Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Break 2014

So four months since my last post. I guess it's safe to say my blogging days are pretty much a thing of the past. But I still think it is nice to post some memories for the future.

Spring Break so far has been pretty nice. I had a rough last week and I definitely needed a break from my class and definitely teaching "partner". Major burnout had set in.
Here is a recap of the Break so far...

Friday Day One
Rainy and cold. I was determined to sleep in until noon. However, 11 year old Noah called up to my bedroom at about 9:15 asking, "Mom, are you coming down anytime soon?" When I asked him why he responded that he had made breakfast and it was getting cold. Sure enough, I cam e downstairs and he had the table set for four (even though Steve was at work( and at my place was a cold piece of toast with peanut  butter on it and a glass of orange juice. It was so sweet of him that I ate that toast as if it were the best prize I'd ever received.  Later that day, I drove the boys to M89 theater and we saw the movie Mr. Peabody. It was very funny. When we got home, I got a very cold and windy 3 mile run in.

Saturday Day Two
We were invited to a breakfast play date with the Wests and Roossiens by Cyndee West. We stayed until around noon when we came home and putzed around the house the rest of the day. A pretty nice relaxing day though.

Sunday Day Three
Beautiful sunny day. After church we stayed outside most of the day. I got a 4.2 mile run in and lots of yard work, Aaron's bike broke so we will have to figure that out before the summer gets underway.

Headed off to Detroit for a quick overnight adventure tomorrow.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday Thirteen: 2013 in Review

 2013 was a pretty eventful year for us. I had a year full of personal changes. I kind of hope for a year of fewer changes ahead.  Here are some memorable moments.

1. New job/ new career
I started a new job/career right away on January 7th last year. It was as a preschool associate teacher in a GSRP classroom. The job that I thought was a dream come true was really too built up in my mind. The job is not a job I can be proud of due to the requirements of how to "teach" but it did set in motion some possibilities for our future and the money was better than anything I have had ever since I left full time teaching 10 years before.

2. Back to school: GRCC to keep the job
Because of this job, I knew I was going to need tor return to school, which I did at the community college. I have two plans in mind, the first being the smaller of the two degrees and then eventually achieving my ZS teaching endorsement. This is important since I will definitely NOT be in this current position forever and I will need to the endorsement to make decent money in this field when I move on. The classes are ridiculous but I do what I have to do to jump through the hoops that are necessary.

3. New hair:
I got a really bad haircut right after I started this job and as a result I ended up cutting bangs back into my hair which is now going to stick. I went three years without bangs and I think it just suits me better to have my greasy forehead covered by hair.

4. Turned forty
Yes, the dreaded forty. Not pretty but at least I knocked an item off of my bucket list during this milestone birthday. And I spent my 40th birthday at Busch Gardens which was a very fun day with the family.

5. Saw the ocean
I saw and stepped into the ocean for the first time during the week vacation we took on Florida to celebrate my 40th birthday. I wish we had been able to spend more time in the water but hopefully I won't have to wait another 40 years before I see it again.

6. Hollywood Studios
We had taken the boys to two of the Disney parks when they were younger and tackled another one of them by taking the boys to Hollywood Studios during our trip to Florida. A very fun day and I am glad we got it in before they got any older since I think they are starting to grow out of some of the magic, which makes me sad.

7. Ran a 5K (and then some more)
When we got home from Florida, something changed in me and I started running. Who knows why since I never ran a day in my life but after a couple of weeks I decided that I was going to run a 5K during the year. By year's end, I had run four of them and have set some hefty goals for the year 2014.

I think these are all the biggies of the year but I think it wold be good to do an update on the others.

8. Steve Barbershop
Steve's quartet was insanely busy ALL YEAR with gigs most weekends and rehearsals an hour north almost every Sunday. They were scheduled to sing in Toronto over the summer but that fell through due to legal difficulties with half of the quartet members. They are looking forward to singing in Las Vegas in 2014 and I may still go with them....That's still up for debate.

9. Aaron
Aaron started 4th grade, played basketball and then flag football. He was graduated from speech and also got to act in his first community play (Hansel and Gretl). He also started volunteering at church running the soundboard a few weeks a month, just like his brother did before.

10. Noah
Noah started middle school and all that entails. His drawing skills have definitely grown and he loves going to middle school youth at church. Our goals for him in 2014 are still to find appropriate social outlets for him that don't involve video games or pokemon. I went in a fun trip with him to Sleeping Bear Dunes with the youth group and I hope there will be more of those to come.

11. Home Changes
Noah painted his bed purple and we rearranged his room to fit more shelves for his stuff. Aaron added a microphone stand complete with microphone and a full karaoke bar to his room. In the living room we moved the entire room (it had been 11 years since we changed things) and I also painted it. It turned way too blue instead of the blue grey I had hoped but we're living with it.

12.Finances
They should have been better this year, given the new job I had. But instead, we had three months of ZERO income since my job is only nine months out of the year. It took the entire fall to get our house back out of foreclosure again and we are being hounded by an underpaid tax bill from three years ago that we just found out about, as well as student loans that we can't afford but have run out of hardship extensions. Not sure what is going to come of those in 2014 but it's not going to be pretty. We are working now to figure out what summer job I can get  summer of 2014 to avoid the same problem next fall.

13.Hopes and Dreams
2014 was actually pretty good. No major medical problems or other dilemmas that we couldn't work through. I can't help but feel dread thinking something rough is coming in the year 2014 but for now I can only take it a day at a time and continue to pray that God will keep up in His good graces.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Recap 2013

The day after Christmas coma has arrived. Aaron has already been sent back to bed for a half hour for attitude adjustment and I can't seem to get my butt off the couch from under a blanket. I had the living room mostly clean before I headed to bed last night but it seems to have become a disaster overnight. I want to record some of the highlights and a few things I want to remember for next year.

Christmas Eve was a little odd this year since we didn't go to church on the actual Christmas Eve. Our church tried something new this year and did identical services on the Sunday before and Christmas Eve. Because Steve had to work on Christmas Eve, we chose to do the service on Sunday, which was fine but I definitely think I missed not going on Christmas Eve.

We got all of our baking done on Christmas Eve, as I have the last two years. Unlike last year though, the boys were completely into it and we made gingerbread decorated with candy before they cooked as well as sugar cookies that the boys frosted and decorated. The boys got along really well all day on Christmas Eve which was a change and they even went outside to play for awhile with no fighting that day. It was amazing!

After Steve got home we went out for dinner to On the Border and then came home and opened the presents we had gotten each other from Five Below. We got the boys to bed at the regular time and then settled in to wait until they fell asleep to bring stuff down.

Christmas morning was nice. The boys waited until 7:30 to come wake us up, which was impressive I thought. Present opening was somewhat uneventful except that we did surprise the boys with  the technology items they had been hoping for.  I got great video of both of them opening their big gifts. I made a breakfast casserole that was pretty good, even though neither of the boys liked it. We went to Frozen at Rivertown in the early afternoon, which was a very good movie. We came home and had our usual dinner, although it really wasn't all that well received my anyone. I think we were all just burned out from Christmas by then. The boys spent quite a bit of time on their tech items throughout the day which was fine since they were new but it is clear that we are going to have to ration their time on the devices.

Other fun moments from the day included Aaron trying out his new karaoke machine (Steve hooked our old TV up to the machine in his room). Noah's media player is old and refurbished (which he doesn't know) so I am panicking that it is going to crash at some point). Since there is a foot of snow outside, the boys are pogo-ing in the hallway and I am waiting for someone to break a bone before the break is over. But they're having fun in the meantime.

Now we are in day after coma. I am hoping to get out to Target at some point today and Steve is going to be gone all day and night for a barbershop thing so it's just me and the boys again. It was a pretty laid back Christmas and that is just a good way for it to be,. Not very many presents for the boys but they really liked what they got so that's all that matters.

Now for the Thank you cards. Hoping to get them done by New Year's Day.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013...My Newest Venture

So it's been another two months since my last post. To say it has been busy is a bit of an understatement, but isn't it for all moms? Trying to settle into a routine this school year has been a challenge, in many ways.

But, as things start to settle in some ways, things get busier in others. Today I completed a milestone though so I thought I would post a little about it since I am feeling nostalgic (and I need a break from the mind numbing existence that is facebook). I figure I need to write a little of my history of this journey so I never forget.

Back in January, I began the year that I would turn 40. I hated the view in the mirror, as I was EXTREMELY close to the 200 lb mark and disgusted by it.

I tried Weight Watchers yet again and by May had only lost a total of twelve pounds and was starving all the time. Then we went for my birthday family vacation trip to Florida and a few days after we got back I made a change that I hope to last the rest of my life.

Aaron had asked me to go play tennis with him and I agreed. We played for over an hour and I worked up a great sweat and felt so alive for the first time in a long time. A few days later he asked again and we did so again. At that time, I started wondering what it would take to try to run a little bit. I went out and couldn't even go three driveways before I was huffing and puffing and felt like I was going to die.

After some gradual increases, I got to the point where I could run a mile without walking and I made a crazy decision to try to run a 5K before the year was over. So I went home, searched the computer and found one  for September 15th, three months later. I figured I could get myself to that point. My goal was to run it in under 45 minutes.

A short while later, I started becoming obsessed with reading everything I could about running and even entered a contest to run a "practice" 5K. Crazily enough, I won and I found myself registered to run my first 5K on August 1st, six weeks earlier than I had planned!

August 1st came and I was scared to death as I lined up for the Metro Way 5K. It was not pretty. It was not fast. I even walked a bit of it. But I finished it with a smile on my face. My amazingly supportive husband and my sons were there and I was so proud. My time was just over 38 minutes. I figured for a first 5K for someone of my weight, it wasn't a bad start. AND I had my REAL first 5K only 6 weeks later.

Six weeks later, I found myself again at a 5K starting line. This time it was for the Grand Rapids Bridge Run and I was feeling more prepared this time. As I was getting lined up, the skies opened and huge raindrops came pounding down. I had given Steve and the boys permission to go to church rather than being at the waiting line this time. But as I was coming halfway through mile 2, I looked over to the Gerald Ford Museum parking lot and there were three awesome Wheelz Boys, cheering for Mommy. After turning the last corner, they had walked up the street and were there again waiting for me. This time Aaron even ran about a half of a block with me toward the finish line. I cut abut two minutes off my time and enjoyed the chocolate milk at the finish line before heading home to dry off and take a very long bath.

Then school started and I wondered if I was going to be able to keep up with this running thing. No question, it became more and more difficult as my schedule had something every night of the week and the skies became dark earlier and earlier in the evening. I figured the only way to get motivated again was to sign up for more "races". So I found one that ran through a local college, which looked like fun.

For the Grand Valley Turkey Trot the Saturday before Thanksgiving, I recruited my teaching partner from last year, who was one of the three women who motivated me to try this running thing in the first place. The forecast for the race was a 16 degree windchill and I was panicked about what to wear. I had to justify the cost of some cold weather running gear and even then I didn't  know if what I got would satisfy that cold of weather. I was also nervous because this would be the first time I would be running with a partner, after having spent 5 months only doing solo running in training. There were definitely good and bad moments of the event. The timing got goofed so I don't have an accurate time and the route was pretty uninteresting. But running with my friend Heather made the day great, with a chance to catch up and we were very evenly matched as running partners. (She has since asked me to do a half...yeah right!)

After that, the Michigan snow season began and getting out to run became even more difficult than it was before. BUT...my sister, who was another of the three women who motivated to begin this journey,  asked me if I was going to run the Whoville 5K with her. $30 for a race in the throes of winter didn't seem very feasible, but I still went ahead to enter. I was extremely nervous for this one as well, given that as of the morning of the race I had still never run in snow.

So December 15th (this morning) arrived and I bundled up, again having no clue if I was wearing enough clothes. My sister gave me a wonderful gift when I got there, which was yak trax which are basically coils that attach to your running shoes to make your run grip the snow.

The race did not have an official time and that wasn't the point of the race anyway. It was so very fun. The snow was coming down hard as I ran along the Grand River riverbank and it was absolutely beautiful. My frozen toes started to thaw a bit after about the first mile and a quarter. Every so often a Grinch would jump out at you to throw you off and Things 1 and 2 would hide behind trees and throw snow balls at you if you weren't paying attention. It was a blast and by far my favorite of the FOUR 5K races I have run in the past 6 months. It was fun doing it with my sister too! When I got back in my car, I saw that the wind chill outside while we were running was a balmy SEVEN DEGREES. I felt like I had conquered a mountain!

So here I am at the end of six months contemplating where do I go from here. I have many ideas. After today I know that I can handle this cold weather and don't need to stop. I have spent some time already today researching the next few races in which I want to participate.

But mostly I just think of how far I have come in six months and hope that I can stay with it and not quit. Yes I am a quitter and hoping to break that habit when it comes to my running. Will I be sitting here a year from now writing about new running

accomplishments that occur in 2014? Or will I discover that I just didn't have the discipline to push through? I guess only time will tell.



Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Bedroom Makeover

Yes, it's been awhile. Yes, we're still alive...at least in body. Spirit is another story...

Through the years, I have often tried to battle some of my despondency with a change in scenery in our home. Sometimes it results in my need to paint something. It often includes rearranging at least one bedroom.  In the past month BOTH have taken place.

The first was thanks to my good friend Chris at Dad of Divas. I was asked quite a while ago if I would be willing to try out some bedding from Sweet Jojo Designs and write a review.

Aaron has a long history with blankets. And bedroom switches. And beds. He is currently in a loft type bed about two feet from the floor, which was actually the top bunk of a bed from my parents. It works our well for him since he has so many blankets and stuffed animal "buddies" that stay on his bed at all times. As a matter of fact, his bed is always overcrowded with various animals, blankets and clothes. And his bedding was still a spiderman blanket from when he was four. It also had holes in all four corners from his chewing on the sheets and blankets at bedtime. So when the offer came to bring his bedroom and bedding up to his age, we were both pretty excited.

We went on the website and picked out a fun set with brown and blue circles that would go well with his blue walls. He was very excited about it and we cheered when it was delivered.

I'm not sure who was more excited, Aaron or me.
The set contained a comforter, pillow sham, dust ruffle, and matching window valance.  The very first thing we noticed was how incredibly soft the comforter was. I have to admit I wanted to keep it for myself :) Same was true of the pillow sham. The fabric feels so soft and almost silky and most definitely luxurious. I also like that the pillow sham zips closed so Aaron's pillow can't slide out.


We did have a few challenges making the dust ruffle work for Aaron's type of bed, however with a little creativity it worked and I truly love the color scheme. At the time of the photo we had not yet hung the window valance but it definitely looks like a pre-teens bedroom now, rather than a little boy's room. And even better, Aaron is so comfy snuggled in that not a single corner has been "eaten".

The company does have a few more accompanying pieces to the set, including some sheets, pillows, and wall hangings that would be excellent complements to this set and they are reasonable in price in my opinion. I love the material and the designs offered by this company and I am not surprised that Noah is now also asking for a set from this company. Maybe for Christmas...

A huge thank you to Chris at Dad of Divas and Sweet Jojo Designs for the opportunity to experience the luxury of a wonderful new bedroom set and helping Aaron to make the transition from a little boy into a young man.

Friday, August 2, 2013

What the Heck and I doing???

Seriously, a 5K or someone like me?? Absolutely ridiculous, right?

The story, just so I can look back and remember:

Just over two years ago, Noah was running the kids race that is related to the biggest race in Grand Rapids, the Riverbank Run. At that time, he asked me to run with  him and I knew that there was no way in a gazillion years that I could do it with him. And it was the time when I realized just how fat I had gotten, which has only gotten worse. I still remember that day like it was yesterday and I remember telling myself that SOMEDAY, I am going to run a 5K.

Fast forward to this past January when I started a new job/career, I had to get some actual clothes to wear and it was at that moment that I really saw how bad things had gotten, with rolls and rolls of muffin top over my pants. And then to make things worse, I stepped on a scale and had a number to reaffirm how bad things had gotten.  A REALLY BAD NUMBER!!!!!!!

So I found an online deal through weight watchers. So as I was working this new job in a VERY stressful situation, I also tried very hard to stick with an online program to lose weight.  However, I only lost about 12 pounds. Not much when you put it in relation to how much NEEDED to be lost. The program that had worked for me ten years ago just didn't cut it anymore.

So the school year ended, we headed to Florida for the vacation that was the main impetus for me trying to lose weight in the first place. The following week summer vacation had begun and I was still feeling ugly, fat, and useless.

Aaron asked me to go play tennis with him. Back when I was in high school, a friend and I used to enjoy going to hit balls back and forth.  Neither of us were thin or in any kind of healthy shape, but even so we could spend an hour hitting balls back and forth and having a good time. So I figured that maybe this would a good way to get some exercise and have a fun time with my son. So we went.

I got sweaty. REALLY sweaty. And it was wonderful! It felt sooo good to feel like I had gotten my heart pumping and been active with my son. A couple of days later, Aaron asked to again, this time with Noah asking as well. So we went. And again, I got a great workout and came home feeling not only like I had exercised, but maybe I was actually showing the boys that we could be out playing together instead of sitting inside watching a dumb screen.

For some reason,  the next day I decided to go out  and see if I could run a little. I couldn't....at all! We live on a main street with tons of little tiny feeder streets so my goal was to walk a street, then run  a street.  All the way to the end and then do the same coming home.  I wish to anything that I could have timed myself on that very first outing so I could know now how far I had come.

The next day I decided to try a little more running and a little less walking. And for the next couple of weeks, I am not really sure where the training went since I didn't start logging it until the end of June, other than I jumped into it whole hardedly, hating every moment but feeling like I was growing stronger with each run.

Somewhere in those first few weeks, I came up with an idea. I am going to run a 5K! Where did this idea come from?  Who knows. But I went online, used literally the LAST $30 in our checking account (yes, it's been another very difficult summer) and registered for a 5K race in September. I figured if I made a financial commitment, maybe I would actually follow through. You see, I am good at STARTING things. Not so good at FOLLOWING THROUGH.   I of course didn't tell Hubby, being sure that he would second guess me and scold me for spending the money. As I will mention later, he has been surprisingly supportive of this. Maybe his prize will be a skinny wife someday :) Doubtful but miracles can happen I suppose.

So began a journey. I was running in just regular tennis shoes and somewhere in that first couple of weeks, managed to injure my left calf. The injury has progressed as training continued to a point that I am in constant pain. But I will come back to that. I figured if I am going to do this, I NEED to get some shoes.

Having mentioned already that there is certainly NO money to waste on something frivolous like running shoes, I pulled out the trusty Kohl's card and found a pair of a brand I know to be good and bought them, after trying on basically every pair of women's running shoes in the store.I knew that I was supposed to go to a running store and get fitted and all that, but that would have definitely been out of capability for us. Do I believe that they are PART of the problem with my injury? Possibly. But they are still very comfortable and I do think they are better than what I was wearing before.

I have had to make a couple of other purchases, namely running shirts and shirts, an arm holder for my ipod, and a headband since apparently I am a sweating machine. I had been afraid to mention these purchases to Steve, since we don't even have the money to buy food right now, but surprisingly, he has been 100 percent supportive of this adventure so it was okay.

I joined two different running web sites to track my progress and followed a 5K training plan that seemed to be a good fit for me.  About mid July, I found another race and knew there was no way I could waste more money that we didn't have on a race registry, so I entered a contest for a free entry, figuring that if I won, maybe I would be ready.

Lo and behold, I won! Oh Crap! Now I have to follow through on this.

Just as I was registering, the pain in my leg was progressing to a point where I had to change my training to every other day, trying to fit cycling or swimming in on the other days. But the week leading up to it, I ended up not even being able to cross train, for reasons that I am too depressed to get into here.

So the day of the 5K came. I felt like I was prepared in some ways, and in many other ways, I must be a complete idiot to even try this.  I will tell of the event in my next post.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekend Top Five June 16 2013

Wow, missed quite a few weekend to fives. I guess i kind of got off whack when we went to Florida and never quite got back on.

Friday Steve was gone for a barbershop show so the boys and I just hung out and read more of Matilda. I had a massive and horrible headahce every day this weekend so I will be seeing a doctor soon for that.

Saturday, Steve took the boys to the Saturday slip and slide that they went to last year. Noah found an eighth grader who was into pokemon so I guess they spent the entire time sitting and talking about it (grrrr). Aaron, as to be expected, spent the entire time in the dunk tank and loved every moment. Steve fell and hurt his foot so that pretty much did him in.

Meanwhile, I headed out to my team teacher's baby shower. Interesting for sure.

Sunday was Father's Day. Since we got to church on Monday nights in the summer it was good to sleep in for awhile. Steve knew of an old movie theater south from here that shows new run movies at low prices and wanted to go check it out so we went for a road trip to Plainwell after lunch at Moe's, everyone's favorite eat out place.  We saw Epic in the theater and then we went downtown Plainwell to Dean's Ice Cream for ice cream and a walk aong the river. A very relaxed and fun little road trip.

We came home to no power and a run away dog, just to make the evening interesting and got the boys to bed early.

I added to my nightly walk/run and did a two mile loop Sunday night.