Saturday, July 23, 2011

Up next, overeating.

I'm going to have to take a tangent here and talk about cooking instead of running, but I'm in the writing mood, so we might just have a few posts today or the coming days. I do love to talk about running

and cooking

and books. I'm reading some really good ones right now. One in particular deserves its own post, so I'll wait.

Now, no one likes a boastful person, so I won't say that I have recently outdone myself with my cooking will just simply talk about what I have cooked lately and the responses I have heard in and around my kitchen.

Wednesday night Chris and I were reading and I interrupted to tell him what we were having for dinner Thursday night. After my detailed description he says, "Well, I guess someone will be overeating tomorrow night."

We had this

in the crockpot with 1 cup of water, cooked all day on low. Then I shredded it up with a couple of forks and served it with soft tortilla shells, shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese, and homemade salsa. I did not major in anything even remotely close to English, writing, journalism, etc. so I do not have words to describe how good this is. I'm wondering how many days can go by before it is acceptable to prepare it again. I will be devastated if I ever cannot find this at a store. Go now to Sam's and buy it.

We also had corn on the cob, but that is hardly worth mentioning.

For dessert,

oh my. This is when all the noise started. I have never heard so many yums, uummms, oohs. Chris crowned it with the title of "best dessert I have ever made". It's all gone.

Now, here's a link to the recipe. I do not recommend using the icing she suggests. I made it one other time and I did not think it was the best icing I'd ever had. I actually thought it was the worst. It was the one and only time the Pioneer Woman has ever done me wrong. I still love her, though, because I used her recipe for buttercream icing instead and that IS the best icing I have ever had.

Now, just one more thing. I have her cookbook and the spine is broken and the pages are falling out. We have some overnight guests coming and I'm going running at 5 am tomorrow, so I was looking up things that I could prepare today or tonight for breakfast in the morning--things I can just heat up when I get back. I'm making a traditional breakfast casserole, but I wanted some muffins or cinnamon rolls too. I only have one pan of PW's cinnamon rolls in the freezer and I'm a little stingy with those, plus I'm not in the mood for a marathon, completely trash my kitchen session of cinnamon roll assembly. The cookbook naturally falls open to that recipe, so I almost missed these little beauties.  Please do yourself a favor and read her post about these and then make them.  I just whipped them up very quickly and had everything I needed on hand. 

I'll be thinking about them while I'm running in the morning and will be happy to eat several of them as soon as I get back.  With coffee.  Normally it would be milk, but I was out of town last week when my Oberweis milk was to be delivered so I had to buy one gallon of Prairie Farms to get us through until Monday when they deliver again and let me tell you, that milk is NAS-ty.  (Elise, that was for you.)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Running From Knives aka Part 2

I bought some Mizuno running shoes based on the recommendation of our local running guru at the running store. I felt legit. Not really.

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I decided to do the Couch to 5K plan (you can google it). I was able to complete the first 3 weeks without dying. I actually felt exhilarated, my endorphins were already responding. It's no wonder and it didn't take much. Surely I had an excess build up of endorphins since I hadn't done any exercise in 6 1/2 years to release them. Then my knees started hurting, REALLY bad. And I've had a baby without an epidural, so this wasn't just your average almost 40-year-old starting to run and everything's going to hurt syndrome. I had to go to the doctor. I was told I had "fat pad syndrome"--not a really uplifting diagnosis for someone just starting back exercising (for the name alone). It's when the cushioning under your kneecap gets inflamed due to weak quadriceps muscles. It took about 2 weeks but I got through it. Someone (who shall remain nameless but lives in the same house as me) suggested I run on the treadmill for my first couple of times back. Perhaps it wouldn't be as jarring on my knees as pavement. Okay.

I'm not really sure where I started back up in my plan at this point, but I think it was somewhere in week 2, which means I was still doing way more walking than running. I hit the Y, hopped on a treadmill, and completed my "run". The outside of my left ankle was complaining. I didn't tell anyone. I just tried to push through. There was no way there was anything really wrong with it. I tried to convince myself that I was going to have aches and pains as my body adjusted to this running thing, so I did the RICE thing--Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevate. I also took large quantities of Motrin. It stabilized, mostly, and I tried to do some more of my plan.

And then I almost fell getting out of bed, so I gave in and went to the doctor AGAIN. Now at this point I am feeling like a complete loser. I had lots of thoughts going through my head; here are some of them:

"Am I just being a wimp?"

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"Am I so athletically challenged that I can't even do something as straightforward as running properly?"

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"How embarassing. I've gone and told everyone that I want to be a runner and I've signed up for a 5K and now I can't get past week 3 in my training. I'll never run this 5K. Fail."

I had a grade 4 (the worst) stress fracture in my left fibula and wore a big black boot for 8 weeks. In the middle of summer. I took the kids to the pool. I rode the exercise bike because that was all I was allowed to do other than swim laps. I tried to keep up my cardio and by doing intervals on the bike, I was able to work up a pretty good sweat. I still wanted to run more than anything. I felt psycho. It was tied to my emotions in a big way because I never felt like an athlete growing up. I didn't play any sports and was told I was uncoordinated. And now, here I am, free from all the peer pressure of high school, finally pursuing something that I feel very passionate about and my body is failing me.

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There it is. I forgot I also wore the boot while we were on vacation in Seaside. I had to offset the hotness of the boot by wearing soffe shorts and tank tops everywhere. I would have preferred a boot in pink, green, yellow. Anything other than black. Good grief.

I saw runners everywhere. I wanted to trip them. It was such a strange experience to feel upset that I couldn't really "work out". I'd spent my whole life coming up with excuses so that I wouldn't have to work out and now I was desperate to.

Okay, that's enough for now. I'll dangle a carrot to keep you coming back. Part 3 involves a 5K race, an MRI, a bone density scan, and a post-menopausal bone disease.

I must stop and watch this on Netflix.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

How I Went From Saying "I'll Only Run if I'm Being Chased With Knives" to a 1/2 Marathon

My husband is a runner. He wasn't always, but a few years ago, he just started running and before I knew it, we were driving to Kansas City so he could run in a marathon. I thought he was craaazzzzy, but it was exciting to see him cross the finish line. My first words to him: "You look like you've aged 20 years." Now that I've run a big race of my own, I know those weren't the most helpful words, but he's a guy and he loves me so I think I'm okay. At his graduation from ASAM in 2009, they did a roast for the graduates and he was picked on because of his running--it was actually very funny. He's from Alabama and my name is Jenni, so you can see where that went.

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So, naturally people would ask me if I was a runner. And that's where my "Only when chased with knives" comment would come in. Another favorite was, "If my children's lives are being threatened." I didn't exercise at all. Prior to having kids, I went to the gym 4-5 times per week. I never ran, though. Ever. I remember struggling in PE to run a mile or whatever distance that was that they made you do. Actually, I remember being miserable, so I stayed far away from running. But I did other things and I felt like I was in good shape.

When I got pregnant with Michael, I had a little trouble at first, so the doctor advised me not to exercise, so I stopped. And I never started back. 6 1/2 years went by. Chris ran another marathon and one of my old friends, Jen Conley, moved into town. We picked up right where we left off, comfortable in our friendship because we had been neighbors 10 years earlier in Wichita. And one day when we were together she casually asked me if I was a runner. I laughed and gave her my standard answer and that was it. I didn't know it at the time, but "behind the scenes" things were a-happening. God was doing some magnificent orchestration, He had some plans for me that involved me doing the one thing I hated most. He has a sense of humor, doesn't He?

My husband was also doing some Jedi Mind Tricks on me while I was sleeping.

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So, one random morning last May I woke up and thought I might like to become a runner. I am not making this up--it really happened exactly like that. I did not say one word to Chris. I needed to make sure that this was not some weird misunderstanding, some glitch in my brain. I gave it a few days. It didn't go away. When Chris was at work, I googled things about starting to run, couch to 5K, etc. I printed out a plan. On day 2, I was going to have to run for 90 seconds straight--I was nervous. Really, I was. Nervous about running and nervous about telling him. I'm not sure why because he is very supportive of all the other crazy things I come up with, but anyway. When he got home from work I told him I wanted to become a runner. He was surprised, but tried to not act surprised. You'll have to ask him what he really thought, but I think he was excited. It's hard to tell, he's got that Lanier "show no emotion" gene. His first suggestion was the greatest a girl could ask for, though:

He said, "Well, you need to go shopping and buy yourself a pair of good running shoes. Go ahead, I'll stay here with the boys."

to be continued.......

(sorry, folks, I know you are hanging on my every word, but I'm starving and this is going to be a book)

P.S. I'm going to put some pictures in these upcoming posts of me and my peeps during our 1/2 marathon. I don't presume that anyone out there cares to read about me and my running, so please know that I'm writing this really for my own memory. My journey to becoming a runner was a gift that God gave me and I want to be able to look back and see all that He did!

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Thursday, April 14, 2011 will be so proud.

So, my dad is an artist. His career was a furniture designer. He's retired, and now he paints. He's always painted, but never had the time. Now he does, and my house is filled with his art--I love it. While I am creative with some things, I do not have this gene anywhere in my body. I cannot even draw stick figures well. So far, my children have been quite deprived of a humanities education--I avoid doing art or even teaching them about it. I skip the poetry reading in our curriculum and have not taught them one spec of anything about music. My youngest son loves to draw and color. I suspect he may have my dad's artistic talent. My oldest son loves music and regularly asks for guitar lessons and even sleeps with music playing in his room every night. I am a bad homeschooling mother for not cultivating these loves in my children, so things are going to change around here.

You are aware that I recently switched curriculum to My Father's World and thankfully we will be doing lots of artsy fartsy stuff (that I will actually do). As part of their art this coming year, I had to purchase some nicer art supplies for them. My dad was in town, so we went over to Art Mart in STL and got what we needed. My dad was in a state of complete bliss while we were in that store. It made me want to do a math problem.


Yesterday the boys wanted to paint because they knew the new supplies were there. Although I did not get out the new stuff, I did give in and allowed them to paint. They were so happy. Here's what they painted:

A Spidey costume always helps get the creative juices flowing.

So, now I can actually say that I'm excited about doing these subjects with my kiddos this fall. Are you ready for this? I even played classical music for Michael while he was painting.

So, what else is going on? I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do with the boys this summer. I will be struggling every day just holding myself back from starting with my new curriculum. But I really do need to get Cal reading just a little bit more, so I'll wait. I was thinking about doing an extreme weather unit study, but Michael has been having crazy nightmares about earthquakes and the house ripping apart, so I'm thinking that's a really bad idea. I'm considering doing Potato Chip Science because one of my friends is doing it and it looks fun and easy. I'm also considering a Grossology book of experiments. I have it on hold at the library and am waiting patiently for it to be available for me to check out. I think the boys would absolutely love making snot and blisters and fake poop. Why do I even say "think"? I KNOW they would.

I scored big today over at a friend's house. Just this morning, I was looking at this book on Amazon.

I almost added it to my cart and bought it, but I kind of ran out of time and needed to go, so I figured I'd do it later. I get to her house and she says she has two bins full of stuff she wants to give away. I'm welcome to go through it and take whatever I want. What do you think was RIGHT ON TOP?

I'm considering going through this book so that I can obtain a well educated mind. I really don't have one. Yes, I have several degrees, but I was not educated classically and I feel completely inadequate about it. I have not read hardly any of the classics--those book lists that are floating around that are like the "100 books everyone should have read" type things?--yeah, I've read like 6 of them. So, anyway--I'm considering. It will take me out of my comfort zone, but I think it will be good for me.

I once almost made my friend Elise pass out when I told her I had not read "Anne of Green Gables"--tragical, huh? Can you tell I'm reading it now?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My oldest son, Michael, was baptized on March 20th. He was ready. My husband actually baptized him, which was just unbelievable to watch. Thank goodness I was distracted by my youngest son waving at himself on the big screen. You can see in one picture that I have this "do that again and you will regret it" look on my face. Had I not been slightly distracted, I would have really made a mess of myself in front of the entire church. Here's the face.

I went to church before the rest of my family that day because I was running the lights for all three services. As I sat up in the booth listening to the sermon at the first service, Ian read one of the 52 Stories. These are stories that are told each week about someone in our church that has a neat story to tell. I had no idea what the story would be that day, but I'm sure my mouth stood agape as I listened to him tell the story for the first time. My eyes welled with tears knowing what was to come for my family at the next service--Michael's baptism. I cried every time I heard the story read that day. I'm going to copy her story here word for word. She gave me permission. I couldn't have said it better. Here we go.

"The day I gave birth to my son and I was able to hold his tiny little fingers, and count the ten perfect toes, and feel his tiny heart beat in his chest I was hit with two profound truths. The first, there was no way I was ready for what was in store for me. And secondly I realized God loves me. I am human and I am overcome with joy and happiness and love for this tiny little person who will undoubtedly hurt me, reject me, and ultimately leave me. But the joy at that moment, the love and the pull of my heart told me that if I being merely human felt this much, just imagine how God the Father feels when one of his children comes to him in baptism, committing for the rest of their days to accept the responsibility of being the heir to their Fathers world.

When after 15 years the tiny perfect child I gave birth to comes to me and tells me he feels he needs to be baptized, the first reaction I had was the same one I had when I found out I was going to be a mom in the first place. The anticipation of great joy, the future of growth, of new learning experiences to be had. All these emotions ran through my body, my heart leapt and I could feel my eyes tingling with the threat of tears. There was a two week period between the decision to be baptized and the actual baptism, in that time I asked him questions and we talked about the decision. I prayed and I asked him to as well. The morning he was baptized I was so elated. I felt like a new mom all over again, my son knows that Jesus is the Son of God and has accepted His authority, entering into a relationship with the Living God. My relationship with God is the most precious thing I could teach my son about, it's also the one thing I cant wrap up and give him or go out and buy for him and now he gets to have his very own relationship with God to grow and develop and learn through. There is nothing in this world that he could accomplish that would make me more proud to be his mom than the day he chose to enter into the family of God through baptism."

Oh, I just well up again reading it now. Amazing, isn't it? Not just the eloquence of this passage, but the reality of it, the truths that are embedded in it--for me, for my children, for anyone who will accept.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

To Music: "This is My Father's World".

I went to the homeschool expo this past weekend in St. Louis. Last year at the expo I discovered Dianne Craft and our lives have changed drastically for the better. Not that we weren't okay--but Michael REALLY was having a hard time with anything to do with school--especially reading. I could totally make this post be about nutrition, essential fatty acids, and my obsession relationship with real food (as opposed to "frankenfood")--which is, by the way, my absolute favorite term to describe processed fake food.


Michael is a joy to homeschool now. Not because he loves it or even has a desire to do it, but because he gets it. I no longer feel I have to jump through hoops for him to get it--he just does. It is like a switch was flipped after I removed all the junk from his system and started giving him real food and essential fatty acid supplements. He's in 1st grade. When I began homeschooling him this past August he was barely reading anything--he couldn't stay focused, was easily distracted. He would be distracted by the ticking of my wristwatch. Not so today. Over the course of a few months, he blasted through Hooked on Phonics K and 1st grade. I gave him 1st grade readers from Sonlight. He said they were too easy. I gave him 2nd grade readers from Sonlight. He said those were too easy. I tossed aside the first half of them and went straight to the last ones in the schedule. He doesn't say they are too easy, but I never have to help him with a word. I gave him a reader from our curriculum for this next school year that we'll be starting in August (which is a 3rd grade reader) and he read it just fine.

This is a miracle and I don't say that lightly. I really mean it.

So, back to my title and my thoughts about the expo. I went with a few of my buddies--Alisha, Lynelle, and Elise. Elise and I were separated at birth and we say this because we think alike and do LOTS of things exactly alike and are interested in the same things. But there is one big difference: Elise reads poetry to her children, plays classical music for them, exposes them to art. Me? Not so much.

I'm into stuff like this:

So, when I tagged along to a "My Father's World" workshop with the rest of the girls, I was done. I feel like I spent the rest of the weekend at their display booth. I have abandoned my Sonlight and my eclectic mix of classical and Charlotte Mason that I pull out of thin air. I could almost say I am in love.....

I cannot wait to get started. I'm not sure I will wait. I was able to purchase what I needed and take it home that day, so I've ripped into all of it and read through it, basically played with all of it. It's like Christmas. My struggles with art, poetry, and music are solved. The only problem is that my husband will not stop singing.....this is My Father's world.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A White Square Day

A few months ago I had a lot of these days--white square, meaning a big beautiful white square on the calendar with nothing filled in--a "nothing to do day". Maybe I had preschool drop-off/pick-up, but otherwise I was free to homeschool Michael and then do whatever we decided to do. I found that I pretty much could stay on top of errands and chores and occasionally squeeze in homemade cookies or an impromptu trip to the park. I loved it. I will admit that I am a homebody. I don't say this to make you think I just want to stay home all the time, but I do not do well spending my entire day in the car, driving from one activity to the next. Some people thrive on this and love to be extremely busy and out and about, but not me.

Then something changed and I still don't know what happened, but all of the sudden, instead of having one day where I was kinda busy, I had 4 days that were crazy busy. I was miserable by the end of the day and started drowning in chores, errands, homeschooling, and nothing was being done 100%. I kept saying to myself that I needed to stop saying yes or stop trying to fit too many things in, but I kept doing it.

But no more.

This morning at 5:30 am, Michael came into my room and said he needed to throw up. He made it to the bathroom and was sick off and on for several hours. Once I knew he really had a little bug, this relief came over me because I realized that I now had been given a white square day. No preschool drop-off, no Rx pickup, no homeschool group, no 3 mile treadmill run at the Y, no haircuts. As I went to bed last night, my mind was already calculating how I was going to accomplish all the things in my day today. Now, some of these things are fun (homeschool group), some are things I choose to do (like go to the Y to run), but when I start feeling relief about not having to do the things I normally would choose to do, then I know I am doing the right thing.

I don't even really know why I felt like I wanted to write about this today. I guess it's nice to have those lightbulb moments and I wanted to share. This is turning out to be a perfect day--my boys are happy, playing and content to be home. I have homemade bread dough in the bread machine and I'll be making pigs in a blanket with it later today and we won't be in a hurry, so the boys will get to help me. I've changed all the sheets and washed almost all the clothes. We haven't spent any money or burned up any of our precious overpriced gasoline. The weather is beautiful, so I have the backdoor open. But, in a bit, my husband will be home and I'll get to go to the hair salon (even if it is just to have my bangs trimmed) and run one other errand and that all sounds just right to me.

I had to put my white square back in b/c I wanted to say that I used a picture of a white square plate for a reason. I want some of these! Oh, Ikea, why can't you be close to me?

So, back to my "no more crazy busy days": I really mean it. I am a stay-at-home mom. I homeschool my kids. I cook from scratch. Days like today should not be as rare as the animals in McGrew Zoo, they should be the norm. So, starting today, they will.

And in case you don't know about the animals in McGrew's Zoo, you should--it is my all time favorite Dr. Seuss book. I will stop what I am doing 99% of the time when one of the boys brings it to me to read.