Sunday, September 3, 2017

Rome, Italy - 5/16/2001 & 5/17/2001

{This is a post from my travel journal that I kept while on our 3 week tour of Europe in 2001. I thought it would be fun to compare our 2017 trip to Italy with the one we took 16 years ago. In retrospect, I am SO glad I kept track of our trip - even though it may not be as thorough as it would be if I was writing it today!}

May 16, 2001

Today was another day of travel. We went from Nice to Rome. For most of the way, we sat with girls who had studied in Spain since January. The one girl made it a point to put a Spanish accent on everything she said. It was really ridiculous, especially when she said, "Fanta." Anyway, we finally got to Rome and we were approached by a man from the tourist office. We were skeptical at first, but then we realized he was from the office and he didn't want any money up front. So, he suggested a place and we went to look at it. It seemed a little odd, but we took it anyway and it turned out to be fine. After dinner, which took forever to find a place, we took a walk around the town. We were trying to find Piazza Navona, which is supposedly the place to be. We didn't find it, but saw some neat parts of the city anyway. It is really amazing how the ruins are just there in the middle of a big city like that. We also found some ruins that were turned into a cat sanctuary. And, there really were cats there.

May 17, 2001

We walked the city of Rome today. It is an amazing city and it is impossible  to see it all in one day. We first went to the Colosseum. We went in and walked around and climbed the horrible steps to the top. The floor is no longer there so you can see the old tunnels that are underneath. You can take a tour with an archaeologist for about $3 extra, but the next one didn't leave for a while so we didn't take it. We then walked to the Vatican and what a walk that was! It's so hot and muggy in Rome that it made the walk seem much worse I'm sure. But, once we got there, we realized it was so worth it. The place is truly amazing. There's really no way to describe the place and how beautiful it was. I'm sure our pictures won't do it justice either. It's something you really just have to see! We took a taxi to the train station because our feet were about to fall off. We checked the times for Venice and then shopped around for a while. We walked back to the hotel and took a nap because we were exhausted. When we woke up, we shopped for a while and then had dinner at an Irish pub. After that, we sat out at a cafe and Tommy had some wine and I had an espresso, which is what everyone drinks there as coffee, but it is as thick as oil- the sugar just sits at the top of the coffee. It was strong, but good. Although, I'm pretty sure it caused me to sleep horribly through the night!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Letter to Josie's Teacher

{Well, it's been a hot minute since I've touched this blog (Actually, it's been a hot year, but that doesn't sound as snappy.) I'm not bothering to recap the last year of life, but instead, patting myself on the back because one blog post is better than none.}

Josie started middle school this week. What in the what?!?!?! Wasn't she just in preschool?

Nope - that was 8 years ago. I'll stop the incredulousness now because it's definitely happened. She's definitely 11 1/2 and in 6th grade now.

Back when I was an overly optimistic new mom, I decided to write my kids a letter each year on their birthday. I would seal it up and then deliver them all at the high school graduation party so they could read and we could cry together. Or laugh and roll our eyes. That's probably more our style.

Guess how many letters I wrote? One. That's it. Josie's first birthday letter is tucked away somewhere in the basement. Sorry Tessa and Jack. Three kids in four years, moving three hours from "home," starting and running a business, and just keeping it all together was enough for this mom. I've got lots of memories to share though thanks to Timehop and this blog. I'm 100% OK with that.

I had a homework assignment this week for Josie's Social Studies class. The teacher wanted us to write a letter introducing our child. Time to redeem myself! What could I write in a letter that would summarize the last 11 1/2 years and represent my daughter's personality? When writing, I realized that really not much has changed since that first picture. She's still an enthusiastic learner, not shy in any way, shape, or form, and loves new experiences and meeting new people. She's a lot like her mother, but definitely has a better sense of humor, and penchant for fun, and other great features, that she earned from her father. 

For posterity sake, and for reference at her high school graduation party, here is my letter to her teacher...

Dear Mrs. _____________,

We are all excited for Josie’s first year of middle school! This is new territory for us as Josie is the oldest of our three kids. Her younger sister, Tessa, is in 5th grade and brother, Jack, is in 1st grade. My husband, Tom, and are both from Ohio and we moved here to Greenfield when Josie was about a year old. 

Josie has loved school from the very beginning. She has always enjoyed reading and learning about new things, both in the classroom and here at home. And, she’s not afraid to share what she knows with anyone who will listen! She is definitely not shy and usually will not hesitate to be in front of the class or a crowd. 

On the academic front, Josie is a good student and receives good grades. She probably enjoys the reading/language arts side more than math, but she seems to do well with both. She is a speedy reader and almost always has a book in her hand! That speediness can get in the way a little when doing school work, so I try to encourage her to take her time when working on school work as she does have a tendency to rush through things. 

Josie has always been the one in our family who is not afraid to try new things. She is almost always enthusiastic about trying things and usually has a very positive attitude. This follows through to school work but also in her interactions with friends and strangers. Her favorite place as a toddler was the McDonald’s Play Place because she could meet new friends!

We are looking forward to watching Josie continue to grow through 6th grade this year. Thank you for taking the time to get to know our kids a little better! This exercise was really nice for me as well. I don’t usually take the time to think about all of these things so it was nice to focus on Josie’s qualities and personality!


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Deep Thoughts at a Country Music Concert

Last night, in the middle of a fantastic Keith Urban concert, a pretty deep thought popped up out of no where. One that was way too deep for the usual country music lyrics. (I mean, really... "Huntin, and fishin' and lovin' everyday?" How do they even write country music? My iPad didn't even want me to type that because of spell check!)

For a big part of the show, this was my view...

Obviously, I took this from an angle to be dramatic...before said deep thought hit me. I didn't stand there like a martyr the whole time. I wiggled around and watched over his shoulder and paid attention to the screen more than anything - not uncommon in such a large concert space. I was having a great time even with the slightly obstructed view.  

About 20 minutes before the concert ended, the couple next to Tom left. And, he slid over a few inches. Suddenly, I could see it all. Right in front of me. Though still far away, clear as could be.

I started thinking about was how one small little deterrent - a few inches - separated me from a straight-on shot of the stage. From a different angle, everything had changed.

What "straight shot" is just a few inches away? What little change needs to occur so that the next big thing is in sight? What problem might be solved with the simplest of answers or a tiny shift in thinking? What small change can be made for a completely new perspective?

At the moment, I'm not trying to solve life's biggest problems. I'm really just getting through the regular days of raising kids to be mature, responsible citizens. I also don't have answers to those questions (and I don't really even have a problem to which to apply them) but I'm sure going to chew on the thought for a while. I'm pretty sure it won't be anything earth shattering but it may just be a good tool in my problem-solving toolbox.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Parenting is Hard and Makes No Sense

We all know this right?

Let me tell you about our most recent example of how this played out at our house...

Many of our friends and family may know that Tessa has always been quite the picky dresser. She has also been a bit of a "spirited" child. (I just love that term - it sounds so fun! It's not so much...most of the time.)

A little background...

From the time she was 2 until about 2 months ago, Tessa has worn jeans by choice approximately zero times. Uncomfortable, and probably more importantly in her mind, unstylish, Tessa would NOT wear them for anything. No bribe would work. Tears, wailing, and gnashing of teeth ensued any time the topic was broached. It quickly became a battle just not worth fighting.

On another note, occasionally, spirited little Tessa would have a particularly chatty day at Pre-K or Kindergarden. Nothing serious, but enough for the teacher to bring it up at pick-up time or move down a color on the color chart. This never bothered Tessa and didn't really do much to deter her the next day.

Enter the infamous "Jean Punishment." This was a brilliant idea that worked almost without fail. In the course of our 10 years of parenting, we have tried countless ways to get our kids motivated to do what we want - sticker charts, chore charts, work punishments, time-outs - you name it we tried it. This was the simplest and the one with the most success. If behavior was an issue at school, Tessa wore jeans the next day at school. Every time and it worked. The following days were so much better!

Now, you may ask how we got her to actually put the jeans on since they were so terrible. I have no idea. It defies logic. I have no idea why, when it was a punishment, she would willingly put them on without an argument, a tear or even an ounce of hesitation. But, thankfully, she did. And, it worked. Her kindergarden teacher kind of thought we had achieved expert parenting status. In reality? We were just lucky. Something worked and it stuck. For a while anyway and then it stopped working and we started trying new things all over again.

Anyway, that was all just backstory to what happened tonight. And, why parenting is just such a wild card and just hard.

About 2 months ago, Tessa decided jeans were not so bad. Little by little, she sweet talked her dad into a handful of pairs. On our last trip to Ohio, she only packed jeans. That's it.

And, now tonight, we had tears about jeans again. She has no clean jeans for school tomorrow. The horror. How ironic right? My how things have changed! (And, now I'm getting flashes of what is in store during our junior high and high school days.)

Interestingly enough, she has four pair of dirty jeans on her bedroom floor. I did laundry today. I tried to logically explain to her, through her tears, that if she had simply put those jeans down the laundry chute, they would have magically been clean by tomorrow morning. Somehow, that logic didn't seem to help and just made the tears fall faster and louder.

Parenting is hard. Consistency is key until it doesn't work anymore. Kids love things until they hate them and vice versa. Logic is hard to communicate and is mostly lost on them. So is irony. (Sarcasm may fall in that category for some families, but not ours. It's so common in our house that they picked up on that real quick.)

All we can do is keep trying until something sticks and try again when that doesn't work anymore either. And, we have to hope that our unconditional love sticks most of all. Because even though they're not easy to figure out and they may do things that drive us batty, we wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 Book List

I finally did it! 24 books in a year! It was a mix of serious and fun books and I also half read a handful of others. Here's the list with a brief (very brief) review. These are listed in order in which I read them with the exception of the last. I don't remember when I finished that one as it didn't make the list I keep in my phone.

1. Does this Church Make Me Look Fat? Rhoda Janzen - This was a cute book and an easy read. It's a memoir style book about the author's experience with the Mennonite Church and coming back to church after time away. 
2. Killing Jesus - Bill O'Reilly - I really enjoyed Killing Lincoln and this was no different! I couldn't put it down! Highly recommend! 
3. Best Kept Secrets - Sandra Brown - I don't remember anything about this one but I'm guessing it was a typical Sandra Brown mystery. 
4. The Happiness of Pursuit - Chris Guillebeau- I don't remember this one being a particularly exciting book but I liked the idea. Basically, we are happiest when we have goals and are actively working to achieve those goals. I wholeheartedly agree!
5. The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion - I liked this one. It's an easy read and a little bit of a unique premise. Plus, it is part of a series so the fun can continue.
6. Private #1 Suspect - James Patterson and Maxine Paetro - See #3 except replace Sandra Brown with these authors. 
7. Yes Please - Amy Poehler - Another good one! I realized this year that I am a sucker for memoirs. And, it seems I have particular affection for those written by women. The only thing I will say about this book is that I was surprised at the drug references. Maybe I should have known this happened but I was surprised nonetheless. 
8. Wild - Cheryl Strayed - This ranks up there with my favorites of this year. The author does some crazy stuff for sure. I watched the movie too and I will suggest that you read the book first. (Actually, that's almost always my suggestion!)
9. 1-2-3 Magic - Thomas W. Phelan PhD - I can't remember how I even found this book but I'm glad I did! This is a book on disciplining your children and I just loved it. It's a great system to use and you can implement it right away. Plus, the author is really funny and sarcastic which I enjoyed. 
10. Heart Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot - John L. Parker - I had to buy a used copy of this book because it's no longer published. So, if you want to borrow it, just let me know! This is the book that got me moving down the path of slow running. The author does a great job of explaining why this works without getting extremely technical. Although, if you search for this online, you may come across a brief essay of just a few pages that describes the concept in fewer words. This book, and the concept, has made my running much more enjoyable!  
11. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn - Why do I always put off reading bestsellers!?! I seem to be the last to the party on a lot of these. Regardless, I read this and loved it! It was one I just couldn't put down! I watched this movie after reading as well and again suggest you read the book first. Highly recommend!
12. Breaking Night - Liz Murray - Look at that! Another female memoir! This is about a girl who was raised in less than favorable circumstances, became homeless as a teenager and then later went on to an Ivy League school for college. A very interesting glimpse into a world in which I am not familiar. I have thought about Liz Murray and her situation frequently throughout the year, especially when social issues come up as a topic of discussion. Highly recommend!
13. Racing Weight - Matt Fitzgerald - Interesting read but probably beyond my level of nutrition and running. It is geared more for the elite/professional/serious runner. However, I still picked up some interesting tips!
14. Two for the Dough - Janet Evanovich - These are fun and easy reads. Nothing else to say here!
15. Orange is the New Black - Piper Kerman - Uhhhh... This is another female memoir. This one is written by the real woman behind the Netflix series. Suffice it say, the series is pretty highly embellished in a lot of areas. Every once in while though, I would be surprised by something that I thought was made up for the show but it was actually reality. Good book. 
16. So Long, See You Tomorrow - William Maxwell - Though this was a quick read, I can't say that I enjoyed it. I think it was too deep for me. It felt like a book that I would have been required to read in my freshman English class. Not one of my favorites. 
17. 80/20 Running - Matt Fitzgerald - I bought this book at the same time as Racing Weight. It is similar to the heart rate training book listed above, but with more specific data and training plans. 
18. How to Be Rich - Andy Stanley - Hint: it has nothing to do with money. In fact, we're all rich in so many ways. This is a short little book and I would say worth the read. I really like Andy Stanley. 
19. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins - Again, why did I wait so long?!?! I loved this book and couldn't put it down. It is very intense so make sure you can stay up late to finish this one!
20. American Crucifixion - Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church - Alex Beam - This was one that popped up on my library's e-reader's site. It was interesting but long and unnecessarily so. I learned some new things though. 
21. Life on the Ramona Coaster - Ramona Singer - Last one - I promise! Yet another female memoir!i saw this at the library and couldn't resist. I watch Real Housewives of New York usually on the treadmill or while doing laundry. I can't say it was super interesting but it was a fast read and a glimpse into a totally different world. 
22. Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson - If you read Wild, you should read this one soon after you finish! Bill Bryson chronicles his time on the Appalachian Trail in a humorous and informative way. It has made me at least consider a multi-day hike on the trail at some point in my future. 
23. The Mistletoe Promise - Richard Paul Evans - A good book to read around the holidays! Another quick read, but I enjoyed it. I may have to read some more books by this author, especially around the holidays. 
24. The Anxiety Toolkit - Alice Boyes PhD - Another impulse library selection! I definitely have my bouts with anxiety that range from silly worries to the more serious things that border on panic. My anxiety issues have grown as I have aged and this book did a good job of offering simple solutions and tactics for a lot of the simpler issues. 

If you asked for a suggestion, these are the ones I would recommend...

Killing Jesus
1-2-3 Magic (if you have young kids anyway)
Gone Girl
Breaking Night 
The Girl on the Train 

Can we say "Girl Power?!" Well, other than Jesus anyway. :) I've had other years of specific genres taking over my reading list, but this one does seem a little heavy in one area. Oh well. I found something I liked and stuck with it!

Let's see what 2016 will bring!

You can find my old lists here - 2014, 2013, and 2012.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Goals

Another year has come and gone! And so it's time to reflect on the past year and set up a plan for the coming one. I've gone back through old posts and found my 2014 and 2015 goals. I've copied them here and added my 2016 goals in each category.

Putting these out there make it real and help keep me motivated to know that I will hold myself accountable throughout the year. Here we go! (Previous year goals are the abridged version.)


2014 Goal - 4 half or better runs and beat 1:50.

2014 Actual - I got in all 4 of my half or better runs. I did NOT get under 1:50.

2015 Goals -  5 Half or better races for me this year! I'll still be working toward under 1:50.

2015 Actual - I squeezed in 6 half or better with one clocking in at 1:45:12. It was quite literally an all downhill race, but under 1:50 nonetheless! I had a few right at 1:50 but none others that were under much to my chagrin. 

2016 Goal - 6 half or better races and have a non-downhill race under 1:50. In fact, my stretch goal this year is a sub 1:45 although I know it is indeed a stretch. I only have one race on the books right now so I need to get planning! 


2014 Actuals - All of our Timber Run homes are now under contract and we had 50% more custom home deposits than our goal. Additionally, we purchased lots in a new subdivision and that wasn't really even on our radar for the year.

2015 Goals - If 2014 brought high expectations, 2015's goals are mountainous! By the end the year, we are expecting great things!

2015 Actuals - This year was my favorite year so far in the home building industry! We closed out Timber Run, launched and broke ground on a new subdivision, Summerset, and built more custom homes than any previous year. Also, we purchased and renovated a new building for our offices in downtown Greenfield and have enjoyed our short time there with our great team. 

2016 Goals - Tom and I have an appointment on our calendar to sit down and talk through these goals. I'm excited to see what the new year will bring!


2014 Goal - Read 24 books. 

2014 Actual - Didn't get there. There's always another year. :)

2015 Goal - Read 24 books. That was easy. 

2015 Actual - Finally I did it. Hopefully there will be a follow up post to this with the books that made the list! We will have to see how much time I have on my hands!


2014 Actual -
Lost weight but didn't hit my goal of pre-kid weight.

2015 Goal - Lose the rest.

2015 Actual - I did pretty well here this year, but still didn't hit that number. I did another round of elimiating sugar, and this time with no artificial sweeteners either. That was hard. I did stay off the Diet Coke for the whole year. Although, I will treat myself to a Diet Dr. Pepper every once in a while. I don't think it's a coincidence that cutting out the Diet Coke has led to holding close to my most recent low weight. 

2016 Goals - I'm not sure that "weight" will ever not be a yearly goal. I just love to eat too much and can't ever seem to get the hang of "moderation." So, I always just try to keep things reasonable and find new little tricks to keep me motivated. This year, I was able to actually get under the weight I have listed on my driver's license. In 2016, I want to be five pounds under that number and hold steady there.  I'm not exactly sure how many pounds that is as of this moment, probably 8-10 depending on how bad the holidays play out on the scale. 

New Goals for 2016

I have a couple of new goal categories for the year. I think these will help with my running goals and my weight loss goals. 

Mileage - I've never set a mileage goal for the year nor have I done a great job of tracking mileage. I will do this in 2016. Tom went for 1,000 running miles this year and blew past it! I think it sounds like a fun thing to track. So, in 2016, I will run 1,200 miles which works out to 100 miles per month. This will not be a small task. It works out to about 23 miles a week which would be more than I run when I'm not in a training cycle. I'm hoping this will motivate me to not skip runs and to up my weekly runs from my usual 5 up to 6 and to keep a long run every week. 

Steps - This year, I had over 5,000,000 steps (5,080,909 as of this second). For 2016, I'm going for 5,500,000 which is just over 15,000 a day. This should go hand and hand with the increased mileage goal. 

Pull-ups - Right now, I can do exactly zero pull-ups. I keep saying I want to master at least one but now I've officially put it in writing. My plan is to start with my bands and eventually work up to at least one unassisted this year and maybe even two. It's doable, but I will have to work pretty hard toward achieving it. Upper body has never been one of my strengths! 

There you have it. These are a few areas of focus for me this year. Do I have other plans as well? Sure but these areas are concrete areas of my life in which I can set attainable and measurable goals which is really the whole reason I choose to run in general. It's such a great mechanism for me to set, track and achieve goals as an adult! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon - The Rest of Training

Seeing this video making it's way around social media this week made me realize that I haven't updated the world on my marathon training! (My favorite line is when she says, "Why would I talk about something that is interesting to no one?!") Well, this post is all about marathon training so if you're not interested, click away. :)

I left off at Week 7 and I'm now in Week 19. Without a ton of specifics, I ran a lot. Not as much as many people run during marathon training, but enough to keep me eating and sleeping more! Plus, I added in a handful of spin classes and continued strength training once a week.

I also squeezed in two half marathons in September which means I hit my 2015 running goals! One of the races I even got under 1:50! It may have an asterisk but I'm counting it! The full marathon wasn't even on my radar for the year. (Race posts upcoming!)

I'll do a quick update via photos for the missed weeks...

First up was our 14 mile run. I say "our"... Steph is in! She's doing the whole thing too! Soooooo thankful that we've been able to do all of our long runs together!

I've been on a mission to fix some foot issues. This was an attempt at heat moldable inserts. Boiling inserts on my stove is not something I ever pictured myself doing! (They didn't work.)

Next up was a 16 miler. Slow and steady has been our game plan! I'm totally convinced that this theory has made training so much more doable. I didn't start needing a nap and eating like crazy until 18 or 20 mile runs. "Slow" running is the best. :) (I'm probably running 45-60 seconds per mile slower than I did last round, but plan on beating my time in the race.)

New favorite song on my playlist this round.

After the insoles, I tried a Brooks Ghost 7 in a larger size. No dice. I then tried out some Altra's. Numb toes. Absolutely loved the cushioning though! Just a little funky looking!

Really, in total, I've only had two runs this entire time that felt bad. And, they felt terrible. The first was 18. Ugh. Plodding along and sore knees. 

I also did my first specialty 5K - the Glow Run! Super fun with black-lights and neon powder. Glow in the dark tattoo...

Here's my personal marathon cheerleader - Monica. Remember how she stood out in the freezing cold rain last time around?! She always makes everything super fun! 

The next day was a very early 20 mile run. I carb-loaded with some pancakes at Denny's around 11PM so I was ready to go! Headlamps were necessary for this one! (Maybe I should have just kept my light up glasses and necklace!) 

This 20 miler felt SO much better than the 18 of the previous week. How does that even work?! It must have felt good for Steph too because she signed up after this one!

Tom and I both ran before church that morning! 50K (31 miles) between the two of us! Not too shabby!

The next week, we took off for Virginia for Fall Break. I owe a big post on that one! On a running note though, Josie ran 4 miles with Tom at a great pace. Look at her stride! 

I got a run in at the park too and a few others on a treadmill. This morning, I had the entire State Park to myself! I seriously only saw one truck and one other runner the whole time!

Home again. I love our trails in the neighborhood, especially in the fall. So familiar!

Finally, the last 20 miler came around. This was the other awful one. I know why though I think. I slept badly, didn't fuel right and didn't have enough water. I suffered through though even if I did take to the couch until 6PM. Tough. Didn't even get any pictures. :) Appreciated seeing this on IG the next week though!

Last weekend was a 10 mile run at race pace. We brought it home with an 8:45 pace. And, talked the whole time. Piece of cake! 

Oh year. And, Tom decided he will take on the full as well. What a guy! I'm sure he'll be able to do it and I'm excited to see what he thinks!

So, here we are. Race day shows up on the 10 day forecast tomorrow.  We have less than 20 miles left in our training program. We're there folks. Bring it.