. I am so ashamed I let that happen. But I don't have to let that be my baby's legacy. I can't let that happen. Therefore, there will be changes. And one of the biggest changes has to be my mindset.

I have been reading several great blogs lately, but one in particular has been hitting home on several levels. Christina at Love Yourself Healthy has some fantastic insights that have truly resonated with me. She has written very candidly about the work she has done and how it has impacted her overall health - physical and emotional (we all know you can't separate the two).

I recently read a post that I can't get out of my head. I am kicking myself for not writing down so I could go back and properly reference it. I was able to confirm it was a post written by another one of my favorite bloggers, Jessica at Little More Each Day. However, we couldn't find the exact post and she didn't remember exactly where she heard it previously. So anyway, what I took from that is you don't need to let your "mistakes" define your path. Every time you are faced with a new choice you are free to choose the best option. When you make a mistake plan to make the "next best choice". This is something I am starting to incorporate and I feel good about where it could take me. My path is not an all or nothing deal and the sooner I can make that my default thought process the better :)

Changing my mindset is a process I am going to embrace. I know there will be many different layers to work through and there will be some rocky patches, but I want my baby's legacy to be that she/he made their mother a better person.

I think I forgot to update after my MRI. The MRI results were not my best to date, but still not too bad. The brain remains the same and the lesion on my spinal cord has increased slightly.  It is the first time since I was diagnosed in 2008 that there has been a noticeable change. I admit I was thrown for a loop by that change. The doctor concluded it was a result of being off my medicine for about a year for the baby situation. Good news is that the change is very slight and I am back on the medicine. As the neurologist said..."lots of people would love to have your MRI results."

I had hoped to switch to one of the new oral MS medications. However, due to some unsettling side effects (rare but possibly fatal brain infection - yikes!) we decided that I would tough out the injections, until there is more data on the oral meds. If my condition were more unstable, we may have tried a new medication but for now (thankfully) my condition does not warrant the risk.

Prior to this appointment I was really struggling with consistency on the medicine - I hate the injections and once you are off them awhile it is easy to be more lax.  I think I started to believe that my condition was in a permanent holding pattern and maybe the medicine had no real effect. Turns out I was wrong and that was a bitter pill to swallow.

Earlier this week I was in our main office, which is located in the county administration building. The hallways were decorated with posters from a contest sponsored by the state's attorney's office. I didn't have time to check them all out, but this one caught my eye.  So many things to love about it besides the obvious anti-drug message. She is a real girl holding tight to her heart. Love her blue eyes and glasses. And the hair coming down over one eye is perfect. Be yourself and protect that heart :)
A one-picture-post!  I am sure that won't happen again any time soon :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

No Words

Today's post will mostly be a Wordless Wednesday. There are really no words for all that I am feeling today on the anniversary of losing our baby. There have already been tears this morning, but I am moving forward.  Just for this moment (at least) I am choosing to honor our loss by focusing on what I do have.

The best husband in the world - he can't wait until Dec. 18 so I got tickets for Dec. 17 :)
This may have been the last of sunny color-filled fall walking for this year. It is all wind and rain this week.

All I ask is that dog owners use this....or bring your own bag and carry the poop home...please don't leave it on the street.

Love the ingenuity and who doesn't need a crocodile bike mascot??

Grass never gives up :)
My brother is in town for a conference. The other night we met him downtown (St. Louis) for dinner.
Check out what is coming soon...
My brother treated us to dinner at a yummy Peruvian restaurant - our first time eating Peruvian. While we waited they served plantain chips with cilantro sauce. The refilled us a couple of times :)
My husband and I shared a Mango Sour. I am not a mango fan, but this drink was delicious - the sour lime was so good. I would never have expected cinnamon on a drink, but it was perfect.
Aji de Gallina - Shredded chicken in creamy aji amarillo, parmesan & walnut sauce over baby Yukon gold potatoes and garnished with Peruvian olives & boiled egg with a side of rice. Not much to look at but it was very good.
Lomo Saltado - Beef tenderloin stir-fried with sweet onions, tomatoes, garlic & Peruvian spices tossed with steak fries and served with rice. I was thrilled that my husband loved his dinner - he isn't as adventuresome as my brother and I. This was the only dish on the menu that I felt pretty confident he would enjoy.
My husband and I shared good. I had to have them take the plate before I started licking it.
My brother got Mango sorbet....too much mango for me!
His hotel was right next the the Gateway Arch.
We celebrated my niece's baby shower on Sunday. My brother gifted her a piggy (actually a fox) bank full of coins - 100 each of dollars, half dollars, quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. I ran around to 4 banks to find the coins while he was at his conference. Half dollars were the most difficult.
My sister and I made mini cheesecakes for the party - we topped some with strawberry and some with salted caramel. They turned out amazing.
My sister put together a super cute bird theme for the shower.
Of course, I made her my signature baby blankets...
A silly one that totally represents my husband and I :
And there is always these goofballs.....

Okay, I ended up with more words than I expected.

Linking up anyway with BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday blog hop.