Wednesday, August 18, 2010

signing off, for now...

In an ironic twist, I have decided that for number 29 on my 30 before 30 list, one activity I am going to give up is blogging. It has become one of those things that I feel I have to force, and feel guilty when I don't do it, even though I know that nobody else really even cares that much! Basically, it's causing me unnecessary stress and just another thing to think about when my mind is already pretty full. It was a great way to share renovations on the house but when it comes to the mundane details of my life, I am choosing to bore you with them via email, phone, or face to face communication instead.

A little unfinished business before the over and out -

I promise I'm really going to pay it forward! Tera received her little surprise this weekend, and C & G - yours will be on their way soon!

And in 30 by 30 news -
8. I have remembered lots of birthdays!
12. I weatherized the patio furniture!
14. I have definitely been more conservative in my sharing lately, especially at work. I am getting a promotion soon and adding a position to my office along with more services, and it has been difficult not to talk about it before I've been able to. But I've held back!
18. I have made progress on the window picture frame display...just need some more vertical photos of the fam to fill it up before it can be hung.
22. I'm going to the beach this weekend!

That's about it for now - thanks for checking in with me here and hopefully I'll talk to you all with real words soon!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

pay it forward

Update: I'll pull names on Monday. Happy 4th!

The lovely Ms. L featured a kind-hearted pay it forward post on her blog recently, and I was a winner! This is such a fun idea and a great way to keep in touch with friends, and it fits nicely with #23 of my 30 before 30 list. I gave a gift in May, and since June is quickly coming to a close I'm going to use this opportunity to sneak this month's gift in.

Here are the rules:
1. You must comment on this post. Tell me about the last thing that really lit up your face with a smile!
2. If you are a winner, I ask that you pay-it-forward however you'd like, in-person, online, in writing, whatever...just commit to doing something nice for three people in the spirit of paying-it-forward. No pay, no play!
3. If selected to pay-it-forward, you must either see me on a regular basis or trust me enough to send me your address (I'll ask for it later).

I will randomly select three recipients on Friday and surprise you with something fun chosen or made just for you. I'm looking forward to receiving your comments so I can see who's been sticking around here lately! Please don't be shy!

To tie things up, I did a google search of "pay it forward." Of course wikipedia showed up on the top of the list, and I was sort of saddened to find some of the things the wiki-masters actually think people need to be taught. Check it out:

Related wikiHows
How to Practice Random Acts of Kindness
How to Thank Someone
How to Be Nice to People
How to Be a Good Person

So, let's make an effort to use what we already (hopefully!) know and make someone's day a little brighter today!

Monday, June 28, 2010

it's about time

Mom and Dave gave us some dough for Christmas to use on something for the house. We had been looking for something to give the kitchen a little character since it is all brand new. We visited Housewerks, a unique sort of antique store in SW Baltimore that sells items and architectural elements salvaged from old buildings around the city. It was early January and I remember it was a freezing of those where I literally run from the warm car to the inside of wherever I'm going. There was a crackling fire inside Housewerks so we were glad to get in there!

We found a double-sided schoolhouse clock that had been taken out of a Catholic school in Baltimore that was being knocked down. The shop owner cleaned it up for us and assured us that it was in working condition so we decided to give it a try. As with many house projects, we learned once we got it home that it was going to be a little more complicated than we thought!

So, we decided to wait until we could get some expert help to install it. Six months later, Terry (electrician father-in-law extraordinaire) and Margie came for a quick visit and the men got to work while I napped (post-tri, gimme a break) and Margie did some high speed sudoku solving.

They did really well with a tough hard-wiring, stud-sitting hang job. Here they are admiring their handy work.
The only tiny glitch is that the motor of the clock is audible. It's not too loud, but you can definitely hear it if the house is quiet. Kyle reminded me that I did want nostalgia... I think I'll get used to it and hope that maybe one day my children or grandchildren (the clock will travel to future houses) will remember it like my sis remembered our grandparents' clock on her recent blog post.

For now, time's a-wastin'...gotta get to bed!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

wipe out

As part of my training to complete #7 on my 30 before 30 list (7. Complete a half ironman) and in training for my 2nd sprint tri coming up this weekend, I have been riding every Wednesday evening with a couple girlfriends. To take advantage of the longest Wednesday of the year yesterday, I proposed we take our longest ride yet together and tackle 30 miles after work. It turned out to be a momentous ride.

Grace and I set out around 5:30 in temperatures of about 90 degrees and full sun. The first road we take can be a little busy with traffic, and for some reason yesterday was a lot worse than usual. We had to wait in a long line of cars, none of whose drivers would make room for us to pass on the already slim shoulder, just to learn that the only hold up seemed to be the 4-way intersection.

We stopped at a tiny country gas station since I hadn't made time to stop for water on the way to our meet-up point. I had my debit card with me and brought my gatorade to the counter but learned they had a $5 minimum for cards. So I added some water and twizzlers (the closest thing I could find to energy food) and we went on our way again.

The next 15 miles or so were pretty uneventful and we covered some good, new to us roads with gorgeous rolling farmland views, little traffic, and beautiful early summer Crape Myrtles. Unfortunately, one of the new to us roads was a downhill, rocky dirt road, so we decided to get off and walk our bikes down it.
A few more good hills back on the smooth road, and we were back on track with our familiar nearing-the-end-of-the-ride landmarks in sight. With about two miles to go we were feeling good and speeding along and came upon the last 4-way stop intersection. I had stopped for cars and by the time Grace whizzed up it was clear so she went ahead and I lifted my right foot to clip in and get moving. I lost my balance though and just toppled right over to the left, with my left foot clipped in and unable to catch me.

It was more embarrassing than painful - one of those rookie mistakes that a seasoned road cyclist would laugh at. Fortunately the only witnesses were Grace, who is just as much a rookie as I am, and a fat dude on a motorcycle. I got up and tried to start going again, but quickly realized that the bike took more of a hit than I did. The left (front) brake got all out of line with the handlebar and even if it was functional, I couldn't reach it properly. Knowing there were a few downhills ahead I didn't feel comfortable proceeding with out it, plus I was starting to feel really lightheaded and nauseous and was having trouble breathing normally- probably a little panicky and a lot overheated.

This is a straight-on view - note the crooked brake on the right!

Thankfully we were only about two miles from the cars, so I took a seat and Grace went on to get the car and retrieve me. I started to feel better and then really perked up when I remembered what was in the pocket of my jersey...twizzlers! I chowed down on those babies and felt a lot better.

I've got a nice bruise on my thigh complete with a very clear ring-like imprint of the end of my handlebar which must have hit my leg head-on on its way to the ground. The bike will be heading to the shop tonight with high hopes that it will be fixed in time for Sunday's race. I'm glad I bought the extended warranty!

A blessing in disguise...this will probably help me get closer to acheiving #21 on the 30 before 30 list...21. Learn basic bike maintenance and take good care of my bike!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

suggestions, please!

T-Bag and CoCo - I'm mainly looking to you guys for help with this one...

I'm running either a full or half marathon this Sunday (I'll decide at mile 11 where the courses split if it's too hot!) and I know it's going to be tough either way. The forecast is calling for high 80s and humid. Fortunately it's on a rail trail so it will be flat and shady, but still, it's probably going to suck. It's also a tiny race so there will be few fans.
It's called the 1/2 sauer 1/2 kraut marathon...held by the husband of a german pastry chef! There will be runners in lederhosen and an accordion player.

So, I will need some good musical motivation. You guys know I'm a classical nerd, and while I love popular music too, my tastes usually run more on the alternative/indie/singer-songwriter side, which isn't the best running music. I need some songs to add to the ipod today that will really keep me going!
Thinking of eating this at the end won't exactly be the best motivation
Please comment with your hip-hop/rap/generally awesome suggestions. And any of you lurkers with Ke$ha/Usher/ (are they even cool? I have no idea, I just wanted to use a dollar sign in soemone's name) taste, please chime in too!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I have successfully learned to change a diaper. I don't think I can say yet that I've mastered it, but I've had recent practice on a 2-month old and a couple of 2-year olds.

We spent last weekend as stand-in parents for our three adorable nieces, pictured below with Uncle Kyle: Lauren, Kate and Jenna.

Kate is almost 5 so of course she is in full-on panty mode. Lauren is almost there, but Jenna's still rockin' the diapers. So between putting them to bed, frequent costume changes, swimmy diapers, and drinking lots of water to stay cool, there were also many diapers.
very pleased with themselves to be getting Uncle K wet

Jenna on the swing

Lauren, or "Oro" as her sister calls her

I've also been getting some practice on the homefront from our neighbors and friends across the street, who had the cutest baby born in 2010 just two months ago. Kim read my list and promptly offered up Bianca's dirty diapers for me to learn on - thanks, Kim! :-) Here we are together after a nice full one.
See - I told you she is cute!

Changing diapers wasn't as bad as I expected. I left the real challenge to Kyle...emptying the diaper genie! When it's finally our turn to have little ones, I think we will be putting gas masks on the registry to deal with that job!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


They say bad things come in threes, right?

1. Monday. 11 AM. Checked bank account online. Checking account includes:
5/24/2010 Austin Grill $27.10
5/24/2010 Weber's Cider Mill $31.03
5/24/2010 $500.00
5/24/2010 $500.00
5/24/2010 Parkville Library $12.00

Yes, I know that's a big overdue fine, but let's back up to What?!
Investigated charges. 800 number provided by classy-sounding website bad. Left work early to get to credit union before it closed at 4. Got new debit card, submitted fraud claim.
Bank refunded $1000 by 11 PM that night. refunded $1000 on Tuesday.
Hoping we get to keep both $1000s.

2. Wednesday. 7:45 AM. Driving to work through the ghett-o.

New person to add to hitlist: Mohammad R. (along with Eric R. and Christopher C., others with whom I've had accidents)
Mohammad tried to go straight in a right-turn only lane and hit my rear passenger side. Minimal damage, no injuries. Got to stand in the sun and hang out with the homies from the neighborhood.

Have to leave work early tomorrow to bring my car to the Progressive service center in Glen Burnie.
Hell yeah. Watch this It's awesome and worth your time.

3. ??? I'm following my Papa's advice and watching my back!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

30 before 30

My first year of forever 29 has begun. My birthday was great - it began with a bomf run accompanied by Tera & Brett, then included not working, shopping and exploring some lesser-known (to me) neighborhoods, eating an indulgent lunch, and ended at my step-brother and his wife-to-be's rehearsal dinner with my family. I wouldn't have changed much about it! Well, except maybe chocolate cake instead of red velvet.

So now I've been 29 for a week and have been thinking about what I want to accomplish this year. The older I get, the more I've learned that I need specific goals to stay motivated. So, I've borrowed the idea of some other ladies and created a list of 30 things to do before I turn 30. I'll try to keep you updated on my progress (but keeping you updated will not be one of my 30 things). Here goes...

1. Really qualify for Boston
2. Organize and play in a benefit chamber music recital

3. Plant a vegetable garden, peonies and hydrangeas
4. Spend a weekend with my h.s. girls
5. Take more pictures and actually smile nicely in them
6. Consolidate our retirement savings plans
7. Complete a half ironman
8. Remember and recognize birthdays and anniversaries of family and close friends
9. Read the Bible (yup, the whole thing)
10. Go on at least one 3-night backpacking trip
11. Renew and use our passports (just got invited to a wedding in Ireland!)
12. Weatherize our patio furniture
13. Organize our cd collection - get rid of cases and storage binders
14. Consider saying certain things one more time before I open my big mouth
15. Keep two weeknights/week free whenever possible
16. Create our wedding album
17. Plan a surprise get-away for me and Kyle
18. Hang my old window frame picture display
19. Get back in touch with one friend each month
20. Forgive faster
21. Learn basic bike maintenance and take good care of my bike
22. Go to the beach
23. Give one surprise, non-birthday gift a month (May - done)
24. Question more

25. Eat vegetarian a couple times a week
26. Learn to change a diaper
27. Finish planning our Patagonia trip
28. Decide what my go-to cocktail should be
29. Eliminate one time-consuming activity from my life (I cut back on my back on my feet days to just Friday. I'd still like to eliminate one entire activity, but this is a big step for me and a good start)
30. Have the wingback chair and piano bench cushion recovered

Here's to my final year in the 20s! Yikes!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

badges of honor

I made it through Boston! It wasn't pretty at times, like forthe 40 or so minutes it took me to get from mile 17 to mile 21, but overall I felt good about my performance. I definitely lacked control at the beginning and started out too fast, then paid for it through the Newton hills, but I was able to pick up the pace a little bit again for the las five miles and gut it out to the finish. I ended up 33 seconds over re-qualifying for next year which is a bummer, but I'm trying to use it as motivation to keep training hard for the fall!

Lots of people have been congratulatory and I've been very appreciative. It's easy, though, to get caught up in my disappointment with not quite reaching my goal and to discount my accomplishment. I hate to do that because I do know that it's a pretty big deal that I've come this far since my first 4:30 marathon 5 years ago! So, here are few badges of honor to celebrate my first Boston Marathon.

First, a medal that my sister brought me after the race. It's an antique - the Women's Voluntary Service Medal in it's original case. There's a seal of the Royal Mint inside. Must be from England. On one side of the medal is a sort of monogram of WVS, and on the reverse are the words Service Beyond Self. This reminds me of all the mornings I've spent doing easy miles with the back on my feet crew instead of a "real" workout - but usually I get way more out of those easy miles, mentally, than I would from a tougher workout. The friends I've made there were a big inspiration during the race.

Next, the medal from the marathon! It's way classier than most marathon and half marathon medals given out. It's simple and very nice quality - pewter! Usually they feel like you could bend them if you tried hard enough - not this one.

And finally, the REAL badge of honor...two black toenails! Well, more like red and purple. I think the downhills did them in.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

are you kidding.

Today's installment of unbelieveable: THE DOUBLE DOWN from KFC.

Have you seen the commercials for this? It looks even more disgusting in grilled version. Somehow they managed to keep the calorie counts pretty reasonable (which makes me doubt its existence as actual food) but the fat and calories are outta control.

Sandwich Calories Fat (g) Sodium (mg)
KFC Original Recipe® Double Down 540 32 1380
KFC Grilled Double Down 460 23 1430

Here's a picture of the real deal taken by some brave eater.
Maybe I'll rant soon about my opinions of food in America, but for now I leave you to digest this. Haha, pun intended.

Also, check out this link for a much more in-depth description of the DD:,32804/

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ready to Run

After six years of long runs, intervals, races, reading about running, talking about running, recovery runs, cross-training, volunteering, hoping and praying, I'm finally headed to the Mecca of running...the Boston Marathon!
To many runners, "Boston" means the marathon, not the city, and it's every runner's dream to get there. I am especially fortunate to be going this year. Even though I missed my qualifying time by a lousy 4 seconds (how many times do you think I've replayed those last few miles in my head?!), the B.A.A. gave me their blessing just in the nick of time. This is only the second year the marathon has filled to capacity, which was reached in November...way earlier than in February last year. So many of my well-deserving friends were left out, and I'm on a mission to prove to myself that I deserve to be there and re-qualify for 2011!

I've been thinking a lot about which mantra(s) I will use to achieve my goals in the race.

When I ran Outer Banks this fall, I had just finished Born to Run, which features a mantra "easy, light, smooth, fast." I kept that one in mind and it helped me to focus on keeing my shoulders relaxed, my steps light, and my cadence steady as I repeated it with every four steps.

I read somewhere that a marathon should be split into three sections: mind, legs, and heart. This jives with the way I've looked at marathons: a 10 mile warm-up, a half marathon, and a 5K race. This outlook makes extra-good sense in Boston since the first downhill stretch will be all about disciplining myself not to start out too fast, the middle miles will need to be kept fast and strong, and the final third will be all about guts and heart to make it up the hills and stay strong through the finish. The heart portion especially hits home with me since I know I should have drawn on a little more of it to get those last four seconds at OBX.

The hills will require a mantra all their own, and I often think of one from my high school cross country coach when doing hill work. "Light and little", April would call out about our steps up the hills. She coached us to lean forward, keep our elbows back, and focus on our shadown in front of us while tackling them, all the while keeping our steps short and easy.

I often think of a mantra my sister shared with me a while back which applies to running and life - "It's only temporary." Whatever pain or hardship you're experiencing, it's helpful to remind yourself that (most likely!) it's only temporary. This one definitely helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel when the going gets tough in a race.

Finally, there's a passage in the Bible that resonates with me especially during races - Philippians 4:13 reads "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This is a reminder that it is not ME who has control over the race, but God - who gave me this body and the determination to train, who will give us whatever weather He wishes to challenge us with that day, and from whom I will gather my strength on Marathon Monday morning! I often choose one thing to pray about for each mile during a run or race. Normally the first few focus on my own body and spirit, then they open up to other runners and friends and family. If you have a prayer request for one of my miles, please let me know!

If you're a runner or athlete, what mantra(s) do you use to motivate yourself? Even if you're not, are there any mantras you use to get through life in general? I'd love to hear them and may borrow them for the big day!

Friday, March 19, 2010

breakfast on the go

Kyle and I have early and rushed weekday mornings, and we need to take advantage of every extra minute possible to sleep. But we also need enough energy to get through our early morning pursuits (mine - running, his - getting reemed out) without breaking the bank. We used to turn to Clif and Luna bars, but after spending $10+/week on those I switched to generic nutri grain-ish bars. Those were way too sugary and unnatural though, and at only about 100 calories a pop, didn't provide quite enough fuel for early 6-10 milers. So, in the interests of saving money and eating more healthfully, I offer you my two favorite grab & go breakfast recipes.

Banana Flaxseed Muffins

Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

1/3 cup vegetable oil (canola also works and is a tad healthier)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt (vanilla's good too)
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup rolled oats, ground into flour (I don't grind them)
1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I use half soy flour for extra protein)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan.

In a mixing bowl, combine the oil and brown sugar. Add the eggs and beat well. Mix in the yogurt and bananas. In a separate bowl or a blender, combine the three flours, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the banana mixture and stir just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a rack to cool for 10 minutes.

Thick, Chewy Granola Bars
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (use more for a sweetness akin to most purchased bars; use less for a mildly sweet bar)
1/3 cup oat flour (grind whole oats in a blender or food processor to make your own) 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts*

1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)

Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.

Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)

Once cool, a serrated knife to cut the bars into squares. If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

*Suggestions: Dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, chopped pecans or walunts, sunflower seeds, coconut, raisins, pepitas, dried apples, ground flaxseed, or even mini chocolate or white chocolate chips.

YUM!!! Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Friday, March 12, 2010

S.P. inspiration

Finally, I've found a real image of the one that's been in my head for the lovingly named Service Porch room - really our third bedroom that moonlights as a family room so we can have a more formal living room. My sis made fun of me for using the term family room, so we settled on calling it the Service Porch, harkening back to our days of rushing home after sports practices to catch the Brady Bunch on TBS at 4:35. Anyhow, here it is.

Here are the elements that we've already got:
- grayish walls (ours are a bit darker and more on the slate/blue side of gray)
- classic styled couch in a neutral color - it's a tan canvas sleeper sofa from Jennifer Convertibles
- blue & white striped cotton rug - from WS Home. We've managed to keep it fairly clean and I actually don't mind the few little stains that have popped up. Couldn't believe we got through the aforementioned Focker Fest without any more serious ones.
- well-worn wood desk, used by my step-dad's late father for many years in his law practice. I'd say it's closest to mission style, but definitely has a touch of old-school office feel to it.
- guitar resting out of the case
- hot guy in jeans
- we also have a pretty neat old typewriter (I'm guessing from the 30's) that I picked up from a garage sale I stopped at while on a long and hilly bike ride this fall. I used my mad old man flirting skills to get it for $5.
- finally, we have a tall military green and old filing cabinet snagged when it was being discarded from one of the Baltimore City schools. That was one good outcome of Kyle's bad job experience.

And we still need:
- another seating option. We do have a neat chippy old stool which migrates around the house as well as a cool leather-sling kind of stool that serves as the desk chair. But I love that wire chair and think it or something similar would be a perfect option because even though it's not tiny, it's so airy that I don't think it would overwhelm the small space. Plus, it will be sitting in front of a closet door which we rarely open, but when we must, it wouldn't be hard to move.
- I'd like to consider repainting/re-finishing (hmmm...which is the correct way to write those words? dash or no dash?) the tv stand that Kyle and his cousin made for us. I painted it white and it looks too new and fresh for the room now. I may consider a color like the one on the shelves in the left side of this room.
- industrial inspired lamp. I've got one in there now that I love, but it's too big for where it sits on the desk now, and just not the right style.
- new ceiling light fixture. We've been replacing a few around the house with ones from and may opt for another one of those. I also came across a blogger who made and gave instructions to make the fixture below, but I'm not completely sold on it yet. What do you think? (are you still reading??)

I think I might visit some antique shops tomorrow instead of doing my 22-miler in the rain, so I'll post some pictures early next week of the room today, and after the weekend if I was successful at finding anything. And don't worry, I'll get those miles in on Sunday instead.

Monday, March 8, 2010

two awesome things

1. this video

2. the fact that I figured out how to get it to show up on this blog.

Friday, March 5, 2010

bad news/good news

Which do you pick when someone asks which news you want to hear first? I'm going first with the bad here...

Soon, we won't have access to some hilarious and unbelievable emails that circulate around Kyle's current place of employment. I share this one with you today. Again, names have been changed to protect the innocent (or not so innocent).

Subject: Morning Roll Call

Starting Tuesday, March 2, 2010, and every work day thereafter I will conduct morning "ROLL CALL", at 7:30 am. Please email me and copy the Director your whereabouts at present, and your following location sites, expected times of arrival/departure, including scheduled visitations.
Thanks, Kyle's boss

What? You can't believe anyone actually gets treated like that at work? You need one more email just to prove it to you? Well, ok, you convinced me:

Ms. You Need To Find A New Job Stat, (again, names have been changed)
I spent part of my meeting today discussing keeping the original people on the email. Apparently you were napping during that discussion. This is why I had you sitting in the front. Future meetings you are to sit in front.
Secondly, I do not care who was to do what. What is troubling is that TODAY the task has not been completed. As the manager you are totally responsible. Your email should have been sent to me last week. I should not have heard through Homer Simpson. This lack of paying attention to details will not be tolerated.
Kyle's boss' boss

Whoa. Raise your hand if you would have cried/quit/spouted profanities upon receiving an email like that, with 5 other people copied, to make matters worse!

Anyway, you get the point that Kyle is not in a happy place at his current job. Sooooo the good news (which is quite out of proportion with the bad) is.....

he has a new job! Hooray! Praise God, bow to Allah, appreciate good karma or thank your lucky stars; it's a great day! He'll start on a yet to be determined date at this company:, which provides energy audits to homeowners and business and advises them on how to improve their energy efficiency. Kyle will be the one to lead the installation of whichever products/services they choose to buy to accomplish the energy savings. They are a subsidiary of a really cool commercial builder in Baltimore so even though they're new, they have a strong foundation under them. They are so new, in fact, that they weren't ready to hire for his position yet, but when they met him through his networking efforts, they didn't want to pass him up! So, we're hoping business picks up quickly and they'll need him soon. They have a great vision and growth plan and are going to provide Kyle with a lot of training, so it looks promising that he'll be able to be there for a long time, which is exactly what he was looking for.

On a totally different subject, I need to start doing some posts with pictures. Sorry about that. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

mug shot

One of my Back on My Feet girlfriends was telling me recently that she had been talking with one of the residential members one-on-one and learned just how candid they seem to be about the appearances of us female volunteers. Keep in mind that they live in a shelter with about 100 other guys, and many of them spend almost all of their time there, so they don't exactly have that much contact with women. Anyway, our buddy Keith told Shelley that she looks a LOT better in her normal clothes than she does in the morning while running, going so far to actually say that she looks "really bad" in her running gear! Lovingly, of course. :-)

I had a similar experience yesterday that was quite funny. Some background...we have monthly social events with the guys, anything from beach volleyball to pre-race potlucks and in this month's case, taking in a the Loyola-UNH basketball game. It was the first social event for a newer member, Chris, who has only been running with us since the cold weather set in. I always wear a fleece hat (like a touque, not a baseball cap) when running in the winter, so it was the first time he'd seen me with my normal hair-do. We didn't really talk much at the game because we were sitting in different sections.

Well yesterday morning when we were stretching in our circle after the run, he said to me "was that you with the curly hair and glasses at the basketball game?" I confirmed that it was, and he went on to gush about what a "beautiful head of hair" I have. Very complimentary at first and I accepted appreciatively, and then he went on to say, "I mean, in the mornings here you look like you're in a mug shot!".

Thanks for the warning, Shelley, now I see what you mean! And you're almost there Chris...just need a little polishing before you're ready to re-enter the real world. We'll help you get there. :-) He is probably right though...see the picture below for the telltale evidence - I'm muggin' it up front and center on a recent coooold morning. And Mom, thanks again for the jacket; it's been a lifesaver this winter!

Monday, March 1, 2010

a good day

Sorry, Saturday - your place in my heart has been stolen by Sunday. I still love your long runs in the morning, and your occasional evening out, but you've got nothing on Sunday anymore. Now that I have a job which very rarely activates the Sunday blues, I love the (relatively) late mornings in bed, the chance to enjoy a cup of coffee with Kyle, an uplifting church service, and lazy afternoons.

This Sunday was missing a few of those elements, but it was a good one nonetheless. I was up at 6 to head to a 7:30 race just south of Baltimore, the first test of my arduous winter training season. It was a hilly 10 miler and I was shooting for 8 minute miles, and I felt a little intimidated by the women in their fancy arm warmers, discussing their anticipated 7:40 pace.

Well, it turns out that I showed them, finishing up in a very surprising 1:13:14 - 7:19 pace. I knew after the first 6:45 mile that I had to either drop back or commit, and opted to see if I was up for the challenge. My last couple of miles were around 7:30 so I slowed down a little, but was really thrilled overall. Take that, arm warmer ladies!

I carpooled down with my buddy Dan, a social worker therapist at Hopkins a little younger than our parents, with whom I volunteer for Back on My Feet. I told him I'd drive him if he let me pick his brain about counseling for part of the 30 minute ride. He was extremely receptive and helpful, already trying to figure out how he could help me land an internship that's more than 2 years away. We decided to establish a casual mentorship and I'm really excited to call on his experience and local connections as I finish up the second half of my master's. (Is that proper use of the apostrophe? I never know in this case! Please tell me if it's wrong...using those incorrectly feels to me like having something stuck in my teeth or my zipper down and nobody telling me!)

We hosted "Focker Fest" for Kyle's roller hockey team, the Fockers (as an mother-in-law asked if she could get a Fockers jersey and wanted it personalized. Kyle told her ok, but it would have to read Mother Focker). It was a tightly-packed service porch (family room for those of you who missed that post) for the vieweing of the heartbreaking US-Canada gold medal hockey game. I enjoyed witnessing the differences between girls' and guys' get-togethers:

- girls wait until the food is served to indulge, and even then usually have to be prodded to serve themselves; guys dig in before you've even got it on the serving platter

- guys burp, belch and fart at will, without exclusing themselves (occasionally congratulating each other on "a good one"); girls never burp, belch or fart - everyone knows that. ;-)

- girls offer to help the hostess clean up; guys retreat to the basement to check out the host's stuff, and make more of a mess when they track the dirt back upstairs.

It was a great time though, and I felt fully justified in partaking in the wings, ribs, pizza and beer due to my earlier run.

Almost done... it was an excellent day because of the anticipation of good things to come this week for Kyle. He has two companies vying to gain him as a new employee, and either would be a good long-term career move. He'll get the second official offer tomorrow afternoon so we're praying it's a good one and the decision will be easy!

Ok, finally...the 8:30 bedtime. aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.

Friday, February 26, 2010

are you kidding.

Many bloggers have charming little "series" in their blogs. A few I've come across include: Frou Frou Fashionista Fridays, Look & Learn, Freebie Fridays. I have decided to jump on the series bandwagon, with: are you kidding.

It will probably happen often on Fridays because by then I am so fed up with life at the office that I have to vent, but who knows, you may get a surprise every now and then.

For today's installment: are you kidding. Do not walk into my office and place something on my chair when there is a perfectly good mailbox with many sections to choose from hanging right outside my door. Why are people lazy enough to circle for hours around the wal*mart parking lot so they can get one spot closer, but then manage to muster up the energy to take those extra 10 steps in and out of my office?

Can't wait to shut this door behind me at 4:30 today.

Friday, February 5, 2010

red sky in the morning, sailors take warning...

My "merry band" of running buddies, as we like to call ourselves, noticed the red sky this morning and recalled this old weather warning: red sky at night, sailors delight, red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. Now the forecast is set for up to 34 inches of snow and high winds. We cancelled our weekend trip, but T&B will visit us here next weekend instead.

Back to the run. I am so fortunate to have a few different running groups, so I never have to run alone and rarely have to resign myself to the treadmill in the stinky stale air of the gym. Fresh air is where it's at, yo! You'd be surprised at just how many people are willing to get up before 5 to run, and actually relish it. I place myself squarely in this group - even though it is sometimes torturous to pull myself away from my cozy bed and cuddly hubby at 4:45, I have very rarely regretted it (no offense, Kyle!).

My Tuesday/Thursday group is a sub-group of a large Baltimore running club, the Baltimore Pacemakers. The Pacemakers do long runs together on Saturday mornings (at a more sane 7 AM), and track workouts on Wednesday mornings. This little group of us that convenes on Tuesday and Thursday includes 8 or 10 folks who run about the same pace and just prefer the company of others to the solitude that some crave while running. We range in age from 28 (ahem, I am proud to be the youngster) up to 60ish, men and women, several Ph.D.s, an M.D., a professor, an architect, one of my fundraising colleagues, a lawyer, a Washington Post editor, a published author, and a professional mom. In a normal setting I would probably be slightly intimidated by a group like this, but on the road before dawn, we're all just runners. Albeit, runners with very enlightened conversations through labored breaths.

Sorry, I tend to get wordy when it comes to running. I like it! What I meant to write about was what we experienced this morning, mostly before dawn and all before 8 AM. We started early to get 15 miles in before the storm hits. Several of these folks are heading to Beantown with me, and all have one spring marathon or another planned, so missing our long run isn't really an option.

On the first leg of the run I had an inspiring strategy conversation with my colleague about the shape that my program is taking and it's potential for the future. So much better to talk about that stuff outside of the flourescent lights of the office. We headed to Druid Hill Park, a place that has a bad rap in Baltimore as it's on the brink of a sketchy hood, but is really a hidden jewel full of challenging hills and a freshly paved 1.5 mile track around the lake. We encountered a contingent of Hopkins ROTC members, decked out in camo, combat boots, and huge packs, and exchanged cheers for one another as we passed. Which led to a shared book review on Jon Krakauer's "Where Men Win Glory" which I'm almost done listening to in the car. We saw the ducks gathering around the line between ice and water in the lake, wondering if they know the storm is coming? They probably have a better idea of what's going to happen than we do. We watched the sun rise over the city and noted the red sky and clouds. We talked about the crazies we encountered at the grocery store last night and what we all plan to cook up this weekend as we're snowbound. There was no mention of the Super Bowl, but one of the group who had recently hosted a party at her house for the Packemakers did share an interesting insight from her teenaged daughter: Mom, when you guys are running you never talk about running, but when you're not running that's all you talk about! So true.

I pulled away from the group a little bit at the end because the water breaks were becoming more frequent and I just wanted to finish. As they came in, a few told me how strong I was looking and we all shared a "great run, guys" and many thanks before heading our separate ways - to the lab, the hospital, the courthouse, the office, wherever. Even though I'm sitting here sore and tired now, I already can't wait for Tuesday morning. And for that matter, Monday morning, when I run with my team at the homeless shelter - there, though very few have jobs or homes, but similarly, you don't notice the differences out on the road. But more about that next week.

What was the best thing that happened to you between 5 and 8 this morning?

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I listen to the radio throughout the day at work and between that and checking, am hearing and reading some pretty amusing and panic-inducing (for others, not this noco native) terms describing the impending storm. I will document them here as the day progresses. Should you hear any good ones, leave a comment and I'll add them to the list for all to enjoy. Let it snow!

how balti-morons clean up snow
9:04: paralyzing

9:07: high-impact

11:22: Here's a picture to make Dave swoon:

1:51: Disruptive Snowfall, Potenially Paralyzing

1:21 on 2/5: the snow has begun! Here's what I just found on the NOAA website...maybe I shouldn't be kidding around!


Fine, I'll stay inside and drink hot cocoa with my hubs. :-)

check ya later, city

The next two days can not go fast enough - I am so excited for our weekend trip! We'll leave mid-afternoon on Friday to drive 6 or 7 hours southwest, hopefully in the opposite direction of the impending snowstorm, to meet up with Tera and Brett in Damascus, VA. It's just about as close as we could get to halfway between Atlanta and Baltimore.
buh bye, balto (yes, people call it that - weird)

Tera found a cute little bungalow to rent for very few U.S. dollars (as Kyle commonly refers to what most of us usually call money) and we're going to do some hiking, seek out some live bluegrass and small town food, and officially start planning our big trip for the fall.

hello, bungalow
What big trip, you ask? We'll be heading waaaaaay south in probably October or November, to check out Patagonia and the Andes. We'll likely try to stay mostly in either Chile or Argentina, yet to be determined. We'll definitely be checking out these craggy beauts, do lots of hiking, hopefully some rafting and mountain biking, and maybe even ice climbing on glaciers ridiculously close to Antarctica.

So yeah, it's time to get down to planning and training. We want to be in great shape so we can enjoy our adventure to the fullest, and of course, we have to break in our gear so we don't look like the inexperienced city dwellers who stopped at REI on their way to the airport. For now, we'll start here.

the mountains of Virginia

And we should make it home in time for the Super Bowl. Phew! You know I didn't want to miss that. ;-) Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

good management "NOW".

Ah, Mondays. I thought mine was going less than swimmingly until my husband forwarded me this correspondence from his oh so tactful (and well-written!) supervisor. If you think you are fed up with your job/boss, read this and you'll be thankful for what you've got. It is verbatim, except the names have been altered slightly so when poor Laron Washingtan, who is already embarrassed for being singled out by the delinquent boss, googles himself he won't find this.

Please let's not adopt the practice of "Out of Sight Out of Mind". This morning I asked you to supply me with any change(s) you may have in the February, 2010, Visitation Schedule. Up to now I have only received responses from Valerie Gallup, Art Square, Larry Marton, Roscoe Hensin, Marlin Johnston, and Laron Washingtan. Needless to say this is totally unacceptable that out of 15 people I have only 6 responses. I have a deadline to keep and when I have to gather information from people responding at the last minute it makes you look bad and it makes me look bad. I don't like it when I look bad and you should not like it when you look bad. I need this information "NOW".

Needless to say, Kyle continues to search for a new job. Happy Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

budgeting 101

One of our goals for 2010 is to create and stick to a budget. Sub-goals include giving more to church and charities, saving more in our 403b/IRA, and saving for a big trip we're planning with Tera and Brett. I love Excel so I made a kick-@$$ (why did that create a link? I don't know. where does it link to? Please don't blame me if it's something dirty...I was trying to keep it clean!) spreadsheet to track our expenditures. It's on google documents, allowing me to update whenever, wherever, we'll always be together. I'll be there and you'll be here -- oh sorry, Shakira took hold of me there for a minute!

Anyway, back on track! I've still got a ton to learn about money management and budgeting, but I feel like we're on a really good start after a couple very expensive years of getting married, buying and renovating a house, and generally living a carefree newlywed lifestyle. It is SO much easier to say no to impulse purchases if you know you have to go home, enter it into that spreadsheet, and watch the balance for that category decline. It's really been making me re-consider my choices and only purchase things I love. And I get to use Kyle's favorite phrase of the post-Pike ladies "I don't love it", which of course conveys a feeling only slightly better than indifference.

Now, onto the GO DO THIS RIGHT NOW part of the post. I just got off the phone with Comcast and had our monthly cable/internet bill reduced from $109.25 pre-tax to $84.95 pre-tax, and ended up with 20+ more channels, including HBO! Oh, Larry, Brett and Jemaine, how I've missed you! I had put off calling for several weeks since I'd heard that my sweet-as-pie sister-in-law Lesley did this, because I really hate confrontation and asking for things, even when it's over the phone and I know I could just hang up the minute things get awkward if it bothers me enough! But I worked up the courage and got a really nice girl on the phone, whom I told that I was considering switching providers because I just couldn't justify spending more when others were offering the same service for much less. Without question, she offered me the current promotions being offered to new Comcast subscribers.

Off I went to my budget spreadsheet and changed the cable category from $120/month to $95/month (just in case we are too lazy to go to the redbox and fall victim to the temptation of pay-per-view). That extra $25/month will be going toward paying off my new bike and our other athletic pursuits. What would you use it for?
I heart

Monday, January 11, 2010

back to school

An intellectual shock looms this coming weekend as I return to school after taking the fall semester off. Evenings spent on the couch with Kyle, feeling smart because we beat the nerdy high schoolers on the Jeopardy Teen Tournament (Just put some mousse in that hair, sweetie! Hey kid, they even make contacts for moles like you these days!) and casting our vote for who should be told to pack up their knives and go home on Top Chef will be distant memories.

I'm a little more than halfway through my Masters program in Counseling. With about 18 classroom credits and a semester-long internship to go, I should be ready to graduate in May 2012. Even though I'm going to miss that free time to log a few extra miles or grab a drink with a girlfriend, I am planning to come back with a vengance this spring.

Why? Being halfway done with something, no matter how long the task, definitely helps motivate me to push through to the finish. Also, I'm taking Human Development from the professor who challenged me enough to lose a few decimal points from my GPA, and I want to show her and myself that I can do without that dreaded "-" after my grade.

This weekend's academic activity should help prepare me both for that class and for my busy semester and spring in general. I'm taking a quick 2-day 1-credit class on Reality Therapy, a modality which empowers the client to make real changes in his or her life through problem-solving type techniques and cognition, from one of the top practitioners and researchers of it today. See below for the title of one of the books we'll be using:

Yes, friends, this is why I study counseling. Some day it will be great to help others learn how to put and keep themselves together, but for now, it's not a bad deal to learn it for myself, for free (thanks, Hopkins!), and from one of the best. I'll letcha know how it goes.

P.S. Sign up in the comments section to borrow this book from me after class is over. :-)

Friday, January 8, 2010


I guess it's time to jump on the New Year bandwagon and resolve to get back to this darn blog. I have some reservations about continuing it this year, such as:

- Um, we're not in pursuit of the place anymore. We found it like 2 years ago.
- I'm kind of sick (ok, really sick) of the title. I never really liked it in the first place but my laziness beat out my creativity and that's whatcha got stuck with. I do, however, still like the picture of the guy picking up trash by the bench proclaiming Baltimore's greatness. You might have to live here to understand.
- Once we found the house, the blog turned into a journal of our renovations. Well guess what, my husband has been busy and we're almost done with those too.
- I'm really busy! Like, REALLY! Here's what I do (prepare for the sub-list): Run 5-6 mornings a week, swim or bike a couple days a week, book club once a month (ok, wine club), string quartet rehearsal every other week (another wine club), bible study group every Tuesday night and church on Sunday(gotta repent for all that wine consumption), class one night a week for my Master's program, various volunteer activities and get-togethers as assigned for Back on My Feet, and oh yeah, my job. And I'd like to fit in the Financial Peace University classes that Tera & Brett gave us, and a date night (as much as I hate that lame term) with Kyle.
- I don't know what else I would write about. My life is not that interesting.

There are a few good reasons to keep going, which include:

- Blogging lets people choose whether or not they want to see my photos/hear about the mundane details of my life, instead of me inundating their email inboxes.
- Who am I kidding about business being a factor against it. I blog at work. Duh.
- Blogging makes me feel cool because my big sister and her friends do it. It's kinda the same feeling I got when Megan would convince Tera to just let me ride to school in the uterus with them already.
- Once we have kids in like 10 years, I won't have to set up a new blog to share every single detail of my pregnancy with the world.

Weighing the pros and cons....weighing, weighing....Oh! I almost forgot! My awesomely creative sister and brother-in-law think I am a good writer. (despite my, albeit intentional, overuse of the word "like"). Decision made. I shall press on. Thank you, TPS and BS - haha!!! Funniest set of married people initials ever!! - for your votes of confidence. I'm sorry, but few things feel better in life than the approval of your older sis.

Now, what to write about... here's what's on the docket so far for 2010:

- a few final renovation postings, including a grande finale before and after!
- funny names I encounter at work while cleaning hundreds of thousands of records in preparation for mass mailings
- a new name/look for the blog
- maybe some training stuff as I prepare for Boston and my first triathlon, but no self-congratulatory bs, I promise.
- a continuation of the great words-we-hate family email exchange started last night

Whatever else you guys (all 2.5 of you) want.

Finally, here's a cute picture from my Christmas vacation. Other people's kids are the best!