Saturday, December 29, 2012

Choose Life

My dear cousin, Josh, has died. I've always said that I want to go "fast" when I die. And yet, being on the other side of a "fast" death, is agony. So many unanswered questions, so many unsaid "goodbyes" make such a passing difficult. There's a part of me that wants to shake a fist at God and say, "why him???" And yet, I'm reminded that each breath, each day is a gift. It's not promised. We tend to live as if it is expected. We have come to feel as if it is deserved. And yet scripture clearly says that life is a "fleeting vapor." (James 4:14)

The best thing I can think of to do is not live with the attitude that I deserve a day. I need to live as I believe - that life is precious. I think of what matters most and then think of how much time I give to what matters most. I watched a youtube interview that really made me pause and think about how I live my life. Evidently it's been out for several years, but I had never seen it before. As a Christian, after personally experiencing the aftermath of lives taken "too soon", my question to myself is, "What am I waiting for?" There are so many people in my life that do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So many people I so dearly love haven't accepted Christ's gift of salvation. And I sit back and let precious days go by as if I've been guaranteed another. Fear of what my friends will think or if I'll even have friends anymore tends to stop me in my tracks. I justify this by saying the St. Francis of Assisi quote, "preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words" and take on a holier than thou attitude like I believe that my life sufficiently points people to Christ. I wish that were the case, but I find that unlike Joe Pesci's character in "My Cousin Vinny" I blend in more than not. At work, a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had lived in Haiti and when I was asked why, I explained that my parents were missionaries. The people I work with seemed surprised by this information and that has caused me to pause.  I didn't ask them why they were surprised. I guess I was too convicted  to find out if they just envision most missionaries having a 12 inch thick Bible thumping in their hands while wearing the largest cross necklace money can buy or if my lifestyle, my words, and my attitudes have not led anyone to deduce that I am a Christ follower.

Much to ponder as I prepare to gather with my family to say goodbye to an amazing man. I will miss you Josh Oltman (1975-2012).

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mantra

"God is good." I need to be reminded of that right now as I am unable to make sense of my cousin's continued suffering. He entered hospice yesterday and there's a part of me that keeps asking why. And the answer I get is "I am good." I honestly don't doubt it. I don't doubt that God has a plan. My belief has not wavered. But, I'm not happy about his choice of plan, I can tell you that. I don't doubt that God is good, but it hasn't stopped me from yelling at him a few times since hearing the diagnosis. I believe that I can truly believe that God's plan is good and still be angry about it. I don't know if that makes sense, but that dichotomy is where I am right now. It's almost like a child who deep down knows that they are loved dearly by their parent but is angry that their parent has not said or done what the child wants. I do feel a bit like stomping my feet and throwing a bit of a tantrum, I will admit that's crossed my mind. Instead I cry and beg and plead and cry some more and then whisper, "God is good. God has a plan" and rest in His arms of comfort.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Taking Stock

My cousin is sick.....really sick. And this has affected me in some ways that I never would have expected. I'm not one that is really huge on tradition. I'm not a keeper of stuff, so when my siblings and I discuss who gets what after mom and dad are gone (I know, slightly on the morbid side, but in our defense, our parents started the whole conversation) I'm not the one that wants the furniture, the pictures, etc. I haven't ever had an attachment to stuff...until now. This year, I made our family recipe for Danish Kringle. I've never made it before. I've never felt the pull to continue that tradition...until now. Now I'm baking it and giving it away as gifts - just like my mother does and her mother did. Now I want to become a crazy scrapbooker and take pictures of every moment - creating a pictorial history of the moments we have together. I am beginning to realize that stuff isn't just "stuff" when it belongs (ed) to someone you love. It represents them. It brings memories to the forefront. It matters. Life is precious. Life is fragile. I am realizing that more and more each day. I want to hold my family close. I want them to know how much I love them and and treasure them. And I want our family traditions to continue as strong as ever so that we can pass them down from generation to generation. I've taken stock and I want to live my life in such a way that what truly matters is always at the forefront of each and every day. This may not be entirely realistic, but I really want to try.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thankful for Superman

I have difficulties looking at the big picture and problem solving my way out of a situation. I tend to get caught up in the moment, and seem to focus only on the problem and not be able to step back, take a deep breath, and use logic to figure out a solution. As the saying goes: "I can't find the forest because I'm lost in the trees."  Case in point:  The Oven.

Two days before Thanksgiving, the bake element on our oven burned out. I found a replacement element, read the directions online, and thought that I could do this on my own. As my husband had hurt his back the week prior, I thought that if I fixed it, that would be one thing he wouldn't have to do and possibly hurt his back further. It seemed easy. I pulled out the old element, and noticed right away that the connecters of the new element were shaped differently than the old. Because the manufacturer said that this was an appropriate replacement, I continued, thinking that it would not be a huge deal. However, I couldn't fit the connecters into the back of the oven. And, when I pulled it back out after getting it stuck, the oven wires were disconnected and were no longer in the oven cavity. They were lost in the abyss also known as the back of the oven. A rational person would have stepped back and evaluated what they could do to retrieve said wires. I couldn't didn't do that.  I freaked out. Thinking that I had just destroyed the oven and thinking that I had just created a bigger problem than I had tried to fix, I fell apart. I cried, I yelled at the oven, I shook the oven (because of course, these actions always help a situation). When I finally was worn out from my emotional tirade, and our dog Lucy had stopped licking my tears away,I defeatedly told my husband what I had done. He very simply unscrewed the back of the oven and the wires were right there. He showed me there is no abyss in the back of the oven. Logic does win out. And the whole time he was showing me, I was thinking to myself, "why didn't I think of that?"

It reminded me of a story my mother tells about when I was young. I was running and pulling my toy dog (I think it was a dog) around the kitchen table. The toy got wrapped around the leg of the kitchen table. As the story goes, I threw a massive temper tantrum right there in the kitchen and kept yanking and yanking on that string. And as the story goes, my older brother, the problem solver of us all, swooped in and saved me by gently explaining how to unwind the toy from around the kitchen leg.

Hmmm.... Forty years later and I still need someone to swoop in and save the day.

The Quitter

They say you learn a lot about yourself when you are training for a marathon. I think that's true, but I've learned or actually, re-learned a lot about myself during training, during the race, and after the race was over. It's been a month and a half since I ran the Chicago Marathon. People said it would be "life changing" and "amazing" and I'd "never be the same." All I can look at is what I've experienced, and what I see frankly, I don't really like.

All I wanted to do before the marathon was quit. Don't get me wrong, I had bursts of inspiration, but training was hard and what I learned about myself is that I don't like hard. I'm sure that working hard for something and see it come to fruition is incredibly satisfying. I know it is, I've experienced it before. However, that isn't the road I tend to lean toward. That isn't my first choice in routes to take. I choose the easy route any time it comes available.

All I wanted to do during the marathon was quit. The only reason I didn't was because I feared it would take longer to reconnect with my family afterward than just continuing along the route marked before me. Once again, although it seemed like I was accomplishing something really difficult, it was the easiest route for me.

All I have done since the marathon is quit. Some holier than thou runner posted something on facebook saying that if people quit running after they run a marathon they aren't really runners.

I told myself that the first thing I'd do was go out and get a 26.2 bumper sticker. I have yet to get it. Why? Because I don't feel as if I accomplished anything. I guess that's what it comes down to. I ran for all sorts of reasons, but one thing that I expected was to be changed. I expected to come out of the training and the race a champion. Instead, I came out defeated. I didn't accomplish my goal to lose weight during training. I didn't have a changed pallet that made me only crave vegetables. My struggles remain the same, my goals remain aloof, and I feel completely defeated.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Waylaid Again!

Poison Oak is a pesky enemy. I was initially exposed to the nasty thing sometime between August 25 and August 28th, I believe. I only had a few minor bumps for the first week but I now have huge welts of bumps ( there are individual bumps that are part of huge welt like bumps) down my neck, the back of both legs, my shoulder, behind my ear, and under my arm. This morning I noticed more individual bumps popping up down my leg, arm, and torso. I decided that going to the doctor would be my best course of action and every Facebook authority was telling me I needed steroids. So, I went. And I walked out with a new cream, an order to avoid heat, take cool baths, use oatmeal soap, take benedryl twice a day, and to not ingest cashews, walnuts, mangoes, or gingko biloba for four weeks. What I didn't walk out with were steroids. Evidently, if I get it on my face, especially near the eyes, THEN I'm in business. However, although I think steroids would be beneficial, the thought of having this on my face is not a welcome idea. I'd really like to avoid that. The problem that is now in front of me is that when all of this blew up all over my body I had just completed the long run for the week in my continued marathon training. The bumps/welts/rash are stimulated by heat. Well, if you're at all familiar with running, you realize that your body temp rises quite considerably while participating in the sport. However, if I want to get rid of this mess fast, I need to avoid it. The marathon is in three weeks. THREE WEEKS!!!!!  And I've decided that I need to not train for a week and see if I can get rid of this stuff. I may end up walking the whole cotton pickin' marathon if I don't get this stuff under control. But, God willing, I will be at the starting line of that marathon on October 7th.

Friday, September 7, 2012

It's Been Awhile

I apologize for the my absence!  It's been a whirlwind around here and I'm just trying to keep up with everything!
The  in-laws are in. They came last Thursday and were going to leave on Tuesday. However, on Friday, we shared with them some of the home improvement projects that we were facing and they insisted that they were happy to help/stay/etc. These things need to be done as it does affect our insurance rates, so we took them up on the offer. They said "a couple extra days" but, I knew that with house projects it always turns out to be a bigger job than you anticipate. I don't watch Love It or List It for nothing, you know! We are grateful for all that they are willing to do and all the skills they bring to the table, but lengthy stays can be hard on everyone. So, they've been here a week thus far and I do believe they'll be here through the weekend at least.

One of the jobs was fixing the broken sidewalk. That was done easy-shpeasy with Nate and his stepdad working on it together.




 The next job was to put a railing/fence along the rooftop patio. It was expected to be a one day job and turned out to be a three day job. But, it does look great and we are looking to start a neighborhood watch business for hire as we can see into people's yards, over privacy fences, etc.




The next job is the garage. Oh boy... This is the doozy. Evidently, there is a sink hole in our garage. The driveway sloped into the garage so all the rainwater would rush into the garage, into the low spot, and started washing away the dirt under the garage floor, which at some point in the past whether with the previous owner or the family before her, the garage floor collapsed. Instead of fixing the garage floor, they put rock down to make the collapsed part level with the rest of the garage floor and then poured asphalt over the garage floor. However, they didn't fix the sloping driveway at all, so rainwater continued to rush in.... made a new hole in the floor and here we are. So, Nate's step-dad has cut out the asphalt, removed the rock, cut out the collapsed concrete and some concrete surrounding the area, and is now in the process of digging four feet deep to attach some sort of rod to the foundation and then attach that to some pieces of wood. Then we're going to use dirt, the rock the people so generously donated to our project with their "patch job", and broken up pieces of concrete (from the sidewalk and the collapsed part) to build up the ground again and then pour concrete again..... I think. Nate's step-dad explains it to me and my mouth drops open and my mind stops working at "digging down four feet deep." It sounds to me like they'll still be here at Christmas at the description he gives. This is a picture of the work thus far.





I've also been struggling with Poison Oak. I was weeding the flower gardens a week and a half ago and saw what appeared to me as small saplings growing in our flower bed. They have a pretty strong root system so it took some sweat and strength to pull them out. A few days later I developed a few itchy blistery spots. They didn't itch too bad, but when I looked at it, I assumed I'd gotten poison something!  So, when I looked poison oak up to see what it looked like, it was exactly those small saplings that I had pulled out of the flower bed. It wasn't too major, so I just put Benadryl cream on it and it seemed fine. But then, a patch broke out on my leg, and then on my neck, and there's a small bit along my hairline. Yesterday, my right arm from the elbow down to the wrist (Thank You, God that I was wearing garden gloves when I was pulling those weeds!!!!) is a whole mess o' bumps. My mom had suggested a medicine to get, so now I'm desperately trying to find it. I called the doctor and the triage nurse said they recommend calamine lotion and Aveeno Oatmeal Bath. Really?  I want drugs lady.... NOW!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Redecorating Pics

The guest room is finished, the bathroom has some hardware changes that still need to be completed, but the painting and the new rugs and towels are there. So, here are the widely anticipated pics!









This is taken from the hallway looking into the bathroom

As you can see, one wall is red and the others are white. That gaping hole?  The new mirror and vanity lights will cover that up!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The 16 mile Nightmare

Friday I was to run 16 miles as part of my Chicago Marathon training. I had nightmares leading up to Friday. I was truly dreading this run. One of the main reasons I was dreading it is that I also went caffeine free last week. For those of you who know my normal coffee intake, you will know this is no small feat. Getting through the first day was horribly difficult. I was to run 8 miles that day. I made it 4. My legs felt like lead, my head was pounding fiercely with a withdrawal headache; to put it mildly, I was a mess. I declared myself "sick" and went to bed. The only thing I emerged for was to pick Nate up from work, declare he was in charge of dinner, and after dinner, I literally went straight to bed. No lie, I was in bed at 6:30 pm and I slept the whole night. The next day was much better. The headache was gone but I still felt the "lead" feeling in my legs. Nate wondered if I had mono. So, you can see why I was dreading the 16 mile run. In fact, Friday I ended up cheating. I wanted to reach the 16 mile marker, but I knew I wouldn't make it. Maybe that's part of my problem. I talk myself out of things so easily. I ran 5.5 miles in an hour, which is my standard 11 mph pace. It was tough, but I could've gone longer. However, I decided that I'd bike the rest. And I did. In 40 minutes, I biked over 11 miles. Although I did go a total of 17 miles, I felt like I had gone two steps backward in my training. I'm honestly beginning to freak a bit about the race. I'm a month and two weeks out from it and I feel like I've got such a long way to go. I haven't met my weight loss goals for this training journey. I'm not running like the wind (the fantasy in my head is that I run long graceful strides with my hair flowing long behind me. As you know, I don't even have long hair, so I'm not sure how in the world this fantasy would even remotely become true). But what I need to remember is what I have accomplished. I'm now able to run 5 miles and even 10 miles without breaking into hives. I am stronger now than I ever have been. And, for the marathon, the whole purpose is raising money to take clean water to Africa - not Jenna running long graceful strides with long flowing hair. If I walk some...even a lot....of the race, I'm still there. I'm still participating. I'm still fulfilling my commitment. THAT is what I need to focus on from this point forward. And focusing on that, will help me run that much further and finish the race.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Training/Diet Update

Today I will attempt to run again after resting my shin splint over the weekend. It doesn't hurt anymore, so that's good. However, I've developed some pain in the arches of my feet. Not quite sure what that's about, but as I prepped the guest bedroom for painting yesterday, I crouched down to tape a section of border and when I stood back up horrific pain hit in the arch of my foot. It happened to the other one a bit later and I decided to stretch my legs for awhile.

I'm going to look for a good yoga or stretching dvd to do as I don't think I stretch enough and I really am not well educated in the best stretches to do and the correct technique.

Last night I watched Forks Over Knives and am truly astonished and amazed at it all. It promotes, as does the Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead video, a vegan or "plant-based" diet. Nate and I attempted a vegan diet before. For all of one week. That time, he requested that we give it a try and I put forth my best effort for that week and then found out that he had been eating other food on the side and I quit. This time, (yes, I believe we're going to go for it again) it's for me and I'm bringing him along. He says he'll be happy to eat whatever I cook and he's all for eating right. So, there you have it. Operation Vegan 2 begins next week. I had already gone grocery shopping for this week and feel pretty guilty over wasting the steaks I bought, so that's why we're going to eat one more week of a meat based diet and then switch. It'll also give me a week to do some brushing up on the area of veganland. In last night's video they interviewed several athletes and competitive triathloners that are on and maintain a vegan diet, so I feel comfortable about switching it up before the marathon. In keeping track of the food I eat on myfitnesspal.com, I have noticed that I always am over in the area of daily protein. So, I know that I will be able to get the right kind of protein I need from the plant based diet.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

Nate and I celebrated our 5th anniversary yesterday. I can't believe it's been 5 years. I guess it's true when they say that "time flies when you're having fun!" We were both reflecting over the growth of our relationship and I am so pleased to be able to say that we really have grown closer as the years have passed. I purposely weighed in yesterday morning because I didn't want to  have to worry about what I was eating/the calories I was taking in/etc....which is very good after we ate fried seafood at a New England seafood shack for lunch, had a Bruegger's Bagel sandwich for breakfast, and gelato for dinner. Our initial goal was to go to Mystic, CT and explore the area. When we got there, Mystic was having it's annual art fair. I'm really not sure why this happens, but it seems like no matter where we decide to visit, we end up in the middle of the town art fair. Don't get me wrong, I love art and I find some of the work absolutely exquisite. However, after living in Ann Arbor for 4.5 years and dealing with it having 4 art fairs over a two week span of time, I've learned a few things. #1. I cannot afford anything that is for sale. #2. It isn't nearly as fun to look at art at an art fair when you know there's no way any of it is going home with you. #3. Art fairs normally occur on the hottest, most humid, most chance of precipitation days of the year, so if you are looking for good weather you need to leave the location immediately. We decided to go to the Connecticut Aquarium, which is located in Mystic, and we were surrounded by screaming 3 year olds for the majority of our time. We also learned that the CT aquarium basically has three exhibits that you will pay 5 arms and 6 legs to see: the Beluga Whales (I must say, watching them almost made it worth it), the sea lions, and penguins. That's it. The only one of those three that actually looked like the aquarium put time and effort into creating a nice environment for were the whales. The sea lions and the penguins were in two big swimming pools. It was somewhat disappointing. They did have a traveling exhibit on the Titanic and there were parts that were quite interesting, but I believe I may have mentioned the screaming 3 year olds?? Yeah, their presence was a tad on the distracting side. I can say that being around these children did not cause me to have any motherly pangs at all. I was just thankful to get out of there!  We then went to the Sea Swirl for lunch, which used to be an ice cream stand that they added a sea food shack to as well. Nate got the full belly clams (yeah, I know...it grosses me out too) and I got the shrimp. We are loving the sea food in the Northeast. And we are finding that these road side stands are some of the best places to get it. We decided to drive around some more, since we didn't stay too long in Mystic and we drove to Stonington, which I've decided is my new favorite place in CT. I want to go back there and just walk around. They had cute shops and gorgeous ocean views. They also have a lighthouse museum there. As we continued to drive through, we found out we were only 3 miles away from Rhode Island, so we decided to keep going and drove to  Newport to see The Breakers and the other mansions there. Never again. Well, I say that, but we actually have come up with a plan for when we visit there again. We are going to go early in the morning. We are going to park the car and walk everywhere. We will only drive again once we are ready to leave Newport. The traffic was horrendous! But it was neat how we worked as a team to find a route out of there that helped us avoid as much traffic as possible.

You may be wondering what in the world the title of this post has to do with what I have so far written. If you deduced it has nothing to do with it, you would be right!  However, last night, as we were relaxing, I watched the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It was amazing. Joe Cross went on a juice fast for 60 days. He was 309 pounds when he started (I believe that's right) and he lost gobs and gobs of weight. He drove around the US and inspired others to join him. This one man started at 429 pounds and in 10 months he had lost 202 pounds. The documentary basically showed the bodily changes that took place, but you could see the difference in attitude and energy level. The basic philosophy of the juice fast was that your body needs dense nutrition to function properly and we keep filling our bodies with crap. It talked about the difference between micro-nutrition and macro-nutrition. Basically, he ate a raw diet, but in juice form to help his body absorb the nutrients quicker. It helped him detoxify and "reboot" his body. Nate came out at one point to see what I was watching and he say a familiar glint in my eye that should make anyone wary. I told him it was an excellent reminder of what we should be doing and how we should be eating. He patted me on the arm and went back to his computer. I love this man. He encourages me in whatever I want to do. When I said I wanted to run a marathon, he's supported me every step of the way. He's agreed with me that I can spend all this money to sign up for the marathon, he bought plane tickets, bought my Camelbak marathoner vest, etc. and here I am telling him I seriously am considering throwing out all our food, buying a juicer, and giving him only green juice for 10 days. He doesn't say no. He doesn't scoff and say, um, do you recall that you just finished eating gelato? He pats me on the arm and goes back to his happy place (probably internally hoping that the extremity of this plan will deter me). We will see!  I know that with the training I am doing, it is not wise to go on a juice fast at this time. However, this may be something to consider after the marathon... Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Injury

Just yesterday, as I drove Nate to work, I mentioned how so many of the runners that are part of the World Vision marathon team have been injured. Just yesterday I told Nate how important it was for me to make sure I stretch properly to avoid injury. And, just yesterday, while running, I developed (I'm not sure if this "develops" or not, but it's the only word I could think of to describe what happened) a shin splint in my left leg. It's painful, it's achy, it's swollen, and according to the experts what I need to do is "rest" to avoid further compounded injury.  My question is, how in the world do I "rest" when I'm supposed to run 15 miles tomorrow for my long run?  How long do I rest; until there's no pain at all?  If that's so, I won't be getting out of bed each morning! I honesty think I need to start taking yoga or something in addition to my workouts. My muscles tighten up so badly after a run that I literally shuffle around like I'm elderly. Stretching afterward helps some, but not completely. I think I'm going to look into a yoga dvd or something that will help me stretch fully and correctly that I can do each morning and after a run.

Today I begin the redecorating of the bathroom and guest room. Nate's parents are coming to visit over Labor Day, so there's no time like the present to do some painting and redecorating!  I'm pretty excited about it - and will post pictures of the final results!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Two Months Out

In exactly two months I will be in downtown Chicago positioning myself to begin the marathon. I'm in the first heat, so my start time is 7:30 am.

As I look at where I am and where I need to go, I know there are some steep hills to climb to finally reach my goal. The weight loss is the big thing. I really feel that losing the weight will help me to run the race faster and with less chance of injury. However, as I want to  lose 20 pounds by October 7th, there are some major choices and decisions that must be made to get there.

Decision #1: There can't be any "cheat days." I have too far to go to think that "one day won't hurt." I need to see each day as a step toward my ultimate goal and remain disciplined throughout each step.

Decision #2: My training needs to head outside. I've been training in the gym because I haven't really known my way around and haven't known where I can run where I feel comfortable. I need to get used to the elements - running in humidity, running in heat, running in rain and probably most importantly, running on pavement vs. a treadmill. I've mapped out a route and have ordered the "gear" that I believe I'll need to help me with the run.

Decision #3: I've decided to not run a race in September. The reason is that my long runs are continuing to get longer and longer and I need to be running those lengths instead of finding a race to run - which would keep me from running my long runs for that week. My last race is August 18th and it is an 11-miler.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lack of Progress

I've been feeling great about my training. I feel the difference in my legs and I feel how strong they are becoming. I've gotten into the routine of running two "easy" days, one "hard" day, and one "long" day. My average pace has increased from a 12 minute mile to a 10:30 mile. I see improvements all around - except in the area of weight loss. This past week, I really stuck with it in terms of eating within my caloric goals so that I would lose weight. However, I stood on the scale this morning and I had gained a pound. I was so baffled by the number that stared back at me that I actually weighed myself 4 more times to see if something was wrong.Nothing like getting hit with a ton of bricks four times in a row! That just can't be right, can it? I ran 24 miles this week. 24! I cross trained. I weight trained. How in the world did I gain a pound? When I weighed myself mid week, just to see how I was doing, I was down 3.5 which was much more in line with what I thought I'd lose for the week. And then I look at the last two days of eating and have to realize that every day matters. It was Nate's birthday yesterday. So, Friday night we had Buddy's Pizza. Because I had run 10 miles that day, I was still way under my caloric goal for the day, so I felt ok. Yesterday, for Nate's birthday breakfast, we went out and I did have a massive omelet and pancakes. It was over and above what one should eat for breakfast, but I rationalized that I was having it for breakfast and lunch, as we were going to be volunteering with the church all afternoon. At 12:30 we went to the town green and volunteered at an event until 7:00.  About 3:00 I had a subway sandwich - once again, it was an ok choice when it comes to a dinner choice. I drank water throughout the afternoon. When we got home, I did have the munchies, so Nate made us air popped popcorn and I had two bowls with nothing on it - no butter, no salt, no anything. I was proud of the choice I made and went to bed confident that when I weighed this morning I would see a big loss. Instead, I'm here trying to pick my jaw up off the floor and talk myself back into the fact that I need to stick with what I know and hopefully next week there will be a different result. I need to realize that going "off plan" for one day does make a difference and that it is never worth it. The omelet and pancakes I had yesterday in no way were worth what I'm feeling right now.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Long Run

I prepared as best I could. I really did. I bought Gatorade, for goodness sake, and I don't even like Gatorade. But, they say ("they" is anyone I've talked to regarding running that has some sort of knowledge that I deem credible) that if you are working out beyond an hour, you need to consider the fact that you need to replace electrolytes and need an energy source. Well, suffice it to say, today I worked out over an hour. In fact, I walked into the gym and stepped on the treadmill at 8 am. I had to restart the treadmill twice (as it only allows a maximum of 60 minutes to be programmed) and I had to stop twice to use the little girls' room. Plus I drank 24 oz. of water and I'm trying to finish up 20 oz. of Gatorade G2 now. I walked out of the gym dripping with sweat at 10:35. I ran 12 miles in 150 minutes...which is SLOW by anyone's standards, but what I want you to focus on is that I ran 12 miles!!!!!  That's a 1/2 marathon baby! I'm getting there!  Now, we can choose to not focus on the fact that when I just walked downstairs after taking a VERY cleansing shower, I declared that it would be the last time I would climb the stairs today and the fact that I have this weird feeling nausea as well as hunger going on right now. How that is possible, I don't know. Hence the fact that I'm trying to drink the G2 and keep it down. And the fact that I'm looking at this grocery list quite doubtfully thinking there's truly no possible way that I'll be able to walk into/through a grocery store, at any reasonable pace and actually make it to pick up Nate at 4:30. But, besides all that, I ran 12 miles!!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Just a Blah Day

Yesterday started so well. I ran for 3.35 miles, I had devotions, I did some laundry, and then... it's almost like a switch flipped in my brain and I went "blah." I basically watched tv the rest of the day. Don't get me wrong, I did have a to do list that needed to be accomplished. I had things to keep me occupied. Instead, I watched tv and ate popcorn and felt disgustingly gross the rest of the day. What happened to treating my body as a machine? What happened to the great start I had?

Today, I've got that to do list staring me in the face. I have a 6 mile run to complete, and once again, my Bible reading is really hitting home that I am to treat this life as a race and run with perseverance. (Hebrews 12:1-2). How will this day end?  The "race" I have before me is this day. How will I finish this race? My prayer is that I will "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and run with perseverance the race marked out for me. I pray that I will fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Timely Read!

I just read this great article in the NY Times. I loved it when Ryan was asked who his coach was and he said, "God." That is an awesome reminder of why I'm running.

Fun Saturday and Weigh In Sunday

As my training has increased exponentially, I'm experiencing side effects that they warned about, yet you say to yourself, that won't happen to me. I haven't ever really been one who sweats a lot. However, I've evidently developed some prolific sweat glands in the last two weeks because I'm sweating like crazy. I did my long run (7.55 miles) last Thursday and near the end I turned my head and droplets of sweat flew off my head and were dripping off the treadmill. I was quite horrified. My ear buds won't stay in my ears because they are too wet, my shirt gets so wet that even after laying it out to dry, it's still damp in the afternoon. It's gross. Plain, nasty gross. I'm not a fan. However, I stood on the scale today, after having a fairly good week of eating right and exercising and I lost 5.4 pounds. That is in one week, people. I'm excited. Part of me wants to qualify it by saying it's water weight, but I feel really good about what I've accomplished. I've worked hard this week, I've had a couple moments of screwed up eating, but other than that, I've done fairly well. So, I take these 5.4 pounds and am motivated to continue.

Yesterday, Nate and I went to the Yale Peabody Museum. They have an exhibit right now called "Big Food." It focuses on obesity and how the foods we eat have changed over the years. They said that the only continent that doesn't have an obesity problem is Sub-Saharan Africa. I thought to myself, "really?  You are going to say Sub-Saharan Africa is our role model?  The reason Sub-Saharan African doesn't have an obesity problem is because they are dying of starvation!"  I thought that was a very poor statement to make. However, it makes me think about our food situation in the world. I honestly believe that there just is absolutely no excuse for there being starving people in the world. No excuse. We have more food than we know what to do with and people are starving?  Another fact that they shared in the exhibit was how much the typical American eats in a year. They said that the average American drinks 45 gallons of soda in a year. That truly astounds me. 45 GALLONS?  They also showed the amount of sugar in different drinks and it almost made we want to throw up. Of course, then I read facts that hit a little closer to home, such as, "the average American eats 8 pizzas in a year" and I think for our household that number would be quite a bit higher. All in all, I enjoyed the exhibit. We saw it right before we went to lunch and we went to Gourmet Heaven where they have a gorgeous salad/fruit bar. And for dessert, we went to Flavors, a self serve frozen yogurt place where you put on your own toppings, etc. It was quite tasty! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Seeing the Body as a Machine

I was shocked to find out that someone close to me was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes this week. Shocked because this person is the picture of perfect health. He works out regularly and is thin - just not what you picture of someone being diagnosed with such a disease. It certainly was a reminder to me that my body is a machine. It propels us - getting us from one place to another. If a machine is properly cared for, it runs well. It does what it's supposed to do and works efficiently. When it isn't given the correct fuel or cared for, it stops and will eventually break down. The other day I ate like there was no tomorrow. I ate carbs like they were going to be outlawed and I went to bed and woke up the next morning feeling "broken down." I was sluggish and cranky. However, the next day, I ate correct portions and I ate a well balanced diet and I felt great!  I accomplished so much!  It was amazing the difference that I felt just in one day - all because of the way I fueled this machine of mine. In hearing my friend's diagnosis, and with a family history of diabetes stacked against me as well, it is imperative for me to eat clean whole foods and stay away from the processed garbage that so often entices. "Just this once" and "it won't make that much of a difference" are the excuses and negative talk that I hear in my head when I'm tempted to eat the crap. I look at my friend who is now in the process of looking at everything he eats with a critical eye and I realize each choice matters - big and small.

One tool I have found helpful is myfitnesspal.com. I have been using it to keep track of my calorie intake and output. It has been incredibly helpful and if you are looking for a tool to use yourself, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Faulty Thinking Revisited

My ipod did charge enough for me to listen to my Christian Workout Music while running. It is amazing what a difference it made. I ran 15 minutes at a 5.7 mph pace, then walked for 5 minutes at a 4.0 mph pace, then ran another 15 minutes at 5.7 mph and then cooled down for another 5 minutes. I just need to have a reminder of why I'm running. The main reason I am running is to glorify God. That may seem pretentious, but it's true. The sermon at church on Sunday brought up the fact that there are three main issues where believers fail to connect with who they are in Christ. They either have difficulty believing (the sermon series is on James, so you realize that "belief" is an action verb) they are forgiven, or that they are adopted, or that they are a temple. We were to write down which of these we struggle with and mine is definitely believing and living out the belief that I am a temple. That's why I run. I'm a temple and I have a responsibility to treat this body as a temple. This is why I want to eat healthy - and this is what I choose to ignore when I don't eat in a healthy manner. And, to be a bit redundant, this is why I run.

Faulty Thinking

Although I am running again, I am coming up with excuse after excuse on why I don't or shouldn't need to run as far. I keep giving myself a pass on the hard work. I tell myself that I lost a month of training and so, I need to "ease" back into it. Don't get me wrong, I've said the correct words out loud. I'm just giving you some insight on what's going on inside my head. Out loud I say things like, "I've lost a month of training and I have got to get it in gear and get crackalackin'!"  That's what I say out loud. While running, I tell myself. You've run really well... You've run 20 minutes straight. I really didn't think I'd be able to do that. I think you can quit now. In fact, you probably should quit to avoid muscle strain. Yes.... that really is what I think you should do.It's really wise to take it slow and ease into things. You don't want to injure yourself. While some of that logic is true, I allow the "ease up a bit" phrase to rule. Tuesday I was to run five miles. I ran 3.5 and decided I had run enough and that I'd run the other 1.5 in the evening when I went to the gym with my husband after he got off work. And I did do that. In fact, I ran 2.5 miles in the evening, so I did end up running a total of 6 miles for the day. However, I'm going to be running 26.2 miles ALL AT ONE TIME in three months. So, running five miles in one fell swoop should be no big deal.

I'm writing about all of this right now - at 5:56 AM because I woke up and the faulty thinking wasn't just talking it was screaming inside my head. "You didn't get much sleep last night. You stayed up late and watched fireworks. Then you had the dog sleep with you because she was afraid...or you were worried she'd be afraid....the cat woke you up at 4:15 AM playing with who knows what and it's just not good to run when you're so tired. In fact, you probably should just take a nap! Plus, did you notice the humidity level?  It's 87% humidity right now!  It's soup out there!  Even though you're running at the gym, I thought I'd throw that in there too."

Today's run is to run 3 miles and to run them "hard."  So, I'm to run as fast as I can. With the faulty thinking as my cadence, I'm not sure how fast I'll be running. I pulled out my ipod hoping that there was some tiny bit of battery life left so I could drown out the internal dialogue, but there isn't even a hiccup of life coming from it. And, of course, I have no earthly idea where the chargers are. But, after confessing my frustrations and my fight with you, I'm going on the search for the charger. Hopefully I can get the ipod charged enough to get me through this run.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth of July!  I'm excited to announce that my running program is, well, off and running!  We joined the gym on Sunday and we've been going ever since and I've logged 11 miles of running/walking. We decided to rejoin Planet Fitness instead of the gym at Yale as Planet Fitness is so close to the house and the convenience will help us maintain our consistency.

As we continue to adjust to life in Connecticut, there is so much to like: lush green, lots of parks and hiking opportunities, a rich history, proximity and easy commute to NYC for fun trips...but probably what I like most about this place is the friendliness of the people. People here actually make eye contact with you and greet you. I have had wonderful conversations with people in line at the grocery store, at the bank, at the garden store, etc. People are welcoming and friendly. I love that!  In Michigan that was the most difficult thing for me to deal with - unfriendly people. People here remind me more of how people are in Charlotte. I greeted a woman that was entering the grocery store as I was leaving and she was very pleasant in return. When I did that in Michigan after we first moved there - the woman I greeted stopped and glared at me and I never did it again.

With the good there are always difficult things to adjust to as well. The number one thing that I don't like about Connecticut is the driving manners (or lack there of) of the people here. Coming from Ann Arbor where the pedestrian rules, it has been a bit of an adjustment to realize that cars rule and the fastest car wins. Although the speed limit in our area is 25 miles an hour, we are easily traveling over 40 mph with a police car right beside us and we are not the fastest car driving. I think the driving motto is: if there's space, you may go. This is the motto regardless of the rules of the road. This is the motto regardless of the traffic signal or the stop sign, or the "No Turn On Red" sign. NO matter what the sign says, is there is space: GO! Since moving here, although my mouth drops open at the audacious acts of the drivers, I'm adjusting. And it has been reminding me of somewhere else I have driven and I have been trying to figure out where. What I realize is that they way I drive now is very reminiscent to how I drove in Haiti. Which is quite scary when you think about it. However, in Haiti, although people drove wherever they could and pedestrian beware, they were driving such poor decrepit vehicles that they really couldn't drive that fast. Here, people are driving much better and faster cars and they are driving like bats out of hell. You honestly believe that someone must be dying in the back seat for there to be any justification for how they drive. Driving through stop signs and red lights is so common that we have adjusted and now pause and look both ways before venturing out into the intersection. Be prepared that if you do slow down to stop at a yellow/orange light people will whip around you and drive through the orangy/red light. There is no "zoning out" while driving here. You drive assertively and defensively. Someone said to us that we have to remember that most people that live here either work in NYC or they have migrated from NYC and therefore, they drive like they do in NYC. That has certainly helped me gain some perspective into the driving mentality of CT. My advice if you are going to visit from out of town?  FLY!!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

It's been awhile!

In the blogosphere, I'm sure that is a understatement. If you don't write a new blog post in a couple of days, your readers will go elsewhere. I've seen it happen; I've done it myself; it's just what happens. If I look back over the last few weeks - really the last month and all the changes from the move, to vacation, to illness, to Nate beginning his new job today, I realize that it has truly been a whirlwind. Because of that, my marathon training went out the window. It's not good. It's not right. But, it is what it is. I can't go back, I can't change it. All I can do is move on and do all I can do today to help prepare. I got back on Myfitnesspal.com and am tracking my food and my exercise.

Last night I watched the Olympic swimming trials. Bob Costas interviewed Ryan Lochte and discussed how much he improved since the 2008 Olympics. They have been talking about this every night - how Ryan came back from 2008 and has been training relentlessly for four years. They mentioned how he has been incredibly focused. So, I was very curious as to what Ryan would say in the interview. Bob asked him what were the most important things he did to prepare. I assumed Ryan would say things like, "I increased my swimming" or something similar. Instead, he said, "I watched what I ate. I cut out fast food." It really surprised me. I think of athletes being able to eat whatever they want and whenever they want because they work it all off during their training. He also mentioned that he increased his level of strength training. What I noticed is that nothing he mentioned had to do with swimming. He knows how to swim. He knows what to do there. He needed to improve and focus on other areas to make his swimming even better.

So, if it's good enough for Ryan Lochte, it's good enough for me. I'm excited that next week we will be joining the Yale gym, where I'll be able to do the strength training with the weights and will also be able to add swimming to my "non-running" days. I have three months people and EVERY day counts!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Back on Track

To say I'm "back on track" may be a bit of hyperbole. I still am not running - I can't do too much before a huge coughing fit overcomes me - so I'm sticking with walking for the moment. Nate and I took a walk yesterday around the area. I really wish I had taken my camera, and do plan to take it today as we repeat the performance. We actually live fairly close to Joe Lieberman (or what used to be Joe's house). We aren't exactly sure if he still lives there or not. I'll have to post a picture of it later. It's pretty castle-like. We ended up walking seven miles yesterday. The scheduled walk was 4.2 miles and then after dinner, a desire for gelato overtook us and we walked 1.25 miles to the gelato place we had seen in our previous walk only to find that the lit open sign should actually be interpreted as totally closed down. So, without any gelato to refresh us, we walked the 1.25 miles back home to get in the car, drive to our local Stop n' Shop (our grocery store) and buy gelato. That's a strong hankerin' if I may say so!

The unpacking is going very well. I believe (as I take a look around) there is only one bin left to unpack. We also have the pictures to hang. We are planning to have it all finished this week so that we can enjoy some relaxation time before Nate starts work.



Sunday, June 10, 2012

Letter from the running shoes.

Hey you!  Yeah, you! The one signed up to run the Chicago Marathon on October 7th.  Do you plan to ever get moving on this thing called training?  It is June 10th, you know. You have FOUR months. That's right, FOUR!  To say you need to get crackalackin' is an understatement. Yeah, you've had some good excuses - moving and being sick - however, you need to quit your whining and get moving. We've got a race to prepare for and you need to start eating right and moving tons more! I look forward to seeing you tomorrow morning. I'm ready to go - just need to get laced on your feet is all.  I'll sit here and wait for as long as it takes but know that you're not doing yourself any favors by ignoring me. You'll thank me for this, I promise.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sick AND Moving

Ah yes, notice that I didn't say, "sick OF moving." Although, that comment would be true as well. It hit me like a ton of bricks around 4:00 yesterday afternoon. It started with the aches - almost like I have a stiff neck - and then the sore throat. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was all I could do to get inside and sit on the couch and stick my bottom lip out as far as it would go and beg for Nate to take care of every need that I had..... poor guy..... he just didn't know what he signed up for when it comes to the care and attention I need demand when sick.

I told him I was in need of medicine, and requested Alka Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine. He went down to the front desk and came back with Alka Seltzer and Tylenol Cold non-drowsy. I turned both of them down and told him not to worry about it, which really means, "prove your complete devotion to me by going out in the pouring rain, finding the nearest pharmacy to meet my needs and do so immediately......please." He went on to other things for a period of time and then, very wisely, as he has learned over the years, said he was going out to get the medicine I wanted but he wanted to know exactly what I needed.

I really am not a fan of being sick in a hotel room. All I want to do is rest, but I can't. I really need to be on the couch right now being lulled to sleep  by the theme song from Gilligan's Island as TVLand comforts me. I need to know I can go and make myself some hot tea and not need to get dressed to go down to the lobby. I need to know that I can stay in bed and not worry that housekeeping will come in while I'm in bed - and no, I don't want to put up the Do Not Disturb sign, because I do want the room fumigated of this bug.

I think of when I was sick as a child. I'd go get my mother who would put me back to bed and then "tickle" my back (which, according to us, is defined as very light scratching). So, I woke up Nate at 1:30 this morning and asked him to please scratch my back. He very nicely did for all of 3 seconds before he rolled back over and fell asleep. So, here I am: 43 years old, wanting to quietly go into my parents' room, poke my mom's shoulder ever so lightly (she has unfairly described this as Chinese Torture) until she wakes and stick out my bottom lip and have her lead me back to bed, tuck me in, and tickle my back until I fall asleep.

Since I can't do that, I'll update all of you on what is going on with the moving!  Our home in Michigan has closed and we are scheduled to close on our new Connecticut house on Wednesday. The movers arrive Thursday, so things are looking good!

Now, I'm going to go crawl back into bed.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lessons Learned

How does anyone do it?  Moving, I mean. The movers give you a "window" of when they will arrive with your stuff. House closings are "fluid" and will "happen when they happen" which tends to make planning the movers a bit difficult. Our movers arrive today and will be delivering our stuff to our new home (theoretically) next Thursday. I felt like things were well in hand, taken care of, and completely controlled. And then the mortgage lender emailed. This is the same mortgage lender who sent us a loan commitment letter telling us that everything was fine and that we were "all set" in terms of the loan. Now, the latest snafu brings up the whole merged credit report that was supposedly taken care of in April. If you recall, I found out that my credit report had been merged with someone else's. When I called the credit agency in question, they were incredibly helpful, super nice, and saw their error right away and spent an hour on the phone with me fixing the problem. We notified the creditor that it had been fixed, thinking that the situation was behind us. Now, all of a sudden, they claim they have ordered a new report and that a mortgage from this other person's report is still listed on my credit. Once again, I call the credit reporting agency and they assure me that it is completely off and that the last time they show anyone requesting my credit report was in April. Now we're being told by the lender that if it isn't "fixed" the loan is off. Off? Excuse me? The movers arrive TODAY! We are moving on SATURDAY! They are notifying us of this 4 days before we are supposed to close on the house?  Why was this not something that was brought to our attention earlier? Now we have a conference call in exactly five minutes to attempt to clear this up. And when does it need to be cleared up to satisfy the lender? Today. Specifically, this morning as they won't be "available" this afternoon. My stomach is in knots. I didn't sleep last night. So what lessons have I learned?

1. Never move from one house directly into another. Move from a house to an apartment (even if it's for a few months) to another house. Yes, that really makes it a pain with the actual move of your stuff, but evidently that doesn't matter to the lender.

2. Never move into a house before you begin your new job. Evidently, the fact that Nate is ending one job then moving then starting his new job creates a "special circumstance." Avoid all "special circumstances."

3. Have a gajillion dollars in savings to pay for your move because paying interest isn't enough for a bank...they will have you pay fees out the wazoo as well.

4.  On second thought, Never, Ever, Ever Move!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Horror Stories

Why do people think it is a good idea to share their horror story with you before you go through whatever they have experienced? People preparing for surgery, usually get to hear the horror stories of how when the other person had surgery the doctor cut off the wrong limb, left a sponge in their body that caused a horrific infection, or some other horrible thing.  What I have had the joy of hearing the past months are moving stories. No, not stories that move you emotionally and have a powerful message....but stories regarding a move from one place to another. Specifically, stories regarding people's previous experiences with moving companies. How are these helpful to me?  One person shared how their mover "disappeared" for two weeks with their stuff and there was no way to contact them. (AKA: pre cell phone days). We just came from having dinner with another couple who shared their story of how the movers didn't show up on the correct day and when they did, they pulled up in front of their neighbor's house and they had to walk uphill both ways with snow up to their shoulders and ...... you get the drift. The story continued to grow to the point where their furniture was not delivered until a month after they moved. I left the dinner thinking that the only way I'll ensure that my belongings make it to New Haven in a timely manner is to ride in the semi truck with the movers. The moving company has assured me that I'll be able to get the cell phone numbers of the drivers and that will make communication so much easier. However, according to my doomsday dinner buddies, the mover that picks up your belongings isn't the same mover that will deliver your belongings. So, how will having Mover A's phone number help when I need to talk to Mover B? This question and many others will hopefully be answered tomorrow when I call the moving company.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I Declare!

I tend to be a very passionate person. I will make declarations and vows with every possible ounce of sincerity within me at that particular moment only to not follow through, give up, and conveniently "forget."  For a perfect example, you can look at the myriad of diets and nutritional declarations I have made in the past. I have gone "vegan" (it lasted all of one week and by the end of that week I was so hungry all I wanted to eat was the most disgusting processed animal food imaginable - it didn't matter what: cheese whiz, pepperoni slices, deli meat, bacon, you name it...I wanted it badly!), vegetarian, gluten-free, carb free, fat free, and every other type of "free" you can think of only to jump off the band wagon as quickly as I jumped on. As I'm dealing with yet again, another complete and utter failure with the 17 Day Diet which in other words could be named "Carb Free/South Beach/Atkins." I'm frustrated with myself. However, this morning I have taken some time to evaluate my situation. I think back to when I lost gobs and gobs of weight and think about how that worked. I increased my vegetable intake dramatically, I ate in proper portions and tried to limit my number of processed carbs. I just ate smarter. I didn't technically eliminate anything. I still went to Happy Hour with my work friends and ate chicken wings and drank beer. I just didn't feel the need to eat I read yesterday in the June Shape Magazine that in looking at a variety of different diets that limit things: carbs, fat, etc. they all will work to some extent because what it comes down to is eating less calories leads to weight loss. I'm tired of making declarations and promises that I will let go by the wayside. I'm tired of craving/eating junk and then dealing with the guilt and remorse afterward. I'm tired of beating myself up internally every time I fall off the bandwagon.

The problem, however, is that I've declared this once before. In fact, I must admit, I have declared to not declare. There are probably some blog posts in my history that do just that. But, like most people that want to lose weight immediately and can't afford surgery, I get sucked in by the claims of losing 15 pounds in 10 days. I start fantasizing about how that's all I really want to lose anyway! And I could do it in 10 days! I ignore the voice that reminds me that I've been losing and gaining the same 15 pounds over the past 3 years and I declare that I will never eat _______________ (fill in the blank with the name of whatever food you will currently vilify) again!

So, I'm going to attempt to leave this roller coaster/misery-go-round and just be for a bit. I'm so busy with the move, living in the "Land O' Boxes", having a to-do list as long as my arm that I just focus on that for awhile and leave the other alone.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Race For The Memories

I ran a race yesterday - a 10K. The setting was absolutely gorgeous. The charity supported was the Alzheimer's Association. And it was an absolutely miserable race. I am learning why they say that 40-50 degrees is the perfect running weather. It was 62 degrees when I finished the race and I could've sworn it was 90. It was "hot" and humid. But the worst part about it is that the race coordinators forgot (how ironic is that?) to have a water station at mile 3. They had a water station at mile 1.5 and I had about 3 oz. of wonderfully cool water at that point. I was running to get to mile 3, where I assumed that there would be another wonderful station of refreshment only to find that it was the turn around spot and they just made a hand motion to let you know that you were to turn around at this point. So, I had to wait until I got back to mile 4.5 to have another few ounces of water. I was dehydrated and miserable. After crossing the finish line I drank 32 oz. of water in one fell swoop and ended up moaning, groaning, and sharing with Nate how I was seriously going to throw up for the next hour and a half. He enjoyed that exchange a lot, I'm sure!

I have not picked out a race for June yet - nor for any of the other months (except October, of course). New Haven is quite hilly in nature and there will definitely be a bit of adjustment to running in a hilly area. Of course, that will also help with my overall fitness and conditioning. June seems so crazy busy, I just don't know where I'm going to fit in a race. Ideally it would be the last weekend in June, as I believe that's the only weekend we don't have something going on. Now comes the job of finding one!

On the packing/moving front things are progressing quite well. We're getting more and more packed - although there always seems to be a "bit more." We need to focus on getting the garage packed up as well as finish packing the pictures. June 2nd will be here before we know it! To think that in 2 weeks we will be in New Haven for good!  I'm so excited!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Phone

I am not a phone person. I don't like talking on the phone - never have and don't think I ever will. The longest phone calls I have are with my mom and my sister and I tend to keep others shorter to make up for the time I'm on the phone with them. There are times when people call and I just look at the phone and think, "there's no way I can pick that thing up and talk to anyone right now." So to be stuck on the phone for hours is a nightmare I'd just as soon avoid. Yesterday, unfortunately, was a time that couldn't be avoided nor ignored any longer.

With Nate working, I decided that I should call all of the utilities in Michigan to get them disconnected and also call all of them in Connecticut to get them hooked up. I began at 8 am. My first call was to Comcast. We had heard that it was possible to transfer your service so you wouldn't need to disconnect one and connect another. However, I have since learned that only works if you are moving within a state. Because we are crossing state lines we do have to disconnect service, return the equipment to our nearest Comcast location and schedule new service to be hooked up in New Haven. I talked with 4 different people during this phone call and when it was finally scheduled for June 7 from 9-11 am, I received a confirmation e-mail detailing that it would be set up on Saturday, May 19 from 11 am-1pm. Of course, I did not read the email until I was on hold with the second company for an inordinate amount of time, and of course, it was a "noreply@comcast.com" address, so I had to call them again.

The second phone call was with the gas company which actually has a letter of apology on their website,and a repeating message of apology as a part of their "hold muzak" apologizing for how long their customers are having to wait on hold for assistance . They are blaming this on a new phone system they have recently set up. I finally did get through to a customer service representative, James, who put me on hold for the longest time until I accidentally hung up trying to see if we were still connected, which led me to need to call back and go through the whole process again with Stuart.

The third phone call was to the electric company who claimed that someone had already set up an account for us and wondered who had called them. I asked if they had any sort of connection to the gas company and they said, "oh yeah....we're owned by the same company." If that is the case, and they use the same database, why oh why did I have to call both individually to set up service? Couldn't one call have sufficed?  My other question is if they are owned by the same company, could they not just go by the same name?  One thing that was different about this call was that about every 30 seconds there was a loud and sharp "beep" that would ring through my ears.... quite pleasant, I assure you.

The fourth phone call was to the Regional Water Authority. If you recall, I began my phone calls at 8 am. I placed my phone call to the regional water authority at 11 am. I had not moved from my position nor had I done anything other than make some posts on facebook while I was on hold with the various companies to help vent my frustration. My ear felt warm - and if I do end up with brain cancer from holding the cell phone to my head for hours on end I will know who to sue. So, I placed the call to the regional water authority at 11 am. Throughout my time of going through their automated menu and sitting on hold they continued to warn that they were experiencing a "high volume of calls" and that I should not hang up. Well, I certainly didn't want to endure what I went through with the gas company so I kept telling myself that hanging up would only make me have to go through this all over again at some other point. So, I continued to hold. At 11:45 (yes, that's right.....FORTY-FIVE minutes on hold) they said they were transferring me to someone who could help. I was so relieved to finally be almost finished with this ordeal. A very friendly woman answered the phone and as I told her why I was calling I realized that she was only typing a message to the water authority. At the end of our conversation she said, "ok, I'm going to forward this message to them and they will call you back as soon as they are able." Excuse me?  I sat on hold for 45 minutes to be transferred to a call center?  If I think about it logically, I guess I'm glad they did that so that I didn't have to call back at some other point and go through the whole process again. But, I didn't hold out too much hope that we'd have running water once we were in the house. Each hour ticked by incessantly with no return call from the water authority. At 6:20 pm the phone rang and it was Sharina from the water authority. I was so shocked I exclaimed quite boisterously that I was so glad that she called back. After she chucked over my reaction, she explained to me that there had been no need for me to call. In CT the closing attorneys contact the water authority and the account is automatically transferred into the new owners' names. I have gotten very used to Michigan where everything is privatized because the government can't afford to control anything. In CT, it seems that the taxes actually cover something other than the legislators' salaries. It is the same thing with the trash as well - no need to set up a new account. It's all covered by our taxes. I'm trying to not  think about the time that I spent on hold with the water authority when I didn't have to do anything in the first place. I'm just glad to have it finished.

And I apologize to my sister who called later on in the day and I just couldn't bring myself to pick up the phone. Please understand that I'm just trying to avoid the additional radiation exposure.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Whirlwind and Evidence Thereof

When I say things are crazy busy, you may think that I'm just trying to make excuses for not posting a gazillion days. However, it truly has been a whirlwind. Let me give you some evidence of this whirlwind I'm riding.

1.  Evidence #1: The Living Room
As you can see, The living room is almost completely filled with boxes and furniture. The furniture we are giving to a friend, the boxes are in various stages - completely packed, taped, labeled and ready to be loaded on the truck (that's actually the largest number of boxes that are strategically placed closest to the bookshelves. There are about 4 boxes that are nearer the furniture that aren't filled yet or need to be sorted through.

2. Evidence #2: The Schedule
 A. Trip to Connecticut
       - April 28-May 5 - We saw 24 houses in 48 hours, made an offer, accepted a counter offer and had the house inspected all in one week.

   - May  8-9 - Take cats to the vet and get shots, microchips, and Xanax for the trip. Literally.... we'll be giving Buddy Xanax so that we will all remain sane during the 12 hour drive.I wonder if cat Xanax is the same as human Xanax?????  This may be something we need to consider! ;)

  - May 7-11 (am) - Decide that this is a perfect time to go on a new diet - The 17 Day Diet and see what it can do for us. It is set up in 17 day cycles that start with very low carbs and works more in each cycle.  Quotes from Nate:  "Is this a woman's diet? Shouldn't I be able to have more?" "Is this all we're getting?"  "Ummm..... is there going to be a dessert?"  "Is your stomach constantly growling because mine is?!"

   -May 11-13 - Go to Ft. Wayne for Mother's Day and a final trip before we move. Spend quality time with family and friends throughout the 2.3 days there.

    - May 11: 5:30 PM - arrive in Ft Wayne. 6:00 begin stuffing tortilla chips in my mouth at an alarmingly rapid rate to make up for the lack of carbs this week. And proceed for the next two days to eat carbs whenever possible to make up for the deficit.

    - May 14-18 -Have friends come over and pick through our belongings and take things they want/need.

   - May 19 - 4PM - Farewell party at a friends

   - May 20 - Jenna's next 10K race

   -May 21-June 1 - Pack furiously - Trying to make sure that the things we take with us in the car leave enough room for 3 animals as well. So, we need to pack like we are going on a week's vacation and take our pets with us.

   - June 2 - Movers load the truck.

   - June 2nd night - sleep soundly (???) on the floor with three animals

  - June 3rd - get up refreshed (????) and ready to go at 4 AM to drive to CT in time to drop the animals at the kennel for a few days.

   - June 4th - the house in Ypsilanti closes in the morning. We either:
                        a) Wait around in New Haven pacing and wondering and hoping everything goes well
                        b)  We take the train into NYC for the day and try to enjoy ourselves.

    - June 5th -We close on the house in New Haven in the afternoon to allow for the proceeds from the MI closing to be wired and received. We also pray that the moving truck does NOT arrive in the morning! We actually would like it if they arrived around day 4 of the 2-8 day window.

 During all of this, I am still running 3 times per week for training, and lifting boxes (er, I mean "weights") 2 times per week.
                        
Is any other evidence needed to verify our "whirlwind?" Yeah, I didn't think so!  

Friday, April 27, 2012

34 miles

I went 34 miles this week. I say "went", because I didn't run them all. I ran, walked, and cycled 34 miles this week. I'm pretty pleased!  With the marathon training, I ran a 5K on Monday, another on Wednesday, and then ran 5.5 miles today (as I didn't quite make it to a 10K, I'm honestly not sure how many "k's" I ran). As I said, I'm pleased with my progress. After running the 5.5 miles today, my knees don't feel anything like they did after my 10K race earlier this month. So, hopefully that means they are getting stronger. I am about to go out and mow the lawn though, so we'll see how peppy they are after that! :)

Have I mentioned how when I run I'm absolutely famished afterward?  Honestly, right now I think I could eat a full meal. However, I'm going to go out and mow the lawn instead. And, as I haven't taken a shower yet from my run, I'll be extra nasty after mowing the lawn, so the first thought in my head will be to get in the shower...which will hopefully delay my stomach until lunch time! :) Or at least, that's the theory right now.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day Off!

We're taking the day off today and headed to the baseball game! Tomorrow will prove to be busy, and maybe some of the things on the agenda for tomorrow could have been done today,b ut I'm not going to worry about it. We've been going full throttle for a while now and I need a day. to update you on this week's craziness:

1. Credit Report - I called and was on the phone for 45 minutes with the credit agency. My credit report had been merged with someone else's. So, it isn't identity theft. In fact, it will be fixed within 72 hours. 28 items will be removed from my credit report as they "unmerge" the two. I'm so thankful that it wasn't anything more!

2. Moving Company - We had two estimates yesterday and after Nate and I discussed it, we have chosen which one to go with. So now I'm in the process of notifying the others and basically saying, don't contact me again.

Things are moving right along and I'm so grateful for this day off!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Deep Tissue Mouth Masseuse?

It took Nate and I about 4 years to find a dentist we like. And now that I have one, I want her to move with me. Yesterday I had my six month cleaning appointment and I left with 4 sealed teeth due to oversensitivity and a card for a masseuse. She is a deep tissue masseuse that will "massage both inside and out." This comment from the hygienist stopped me. I tried to make her comment fit with my mouth. I looked at her questioningly and said, "she'll massage the inside of my mouth?" And the hygienist confirmed that yes, that is indeed what the therapist would do. I'm still trying to wrap my head around how not only that would be possible, but how that would feel. When the dentist came in and saw that even with the lovely mouth guard they fitted me for 4 months ago, my grinding teeth were causing me increased pain she concurred that I should  contact this amazing "miracle worker." She did warn me that it would be painful because I have "years worth" of stress that would need to be worked out. Hmmmm...... I'm going to have to give this one some thought.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Curse of the Threes

You've heard of this right?  All bad things come in threes?  Yesterday was that day for us. As we continue to deal with the high stress fiasco of moving, I've been coordinating the mover assessment, the house inspection, the house appraisal, etc.  Last week the mover that the school recommended came, did an in-home estimate of our belongings and yesterday we received a quote that sent me into a sort of daze due to sticker shock. The school has given us an allowance toward moving and the quote we received was over double the allowance. While I paused to let the news digest, the phone rang. Our realtor started by saying, "I owe you an apology...." What a bad way to start a conversation! She had given us a wrong deadline date for the buyer to get back to us with an addendum to the sale contract with repairs they want completed before the closing date. There are now three things we have to fix, when last week we had been told by our realtor that they had waived having anything fixed because the deadline passed. As Nate and I wrote emails and instant messages back and forth regarding these issues and what we needed to do, he asked why does it always seem like bad things happen all at once? And the cute little comeback I gave was "bad things come in threes!" And of course, we had only had the opportunity to experience two of them at that point. While we were eating dinner (and internally I'm breathing a sigh of relief thinking that we've almost made it through the day without a third issue) Nate's phone rang and it was the bank in Connecticut that is pre-approving us for a home loan. The loan officer was calling to  see if we were aware of the "odd" items they found on our credit report: a second mortgage, three home-equity loans, etc. and so on. We then spent the evening pulling our credit reports from each of the major agencies and low and behold, one of the agencies has combined someone else's information onto my credit report. It doesn't show up on any of the other reports, so I don't believe it is a case of identity theft. The person hasn't changed their name, etc.... but their information is on my report.

To deal with the mover assessment, I googled Two Men and a Truck. Several people I know have used them and seemed to like them a lot. So, I clicked on what I thought was their website and put in the necessary information to receive a quote and since hitting send, literally before I could push away from the computer, or look away from the computer screen, my phone was ringing. As I listened to this woman from National movers, I kept thinking I was talking to Two Men and a Truck. At one point I said, "and you're connected to Two Men and a Truck?" And she proceeded to inform me that the site I had visited sent my information to basically any and all moving companies. She said, "you're going to be getting a lot of phone calls."  She was right. In fact, my phone went dead in the middle of the afternoon yesterday from me fielding all of these calls. I've decided it's a blessing in a HUGE disguise because I can now get a variety of quotes and I can see if they will "outbid" one another. So far, I have received two quotes that are right around the allowance provided for us. I have two in home estimates scheduled for tomorrow and then another on Friday.

On the home repair side of things, I have an electrician coming early in May to fix his part, and a handyman coming to do a minor repair on the roof and we're asking my father in law to switch out the dryer vent.

On the credit report side of things, I felt like one of the people in those commercials who begins to bang their heads against the wall because even though they are carefully following all instructions given on the phone or online, it doesn't work. On the agency site it clearly says that you can dispute an item (s) listed on your credit report. It gives step by step instructions on how to do it. For the first erroneous item, I clicked on dispute and it said that for that specific item I had to call and talk to someone. I thought, ok, let's go to the next one. I go to the next one, I get the same message. I go to the third, I get the same message. I scroll down tot he ones that lists the other person's name and that is actually one of the options given for the dispute: "name listed is not my own"...or something like that. So, I click on that. The message that pops up says, "Is it possible that someone in your family has used your social security number. If so, click ok. If not, click cancel." I clicked cancel and it took me back to the very beginning - not having registered my dispute at all. So, tomorrow, my day consists of calling the credit agency, having two moving assessments, and running off all this stress!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Major Disconnect

I'm running every other day and I'm strength training the other days and taking one day off each week. However, you'd never know it by looking at the scale. With all of the working out I'm doing,  to say I'm starving is an understatement. To say that I am not making wise choices in the food I'm eating is also an understatement. There's a huge disconnect going on between my stomach and my mind. Somewhere I come to a justification that I need to eat with all the exercise that I'm doing. And why doesn't the other voice pipe up and say, "Really? Why are you doing all the exercise in the first place?" So, here we are at the beginning of another week. I have good food choices for every meal sitting in the fridge. I have Weight Watchers Vegetable soup, which is actually quite tasty. I have black beans that I add to it for additional protein. I have enough lettuce to make salads each and every day. I usually start the week out with such good intentions and by 11AM on Monday, they are all for naught. So, although it is my habit to make blanket decisions for weeks on end, I'm reminding myself that today is all I'm promised. Today is what I'm responsible for. I'm telling myself to stop thinking about tomorrow or the next day or what you could weigh in _____ days if I ate ______. That obviously doesn't work. So, for Monday, April 23, I'm making a decision. For breakfast I'm having oatmeal with berries. For lunch I'm having Weight Watchers Soup with 1/2 cup black beans in it and a side salad. And for dinner I'm having a turkey burger, one serving of sweet potato fries and a salad with a no pudge brownie for dessert. I also am going to the gym after taking Nate to work and I'm going to run 5 miles, or 40 minutes, whichever comes first. I have been running outside, however, it's been so windy that I just can't do it. Some people may say that those are the conditions I may face in October and I should face them in training. What I say in response? Baby steps people.....baby steps. After Nate gets off work, we will go back to the gym and I'll either ride the bike or briskly walk on the treadmill for another 35-40 minutes.

We leave for New Haven on Saturday morning to look for a new home. We will be gone a week. I know that it will be difficult to make wise choices where food is concerned during the week. However, I'm preparing snacks for us to take along - baby carrots, celery sticks, grapes, low fat/high fiber snack bars/cereal bars, bottled water... Although in the first paragraph I mention thinking about today only, I realize that the failure to plan is planning to fail. And so, I will be taking each day as it comes and also encouraging wiser choices in terms of snacks which, will hopefully lead to wiser (ie. not as desperate) choices for meals.

In the housing department, we're actually leaning toward a townhouse/condo. To not be responsible for exterior maintenance and a yard does have strong appeal! However, we're keeping our options open. Our realtor in New Haven says that she doesn't think we'll make an offer while we're there. However, we plan to make a decision of some kind - either finding the place for us and making an offer or finding an apartment to live in short term while we continue the house hunt.

I hope your Monday is a great one!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Martian Meteor 10K



I did it!  I ran the Martian Meteor 10K in Dearborn this morning (8 AM start time, to be exact. We can discuss the insanely early start times in another post) in 1 hour and 10 minutes. I was pretty impressed with my time as I had originally thought it would take me a LOT longer due to the pain in my right foot that I've been nursing for over a week. I honestly thought that I'd end up walking most of it and running short bits. Instead, it was exactly the other way around. I ran most of it, and walked a few snippets to catch my breath and recoup some energy. This was a first for me in a couple of areas:
1. First 10K - in fact - first 10K ever - due to the injury, I hadn't even run a 10K in training yet.
2. First race where it rained - Honestly, the rain was somewhat refreshing and kept me cool throughout the race.
3. First race where I wore the World Vision jersey.

I must admit, I almost didn't wear the jersey. With moving, I don't necessarily feel very much a part of the team from Northridge anymore. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely running the marathon. But, I guess I don't feel the camaraderie with the "RidgeRunners" that I did at the beginning, knowing that I won't be training with them for most of the time. Along with my belief that I wouldn't do well in this race, I really debated on whether I should wear the jersey or not. But, I realized that with the lack of training the last week and a half, I have begun to retreat into a dark place where I hear my negative self that tell me I can't do it, I'll never succeed, etc. When I start listening to that internal dialog and not just listening, but believing it, I begin to retreat. As I stood there looking at the jersey this morning, I realized I needed to wear it. I needed to bond with these people and feel a part of this group. I need to have the encouragement and support from these runners even if I don't end up training with them here, I am still a member of the team.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!

It is with great joy and relief that I can announce that we've accepted an offer on the house. It isn't totally what we wanted, it isn't totally what they wanted - didn't I hear somewhere that if both parties leave the table a little dissatisfied that means it's a fair compromise?  So, I guess we've had a fair compromise. We're happy that we will be able to go to CT in a few weeks and look for homes knowing that the weight of selling our home first is not holding us here. We're ecstatic that we can move on with our lives and not feel tied to this place. We're thrilled that we can look at homes in CT knowing that "yes, we can give you a down payment for that."

It truly feels quite surreal to me right now. Everything has been so overwhelming that I can't truly get my head around the fact that we will actually be moving and will be calling a new place "home" in a month and a half. The moving company is coming Tuesday to do an estimate on how much it will cost to move us. I think it will be fairly simple - as we are taking no appliances, only taking one bed out of a 3 bedroom house, we are leaving our IKEA bookshelves pictured here:
Isn't it pretty?  Well, as you may know, anything from IKEA doesn't come looking like that. You do end up putting it together yourself.  And, if you are us and IKEA, you know that the company is obviously owned by a sadistic monster who has decided that the hardware for one bookshelf should be completely different than the hardware for the other bookshelf. (oh yeah, we have two of these suckers sitting in our living room....side by side). And, what further supports the whole sadistic monster theory is that these are not easy things to put together. It's not like they are Legos that just click and lock into place. AND, you put them together flat and then you have to figure out a way to stand them up. So, as I stood staring at them skeptically the other day wondering how in the world we would move them across the country without taking them apart (I do believe we'd go on a crazed rampage if we had to put these things together again) without them breaking (the hardware is a tad on the unsatisfactorily flimsy side). The buyers asked to have them remain in the house. We eagerly accepted - shoving our nightmare onto someone else.

As you may see, I haven't mentioned running in a while... I've been resting my toes, as the ball/upper part of my right foot was hurt last week (see previous post). It is improving - we have walked most nights and I can tell that the pain is diminishing, so that's good. My April race, a 10K is Saturday. I'm totally and completely not prepared. But, I'll do the Jeff Galloway run/walk method and make it through....if I end up walking more than running, so be it. The other side of Saturday's race is that it is supposed to rain the entire time. Won't that be lovely? My hope is that I will be able to get back to training in earnest next week, believing that my foot will be better.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Hate Moving



Sometimes, doesn't it feel like life is just like this picture? Where you are moving a gazillion miles an hour and can't make sense of which way to go? May I just say that moving stinks? There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It stinks to high heaven.  Right now we are in the throes of negotiations on an offer for the house. And we have come to realize that basically we're having to fight tooth and nail to get any sort of net profit out of the deal. It's frustrating and irritating. I just want it to be over. And that's probably one of the hopes of the buyer, that in our desire to sell fast, we'll just give in. However, what makes this more difficult is that there are two of us involved in this decision. One of us (aka: ME) wants to sell immediately - get it over with, who cares about net profit, just get out from under the weight of this albatross. Then there's someone else, who will remain unnamed (coughcoughNatecoughcough) who doesn't want to be taken advantage of and wants to turn down the offer because maybe the next one will be better.....of course my argument is, maybe there ISN'T a next one???!!!! And yet, I understand his point of view as well.

While we negotiate a sale on this end and feel tied down....no, that's not accurate...it's more like, weighted down with cement blocks tied around our ankles and sinking in the bottom of the Huron River.... I also am in major talks with our representatives in New Haven as well. I am exchanging several emails a day with the realtor we've connected with there and I am also in discussions with the moving company and the Yale Moving Office on planning/preparing to move all of our belongings. It is quite difficult to move from one email conversation that consists of, "they want us to give them what with that price??" to "um.... that's way out of our price range..is there anything that is cheaper that isn't a fixer-upper?" to "No I'm sorry, I can't schedule a date for the moving truck because we don't know our moving date yet, or a closing date, or..."

I'm learning a lesson, which I've probably learned before, and which I'll probably be granted more wondrous opportunities to learn in the future, that I don't deal well with uncertainty. I like everything all neatly wrapped up and tied with a bow and presented/dealt with in a timely (aka: IMMEDIATE) manner.

We'll see how it goes!  At this moment we are awaiting the counter -counter offer from the potential buyer. Oy!  I need a drink...no... more like a PITCHER of margaritas!