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.
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