Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My first half marathon.

I posted before about my decision to try running Here. After many months of casually running short distances using my couch to 5k app, I was finally able to run an entire 5k with my friend Jessica. It felt awesome. We were so proud of ourselves and inspired that we signed up for a half marathon! 

The half was on April 12. We signed up in November. We found a training plan online we intended to follow all winter. 

Then, snowpocalyspe.

Needless to say, we deviated from the plan. We just weren't dedicated enough to run in snow, ice, or -50 windchill. Nor were we able to do more than a few miles at a time on the treadmill. 
As the race approached, we squeezed in a couple longer runs- a couple 4-5 miles and one 8 mile. We are using Jeff Galloway's run/walk method, and we felt great after 8 miles, jogging two minutes and walking 1-2 minutes, alternating the whole time. 

Anyone who runs long distances knows that we didn't prepare enough. But we were determined to complete the 13.1 miles. 

On race day, we were joined by several friends. Two of them marathoners that walk/jogged with us the whole time, and two that had not even trained and planned to walk the whole thing. Which is crazy, but they are an awesome couple that basically can do anything they set their minds to, so I knew they'd be fine. 

The group, pre-race. 
The weather was perfect- a gorgeous spring day, sunny and a little cool but perfect for running. We set off, doing our intervals of 2 minute jog and 1 minute walk. 

The miles truly flew by. It was a great experience, made great by the wonderful weather and good conversation of friends. I really think it would have been a lot tougher without the group we had. 

There were a few times I needed to walk a little more, especially because the course was a little hilly and I hadn't trained on hills. But overall I was happy with our time and the amount we actually ran. 

We ran hard down the last stretch near the finish line, and once we stopped, I could feel the ache in my legs and some pain in my chest from breathing hard, but I felt proud that we finished! 

We collected our medals and post-race fuel and went back to the finish line to watch our untrained walking friends- who amazingly ended up running part of it and finishing just 15 minutes or so behind us! 

Post-race, my legs were sore. Really sore. I didn't walk as much as I should have and didn't massage my legs with the foam roller like all the websites and magazines recommend. I will do that next time for sure! It was tough to walk or stand from a sitting position for a while! 
Two weeks out, I'm having pain in my calves when I jog now, so my jogs have been short and uncomfortable but I'm hoping time will help. I should google that. 
If you are considering starting to run, check our Jeff Galloway's website for tips. I really believe anyone can do a half marathon after my experience- especially since I barely run and am fairly bad at it- and I still finished!

How about you? Planning to try running? Training for a race? 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


When I was first getting to know my husband, I was surprised by the amount of time he spent with his family. They are fairly small- his immediate family consisting of his mom, aunt, sister, and Nana. His dad and their family are around, but his connection with them is much different than with his mom's side. And as I got to know them, I understood. 

I can't say enough great things about his mother- she is wonderful and I give her full credit for how amazing Matt is as a husband. But his Nana had a special place for him. It would be impossible to count the number of stories I heard about their fun times together at her house on the river in Madison or the number of times he referred to her as a "great lady." 

Nana passed away last week in her 70's, too early. 

She'd been in the hospital for a week or so when his mom's reports on her health became concerning. Nana had spent a day or two in the hospital here and there but always recovered and went home. She came to visit for thanksgiving and we went three hours north to celebrate Christmas together, and it was fun and wonderful. 

But this time in the hospital, she wasn't getting better. Matt made the drive several times, and I went up a couple of those. In my mind, this would end up like those other times and she'd go home with diet restrictions she'd hopefully follow and life would be normal again. 

We took a Friday off work to go visit two weeks ago and she was noticeably much worse. The following weekend, it was clear we needed to be there. 

That Sunday, we arrived at the hospital with Matt's mom and aunt there, and Nana was not aware. She was clearly struggling to just breathe and it was truly the most heart-wrenching moments of my life. I closed my eyes and prayed for God to give her peace and relief. It came, and she slept. We told stories and watched her rest. Matt and I went to the pharmacy and bought a nail color she would have liked, and his mom and I painted her long, pretty nails. 

Later that evening, Matt's aunt went home and Matt and I had dinner and went to a hotel. We stayed up too late watching tv and after about two hours of sleep, got a call from his mom that we needed to be at this hospital. I took a quick shower to wake up, we dressed and rushed over. By the time we made it to the room, Nana was gone. 

In my life I'll never forget seeing Matt's mom come around the corner with utter devastation on her face. Nana, whom the whole family adored, was gone. The mom to Marta and Laurie, Nana to Matt and Bri. The lady that served me wine and shared photos of her life with me just after we'd met. The woman that endured a difficult childhood after abuse, chlildrens homes, foster parents, divorce, loss- she's no longer able to tell her stories or be a mom and Nana. 

I barely knew her in comparison to the children and grandchildren she had, but I feel her loss so deeply. 

That early morning, at 3 a.m., we sat writing the first draft of her obituary using a form  the hospital provided. Under the "achievements" section, Matt wrote "nana of the year for 29 years." And it was the most beautiful line I've ever seen in an obituary. 

We went to her house to find clothes for her to wear the next day. To see her home just as she'd left it, expecting to return, was sad on a level I can't explain. As we looked through her papers to find important documents, we looked at photos of her life, and read letters from the foster mother who loved and raised her, and I felt deep regret about the questions I never asked and stories I'd never hear. 

Matt's family amazes me in their strength. His sister flew home from college, and pinned photos to a cork board to celebrate her life for the service. Matt prepared a playlist of music she'd loved, and his mom and aunt gathered artwork she had created and displayed it at the funeral home. They remembered her in the most positive, beautiful way. 

After a little time has passed, I'm left with a few thoughts. 
1. I want to live the sort of life that inspires someone to write mom/wife/friend/nana of the year 29 years running 
2. I want to have a plan for my arrangements, clothes, music so my grieving family doesn't have to worry about it
3. I want to spend time with my friends and family to hear their stories and know them better before it's too late. 

I've not lost anyone close to me since my own Nannie died when I was young, and I haven't experienced this sort of loss as an adult. And it has been profound. 

Thank you, Nana, for helping create the wonderful man I married, for giving him a fabulous mother, and and for the bittersweet reminder that life is a precious, brief gift. 

To Joyce.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The longest winter.

This winter has been the longest of my life. Never before have I longed for 30+ temperatures quite the same as I have this year. I can now see a small patch of grass visible through the snow on the side of my house where the last two days of sun has shined/shown down the most, the part where winds have prevented a larger pile of snow that limits the melting effects. And this patch of grass makes me infinitely hopeful. 

This winter has been so long I've begun to feel like summer is a fable, a tall tale, that I've heard about in books and Disney movies but doesn't exist in real life. 

Each time the future is referenced I frame it in the context of whether or not flip flops can be worn then. 

I've seriously considered the consequences of abandoning my house and mortgage and packing the car, driving to the southernmost point of the US. 

Yesterday it was 35 degrees in the evening when the kids and I left the house, and none of us wore coats, in appreciation of the warm temperatures. 

My first winter as a runner, and my first training for a half marathon, has been met with record low temps and record snowfall, rendering outdoor running impossible. 

I'm certain that I'm suffering from seasonal affective disorder, but I've been too cold and had too much snow in my driveway to allow me to visit a doctor for diagnosis. 

This is day 90ish of my captivity. I'm beginning to break. If spring doesn't arrive soon, I'm fearful for the safety of my family. 

Praying for rescue. Please, snow, melt. And soon.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

This is a long post about lady topics, namely contraception, so read at your own risk.

I don't often talk about lady topics here. I mean, I do talk about feelings, which most men would classify as lady topics, and I guess I have also talked about wedding planning and Sex and the City... so maybe I do. But here, I mean LADY topics. As in, contraception. The closest I've come is when I discussed bra fitting, which is really a public service announcement, and also, no men read this, so who cares.

(bra fitting post found HERE.)

So, anyhow, here's a lady topic. I recently had to have my IUD replaced.  I have the Mirena. It's a small T-shaped device placed in your uterus to prevent pregnancy. Since I have two teenagers, preventing pregnancy is a topic ever present in my mind. It's hard, having teenagers. And also, having babies and toddlers and preschoolers and all those other stages.

The path to having this procedure done has been filled with sadness and fear. Let me explain why.

It started at one of my routine visits to the OB/GYN after the first IUD was placed. The strings that they use to remove it had been 'retracted' inside my uterus by my apparently objectionable body, which makes removal more difficult. At that visit, the healthcare professional made one of those faces that is like, "ehhhhh.... well...." with a grimace, when I asked what would be required to remove it. She then told me just to wait to worry until I came to that  point, still a few years down the road, since they last for 5 years.

Then, I switched to a new doctor. I only had a year left, so I knew the next time I saw her, it would be time to replace. She explained the process-- she told me she'd prescribe me pain killers and either valium or Xanax, two things I've never taken and scare me, but apparently help with anxiety, before my appointment. This clearly made me more scared, since the original one required no medications.

So, the year I'd dreaded arrived. I went to my annual appointment, and my doctor was gone delivering babies, so I saw a nurse practitioner. She delivered worse news.

She confirmed that the procedure would be more difficult. She also told me something else, that made me wonder if I'd accidentally stepped in a time machine and traveled to 1947.

My new doctor's office was at St. Vincent's hospital, which is a Catholic institution.  I'm not Catholic, but I'm a Christian, and I'm fairly familiar with their practices. I know that some Catholics don't practice contraception, but I thought that was reserved for the more devout people, not the general population. Apparently, that's something they hold so dear that the ENTIRE HOSPITAL  is not allowed to actually implement real contraception on their grounds in any way. They can prescribe you pills because you actually use them off the hospital property. But things that are permanent, to prevent pregnancy, like tubal ligation (tying your tubes) or IUDs are not allowed.

Not allowed! I'm a married woman with two nearly-grown children, practicing family planning, and was made to feel like a terrible sinner. I was told that my doctor would do the procedure, but she would see me to do this (Xanax-requiring procedure) offsite at a Chiropractor's office down the street.

So, now it feels like I'm getting an illegal, immoral, secret procedure done. In probably (maybe...) an unsafe setting. It's 2014, you guys. We were considering a female president recently.

I asked around, and friends recommended other doctors, but time was running out, so I decided to just go with the creepy Chiropractor option and get this thing taken care of and then I could switch.

I made my appointment. I made my husband take the day off work to drive me, since I expected to be drugged up on anxiety meds and to be in immense pain. The day approached, and I received a letter including three prescriptions.

The day of, I pulled out the prescriptions to get them filled- since I thought they were just for pain afterward and anxiety just before. But I noticed that I didn't recognize the medications on the forms. I did a quick google search, and found out NONE were for anxiety, but one was for pain and another was something they apparently prescribe as a part of abortion meds. Now, I needed the anxiety meds more than ever. Turns out, the 'abortion' one also is really for dilating your cervix, something needed to retrieve the old IUD. AND I was supposed to start it the day before.

After a call to the doctor, they tell me to take it now, even though I didn't have the full dosage.

At this point, I am worried that my cervix is going to cause me more pain since I didn't have the proper medication dosage, scared of the Chiropractor's office and what would happen if there were complications and I wasn't in a real medical environment, and having second thoughts about NOT asking why I didn't get anxiety meds.

Somewhat comforting was the fact that it was actually a urology office in close proximity to the hospital. Not comforting was the fact that my doctor was running an hour behind and I had more time to build anxiety.

While waiting, I decided to use the bathroom, which turned out to be a mistake, because they needed a urine sample for a pregnancy test before the procedure, requiring me to chug large amounts of water and add worry that I wouldn't be able to pee.

Finally, I am displayed up on the table, stirrups and all, blood pressure through the roof due to my lack of anxiety meds (which I was CURSING myself for not asking about)  and prepared for the worst. After all, the first placement I had was quite painful, and this was supposed to be much worse.

The doctor tells me she is going to use a local anesthetic, which she says most doctors don't do, but she feels is not very nice. Now, I'm anxious about a needle in my lady parts. Panic attack begins.

SURPRISE! I don't feel the needle! Then, the procedure was about the same amount of painful as a routine pap.

I walked out, a little dizzy from the anesthetic, but otherwise feeling just fine. As usual, a lot of buildup and anxiety in my mind over what turns out to be basically nothing. Matt and I went to the Cheesecake Factory for a dinner to celebrate my female reproductive rights and the confirmation of our "no babies" reproductive plan.

Because, if I had this much anxiety over this procedure, could you IMAGINE me now anticipating labor???

God knew I wouldn't be able to handle that in my 30's which is why he gave me my children before my anxieties grew to this level.

This post is dedicated to my friend Allison. Just because of my desire to tell her this story, but with the lack of time to do so.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Gallery Wall

So, hey internets. What's up?

Oh, just trolling Pinterest, as usual? Same here.

Speaking of which, I totally did a Pinterest project recently! I have this crazy big wall above my couch.  It's been difficult to decorate to say the least. Originally we had one big piece of framed artwork there, above the couch.  It was ok, a nice piece my husband owned before our merger of households. But it just didn't really go there, or fit nicely.  Later, I relocated it to above our bed, where it is perfectly suited.

Then, I put three pictures of the kids. But still, it just didn't fill the space. I moved those to the entry. And I hung three framed prints from our wedding. But they were small for the big wall and the vaulted ceilings that extended that expanse of space.

Finally, Pinterest told me I needed a gallery wall. And I listened.

Phase 1: Here's the picture of the "before," above the couch, huge vaulted ceiling not included really, with our wedding photos hung on existing nails.

Phase 2: Here's the part where I created the "gallery wall" effect. If you are in the market for a "how to" post, this would NOT be it. Because those "how to" posts tell you the proper distance your frames should be from the couch, give you tips on hanging your photos, and arranging them, and so on.

I did not employ those tactics. Well, except for about two: I used Pinterest inspiration photos to determine my layout. Then I laid the frames out on the floor. Then I used another Pinterest tip: put some substance, such as toothpaste, on the place on the back of the frame where your nail goes, and press it up against the wall to determine where to put the nail. That, I did.

Otherwise, I just eyeballed it. I measured my layout on the floor to see how far across and how tall it was, and marked that on the wall. Then I hung the center frame. The rest, eyeballs and toothpaste.

In the meantime, I took some great frames I found at Goodwill and "refinished" them for this project. Because I wanted all black frames and all white mats. 

My favorite: this super 90's edition of wall art sold at some Home Interiors party, of which I painted the frame black and both mats (the forest green and the 90's 'country home' mauve) white.

Phase 3: My (semi) finished product. Two frames are still awaiting prints, and this is totally not measured, because ain't nobody got time for that.

Pics are blurry, because, as with most home projects, I did not put forth full effort and took photos with my iphone, once. 
Spacing actually turned out great, because for some frames I made up to three holes in the wall before it was straight. I keep the touch up paint in the garage, and the "hole patching putty" section of Home Depot in business. 
Now, the wall looks artsy and intentionally decorated, which I enjoy. And the wall is big enough that I could extend this project if I want. Great Success! ;) 

For REAL instructions on creating your own Gallery Wall, see 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Resolutions

New Years resolutions are something I think about each year. And each year it's basically like this:
1. Make more money
2. Lose weight

This year, I have been thinking about resolutions a little differently.  At first I thought that maybe they were a bad idea. I mean, do I really need to formalize my weight loss desire again? Also, clearly I've never stuck to the resolutions I have made, since I'm still carrying the 15 pounds I've wanted to lose since 2009.  However, I realized that really, all resolutions are is goal setting, which is a valuable activity! I just need to be more deliberate about them, and make them goals I think about past about January 5th.

I started thinking of the resolution as just refocusing on the things that I want to improve in my life. And I realized that they needed to be specific and framed with actual action items that I need to DO to accomplish them.

With all that said, here is my list of resolutions. And I'd love to hear yours, too.

1. Finish my MBA. This one is here because it WILL happen, I'm scheduled to finish by October but would love to finish earlier. Since it occupies a lot of my time, it's definitely a worthy entry here, because many other potential goals can't be on the list till this one is over.

In order to accomplish this one, I will plan to increase the hours each week that I'm devoting to it. I'm making a schedule.

2. Improve my job situation. I have a great job. But I want to grow in more ways and move up. I intend to work on adding skills, will update my resume to be ready to post for positions I want, and will work to stay on top of upcoming positions that I am interested in.

3. Complete the half marathon. Again, something I WILL do. It will be so nice to check off the list! My plan here (which I've mostly stuck to, barring weather obstacles) is to run three times a week and follow my training plan for long runs.

4. Get in better shape. Note, this does not say lose weight. I find that when my body feels strong (like when I've had a great run) I feel GOOD about myself, regardless of what the scale happens to say that day. I want to get two additional workouts in each week, in addition to the runs, that focus on strength.

5. Pay down credit cards. I have a number in mind. Next step is setting a budget to make this happen.

6. Sleep. Sounds kinda lame for a resolution. But I'm so often finding myself watching t.v. at 11:30 at night when I need to get up early, and struggling to get up early enough. My goal is to sleep 7-8 hours a night. I have an app on my phone to keep track, and so far I'm doing ok!

7. Eat well.  Last year I did a lot of "clean eating" and the holidays have derailed that! So, I'm back on my 80/20 plan. Eat clean 80% of the time, eat all those other things I love but aren't "clean" 20% of the time. I'm only human, you guys. And I hate whole wheat pasta. I keep trying. But I need the good ol' refined bad for you pasta. With breadsticks.

The food plan in loose terms (to make it easy to follow without a lot of thought) is as follows:
-No fried foods
-No processed meats with nitrites/nitrates
-No foods with added sugars
-No artificial sweeteners or flavors or colors
-No "white" flours
-As many unprocessed foods (like, they came from the Earth that way) as possible.

p.s. Wine is a clean food in my book.

So, there are the resolutions, AKA current goals for the year! Since blogging regularly is not a resolution, I'm not sure how often I'll be updating progress here, but I do intend to at some point in the future!

Please, tell me your resolutions!

Friday, January 3, 2014


2013 has flown by. Just like all the other years. And one of the things I'm thankful for this year is social media. Because it's allowed me to document all the coolest stuff I've done and it just stays there, out in the internets, for me to review whenever I want a little trip down memory lane!

From the fun little year-end social network review I did recently on facebook comes this one. I'm feeling pretty grateful for the wonderful life I have.

In 2013, we started our year with a trip to DISNEY WORLD in late January! It was such an amazing vacation, and even though we were just there a year ago, our family can't stop talking about going back someday. We made a ton of great memories, and it was the best vacation I've ever had.

Speaking of travel- I was able to visit Utah twice this year for work. Once in March, so the snow was still icing the tops of the mountains, and a second time in July for our annual conference, when all my work friends were there and we had great times staying up too late before work meetings.

 One of the nights we were in Utah, Rachel, Jill, and I rented this sweet convertible for a drive up to Park City to see the sights. Unfortunately, we only got to have the top down for about five minutes, and I had to drive up and down a crazy big mountain in the RAIN (I may have freaked out a little, but kept it mostly inside I think).

Hot chicks in a red convertible
Writing this post, I realize I went lots of places this year! Matt and I joined his mom, aunt, sister, and sister's boyfriend for a weekend in Louisville this year.  His lovely mom, Marta, was turning 50, and celebrated by apparently losing her mind-- since her big plans for the weekend included ziplining and skydiving!

I attempted the zipline... I managed to complete the practice line, and then, paralyzed by my fear of heights, cried while the 8 year olds went ahead of me on the first real line. And then I waited outside for the rest of the group to have an adventure and I read a book like an old lady. I also spectated while the rest of the group (except Matt's aunt) went skydiving. It was super cool to watch them jump, and see the nerves before they went up in the plane, and the true relief to be on solid ground afterward. ;)

Marta's birthday dinner before they all tried to kill themselves

Matt and I went to Ohio a month later for our 1st wedding anniversary! We originally planned the road trip to Ohio to see Wicked when Matt managed to get some pretty amazing seats to the show... and then we just made a whole vacation out of it! We stayed in several different cities-- Columbus first, to see Wicked, check out breweries and the cool children's museum  where we got to see REAL rats playing basketball! 

Then we drove over to the NFL football hall of fame in Canton, and then up to Cleveland, where we stayed at the GORGEOUS hotel pictured below, and gambled at the Casino and toured the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 
Hyatt Regency at the Arcade
Rounding out our unplanned tour of 3 of the 4 neighboring states of Indiana, we drove up to Detroit for the Oddball Comedy Tour to see Dave Chappelle and The Flying Conchords in the fall. The show was great, and Matt and I had fun as usual doing our typical road trip things, like stopping by wineries, casinos, and restaurants recommended by the urban spoon app.
pre-concert tailgating selfie

The kids and I took two short trips to waterparks too. One for each of their birthdays- once to Great Wolf Lodge in May, and once to Kalahari in October.  They had a blast. :)

Ethan and his BFF also named Ethan at Kalahari Resort.

I did a lot of running this year.  I decided to tackle the couch to 5k program... and after many months and much struggle, finally actually RAN the whole 5k distance with my friend Jessica at the Monumental 5k- which was the same day our friend Nikki ran her first marathon.

I started the season by taking it easy, and enjoying the first 5k with the kids, Matt, and his family at our first Color Run! Aside from getting WAY too much colored chalk in my ear canal, it was a really fun time! 
Color Run

After the Color Run, the kids and I did the Zombie Outbreak 5k. We even made custom Plants Vs. Zombies Tshirts! This was one of the first 5ks that I actually tried to RUN. I thought doing it with the kids would help, but I was wrong. Ethan, the natural runner that he is, left me in the dust from the start line. And Emma and her boyfriend apparently leisurely strolled the whole 3 miles. Since it was July, I sweated and huffed and puffed and dragged my sorry butt the whole way by myself, while avoiding zombies. Dang useless kids.

Next up was the Glo Run, which is a nighttime run where everything is glow in the dark and blacklights and neon colors. I ran this one with Nikki, Dana, and Jessica, and we had a blast. The glo-light glasses were one of my favorite parts.

After that was the Wine at the Line at Mallow Run Winery with a bunch of friends. It was rainy and muddy but fun, and the wine at the end was a nice reward. 

Ethan is the true runner- which he proved by performing great this cross country season, including getting an award for the most PRs of his whole team this year!

Ethan running at a home meet (he's in the middle)

Speaking of my awesome kids, Emma continues to make me proud-- she applied for and was accepted to her first mission trip, and she will fly to Nicaragua for spring break! She's also learning to drive, which makes me freak out with the realization that she is old enough to get her license.

Emma and I got to see Wicked together this winter-- second time for me this year-- which was wonderful! She loved the show, and we had a fun dinner beforehand... during which multiple servers offered her wine because apparently, at a nice restaurant on Mass Ave with dim lighting, while dressed up, she looks over 21. OMG. 

A few other cool things happened:
Matt built us a DECK as my anniversary gift, and had it built as a surprise while we were in Ohio!

My awesome new deck!
Matt and I spent many Sundays at Lucas Oil Stadium watching Colts games and spending way too much money on stadium pizza, fries, and beer. Pretty awesome.
The place we prefer to watch the game from, since our seatmates were so annoying. And who wants to climb all those stairs?

What a FANTASTIC 2013!!
This doesn't even account for all the other great ways I spent time... playing board games with my kids, nights out dancing or dining with friends and family, movies, etc. Plus I got a promotion this year, and Matt had continued success in his career.

If you are a blogger, please oh please write a wrap-up of your year (excessive pictures optional) for me to peruse. :)

If you are not a blogger, an extremely lengthy facebook post would also be appreciated.

Happy New Year!