Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review and Food Makeover, Day 1

First up, I have a new book review for the BlogHer Book Club that went live today. The book is A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I LOVED this book - if you like the vampire/supernatural thing but prefer something with a plot, this is the way to go!

Second, today was Day 1 of Operation Back on Track (OBT). I was pretty hard core about exercise and food for a while, and then I fell off the cliff and landed in Lazytown. So far, I've avoided weight gain but it's time to climb back up the hill and see what I can accomplish this summer. No exercise today, but the food control was good - mostly. I started the morning with a Slim Fast (that's not really a diet thing - more of a dietary issue for me and one of the only things I can have for breakfast without making myself ill). I grabbed a nonfat vanilla latte on my way to the office, had a Lean Cuisine for lunch and a granola bar for a mid-afternoon pick me up. Dinner was supposed to be veggie quesadillas (recipe below), but we ended up at a local eating establishment where I had a steak salad with blue cheese dressing. Blue cheese = bad, but it's Day 1 of OBT and we can't expect miracles. Which also explains why I had a beer while relaxing later this evening. I also snacked on watermelon, but that doesn't really count because watermelon is just... there. Yummy, but there. Day 1 is in the books and somewhat successful.

Veggie Quesadillas

2 low carb wheat tortilla shells
Assorted green peppers, onions, zucchini, yellow squash
2% shredded cheddar cheese

I typically pop these in the oven, but if you're feeling daring, drizzle a little EVOO in a pan and fry them up stove top. Yum!

Monday, May 30, 2011

And We're Rambling

I was in Orlando last week for work. I was supposed to be there Monday through Wednesday, but those lovely storms rolled through the Midwest and I ended up coming home on Thursday instead. I missed my girls, but it's hard to say it was a real hardship...


Thanks to a really weird twist of fate, Jess & Ken and Julie & Chris were in Orlando, too, so we hooked up for dinner at Raglan Road at Downtown Disney. It was a gorgeous night to sit on the patio, indulge in a beverage or two and catch up. Loved it!


Thanks to all of that airplane time, I've been on a book bender. Then we took the girls to the library yesterday and I stocked up on more goodies. It's really too bad that I have to work because I could literally sit in this chair and read for the next week or so.

I'm speaking at a mom blogging conference in June and I'm pretty excited about it. I've been a part of Type-A Parent for a few years now and this will be my first chance to meet many of the women I've known online. Plus, the conference is in Ashville, North Carolina and I hear it's gorgeous.

I need to refocus on the diet/exercise thing, so for the next week or so, I'll be reporting my food consumption here to keep me accountable. That won't make for exciting reading, but I'll try to share a recipe or two to keep you interested!

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Jane Austen Education Earns A 'Meh' From Me

I wasn't in love with this book, provided by the fabulous BlogHer Book Club and Penguin. Maybe I'm not enough of a Jane Austen fan... or maybe it just wasn't that good of a book. If you read it, let me know what you think!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Toto, I Don't Think We're In ...

Well, crap. I am, in fact, still in Kansas. And boy howdy, did we have some impressive storms roll through last night.

Boy howdy is an authentic Kansas phrase. I thought I should share it with you.

Ahem.

Actually, by 'impressive' I mean 'scary as heck'. We were at a local eating establishment about 15 minutes from our house. When the tornado sirens went off, we were heading to our car. We immediately turned the other direction and went back into the restaurant, where the 20 year old waitress gestured rather noncommittally to the back area while chatting on her cell phone when I asked where the tornado shelter was located. As a mother who had gone into PROTECT THE CHILDREN mode when the sirens went off, I may or may not have snapped at her to get off the (insert bad word) cell phone and tell me where we were supposed to go. First, she ushered us toward a freezer.

A FREEZER. Not only was that a really stupid idea, but it also was completely packed and there was no room for one person, let alone several restaurant patrons. The second suggestion was the liquor room... where shelf upon shelf of bottled alcohol lined the walls. Yep, that's where I want to be in a tornado... a room with projectiles!

Obviously, this chickadee wasn't the brightest bulb. Right about the time I was ready to lay into her, the general manager came charging through the door and suggested that we settle the kids in the bathroom and offered them something to drink to keep their minds off the impending doom. The general manager hadn't been working, but evidently knew that his employees weren't capable of dealing with ... well, anything more complicated than serving food.

Once we had a chance to evaluate the situation, it was apparent that all of the nasty weather was slightly south of us and heading our way. We decided to make a run for it. Because we're Midwesterners who have years of experience evaluating this type of storm activity. And because we're stupid. We raced home through the rain and hail (my poor car), making it into the garage just in time for the sirens to go off again. The neighbors, who do not have a basement, joined us for an impromptu party in my family room. During their dash to the house, the neighbor saw a tornado funnel.. Can you say AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH????? After about two hours of this type of fun, we got the all clear.

I'm pretty sure I'm getting a new roof out of this little fit from Mother Nature, but that's a big improvement over what a small town 30 minutes south of us is dealing with today thanks to a tornado that wiped out at least 20 houses, the post office and a church. 'Tis the season. For the next 6-8 weeks, I'll keep the ruby slippers on my feet and the dog packed into the picnic basket... just in case.

Friday, May 20, 2011

This Is Why I'm Nervous

Exhibit A:


That would be my daughter... at a table full of boys... You will note that she is the ONLY girl at the table.

Last night was the 6th grade promotion party. Approximately 50 kids ate junk food, drank gallons of pop and danced. Those kids - boys and girls - danced like there was no tomorrow. They didn't dance boy/girl... it was more like one large community of movement. To our everlasting amusement, at times the boys were the only ones on the dance floor, while the girls huddled in a corner and gossiped. Those boys are going to be very popular at the junior high dances next year!

Some of us mamas taught the kiddos the Electric Slide. They liked it. Hee :)

There were a couple of 'moments', what with a couple of songs accidentally slipping through the parental monitors. Enrique's Tonight I'm Loving You blared through the speakers for a few minutes before a horrified mother ran over to the mom in charge of the music and screamed, "That's not the radio version!" And we all had to sit through at least two Justin Bieber songs, which the girls and boys sang at the top of their lungs.

Next year, those kids will merge with the other schools in the district at junior high. They'll still hang with some of their old friends, but they'll make new friends, too, and these kids - most of whom have been together since kindergarten - won't ever be quite the same. I'll admit that I was pretty grouchy about the whole idea of a 6th grade promotion party, but I'm glad there were wiser parents than I. It was a great night.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Promotion

Today was N's 6th grade promotion. I'll have to tell you about it tomorrow, but wanted to post a picture. This is N and her best friend, H. It's amazing that they're actually moving on to 7th grade... would you promote goofy kiddos like this???

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Little Philosophy: Motherhood and Trail Running

lakeperrytrail2.jpgThe trail 5k that I ran on Saturday was the first true trail run I've had since last July, when I ran that crazy night 10k. I head out on the trails at the Governor's Mansion fairly frequently, but those trails are not even close to the trails at Lake Perry. The trails on Saturday were gorgeous - in fact, I'd go as far as saying they were perfect. My friends were there. I had a terrific run. And I PR'd, which is always nifty!

I've thought a lot about what makes the trails so special, and I've gotten a little philosophical about it over the last few days. There are some lessons to be learned in trail running that apply to my life as a mom - some things that I can take with me in the day-to-day struggle that is everyday life.

Remember what it's like to be a kid. Like many a mom, I get annoyed with my kids. I wonder why they can't listen to anything I say. I roll my eyes when I see the disaster they've made with their toys and games. When I'm on the trails, I jump over rocks and I play peek-a-boo with squirrels and I laugh out loud from the pure enjoyment I feel from being there in the moment. Kids are like that, too. They lose themselves in the fun they are having and forget that mom wants them to clean up or feed the dog. It's almost always better to be in the moment than to be thinking about all of the things you could/would/should be doing, and kids understand that. On the trails, if you're not 'in the moment', then you have a high likelihood of finding yourself face first on the ground.

Friends can help you over the hard spots. One of the things I adore about trail running events v. their road racing sisters is the camaraderie. In my very first trail 5k, I not only fell in love with the trails, I fell in love with the people. From the beginning, I've heard 'Great job' and 'Looking tough' and 'You rock!' Not once has anyone said 'You can't' or 'Why are you here?' On Saturday, my friend Jess was manning an aid station that I passed three times in the course of the race. Her husband is a killer trail racer and she knew very well that I was not doing anything impressive in terms of time to finish. Yet every time, Jess was screaming my name and yelling encouragement and it was such a great pick-me-up. It's the same with my mommy friends. They encourage and support me, even when I'm feeling like it's too hard or that I'm failing. Just like running the trails and having someone yell encouragement as they pass on the left, the energy of my mommy friends gives me a lift when I need it and allows me climb that hill they call 'parenthood'.

If you couldn't do it yesterday, try it again today. I have this amazing friend named Darcie. We don't see each other except at trail events and on Facebook, but I love her spirit and her laugh. I love seeing Darcie - she always makes me smile. Her husband, Darin, always makes me smile, too. A few years ago, Darin was overweight and tired of it, so he started running. He ran a 5k and then he ran a 1/2 marathon and then he went a little further and a little further after that... until he was ready for his first 100 mile ultra... which he won. On Saturday, Darin ran the 50k (and won) in just a little more time than it took me to run 13.1 miles in Lincoln. And you know what's cool about Darin? Well, other than the fact that the man can set his mind to such amazing things and accomplish them? Darin congratulated me on my 5k trail PR. And he really meant it. Darin - and Darcie, too - are amazing examples for me. Not only is there Darin, who sets his mind to something and accomplishes it through incredible hard work, but there's Darcie, who supports Darin at every race and knows that if they aren't both committed to the path they're on, neither of them will succeed. Both of these amazing people encourage and build up, rather than tear down. They know that things that seemed impossible just moments ago can become a reality with hard work and support from the people who love you. Motherhood is like that, too, and it's important to remember to build up, rather than tear down, when I'm with my girls.

Be brave. Sometimes, when I'm running the trails, I find myself confronted with a steep incline or a creek crossing or maybe even a killer muddy stretch. Or I decide to run a race at night with a headlamp for light. Or I decide, after running for only a few months, that a trail 1/2 marathon is something I want to accomplish. It's never easy to face something that is intimidating, and there's not much more intimidating than motherhood. I have to be brave. Take a chance. Try something that is hard or scary. See how it turns out. Sometimes I'll get muddy. I might fall down. And I might find out that I'm stronger than I thought and ready to take on the next challenge.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Why Couldn't She Play An Indoor Sport?

Miss N's softball team played in another tourney this weekend. Last weekend, we melted into smushy, gross puddles in 90+ degree heat. This weekend, we huddled under blankets and froze while the wind whistled around our bright red ears. I do not exaggerate - I was wearing a tshirt, two sweatshirts and a pullover, while snuggling under TWO blankets and throwing an occasional kid on my lap for warmth and I was STILL cold.

Despite the frostbite, we had a heck of a good time. The girls took 2nd in the tourney and Coach informed us that, as of last night, they were ranked #5 in the entire state in their division. That's pretty darn impressive for a group of 12 year old girls from four different schools who had never played together until October of last year. And the goofy little things seem to be having fun. Of course, all of the hardware they are hauling home might help maintain that positive attitude.


As a bonus, I got up bright and early on Saturday morning to sneak in a 5k on my favorite trails with some of my favorite people. My coworker and I made a deal - she would win the race and I would not come in last. As it turns out, we both upheld our ends of that bargain. :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Girl In Translation Review Is Up At BlogHer

My fellow adoptive parents will want to read this one... Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. The storyline doesn't deal with adoption, but does address the issues of straddling the line between cultures. Check out my review at BlogHer!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Where Do Babies Come From?

In particular, the question that drives me nuts involves this particular baby... who is now 4... and already telling everyone that after Christmas, she will be 5.

Miss P with her favorite teacher.

Complete strangers come up to me and ask if she's Chinese. I swear, people seem that think that China is the only place adopted children come from. It drives me buggy. Sometimes, I give them the nice, polite answer. Sometimes, I just say, "No." I know it's a silly thing to be irritated about, but honestly, people!

On a somewhat related - but funnier - note, one of N's softball teammates came up to me this weekend and said, "You adopted." Rather surprised at the conversational turn, I said, "Yep." And N's teammate said, "I figured. Because she (pointing at P) looks nothing like you or him (pointing at the husband)." And then she walked off to join the other softball players. I had to laugh - nothing like a 12 year old girl to get right to the heart of the matter. :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

And Here I Am Again

Let's see... the blog has suffered lately due to
  • two enewsletters and a magazine going to press at work
  • A and P's last soccer game
  • A's first tball practice
  • N's softball tourney in Kansas City (3rd place!)
  • Mother's Day
  • A's birthday
  • the release of the new Sookie Stackhouse book

Now I'm sort of back. I have one more magazine going to press tomorrow, but after that I should have two weeks of planning time. (Can I get a 'whoo hoo'???) Soccer is over, now to be replaced with tball, but that's just once a week and for one kid. I can deal. Ummm... softball. Well, there's another tourney this weekend, but after that we have three weekends off so I can deal with that, too. Mother's Day was a great success, as we combined it with A's 7th birthday and spent some time at the Great Wolf Lodge. There's nothing like sliding down a tube in a huge floaty-thing while screaming at the top of your lungs to say, "Hey mom, I love you!"


I'm still reading the new Sookie. And anticipating a nasty storm in two days. I'll try to update the blog again tomorrow, just in case Kansas is wiped off the map on Wednesday. Gotta love tornado season.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Spirit Is Willing But The Mind Is Weak

I need to be 'on' for one more week. Heck, I think three solid days would do it. I have one more magazine to get to press and one more ENews that needs to be sent. It's really not that much work... the hard stuff is done. And once I get through the last round of edits, one short article rewrite and a some other little details, I'll have a couple of weeks of planning for the next burst of activity AND a jaunt to Orlando to look forward to.

Unfortunately, it's been rather clear for the last two days that my brain has already left the building. This is officially Not Good, and yet the best I can muster is a blog post about my lack of motivation. Guess I'll channel me some Scarlett and just say that tomorrow is another day.

I certainly hope it's more productive than this one!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Legs Are Working Again

On Sunday, I ran a 1/2 marathon. I'm pleased to report that upon waking this morning, my legs were functional! The emotional high from reaching the finish line lasts exactly as long as it takes for your legs muscles to tighten. :)

My sister, her sister-in-law, her coworker and I were among almost 10,000 runners who took off for a leisurely tour of Lincoln, Nebraska's neighborhoods. I'm more of a runner/walker myself, and finished with a time of 3:13:22 - 4 minutes faster than last year! Yes, I know there are some people who would snicker (or guffaw) at my pace, but I don't hear them. I'm too busy admiring the shiny medal I received when I crossed that finish line!

This was my third 1/2 marathon. I've got another on the calendar for fall, but first up is a 5k trail run in a couple of weeks. It's a good thing my legs are speaking to me again.

Photo courtesy of my crappy Blackberry camera :)