Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dominican Republic

Paul and I went to the Dominican Republic last month.  It was a fantastic, wonderful trip!  We spent all day, every day on the beach.  Each morning we strolled down to get our favorite spot and found ourselves in the company of pretty much the same people every day.  There was a couple from Jersey.  I feel certain that he was in the mob.  They were about 60-ish.  She wore her bleach blonde hair in a long braid and had a different bikini for each day.  He was a short, round bellied man and they both smoked like fiends and drank like fish.  They argued a lot and fairly loudly, but they were also sweet together.  They went swimming in the ocean and then she would stand on the beach and wait for him to finish so she could be sure he was safe.  A couple times she shook her head at me as if saying, "Mafia bosses, what are you going to do with them?"  Every morning they took pictures of each other in the surf.  I imagined that maybe they couldn't take pictures together because they are in the witness protection program. Sweet.

We saw all the shows that we could stay awake for, they were at 9:30 after all.  I had a fantasy of becoming one of the lounge singers.  Really, they have it made.  They stay in paradise and work for 2 hours a night.  I wouldn't have to learn the songs because somehow I knew all the words.  Except for the fact that I can't sing AT ALL, it would have been the perfect job for me.
There was a family there that I totally stalked the whole week.  I became fascinated with them.  If you haven't seen "Wedding Crashers" you need to move on to the next paragraph because this won't make any sense to you all.  But...there was a young couple getting married.  The mother and father of the bride were quite wealthy and flew the family in for the wedding.  The mother of the bride wore tight white capris and bright blouses every day and danced very provocatively with her new son in law and also with any male employees that were standing around.  I felt certain that her name was Kitty (and she made people call her Kittycat.)  There were cousins, the cool lesbian aunt and several distinguished looking older men who wore white pants every night.  One evening the grandmother got a little drunk and thrashed around on the floor, dancing, gyrating her hips in a very un-grandmotherly fashion.  They were fascinating to me.  I'm sure I creeped them out with my staring.  

We met another couple and went out to eat with them a couple of times.  We went to an Asian place (if you know Paul Boddeker, then you know that this is not his comfort zone.)  He left it me to order and I felt pretty weird about it because I was a bit out of my comfort zone as well.  So, I faked it.  I ordered us wine, a salad, sushi, and then the entree.  I didn't know what a lot of the food was, but I definitely know that we like tempura.  So I ordered it.  What kind of tempura?  Well, it was tendon.  Which I thought was ten-DON (rhymes with come ON)  whatever that is.  So, that is how I ordered it.  But, it was actually TENDON (rhymes with tissue connecting muscle.) It took me until the next day to figure that out.  Beverly Hillbillies eat sushi.  

Paul was amazed by this parrot.  I have to admit that it was pretty cool.  The next day I walked back by on my way to the gym and saw a woman who had just had a shiny, diamond necklace yanked off her neck by this bird.  I could see the jewel in the parrot's beak and tried to convince the woman that she absolutely DID NOT want to stick her fingers in that bird's mouth.  I was incredibly helpful and told her that the sign right there says to not wear shiny objects around this bird.  Actually the sign said "shinny" objects so maybe that is what threw her off.  Then I suggested that maybe she just wait around until the bird pooped.  But I didn't have details about bird poop, so I couldn't tell her about the digestive system of the parrot.  An employee walked by and said that this happens often and if you can't recover your jewels, then they just put the parrot in a cage and have it live in the room with you. Paul wanted me to tell the staff we lost something just so that we could have a parrot in our room with us.  It would have been kinda cool. 
I was fairly certain this was the location of the yoga class.  Every time I walked past them I thought, "Hmmmmm, maybe one morning I should get up early and join in a class."  Then one night I noticed that these were actually lights.  Whatever.  I still could have done some yoga on them.

We talked to this girl every day at least twice.  

Of course you still have the same kind of guests that you always get no matter where you vacation.  One night I was sitting outside reading and they were standing outside smoking and talking.  I was doing more eavesdropping then reading actually.  Here is a quote from the neighbor, "Oh, yeah, I can justify the shit out of some shit!"  Well said young man, well said.  

Friday, May 11, 2012


This post is a bit late, like a whole school year late, but what a year it has been!  We started a new school, different from where our other kids went.  We didn't know the teachers, the administration or the parents.  We didn't know how things worked.  I guess we were like every other kindergarten family.  We didn't know what to expect, but what a wonderful year we have had.  This lovely teacher right here is a large part of why:

Hannah made some great friends and learned lots of things.  Everything you expect from kindergarten, but I felt like she was able to do it in a warm, loving environment.  I don't know if everyone can say that about elementary school, but we are pretty lucky.

I can only hope next year will be just as great!  Look out 1st Grade!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

It Was A Feel Good Birthday

So a few months ago I turned 42 and I thought it would be great to do 42 random acts of kindness: an idea I stole from someone on Pinterest. I planned a few acts in case things didn't present themselves. Here are some of the things we did:

1. We gave a gift card to the person at Starbucks and asked them to pay for everyone's drinks. (they sang "Happy Birthday" to me!!

2. We saw a homeless person and gave him some money. 
3. We taped some gift cards to books at Barnes and Noble with a note. They sang Happy Birthday to me too!!
4. We bought balloons and took them to the children's floor at Greenview Hospital. 
5. While we were there we left a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird in the waiting room with a note telling people to pass it on.
6. We put notes on cars with lollipops telling people to have a nice day. 
7. We baked cookies and gave them to the local fire department. (I'm pretty sure they were a little frightened to eat them.  I'm not known for my cooking skills)
8. We gave some cookies and a thank you note to our mail lady.
9. We bought flowers and took them to a nursing home. 
10. We spent time talking to each person that we gave flowers to. They seemed so happy to have someone to listen to them. 
11. We taped quarters to a vending machine (and the stalked them in the parking lot to see if how long it would take people to use them!)
12. We donated items to Goodwill (then had to go back and dig one special item out of a bin that apparently was more important to someone than we had initially thought.)
13. We gathered up shopping carts in a parking lot. 
14. We gave a Kroger gift card to someone.
15. We handed out more "have a nice day cards" or if you are Hannah your note said "Stranger Hell"
16. We put some coins in a playground for children to find (we are really hoping a small child did not find them and choke on them!) 
17. We handed out lollipops. 
18. We saw a man holding an advertising sign and we took him a hot chocolate. 
19. We put some more notes on cars. 
20. We bought someone's lunch at Panera. 
21. Donated to the Ronald McDonald House.
22. Donated a gift card to a person in the Toys R Us parking lot. 
23-39 Handed out lollipops to strangers. 
40. Wrote a note to our sweet neighbor 
41. Let people in front of us while driving. 
42. Held the door for people when we entered buildings. It was so super fun!! I hope to do this every year!

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Food Diaries

I had a horrible sweet tooth, I had a taste for anything fried, I ate late at night.  I comforted myself with food when I was stressed.  When I worked closing shifts I had a ritual of going through the Taco Bell drive thru for a treat- because I earned it, you know?  Sometimes I went to Sonic for breakfast and lunch (and a happy hour Route 44 Sweet Tea.)

Then I started paying attention to what a friend (and co-worker) was eating.  She started bringing giant amounts of food with her in plastic containers.  She seemed to be eating all the time- crunchy, colorful, fresh food.  She was no longer getting snacks from the cafe.  I watched as she graciously turned down food that others offered her (cupcakes in the breakroom, etc.)  And she was getting smaller and bouncier and happier.
So I copied her.  I asked her lots and lots of questions.  I watched recommended films (Forks Over Knives, Food Inc, etc) I read recommended books (The China Study, Live to Eat, etc) and I started bringing giant amounts of food with me.  I realized that a lot of it was planning.  I had to plan for different scenarios and not be caught off guard and panic and eat a fried Snickers bar.  I started writing everything down because I found that I did a lot of stress and mindless eating.
Even though I was writing every morsel down, I was still eating the wrong things.  I was packing my lunch every day but it was full of processed everything: granola bars, lunch meat, small amounts of chips, and a treat of some sort.  Yes, it was under my allotted calories, but it was still junk.  So, I started eating clean.  If I couldn't pronounce something in the ingredient list, I didn't get it or eat it.  I cut out meat.  I starting eating massive amounts of fruit.  And again, I planned.  
So now I spend a portion of every week slicing and dicing my fruits and vegetables.  Each night I pack my lunch- more than I can ever eat so that I won't get desperate and hungry and wind up eating a cheesecake.  I stopped counting every calorie because if I eat what I bring there is never a problem. And I am getting smaller and bouncier and happier.
It's challenging at times.  I have teenagers in the house and they require some junk food, but luckily my husband eats the same as I.  Don't get me wrong, I could still go for a fried Snickers bar, but I don't have that crazy CRAVING for junk that I used to have.  You know those people who talk about how fruit is so sweet that it seems like a treat?  I am those people now.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Day in the Life

It was a hard day.  Not many of my normal days start with "Run a 5K."  This was a "To Do" list from a few Saturdays ago, so I can now say that we made it, but while we were in the middle of it I wasn't sure it was possible.  Friday and Sunday looked very similar to Saturday.  I kept updating these notes and sending them to Paul as tasks would drop off or be added. I am very cognizant of the fact that in a year I will have a teenage driver in the house,  in two years I will have two.  I'm sure I will wish for these days to return.  But maybe not this particular day.  It was hard.

On second thought, maybe I wouldn't mind replaying this day.  It was filled (FILLED) with activity and togetherness, music, dance, and friends.  SO, not a bad day after all.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Balance has always been difficult for me- impossible actually. I suppose I have always been like this, although I don't remember my younger self much. I do remember a childhood filled with notebooks, charts, folders and special pens.
Another obsession: Girl Scout badges. I was going to have ALL the badges on my vest. ALL OF THEM. One of my regrets in life is that I've lost my vest filled with hard earned badges.

I become obsessed with completing whatever project I have volunteered for, or whatever project looked like a new business venture, or whatever just looked like fun. Then I move quickly to uninterested. Most of my crafting hobbies fall into this category. I find something that looks interesting, like crocheting an afghan, I do the research (and research and research), then get the supplies, then go to work. I expect an afghan to materialize within a few minutes and when it doesn't I get discouraged. If anyone is interested in several half completed craft projects, I'm your girl.

Some of my past obsessions:
Beaded Crafts
Handmade Paper
Granny Squares
Guitar Playing
Little House on the Prairie and all things Laura Ingalls Wilder

Some future obsessions that I'm pondering:
Party Planning

You might notice that exercise isn't on either list. Although in the past it could have easily appeared on the past obsession list (several times,) I have decided that this will be the main focus of balance for me. It's super hard for me to continue working as hard as I am when I'm not losing massive amounts of weight immediately. Every single day I have to remind myself that fitness is a way of life, not a hobby. That it is something I do just like brushing my teeth. So, this is my new motto, this is the picture on my phone, this what I recite to myself every damn day:

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Yard

This is my gym, well not MY gym. It's Jamie's gym. Jamie has been torturing me for the past 3 months at this place. See those chains in the bottom left? Well, maybe you have seen the contestants on The Biggest Loser with those giant ropes? Jamie uses chains. Heavy. Chains. Sometimes I get to use a sledge hammer on that big tire on the bottom right of the picture. Those poles? I run around them. Sometimes. Wondering about that hurdle? I go over it. A lot. There is a machine over by the television that is called the Versa Climber. It has settings on it like "Eiffel Tower." Then you climb the Eiffel Tower, except that it's not France.

You might think that that is a man in the mirror, but upon closer inspection you will see that it is Bob. He is a torso that I get to punch. Sometimes I do this:

Except that I don't look like that. But I will someday.

I also do many things on this V8 machine. I strap myself to it wherever Jamie says to. Sometimes I run, sometimes I crawl backwards, sometimes I use my legs and at times just my arms.

This is the Bozu Ball. It is evil and if you fall off it you will break yourself. But it's hard and you can do things like squats and pushups on it. While keeping your balance. 'Cause squats and pushups aren't hard enough.

My gym is called The Yard because after you do all this stuff, you run around the yard of the tree farm that surrounds the gym. It's a half mile run up and down. But sometimes cats follow you, so that's fun. I'm not sure if you can see it, but in the bottom right of the big picture there is a wipe off board. That is where you will find your day's workout, if you dare.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Table for One, or Two at the Most

I am a Training Store Manager for a big box retailer. This means that newly hired store managers come to me from all areas to learn how we do things at this company. For 4-ish weeks they stay in my town and train in my store starting at the entry level in week 1 and ending in store manager responsibilities with week 4. During this time, the trainee is put up in a hotel, given an expense account, and asked to put their home life on hold while they focus on nothing but their new company. It's a great way to enter a business. My life however, continues with running my business and shuttling kids hither and yon. I don't have a lot of time to fit cruise director into the normal daily activities. So, it is really helpful when the trainee that comes to me is able to entertain him or herself.

I didn't really expect this last one though. Not only was she her own cruise director, but she also acquired several new Facebook Friends. On her last night in town we finally got a chance to go to dinner together. We walked into a (new to me) restaurant. As usual in a small town that you have lived in for over 30 years, I knew a handful of people. I waved and chatted because this is a pretty normal occurrence. I was instantly overwhelmed though because 1. I was in a new place 2. I saw people I knew 3. There was a woman standing on a stage with a microphone (and in my head that means that people could be called up there for some sort of PUBLIC SPEAKING) 4. I was in a new place.

But my trainee? She walked in the door and started hugging the owners and waving to the woman on the stage. Immediately, while I was retreating quietly into a corner table, she was pulling up a table to join in the trivia contest that was happening. I begged to sit at a table for two in the corner "Just until we order, then we can move." Which really means, "After I have a drink, I may be able to stuff this panicky feeling down enough to seem like a normal person."

Turns out we didn't have to move after my drink because people kept coming by to talk to my trainee. She exchanged phone numbers, more hugs, emails, and promises to visit again. I sat quietly, nursing my drink, observing all the interesting, very nice people, and trying to win the trivia contest in my head, enjoying the company of my wonderful new friend, completely happy with the differences that make us who we are.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Workout Is What You Make It

I bought a Spin Bike recently. I've always loved Spinning and now that I have the perfect workout room dungeon, I no longer have to pay the gym membership to pretend that I might actually wake up at 5 am to attend a class. So, I love it so much that I convinced myself to get up an hour early to squeeze in a workout before work. Have I mentioned that I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON? Well, I'm not. It's not that I'm grumpy or anything, just sort of brain dead. Simple things really confuse me until about 10 am. But, I set my alarm and was up at 5am! Great start!
Then I couldn't decide what to wear. To the basement. By myself. Where absolutely no one was going to see me. OK, eventually found cute shorts and a shirt. Like it matters. Found socks. Score! Headed to the torture chamber, put on my heart rate monitor and strapped my feet onto my bike. Then realized that I didn't have water.
Since my spin instructors are pretty serious about hydration, I unstrapped and ran back upstairs for a water bottle. Got strapped back in. Then I couldn't find the remote for the tv. How am I going to be inspired to bike up loooong hills if Josh Taylor can't talk me through it? So, I unstrapped again and found the remote. It was on the 1980's treadmill. I started to think that maybe I should just walk on it today, that spinning was a little more that I had to give at this time and I wouldn't want to burn out on something I love so much. And I'd already had to unstrap twice, so obviously the universe was trying to tell me something.
I thought maybe I would just sit on my workout mat and think this thing out rationally. I would weigh my options and while I was at it, I should probably plan out the whole week so that this sort of thing won't happen again.
I thought that this was really productive, I had grown. I understood myself to know that I don't make good decisions in the morning. I learned that to overcome this obstacle in my life I would have to plan my workout by the week. This might require a wipe off board and some new dry erase markers in bright colors. All of which would help me lose weight.
Then I fell asleep on my workout mat. What? IT WAS 5 AM!
When I awoke, my heart rate monitor said that I burned 3 calories.
I went to the basement to burn calories and that is exactly what I did.

Hannah seems to have it all figured out though.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Crying Jag

I'm not sure what's going on, but lately I've been on a crying jag. Really strange things have been setting me off. Some examples include
1. The Biggest Loser makeover week (well, DUH that one is gonna get anyone crying),
2. My daughter as an Oompah Loompah this past weekend during her high school musical. Really anytime she is on stage for anything I begin to cry. She is just so lovely and is clearly enjoying herself at that moment that I lose it.
3. While running a 5K, I cried when I saw the woman playing the banjo in her front yard. She was playing for us, I think. Maybe she just sits in her front yard every day and plays the banjo, but regardless, I felt that she was congratulating me on my mad running skillz by picking the banjo on her lawn. And at that moment, it was the sweetest thing ever.
4. My daughter invited 40 kids to our house. They were all doing their own thing in the pool house. Some were swimming, some in the hot tub, some snacking. Then a song came on and, as if it were planned, all 40 kids began singing the chorus: "Tonight, we are young. So let's set the world on fire. We can burn brighter than the sun." And because all that was true, I cried.

So to recap, I have been overcome several times in the past 48 hours by very random things: a pop song, a television show, an Oompah Loompah, and banjo pickin'. I might need some medication.