Running in the Dark

Since college, I’ve always enjoyed a good in-the-dark run.  I remember one time being so overwhelmed my first semester at my new college (I transferred after my freshman year to Randolph-Macon) that the only thing I could do to clear my head was to run.  During an especially challenging night that combined issues at home and school, I resorted to a 2AM run.  Not the smartest even in sleepy Lynchburg, Virginia.  However, it did the trick just like always.  It’s something about the peace and knowing that no one is watching you.  It’s just me and the road.  After becoming a mom, I have a new appreciation for an early morning run before the sun has even started its day.  Last Tuesday, I had a particularly peaceful, full moon lit run.  Here are my top five tips…

{ONE}

Wear reflective clothing – I wasn’t sold on this one even though I knew I should.  The Mr. purchased me a reflective vest which I do wear 99% of the time.  I don’t like to since I like to be a rebel when I can, but he threatens me really encourages me to do so.  

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{TWO}

Carry pepper spray – This is hopefully unnecessary, but it certainly gives you a boost of confidence in case of any dogs/people that are unwelcome on your run.  I loosely tie mine on my shorts drawstring.  I’m sure there is a better product/method, but I’m cheap.  It works.  The end.

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{THREE}

Don’t listen to music – I break this rule as I really need music to motivate me especially on those cold mornings.  I will turn it down lower than I would typically listen to it and take out one earbud.  That way I can still hear the music but also my surroundings.  

{FOUR}

Always change your route, be unpredictable – On morning runs, I just run for the fun of it.  I don’t worry about time.  Just check my watch to be sure I’m going to be home in time.  Safety first.  If your unpredictable, then less likely for a Mr. Bad Guy to be lurking in a large bush or something.

{FIVE}

Pack Your Bad Words – Once I was running and a guy decided to be funny and rev up his car as it was sitting in his driveway.  Well, this certainly startled/scared me, so I rattled off a string of bad words.  This made me feel better, and the look on the guy’s face was priceless.  It’s nice to surprise people, and sometimes a cuss word carries just the right amount of weight to tell someone you mean business and you-better-not-mess-with-me.  

Now, I know running at dark can be dangerous.  I don’t make a habit of it.  If you can run on a nice well-traveled trail in the afternoon, good for you!  I try to make it as safe as possible.  Plus, who could miss out on the moon as a running partner?

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Happy Running!

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Judge Not the Early Christmas Folks

Since the Mr. and I had our own place, we (meaning the Mr. directs me where there are ornament “holes” while I *artfully* cover ever square inch of that tree!) decorate for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Well, I know this is early for some people.  We’ve gone even a bit earlier this year and put up most decorations this weekend with the exclusion of putting the ornaments on the tree.  Saving that for some weeknight fun!  I don’t know why, but I always feel slightly embarrassed about my Christmas spirit.  I play my Christmas music loud and proud cruising around at least until the Mr. vetoes the cheesiest selections.  It’s a magical time of year that takes us out of the ordinary and helps us really seek out beautiful ways to celebrate wether that may be food, home decor, and/or special events.  Me, I like them all!  Christmas cookies, church services, special outfits (I have an over the top, blatantly obvious Christmas skirt this year – don’t worry it’s not cheese-tastic!), and of course special little events for us to experience as the little family we are.  Since we are traveling and spending the special holiday away from our little home, I wanted to be able to enjoy Christmas in our home as much as possible.  Hence, the big drag-down from the attic.  I’m quite proud to say I lugged down all the mess myself.  The Mr. was manning the vacuum which is totally necessary when you’re taking out all those oh-so carefully packed figurines and decorations packing in Styrofoam.  H actually had a decent mouthful of the stuff (Styrofoam that is!) and decided it was so delicious that he didn’t want Mommy’s annoying fingers to pry it out.  Here are some pictures from our weekend at home.  

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First hair cut ~ Only slightly traumatic…

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Decaf Vanilla Latte a la Starbucks with this handsome dude and his equally as handsome daddy.  P.S.  Check out the lady’s crazy boots behind H.  I have to admit to some staring!

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Free Christmas Cookies!  Aren’t these little nuggets precious!  From Bergey’s Breadbasket in Chesapeake.  Very quaint, nice place and people.  They thought H was the bee’s knees, and I agree of course!  I think we scored the free cookies due to his smile.  

 

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H was amazed by the Town Center Illumination!  We got to see part of the parade with some parade balloons, cheerleaders, and best of all a big fire truck.  

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Blurry but I love it.

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Even though I get overwhelmed by all the hustle and bustle, the work that goes into fun is so worth it.  I confess I kind of didn’t want to rush after dinner, bundle up, and drive to Town Center (woo weee, it was literally a less than 10 minute drive).  I’m so glad we did. Seeing H’s face light up when he saw all the people and lights was so worth it.  Seeing him sitting on the shoulders of the man who has held my heart for 13 years as of December 6th was beyond.  Cheers to you who drag out the garland and silly Santa decorations early.  We need this spirit to remind us of what is important this time of year and always.  No, it isn’t Black Friday or just the food treats and gifts.  Really the spirit of Thanksgiving should stay with us all year, but I feel that the holiday season is just a reality check we need sometimes.  Have a wonderful week.  Only 2.5 days to go until we are family bound.  

5 for Fun

I confess that the Mr. and I try to do way too many chores on the weekend.  We are list-aholics.  We do seem to have a lot to do, but I do know there are always people who have more on their plate than us.  I also confess I tend to plan fun.  Spontaneous, I’m not.  However, I like to think I get a lot out of my days, and routines and taking care of business just soothes me.  There.  I admit it.  With that being said, here are my 5 fun things on the agenda for this weekend.  

{ONE}

Yogurt Bar!  Why in the world am I doing a yogurt bar you may ask?  We tend to have a pretty standard breakfast rotation when we’re home on the weekends that includes french toast, hearty pancakes, or oatmeal.  Tonight, I whipped up some pancakes (these things could fuel up a lumberjack!  Yes, they are that filling!), scrambled eggs, and strawberries.  I was craving breakfast for dinner so bad that I was able to get past my vegetables-with-dinner mantra.  This never happens!  It was delicious, but it definitely don’t want a repeat on Saturday morning.  Also, my mother-in-law is coming over to visit (yay!) on her way out to western Virginia.  I’m thinking granola and a variety of fruit.  Maybe throw in some muffins!

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Here is a great brunch menu on The Wicked Noodle.  Doesn’t the spread from the site look delish?!?!

{TWO}

Neighborhood Scouting The Mr. and I are thinking about packing up and moving to a new home.  We are trying to decide upon cities, neighborhoods…basically we have a lot of decisions to make.  I’m not sure how fun little H will think it is to look around, but I’m looking forward to it.  Change always scares me a bunch, but I am excited about finally having a second bathroom
the adventure.  

{THREE}

Grand Illumination Our town center area is supposed to be having the big light up with a parade and everything.  We’ve never been before, but we’re hoping to get there this year with H.  There is a chance of rain, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  Here’s a shot I found of the area on the web.

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{FOUR}

Blanket Forts  I always have liked a good blanket fort.  I’m not sure how long will hang out, but I thought that would be a good post-breakfast building project for us.  I can’t wait to see if he actually sits in it for any amount of time before tearing it through.  There is no question of the tearing it all up ending.  

{FIVE}

Christmas Decorations  Yes, that’s right!  They are making their annual pilgrimage down from the attic to beautify our home and get it all ready for the holiday season.  I’m *hoping* to put up everything but the tree.  

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This was Christmas 2011 when I was pregnant.   Decorating will be easier than then, but I’m not sure about keeping all the decor in its spot this year with little hands reaching all the time.

That’s it!  My (planned) fun weekend ideas!  If they don’t all get done, it’s A-OK, but you know I’d love to check them off!  

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Getting Advice From Alabama

I used to be quite an Alabama fan.  No, not in regards to football.  The country music group, Alabama.  These guys…

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They have a song called “I’m in a Hurry.”  This could be the main idea of my life on most days.  The lyrics are kind-of discouraging…

I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.

Now, I can tell you why I’m in a hurry most days.  I’ve got to get to work.  I’ve got a million and one things to do, and I also have to do my actual job title, teach!  I’ve got to quickly eat lunch to get to emails and other paperwork.  I’ve got to finish up at school to pick up a little wee one waiting ever so patiently at daycare.  Then, it’s dinner and the race to prep for the next day ahead.  I have legitimate reasons.  That doesn’t mean I have to like it all the time.  Most days, I’m in my groove, my routine.  Some days, I realize things have got too structured, too demanding, too fast-paced.  I’ve actually tried to be more slow intentional in about 3 things that I was doing today.  I’ve got to start small since I’m a rushing addict.  Baby steps.  H was playing in the tubbie tonight, and I realized that I was rushing through bath time.  What a bummer for a boy who loves bubbles!  I looked at my phone to read a news article for a few minutes (Heaven forbid I just sit still without doing something!), and little H got my body wash down and began amusing himself with it.  I decided to watch him and see what he was up to.  He opened and shut the tube of wash countless times and gave himself a little chuckle each and every time.  If I had been rushing through, we might have missed this moment.  I would have missed seeing his sweet face in such deep concentration.  As an educator, I take that extreme concentration as a good sign!  I wouldn’t have given him the chance to practice it if we had been rushing.  Now, I’m not saying I’m slowing down in everything or maybe even every day. Slowing down once in a while provides us a window to see the world a little differently.  Like seeing sheer tickled-ness on H’s face when he figured out the lid.  Thanks Alabama for setting good advice to a nice tune!

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Life Lately

I could say that life has been busy lately.  I’m going to skip that expression and pick stressful.  Although it has negative connotations that “busy” doesn’t, you might as well call it what it is.  Now, this is the part where I get a little frustrated with myself.  I’ve not been stressed about where my next meal is coming from, how I’ll get to and from work, or even the health of myself or my family members.  No, I’ve been stressed about tiny, little issues.  I’ve been stressed about big decisions about career and house.  However, there is not a life or death situation going on.  We are so very blessed to be able to pay our bills and even have left-overs for fun things.  We work on the very same schedule and get to spend most evenings at home with H.  We are all healthy as can be, and I even ran my best 5K time on a treadmill (21:39!!!) this past Sunday.  Things are good.  The question is why do I feel stressed.  Why do I feel like things are just terrible sometimes?  

Personally, I’m all in favor of throwing the negative forces of the world under the bus and shifting blame.  🙂  Truth be told, it’s my own mind and heart that works against me.  I can control my thoughts and attitudes through the One who strengthens me.  I know that I tend to get a little cranky/envious/hyper/stressed – – -all of these things this time of year.  To combat this, I started up my thankful garland which was so easy!  Just tied up some twine and then printed out a small leaf template online.  Then, I traced a few leaves and wrote something or someone I was thankful for on a leaf.  I attached the leaf to the twine using some mini clothespins from the local craft store.  Presto!  Thanksgiving DIY that is meaningful.  

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a fall study with GoodMorningGirls.org

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which has neat little daily pages to keep you on track…

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I find that I need anything and everything to keep me put together.  Fall and winter brings so much fun and joy, but it certainly can also bring feelings of stress, comparisons to others, and just plain old ungrateful thoughts.  Here are a few other things I’ve been doing to boost those flagging attitudes…

running more

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eating more fruit!

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How do you stop the holiday/fall crazy feelings?  

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Christmas Wish List for a 20 Month Old Boy

I can hardly believe that it’s another Christmas season!  I used to be so quickly done with my holiday shopping B.C. (Before Child).  Things have changed in other ways to as we now do Secret Santa with the Mr.’s family and my family.  This means I will buy gifts for one person in my family and one person in the Mr.’s.  Of course, H is not playing and is bound to be showered with gifts.  As the only grandchild on both sides, it seems that is his duty until someone (ahem…brothers (in-laws) and sisters (in-laws)…let’s get on that!) shows up to share the spotlight.  The Mr. and I are going to be getting a few things for Holdie L., and these are my top picks.  I love this outline for gift giving to kids…

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Holdie isn’t making many requests, but I would guess these would be his.

1.  Knit Cat || Holden loves kitties.  This is kind of a bummer as I’m allergic, and he has no hope of ever having one of his own.  He does get to spend lots of time with Grandma’s “kitties.”  I thought he might like one of his own.

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2.  Mr. Potato Head ||  H loves to tinker with things.  He can show great concentration when he is manipulating something.  This classic toy looks great!

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3.  Fire Truck!  || Holden loves the “Fire Truck” song which can me seen on YouTube here.  I think he’d love a fire truck of his very own.

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4.  Gymboree Play & Learn Gift Certificate || We loved going to Gymboree this past summer for a class.  H got free play time as well as group time.  It was a blast for us both.  Here is the link for this.  We have a local Gymboree gym, but other kids’ gyms include Little Gym.

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5.  Booster Seat  ||  This is a practical gift that H will need as he transitions out of his high chair.  I like this one in “chocolate.”

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6.  DIY Busy Board ||  I love the idea of this homemade busy board for little hands that are oh so busy!  Here is the link to see how to make it.

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7.   Thank You Notes  ||  I certainly believe in the importance of an old-fashioned “thank you” sent by snail mail.  I hope to instill this in H as well.  Here are some cute cards that mom can write the message in but little hands can paint or color.  Link to Etsy to purchase here.  

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8.  Personalized Matching or Memory Game ||  I just love the idea of including people H knows like grandparents, aunts, and uncles in a skill-based fun activity.  I think his face would light up to see some of his favorite people.  This product is by Pinhole Press (who also does fabulous Christmas cards) and featured on this blog which is also wonderful!  Check it out.

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9.  Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site  ||  Since the Mr. works in construction and our little guy loves all things trucks and tractors and diggers, I thought this would be a great addition.  See link to Amazon here.  

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10. Clothes  ||  I love Old Navy, Target, and especially J.C. Penney for Holden’s clothing.  Penney’s had great sales last year, and H was looking sharp well into the spring with all the cute duds he got.

Happy shopping!  Holden certainly doesn’t need any of these things (well except the clothes part!), but it is nice to get a couple of treats this time of year.  Most importantly, he has so many people that cherish every word he utters.  Treasured boy!

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Real v. Fake, A Take on Life and Food

Hi Friends!!!  I’m happy to report that we had a few snowflakes last night in this part of Virginia.  Totally put me in the holiday spirit.  I’m tired of all the naysayers speaking out against those that are SO ready for the Christmas season.  I am listening to Christmas music in my car now and as I wash up the dinner dishes.  I think as things get tough out here in the real, adult world the more I/we need the specialness of the Christmas season.  Sorry just a little soap boxing!

Onto the real versus fake conundrum.  I’m all for honesty.  If you ask me about breastfeeding, having a baby, or going to an all girls college, I’m going to tell you the real deal.  I am real about my family life too.  I argue with my family, have fun with them, and love them.  If you ask me my salary or how much I have in my bank account, I’m most likely to tell you that too.  I know some things are supposed to be sacred and off-limits for talky time, but I don’t really hold with that even in religion and politics (FYI – Christian Episcopalian and Liberal with a small dash of Conservatism)  How’s that for confusing/complicated?!?!?!  For me, transparency and honesty is a natural.  Now, I realize this can sometimes get me in trouble.  An example of this would be in high school when I specifically told the teacher why my friend was out of school.  I said, “Well, she has diarrhea!”  That comment does make me cringe when I think back on it.  I’ve even let honesty get me in a bit of hot water over a bridesmaid invitation.  I mean, what kind of crazy person says “Are you sure you want me?  We don’t really hang out or know each other well anymore.”  Again, I kind of wish I’d taken a more tactful approach.  For better or worse, this is my natural inclination.  I like to think it does more good than harm most the time.  Perhaps that is wishful thinking!  When it comes to food, I am definitely convinced that real food wins over fake.  

I use real butter and sugar in my recipes.  I have used Splenda but only those yummies I was cooking for diabetics.  I will substitute butter for other real foods like coconut oil, applesauce, or even yogurt.  See below for easy substitutes!  Just say no to fake sugar and margarine.  I do value the butter taste in some recipes though.  

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I do use real mayo as I am totally in love with mayo and find it to be worth the extra calories.  As my grandfather would say, “I could eat it with a spoon!”  Don’t tell, but I actually do lick the spoon when I’m done with it.  Gross, I know, but so good!  Although real food can have more actual calories in it, I just feel so much better knowing I’m eating something that wasn’t developed in a laboratory.  If you feel as if you need to cut calories or fat in a recipe, use a healthy substitute from above or Goggle or Pinterest “healthy cooking substitutes.”  Happy Cooking!

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My favorite & H’s favorite “real food” in winter is the TURNIP!

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The mess that is my kitchen every.single.night.

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