Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas/After Christmas and Operation Jack 10K

Christmas has just been a whirlwind this year.  I have been right out straight since last Monday and haven't had one moment to try to form a coherent thought on this blog.

I think it's rather inconsiderate to hold xmas on a Wednesday.  It really sucks for us working stiffs, especially those that own a business.  You could close early on Tues, (which we did) but then you still have Mon, Thur and Fri.  Or you could close on Thurs, but then there's still Friday to work.  Unless you want to close the whole week, which is not the best answer either.  Anyway you look at it, I hate xmas on a Wednesday.

On a happier note, we should be good for the next 6 years though.  Unless leap year screws it up somehow.

Christmas was like Christmas usually is.  Crazy flurry of presents unwrapping, paper flying, thank you's here and there and in 15 minutes, it was all done.  Kids were happy and thankful so I would call it a success.

the best Christmas present ever.

I got out for a quiet, calm 6 miles in the early afternoon while everyone played with their new gifts.  (read: watch tv).  Even though I don't love the snow so much, it sure was pretty.

looks warmer than it was.  It was about 17* with some wind.  chilly!

The day after Christmas it was back to work for a germ-fest.  Shingles, conjunctivitis--I wanted to bathe in alcohol before heading home.  yuk.  Oh yes, and power outages.  Good times were had by all.

Saturday was the 4th annual Operation Jack 10K satellite run.  This is the second year I have run this.  It is a fundraiser for autism started by one of Danielle's friends whose son, Jack, has autism.  I don't have a personal connection to anyone with autism but I do love to support a good cause.  We didn't have a huge turnout, but it was still a beautiful morning for a run with new friends.

I had to pull over and take a picture of the morning sunrise.  This photo doesn't do it justice.  

I love going to these small local runs.  I swear I get a new friend or two at every one.  It's so nice to be able to meet people who like running and exercise and don't think it's weird to get up at 6 in the dark to go meet strangers and run.  In 15* weather.  On a Saturday.
the group!

and the one who had to keep running to finish her 14 miles for the day~

There seriously has got to be a better way to take selfies.  Must I look so old and toothy and big nosed in all of them??

Oh, and did you notice in the photo the most awesome Idiots Running Club shirt I'm sporting?  I love.  If not, here's a closer look.
run. smile. drink water. don't die.  Sound advice.

Lastly, I finally found a soup kitchen that we could volunteer at.  My step-sister, that I haven't seen in 20+ years works there and through the magic of facebook, we connected and made a plan to head up to serve.  It's one of two wet shelters (need not be sober to stay there) in Maine so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was a really fun time.  Yes!  I said fun.  I wasn't expecting fun.  But fun is what we had.  The kids (and me!) loved serving the food and the people on the receiving end were so appreciative and thanked us so many times.  We are planning on doing this on a more regular basis.

The Hope House in Bangor, ME.  

We brought dessert, oranges and ice cream.  Guess what's needed?  Butter, salt, ketchup, sugar. Who knew?  Next time I'll bring so many condiments they won't know what to do with them all.  I asked about bedding since they house 79 people each night--nope, they don't need bedding now but they do need it in the spring/summer.  This is when many of them choose to sleep outside and take the bedding with them.  So I'll save that donation to bring in June.  

What a rewarding time.  I kinda wish it had felt a little more like work so the kids would understand that they were working to help someone else, but maybe this was better.  Philanthropy can be fun!  Maybe that's a better lesson.  

Have you ever volunteered at a soup kitchen/homeless shelter?

What is your favorite philanthropy or way to give back?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

10 Christmas Memories--Listicles Style

I'm jumping back on again with Stasha's Listicles, a day or two late, but whatever.  If you don't read Stasha's blog or follow her on instagram, you should.  She's all famous now with her Purina commercial that aired during the dog show on Thanksgiving.  I feel like they are my friends since I've been following her for a couple of years now.  I knew exactly who it was when it aired.  Even my kids knew: Mom!  It's that boy with his dog! 

She takes fabulous photos of her dogs and kid and is so fun to follow her life in pictures.  Northwest Mommy.  Check it out.

Anyway, on to the Listicles.  10 Christmas Memories.  Typically my memory about stuff like that is horrible but I'll see if I can come up with 10.  Here goes.

1.  I can remember as a kid that we would barely sleep and wake up at 5:00 a.m. to open presents.  It was always done by 5:30 and then we dragged ass for the rest of the day.  Which brings me to #2...

2. By 2:00 in the afternoon my mom would likely need a break from us so she always made us go take a nap.  In the middle of the day!  On Christmas!  Oh god I hated it.  I would cry and cry, but she would not give in and eventually I fell asleep.  And she would get her peace.

3.  We would always have aunts, uncles, Grammies, cousins--everyone! over to our house on Christmas Eve for a huge dinner.  My cousins and I would eat dinner and then while all the adults were sitting around talking, we would quietly slip out and go find somewhere to hide/play so we would get out of doing the dishes.  Later on my cousin, Paul, and I would always play cribbage.  And he would always win.  Year after year.  I don't think I ever beat him.

4.  I had never seen the Nutcracker in any form (ballet, tv, book) until 3 years ago when my daughter was in it.  Really didn't even know what the story was about.  To be honest, I'm still a bit confused with the story line.

5.  For the first 7 years that we were married we never had a Christmas tree.   I don't really love Christmas and I never saw the point of putting up a tree if we were going to be driving all over New England to visit people.  When we finally decided to stay home for the kids, I grudgingly agreed to put up a tree.

6.  One year I got my class ring for Christmas.  That was nice, but I wanted a computer.  It was a bit of a let down.

7.  Last year was the first year that I wasn't up until 11 p.m. wrapping gifts.  Somehow, I had them all wrapped ahead of time and we just had to bring them out from their hiding spots and put them under the tree.  It was awesome.  Probably will never happen again. 

8.  The only Christmas that I really have felt very little stress and maybe even enjoyed just a little, was 1999 when my first daughter was born in November.  I was on maternity leave for the remainder of the year and was able to take her with me shopping at off times when no one was at the mall.  I got everything done with any time crunch. 

9.  My tree comes down either Christmas afternoon or the day after.  Last year I had to work the day after Christmas and my kids and the sitter undecorated the tree, put all the ornaments away, and the sitter even dragged the tree out of my house and into the woods!  #sitteroftheyear  That was seriously the best present ever. 

10.  Everyone has their own stocking stuffing tradition.  In my house, the stockings are always filled by Santa and filled with little fun stuff like gum, shampoo, chapstick, candy etc.  My husband always wants to add shit that he finds in the cupboard.  Like old nuts or noodles or a can of corn.  He thinks it's incredibly funny.  I think it's incredibly stupid.  So I go behind him and remove that shit.  Does he really think the kids want a f'n can of corn in their stocking?  Dumb. 

I love to hear what everyone's stocking traditions are.  Do you have a special one that is different than usual?  Share it!  I hear one the other day where each person has a stocking and all the gifts are tied together with string and you follow it around the house, kinda like an elf trail, I guess?  That was a new one.

Feel free to share your Christmas memories!  Link up with Northwest Mommy at the link above.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nutcrackers, Track Work Outs and Snow Runs

This past weekend was a whole bunch of crazy as per usual in our household.  Princess was having her dance recital which means a really long dress rehearsal on Friday night and two shows on Saturday.  This year she had a pretty big part as one of the boys in the party scene.  We win in two ways--she has a big part and it's only in the first act.  Score!

Last year her group did Chinese which was only for 40 seconds and in the second act.  So you had to wait around all show for just a 40 second role.  womp womp

Princess is the boy on the far left.  This is a short look at her part.

This seriously took a lot longer to post on here than it should have.  I swear I am a computer idiot sometimes.  This was a portion of the dress rehearsal which is why not everyone is in costume.

Mother Nature has so graciously decided that it is going to be colder than the Arctic here this week--we are talking highs in the 10's.... as in 10 measley, pitiful degrees.  Which means that when you wake up it's more like 2 degrees.  I know it's hard for you California/Florida people to understand exactly what 2 degrees feels like when  you are all crying about your pathetic 50* low.  Wah.  My heart bleeds.

Anyway, highs of this nature dictate that I bring my run indoors to the track at the Y.  Thank you sweet Jesus that we have this track because I just cannot bear to use the treadmills with any regularity.

My mother was down visiting from the more northern tundra where they chose to live (God knows why) and she's been walking 12 miles/day since last spring.  She has since been banished to the treadmill and elliptical as well because of the frigid temperatures where she lives.  Anyhoo, we had a small window of an hour before this kid's basketball game and that ones dance thing so I brought her with me to the Y so we both could get some exercise in.

Let me just say how proud of am of my mom.  She has lost somewhere around 50 lbs with her 12 mile walking every. single. day. thing.  It's really pretty impressive.  I was so surprised to see her run even!  You should have seen the form!  She looked great.  I'm pretty sure I can get her to do a 5K with me in the future.  She could run it.  I know she could.

I got 6 miles in during that 55 minute period.  I did 5 straight running miles and then 1 mile of plyometrics.  Here's how it went, in case you want to shake things up. Eight laps is a mile on our track.

Lap 1--walk
Lap 2--high knees for 1/2 lap, walk the other half (don't judge, high knees is HARD!)
Lap 3--butt kicks--basically try to kick your own ass with your feet
Lap 4--side shuffle facing one way 1/2 lap, face the other way for the other half (again, HARD)
Lap 5--high kicks  I did this walking.  Walk 2 steps, kick.  Walk 2 steps, kick with the other leg.
Lap 6--run backwards
Lap 7--side shuffle a full lap but switch direction every two shuffles
Lap 8--walk/cool down

If you have any other things I could add to this, I would love to hear.  Whatever I can do to confuse my muscles and mix things up.

Sunday night we had a giant snowstorm so there was no going anywhere until after noon.  It took a couple of hours to get the yard such that we could even get off the deck or drive anywhere.  Thank goodness everything was cancelled so we didn't have to go anywhere.  I did think it would be a perfect day for a snow run, which is what I did.  I donned my trail running sneakers--I thought they would have more traction than regular--and they did.  I had gotten them free from a twitter chat so I'm thankful to be able to use them.  I do wish I had gotten ones with a little more cushion..... Next time.  Inov8 in case you're interested.

Once I got past the frozen wind in my face, the running was actually quite nice.  It was slow going due to all the snow, but my calves sure did get a workout.  Good stuff.

Do you run in the snow?

Any good plyometric exercises you would care to share with me?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Music Rage

So as if the wasteful spending of money isn't enough this time of year, or the erecting of a live (hahaha live.  right) tree in my house to spread it's pine needle joy all throughout, or the thousands of people that all need to be at the same store as you or park in the same spot as you or buy all the same shit as you.  As if that isn't enough this time of year.

But it isn't.

Radio stations all over the country must subject us to horrifically annoying renditions of already irritating holiday music.  Not to mention it starts sometimes even BEFORE Thanksgiving.  Gah.

Some examples:

why, why, why the annoying little cherub voices?

seriously, is there ever a more annoying song than this??

oh wait, this one might be it.  What. The. F.

I've always hated this song.  Even as a kid.  Stick your Par rum pa pum pum where the sun don't shine. Jesus doesn't want to hear your stupid drum.  I know.  He told me.

As I was thinking about this post for today, I had a thought that probably the only Christmas song I might actually like, was if Grumpy Cat had one.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear?

On my Facebook wall, a video, that I would find so dear.

Add to that, Colonel Meow, Blind Cat and that super cute one with the fur mustache, and you have Cat Purrrfection!  And a Christmas song I might actually listen to.  But only if I can watch the video to see the kitties.  Thank you, Danielle, for this treasure.

Oh!  And lastly, I hate those year-end mash up things that they play on the radio now.  Talk about maddening!  You just start to hear a song you like and then it's all mashed up with one you hate.

Let's just get to January folks, when everything goes back to normal.  Please.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weekly Check In

Why does it feel like we have ZERO time to deal with Christmas this year?  I mean, really, Christmas is just 2 weeks away and I just purchased my photo cards.  I somehow managed to squeak out enough photos to make the photo calendars that I make every year.  I was really worried because at first look, I hardly had any photos to use.  But after searching all phones (mine, husbands and babysitters), I found plenty!  I guess we are using the camera on the phones much more than the actual camera…

I usually have both of those things done by now and the cards already mailed out so I'm way behind in terms of that.  At least they are ordered and heading my way.

Having said that, I have not yet received a Christmas card from anyone so I guess everyone is behind…

Friday night I took our little Girl Scout troop to see the Maine State Ballet's version of the Nutcracker.  Princess seemed to be especially interested as she is a dancer and is doing her own version of The Nutcracker this coming weekend.  Her dance studio does a tap version, so it's very different than what one normally sees.  One of the girls who was a toy soldier used to be in our troop so that was fun to see her and the band teacher at our middle school was playing trombone in the orchestra.

Saturday we got our tree but was unable to put it up because the tree stand was all broken and crooked. I thought it was fine but the kids didn't like it all and wanted a new one.  Not to mention all the lights were broken or missing so we needed to buy more of those.  I swear, it seems like every year I need to buy more and more lights.  Where do they go?  To the land of the missing socks, probably.

It was a nice, sunny, warmish day so I got to go for a run as well.  I started out thinking I would do 4, then 5 but went on and did 6!  You know, one of those days when you just want to keep on running because it feels so good.

I was finally able to take the dog to the vet to get his damn nails clipped.  Thank you sweet Jesus.  The clip clip clipping on the hardwood floor every second of every minute that I am home sends me right over the edge.  He's old and on his way out of this life, but dammit, I need some peace from the constant clicking on the floor.

He ended up doing his weird wheezing, asthma, I'm-going-to-die breathing thing and then pooping on the floor.  Good stuff.  The vet tech was all wanting to do a work-up about his breathing and I'm like, nope, just clip the nails.  Really.  I swear I can never get out of the vet's office without dropping a Benjamin.  Every time.  Probably someone somewhere says that about the eye doctor….

We met this guy on the way out.

He was so happy.  Despite the 20 quills hanging off his lips.

I'll bet his owner dropped a bill as well.

Sunday was another day of driving 90 minutes south for field hockey practice for Sissy.  While she was practicing I was able to meet up with Danielle and get a great run in.  She lives really close to the college we were at so that worked out really nicely.  I got a chance to see her sweet baby, Henry, in person.  He is so dang cute!

not sure what I'm looking at… photo cred to Danielle

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the indoor facility is near the mall.  Fortunately for Sissy, unfortunately for me.  However, I was able to get over my loathing of the mall and all the people in it to go in and purchase some Christmas gifts.  It has to be done and no one is going to do it for me so I just went in and did it.  That was a relief, as much as I hate the mall.

One of these made their way home with us--a gift for my son.

It's crazy-ass expensive bean bag--yogibo

They basically just put it in a big, clear plastic bag and out you go.  Can you imagine me dragging that thing behind me through the mall?  Well, that's what I did.  I even sat on it at one point outside Aeropostle while my daughter looked around.

this pretty much sums up my feelings about being at the mall 

I did run into my other running/high school friend Bobbi and her family so that was a great surprise.  We ate at the culinary treasure that is Panda Express and then visited the cultural center of Maine--Wal-Mart and then mercifully, went home.  Tree stand, lights, xmas gifts and groceries in hand, I walked into my house at 6 p.m.

Then went to bed.

And I'm no where near done so I get to do it all again next weekend.  Good stuff.

Where are you in your Christmas shopping?  Better off than me?