Monday, December 31, 2007

la meme chose

i did this little meme last year around this time, and i thought it would be interesting to see how the end of '07 compares...

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before? ran a mile (and maybe more...)
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? instead of a "resolution," i am focusing on two words for 2008: OPEN for me, and HEALTH for my family.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? yes, my youngest sister gave birth to baby becca on june 24th.
4. Did anyone close to you die? no
5. What countries did you visit? um, i drove down embassy row in d.c., and traveled through epcot center.
6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007? a life coach
7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? june first, taylor's arrival.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? godspell!
9. What was your biggest failure? letting my weight-loss efforts fizzle mid-year
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? no
11. What was the best thing you bought? is it possible that the only things i bought were groceries? 'cause i can't think of ANYTHING!!
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? jack graduated from kindergarten!
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? the teenager in my life
14. Where did most of your money go? mortgage payments
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? our fantabulous trip to disney world!
16. What song will always remind you of 2007? summer love by justin timberlake. and the saga begins, by wierd al. don't ask.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? 
b) thinner or fatter? 
c) richer or poorer? a little sadder, exactly the same, poorer in dollars/richer in friends.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? counted more calories!
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? bitching and moaning!
20. Did you fall in love in 2007? status quo.
21. What was your favorite TV program? american idol and lost.
22. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? no. but i'm definitely frustrated with some!
23. What was the best book you read? saving fish from drowning and eat, pray, love.
24. What was your greatest musical discovery? the jonas brothers. and podcasts.
25. What did you want and get? an excellent review at work.
26. What did you want and not get? a lighthouse award.
27. What was your favorite film of this year? nothing sticks out in my mind.
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? went to the movies and dinner at a japanese steakhouse with my girlfriends/sisters, all the while turning 38.
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? meeting my blog friends!
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007? land's end, hampton inn style.
31. What kept you sane? blogging. absolutely - blogging.

you can read last year's here.


total time 1:36:02 with 10 minutes of walking (walk 1/run 7).

holy crap...


1 1/2 miles after work. jack rode his bike - we split up after the first mile, and off he went on his own back to the house. it's the first time i've let him ride (unescorted), and i had a few moments of stress about it, but he did GREAT! (it helps that we were in our neighborhood, and he was 1/2 mile from home!

total time 33:53 with 2 minutes of walking.

Friday, December 28, 2007

spt - auld lang syne

what was your favorite spt from 2007? take a moment and revisit this spt journey you've been on. which was your favorite photo? your most creative? is there a post that sums up your year? a post that reminds you of something small and fun that you might otherwise forget about?

will you continue to spt in the new year?

Happy 2008 to my blogging family!! I'm *open* to a fantastic and creative new year - SEE you there!!

my first self-portrait, february 20, 2007


it's time to bust out the calorie notebook again!

i just did a little exercise on runners world, where it figured i burned 898 calories during my 5 mile run.


that's, like, dinner and dessert...

(caveat: yes, i know that the calculator was making a LOT of assumptions, given that the only info it had was miles run and my weight. but still... 898.)

i then read an article on the same site that extolls the multitude of virtues of running vs. walking - in terms of calories burned. NET calories burned, to be precise. seems you can burn about 4X the calories running a mile as opposed to walking it. whew!!

i've been saying that my new running hobby is not so much about the weight loss than it is the exercise and the mental growth. i've sort of been avoiding the scale altogether (i got on it last week. the news was *not* good. but, at least it gives me a starting point, in case i'm interested in that later...) i have been sort of obsessively looking in the mirror, and using the measuring tape. and BOTH of those make me feel very good right now.

so maybe i start recording those calories again, you know, just to keep track. couldn't hurt.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

i will remember

when i am cranky and temperamental because there is laundry to be done and dinner to be made, i will remember to be thankful to have clothes to wash and food to prepare;

when i am frustrated because of traffic or crowded stores or inconsiderate people, i will remember to be thankful that i live in a country where i can mingle with my countrymen without fear of prosecution;

when i am too tired to tidy the house or help with homework, i will remember to be thankful that i can live safely with my family in my homeland;

when i am feeling like a small and insignificant spec in this universe,
when i hesitate to do one small turn for another for fear that it won't be *enough,*
when i pridefully put my wants and desires ahead of others,

i will remember benazir bhutto, who lived, and died, for freedom.


after a short day at work, i headed out for a 4 pm run. even as i walked outside, layering and layering, i really didn't have a clear idea of how far i was going to go. so i'm thrilled to report that i ran 5 miles!! with some awesome numbers to report.

total time 1:16:41 @ walk 1/run 7. i only took 8 minute-long walk breaks (i skipped one in the first mile and one in the last mile!)

i went out really pushing it, and did the first mile in 12:50. my best mile ever!! (i also really felt it in the next mile...) by mile 1/5, i had shed gloves AND hat, and found interesting ways to stash them all in my vest! throughout the run, i tried to push myself to do brief *sprints* (and i use the term *sprints* very loosely.)

so, i shaved over three minutes from my total time, and chalked up a VERY decent 15:28 per mile pace. and THAT is all there is to say about THAT!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


christmas eve 2.5 mile run in the morning, to get my head prepared for the day. i really can't decide if i'm a morning runner, or an evening runner.

total time 43:04 with 38 minutes of running.

total distance 2.5 miles, which really has me stressing out about my pace. i'm running waaaay slower than the turkey trot, 6 weeks ago!! like three minutes/mile slower!! i should not be stressed out about this, right?!?

this was my first day of walk 1/run 7. i'm not getting winded at all - feels like a "conversational pace" (even though i'm not talking to anybody...). do i need to step it up? how do i make myself step it up???


had a BLAST!! beautiful day for running.

total time 1:20:47 with 12 minutes of walking (walk 1/run 6)

matty says THIS is what i really look like after running 5 miles... (i was stretching!! i was NOT collapsed!!)

merry pink christmas!

it's here!! pink Christmas has been such fun to be a part of. my present arrived a few weeks ago, and the perfectly square little shipping box sat patiently under my tree these past few days. i was so excited to finally open it this morning.

pink packing peanuts!! i couldn't resist including a photo of them.

i immediately fell in love with the round wicker basket! it was so much fun to untie the bow and read the great card from kristen. how amazing is it to get to know someone across the country!

she put together a great collection of goodies, all of which are so special: a journal for my never-ending collection of life-stories, a variety of beautifully designed notecards (perfect for good mail of all occasions!), two beautiful bracelets (chunky beads - hooray!), some scrumptious smelling tomato soap, and hershey kisses with almonds (must remember to hide these away!!)

kristen, thank you for the wonderful gifts. thank you for reading through the ramblings on my blog to learn just what i would appreciate. thank you for introducing me to something new (tomato soap!) merry Pink Christmas to you and your growing family!!

christmas day musings

every Christmas Day, i cover a few hours at the hotel so that other employees have a chance to spend part of the day with their families. it's a nice little routine for me... i get to do the crack-of-dawn present-opening with jack, enjoy some breakfast casserole and coffee, stop by my sister's to see the cousins...

and then, it's usually time for me to take a break from the chaos of the day. (this year, it was time for me to take a break from the 6 1/2 year old looking up his nose with the new eyeclops.)

the thing about hotel on Christmas Day is that none of the guests are actually here. they are at their family and friends' homes, enjoying present-opening and breakfast casseroles of their own. these four hours will be blessedly quiet, and i've come prepared to spend the entire time blogging!!

let's start off with some Christmas presents that we made to share with our family. first up, some *house sparkle.* i found this "recipe" at amy rue last year, and i filed it away in the recesses of my mind. it is, very simply, baking soda and essential oils - a totally natural, yummy smelling cleanser or laundry additive. you might think giving multi-purpose cleanser is an odd idea for Christmas. maybe it is, but could you resist the cute packaging?? thanks to this past year of blogging, i now have an arsenal of ribbon, canning jars (*multi-purpose jars*), graphic design ideas, and inspiration!!

on sunday, we took the cousins to portrait innovations. holy moly, what an operation! in the span of 10 minutes, we had 71 shots to choose from. we walked away with about 36 sheets of photos in 30 minutes - can you say Christmas presents galore for grandparents and far-away relatives?!? you also get a disk of all of the shots. so how could i resist whipping up some ornaments for my sisters (also known as the moms of the cousins.) once again, the blogosphere offered up an amazing idea, this time via jill.


who was the mom who was baking up cookies at 10 pm last night for Santa? that would be me... a slight oversight on my part yielded NO carrots and only leftovers from the cookie exchange to lay out for the jolly old elf. thanks to all of you baking bloggers out there who inspire me to have a pantry full of staples!

you can see that Santa and his team of reindeer were pretty hungry by the time they got to our house!

when i finally had a chance to sit down and relax in the glow of the Christmas tree, what a joy it was to look over the *other* tree in the room. so many new faces and families and stories represented here. hope you are all having a most wonderful Christmas Day!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

deck the halls

one of my late night projects this year was to take this

and turn it into this

it might be my favorite decor this year! i keep meaning to photo-journal my Christmas decorations. this is only our second year in this house, so we're still tweaking what we like and what we don't like. if i DO end up taking some good photos, i'm tempted to go over here and add it to the holiday house tour. what a cool idea! i'll never have time to go through all of those links, but i'll bet there's some great inspration to be found!


last night, jack decided to try the scooter. why didn't i just have him stay home??? i was soooo stressed out about him scootering in the middle of the road, or scootering over his shoelaces, that i was a total screaming banshee. i actually called mat and had him come get jack!

i'm sorry, jack. we just have to find a well-lit, no-traffic area for our joint exercise ventures!!

at any rate, i think i ended up going 3 miles. i'm not even entirely sure.

total time 52:05 with 5? 6? 7? minutes of walking (like i said, i'm not even entirely sure.) after jack was picked up, i continued with walk 1/run 6 for the rest of the run (oh, except for that time that i went walk 1/run 9!)

a totally disorganized effort!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

somebody stop me!

at the risk of sounding cocky, i think we might be winning the gingerbread war!

or, i should say, jack is winning, and i am his unwitting accomplice. today is "cookie exchange day" at school (apparently, our Montessori is really sticking it to us on the sugar front this year!) and jack would not be sold on the easy, schmeasy turtles this year. ("but no one will pick those, mom!" peer pressure, first grade style.)

it was to be gingerbread men, and they were to be homemade.

thank goodness matty handled the rolling out and the cutting out of the men. i have mentioned my aversion to royal icing before. don't get me STARTED on the feeling of flour on my hands. or all over the kitchen, for that matter.

i simply had to leave the room while this was going on...

thank goodness i had saved the hermetically sealed bag of icing from the gingerbread house project. all i had to do was dot all the men, and jack applied the embellishments. he got tired (read: bored) after the first tray. it was then that we stumbled upon the sugar-dunking method. and a great time was had by all!

thank you to natasha for the cookie cutter - he was quickly washed and re-dressed with his festive ribbon as the cookies were baking!

we made applesauce for jack's teachers gifts (all you experienced canners out there, please overlook the air bubbles. this was our first attempt!) i am sending a very simple message to the Montessori this year: no more added sugar!!


last night, jack decided he wanted to go with me. (inner groan - these excursions don't usually go well.) but, who can resist a child who wants to exercise? not me! so, off we went with jack on his bike and with very cold hands.

it was dark. i can't even say it was almost dark. i had my headlamp and he was covered with glowsticks, but i was still very stressed about the fact that we probably couldn't be seen very well. and even though there were very few vehicles about, i also felt stressed that those drivers were probably questioning my parenting skills, too!

all was fine and dandy until about 1/4 mile in, when jack's pedal fell off. we got it fixed (temporarily) and went on our way. i have to say the running felt very good, and i was still optimistic about the *gentle* 2 mile run.

until about the 1 mile mark when the pedal fell off again, and this time, it was not to be repaired. so now jack was walking his bike in the dark while i was doing my best to keep up a good pace. he absolutely refused to leave the bike behind, even though i promised matty would come right out and pick it up for him!

34 minutes later, we were nearing home. i honestly felt like i could keep running! (like i said, the first two miles were fairly *gentle.* so, after a quick potty break, i headed out to do it all over again!!

total time 1:01:14 with 2 minutes of walking, one potty break, and several "waiting for jack" moments. what was it, 3 1/2, 4 miles?!? it was AWESOME, that's what it was! i really never, ever thought that after only a month and a half, i would be a runner!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


jack (and matty!) are nestled, all snug in their beds, and i should be doing a lot of this

however, i feel like doing more of this

are you ready for Christmas yet?

Monday, December 17, 2007

random acts of kindness

i was the recipient of a random act of kindness the other night, and it felt wonderful!!

i was checking a guest into the hotel, and it turns out he is from Sweden. so i promptly used the three Swedish words in my vocabulary: gud yul, yultomten and (of course) lutfisk. (if you can imagine, i believe i used all of these in one extremely long, ridiculous sentence!). i explained how we're trying to make jack aware of his Swedish heritage.

at any rate, he seemed so surprised and happy to hear those few Swedish words. (he also chided my for not liking lutfisk, but, oh well.) he reached into his bag and pulled out two Swedish chocolate bars, one for me and one for jack's stocking! the whole exchange took 5 minutes, but is really left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. i can't wait for jack to see that tomte really came to visit this year!

we are the champions!

ok, this is NOT the gingerbread house that jack and i built. this, THIS, is what he brought home from school on friday. for the past four years of montessorri, we have suffered through gingerbread house day. every year, they ask each child to bring in a box of graham crackers and THREE bags of candy. i have not once, in four years, sent him with ANY of these supplies, and yet... each year i am left dealing with the disposal of something like THIS!!

on sunday, however, jack and i set out to conquer the real gingerbread house. and conquer it, we did!!

i have to say, i was THRILLED to see the pre-mixed, totally self-enclosed bag of royal icing. no icing oozing out of the pastry bag in the wrong direction?!? it bode very, very well for this year's gingerbread experience.

here we are, triumphant!

jack said, "we made it without arguing." oh, yes, jack, we did. and it made the experience oh so much sweeter! (i was particularly happy when he called my sister to tell her that we wouldn't need to borrow the glue gun, after all.) (but don't think i wasn't prepared to fire it up!!)


4 miles!! i am fairly giddy about that!

total time 1:05:39 with 8 minutes of walking. EIGHT!!

i RAN the first mile, then settled into walk 1/run 5 for the rest of the run. tonight (if i brave the cold) i'm up to walk 1/run 6. bring it on!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

spt - the children were nestled all snug in their beds

'twas the week before Christmas, which means (if you're *me*) that it's time to start getting ready!! of course, one of the side effects of being a last minute shopper is that there are some looooong nights leading up to Christmas Eve.

there will be assembling and wrapping and card stuffing, and all of that must wait until jack is asleep. when it's "lights out" i settle into my routine. and now that the tree is up (all 7 1/2 feet of pre-lit glory!) my living room becomes santa's workshop. i can listen to handel, or vince gueraldi; watch bing crosby or clark griswold... yes, it will be a while before i can settle down to my own long winter's nap.

are you up late at night getting ready for Christmas? are you surprised, as an adult, how much effort it takes to make the holiday *magical?* if you're already "ready," do you take time to sit in the glow of the tree and the candles and really enjoy the spirit of the season? is there a favorite Christmas movie that you watch, or favorite music that you enjoy? are you rested and relaxed? or a tad frazzled, like me?

and the winner is...

last night, in an effort to soak in some holiday cheer (can you blame me??? it's 80 degrees out, and i just don't feel like putting up my tree!!!), we piled into the car and set out to see the neighborhood light displays.

we decided to try to tally up the different characters that were represented on the various lawns about town. we had a column for santas, snowmen, nativities, and *inflatables.*

after 45 minutes of touring the town, the final tally was:

nativities 7
snowmen 25
santas 25

it was awful, people!! entire yards taken over by hugely disproportionate Christmas characters!!

this one might have been the scariest. this photo seems pretty benign, but i'm here to tell you that rudolph here is well over 12 feet tall!!

i'd hate to see the abominable snowman...


this cold is such a drag!!

but i muddled through and ran 2 miles this afternoon, sucking on a throat lozenge and snuffling all the way. by the last 1/2 mile, i was actually feeling like i might run some more, but called it quits as soon as i saw my house!!

total time 31:42 with 26:42 of running time.

running 5 minutes at a time didn't feel too bad. i'm going to have to psych myself up for the 6 minute runs next week, though!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

bits and pieces

it seems that the season is bound to slip by me too quickly this year. i just need to remember to breath deeply and enjoy as many moments as possible. here are a few...

teaching jack to play dreidel - turned out to be one of the best family evenings we've had for a long time. who knew you could have so much fun betting chocolate coins for 45 minutes?!?

matty, the self-proclaimed *bull in the china shop* (for two years in culinary school, the chefs were always telling him he needed to "get more in touch with his feminine side!), surprised me with

awesome ambient lighting above our kitchen cabinets (apparently he has gotten more in touch with his feminine side...)

ribbony goodness from kristi, which got put to use immediately!!

do you see that, hiding behind the bread, *taunting me*?!?! oh, yes, jack want to take on the gingerbread house again. please, please go here to read my true feelings about this project. and then maybe send up a few prayers for me this weekend!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


i don't run on sundays, and monday was quite hectic, so no run then, either. i knew i needed to adapt this week, so intsead of monday/wednesday i'm doing tuesday/thursday. yesterday (tuesday) i got in a 4K after work. i should be feeling quite good about that, as i am definitely succombing to the illness that's been traveling around lately.

total time 34:02 with 27 minutes of running.

this week is walk 1/run 5 in my training schedule. there were moments that it seemed very easy to run those 5 minutes, and there were times that it felt very challenging. i find it's much, much better to avoid looking at my watch during those times!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


i've told you about my wonderful collection of ornaments, my Christmas history. the special box (yes, i still keep them seperated from our *other* ornaments) is set out and waiting patiently for that day when we finally put up the tree (friday is the day. i promise.)

this year's search for family ornaments proved to be quite tricky. all of a sudden, with a fourth person in the family, i am realizing just how many ornaments come in varieties of "3's":

santa/snowman/gingerbread man
snowman with red hat/blue hat/green hat
santa with gift/bell/little tree
angel with holly/candle/praying hands
toy soldier with drum/bugle/flute

ok, i think you get the point. i must of passed up 42 options in World Market alone, looking for the elusive fourth ornament.

until i stumbled upon these little guys, who were just. too. cute. to pass up. (note the 2 and 2 breakdown on the sweater color.)

they are teeny tomtes, or jultomten. matty is of swedish heritage, and we have adopted the tomtes as a fun part of our Christmas celebration. For centuries, Swedes believed in the presence of the tomten, a mythic creature in the extended fairy and leprechaun family, who was thought to live under the floor of the house or barn, bringing good luck and mischief in equal measure. i would much rather include the jultomten than lutfisk!!

i had way, waaaay to much fun posing these little guys for the perfect portrait. i almost forgot about the self-portrait part of the challenge!

and here's what happens when you've been up way too late, and you get snap happy with the digital camera: jultomten take on a life of their own!!

what story do your ornaments tell?

Monday, December 10, 2007

for pj

bored? no, board games

one of our advent activities is to play board games. i love board games. matty? not so much. i've been waiting patiently for jack to be able to play games that are a little more stimulating than, say, chutes and ladders. (don't get me wrong, i love the chutes and ladders, but the fun factor, for me, is definitely limited by the going up, up of the ladders and the incessant sliding down of the chutes.)

last year, santa brought several board games: "monopoly, jr.", "charades for kids," "operation" and "mouse trap." today, the stack of games jack lined up also included "harry potter and the mystery at hogwarts," and "the 'how the grinch stole Christmas' game."

since matty works on sundays, it can be a very long day for jack & i. (not to mention that it was my first day, hotel-free, in 12 days!! there were so many distractions to keep me from the games: laundry, correspondence, dishes, Christmas decorating... but we snuggled into 2 rounds of "harry potter" and a round of the "grinch." i had a moment of sitting on the sofa and thinking, "i am soooo glad we are sitting here doing this, and nothing else. these pockets of time are so important for our children."

after i stopped talking to myself, though, there were errands to be done and dinner to be made. but, by then, matty was home. now, there is one board game that matty will get into, and we are so lucky that jack is old enough to have taken an interest in it.

(this might be my favorite image of the season, so far.)

so, as i put up a few more decorations, and enjoyed a warm bowl of soup, my boys practiced the age-old intricacies of chess.

matty: check
jack: check-MATE
and a handshake between gentlemen.

happy holidays, indeed...


after 8 hours at work, staving off a headache, and heading home to a house that was (blessedly) empty, i thought for sure i was bound for a nap.

but, no! i was off for a 3.10 mile run. so, YEAH for me!

total time 49:49 with 35 minutes of running at walk 1/run 4. bettered my time from last weekend by about 2 1/2 minutes. still felt like i was running through mud, though...

it was sunny and in the 70s. makes those tacky holiday yard displays look even more out-of-place!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

spt - it's ornamental

when i married (or moved into my first place, can't quite remember the event), my parents presented me with a plastic box full of my childhood ornaments. it is a very special box, with ornaments dating back to my very first Christmas, 1969.

each year, and as the family grew, my father would present each member of the family with an ornament of the year. sometimes they were handmade (who doesn't love a dad who can cross-stitch?!?), sometimes they were bought overseas, sometimes they were too fragile for our little fingers, sometimes they simply went with a theme (snowmen, angels, santas... there's some "holly hobby" in there, too).

so when i got my box, it was full of memories, and there were plenty of ornaments to decorate my first *grown-up* tree. i have brought this tradition into my home, and now i take on the awesome responsibility of choosing the ornaments each year. i take my job very seriously. i can't wait to show you what i picked for this year!

do you have an ornament tradition? how about a favorite ornament? for this challenge, focus on the ornaments that actually hang on your tree, on how much joy can be found in something small.

for the records, this ornament is on the tree at work. where i have been for the past twelve days. which would explain why i need to focus on my ornaments at home - as in, getting them put up on a tree. soon!