Monday, December 31, 2007

Kids Who Overcome

Kids from divorced homes sometimes have difficult lives. Often times it is not their fault that they are in this situation. They didn't ask for it. They probably didn't even want it. Most times it's the fault of their parents who didn't try hard enough. They go back and forth between their parents' homes usually sharing their belongings and sometimes carrying them around in backpacks. If either of their parents is a jerk it can be even worse than that.

The statistics for children of divorce are never in their favor such as the dropout rate, suicide rate, depression rate, failed relationship rate, marriage rate and every other rate under the sun. Every time you hear of a school shooter you wonder if he or she came from a broken home. Some people automatically assume it was a product of a divorce.

Then I look at them and want to shout to the world that they often can and do overcome these odds. My two boys show me that each day. I must admit that they are not perfect and often cause me a great deal of stress. What teenager doesn't?

What I see when I take a step back are two honor roll thriving in private Catholic school and the other thriving in public middle school. Both are involved in athletics and go to church regularly. Neither have had a discipline action against them ever even though they went to day care since a very young age. Both are extremely caring young boys who don't do drugs, don't smoke, and don't act provocatively in any other areas. They both love all of their brothers and sisters dearly. They are outgoing and caring to all of their grandparents, aunts and uncles and are extremely interesting in conversations. Looking at them, one would never guess they were products of divorce. They are beating the odds. I am so very blessed.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

January 13, 2008

This is the day after I run my half marathon. I am starting to think about what to do from the start of this day forward into 2008 as far as exercise. Of course I don't want to stop exercising, rather reinvent my program and change it up a little.

For the past few months I have been strictly running with no weight lifting and cross training whatsoever. Because of this, the unexpected happened....I gained a few pounds. Since I was not at all expecting this, I am going to concentrate on losing the pounds post-race and build up my muscles again. This will mean switching over to focus more on protein in my diet as opposed to the carbs I am consuming because of the running. I will have to hit the gym at least 4 times a week with free weights and machines with a lot of cardio. I am thinking that I will do something different with my cardio program like boxing or spinning. I will also do the Saturday morning yoga at my gym. I will keep up my running and will try to run maybe twice a week. (I plan on running a 5K in April with one of my teens again this year).

I love to run and I never thought I would ever say that. Sometimes my knees don't agree with me. I fell on one of them a few years ago and ever since then it tends to get sore after a long run. So I am certain that I will keep up my running and keep doing my 5k and 10K races throughout the year. Who knows? Maybe I will get daring and try the Disney FULL marathon next year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Goals for 2008

My goals for 2008 are pretty specific. I have not yet formulated a game plan on how to accomplish these but I will be getting to that later on.

1. Develop and find more writing opportunities.
2. Convert my home to a minimalist home. Start a minimalist blog.
3. Develop an exercise plan post-Marathon (kickboxing, boxing, yoga, spinning).
4. Take two desktop publishing classes (online or community college).

Since I have now committed to starting a new minimalist blog I should probably start developing it before January 1 don't ya think?

What are your goals for 2008?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Angel

My friend Renee lost her baby today. It died on Christmas Eve. She is in the hospital today where the doctors are removing it from her body.

It reminded me of the baby I lost almost 16 years ago in January.

I just saw Renee yesterday at the day care and she was her usual happy self smiling and talking about how her Christmas Day went. I had no clue that something was wrong and that she was going through this difficult pain. It was only because she was not there today and I asked another girl where she was and found out the terrible news.

She will be back next week and I will hug her and give her my thoughts. Please pray for her.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

An Awesome Christmas Morning

Christmas mornings at our house are usually pretty hectic. With two teens and two little ones my organization and order usually get thrown out the door within the first two minutes.

You see, the night before I plan very strategically how the gift opening will happen. I know every gift that is going to be handed out (because I have shopped and wrapped them all). After Santa visits, I go through every one and put them in a certain order under the tree so that I can give them out to the kids in an orderly fashion. For the teens I try to save the biggest and best gift for last so this order is most important for them.

When morning arrives, I wake up before everyone else (I was trained at an early age to wake up in the wee hours on Christmas morning). I turn on the tree lights and put on the Christmas music softly. I then go back to bed and wait for the troops to get up. My thinking is that when they wake up they will see a beautiful tree with beautiful presents and hear beautiful music just as it was meant to be.

Usually it doesn't pan out that way. By the time I get them all in their "gift opening spots" in front of the tree things go a little crazy. I give it my best shot to let them each open their gifts one by one so that everyone can see each gift being given. I am also in charge of making sure that the wrapping paper gets thrown in the trash can without anything of value going with it. That's a particular challenge.

But this year was a little different than in years past. My teens are actually growing up. This was the first year that they didn't count presents and each present that they opened they were grateful for and were very thankful. In years past the first words out of their mouths were usually "NEXT!". Not this year. This year was the first year that they got me a gift and I think they were more excited to see me open this gift from them than they were to open their own gifts. This left me most puzzled but in a good way. And I did love the gift. It was a new wallet that I so desperately needed and they knew it because I complained about my old one almost every day for the past 4 months. And then for the first time I saw my older boys exchange gifts for each other. That was something that I had never seen before. I actually witnessed them smiling and laughing at their respective gifts. It was a sight that I was not used to.

I have been thinking about that sight for the past day and I think I like that gift better than the wallet. The memory will certainly last longer and made me so much more happy because it was what motherhood is all about...and I am a very proud mother.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to All

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. - Luke 2:10-12

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lucky Number 8

I decided to interview myself regarding my weekly long run which is up to 8 miles this week. Here is the interview in its entirety.

Reporter Me: So how did you feel after the run?
Runner Me: Like crap. No, seriously, I felt pretty good considering it was a morning run.
Reporter Me: How far did you go?
Runner Me: Don't know. Don't care. (8 miles)
Reporter Me: Which part was the most difficult?
Runner Me: The part where I started and the part where I ended and everything in between.
Reporter Me: How long did it take?
Runner Me: Don't know. Don't care. (1.5 hours)
Reporter Me: What is your long term goal for the half coming up?
Runner Me: To finish without dying.
Reporter Me: What are you going to eat after this long run?
Runner Me: Well, I was all set to each a banana until I realized that my family ate all of my bananas on top of yummy pancakes while I was out running.
Reporter Me: Are you happy you decided to go for this goal?
Runner Me: Of course I am. I love torture.

On to next week: 9 miles

Friday, December 21, 2007

I Don't Really Need Another Hobby

I was watching Martha Stewart and she was making candles with this expert candle maker. The process looked really, really simple. So simple that I found myself uttering the familiar mantra "I can do THAT." I was intrigued by the fact that you can make your own candles any color and any fragrance that you desire from materials that you can purchase from your local Michaels. There is no real science to it.

I happened to be in Michael's today to get a few last minute Christmas things when I happened on the candle making department. ***Alert - Digression about to take place*** Whenever I get these hobby ideas I try not to invest too much money into them in case I don't like the hobby. There was a cute candle making kit that was available to purchase and with the familiar 40% off coupon in hand I thought this would be a perfect test for me and my candle making abilities. I purchased the kit and am eagerly awaiting making my first few candles this weekend.

I will blog later on how it goes. And hopefully I won't report back any major scalding burns, rather some beautiful scents for this holiday season.

My Best Buddy

I have a new best buddy and I love having her tag along with me when I need her the most.

She loves to run with me.
She never complains and rarely runs out of energy.
She does whatever I tell her to do.
She keeps up with me during all of my runs.
She doesn't laugh at my choice of music.
She is dependable and necessary.
She gets me through the rough patches.
She is not loud or obnoxious.
She helps me move my feet and legs.
She is my pace-setter.
When I can't find her I go crazy.

Unfortunately I will have to leave her at home when I run my half marathon.

Meet my best buddy....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Gift I Really Want

I remember growing up and year after year I would ask my mom what she wanted for Christmas and her birthday. I was willing to work odd jobs as a kid to get her whatever she wanted because I knew her taste was simple and anything she asked for wouldn't be too expensive.

Her answer was always the same boring old gift...Peace and Quiet and No Fighting.

Was she serious? What kind of a gift was that? It didn't sparkle or shine and didn't provide entertainment. It didn't cost anything. It was what she REALLY wanted. But man was that the most difficult gift to give.

Because in order to give it we would all have to reach within our kid minds and kid bodies and do something we had never done before....BE QUIET! I don't think we were ever successful in giving her that gift but I do know now why she was asking for it because I, too, am the mother of 4 kids.

So for my kids who keep asking me what I want for answer is "Peace and Quiet and No Fighting."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Memories Well Preserved

For most kids, the Christmas season starts when Santa makes his appearance at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. For me, the Christmas season always started when this came on TV.

Back in the day there were no VCRs or DVD players or TiVo machines. We didn't have Directv either and there was no cable. If we didn't catch the show on TV we missed it for the year. I remember looking through my grandmother's TV guide (remember those?) to see what day of the week the show came on and I actually had to write myself a note to remember to watch it. I didn't have the luxury of a cell phone alarm or a PDA or Outlook Express calendar reminder.

I still look forward to watching this program but now I do have the luxury to record it and watch it with my princess at a moments notice. Somehow the anticipation is lessened now than it was back then but that's progress for ya.

Cloning myself

I wish I could have cloned myself yesterday because I found it rather difficult to be in two places at the same time. I missed my princess' dance recital because I have been promising for months to take my boys to a football game. It just happened that both were scheduled for the same day and same time. I am glad that Daddy was able to operate the video camera and get the dance all on tape for me.

Unfortunately I missed this

and ended up witnessing this

Friday, December 14, 2007

Spreading Joy to Others

I like to spread joy especially during the holiday season whether it is joy to my kids, joy to my friends and co-workers, or joy to people I don't even know.

Since playing The Grocery Game, I have been able to enjoy huge savings to my wallet at the grocery and drug store. Those savings are to the tune of 50% or over $100 per week. That is a lot to a woman who has 4 kids to raise and a lot of household overhead. Every little bit helps.

I am in the cherry picking stage of my grocery game which means that my stockpile is hugely overflowing and ,therefore, my need list is quite small. I am no longer in the stage where I have to go to the store weekly unless to go for some milk, bread or produce.

But this week my list had some really great deals on it so I decided to go shopping for our church food bank. I spent about $20 to get approximately $50 worth of food for the bank including pasta, crackers, stuffing, gravy, and lots of canned vegetables. I feel so totally good about this because I really love helping others in this manner and the grocery game allows me to do this even more than I originally thought.

I think that everyone should give something even if very small to those in need.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Did I Just Say That?

More marathon talk...blah blah blah.....

I was preparing for my 4 mile short run yesterday. First of all, do you think that a 4 mile run should be classified as short? I don't. But I say it that way because I just ran 7 miles the other day so 4 miles is short-ER than 7 miles but definitely not short....but I digress.

Back to my point. I was preparing for my SHORT run when my better half asks me how many miles I plan to go. I tell him "I am only going 4 miles." I pause. Did I just say THAT? Did I just say the words "only" and "4 miles" in the same sentence?
Am I becoming a running snob? I don't mean to be. It just slipped out.

I have had this slip up a few times this week when telling others about my training for a 13 mile run. They pause, laugh and say "ONLY 7 miles, ONLY 4 miles" and then tell me they can hardly run to their mailbox.

I completely understand. I was at that point 2 years ago. I just had my 4th baby and could barely move. I had no energy and 20 pounds of weight that wouldn't leave my body. I was 40 years old and felt 80. I could NEVER run even when I was a kid. I had terrible flat feet and still do and always thought that this was the reason for my inability. The fact was that I just never really did it consistently and never knew how to build myself up.

I have worked hard these past 20 months to get myself in shape and it all sort of fell into place. In reality I feel I have been running for miles and miles to get to this place...just 29 days till race day. It's all been worth it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sunday - 7 mile long run

I am a little bit late updating on my weekly long run and I am pretty sure that anyone who reads my blog is probably getting tired of hearing me go on and on about my marathon training. Not to worry...only 32 days left and just think of how much fun it will be at the end to hear about how I did and see pictures of how I looked. Not to mention a very special surprise...I will be posting the songs that I listened to on my ipod that are sure to make everyone laugh hysterically.

The good news to report is that this past Sunday I hit yet another milestone. 7 miles was the longest I have ever run without stopping to walk. I completed it in about 1 hour and 20 minutes which is a little over a 10:00 pace...right on target. I started at 5:17 pm and ended around 6:30 pm. The weather was perfect and I felt awesome.

I felt excited because, for the first time, I feel confident that I am going to do this and complete this goal. 7 miles is over half way toward this goal so I feel that I can only improve from here and will be very ready on January 12.

I was telling some people over the weekend and yesterday what it was that has possessed me to try to run this type of length and I still find it difficult to put into words. It's a bug inside of me...some people call it spirit. I believe that there are things that we all do in our lives for no real reason but because their "gut" is telling them to do it. Something is guiding me toward this goal and it feels right to do. I have learned over the years to trust my intuition. It rarely fails me. So I don't question it...I just go with it and trust it.

My gut (intuition, Holy Spirit, etc) whispered to me to try this half marathon. Give it a shot. Just do it and afterward you will be greatly rewarded with a confidence that you haven't felt in a long, long time. Finish this race and greater things will come. Your kids will learn from your courage to commit and to attempt and to try hard even when you thought you weren't going to be able to do it. This is what the voices inside me say.

When I run I run alone. There are many reasons for this. I don't want to run with a group because I don't like to conform to the rules within the group (such as taking walking breaks, eating what they do, running on the days and times that they do). But there is a trade-off for this. That is, I run alone and on some days it is REALLY lonely. The silence (thank God for ipods) is deafening. It is just me and my thoughts. But that is sometimes a good thing because my thoughts are what are getting me through this. No one is there to push me...only I am there to push me and I think that is the best plan for me. This is what will get me to greatness...not the encouragement of others but the encouragement of myself.

I have asked my family to greet me in the middle of the race at the 8th mile. The reason for this is because I fear hitting a wall around this time. Seeing friendly faces might help me through this wall. Unfortunately because of the crowding at Disney they probably won't see me cross the finish line. But that is ok because I will see me cross the finish line and I can't wait for that. I can't wait to take off my timing chip and reach out for my medal. It will be so exciting.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Perspective Is a Funny Thing

I have a neighbor that I knew who used to tell me she was jealous of me because I get a break from my older boys during the week when they go back to their Dad's house to live. I believe it was when she made that statement that I realized I could never have a friendship with her simply because she was too dense to understand the pain that I feel inside when my boys are not with me.

Yes I did choose that situation when I made the decision to get divorced but the alternatives were not much better. I question myself each and every day. That is my life. I don't complain about my decision and I don't talk about it with anyone for that matter.

But that doesn't mean that the reality does not hurt. I miss my boys every moment they are not with me. Some days I fill the void with actions to keep my mind off of it. But when I experience alone time or down time or quiet time, I think of them. I often think of what they might be doing at that very instant. Are they doing their homework and if so, are they stuck on a problem that they need my help with? Are they eating dinner and are they being careful to take small bites so as not to choke? Did they brush their teeth before they went to bed? Did they remember to bring their jacket to school in case it gets cold in the classroom? Do they know how much I love and miss them and can't wait to see them again in a few days?

I rarely discuss this with anyone. Most times I don't even discuss my feelings with them because I don't want them to feel bad or guilty. Every so often they say things to indicate to me that they feel bad if they have a good time at their dad's house. I quickly tell them that they should never feel bad about having a good time because it is what I want for them.

One time I mentioned to someone that I felt bad about not being with my boys and that person responded with "you made your bed, you have to lay in it." That made me feel worse and more guilty. Now I don't tell anyone how I feel because of that.

But it's not because I don't feel it. Not at all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Running Log

Tuesday...3 days after 5K. I should have squeezed a run in yesterday. Three days between runs is too long.

Length: 4 miles
Time: 40 minutes
Pace: 10:15
Ran to Flanagan High and back.
Ran through no stopping.
Felt pretty good until mile 3...felt tight until into 4th mile then felt better
Should have eaten a yogurt around 3 pm.
Time to start: 5:57 pm
Time to finish: 6:37 pm

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Savings Are Ridiculous....


In case you haven't been following my grocery gamehere is a brief summary of the game.

You go to this website and sign up for a $1 month trial. You get rock bottom price lists for the stores you sign up for (local grocery stores and pharmacies). Read the rules and get really good at reading the lists for deals. Clip coupons. Repeat this week after week and watch the savings add up.

Today was yet again a record week for me. With a $100 grocery and CVS budget each week, I am constantly aiming to hit the budget or go below it. This week there will be very little grocery shopping because the list is not that big and my pantry and refrigerator are both fully stocked. I predict a total bill of $20. Today was a huge CVS day though because of the huge outstanding sales this week along with some great items for stockpile replenishment and the offering of a lot of extra-care bucks. Here is how I ended up...

Total retail price of all items in my cart was approximately $98. Some of the items in my cart included the following:

2 big boxes of Pampers diapers
3 cases of soda
1 - gallon of milk
3 - 2 quart bottles of gatorade
1 - deodorant
2 boxes of pringles potato chips
1 - 40 oz refill body soap container
1 case of Bounty paper towels
1 - sudoku puzzle book

Total amount out of pocket was $48 after the discounted prices, clipped coupons, register coupons and rolling extra-care bucks. I also earned approximately $25 in extra care bucks which really puts me at a huge savings for the month because I will roll those $25 extra bucks into my savings next week. I love the rolling, rolling, rolling.

All in all this week will be another great week as I will have spent $68 and earned back $25. I love this game.

All I Want For Christmas Is.....

one of these....

Does that make me wierd?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Hanging out last week

I was hanging out on the high road again last week. But this time it cost me somewhere in the area of $750 - $1000 out of my savings account to be there.

Baby We Were Born To Run

In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway american dream
At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected and steppin out over the line
Baby this town rips the bones from your back
Its a death trap, its a suicide rap
We gotta get out while were young
`cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run - Bruce Springsteen

I am pretty sure he was NOT singing about running a 5K but it sure got me in the mood yesterday morning as I ran my third 5K race in a year and came in at 34:30. This run meant so much more to me than the others though the others had their special meanings too.

My very first 5K was run just a year ago on Dec.2, 2006 and while I was busy running my brother and his wife were busy giving birth to my nephew.

My second 5K race was in February this year and it was special because I ran it with my 12 year old son. That was so special to me even if he did beat me by a full 9 minutes. That little guy can RUN! He came in 3rd place in the kids division.

But this race meant the most to me because it will likely be one of the few pre-races to my half marathon coming up in January.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mystery Shopper

I have a secret. I am a mystery shopper and I get a rush from it.

I am new at it and I am still fearful of "getting caught." But it is awesome to get free stuff and paid to do the shop.

So far it is has been limited to coffee and bagel shops but at these rates that's a nice spare pocket of change.

I am not in desperate need of money even though my kids seem to take every last cent that I have. I do it more for the thrill of it and the free stuff. Today I did a lunchtime shop at a local bagel store. I bought some soup and coffee. It was so yummy. I got reimbursed for the items and then got paid $10 on top of it for filling out a survey. Not bad considering I have to eat lunch somewhere anyway.

I have signed up for a few restaurants and some electronic stores and I will soon find out if I get those. I am also going to sign up for a free eye exam because that is the only part of that my vision insurance does not cover. How cool is that?

When I was a little kid my mom was always involved in market research. Every so often someone would call our house for an evening event where you would go and test out products and give your opinions. You would get paid a certain amount of money and get a meal out of it. When I got older I would get to go on them. I really enjoyed it and now I am doing mystery shopping which is market research too.

Weekly Grocery Update

I scored big time this week with my best shopping budget since playing the grocery game.

Publix was awesome at a retail price of $90 and an out of pocket expense of $59. I then ventured over to CVS for my weekly stockpile items. There it was a retail price of $22 and an out of pocket expense of $1.

Looks like I hit my $100 budget easily with $40 to spare.

Now what shall I do with my extra $40?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

4 miles - no problem

I think my blog is turning into a marathon blog but that's only because I have a half marathon coming up and thoughts of it seem to be consuming my mind. I just got my race information in the mail today which tells me where to pick up my race day package and all the other information. It is all seeming too real at this point.

I breezed by my 6 mile long run on Sunday, rested yesterday, and then I was scheduled to do 2 miles today but I turned that into 4 miles because....well, because I felt like it??? Actually, I did just feel like it and it wasn't too bad. I never thought I would hear myself saying that 4 miles wasn't so bad. Let's see how I do in the 5K this weekend.

I only have one fear about the half coming up and that is I have not been training in the daylight hours and I know that most of the run will be when the sun comes up. I am going to have to somehow switch to pre-dawn hours in my long runs and that is scary to me because of the heat factor. It is so hot down here. Perhaps I will be blessed by some cooler weather that will allow me a heat break.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Homeschooling my Princess

Here is why I doubt I could ever be successful at homeschooling my princess:

Her: Mommy, I can spell the word "slow"
Me: Awesome. Spell it for me.
Her: L-O-W, Slow
Me: That's very good. You have the L-O-W part right except that it starts with an S so that would be S-L-O-W. OK?
Her (looking at me with a very mad face): Hmmmmfff...well, if you say that to me, I am not your friend anymore! Good Bye! as she storms off to her room.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My 6 mile long run

I did it in about 1 hour which isn't too bad. I am finding my groove more and more with each run. Today it happened around mile 4. My body seemed to settle into the run and it is something I really cannot explain. In lay terms, my breathing eased up and I was no longer panting. I could talk and sing through my running which is something new to me. I was feeling a little bit good actually. I was still sweating and my feet started to feel a bit sore but the tiredness seemed to go away and I was following a steady pace. After mile 4, I drank some water at each mile marker thereafter which actually felt good. In the last half mile I actually sprinted back to my house (the finish line).

I never stopped which sort of surprised me. I thought that at mile 5 I would have needed a rest. But I was only going to take one if my body told me to. It never did so I continued.

I am feeling a bit of momentum now that I am coming into my final month of training. Next week's long run is going to be a 5K race next Saturday morning...the Jingle Bell Jog...which was my first 5K run ever that I did last year. I am excited and anxious to see if my time has improved over the last year.

Marathon - Long Run 6 miles

I see on my countdown clock that I have less than 50 days before the half marathon and my training is in full swing. Sunday evenings are the long run of the week. Today it will be 6 miles. That means I am running from my house to my local CVS store and back. The only difference is this time I am not in my trusty van, rather I will be on foot.

I developed my training program from an internet website of a person who is a marathon trainer and former runner of many marathons. He recommends long run on Sunday, rest day on Monday, short run (2-3 miles) on Tuesday, medium run (4-5 miles) on Wednesday, another short run on Thursday, another medium run on Friday, and a rest day on Saturday. Each long run increases every other week by 1 mile. My long run will be up to 10 miles the week before race week.

The training is tough because I am training alone. I could have joined the road runners club and done it with others but I didn't want to do that. They run their long runs in the morning and I struggle with that. Plus I didn't want the added pressure of being with a group. I prefer to tough it out by myself. I am not sure why but I just do.

Being alone has its disadvantages. There is no one beside you to commiserate with. There is no one to talk to. There is no one to encourage you. It's just you and your thoughts (and in my case, my ipod). If your thoughts on that particular day are negative in any way that is sure to be a bad training day. There are so many days when I wonder why I signed up for this. There are days when I think about the race itself. There are days when I try to imagine breaking up the race into distinct segments (first 4 miles, next 5 miles, last 4 miles). I think about when I will get water and gatorade and bananas.

I wonder how it will feel when I cross the finish line. I wonder if I will drop to my knees or will I feel so elated that I will be on a high. I wonder what the medal will look like. I wonder if I will have enough energy to walk around Disney or will I have too many blisters.

I am not sure of the answers but this is what I think of when I am running and alone with me and my thoughts.

Some Days You Got It....

and some days you just don't. There is probably something really scientific about the fact that on Friday I could barely budge myself 2 miles and then yesterday I easily ran 4.5. I don't know what the science is but I find myself trying all kinds of different methods to make my running easier. I am trying to find that spot...the groove...the method that will take me from my 4.5 medium runs every other day to a 13.1 mile race in January. I haven't found it yet but I am getting close.

I have tried running in the morning on an empty stomach. No dice. That was the worst. I then tried running at night on a full stomach with no sun. Better. Half of my runs were completed at a rather steady 10:00 mile pace. But yesterday was the best so far. I ran at 5 pm which is late enough to miss the hot burning sun but early enough before dark. It was also before dinner on a fairly empty stomach. I made sure to eat some carbs an hour before to give me that extra boost.

It seemed to have worked because I did 4.5 miles with extra energy to spare. And then sat down to a nice post-Thanksgiving turkey dinner.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

I have been reading so many blogs and websites with people giving their own thanks. I don't think I can quite add much of my own that is of any great interest to my outside world but I think I would be remiss if I didn't at least give thanks for the 5 greatest blessings in my life.


and Them

The rest is just icing on the cake.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This Week at The Grocery Game

This was a pretty good week at the Grocery Game. I feel I did fairly well considering my "need" list was a bit bigger due to the Thanksgiving dinner needs. Although I tried my best to prepare for it, I still had a few leftover items.

For example, I was able to stockpile cranberry sauce (buy one get one free) last week at CVS and a few weeks ago I stockpiled white potatoes (.49 lb at Winn Dixie). I also stockpiled some frozen veggies, onions, spices, rolls, and bags of stuffing. The only need items I had left were sweet potatoes, mushrooms, milk, and the turkey.

A lot of items landed on my blue list which means more stockpiling opportunities. I am getting to the point where I am fairly well stocked on everything which means no more need stuff and I will only be shopping at rock bottom prices.

My retail grocery bill this week was $150 but my out of pocket spending ended up at $81 (almost 50% savings which is awesome). That leaves me with $19 for CVS today and I will easily hit that budget because of all the stockpile items and extra care buck offerings this week and my rolling extra bucks from last week.

This game is so much fun and if you want more information on how to join go here. They offer a $1 trial period which MORE than pays for itself and if you do join for the long haul (which I highly recommend because the nominal fee really pays for itself with the grocery savings) please give them my email address so I get a referral fee. My email address is mill2542 at bellsouth DOT net.

Monday, November 19, 2007


is the noise I make after a long run that lasts an hour and goes for 5 miles.

That is how I felt last night between the hours of 8:30 and 9:30 pm. I was really proud of myself. I ran the distance without stopping. Just last week my long run was also 5 miles but I had to stop in between and walk a portion of it. The difference was building of my stamina but it was also because yesterday was a night run. What a difference the hot Florida sun makes.

The problem is that race day will begin somewhere in the wee-hours of the morning and therefore, at least one hour of running will be in the sun and I don't know how my body will respond. I am hoping that the laughter of Mickey and friends and the numerous bands and goings-on including cheering sections will help to compensate.

In the meantime I prepare all week for next Sunday's long run which will now be 6 miles. Ooooffff-aaahhhhh.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Remembering the Day

Today is a special day to me because it is the birthday of two very special people in my family who are now singing with the angels in heaven.

My mother

and my father-in-law

I am praying that they are having a party for themselves.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Growing Up Is Hard On...Me

A special teary eyed moment for me this morning as I watched my little baby get on her preschool bus and head to the park for a field trip. She was so excited as was her friends and I tried to capture all of the moments on camera. I am still wiping away the tears.

Later today the Special Olympic foundation is coming to my home to take away the baby furniture that my toddler has outgrown. That is another tough one. He is growing so fast.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Going Back in Time

I ran into this blog post that made me laugh hysterically.

Then I realized I could add a few 70's pictures of my own ...except these pictures are real...they are of me and my brothers. I really can understand now why we were picked on as kids. These clothes were originally from Zayre's (pre-Walmart store).

This is my brother getting an award circa 1976. And that suit actually was one of the better looking ones.

Big belts and crazy arrows...

Then there was the matter of dressing alike. I am not sure what that was about but it seemed to have been a trend back then...But at this point we were still young enough for it to be cute.

But then it developed into a sickness...

That followed us on vacation...

And to the beach.....

And every Christmas...


After year...

My mom even tried to get me in on the act...

It seemed to have never ended as we grew up...

But fortunately for us it did and I am happy to report that my brothers no longer dress alike.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Marathon Update - 5 mile long run

AAAGGGHHHH!!! is the best way to describe this treachery. I am so NOT a morning runner. I am not even a runner at all. I run and I am training for a half marathon but that does not in any way qualify me to be a runner.

My program is going along smoothly and I am getting in about 15-18 miles each week. This past week was progressive and I am finally getting into my stride which is a very confident 10:00 mile pace. Which means that if I can keep it up on an average during the actual race, the officials might not pick me up for being too slow. My biggest fear is having Mickey Mouse approach me and say "um, ma'am, the race was over 8 hours ago. Your family is looking for you."

I run so much better at night but my long run was today and I have to be somewhere tonight which means I had to do my long run this morning. Dread. That means I have to run while the sun is coming up and I am not liking that. I did it...5 miles...but I had to walk 1/2 mile because the sun was beating down on me and I did not bring drink with me. But I made it through in true "Bruce" fashion to the tune of "Born to Run".

More updates next week as I work to increase my weekly total to 20 miles.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The High Road

I have heard a lot of expressions in my life regarding the high road but the high road has always been a confusing place for me.

First of all, I have never understood what it meant to say that the high road is paved with good intentions. Maybe I am just not a literary and I don't understand hidden meanings. Whatever.

I CAN tell you that the high road is a very lonely place. It's so lonely in fact that I frequently find myself walking it alone. Sometimes when I am walking down it I am crying. Sometimes I am laughing and happy. Sometimes I am extremely frustrated too. But most of the times I am quite lonely.

As a believer in God, I often ask myself why is it that he chooses to make the high road a lonely place, at least for me. I was raised in an environment where I was taught to walk down this road often yet so many times I felt alone during my walks with no one to talk to me or help me to solve my deepest problems.

Yet I am 42 years old and still taking this lonely road day after day after day. I am certain that my faith has a lot to play into this. Perhaps God is with me on this road and I am never really alone. Perhaps this is an area I need to work on because so many days I feel little strength on this road. I feel a lot of forces trying to beat me down off of the high road yet I struggle to stay on it. Many times I succeed in staying on it but not usually without a fight.

Why is the high road such a hard place to walk? I am not sure and may never figure it out. For anyone out there who struggles with the decision on whether or not to take this high road, you should because then we can walk it together.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My New Blog

I am launching a new blog that is going to be where I go to blog about my gift basket hobby. I could go on and on about it here but I will just add the link and invite you to come along and enjoy my designs.

I have always loved gift baskets since I was a little kid and I have always thought about different kinds of themes that I could create for different occasions. I always gave them as gifts in different forms such as baskets, decorated boxes, baby bathtubs, etc. I even made a baby basket once out of diapers. That was really fun.

While I won't use the blog as a way to sell my baskets nor am I currently using the blog for advertising purposes, I will certainly create and ship an order on any design you see that you would like.

Enjoy my Posh Baskets and if you have any future ideas please feel free to email me at mill2542 at bellsouth dot com.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Marathon Training...what's the big deal?

According to my blog, it is 67 days until I run in the Disney Half Marathon. I am excited about it. I am training for it. I am up to running 4 miles each day and working to increase by 1 mile each week for the next 8 weeks until I am up to my full 13 miles that I need. Last night I did my 3.5 mile goal and I felt like I could have gone another 3 miles. I felt really great. The temperature at night has dropped to the 60s and low humidity and I hardly broke a sweat.

I have gone to many websites where marathoners are training right now and discussing all kinds of strategies. I feel a little bad because I don't really have a strategy. I am using a really good novice half-K program that I found on the internet and it seems to be working. Every additional mile I run seems to be a little bit easier than the last.

I am not taking this goal lightly. Marathon running is NOT easy by any means and one really needs to be in general good physical condition. I am believing that the race will probably be more of a mind over matter when the actual day really comes and when I reach mile 10 and struggle to go that last 3.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Changing seasons

Today is the first day of Autumn....that is for those of us who live in sunny South Florida. Hurricane Noel assured us of that. Thank Goodness because this is my favorite time of year...Halloween to New Years Day. During this time I feel a total change in myself. I am more energetic than ever. I play more outside with my kids. I run better (which is a blessing because Disney Half Marathon is coming up in a few months and I need to pick up my running mileage).

The temperature is 69 degrees right now and while that is warm by most standards it is not here. Humidity is 81%. Joy of Joys. I don't consider that cold, in fact I am wearing a tank top and shorts as I write this. But I am excited that all of the windows are open and the A/C is off.

I love preparing for the Christmas season. This weekend I will start to get down the Christmas decorations. I will load up the car with Christmas CDs. I will start to plan the Thanksgiving Day menu. I will start Christmas gift shopping. This year I will start to plan my gift basket gifts...and I have a lot of ideas floating in my head. I will start to plan all of the goodies that I will make during the season such as cookies, muffins, and unique cupcakes.

I love the joy that the season brings me because it always reminds me of home and family and I love that most of all. Now that my brother and his family live closer that is all the better for us.

This year I will focus less on the gifts and more on the things we make and the memories we will share together. I will focus more on packaging the gifts so that the recipient fells ultra-special and especially loved. Because that is what this season means to me. Home, family and love.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween

I have decided that my top holidays of all time besides Christmas and Easter is Halloween. I really got into it this year. At the last minute I went to Party City and bought some really scary things for the front of the house including a fog machine, some scary screaming CDs for the CD player for approaching trick-or-treaters, and some scary signage. I was reminded by my older kids that our house was too nice and pretty boring and it needed to be more scary. I even bought a costume for myself so I could get into the mood. I was the Greek Goddess Venus.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Please miss us

Plan for the unexpected

I try very hard in my life to be as organized as possible. It's really a must when you live the kind of life that I do...a full time working mom to 4 kids in 3 different schools and in 3 different after school activities including soccer, baseball, and CCD. I run my household, pay my bills, manage the investments, do the grocery shopping, exercise daily (almost), cook, clean, sew, do all of the laundry, and blog! Schedules and to-do lists are an essential part of my life. Which is why I don't take unexpected changes to easily. Here is an excerpt of a conversation I had with my family last night during dinner.

Me: It is so nice to sit down and relax eating dinner with my family.
Teen #1: Oh yeah that reminds me. Is Barnes and Noble open tonight?
Me: Probably. Why?
Teen #1: I need a book for school tomorrow.
Me: Egad. It's not in my schedule for tonight to go out to B&N. Oh well. I don't have a choice, do I?
Teen #2: Do I have CCD tomorrow?
Me: Yes, dear, you do.
Teen #2: Oh yeah we are having Halloween treats then. Oh and I forgot to tell you that I volunteered you to make chocolate chip cookies.
Me: Do they have to be homemade because I can buy the storebought ones and pretend I made them.
Teen #2: You CCCAAANNNN'TTT do that...I bragged to everyone how good you make these cookies!
Me: Ok, have to go out and buy ingredients...not on the schedule.
Teen #1: While you are out at the store, I need to bring in canned goods for our canned goods drive at school.
Me: I didn't know anything about this.
Teen #1: I forgot to tell you but we only have until tomorrow to get the canned good in on time.
Me: Why do I bother with schedules.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Strange First

This morning as I am shuffling kids to school I am on the way back from driving one kid to school to take my toddler to day care. I am on a crowded highway in the middle of rush hour traffic when suddenly I hear a noise that I am not digging coming from the back seat. Then a loud cough and then more strange noises. I move the rear view mirror to get a glimpse of my little one when I see that he has vomited all over himself and into his car seat. Ugh. Blech. My worst fear coming true.

I pull off to the side of the road. I am in my work clothes..skirt and heels tending to this messy job. I take my toddler out of the car and undress him. I carry a towel and wipes under the seat just in case of such emergency so I proceed to clean him and the car seat up as much as possible. Even though I am off to the side of the road I am getting beeps and cat calls. People can be so rude. Can't they see my hands are full of vomit! How gross.

I manage to clean as much up as possible and then get him back in the car and proceed to go home to change clothes. I debate if it is a good idea to send him to daycare like this even though he shows no other signs of illness. It's the first day back from our realignment and I am torn.

We get home to change clothes and he is his usually happy self running around. I decide to take him to daycare but I specifically tell his teacher that if he shows any signs of duress to call me and I will be right over to take him home.

As we are pulling into the driveway I take the car seat out of the car to give it a good washing when it dawns on me that this is the first time that a child of mine has vomited in the car. I have made it almost 15 years of having kids without this happening. I feel so lucky. And I feel even luckier that he didn't vomit on the car just in the car seat.

And to think it wasn't even 9 am yet.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My thoughts on paper

My head gets filled with so many gift basket ideas that I need a place to write them down. It seems obvious to blog and categorize them.

The ideas right now are in the basket products themselves. I love gift baskets and I love to make them but so many people and companies make gift baskets and so many of them look the same. My ideas are to make them look different...chic, posh, unique...maybe those are good keywords for a company name...have to work on that later.

I am really into the traditional look but I also love a more modern design like this..

Now keep in mind that I am a very amateur photographer so this picture does not do the gift justice but I just threw it together with some Halloween candy to see how this would stand up. I also used nesting boxes that I had laying around my house and the colors are really gross. I was trying out the architecture of this kind of style so I didn't care what the boxes looked like. But I have to say that I am totally loving nesting boxes. I found a place online that sells them really cheap and absolutely gorgeous. They fit in perfectly with my goals...unique and modern.

Some other ideas floating around in my head...The Fresh Market (which is a gourmet grocery store near my house) sells gift baskets with their merchandise in them but honestly they are not that pretty and very ho-hum. I have to get up the nerve to go in there and ask the gift manager if I can make his gift baskets for him. I don't know what I would say but part of me thinks I should just say it, sell myself and be confident. What's the worst he can

Christmas is coming and gift companies have their inventory and sales already going and for me I am still in the hobby stage and putting my ideas onto paper or blogging. I am giving some of them away for gifts and am so excited to put together a product line.

I would love to put together a total basket or maybe it would be a box (because gift boxes are so cute too) or maybe nesting boxes. So much to put down on paper such as my ideas, business plan, enhancement ideas (gift tags, wrappings, and unique bows).

My gifts need to make the recipient feel totally special like they are getting a gift that no one has right down to the gift tag, wrapping and bow. They need to feel like someone made it just for them. I would love to build a company based on that premise.

Next up...more ideas and also more finite answers on what I plan to call this business.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Heavy Heart

Tonight my heart is really heavy. Heavy for my co-workers and peers who did not survive our corporate "realignment." Some people I knew for many, many years. Most people were escorted out by security. Everyone I knew was a good employee. They did nothing wrong except be in a job that someone didn't fight hard enough for. Some of them have young children and families and homes. Some of them have spouses who need medical insurance because they are fighting cancer. Some are putting their kids through college. It never makes any sense to me. I ended up with my job intact. They didn't. I don't know who feels worse...them or me.

I never got to say goodbye to any of them. I just got to watch them walk down to the front desk, get their bad news and their pink packages, and only 5 minutes to grab their purses or car keys. They get escorted out by security because you never know if someone is going to be crazy and go postal. But many of them are my church-going friends who wouldn't hurt anybody. I am sure they are hurt tonight.

One woman was in my workshop that I taught last of the nicest ladies you will meet. I asked her if she was planning to retire anytime soon and she said no because her vested time would not give her full pension and benefits.

She was escorted out today. So sad.

There are many more...clerks who once answered my phone for me and who I love dearly. Some are engineers who I just spoke to the other day. Some are people I never worked with but would say hello to in the hallway. Gone.

It's a sad day because those of us who are left behind are left to do the jobs of the people who are gone. And they never got a proper send off. Pray for them because I hope that they go on to something much better. They all deserve it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Special Anniversary

I don't remember the exact date that my DH and I first dated. I don't remember the date that we got engaged. I do remember the date that that we call our "first meeting". It was on the date of this event...

October 16, 1999 and we just celebrated 8 awesome years since then. It's a really long story that I plan to blog about in bits and pieces but I can say that I remember this day vividly right down to what I was wearing, what I said, what I did, what I ate, and how wet I got. I also remember my inner feeling when I got paired up to work this storm cleanup with this "cute guy" who I knew nothing about but was told I would have to drive in the same car with him. I didn't think of being scared. Instead I thought that maybe God finally was listening to my prayers and it turns out that he was because my life forever changed after that day.

It turned into this..

which then turned into this...

Sauce Purist

I am a second generation Italian-American which means I know good spaghetti sauce. Whether you call it sauce or gravy or whatever, it doesn't matter because I know how to make it and trust me when I say that it is really easy.

But first a quick story. The other day I was at the store and there was a buy one get one free Prego marinara sauce on sale. I bought it because there are always those rush times in my life when I need a really quick meal. The other day I experienced just one of those days and I grabbed for that jar of sauce while pasta was cooking. The sauce was just "OK". In other words, I ate it but I really don't dig it. It's just not the same as homemade. When I went to wash the dishes in the sink I noticed that the sauce had stained my sink! Egad. Real tomato sauce just doesn't do that! It was then that I realized I am a sauce purist. No phony baloney anymore.

The irony is that the sauce I make really doesn't take any time at all either and if I really wanted to I could probably make my own and can it all myself (though I have no clue how to make can food). So without further delay I am posting my easy-peasy spaghetti sauce recipe here for you all to try out. And then you can tell me which is better...mine or Prego.

Easy Spaghetti Sauce

1 diced onion
olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic (or palm full of garlic powder if you don't have fresh)
can of tomatoes (whole, cut, or diced - it doesn't matter because you are going to blend it in the end)
a few sprinkles of dried oregano
palm full of dried basil (4-6 leaves if you are using fresh)
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium pan, heat up 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium flame. Add diced onion and cook onions until golden (2 minutes). Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes and turn down heat to low. If you have whole canned tomatoes, break up the tomatoes with a spatula. Add the spices and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Let the sauce cool down for a few minutes and then transfer it to a blender or food processor. Puree the sauce in the blender and serve. (Be very careful with hot liquids in a blender because the hot sauce has a tendency to boil over in the blender when you turn it on).

Bon Appetit!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Game With Me

I often blog about this game that I have been doing since Sept.1 and that I am obsessed with. It's called The Grocery Game. The only thing I don't like about it is that I didn't think of it and make millions off of it. Oh well. I love playing it and I love reaping the rewards.
I have decided to post here weekly on how well I did and saved.

The gist of the game is that you register at the website (they have a $1 month trial period in case you want to test it out). When you register you select what grocery or drug stores you shop at regularly. In turn what you get is a sale "list" each week in your account for those stores that you registered for. When you are past the trial period the price of the list is $10 for 8 weeks for the first store and then $5 for each store thereafter. I am currently registered at 4 stores (Publix, Winn Dixie, Walgreens, and CVS). What you get in return is savings, savings, and more savings.

Sounds too good to be true, right? That's what I thought at first but I tried the trial period which is only $1 investment. I am a real skeptic so I planned on only doing the trial period.

That is until I started seeing some massive savings in my grocery and drug store spending. And I mean MASSIVE by about 50%. This more than covers the price I pay for these "lists". Not only that but I have more food and toiletries than I ever had and my refrigerator is always full. I buy the same name brands and quality of groceries I always have so quality is never compromised.

Still unsure? That's ok. I will post my savings from my CVS trip last night. I will first tell you what I bought and then I will tell you what I paid. (While I can't give exact prices and name the exact brands because I don't want to jeopardize the game for those who pay to play, I will let you know if something I bought was a generic item).

1 bottle of bleach
3 medium bottles of shampoo
2 large bottles of shampoo and conditioner
1 box of hair coloring
2 bottles of laundry detergent
1 large box of diapers
2 lipsticks
2 lip glosses
2 mascaras
1 curling iron (CVS brand)
1 box of paper napkins (CVS brand)
1 box of razor blades
1 bottle of shaving cream
4 chocolate energy bars

The full retail price of all of that was $150.
I paid $70.56
I earned $10 back and more coupons toward my next shopping trip.
In addition, I am adding onto my quarterly CVS spending which earns me 2% back every quarter.

Now, if I still consider myself an average gamer but I know that when I become a real pro at this I will be able to take a shopping day like that down to $30.

If you have any questions feel free to email me at mill2542 at bellsouth dot com and I will be sure to fill you in on details.

On my next gaming post I will tell you how I managed to spend $80 this week on groceries and walked out of the store with $200 worth in my cart.

The Great Pumpkin

I often wonder what a real pumpkin patch looks like because I have never been to one that wasn't off to the side of the road and across from a Publix grocery store. I have never been picking pumpkins when it was cooler than 80 degrees outside.

But that is what life is like in the tropics of South Florida in mid-October.

I dream one day of visiting a real pumpkin patch and a real apple orchard in the middle of Autumn.

Friday, October 19, 2007

My Husband Really Missed Me

The other day I had to go to a training workshop about 4 hours away from my house. I drove the day before and then came home the next day. I was gone for about 36 hours.

I didn't have too many fears that my husband wouldn't be able to handle our children while I was away mainly because I prepared way ahead of time to make it fairly easy.

Things went smoothly and my family was happy to see me when I came back home.

I was pleasantly surprised, though, at how much my husband missed me. I joked with him that perhaps it was because he had to make dinner and he totally does not cook much if at all. I know I spoil him in that area because I love to cook and he really does not. He had to give the kids their baths and didn't enjoy that he didn't have the freedom that I give him to go to bed early while I get the kids into bed. He didn't enjoy not being able to go for a late night run or exercise at the gym. He didn't enjoy the quiet in the house when all the kids were sleeping and he had no one to talk to.

We all take those kinds of freedoms for granted. I try not to because I clearly remember the days when I was a single mom raising two small boys in a tiny 900 square ft apartment. It's an emotional and financial strain that I don't wish upon anyone and every so often I remind myself of how grateful I am to be in the center of a really great family.

My husband has been telling me over and over yesterday and today how much he loves me and missed me. Geesh! It was only 36 hours, I reminded him. Still, he was reminded about how lost he would be without me and I know how I would be without him.

So here is to not taking your loved ones for granted and next time you see them remind them of how much they mean to you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Unique Gifts

I love giving gifts but most of all I love giving gift baskets. I have always had a knack for them and on many occasions put some together for the ones I love.

I have made very large ones with big teddy bears inside for a new mom and I have made really small ones with gift certificates and candy for teachers at school. I don't know what it is about them that I love the most. As far as making them I love the chance to tailor make them for the person I am giving them to. As a person making them for others I love the challenge of finding that beautiful or unique basket.

Many years ago I gave a gift basket to a good friend of mine and she quietly told me that I should run my own gift business. I thought that was extremely complimentary but never really gave it a serious thought until now.

I stumbled upon a book in the bookstore about giving gift baskets and started researching more and more and I have stumbled upon some companies that offer the most unique containers and baskets along with some really awesome merchandise to put in gift baskets. I have been playing with shrink wrap and nesting boxes and it has been a lot of fun.

Maybe one day I will do more than make them for a hobby. For now I am experimenting with products and tapping into this talent that I enjoy a lot.

Friday, October 12, 2007


This has to be the yummiest dish I have ever made. Not only because it tastes good but because it is SOOOOO easy and I love the way it tastes.

I picked some out of a salad bar I was eating at the other day and it prompted me to blog about the versatility of this easy dish.

The key to really good couscous is to cook it with chicken stock NOT water. It is very simple too. All you do is heat the stock in a pan and when it is boiling, add an equal amount of couscous to it and cover (1 cup couscous to 1 cup of liquid) . After approximately 5 minutes fluff the couscous with a fork and serve. It is just THAT easy.

What I like to do is add different things to my couscous. For example for an Italian variety I chop up a tomato and red onion and add a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and stir in with the couscous for a yummy flavor.

For a sweet flavor I add in some raisins, dried fruit and nuts with the liquid and then add that to the couscous.

You can add cheeses, spices, fruits, nuts, chicken, shrimp, cut up little pieces of raw veggies and it ALL tastes great. I have even added baby spinach to the liquid and it will cook down in the liquid and add a delicious taste to the couscous.

Try this yummy dish and it will always be a cheap and easy go-to meal any day of the week.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Math Isn't Easy to Everyone

I have to keep reminding myself that while I find math to be an extremely easy subject, not everyone is the same as me.

Case in point. Yesterday while I was getting ready for work and in the middle of brushing my teeth, my young tween asks me to sign two of his recent algebra math quizzes. One is a C and the other is a D. Both require signatures. I pause and collect my two immediate thoughts.

1. Why in the world did he do so poorly on his math tests?
2. Why in the world did he wait through the weekend to show this to me?

I look at him and (realizing this later on) must have had the worst look of disappointment in my face. I calmly ask him what happened on the quizzes? He shrugs his shoulders and says he doesn't know. I tell him that when he gets home from school we will need to review his mistakes so that we can move on from this and do better next time. I sign the papers and proceed to finish getting ready.

A few minutes later I go out to the kitchen only to find him bawling his eyes out over his cereal. The tears alone were enough to make his breakfast soggy. I felt terrible. I told him not to worry about the tests because even though we can't change the grades we can certainly learn from it and do better. He wiped his eyes and we went off to school.

I couldn't help but think about him all day yesterday thinking about him crying over a few rotten test scores. When I stopped by the house during my lunch break, I peeked in his room and saw that he had made his bed and cleaned up his clothes just as I asked him to do. He is a really good boy. And when I looked up his other grades online I notice he is making all A's in the rest of his classes. It's not like he is in a crisis situation. But it's math and math is so easy. Maybe for me. Maybe not for him.

So yesterday before I picked him up from school I decided to buy him a fruit smoothie because those always brings cheer. When he got in the car he was really excited to get the smoothie and we had a heart to heart talk. I explained to him that I just expect him to do his best and that we can both work on his schoolwork together like a team. I told him that on my lunch break I put together a few lesson plans for us to work on together and we did. He seemed to understand his mistakes and looked much more confident by the end of the night.

I learned a big lesson and that is that not all of my kids will have the enthusiasm for the same subjects as I do nor will they excel in the same things I exceled in when I went to school and that is ok. That's what makes them unique. What I love the most about him is that he listens to me, respects me as his mom, and is a kind, sweet and gentle boy. In retrospect that the most important thing to me.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Am I Ready For This?

A couple of days ago when I picked up my older boys from their Dad's house, I asked them how their weekend was going so far. They answer me in their usual answer of "Fine" but my young tween, who will soon be a teen, told me that he went to a movie with some friends and a mom of one of the friends. I continued to ask questions about the friends and he admitted to me that there were some guy friends and some girl friends.

I respond with "ohhhh" and then with what must have been an Edith Bunker look on my face my "ohhhh" turned to "oooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." Boys and GIRLS? Emphasis on "GIRLS".

I ask who the girls are and he tells me that they are just some girls from school. There were 4 boys and 3 girls and it was no big deal. Of course it wasn't a big deal. That is not a big deal to him. But certainly a big deal to me.

That's because my little guys are growing up and wayyyy too fast. I dread the day when I have to worry about girls and girlfriends and love and heartbreak and all of that stuff that goes with relationships with your kids. I shudder to think of it all. I don't need to add more years onto my life at this point. I am happy to not have too many gray hairs. Why add more?

I am just not ready for this but I am realizing that it is happening whether I am ready for it or not.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thursday Ramblings

I don't have any one topic to blog about today so there will be several topics I will touch on.

A Soccer Conversation With My Princess

We are watching soccer on TV

Her: I want to play soccer when I am 5 years old.
Me: Awesome. That will be so neat. You will have to remember to never touch the soccer ball with your hands unless you are the goalie.
Her: I know why you can't touch the ball.
Me: Why?
Her: Because if you touch the ball your hands will get DIRTY!

When Your Child Is Sick

Today I picked Jack up from school. He was very whiney but I was not sure why. It wasn't too much out of the norm for him. We got home and he suddenly wanted to be picked up. I picked him up and started walking him to my bedroom when all of a sudden he threw up all over me. When I say that this is the first time he had ever thrown up I am not exaggerating. This is the first time even when he was a baby. He rarely spit up either. I was really more shocked and knew this was not the norm for him. Naturally I did my best to clean up and took him over to the bath to clean up. Afterward I offered him a drink and he took it. He was laughing and watching TV on the couch. An hour had passed and no more vomiting and it was getting close to dinner so I offered him something to eat that would not be objectionable...crackers and plain cheerios. He accepted and ate them. I figure that if he was drinking and keeping it down and willingly eating cheerios that maybe he was feeling better. An hour later and he started to run a fever. I gave him some motrin and he then fell asleep in his chair eating his cheerios. I then held him for awhile and let him sleep in my arms and then set him up in his bed where he has been ever since. He has been sleeping soundly for about an hour. I just went in and checked on him and his temperature is down and we will spend the day together tomorrow at home.

Why is it that when our kids get sick, we moms feel sick too? I can't really speak for all moms but I can say that whenever one of my kids is sick I feel just as horrible. Maybe worse than they do. I feel that a lot is out of my control and if I just could take their illness away and put it on me I would gladly do so.

Hopefully tomorrow goes a bit better and then I won't feel so sick.

My Novena

I am saying a 27 day Novena. I happened to mention this to my older son while we were picking up my tween from Sunday School. Older son is going to Catholic High School and I have noticed that he is picking up a lot of information in his theology class. We discussed prayer and novenas in general. I didn't tell him why I was saying the novena but he was advising me that I should remember to pray all the times, not just when we are in need or that would be considered self-serving. I think that is true so I promised him that alongside my novena I would work very hard on more praying throughout the day and every day not just for myself but for others.


My company is going through yet another "realignment." In all honesty I have been through so many that I am too used to it to be nervous. I have never been worried about my job at all. I figure that if I lost it I would be able to find something new or perhaps work at home which would be heaven to me. If they kept me on that is fine too. But the not knowing is bad. We have been "not knowing" since June and that is a tad too long for a company realignment.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Update on my sad awards story

I got a few comments on the story that I told in the post below on my name especially from Corey and Cindy. I felt a lot of hugs from you all coming my way and I just felt it was only appropriate to let you know that while I did feel bad about having to walk away while the other girl got the award, the teacher did her best to keep it really discrete so not many others knew what was going on. I wasn't really embarrassed that I started up there to get the award but more angry that I wasn't the one getting the award.

Perhaps that is where my over-achieving began...who knows...but to this day I am totally competitive in that regard in a quiet sort of way. I really strive to do my best in my job even though I don't get any more pay out of it. I just like the ataboys and the smiles on others around me knowing I did an awesome job.

So don't feel too bad. I am certain the award story (and there are plenty more like those) shaped me into the person I am today and I am fairly satisfied with that.

Hugs back for the thoughtful comments and have a most awesome rest of the week!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What's A Name

My good friend Corey wrote an interesting post in her blog regarding your birth name.

I decided to try the test to see how many people in the US share my same name. I used my maiden name as the test and found that 419 people share in my name. Corey feels connected to her name but I don't. In fact I have always wanted to have a different name. Even though I am named for the St. Terese my nickname is Terry. I don't necessarily mind the nickname nor do I mind at all being named for a wonderful saint but I just don't understand why my parents decided to spell my nickname like a boy's name.

I have had my name spelled wrong so many times it would get very frustrating. I can't tell you how many letters over the years I have received addressed to Mr.

I don't like nicknames in general mainly because you have to always explain the nickname such as in school when I was new in a class I would have to tell them to call me Terry. Blech....that was always so awkward because half the time my name would get butchered.

Perhaps if my parents had not given me the nickname I would have felt better. This is why I decided that none of my kids would have names that would be shortened or altered mistakenly.

Finally, I didn't like the fact that my name was so common because I remember when I was in elementary school and there was a girl in school with my exact name. One day at an awards assembly my name was called for an award. I started to go up to get the award and that girl went up too. We both stared at each other and my teacher motioned to me that the award was going to the other girl. I felt like Charlie Brown at that moment and walked back to my seat.

I will never forget that and perhaps it is why I am not connected to my name.
LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Yesterday I felt validated

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend of mine. Her name is Renee. I have known Renee since my older boys were babies and Renee was in high school working at the boys' daycare. When the boys left daycare I fell out of touch with Renee until last year when she magically appeared at the daycare that my two younger ones go to. This time she is the office manager and she now has two young children the same ages as mine. How life comes full circle.

It seems that Renee left the old daycare on very bad terms with the owner and with the woman who is now my boys' stepmother. There was much backstabbing and gossip going on that she had to move past it.

Renee and I had a casual conversation the other day regarding stepmother. The incidents over the years with her as the stepmother to my children have been excruciating and painful and I feel as though they have probably added years to my life considering the many, many days of stress. I have endured the pain and agony for 7 years for the sake of my two beautiful boys...because it's my job to be a mom first and then worry about myself later. But that doesn't make my heart turn to stone. I have feelings of which have been stepped all over by a person who claims to love my kids. No matter. The boys and I have endured and conquered her.

Back to Renee. As I was speaking to her yesterday she turned the conversation toward stepmom. She told me some things that no one has ever told me outside of my dear husband. She validated all of the things I have been feeling about stepmom. She validated how horrible she is toward me and she validated the things she saw her do and her motivations when she worked with her at the old daycare.

Curiously I asked her for more information not quite believing the first of this experience...that someone within stepmom's circle of friends (or former friends) actually was telling me that it was HER who is/was crazy and insane and NOT me!

I walked away thanking her because I had never quite had this happen before...that is, someone close to the situation who saw the pain I had been feeling who finally stepped up and took my side. I truly felt validated.

I spoke to Greg about it afterward. Why do I need to feel validated by others? Why do I need to hear it from outside myself to feel confidence that I am doing a good job by my boys? He told me that it really is human nature for all of us to want to be validated and reassured that we are on track in our life and that we are being commended for the good we try to do and the nice people we try to be.

I got in my car yesterday and cried but this time I was crying happy tears because of the relief that I felt inside that I no longer needed to hide or be ashamed of the situations that I go through with stepmom and that even though I would like to change the situation, I can't and I finally freed myself because there are others out there who understand and that felt pretty good.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Our Pediatrician is Retiring

After being with our pediatrician for almost 15 years he is finally retiring. We found out yesterday when we brought TinyToddler in for a 2 year checkup. After examining him he broke the news to us. I don't know why but my eyes filled up with tears and I hugged him and wished him well.

This doctor has been with us since the day that my first child was born and I have been really loyal rarely agreeing to have any 4 of my kids be examined by anyone but him. I guess that was why I was so saddened by the news of him leaving. I feel that I could always depend on his answers and his references. He was always so good about referring any of the kids to specialists...always erring on the side of caution.

He was the one who told us to take our little princess to see a genetist because he was afraid she might have neurofibromatosis. It turns out that she did have it but since there are no tests for it I felt that his intuition proved worthy of attention.

He referred my oldest teen to an endocrinologist because of his suspected growth stoppage and was concerned that he might have a deeper problem. It turns out that his bone and hormone growth is a couple of years behind his chronological age so we don't have to worry just yet. He still has a lot of growing to do.

He caught my pre-teen's inguinal hernia when he was 7 years old and we promptly had it fixed.

He helped bandage up my oldest when he broke his arm 5 years ago.

He has been on hand for many ear infections, viruses, colds, and checkups. I have come to regard Dr. Cohen as a dear and loving friend of the family and I will miss him dearly. The practice just won't be the same without him.
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