Archive for the ‘Life List’ Category

  • We are the Champions

    Date: 2012.10.22 | Category: Food, Friends, Health, Life List, Me, OMG YAY! | Response: 11

    It’s been a while since I broke out the ole Life List.

    But I’m happy to say I have something to cross off of it:

    #44. Run a 5k all the way through without stopping.

    And because here in the South we “go big or go home,” I went ahead and committed to a 10k. Because if I’m going to go out and do it, might as well push my body, right?

    The thing is, I really haven’t been training specifically for running any “k’s.” But I have been spinning at the gym at least twice a week for 50 minutes, doing body pump once a week-ish, and spending my weekends power walking with the stroller and power lifting a 25 pound child. So I’m not exactly out of shape, and spin uses a lot of the same muscles. When my friend Becki was looking for someone to run the Autumn Breeze 10k with her, I decided to dive in head first. I mean, you get an awesome sweatshirt for doing it after all.

    In the week and a half leading up to the race though, I managed to land myself with a cold. I only missed half a day of work, but I missed a lot of exercise. Saturday morning though, I took a sudafed and powered through. The temperature was perfect and we set out.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a slow jogger, but it was perfect, especially since the course managed to carry itself over all the hills in northwest Louisiana. Near the end of the first 5k, we had the option to stop, but as we approached the turn around, I looked at Becki and said, “let’s do it.” We made it just over four miles of jogging before the muscles in my butt and legs turned into angry fists and I had to stop and stretch. But we powered through, running just over 5 of the 6.2 miles which, for the record, is the furthest I’ve ever jogged.

    Right near the end of the race, we looked back to see a police car following us. I said as much to Becki and she replied, “Well we better give him something to look at then.” And so we picked up our pace.

    We were some of the last people on the course, the 5kers having finished well before us and the other 10kers actually having competitive run times, so we got lost briefly and actually added to our distance, making it around 6.4 miles.

    At the very end, despite cramps and exhaustion, we sprinted to the end, passing an old couple who lovingly referred to themselves as Secretariat. And, wouldn’t you know it, the race people were there at the end to congratulate us and give us high five’s.

    To celebrate, we went to locally famous diner Strawn’s, where we met Mark and Sarah and ate really good southern icebox pie.

    I’m really proud of myself and thankful for Becki who kept me going all the way until the end.

  • Motivation

    Date: 2011.07.03 | Category: Baby, Dogs, Health, Life List, Me, Pregnancy | Response: 21

    I have several reasons to start getting in shape again. For one, I’ve got to get these last 12 pregnancy pounds off (plus a whole lot more I hope). For another, Cassie is coming to visit me and Kelly in September, where I hope to be able to run the Race for the Cure with her all the way through. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to run any decent distance. I usually just walk 5ks, but Cassie is coming all the way from Pittsburgh, and dang it, I’m going to do it!

    On Thursday I started back with the Couch to  5k program (that I was over half way through when I got knocked up last July).

    I was dreading it honestly. After all, I haven’t run in a year and it’s in the 80’s at 8:00 in the morning here, plus I hate running on the treadmill. However, at 6:30 a.m. it’s still in the 70’s and the sun is still low on the horizon. The temperature is much more tolerable that time of day. So on Thursday I fed Sarah, put her back to sleep and got the dogs ready to go.

    Now I’ve been walking a lot since I had Sarah, but never over a mile and a half. But with the help of my dogs (who periodically dragged me across the sidewalk in pursuit of a squirrel) and the thought of Cassie screaming at me if I can’t pull through with this 5k in September, I managed not only to do the first day of the program, but do it and enjoy it. After all, I rarely get time to myself these days and  mornings with just me and the dogs are great thinking and quiet time.

    Plus, the dogs are loving it and Bonnie can stand to lose a few pounds too.

    I have been given so much encouragement from friends, family and fellow bloggers. So here we go again. September 17th. I can do it!

  • Lessons Learned

    Date: 2011.05.01 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Life List, Me, Photography, Sarah | Response: 18

    I just realized I crossed an item off my life list. Becoming a mom!

    Turns out being a parent involves a huge learning curve. I’m not sure what I expected, but it’s a constant game to try to figure out what in the heck she wants when she’s screaming her head off.

    Lessons Learned So Far:

    1. Sarah hates pacifiers.
    Any attempt to put one in her mouth produces even louder screams and dramatic gagging gestures on the part of baby girl.

    2. Sarah is not a fan of having her arms swaddled.
    She will tolerate her lower half being swaddled sometimes, but as soon as I try to get those arms in there? More screaming.

    3. Sarah does not sleep like a typical newborn.
    Actually, she’d rather be up all day with the grownups, thank you very much. I’m just relieved that I finally figured out how to get her back to sleep at night time. I save those techniques for 1am, however. I don’t want her to get too used to them.

    4. Laying on her back? That’s no fun.
    Nope, she wants to be propped up so she can see and stare at everything.

    5. Getting her back to sleep at night involves the following:
    Leaving the lights off at all cost. Light = stimulation = let’s be awake for two hours.
    Staying on the Boppy pillow after nursing.
    An iPhone app that mimics the sounds in the womb.

    6. She is happiest between 6:30  and 9:00 a.m.
    She stays awake between those two feedings and is happy as can be. We let daddy sleep during this time while we watch old episodes of Project Runway.

    7. Breastfeeding is exhausting.
    I love how people say, “All you have to do is breastfeed and the weight will come off!” Let me tell you something. If I got up and jogged once every two to three hours for 30-40 minutes at a time the weight would come off too. I equate the two things. Also, for the first time in my life I would willingly choose sleep over food. I think that may also have something to do with it.

    8. Breastfeeding also makes me drink water like I’ve been running a marathon.
    Mark got so tired of re-filling my glass with water that he drove to Walmart and bought me this oversized keg-mug to keep my water in at night. Note, it only lasts through two of her feedings.

    9. Love = Not being phased by body fluid projectiles.
    Mark has even had poop shot into his mouth. Oh yes.

    10. I am constantly amazed by how much I love this little person.
    I live for her little smiles and silly noises. My heart aches when I can’t get her to stop crying. If people have been holding her for too long, I start to get sad because I want her back. And every day I love her just a little bit more.

    *****

    Susan has chastised me for not taking more photos of Sarah. After all she’s only this little once and I have a nice camera. Getting her to sleep to get all the photos I want is part of the problem, and my own personal exhaustion another part. But last night the pieces came together and I managed to get a few good snapshots. More to come I’m sure.

    Enjoy. :)

    IMG_5684

    IMG_5680

    IMG_5675

    toes
    *My boss has a photo like this in his office and I just had to recreate it. :)

  • 2010 Book Report

    Date: 2010.12.13 | Category: Books, Life, Life List | Response: 9

    As the year starts to wind its way down, I like to look back on the things I’ve accomplished in 2010. While there are many important things, I noticed that Shelfari informed me that I had read 33 books this year, one more than I did last year. Now, this doesn’t count the books I re-read (the entire Sookie Stackhouse series, for one), or the handful that I’m currently working my way through. But I have a very strong feeling that my read count won’t be nearly as high next year with having a baby and all that brings with it.

    *****

    So, in honor of a great year of reading, here is my top 10 favorite reads of 2010.

    1. The Magicians by Lev Grossman

      I am a shameless and enthusiastic fan of fantasy literature. So when I saw reviews of this book saying it was a grown-up version of Harry Potter mixed with Narnia, I was on board. It was strange and beautiful and dark and mesmerizing. There were elements of all the classic fantasy literature wrapped up in this familiar but unique book, including: Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings and, of course, Narnia and Harry Potter.

      Recommended for: People who like Tim Burton movies and are nostalgic about the fantasy genre.

      2. The Windup Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

        Easily my favorite book I read this year. This book was utterly fascinating. Yes, there was a lot of graphic violence and sex, but despite that, or even because of it, this was an astounding story. The book had many characters and a lot of mystery. It unwound in a very “Lost” type way, drawing me in. It was very difficult to put down. And even though there were a few questions still let in the end, I was very satisfied with how the story ended.

        Recommended for: Anime fans, Lost fans, Matrix fans

        3. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

          On my list of top 100 classics, and my favorite from this list I read this year. This book was a fun, quick and entertaining read. I found the story hard to put down. Written concisely with well defined characters and fun adventures, something Verne struggled with in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The time limit kept me n suspense and had me rooting for the odd travelers. One of the fun, easy to read classics. On a side note: I’ve always seen the cover of this book depicted with a hot air balloon… and there is not a single one in the story!

          Recommended for: People who love the classics, travelers, little boys

          4. The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

            Another on my top 100 literary classics that I’m rather proud to have under my literary belt. Beautiful writing and storytelling. The verse and rhythm really fit with the legend and mysticism. Reminded me a lot of The Silmirillan, but not nearly as boring and told in a way that sounds like it could have been passed down from person to person over a long time. Beautiful.

            Recommended for: People who love poetry, nature nuts, history buffs

            5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

              This book was recommended to me by my boss who informed me it was the best book he had ever read. He also warned me that he bawled his way through this story. Emotionally shielding myself, I dove in. This book has the whole package: a fantastically woven story, guilt and redemption, an in-depth knowledge of Afghani culture, and characters that you love to hate and hate to love. The great writing was the cherry on top. My only complaint? Every time you thought the story was going to take a turn for the better, it just got worse and more depressing. Despite that, an amazing and fulfilling read.

              Recommended for: Those who stay on top of current politics, people who like realistic fiction, anyone who is defiantly ignorant about Afghani culture.

              6. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen, Remixed by Seth Grahame-Smith

                I admit I listened to the audiobook of this one. A fantastically fun read, or I should say listen. I think it was all the more enhanced by the fantastic reader from Audible. I loved the original, and this mash-up made me laugh and enjoy the story all the more. The presence of zombies were mostly in the background, but the Sisters Bennets’ training against the “sadly stricken” played a larger role in the whole story. A fun read!

                Recommended for: Jane Austen fans, zombie fans, people with a good sense of humor.

                7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

                  I know, who didn’t read this book this past year? But I thought it was a fun, interesting and captivating read. Although the number of characters initially introduced made it a little confusing, the entire story made it well worth it. Several mysteries opened, explained and wrapped up satisfyingly. The only part of this book that was not enjoyable were the extremely graphic explanations of some of the sexual crimes committed, but they definitely added grit and realism to the story.

                  Recommended for: Mystery and crime book and show buffs, anyone who likes a good page turner.

                  8. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

                    I’m a big fan of Mr. Gaiman’s. And when this young adult book won the Newberry, I knew I had to read it. Once I found out that you can listen to it for free, read by Neil himself, I was all over it. It’s a great adventure story with just the right element of macabre.

                    Recommended for: Tim Burton fans, Harry Potter fans, Halloween fans, oh yea, and young adults.

                    9. The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

                      Another unexpected and sometimes overly graphic novel. I’m not sure how I managed to pick up so many of these this year. Not what I expected, but very enjoyable. A great criss-crossing of stories, most of which took place in a setting I knew nothing about. Very real, dynamic, flawed and sympathetic characters. Loved the nerdy descriptions.

                      Recommended for:  Nerds of all sorts: book, movie, comic books

                      10. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

                        Neil Gaiman gets a double nod this year. I love stories, like Harry Potter, that take place in a world along side our own. In Neverwhere, this alternate world is  “London Below”. This one is a quest novel with strange, likeable characters. A fun, and interesting story.

                        Recommended for: Harry Potter fans, fantasy fans, London fans.

                        ******

                        And there you have it. Let’s hope I can squeeze some good reads in next year. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

                        Are there any books you read this year that you would recommend?

                      1. One Gratified Lady

                        Date: 2010.11.10 | Category: Life List, Me, OMG YAY!, Work | Response: 5

                        What’s a blog for if not to brag on oneself?

                        One item that’s been on my Life List is to win an award for graphic design. Well guess what? That life goal came true for me this past week. I freelance for a local publication called The Best of Times. At their annual convention, their magazine won a number of awards, four of which I designed!

                        First Place: Best Single Color Ad design

                        This is the first ad I ever designed for them.

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                        First Place: Best Banner
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                        First Place: Web Self Promotion
                        I’m not sure what those gray boxes are. But in the print version, they are nice, clean blue to white gradients. :)

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                        Third Place: Feature Layout

                        This was a really long layout, so I’ll show you a few pages.

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                        This is one gratified girl!

                      2. Orlando Day 2

                        Date: 2010.10.08 | Category: Halloween, Life List, OMG YAY!, Travel | Response: 6

                        Also known as the day I visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and nearly pass out from shear nerdy excitement.

                        I’ve been a Harry Potter fan for a long time… back before the movies and when I cried at the end of book 2 because it would be well over a year before the next one hit shelves.

                        So when initial rumors of the HP theme park started circulating, I salivated and searched the great wide web for photos and any details I could find.

                        Thus when the opportunity presented itself to actually visit the theme park came about, we made it our top priority to visit.

                        We got to Islands of Adventure and practically ran through Suessland and the Lost Continent, knocking over small children and old ladies along the way, until we stumbled into Hogsmeade village. And then I came to a grinding halt, took a deep breath and gazed in amazement.

                        HP World

                        Hogsmeade Village

                        I felt like I was there (all I had to do was ignore all those pesky tourist muggles walking around). They really outdid themselves. The whole section of the park is constructed in such a way that you can’t see the rest of the park. John William’s music flows through the speakers and I wanted nothing more to pull on my Gryffindor robe and settle into the Three Broomsticks with a butterbeer.

                        But first, oh first I had to wander through all the delicious shops. So while Mark took on the Dueling Dragons, Becki and I wandered through Zonkos (the famous Weasley Twins’ joke shop and marveled over the details, the toys, the fireworks, the workers’ outfits!

                        HP World

                        Zonkos Joke Shop

                        HP World

                        Inside Zonkos

                        Before moving onto Honeydukes and trying to decide between the Chocolate Frogs, Every Flavored Beans, Tongue Taffy and Sherbert Lemons (Dumbledore’s favorite!)

                        HP World

                        Inside Honeydukes Sweets Shop

                        HP World

                        Dare to try some?

                        Then we headed to wait in the 45 minute line to ride the HP ride inside Hogwarts. Waiting in line alone was part of the ride. You go through the greenhouse (complete with crying mandrakes), pass Dumbledore’s office, through the hall of talking photographs (just like the movie!), to a few rooms where Dumbledore and the famous three talk to you, past the painting that’s the entrance to Gryffindor common room. We were simply amazed.

                        And then the ride. Oh the ride.

                        Don’t fear readers, it was virtual, well mostly. After sitting in a seat and riding down a conveyor belt through the castle, a robot arm scoops you up. During the course of the five minute ride, you manage to actually feel like you’re riding on a broomstick through Hogwarts, under the whomping willow and attacked by dementors. The realism was amazing and it was, by far, my favorite ride I was able to do.

                        HP World

                        Going to Hogwarts

                        Following the ride, we hopped into the Three Broomsticks for lunch. After ordering shepherd’s pie, we settled in and I finally got to have my first taste of butterbeer. (Life List item, accomplished!)

                        HP World

                        Sampling the Butterbeer

                        For the record, it tasted like carbonated butterscotch with whipped cream on top. It was perfect. Exactly what butterbeer should taste like. Mark went for the Hogshead beer.

                        There were several other amazing things including: The Owl Post store, the frog choir, Hogwarts train station, the Hippogriff, Hagrid’s Hut and about 8 million other details.

                        HP World

                        Train to Hogwarts

                        HP World

                        Mark in front of Hagrid's Hut

                        Then we got a text from Liz, an LJ friend I’ve known for 5 years that I was finally about to meet.

                        Somehow we got turned around in the park and had trouble tracking her down. But we finally did meet!

                        HP World

                        Liz and Jessica

                        After that we were pretty exhausted, so we hit the rapids and got soaked before heading out and resting for Halloween Horror Nights.

                        And wow this post is already long. I’ll continue on the rest of Day 2 in the next post. ☺

                      3. There’s No Place Like Home

                        Date: 2010.10.03 | Category: Dogs, Kitties, Life, Life List, Love, Mark, Me, Pets, Travel | Response: 6

                        There are so many wonderful things to say about the amazing birthday/wedding trip to Orlando of 2010. So many things in fact, that I will have to divvy it up over multiple posts.

                        But after a flight from Orlando to Memphis, another from Memphis to Dallas and a three hour drive back home I am thankful to be home. In honor of making it back safe and sound, here are a few things that I love coming home to after a vacation.

                        1. My dogs! There is something so wonderful about those happy little wagging tails that scream  “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!” that warms my soul.

                        2. My bed. There’s nothing like curling up on soft sheets in a king size bed after sharing a double bed with the hubs on a not-so-soft mattress for several days.

                        3. The smell of home (well usually, my cats went all destructive while we were gone and there was a, um, mess to clean up when we got back).

                        4. The kitchen. No more eating out for a while. Even if it’s pb&j, at least it’s already conveniently where we are.

                        5. Opening all the (good) missed mail. This time there were lots of birthday cards!

                        6. Washer and dryer! No more living out of a suitcase.

                        7. Going through all the souvenirs I purchased and smiling. (OMG there is so much Disney Halloween paraphernalia it’s insane).

                        8. The weather! I never thought I’d be happy to come home to Louisiana weather, but a cold front moved through and it finally feels like October.

                        9. Driving familiarity. Nothing like knowing where you’re going without being completely dependent on GPS.

                        10. Knowing the next step. No more planes to catch, tickets to use, parks that close.

                        Things are settling back down. And while I’m not exactly looking forward to catching up on all the work I missed, I’m glad to be home with Mark, in my house, with my pets and all the wonderful memories I made over the past week.

                      4. Celebrating Life

                        Date: 2010.10.01 | Category: Birthday, Family, Friends, Life, Life List, Mark, Me, OMG YAY! | Response: 9

                        Today is my birthday, and boy are we celebrating!

                        We (Mark, Becki and I) have been in Orlando since Wednesday, busy having a fantastic time and crossing items off my Life List.
                        (Butterbeer is amazing! Though pregnancy induced pain and fatigue cut Halloween Horror Nights a bit short.)

                        Today we go to the Happiest Place on Earth. That’s right, we’re headed to Disney World. And not just your standard, run of the mill Disney World. We’re going to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, followed by Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom. And we’re dressing up. Because what’s a Halloween and a birthday without a little silliness?

                        A full post on this amazing trip to come. Until now, here’s one of the happiest moments so far:
                        Butterbeer

                        Butterbeer and Shepherd’s Pie at the Three Broomsticks Restaurant in Harry Potter World at the Islands of Adventure park.

                      5. Going Hippie

                        Date: 2010.07.23 | Category: Health, Life, Life List | Response: 22

                        One of the items on my Life List is to:
                        “Change over to organic/natural products wherever possible.”

                        Now before you think I’m going all crazy hippie on you, let me tell you why.

                        My friend Lori started researching the ingredients that go into our everyday products. What started as an attempt to get her kids on a healthier diet and away from food dyes ended up being a complete overhaul of everything she uses in her life.

                        Intrigued by what would cause her budget-conscience self to willingly toss all her expensive beauty products and get rid of perfectly good food, I started asking her questions every single day. And after learning that they put petroleum and formaldehyde in our body care products, I started to think that this going natural thing might be a good idea after all.

                        I also have theories about the chemicals and hormones  in food and products being a catalyst to the increased infertility and miscarriage rates, but I’ll spare you the lecture.

                        When I broached the subject of going organic with Mark, I expected a lecture on spending more money. What I got instead was a thoughtful agreeance.

                        And so, we are slowly but surely converting some of our body care, cleaning and food products to those made without chemicals and hormones.

                        Because, believe me, I may be going hippie, but I refuse to be a stinky hippie.

                        Exhibit A:
                        bees

                        Now I haven’t tried the toothpaste yet, but I’m already in love with the shampoo, conditioner and soap. The deodorant is going to take some getting used to, but still, worth it.

                        Exhibit B:
                        laundry

                        I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m going to give it a whirl this weekend.

                        I’ve also purchased organic yogurt and plan on switching all of our meat and dairy over next time I go shopping.

                        AND I have given up Diet Coke.  This has been my biggest sacrifice thus far. Artificial sweeteners are my crutch and will probably be the last unhealthy thing I still cling to.

                        And, as Lori puts it, there has to be room for margin of error. I’m not going to piously turn my nose up at eating out or at indulging in the occasional diet drink (you know, after I get over the withdrawals), or lecture my stylist or dentist about their products. Neither do I plan on telling other people what they should or shouldn’t do. Your life, your choice.

                        I know there are varying opinions on this, and, hey, maybe I’m paranoid. But, in the end, I’d rather risk being a slightly paranoid, long-living hippie than a cancerous naysayer clutching my Herbal Essence and Diet Coke. Plus, it’s on my life list!

                        Do any of you “live organically”? What are some of the things you’ve done to keep chemicals out of your (and your kids) lives?

                      6. Check and Check!

                        Date: 2010.07.13 | Category: Life, Life List, Mark, Travel, Work | Response: 10

                        If there is one thing I love more than making a list, it’s crossing things off said list. And what good is a Life List if I can’t immediately start crossing things off?

                        First Item Accomplished: Get paid to write a freelance article.
                        I do graphic design for a local magazine called The Best of Times. I got inspired to write when I was down and out a few weeks ago and put together a piece on my experience in Hiroshima. I submitted it, not expecting much, but the editor wrote back that she loved the piece and would give me honest-to-goodness money for it. I squeaked! It was published this week.

                        I made my mamma proud.

                        You can view it online by clicking here.

                        Second item accomplished: Eat a Round Rock Donut.
                        Following our visit to Austin, I asked Mark to take a detour to Round Rock on our way out of town. The store closed at 2:00 p.m. At 1:55 p.m. we were running on fumes and I begged him not to stop at a gas station. And, wonder of wonders, we made it!

                        Mark is a donut snob, outwardly rejecting Krispy Kreme filth and swearing that Southern Maid are the only acceptable form of donuts. So I was expecting a barrage of complaints when he tasted this little orange Texas donut.

                        Donuts

                        But, he claimed they tasted just like Southern Maid! Orange donuts FTW.

                        Also, it doesn’t count unless you get a t-shirt. Which I did.

                        Round Rock

                        Now, onto the next item!