Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Figuring out Christmas Traditions

This year, we are trying something new.  We are staying home for Christmas.

The holidays for us are often a time of running around from this party, to that one, from this city to the next.  By the end of the Holidays, I am stressed and I wonder what people see in celebrating Christmas.  So this year we (ok, it was I - still not sure if my husband is completely on board) decided to stay home for Christmas.  It’s our first Christmas in Jackson this year!  The first thought of this made me very excited.  I can sleep in!  I can wear my pjs!  I don’t have to do ANYTHING!  Who doesn’t love these things?  But now I try to make plans with friends, and they are all off celebrating with their families.  Bah Humbug!  Where’s my happy middle?

I haven’t found it yet.  I feel like it’s all or nothing.  If we travel up to KC/CS, we have two parties on Christmas Eve, one (sometimes 2) on Christmas Day, and usually the next day.  That’s where our family is, that’s where the parties are.  I find that I’m constantly looking at my watch to make sure we aren’t late for the next one.  Sometimes that means that I’m bugging the host to hand out gifts so the kids can open them and have time to play with them before we leave OR reminding family members what time we need to leave for bed time.  It’s not any fun.  Plus, since we aren’t home on Christmas Eve or Day, we have our Christmas days earlier and have to write Santa to make sure he knows when we are celebrating and the kids are opening presents and we are taking off.

Now, in Jackson, we’ll go to church Christmas Eve and go check out the Nite Lites sometime the weekend before.  We’ll sleep in Christmas day…oh wait.  No we won’t (what kids sleep in Christmas day?).  We’ll sleep in the day after Christmas, and have a nice pajama day, all by ourselves.  I’m interested in how we feel (as a family) about not traveling.  We don’t know what works for us, until we try it!  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Young at Heart

I have been working at my employer for almost 11.5 years.  My business card says I'm a Senior Application Developer. The company org chart says I'm a Specialist I.  So why do I feel so young (more so 'inexperienced')?

I look in the mirror and I have wrinkles on my forehead (this I blame on my kids for constantly worrying about them), I have laugh lines around my mouth (definitely blamed on my friends), and I use wrinkle cream around my eyes EVERY night (still figuring out who to blame this on).  But when I'm at work, talking with coworkers, management, or VPs, I feel so YOUNG.  So naive  so insecure, so ready for them to point a finger at me and tell me I'm an imposture - that I'm lying to myself and everyone else around me - that I JUST graduated from college and I'm really inexperienced.  But they don't, because my wrinkles and long list of accomplishments tell them I have experience, even if my body language/posture/idiotic responses show otherwise.

I have notes from colleagues telling me about my "invaluable experience", how they couldn't have done it without me, how I am very helpful and knowledgeable, how I'm a very good leader and I have good management skills.  People come to me with questions, and I have answers or I know where to find them.  Wouldn't you think I would believe everybody by now?  Shouldn't I be strutting around with an inflated ego by now?

I don't know why I feel like this some days.  Maybe I need to carry a mirror around to remind myself that I'm older than I feel?  What I need to do is find a way to stay young at heart, but still believe in myself.  Perhaps feeling inexperienced is good, so I strive to understand more and maybe that's what others see. Maybe it's because I work in a male dominated occupation, so I don't know how women are supposed to feel/act?  That's a lot of maybes.  One thing for sure is that I feel more comfortable now in my job setting than I did when I first started this blog post.  Maybe seeing this in writing will help pep me up!  But just in case, I'll carry a mirror around.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Kids will be kids, is that enough?

A couple of weeks ago, my husband was gone so I brought the kids by myself to church.  I was looking forward to the peacefulness I would have sitting in the pews by myself.  Turns out, once a month the kids' Sunday school is closed.  Unfortunately for me, that was this Sunday.  I had nothing with me to keep the kids entertained and nobody to help.  So much for peaceful.  I started off the service trying to keep the boys sitting in the seats the right way, followed by getting them off the ground, followed by getting them to stop laying down, this wasn't nap time!  To make matters worse, the couple in front of me with a tween kept looking back at us.  I was already sitting in the balcony, where did they want us to go?

I had kept my voice reasonably low while threatening the kids with death (aka no DSs for a week), but they were all over.  During a prayer, B managed to crawl under the pew and was a few rows back. I was beyond frustrated.  They tailored the sermon to be entertaining for younger kids.  It was about Sampson, well, from what I could hear, I thought it was about Sampson.  So why won't my kids sit still??!?!

Boys will be boys is a common phrase people tell me, but is that ok?  Should I just laugh at their wild ways and shrug?  Or should I try to tame them?  I've spent my whole, child-rearing life trying to tame and I'm not sure it's helped.  It has just caused a rift between them and me.  I guarantee they think I'm a terrible mother because instead of playing, I'm telling them to be safe, be responsible, don't hit, don't kick, to quit putting underwear on their heads, to JUST LISTEN and DO IT THE FIRST TIME!  Apparently, they are well behaved in school, daycare, Sunday school, so is it too much to expect them to behave for me too?

So I'm in turmoil.  Should I change my ways?  It would be very difficult for me to do that, but if it would help me regain a better relationship with my kids (especially my oldest, he's 8), then I would try very hard.  Or do I continue beating down on them to sit still and maybe it'll sink in?

Here I sit, at the Chelsea Tree House (indoor play area), catching up on my work and watching the kids play.  My main motive is to get them tired out so they will sleep tonight (my youngest was up until 9:50 last night!!), but a secondary motive is the enjoyment I get out of them playing well together (because this is rare at our house too!).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Here we go again!

When I first moved to Jackson, I only knew my boyfriend (now my husband), his best friend, and his best friends girlfriend.  I'm an introverted person, so it's hard for me to make friends (I usually have to be around them a lot to feel comfortable enough to talk about anything personal but most people just think I'm shy or rude for not speaking).
I spent my free time with my boyfriend.  I had made a few friends at work and spent some time with them, but mostly it was with Mike.   His best friend's girlfriend, Meredith, had met a friend (Lidija) that she said was a lot of fun.  They were getting together with a few other women at Lidija's house and Meredith invited me along.  I knew two girls from work there and thought it was a great group of girls. Fast forward 8ish years, past marriage and babies and more baby, and past 6 years of slowly coming out of my shell and now these girls can't get rid of me.  I've got stories that I've told a hundred times that they still listen to, tears that nobody cares that I shed, and constant chocolate whenever we meet.

Three of these girls (Angie, Becky, and Michelle) get stuck with me quite often.  Actually, now that I think about it, I think they can't get enough of me.  They begged and begged and begged for me to run a marathon with them (OK, maybe begging isn't the right word, it went more like this:  Me: "Hey, did I hear you guys talking about a marathon?"  Them: "yea"  Me:  "Ok, I'll run another one with you."  Them: <awkward pause> <whisper> 'Did we invite her?'.  Ha!  I'm kidding!
They did the full training for the May marathon, and I ran half of what they ran (see training schedule ) and we all started the marathon.  One of us became severely dehydrated and had to stop around 21.5 miles.   A few hours after we finished, I volunteered to run another one with her when she was ready.   Last week she decided she was ready, so we are upping our mileage to prepare for an October marathon.  I really don't care about completing another marathon, I don't care about another medal, but I wouldn't miss the training.  I have learned so much from these girls.  I learned how great organic food is, I learned about eMeals (about any night of the week you could pop over to any of our houses and we'll probably be preparing the same meal!), I learned that I'm not the only one who screams at my children until I'm blue in the face.  We read the same articles, listen to the same podcasts, run a ton and still don't lose weight.  We can talk for five hours without much silence.

So here we go again.  Another 2.5 months of training, another hundred or two miles on my shoe, and I'm sure an injury or two, but I wouldn't miss it for anything!  I wonder how many marathons we can fit in next year....

Monday, July 16, 2012

Recipes from the 'net

Here are a couple of recipes I have borrowed from the internet.  I can't even imagine life without the internet.  No place to look up code snippets (work), no place to view symptoms of diseases you think you have, no place to look for how to find all of the coins in Super Mario Brothers (we use to check out gamer books from the library for this!) and no place to find recipes!

I like to look up recipes after going to a restaurant with food that I like.

Here are some great ones that I've found:

Carrabba's Dipping Oil for Bread
SUPER EASY!  I love dipping bread and this one is super simple to make.  I put all ingredients (except garlic) in a little container so I have it on hand for when we have bread, and add the garlic in the dipping dish with the spices.

McDonald's sweet tea
YUM.  Since I usually order 1/2 sweet tea and 1/2 regular tea, I only put in 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup sugar.   Instead of the 3 regular sized lipton, I use the cold brew pitcher size tea bag.  And I also dissolve the sugar in warm water first (on the stove).  The first time I made it, I dissolved the sugar, poured it into a 2 gallon pitcher, and then put the Cold Brew lipton tea bag in it.  It brewed in like 10 seconds!  So let the water cool down if you use the Cold Brew bag.

Carrabba's Tag Pic Pac
This one requires a little more work, but it's SO good!  One of the reviews was from a manager at Carrabba's and suggested rough chopping 8 basil leaves and add them at the very last minute to flavor the sauce.  He also suggests using white pepper instead of black and canned, whole Italian plum tomatoes to crush them in the sauce yourself.  I also like chicken to put on top.

The two main websites I go to to find recipes are Kraft Recipes and Betty Crocker.  They are nice because you can put in the main ingredient and search for what you'd like to make or put in a list of ingredients that you have and come up with a meal.  I like looking at the 30 minute meals and the kid meals.  I don't remember which site (or maybe it's both?), but some of the meals aren't very spicy/salty/flavorful, so be sure to add in extra spices (if you are good at that kind of thing).

Have fun!  Be sure to put in your recipe links in the comments!

Happy Cooking!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Creating a garden

At the beginning of this year, I decided to try and start eating healthier, for myself and my family.  Not only increasing consumption of fruits and veggies, but increasing organic products.  I started buying organic milk, carrots, frozen berries, and a few other misc items.  I'd like to buy more organic stuff, but I can't find it at my local Meijer.  Every few months I can find organic strawberries, but I love strawberries so much, that I end up eating the 'regular' ones.  Jillian Michaels had said that if we started eating organic berries, we could reduce the pesticides that we eat by 80% (this was in one of her podcasts - Jillian Michaels' podcasts).  So, we decided to start a garden!

My husband has a Lowe's How To book and we found a picture of a simple garden set up.

My husband bought the boards (at Lowe's of course!), stained them, and joined them together.  We pulled up the grass underneath and poured in a TON of soil (Miracle Grow).  It's 8' x 4'.
I had some cucumbers growing inside, so I planted them the day we got the garden set up.  The deer ate them that night.  The next day we bought 10' PVC pipe and bird netting.  The 10' PVC pipe is connected to a larger PVC pipe connected to the board.

The netting is secured at all 4 corners with large screw hooks.  At first we though this was enough.  The deer still walked right through it!  So we added smaller screw hooks to the sides (2 on each side).

This held down the side of the netting.  I also added pinwheels to each of the corners hoping that helps scare the deer away.  The only thing we would have done differently is add grating (wire) at the bottom (underneath the soil) so the moles won't dine on the roots.

I've got cucumbers, carrots and green beans growing this year.   If the animals don't dine and we get to eat them, I may expand next year!

It's not a very technical post, so if you have any questions about sizing of any of the products, let me know (and I'll ask my husband :).

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

10 week marathon training program

I had committed to running a marathon in October.  We (three friends and I) decided that timing and distance made the Bayshore marathon the perfect one.  I was having some knee issues at the time and was a little worried about spending the $90 before I could 100% commit.  I had to make a quick decision because the Bayshore marathon sells out in about a week.  I went to Optimal Performance Specialists (ops.orthopaedicrehab.com) in Jackson, MI and they told me they could fix my knee.  I signed right up for the marathon!
My friends (this was their first marathon, my second) did some research and decided that a run/walk ratio would be good.  We tweaked it after a few runs and came up with 4 minutes running followed by 1 minute walking.
I spent 2 days a week doing strength workouts for my knee and upper body (we also did some running analysis).  After my final session (I did 12 total), my knee was feeling a ton better!  I was ready to start increasing my training (I had kept a 6 mile long run in December).
In January, I ran:

  1. 2 miles, 3 miles, and 6 miles
  2. 2, 3
  3. 2, 3, 6
  4. 4, 1, 7
Then disaster hit.  I came down with the flu.  Right after I recovered, I was playing volleyball and sprained my ankle.  I started physical therapy right away.  They weren't certain if I would be healed up enough to get in enough training by end of May.  I was pretty determined.  

  1. flu
  2. ankle
After a few weeks on crutches, I got the go ahead to try a mile.  If a mile felt good, then to try two.  I spent some time researching 10 week marathon training schedules, and I learned that they don't recommend it, or they started the training (week 1) at 10 miles.  I didn't have the 10 mile distance, so I just started increasing.  Worst case scenario, I would run as far as I could marathon morning and then catch a ride back.

  1. 1 mile
  2. 2, 3, 2
  3. 2, 4, 2
  4. 2, 6, 
  5. 2, 3, 8
I should mention that I'm an experienced runner.  I have been running for over 15 years, with the most time off is a year (and that was usually around the time I had my babies).

  1. 3 miles, 10 miles
  2. 2, 2, 4, 12
  3. 3, 4, 14
  4. 6, 4, 10
With a month before the marathon, I had only a 14 mile max distance under my belt.  My friends were running a half marathon in Kalamazoo, so I decided to join them.  Running with people would be much better than trying to run 16 miles by myself.  I was hoping to run a little before the race and a little after to get in 16 miles.  I got in 2 miles before the half marathon (@8:30 pace).  I wasn't sure of my race strategy, but when the gun went off, I took off.  I ended up completing the half marathon in 1:58 (9:02/mile) and there was NO way I could take another step after finishing the Finish line.  There was no time for any more long runs.  It was time to start tapering the miles.  Could I run a marathon with only a 15 mile long run?
Yes I could!  I never doubted I could finish after getting in the 12 miler.  I just wasn't sure how I would feel afterwards.  The half marathon was the only run I was sore after (I ran the whole thing, only walking through water stations).   We finished the marathon around 5:10.  I got 4 blisters on my toes towards the end of the race (I started feeling them around mile 21), so I wore flip flops for the rest of the weekend.  My quads were sore after sitting for awhile the day of and the next 2 days, but that was it.  I had completed a marathon with a 10 week make-it-up-as-you-go training program and with only a 15 mile long run.

  1. 4, 4, 15 - 1/2 marathon
  2. 3, 4, 8 - OUCH - very sore from 1/2
  3. 3, 5, 6
  4. 3, 4, 26.2
I feel like an experienced runner now :)  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Things that aren't fair...

Grandparents passing; children that don't listen and
24 hours in a day.

Pets that pass; slow people on the highway and
People that stop and stay.

Acne after 30; working for a living; and
Cloudy no sun days.

These are things, that I don't think are fair
in May.

But, then, life wouldn't circle
The world would be full
And you couldn't pass a day.

We'd grow weary of our children,
our appreciation and
the sun and it's rays.

So, stay as it is, enjoy the cranky and crazy,
The slow and fast; the zitty and witty,
but live each day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Young Fives vs Kindergarten

Hud's Young Fives teacher (Mrs. Frederick) is asking parents for a note about why they decided Young Fives over Kindergarten.  As some of you know, it was a VERY hard decision for me.  Below is what I wrote.

I was heading into the Kindergarten assessment (kindergarten roundup?) with no thoughts of Young Fives.  I was under the impression that it was for children who turned 5 after September 1st.  We even completely skipped the Young Fives table while we went to all of the stations.  When I got the letter weeks later saying that the school recommended Young Fives for my son, I was completely unprepared!  I was reading the letter out loud to my son and stumbled over myself.  I contacted the school and talked with Mrs. Shelton, the school counselor, about why Young Fives was being recommended for him.  He was on the border line between Young Fives and kindergarten she told me.  His birthday is mid-June, and a lot of boys starting with June birthdays go to Young Fives.  Academically he was ready, but he still liked to move around when he was supposed to be sitting.  I just kept thinking "He's a boy! He's 5!  He's supposed to be moving around!" The final decision was with what my husband and I decided, and we had a week to figure it out.  
During that week, I talked with 14 different people.  These included Mrs. Shelton, Mrs. McAlpine (the school principle), kindergarten teachers, middle school teachers, friends from work, etc.  Not a single one talked bad about having their child in Young Fives.  Not one regretted it.  Some even wished their children would have been young enough to go to Young Fives!  I was told over and over what a great Young Fives program Northwest had.  By this point, we had been telling my son that he was going to kindergarten in the fall.  He was DEVASTATED when we were considering Young Fives.  His buddies from preschool were moving to kindergarten and he couldn't understand why he might not be able to.  It broke my heart. Å friend told me that her school had recommended Young Fives, but she decided not to listen to them.  She ended up deciding to hold her daughter back in first grade because she was struggling a little bit.  A middle school teacher told me that she can usually tell which kids went to kindergarten without that extra year to 'grow up' because they are usually needing more help to understand the academics she is teaching. 
In the end, we decided on Young Fives.  What a fantastic decision that was!  Mrs. Frederick has been WONDERFUL!  My son is usually slow on feeling comfortable, and after the 2nd or 3rd day, he was telling me how much he loved school.  He has learned so much, mostly about letters, numbers, kindergarten curriculum, but also he has become a better listener, a better rule follower, and just a better kid over all.  We have one last son that will go through school in a couple of years (August birthday), and we are telling him Young Fives first, then Kindergarten.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Goodbye Jillian

Dear Jillian,
This is not what I expected, but I've drawn it out long enough.  You win.  I got 26 days of your 30 day shred over the course of 3 months.  I will now let go of the thred and let you fly free.  You were weighing me down, as I would beat myself up for not following up with you every day.  I have too much on my plate right now to have you knocking on my door every night, and I know you know I'm hiding when I don't open it.
BUT don't think you've got the final victory!  I will come back, stronger than ever and crush the 30 days in 30 days!!  Maybe after my marathon.

Not shredded Allison

Saturday, January 7, 2012

30 day shred, day 23 & 24

Time: 10:30am
Weight: +3 lbs
Level: 3 & 2

My husband doesn't have any New Years resolutions, so he says.  But yet, he's eating salad like crazy and has starting running again.  Maybe it's something I call a resolution, but something he calls a "stress relief."  It's nice to come home from work and see that motivation.  My husband, in my opinion, doesn't need to lose weight because he is tall and lean, but I think running (as it is for me) is a great stress reliever and just makes you feel good about yourself.
It's hard, when I'm down, to see him motivate.  He makes a list, sticks to it, and I just think about things that I want to do, but can barely get off the couch, or am too busy to do anything.  
I decided yesterday that it was my New Years Day, a time to start over.  I plodded slowly on the treadmill and then, with my husband, did Level 3 of Jillian Michaels (he did not think it was easy, so that made me feel better!).  I was one step farther yesterday than I was the day before.  Today, I didn't run, but I did Jillian's workout (with a lot of dancing with the kids).  This is my personal goal now, as I have no creditability to have any followers (except mom, she'll always be there cheering me on :) because it was by no means 30 days in a row like I had planned!  
6 more days to go and I can stop feeling guilty about dissing Jillian!

Tomorrow I'm up for a 6 mile run (my first long one in my marathon training), but have decided not to do Jillian these long run days.  Too much for me to handle right now.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year, new you..... but when?

As you may have noticed in my blog, I tend to get knocked down every few weeks.  And when I do, it takes awhile to get back on track.  I was doing good with exercises at the end of December, but I have fallen off track.  With all of the Christmas eating and New Years partying, I have yet to get back on track.  I've got marathon training that should have started 2 days ago, and I've done nothing.  I've done no exercise in the last week, except for my dumbbell curls putting a Snickers to my mouth.

So...when does the new me come?  Yea, guess that part requires getting my butt off the couch!  Tomorrow is supposed to be almost 50 degrees (did I mention I live in the midwest in JANUARY!?!?).  So I'm hoping to get out for a run.

I've got 8 days left of Jillian Michael's 30 day shred, and I still plan to finish that!  It may take me all year, but I can do it.  What was I thinking trying to do it in 30 days?  Kudos to all of you out there that stick with exercising year round!  I have a hard time sticking to it for a month :)