Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Spring

I should let my dog run this blog. Or maybe Little Dude could do it; he’s learning to read and write, so he’s already halfway to being qualified! Either one of them could surely do a better job than I do at this point, that’s for sure.

Since I last wrote, Little Dude turned 4, my dad took us to Disney World, we got a bunch of snow and had super-duper cold temperatures, and my husband had a birthday. It’s been a busy time, especially with the addition of the baby that I watch during the day. He’s a busy kid – way busier than Little Dude ever was.

I’m so happy that spring is coming. We had some nice weather over the last week, but it’s only going to be about 24 degrees for my morning run, and we’re supposed to get a “wintry mix” on Friday . . . the first official day of spring. I sure hope that the local meteorologists royally screw up this forecast and that we get nothing. I might lose my mind if we get measurable snow. It’s supposed to be 54 degrees on Saturday, so if we get anything, hopefully it melts.

I’m ready to be able walk the dog without bundling up like I live in the Arctic.

I’m ready for the dog to stop shivering – even inside the house.

I’m ready to be able to take the kids to the playground to burn off energy.

I’m ready to be able to take the kids outside to play or take a walk without first dressing them like big, fat marshmallows.

I’m ready for a break on my heating bill.

I’m ready to stop craving calorie-laden comfort foods and to crave fresh fruits and salads.

I’m ready to stop wearing so many danged layers on my runs.

I’m ready to stop doing so much danged laundry from so many layers!

I’m ready to get some fresh air in this house.

I’m ready to get some more exercise in the form of more runs and walks outside.

I’m ready to see green grass, flowers and leaves on my walks again. (Looking outside now, it’s hard to believe I took this picture along the sidewalk.)

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I’m so ready for spring.

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Making life a little less convenient and my quest for simplification

For years I’ve used my microwave with a little bit of suspicion. Just what were those waves doing to my food, beyond heating it. Don’t get me wrong – I loved the convenience. You could forget to thaw something and – BOOM! – it’s thawed. You could reheat last night’s dinner in 90 seconds. You could boil water for your hot chocolate. A bowl of oatmeal here, a cup of soup there, and even a faux-baked potato every once in a while. It had its uses.

As I moved towards a less processed diet, then to being vegetarian, and then to a plant-based diet, I realized that we were using the microwave a whole lot less. It was collecting a lot of dust, and was becoming an eyesore. It was the second one we had since we were married; the first one only lasted about 5 years. I didn’t like the idea of having to replace an appliance that didn’t serve much of a purpose so often.

One day, about a week before Christmas, I had planned a Christmas ornament craft that required the oven. I had three trays of food that needed to go in the oven too. My husband put something in the microwave as I hit “preheat” on the oven. I said to him, “I could live if our microwave died, but I couldn’t go a week if the oven died.” Within 90 seconds the heating element burst into flames, split in two and everything came to a standstill.

Correction: I couldn’t go 5 minutes without the oven.

We fixed the oven, but decided that when the microwave died, we weren’t replacing it. Well, July rolled around and I was nuking something that required me to stir it halfway through. After the beeper went off, I did my duty and stirred whatever it was and put it back in to finish cooking. The stupid thing died. I cursed it, unplugged it and walked it to the garbage.

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Its removal opened up a TON of counter space. Our kitchen looked so much bigger! I didn’t have to clean it, and a reduction in cleaning is always welcome.

Do I miss it? Nope. There was only one time that I wished I had it, and that was because I had a potluck at my house and someone brought something that needed thawed. (Thankfully my neighbors were home and let me use theirs.) There are definitely times when it would be quicker to throw something in the microwave than to heat it up on the stove or in the oven, but I don’t mind much at all. It’s really just a matter of minutes. And it doesn’t have that “nuked” flavor and texture that some foods get. I did find heating an entire oven to cook up my son’s chick’n nuggets or one of his rolls to be wasteful so I got a really nice toaster oven at a yard sale. SCORE!

Do you have a microwave? Do you use it? Could you live without it? Do you think I’m nuts?

Mission: Find a New Normal

I’m working hard to figure out what my days will be like now. Some of you might think that losing your parent as an adult wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Mom and I weren’t the type to chat on the phone every day, or even once per week. I know lots of folks who are like that, but we weren’t. Instead. we fired off texts with random things all the time. I sent her quick notes about things I saw on tv, things Little Dude did, news of friends’ pregnancies or illness, or about the latest crazy-indulgent chocolatey treat I found. She did the same. Sometimes her texts were about the folks she encountered at work, a recipe she found online, or her crazy dreams. (And boy, were they crazy.)

I miss those texts. There have been a lot of times in the last 6 weeks that I’ve picked up the phone to text her something and then stopped myself.

I miss being able to ask her questions about different things.

I miss being able to share photos and updates about Little Dude.

I miss her crazy stories.

I miss seeing her at family visits.

I miss a lot of things.

Day to day stuff is being accomplished here, but only what is necessary. Seriously, is cleaning a bathroom that guests don’t see necessary? Not really.

So I am on a mission now. I don’t want to say I am trying to get back to normal, because that will never happen. What I am trying to do is figure out what shape my life will take now. Lots of things are up in the air right now, so this new normal might shift its shape in the coming months, but it will be a work in progress.

These are the things I’m working on “fixing” right now:

1. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. I used to be the queen of this, and it worked like a charm for me with respect to getting s#*% done.

2. Getting to the gym regularly (4-5 days per week). This has been difficult lately because Little Dude has had two lingering colds (with nasty coughs) since 1/1/14. Our gym childcare program is pretty strict about taking kids who aren’t 100%. If he’s sick, I can’t go. I am not one of these “workout at home using only a towel and a jug of milk” people. Just doesn’t happen.

3. Run regularly, with increasing distance (3-5 days per week). I have struggled with this bleeping weather, so my frequency and distance  has suffered. I had a hip flexor problem that kept me from running for most of December. Once that resolved, Little Dude had a cold and S had a crazy work schedule AND the weather got miserable. I had few opportunities to run. Then Mom got very sick and I spent 2 weeks sitting with her. SITTING WITH HER. I did nothing – I didn’t sleep much, and I certainly didn’t eat well – and boy does that undo a lot of fitness. A lot. My base mileage is very low right now. While I know that I CAN do longer distances, I also know that that will lead to injury. I need to take it slow. What’s the rush?

4. Eating better. This doesn’t necessarily mean eating healthier, either. I eat a pretty healthy diet, but food in general has been giving me problems for a while. I need to spend some time figuring out what foods I need to eliminate from my diet, and what I might bring back. I’ve been pretty sick over the last 2 weeks, and food has been a major factor in that. Right now I am basically on a diet of white, bland foods, hoping I can get past this latest bout.

5. Spending more time with people I love. ‘Nuff said.

6. Taking some time to be quiet and still. I don’t mean meditating while running. I don’t mean sitting on the couch and watching tv. I mean taking some time to just “be”.

7. Blogging more. I enjoy blogging, even if few of you are reading. I am not one to blog daily because, frankly, I just don’t think there is enough that I can say that is interesting.

So that’s what I’m working on right now. I hope to be back in a day or two with another blog entry, and it will be a lot less serious. Until then, stay warm on this crummy, cold winter day!

 

 

 

Please join me in a fun event . . . no matter where you are!

It’s been a hard year, but the last few weeks have been especially hard. Losing Mom rocked my world in a bad way. People say you can find something positive in everything, but that’s crap. There is nothing good about losing my mom, especially at her young age, and especially the way we lost her. It just plain sucks.

Getting back into my regular routine has been a challenge. I’m just not there yet. I’m trying, but I’m not there. I’m taking care of my basic needs, and just trying to forgive myself of the rest. It’s the best I can do.

One thing I’ve decided to do, though, is organize an event in honor of my mom. I’d like to invite all of you to help me with this:

When my mom, Cindy, lost her hair due to chemotherapy, she was devastated. She had always taken great pride in her hair, so to lose it meant (to her) that she was losing part of her identity. It might seem like “just hair” to those who have it, but to those who have lost it, it’s much, much more. Luckily my mom was able afford to buy several wigs from a local wig shop. She LOVED them. She became very proud of her wigs, and you could see how confident she was in them.

Some women aren’t able to afford wigs after they lose their hair due to chemo. Pantene and the American Cancer Society have partnered to provide these women with free wigs through a program called Beautiful Lengths. So far their partnership has provided 24,000 real-hair wigs to women – allowing them to regain their confidence.

On May 29th, 2014, I will be donating my ponytail to Pantene and the ACS. This date is significant to me, as it would have been Mom’s 61st birthday. (Mom passed away on 2/1/14.) It takes 8-15 ponytails to create one wig. My hope is that I can find at least 7 other women to join me in this event. You don’t need to go anywhere special. You don’t need to join me in person. You can do this on your own, wherever you are. You can do it before 5/29 or after 5/29. Whatever. The instructions are simple, and are posted below. I am asking that you take a picture of yourself with your ponytail in hand and post it with the hashtag: #cindys61st

If I can get this event to go beyond my friends, that would be amazing. Please share this with anyone you think will participate. You can find the event on Facebook here as well.

Donation instructions:
1. Clean, shampoo, and/or condition hair, without any styling, hairspray, or additional hair products.
2. Gather hair at the nape of the neck.
3. Create a ponytail with an elastic band.
4. Ensure that the elastic band is just below where you want to cut your hair.
5. Measure the length of the ponytail from the elastic band to the tips, making sure it’s at least 8 inches long.
6. Place the ponytail, kept intact with the elastic band, in a zipper-lock bag and seal tightly.
7. Place the plastic bag with the ponytail in a padded or plastic envelope and send to:
Pantene Beautiful Lengths
Attn: 192-123
806 SE 18th Ave.
Grand Rapids, MN 55744

Note: Hair cannot be dyed, bleached or chemically treated. (HOWEVER, Locks for Love will take hair that has been dyed. You can participate through them as well!)

Additional instructions for Beautiful Lengths can be found online here.

If you are local to Harrisburg, PA, watch for additional information. We are looking to hold a “birthday party” for Mom at a local salon, during which folks can get their hair cut and enjoy some party food.

Did I tell you I was in a movie?

Life has been kind of rough lately, and I’ve been finding myself in a woe-is-me type of mood far too often. I hate it. I can’t talk myself out of how I feel because life is seriously throwing some crud my way. I decided, though, to take a look at my life and recall some of the fun/interesting/unique things that I’ve experienced.

1. I was an extra in Girl, Interrupted. It was a really cool experience, way back in 1998. My parents had clipped a notice out of the paper because the movie was looking for classic cars to use. They had it on their coffee table one night when I went up to visit and I took a look at it. In addition to needing classic cars, they were looking for extras. I had no aspirations to be in the movies, but it sounded like fun. I sent in my bio and the only pictures I had available – my high school senior photos (I had graduated the year before). I was super surprised when the casting director called me a few months later. I showed up and got fitted in Wardrobe. Then I went to a sort of holding area. We were all sitting around, dressed like hippies, chatting. Someone came in and said they needed a “couple” who could “make out” in the party scene. A dude looked at me and asked me if I wanted to “work” with him. For several reasons I said no. Then someone else came in and surveyed the room. He looked at me and said, “You. Do you smoke?” I told him I didn’t but that I could fake it. I had never touched a cigarette in my life. At first they were rolling faux joints, but they weren’t holding together real well, so we ended up with cigarettes. I spent 4 hours pretending to smoke. It was super gross. Between takes Angelina Jolie would come around and chat with the extras. I think she talked to just about everyone. She was really cool. Winona Ryder didn’t chat with anyone. She just sat on her seat and let people attend to her. Whatever. But, yeah, if you watch the movie, there is a scene where Susanna and Lisa are on their way to Florida and stop at a party. Susanna (Ryder) is on the couch with a guy. As they pan across the room, there is a girl sitting on the floor lighting a cigarette off a candle. That’s me!

2. I had drinks with Ving Rhames. This is the most random thing ever. I have several people who can attest to the validity of this claim. I was out in Pittsburgh for work and was taking the elevator back to my room. (I stayed at a hotel that was often frequented by celebrities who were in town. Oo-la-la, I know.) A gentleman boarded the elevator with me, and asked me if I was in town to work on the movie. I had no idea what he was talking about. For once in my life I think I was actually dressed pretty well, so I think maybe I looked movie-ish? I don’t know. I told him I worked for an insurance company and knew nothing about a movie. He asked if I knew who he was. I said no. He actually seemed disappointed. He told me he was Ving Rhames.

ImageInternally I said to myself, “Hmmmm…..I thought you’d be taller!?” I told him I just didn’t recognize him, blah, blah, blah. I guess he thought I didn’t believe him because then he starts digging in his duffle bag for the script. He followed me off the elevator and kept trying to convince me who he was. I believed him, but just wasn’t as ga-ga excited as I guess he wanted me to be. He invited me to the hotel bar for a drink, so I said yes. I forget what I got, but I distinctly remember that he got a virgin pina colada. I remember it because it was absolutely not what I expected. During our conversation I mentioned that my then-boyfriend had worked in LA. I explained what S did, and he because intrigued. He wanted to call him. I have no idea why I let him, but I did. When S didn’t pick up the phone, Ving (Mr. Rhames?) proceeded to leave a crazy message on his voice mail, quoting rather intense lines from Pulp Fiction. They were very, very intense lines. S got the voice mail several minutes later and thought I had been kidnapped! He called back and Mr. Ving (that might sound better) took my phone and answered it. It was surreal. Shortly thereafter I excused myself; that was a little too much excitement for me. (BTW . . . When I told my mom this story, her eyes got huge and she told me that she LOVED Ving Rhames. How did I not know that?) For the next few weeks S played the voice mail for everyone.

3. I’ve traveled to Canada (well, Niagara Falls), Mexico (but only Nogales), Guatemala (3 times), Costa Rica, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ethiopia (twice). I absolutely cannot wait to visit more countries. There is so much of the world to be seen. My dream is to own a tiny little house here, have just a few possessions, and spend lots of time traveling the world with my family.

4.  I ran 100 miles. Boom.

5. I sing with the praise band at my church. I’m not great. I’m not going to get on The Voice or American Idol. I’m not going to sell any records. But it’s fun. If I knew how to share one of our songs, I would. I am not sure if this one will work or not. If it does, ignore the video. S couldn’t get me in the frame so just set the phone down where he could get the best audio.

6. I get to be “Mom” to Little Dude. ‘Nuff said.

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7. S and I were part of a Discovery web series. We talked allllllll about our infertility woes. It was an interesting experience, and I am not sure I would do it again. It definitely opened up conversations with folks that may not have otherwise taken place. But it was really personal. Through it, though, I made a great friend and got her wrapped up in ultra-marathoning. You’re welcome, Kasey-Dee.

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8. I married a really cool guy. He’s going to do some really neat things, and you’ll probably hear about them. Stay tuned.

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9. I went zip-lining in the Costa Rican rain forest. I wish I could find the picture with us in our dorky – yet safe – helmets. What an awesome experience.

10. I climbed an active volcano in Guatemala. The weather was wacky that day. It was very cloudy and windy. I will admit to being scared. I will also admit to being sad that we forgot marshmallows. We could have easily roasted them over the flowing lava. We were sooooo close to it. You can see the red lava to the side of S’s face in the photo below.

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11. We’ve been sponsoring a boy in Guatemala for the past 6 years. (He’s the one in the white shirt.) We’ve spent some time with him and even got to meet his family (shown in the photo). It’s been awesome to keep in touch with him through the years and to see him grow. We haven’t seen him in person in over 4 years.

Image12. I got to meet this woman and to send her all my old running shoes. I got so happy when I would get a new pair – not really because of the new ones, but because I could send Dona Nachita my old ones. I would wash them so they looked nice and send them down to her. She had to walk from her “house” (a small, flimsy shack, really) to the orphanage a kilometer or so away for her meals. She walked on a rough dirt road and when I first met her, her shoes were falling apart. I found that we wore the same size, so I told her I’d get her shoes. Sadly she passed away a couple of years ago. Now when I wear out my shoes I get sad.

Image13. I used Walt Disney’s toilet. I am not kidding. We were in LA a few years ago and visited one of S’s friends. His office used to be Walt Disney’s back in the day. While we were there I (surprise) had to use the restroom. So, yep – I used Disney’s toilet. It worked just like a normal one would. This is the tiniest picture. It was me emerging from the bathroom. Apparently S decided it was photo-worthy.

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Did this help lighten my mood? Maybe a little. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the here and now and cannot see what’s behind me or in front of me. It’s really hard to look into the future and believe things will get better when so many signs don’t indicate that. I tend to forget to look in the past for things to be happy about or thankful for. It’s not that I’m holding onto the past in a pathetic, clingy sort of way, but it’s a self-inflicted kick in the pants to remind myself that there are good times. It’s nice to have all of this in one spot so I can look at it when I need a reminder.