Sunday, December 22, 2013

Snow day in Sconnie

Today we had the first "big" one of the snowy winter season up here. It was originally supposed to be 8+ inches but I think when all is said and done, we will be somewhere around 6. Meh. Child's play.

I can't believe that Christmas Eve is in two days. This season has felt so off to me. It was shorter for starters. Then the weather just got super cold and I didn't bother with putting up any outside lights up. Shit, I didn't even get the tree up until a couple weeks ago. And we have a certain little kitten who has literally climbed the tree, completely knocked over the tree, and who won't leave it alone. He's an asshole. A cute asshole - but an asshole all the same. So none of the ornaments I love so dearly are on the tree. 

 All in all it's ok though. Work is going well. I'm in the middle of my stretch of covering for a coworker's maternity leave at this point. I thought that I would be completely buried and failing but I'm proud to say that I have been holding my own. I had a fun work even this last week where I got to give away a total of $10,000 for a shopping spree. It was so awesome to be a part of that. I think I'm finally starting to feel like I'm finding a groove in my career. It's about time. I think I've more than paid my dues. 

Anyway, I hope all of you who are celebrating this week have a wonderful holiday!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Race Plans 2014-15

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you will know that weight loss has been a main focus for me the last few years. Not that I've exactly been stellar about it 100% of the time but I'm 25lbs down from my starting weight and I have no plans for going back in the wrong direction. 

With that said, I've created yet another sister blog to this one - Fit, Fat...and Back Again. I wanted to have a blog that focused on weight loss and my journey with that topic. I don't want to crowd that journey and my IF journey too much - even if they are going on simultaneously. I will continue to post updates here, cross posting some days (like with this post). 

I've spent the last few weeks picking out the races I want to run next year. I for sure will do The Color Run again. This is their 2014 Kaleidoscope Tour. I am not sure when/where I will run it though. I might have to shoot for Milwaukee or Green Bay because the Chicago date is 6/8/14 and Amarillo is 6/7/14. The following weekend is my sister's wedding on the 13th so that might be tough. 

On top of that, the other June race I want to run is the Run for Their Lives PAWS for Chicago 8krun/4k walk. PAWS is the city's largest No Kill humane organization. I really love their organization and their mission. I would love to be able to do some great fundraising for this one. Last year it was the 9th of June and I'm guessing it will be the same weekend. I think I'd rather do PAWS and move my Color Run to a different city and date.

In early 2014 I think I will aim to do the Shamrock Shuffle 8k. I believe it will be held on March 31st. Somehow with a Wisconsin winter I will have to figure this one out. We rejoined the Y and they have an indoor track so I think that's what I'm going to end up using. 

I will probably run the Ugly Sweater again since K said he'd do it if I want to again. My SIL said that she wants to do it for real next time and not bail again. So we will see on that one. 

I feel like I need another run in there somewhere. After the Ugly Sweater I could throw in a Turkey Trot or a holiday run but come January 10th-ish 2015...I will have the Disney Half Marathon!!! I can't believe I am going to do it. But I am going to try my best to make this a reality.

I better start both saving and running even more. And investing in paper bags to breathe into. I foresee a ton of hyperventilating in the next year. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas is when??

I think I've been in denial that the holidays were upon us. When did they just jump out take hold? It's not like this is new information. I mean, I get that. I just don't understand how Christmas is in 2.5 weeks. I have barely started shopping. I haven't even put up any decorations - although in sub-zero conditions we did go out to the detached garage and pulled some things down. As I was typing that last sentence it also just dawned on me that I forgot about cards too. Shit.

Sigh. 

I can only hope that the rest of winter goes by this fast. Lord knows that I hate the cold and snow with a passion. I still don't understand how I'm still living in Wisconsin 6 years later. I would have lost a major bet if I had put money on that fact 6 months into living up here. Anyway, this winter weather talk has a point, I promise.

One thing that I have really found to be surprising about the running that I have done in 2013 is that I've grown to actually like it. I hate the actual running...but I've fallen in love with the sense of accomplishment it gives me when I finish my daily run or a race. I loved coming home and throwing my workout clothes on, my ipod on, and hitting the road. Winter here sucks so running outside is not an option for me. I know that there are some that will do it...and maybe if we get some random 40* days with no snow cover I might think about it. But out here in the country, the road is icy and the temps hover a lot lower than that.

So I will leave this topic hanging a bit for now...but I have some running news and wrap up I'd like blog about next time :-) Oh and as for the cousin/adoption situation, I never heard anything back and didn't let it bother me. I expected that to be the outcome. So now we will just proceed with life as normal. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Nothing to update

I still have not heard from K's cousin.

I'm not shocked but yet I am so...angry? impatient? mindfucked? hopeful? hurt?

I sent her another message, short and sweet, just asking her to let me know if our offer is something that she is even considering. I (nicely) said that I didn't need a concrete answer to the whole picture, just to know if we are still a consideration because if she's completely sure she wants to parent, I will go ahead and proceed with our IVF planning for 2014.

She read it 15 minutes after I sent it. No response. I guess on one hand I should take that as my answer. Since I am a glutton for punishment, I'll probably give it until Friday and then completely proceed with life as it was before Thanksgiving.

Sigh.

On the positive side, I managed not to gain a thing over the holiday weekend. So there's that I suppose.

Do I need to post some pictures to lighten it up around here? 

 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving... And family madness

I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving! This was the first time in years that I did not host my family up at our house. Instead a cousin of mine wanted to host this year so we came home to Chicago and while K stayed at his parents all day, I split the day into two dinners. I dread what that scale is going to tell me when we get back tonight.

Friday was another first in a long time for me. I didn't get to a store before noon! I boycotted the traditional Black Friday craziness. I don't think I missed it either to be honest. Instead, my mom and I took the L downtown and did our annual visit to Christkindlemarket at Daley Plaza, got delicious popcorn from Garrett's, and shopped up and down north Michigan Ave and south State St. It was a fantastic day. I love being in the heart of the city. It never gets old to me. I took a stroll down by my old apartment on south State (near Roosevelt in the south loop) and I'm amazed by all the stores and restaurants that are now there. Ten years ago I was ahead of the curve I suppose. I could barely afford the rent then but I bet I'd be priced out of the area for sure now, hahaha

So that was the highlight of the weekend.

You knew that I had to add some sort of family drama into the mix didn't you?!

Let's back up to Wednesday night. I get a text message from my SIL as we are walking in the door to my ILs saying, "'A' is pregnant?!?" My heart dropped. This is a cousin of K's and is only twenty years old and in no shape to raise a baby. On one hand, I feel for her because she is the product of my mother in law's derelict brother and a junkie mom. She was in and out of the foster system from a toddler on. She has had family try to help her and give her guidance over the years but she knows how to play the system. Currently she is living with an ex-boyfriend's mother. She doesn't have a license, let alone a car. She doesn't have a job either. The baby daddy is in the picture and gave her a "promise to get engaged ring" earlier this week as well. She is trying to go to one of the local community colleges supposedly.

Apparently when she first found out she was pregnant and told the dad, his first reaction was to put the baby up for adoption. Her response was that she couldn't do that not knowing where the child was going and what if it's a bad home. She is only using her foster care experience as guidance. I can't say I blame her for that either. It is all she knows. Naturally I went to her FB page (I've had her hidden for years bc of how incredibly crazy and stupid her drama is) and found a bunch of posts about it. There was so much venom going on between the dad's sister and her. They were urging her to make the right choice and to listen to the dad's wishes. 

Anyway, on Thanksgiving she and her dad ended up coming over to my ILs. I had a migraine and was busy on the phone with various family members so she pretty much stayed in the front room with MIL. When they left I got the full story. She expressed concern about being able to provide for the baby and didn't want to have to be homeless with a child at some point. She doesn't want the baby to be in the system. She thinks that the dad is "the one" but his family hates her and creates problems for them. She said that the dad wanted adoption for the baby and that since "A" knows we have been battling infertility that she would want us to adopt the baby. She left it to my MIL to talk to us about the possibility. 

So after taking a day to process it (plus I was busy shopping on Friday) K and I had a long talk about the whole situation. We came to the conclusion that if she wants us to adopt the baby, we will. However, it would be handled as a closed adoption to protect ourselves and the baby from any drama that they might cause.  After walking around Ikea for a few hours to talk it through on Saturday evening (I do my best thinking while shopping, lol) we decided to send her a message thru FB. 

I started it off with a simple background explanation about our IF and that we knew she talked to MIL about our situation and the possibility of  her putting the adoption process into motion. We let her know that we would adopt the baby if that is what she chose. 

She responded almost immediately with,  "Hey thanks for writing me. when i was talking to Aunty i was telling her that i want to try to care for the baby first but if down the road i can't then yes i was going to try to get together with you and K to talk about it."

So the story changed from what she told my MIL apparently. And we are not going to be her failure backup. She doesn't get to try, fail, and then come have us bail her out. Not happening. So in the nicest way we knew how, we sent another message to her explaining that our offer is to fully adopt the baby from birth and legally through the courts. We tried to convey the facts to her that we need notice to our employers for our leaves, we would have to find a lawyer for a private adoption, we would have to prepare a nursery, etc. this could not be a last minute decision made a month after the baby is born. 

I sent it and saw that she read it but have not heard anything back. In my head I knew to expect that. In my heart, I hate that I unwittingly became invested in this without any warning. It's cruel to an extent. At least from an infertile's point of view it is. I honestly started thinking about the bedroom we have earmarked for a nursery. I started thinking about when my maternity leave would be. I thought that she was really about to say we were going to be given her baby. 

What a mind fuck. 

Where this goes I have no idea. Pray for that baby. It will need it. My heart breaks for it. 

(Edited to remove names)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Trip That Never Was

Oh lordy. I guess the only thing I can say to start this post off is, "At least I can laugh now, right?"

This family trip we were taking to Phoenix for a cousin's wedding was supposed to be a good one. You know, if we had gotten there and all...

I'll go back to about mid-August to start the whole story. I had already arranged to rent a house for my MIL, FIL, SIL her FI, K, and me. I found a screaming deal on vrbo ($450 for a 3 bed/2 ba house with a private pool in a gated community) and my MIL & FIL decided they wanted to pay for that portion. I footed the $200 deposit and then I set out to find us some cheap airfare. Now normally I know that I can find super cheap deals to PHX from Chicago. There were none to be had. I couldn't figure out why this was until I saw that it was actually Columbus Day weekend. Why in the heck everyone decided to travel this weekend is beyond me (ok, yeah three day weekend for some...but it's not like everyone gets that day off...anyway...)

So the hunt for affordable airfare was nowhere to be found. K and I made the decision that we wouldn't be going. We do have IVF to pay for and all...for a five day weekend, we would have paid nearly $800 for airfare, another $200 for a rental car plus a wedding gift, food, etc. So we told everyone that they shouldn't count on us to go but if we found a last minute deal we would. 

Fast forward to two weeks before the trip. MIL realizes that the Southwest ticket vouchers she and FIL won at a charity auction will actually expire before they can use them. They already purchased airfare for this trip so they asked us to use them instead. We thought about it and in the end, because they didn't want the tickets to just go to waste we agreed to pay them the amount they bid to win the tickets and we'd use them. Had we known that these tickets, so called "buddy passes" are the absolute bottom of the barrel of comp tickets, we would have saved our time, money, and sanity. 

Buddy passes are standby tickets. Standby isn't normally a bad thing...except when we're involved apparently. Leading up to the day of the flight, the person who donated the tickets was in contact with us, telling us to get to the airport early and take this flight to here and then this flight to phoenix. Got it. Will do. We drove down from WI to Chicago on a Wednesday night after a full day of work. I think we finally hit the pillows at about 1 am, having to leave the house by 4 am. Yuck. We get to the airport and the flight to Minneapolis she wanted us to to catch is wide open, however, the flight from MSP is full to Phoenix. So we ask the ticket agent in Chicago what is our next option. She tells us to take this flight to Philadelphia that will continue on to Phoenix. At first we were like, um...go east to go completely back cross country west...hmmm. She tells us, "The good thing is that you are then on the flight. You just stay on. No worries. You can even check your bags now." We had only planned on carrying on our bags. So we said sure let's do it and we checked two bags, leaving two with us. 

We get to the gate and have a slight weather delay due to storms on the east coast. No biggie. It was only a delay of about 45 minutes. During that time, our family's flights took off from O'Hare (we were flying out of Midway) and they were on their way to Arizona. When we finally took off, it was a gloriously empty flight. They unload the rest of the passengers and then a minute or two later they call us over the overhead and tell us to get our belongings and we would have to deboard the plane. Puzzled, we did what they asked and got up to the desk at the gate. Apparently you can get removed from flights with buddy passes even if you're already boarded and your bags are on board. 

In Philly, there was a wonderful shit storm going on. This trip happened during the government shutdown. TSA agents weren't sure (or maybe they weren't for sure) getting paid to work. So many at this airport just didn't report for work. That caused huge amounts of security line problems and people missing flights. On top of that, there was a tropical storm that blew up the coast and the remnants of Karen turned into a nor'easter, dumping huge amounts of rain and causing travel headaches for everyone. So all those people that missed flights or had flights cancelled all are priority ahead of us. When I asked about the chances of us getting out of Philly (to anywhere) that day or the next day, she laughed at me and told me none to slim. Alrighty then. After watching our bags depart without us (yep, they don't take your bags off for you to collect), we tried to come up with a plan to get us to Phoenix or back to Chicago. 

After getting in touch with my BFF who works for another airline, she told us she could get us on a flight back to Chicago if we could get to Baltimore. We briefly thought about taking Amtrak but those one way tickets would have run us $200!! Insane! I found a coupon code for a car rental for $100 and we rented ourselves a little Chevy Sonic and headed out. **Here is where I mention that normally we have GPS on our phones. Except Sprint had just dumped the carrier for GPS for my phone so my blackberry was useless. Trying to pull up mapquest only made it crash. K had just upgraded to an iPhone but neither of us could figure out how to use it until about 60% into our road trip, lol. Luckily the rental car office had a map and we knew just to head down 95. 

Off we went in the rain. I know I have been to Pennsylvania before but I was so young I don't remember it. I took in the sites that I could (lol) and just acted as the navigator. Our spirits were still up and we were having a ton of laughs over this whole ordeal. The annoying and frustrating part at that point was all of the ILs constantly calling/texting us asking us where we were, what are you doing, are you on a flight, what time will we get to AZ, why are you going to Baltimore, etc. 

When we approached the Delaware border I got a little slaphappy because this Midwestern bred chick never really had any plans of going to Delaware. It's like the scene in Wayne's World, "Hi. We're in...Delaware." No offense to any Delawarians but it's just not a state that is on the top of my list to visit other than maybe Rehoboth Beach some day. 


Well, we stop at the visitor center and get some coffee and a "Delaware" souvenir for me and keep heading south. We approached Wilmington and saw a sign for a Dunkin Donuts. Sounded great to us because I needed more coffee (oh my) and some sort of snack. We took the exit and headed down the street. Except we never did encounter a DD. Maybe if you took five turns and went in a circle you would find one but if you just stayed on that road you wouldn't get to anything other than what I'm guessing is the nasty, ghetto side of town. Here we are, lost in a colonial town with front steps basically on top of the narrow cobblestone street, pit bulls chained to the stoops, derelicts walking the streets with brown paper bags tipped up to their mouths permanently, in the soaking rain. Awesomesauce I tell ya. 


This street does not take you to Dunkin Donuts. Asshats





 Somehow at this point we manage to get into the actual downtown portion of the city and figure out how to turn the GPS on. K punches in Baltimore's airport name and we're back on the road. If you have never driven 95 south towards Washington/Baltimore, you have to know one thing. Traffic sucks. Traffic in the pouring monsoon on 95 is unbearable. There were so many accidents along the way. One of which caused a 5 mile backup that took us an hour to get through. For five miles. Let's not forget I'm a Chicago girl. I know traffic - but this was just stupid traffic, lol. 


I can't even get away from cheeseheads on the east coast!





We finally got through that huge backup and are nearing our destination...or so we think. Remember how we didn't quite know how to use the iPhone GPS? Yeah this was a big problem at this point. See, K thought he chose BWI but in reality he selected a remote parking lot for people to use for BWI, on the completely wrong side of the city! One major flip-out later we had the correct location punched in again and were back on the road. At this point, we're not so happy go lucky. It's 5 pm, we have one chance to catch this 8 pm flight out and we still have to battle rush hour traffic in the rain, return the car, and get to the gate. Eating dinner is just a hope at this point. 

At 6:30 we are getting through security and actually have time to get some food. I grabbed some Potbelly (mmmm, how I miss Potbelly up in WI) and we managed to get the last two seats on the flight into O'Hare. We had to fly one of those small regional hopper planes and our fat asses were a little cramped. But we were happy because we were at least going to be "stranded" in Chicago and not on the East Coast. My mom picked us up from the airport with my Grandma (woo hoo, I got to see them and didn't plan on it, lol) and took us back to my ILs house. 

This is us arriving back at O'Hare, running on fumes and low spirits.






The next morning we were dumb enough to try to attempt this all over again. We couldn't for the life of us get up at 3 am and head out though. Instead we got to Midway at about 8 am. We walked miles that day. I ate another Potbelly meal. We went from gate to gate to gate just trying to get any flight out. We knew not to try going east again since they still were battling weather. Nothing to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Dallas, etc. We almost managed to get on a flight to Seattle that had a wide open connection to Phoenix. Until a pilot and his family decided they wanted to show up at the gate and got some preferential treatment. Then, on the last flight of the night - one direct flight to Phoenix, there was hope for us. There were 15 seats that were technically booked but there were about 13 people on a flight that was delayed getting into Midway and so they were holding this flight up for them. They waited for over 30 minutes but didn't release the seats. All 13 found their way to the gate. Boo. But there were still 2 seats available and we were the only ones at the gate trying to make this flight. Until some flight attendant showed up and asked if there were any seats available. The gate attendant had taken pity on us (maybe because we had already been at his gate 5 times that day and he knew everything that we had been through the last 24 hours) and he explained that there were two seats plus the jumpseat available and that he was trying to get us in those seats. She didn't care. She took one of the regular seats. That left us with one seat guaranteed. Someone could go ahead of the other. 

At that point we were simply defeated. I thanked him with tears in my eye but said that at this point, we just didn't want to split up. We hadn't had our luggage in two days, we were going to miss the wedding that we were trying so hard to make, we'd already been stranded on the wrong side of the country, we'd planed, trained and automobiled it. We were done. As we were waiting for K's uncle to come pick us up I called the Phoenix airport and arranged for our luggage to be shipped back to Midway the next day.

If you thought that our horrible weekend was over, you'd be wrong.

The next morning we waited for word that our bags made a flight. When we got word they would be waiting for us at noon, we headed back to Midway. They were there!! Halleluiah! Since we never are home without only eating at our favorite places with friends and family, we decided to try out the new Toby Keith's Rosemont location. I can't even tell you how bad that experience was. I wrote a scathing review online. What a joke and a rip off. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

We decided to just head back up to WI that night and get some rest because Kevin was already coming down with a cold. Sunday begins with us trying to do leaves cleanup and one last cutting of the yard. Until I was on the lawn mower and came across a dead snake. Yeah I'm not even fucking joking. Those of you who know me, know that I have a crippling phobia of snakes. I can't see them on the tv or in pictures. It's bad. There I was screaming at the top of my lungs like a lunatic in the backyard and poor K had to take care of it. I don't know what he did with it and I don't care. As long as the thing was off our grass it could rot in hell, lol. 

Of course I came down with his cold too. A nasty one at that.

The universe won that weekend. The end,

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How is it November?

I mean really? How is that possible? 

Right now I am extremely busy at work with having to gear up to start covering a coworker's upcoming maternity leave. My days fly by and I'm working my way into some awesome territory hopefully. I finally am getting to use the creative part of my brain at work and I love that. All in all, I'm content where I'm at in this portion of my life. And that feels awesome.

The shorter sunlight of fall has completely screwed up my workout routine. Now, I know it's no excuse but...that's all I've got, lol. I have my third 5k of 2013 coming up in a week and a half. Yup, it's true! I can't believe I've gone from lazy team fatty to sort of working out team fatty so well. The next run isn't a color run (shocker I know, lol) but it's the Ugly Sweater Run in Chicago. It sounds like a blast. I'm doing it with my sister and best friend so I know I'll have a blast. 

In other running news...I'm committing to my first half marathon!! Again, YUP, it's true! I'm going to run the 2015 Disney Half Marathon. They hold marathon weekend in January so even though it's 2015, it's not that much over a year away. My plan is to run two 5ks and a 10k in 2014 and then BAM it's Half time. 

The cool part about this half? My dad and stepmom were up here this past weekend and I told them about my plan to run it and I told them they should come with us. They laughed and said, it's funny you should say that because we were just talking about how we all have to go back there someday as a family. See, the last time was when I lived/worked at Disney in Orlando. They all came to visit me for the 4th of July. It was a blast. So we got to looking at houses we could rent for all of us (um, 10 adults and 3 kids) and found them incredibly affordable. So for now, it's the early stages of planning but I hope everyone is able to make it. We shall see.

What else does that leave me to talk about? How about the big IF? 

I don't even really know how to eloquently describe where my mind is right now on this topic. I think I have come to the conclusion that I know that whatever happens, we have one more shot. I know we talked about doing IVF in early 2013. The more and more I think about it, I'm not sure I can handle that with the upcoming weddings of two of my sisters. And I'm ok with that. I don't like cycling in the summer because I enjoy having no qualms about just enjoying getting drunk at a concert. Or for the 4th. Or for my birthday...also my dirty thirty this year. So then that brings us to fall. I'm ok with cycling for fall. Except I will be training for the half now. So where does that leave IVF? I'm not sure. And I'm ok with that. 

I think this pushing away method of mine can be related to the reason I won't buy season 4 of the tv show Friends. (I promise this has a point.) It's long been a running joke in my families and with K that they will buy me the final season to complete my collection. Except I don't want it. I don't want anyone to buy it for me. Ever. Because if I never get it, it's never truly over. I know that that doesn't make sense to some people. It's fine - I get it. It's weird. 

So anyway, it's kinda like season 4. I am not sure I'm ready to say goodbye to ttc. But I'm ready to live my life simultaneously with not completely closing the door on having a family. Of course I want kids. But I don't ever want to go back to that all encompassing place where all I do is think about the longing, the sadness, the depression, etc. Some might say that we don't want it enough. That we didn't try hard enough. That's not for them to decide. We could devote every dollar towards IF. But we aren't going to. And that's ok. We could do multiple rounds of IVF if need be. But we aren't going to. And that's ok. We could eventually pursue adoption. But for now we aren't going to. And that's ok. I'm ok. We're ok. Others don't have to understand our mentality. It's our life. And we're living it.

So on that note, I think to lighten the mood, I'll leave this with two pictures of totally adorbs kitties. These kids of mine are hilarious and fabulous. I love them so much! Oh but before I go, I'll leave this, there is a post coming up about the vacation that never was for us a few weeks ago. Planes, trains, and automobiles style. I can laugh about it now but omg, epic disaster. 



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Heart of the Matter

Heart of the MatterHeart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I am a fan of Emily Giffin. Not in the 5-stars-for-every-book-she-writes type of way but in the sense that she does a good job with the multiple points of view and the raw emotions that each character has. I might not always understand why those characters are the way they are but I can appreciate the way in which they are written. So with that being said, I can delve into Heart of the Matter.

I’m not sure what I thought this book was going to be about when I picked it up to be honest. It turns out I didn’t even pick up on the fact that two smaller characters in the book, Dex and Rachel, are from Something Borrowed. Anyway, the book is about Dex’s sister Tessa and her marriage to Nick. Tessa is a former work powerhouse who has now decided to stay at home with their two kids. Nick is an acclaimed surgeon. One fateful night Nick is called into the hospital to attend to a child, Charlie, who has been badly burned.

Charlie’s mother Valerie is single mom who put herself through Harvard law all while balancing being a mother on her own. At some point during Charlie’s recovery, it becomes clear that there is something between Nick and Valerie. Tessa also becomes aware of it but does not want to believe “it” could happen. She is reluctant to admit that she is unhappy in her life when she feels she has nothing to complain about.

Yes the book involves cheating but it isn’t the main point of the novel. Regardless of who you agree with, there are many, many different feelings and emotions wrapped up in and around a marriage. There are so many factors that go into what makes a marriage work. The heart of the matter is whether those two people will do to keep their lives from falling apart in the end.




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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Color Run Encore

That's right - I did it again!! 

When I saw that they were adding an Encore Chicago Color Run I knew that I had to do it. I had so much fun running it with my sister last time so it was an easy decision. I did much better than I did the last time around too. I ran as much as I could back in June but I really wanted to improve on my performance. J told me mid-run that she was impressed with my improvement :) Can't beat that! Well...I can. But you know what I mean.

This time around we did not spend extra time in each color station, dipping our own hands into the color and pelting each other with it. Nor did we stay for 5 color throws at the finish line. This resulted in me not being blue 2 days later. That's a plus, lol. In June the course took us through Grant Park and I liked that route better. This time it was in the parking lots of Soldier Field and the McCormick Place. It was harder for my cheering squad to follow the route so even though they had the camera with them this time (ok, well, we had it last time except my mom never really pushed the button down to grab shots of us...) we don't have many action shots. If the Bears game hadn't been a noon game (away obviously) we could have hung out to grab some pretty shots with the city and lake in the background...but we didn't. Oh well again.

I'm enjoying these 5ks a lot. I plan on signing up for the Ugly Sweater Holiday 5k to benefit Toys for Tots in Chicago on November 16th. I told K that I really do need to have a race every 3 months or so to keep me motivated. It's sort of the catalyst for me to keep running and working out. I know that I need to do this regardless of whether or not I can do a race but it's the little things that help me. 

So far I am hovering around 23 lbs lost since March. I lost steam in the later half of the summer but at least I kept the weight off. That alone makes me happy. I added in the 30 Day Shred for about two weeks and noticed a difference in my running actually. But then the race creeped up on me and so I went back to just running for my exercise. I've been thinking about having a weight loss blog for this journey. I just think that it would be easier to keep all things related to weight loss in one place and have one location to see the progress I've been making. I don't know. Time will tell I suppose. First I have to have time to actually blog. Lord knows this one has been suffering lately. For that I apologize. 

So the reward for this wall of text: pictures. :-)








And for fun....Here's an "Afters" comparison:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A little clean fun crocheting

Happy Sunday! It's been a good weekend over here. We were productive around the house for once, the Bears won...and I completed a small crochet project! Pinterest is just a huge source of project envy for me. And I think it's fair to say that I've spent way more time pinning than actually project-ing. So I decided to change that the last 7 days. Last weekend I started my first ripple wave crochet baby blanket and then today I made my first dishcloth/washcloth - even basically making my own pattern! I guess I know why they say to have a dishcloth as your first project: they are really, really easy and fun! Of course all those years ago, when I was teaching myself how to crochet I never listened and jumped headfirst into huge blanket projects. Dummy.

Here's what I created this weekend. I ended up crocheting a ring into one of the corners because I thought that it would be awesome to have so you could hang it from the faucet, from a knob on a shower caddy, or even from the bottle itself if space is tight. 

Now I feel like running to Joann's tomorrow to pick up yarn to make even more of these bad boys. I think I've created a monster!




Saturday, September 7, 2013

Door County Camping & Birthday Trip

Last weekend my mom and grandma came up to Wisconsin to join us in a birthday celebration for my grandma up in Door County. They got up on Friday evening and stayed at our house overnight. On Saturday we all drove the two hours to Sister Bay where they stayed at the Birchwood Lodge and we camped at Aqualand Campgrounds. Both locations were fabulous. Their room was beautiful, as were all the amenities - outdoor pool, indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, loft, great room, etc. The view from their private patio (2nd/3rd floors have private balconies) overlooked the bay and it was beautiful. The Birchwood isn't directly on the water, nor is it on the main strip but it almost is. Into town is only a short 5 minute walk. It's not far from anything really. 

Aqualand was our first true camping experience. We were very impressed by the semi-permanent campers that they host on their grounds! Some people go waaaaay out on their plots. It was fun to look at everything. I have no complaints about where we camped. They were very reasonably priced, the bath house/restrooms were kept very clean and the pool looked great. Too bad it wasn't the best weather the entire weekend so we could have enjoyed the pool. They allowed dogs so Wrigley came camping with us. I was so nervous about him. He's not the world's best behaved dog but thankfully he did alright. 

We crammed a bunch into our long weekend. Saturday was the annual Marina fest so we just hung out at the marina for the live music, food and fireworks and called it a night. They had a great fireworks show! On Sunday we went to Door Peninsula Winery (my favorite) and Harbor Ridge Winery and sampled (probably too many) wines and oils and cheeses. We ducked into little shops in Egg Harbor and Fish Creek. On Sunday afternoon the sun came out long enough for my mom and me to do some swimming in the bay. I had been wanting to jump off the pier since K's and my trip last summer and this time I actually got to do it. We ate lunch at Julie's Park Cafe on Saturday and I highly (!!) recommend trying their coconut chicken salad. Heavenly. O.M.G. We got ice cream at Wilsons but unfortunately for me K took one bit and never gave it back to me! And he's not even an ice cream person! As Stephanie Tanner would say, "How Rude!" :) Then for dinner we went to Sister Bay bowl for their Sunday night special of broasted chicken. Yuuuum! I love that place. Love. Monday morning we went to Door County Bakery for breakfast and while we enjoyed the food, it was expensive. Too expensive for my taste. But it was good so...I guess you only live once, huh?

It was such a great weekend with my mom and grandma. I know they both enjoyed it as much as I did. I'm so glad we were able to spend the time together. I always feel so time crunched when home so this was great one on one time with my gram. I love her so much and it meant so much to have her up here with me. 

And of course I have some pictures :) 

 Our little redneck paradise
 

 The Birchwood Lodge
Harbor Ridge Winery
 Wilsons Restaurant in Ephraim
Yum! Fresh Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Um...thanks?? Hey that was MINE! ;-)
 Jumping off the pier with my mom
 <3 nbsp="" p="" the="" water="">

Getting ready to go out for dinner
Beautiful sunset
Vanilla caramel crunch cake, mmmm.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Runaway Princess

The Runaway PrincessThe Runaway Princess by Hester Browne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This one is one I will actually have some spoilers for…

The Runaway Princess was a charming book. It’s British chick lit and I think that gives it a little bit of a better edge.  Amy Wilde is a fledgling garden/landscape designer living in London with her best friend Jo. While Amy comes from a working class family in northern England, Jo runs in a higher society circle. It is because of this that when the girls throw a party, Amy has an encounter with a stranger named Leo, whom she is instantly taken with. Leo helped Amy clean up the mess caused by a party crasher named Rolf – someone who Jo can’t stand but is acquainted…and who is also a prince.

After having a wonderful second date with Leo, when Amy returns to dish about the evening with Jo, she is shocked to learn that Leo isn’t a friend of Rolf’s but is Rolf’s older brother and therefore a prince himself! Amy spends a great deal of time in the book trying to fit into the new title of the girlfriend and then fiancĂ© of a prince and struggles with it. She is constantly feeling like she isn’t being true to herself and her family and friends are being brought into the crazy paparazzi fueled spotlight – for better or worse.

Where I am going to go off on a tangent (and spoiling part of the book) is on the subject of the succession to the throne. Throughout the first half of the book, it was made clear to readers that Leo was not in direct line of succession. At best he was 5th in line after his uncle, his teenage cousins, and his dad. His sister was not in line due to the fact that it was a male line of succession, making her ineligible. Then: the twist. Amy had befriended, unknowingly, the Crown Prince (Leo’s grandfather) and shortly after he suffered a major stroke (or was it a heart attack?? Either way…) on his deathbed he changed the succession lines to Leo’s father. That made Leo the next in line to the throne. Amy struggled with this greatly. In the end, after having to deal with disapproval from her American supermodel future mother-in-law, being sabotaged left and right by Leo’s older and extremely bitter/jealous sister and having her family’s secrets painfully exposed, Amy decides that she cannot marry Leo and breaks off the engagement. After some weeks apart, Leo arrives at Amy’s doorstep and tells her that he can’t live without her and that he is giving up the throne to his sister. They reunite and the book ends shortly thereafter.

Ok, it might just be me but I hated that ending. I hated that Leo gave up the throne. I liked Amy throughout the book but it did always seem like she was never fully giving her best effort for Leo. He was used to the royal life and he gave her time and space. She resented the famous nature of his family and it was evident. It is my opinion that the lines of succession was changed not as Leo said “because his family was bringing in more money and more excitement” but because in the short time that his grandfather knew Amy and shared a nice moment together, he felt that by changing the line of succession it would bring Amy into the leadership role he wanted for his country. He knew she appreciated the small things in life, the beauty of simplicity and nature. She valued family and hard work over being spoiled indulgent brats. I believe that is why he changed it. And then we get Leo banging on the door saying he gave it all up for her so that they could be together. What the what?? So the spoiled brat with a chip on her shoulder “wins” and she gets to rule? Naw, I don’t buy that. Leo and Amy should have ascended the throne and they could have changed the lines of succession to first born child under their rule. Now that would have been better.

In the end, I still enjoyed the book so what does it matter? :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Fixer Upper

The Fixer UpperThe Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Fixer Upper is the latest Mary Kay Andrews novel that I decided to read. I’ve enjoyed past books from her and I think this book falls right into the same level of enjoyment as the others I have read. They’re entertaining without really having to “think.” Sometimes a book needs to be just that. I can also count on Andrews to give me a good dose of Southern charm in her books.

Dempsey Killebrew is a rising star in the DC lobbyist world. Until her boss involves her in a major political scandal. Still trying to recover after being thrown under the proverbial speeding bus, Dempsey limps home to her dad and his new family in Florida. Clearly imposing on her new step-mother’s territory her dad offers her the chance to make them both some money by fixing up a property he inherited from a distant relative. Needing the time to figure out her next move, Dempsey reluctantly agrees.

When she arrives in small town Georgia to begin her flipping adventure, she is dismayed to find a once beautiful house in such a desperate state of despair. Not only does she inherit the task of ridding the old house of floor to ceiling stacks of Nat Geo, she also gets the unwelcome (on both ends) job of evicting a long lost “cousin.” Not only is she unwelcome by Ella Kate, everyone in that one horse town knows everyone’s business. She has the FBI swarming her, town schmoozers (who may also hold the town drunk title) hung up on her, a dad breathing down her neck, an unconventional relationship with her mother, and possibly romance to deal with.

At some point Dempsey has to find her backbone and dig herself out of the mess she never asked for. Maybe a grouchy distant relative and a slow pace of life is just what she needs.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Au Pairs (The Au Pairs, #1)The Au Pairs by Melissa de la Cruz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Oh my...

You know what I would suggest before picking up a book to read it? Look at the publication year. I hadn't done that before I started reading this book and within the first 20 or so pages it was abundantly clear that the world that these characters lived in was worlds away from reality. And I don't mean that in terms of the Hamptons elite vs us working class poors. No. I mean that it was clear that this book was pre-Great Recession. Oh what a laugh that gave me. Especially at one of the main character's father's expense. A disgraced Wall Street lawyer/Manhattan elite that is forced into bankruptcy, into self-imposed seclusion....yeah. Oh what the world was back in 2004.

Anyway, with that being said, this was a fairly enjoyable YA read. The premise is that three 17 year old girls from completely different walks of life converge on the Hamptons for a summer of working as au pairs for the wealthy Perry family. Eliza is a former child of luxury. She's used to having an Am Ex with an unlimited spending limit. Her father's mistakes forced her family into seclusion in Buffalo and she is having trouble adjusting to her new status not as the "It" girl. Mara is a small town girl who is just trying to make this summer money to pay for a car and school. She has a self confidence problem and walks the line between trying to salvage her small town relationship or move on with a boy that she isn't sure she deserves. Jacqui is a worldly beauty from Brazil. She's a woman who knows how to use her best assets to make her life easier. This summer she plans on tracking down her lost true love.

These three girls have quite the summer wrangling the Perry family - and that doesn't just include the 4 young ones! Between learning to accept each other, parties, boys, ex-friends, and plain old exes, they will have the summer that they can't forget. Book 1 was good enough to make me want to read the rest of the Au Pair series.



View all my reviews

Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer is here (Part 2)

Ok, back to the story. 

My Uncle Joe's wake was on a Monday afternoon, the funeral being on a Tuesday. While I don't tend to ellaborate on funerals too much, I have to take a moment to reflect on the funeral mass they held for him. The mass was held in his beloved local Catholic church. What impressed me so was that the priest that did the service was awesome. I just can't explain it. I'm not Catholic, nor do I remotely agree with many of that denominations stances. But this priest was one that makes everyone feel welcome, not judged, someone like your friend. He wasn't preachy. He was completely approachable and you could tell he liked my uncle a lot. On top of that, he was a young priest. I know it sounds stupid, but I am hopeful that maybe this priest might make a difference, if not just locally, in that church. I've long lost my religion. I've documented that on here many, many times. But how weird is it that while I have no desire to hear about some ....story book (to me).... but I'd probably enjoy his services. 

Ok, moving along on track here. Oh, here's the part where I insert the part where I was able to see my cousin who is pregnant with the first grandchild on that side of the family. She's 6 years younger than me. They had to have gotten pg on their first month trying (she had warned me she wanted to get pregnant right after the new year)....sigh. It was hard. Of course it was. But I love her. And there is a part of me that is happy for her. Except I *really* don't like the name she has picked out. Good thing it isn't up to me. I was very graceful with that point. Brownie points for me?

Tuesday night after we all went on our merry ways, I picked my BIL up and we headed back up to Wisconsin...where the next day Rock USA awaited us. Up in line to check in at the campgrounds at 5 am made for a long day. Over the next 4 nights we had a massive party, lol. We had anywhere from 6 to 18 people in our group at any given time. The headliners were Avenged Sevenfold, Twisted Sister, Godsmack, and Van Halen. Ratt played before Van Halen and during Van Halen's set I actually got to meet members of Ratt. I even got a picture with Warren Demartini, the lead guitarist. Very cool for a music lover like me, lol. 

Oh and before I get too far into this, I think I will stop with my RUSA comments because in all of this, there is a great story about the power of kindness. I know that is vague and annoying but I think it deserves its own post. Oh and I lied again...pictures will have to wait even longer because I'm lazy and I'm still waiting on some pictures from various members of the group so I have to stall some more ;-)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer is here for sure (Part 1)

I guess I kind of thought that I had been back here since the Color Run.

Apparently not. Well, other than book reviews.

Oops.

I've been busy to say the least. We had one down week and then the concerts started up in full force. First up was Country USA. It was a fun but draining festival. The first night was Eric Church and the traffic was something out of a horror film. I've been going to this fest for years now and I've never encountered anything like it. We were coasting on fumes by hour 3 of parking lot standstill. It had rained so there was mud everywhere. It was not good. Then they pushed back the start time for EC until 11:30 p.m. On a Tuesday night. And we were going to work in the morning. We didn't get home until 3 am. That *really* set the exhaustion train in motion.

After that I had one day to recover before working one day and heading down to Chicago to catch a flight to Dallas the next day. Of course I didn't get into Chicago until midnight and spent a few hours hanging with my brother and mother in law.

I can't believe my Dallas trip came and went so fast. I bought those plane tickets back in late March...wow.

Anyway, we packed a LOT into a short 2.5 day trip. My dad and step-mom were nice enough to just let me crash in their room since it had a pull out couch. This trip was a part of my grandma's bucket list and so we hit the ground running as soon as we got the luggage in the room. On Tuesday we went to the site of JFK's assassination. I had been there once before with my dad when we got stranded in Dallas in the winter after a snow storm back when I was a sophomore in high school. It was nice to get a fresh look at this historical place as an adult.

The 6th Floor Book Depository museum tour was a huge step back in time. It's hard to describe. I mean, you are *there*. When traffic allows, you can run out into the street and stand where the fatal shot hit. It's eerie.{side bar: if you have the chance, do this. It's a self guided audio tour with a LOT of media, insight, theories, facts, etc. I found $2 off pp coupons online and that made the cost a little better. Make sure to allow at least 2-3 hours to really go through the exhibit and to visit the grassy knoll and to view pictures of the Xs that mark the spot of when the bullets hit Governor Connelly and the President}

After the tour we ate lunch at Hoffbrau Steaks in the really cool Dallas West End. Now, the only other time I had spent any time in Dallas outside of either of the airports, it was winter. And about 15 years ago. I'm not sure how new this trendy neighborhood is but I liked it a lot. The Dart transport rail system runs right through it and there were tons of food and shopping options that I saw. As for lunch, I ate the Dr Pepper Chicken Sandwich and it was fabulous. I wish I would have thought to ask if they sell that Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce in bottles. It was finger lickin'!

We then took a drive over to Cowboys Stadium to buy our tickets for the VIP tour of the stadium for the next day. Just the first glimpse into this monster was enough to know that this stadium is unlike any other. Oh my. Once we got back to the hotel we hit the pool for a couple of hours before eating a small dinner and crashing for the evening.

The next morning we were up bright and early, ready to take the 10 am tour of Cowboys Stadium (Bucket list item #2 of the trip). Now, almost exactly five months to the day earlier I had taken my first football stadium tour at Lambeau Field for my stepdad's birthday. What Lambeau has in charm, CS has in extravagance. If you're a football fan you have heard all about this stadium. You know it's big. You know it's grand. But you just can't put into words how big, how grand, how over the top this place actually is. It's insane. The jumbo tron is a 7 story building alone. Those four corner speakers hanging from the rafters? They're the size of an 18 wheeler each. Those side glass windows in the end zones? They're actually silent doors that can open to make the stadium feel like it's an outdoor stadium. The turf rolls up in five foot sections and each section weighs 8,000 lbs. All the bathrooms can be reconfigured based on the event. So for Taylor Swift and Justin Beiber they switched the bathrooms to be 80% female and 20 % male...and the reverse for the monster truck show. How incredible (and, hello!, smart) is that?! I don't want to spoil it all so I'll stop there. But it was worth the money for the VIP option over the self guided tour. The VIP gave us access to Jerry Jones' personal near-field suite and to a VIP luxury suite as well as showing us the outside of the press room. What I liked a lot better than Lambeau was the fact that this tour ended on the field and unlike Lambeau, you are allowed to have fun on the field. Bring a football and pass it back and forth, kick a field goal, dive in the end zone, it's all allowed.

Once we left CS, we went back to the hotel and went back in the pool again for a nice cool off before heading out to do Bucket list #3 on Grandma's list: catching a baseball game at the Ballpark at Arlington. I've loved this stadium from afar for a long time now. I've always wanted to go. It's so Dixieland/Americana looking. I love watching the movie The Rookie for the scenes of when Jim Morris got his call to the majors. Anyway, the stadium was great, the game intense. The Rangers sadly lost in the 10th but it was still worth it. I got to try a new food item, garlic fries, and they were delicious. My dad laughed at me for printing this out but I'm so glad I did because after I consulted my trusty "map" and hunted them down, I got stopped every 5 feet asking where I got them from. Here's the awesome listing of what foods can be found where at the ballpark: Concessions. **Disclaimer: this list could be outdated because I don't see it say Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ items and I saw (and smelled - YUM) them right by our seats. But the garlic fries were for sure found at section 41 that's for sure!!

After the game we crashed at the hotel. I had an early ass flight back to Chicago in the morning unfortunately. The rest of the crew was headed back to Amarillo.

Once back in Chicago, I picked up my MIL and we drove up to WI. The boys (K, FIL, BIL) had been enjoying a boys week filled with motorcycle riding and lord knows what else. We went to our local fireworks store and picked up a few fun explosives ;-) and blew those up before hitting the sack.Then we spend an enjoyable 3 more days hanging out together and enjoying the summer. I love those long weekends with family. Yes, my house gets destroyed. Yes, we stay up too late and wake up too early. But I love it.

After that, it was back to work for a full week and then a "down" weekend. You know, those "down" weekends where you scramble to do as many things around the house that you possibly can? Plus then spend one of those days preparing your camper for the following week's festivities? Yeah, that was "relaxing."  Insert sad part of this weekend:

I got the call from my mom that I knew was coming. My beloved Great-Uncle Joe had passed away. With the wake set for Monday afternoon and the funeral on Tuesday, my week became that much more crazy. I went to work for a half day on Monday and then busted my butt down to Chicago to get to the wake. The only nice thing about funerals is getting to catch up with family that you don't get to see enough of. My Uncle Joe was a fabulous man. He was so patient. He was the biggest Bear fan. He always came to watch my softball games. He loved dogs. He and my aunt were avid golfers until the leukemia finally wore him down too much to golf. And man, he fought that disease. He had a very rare form of it too but he fought for close to a decade. He will be greatly missed. I love Uncle Joe.

....Part 2 and Pictures coming soon...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The First Husband

The First HusbandThe First Husband by Laura Dave

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book begins by introducing us to Annie Adams, a writer living in California with her longtime love Nick. She is a successful, globe trotting travel journalist. On the surface, life seems well, it seems to be on track. On track to what…that’s still TBD. Forgetting the storied history she has with the movie, Annie decides to watch Roman Holiday. And from there, the story is born.

You see, Roman Holiday has been the catalyst to many negative memories for her. So when Nick decides that they should break up instead of getting engaged after a viewing of the movie, she can’t really say she’s all that surprised. After crying on the shoulder of her best friend Jordan, who also happens to be Nick’s sister, she takes some advice and decides that she is going to be the opposite of herself.

And that is where we meet Griffin. A chance midnight meeting turns into a world wind rebound relationship that culminates in a Vegas wedding and a cross-country move to Griffin’s hometown where he is opening a restaurant. It is here that Annie begins to falter in her new life outlook.

Facing Griffin’s crazy family drama, unemployment, and exes coming out of the woodwork on both ends, she hardly knows what end is up. She struggles to keep her sanity and to find out what she really wants for her future. Before she can commit to this new life, she has to be sure that her old life is over, and that what she thought her future would hold might be completely opposite.

This book was fairly enjoyable. It’s fluffy at times. It’s frustrating at times. It’s impulsive and throws caution to the wind but at the same time, characters drag out their own drama and angst. I think that is what bothered me. It was as if no one could figure out how to keep the train on the tracks at times. The end is satisfactory and largely predictable but I think it is fitting. Sometimes we all just have to go outside of our comfort zone to find out more about ourselves