Monday, August 29, 2011

Things I Am Grateful For When The Power Goes Out

Yeah, there's still not any power, and it doesn't look like we'll have it today either.  There's no reason to be glum, though.  There are a lot of things to be grateful for.

  • No TV, computers, cell phones, ect.   Yeah, I know a lot of you wouldn't initially agree with this, but bear with me.  I whole-heartedly feel that all those electronics can be a huge distraction from the more important things in life, and that we use them to hide way too much.  While I still need my cell phone to stay in touch with family and my computer for work, I can easily plug them in to charge at the theater or at a coffee shop.  When I get home, I can whole-heartedly devote myself to being home.  I like that.
  • No A/C.  Yeah, that's another one plenty would disagree with.  I, however, did not grow up with a/c.  I was able to teach myself how to relax and stay cool (something I could never master in reverse when I was in MN).  Instead of making me feel comfortable, the a/c often makes me feel dried-out and sometimes even too cold while others are still hot.  Sure, I wish the ice maker worked or that I had a fan, but I'm perfectly comfortable without those too.  Oh, and I'm grateful it's only in the 80s this week.
  • Good books and the ability to read.  Need I say more?  Those books are helping me get through this week.
  • Long conversations.  This ties back in to the no tv/computers thing, but I think it should be stated separately too.  Hans and I have been spending time simply enjoying each other's company.  We're playing board games, talking, and heading outdoors for some recreation.  Usually we'd just be planted in front of the tv.
  • Good neighbors Our neighbors have a generator, and they've been great.  We're storing some milk and jam at their place (breakfast essentials in my book), and they keep checking to see if there's anything we need.  It makes me happy to know they're so great.
  • Good employment.  Hans works in a theater.  That means there's a refrigerator, a washer/dryer, and lots of outlets.  So far, we've utilized all of those.  Without that, I think this power outage would be much more inconvenient.  Also, without his income or the meager income I provide, we would not be able to afford eating out when we want a hot meal and don't have time for the grill.
  • The gym.  We have water, but we don't have hot water.  Thank you Gold's Gym for your warm showers.  Oh, and thanks too for the pool and work-out equipment, but I was using that before the power outage.
See?  There's loads to be grateful for.  I refuse to complain about the few inconveniences, but would rather see how much good is coming from this.  Hurrah!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene 2011

Today, the sun is shining and it's beautiful.  This is a far cry different from how things looked yesterday.  Yesterday, it was rainy and windy, birds stayed in their nests, and the dogs stayed inside.  Yesterday, Hurricane Irene hit. 

I posted before that I really wasn't too concerned about things.  I'm definitely a take-things-as-they-come type of person when it comes to some things, and I just wasn't concerned about Irene.  The only thing I was really worried about was losing power, and I knew that we could make things work with that.

I was right about worrying about power.  We lost power around 11:00 am yesterday, and we were some of the first in the city without power.  Of course, we'd just started a load of laundry with the hopes of finishing it before power went out, so now we have a nasty, wet load of laundry sitting in a washing machine, waiting for power.  I'm pretty sure that load will be washed two or three times...or we'll go to a laundromat. 

You know what's nice about not living on a well, though?  WATER!!!  Growing up, whenever the power went out, we also lost water because the pump for the well required electricity.  It was so nice to still be able to wash dishes and use the bathroom and even shower (even if it was cold).  I know, what I'm thankful for today, and that's water!

The other thing I'm somewhat thankful for today is that the tornado last October took out all the trees we would have had to worry about during this storm.  We were not concerned about trees falling on our house or our cars because there just wasn't one close enough.  In fact, while this may not have been the smartest thing to do, at one point Hans and I sat on the front porch and watched the storm.  It was quite relaxing.  Other than that, we spend the day and evening reading, sleeping, and playing Jenga by candle light (with a small break for dinner with the neighbors provided by Chinese delivery).  It was very peaceful.

With light this morning, though, we can see all the damage the storm did.  Many trees lost branches, and plenty were simply uprooted.  At least three people lost their lives when trees fell on them, including on 11 year old boy.  Power is out throughout the city, but I've seen a few crews working hard to get them back up (and I've cheered them on).  While most houses were fine, some have simply been destroyed.

I feel really sorry for this family.
 Most of the damage, though, looks like this:

With all the rain, trees were simply uprooted.

My favorite road to run down has a green carpet.

For a while, some of these trees will be fun for kids to play on.

I'm not sure how it started, but this building actually caught fire yesterday, and apparently crews had a hard time putting it out.  It used to be a dry cleaners, so we're wondering if there were still chemicals inside.

All in all, we're happy and safe, and happy to be safe.  We're praying for families who weren't as fortunate, but we're also yelling at our mothers to stop worrying.  Really, we're just settling in for a few quiet nights.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing for Irene

Have you heard?  It's big news.  Apparently, the world is ending!

On Tuesday, the east coast suffered a 5.8 magnitude earthquake.  Two nights ago there was an aftershock of 4.5 magnitude.  I felt the 5.8, but that's about it.  Damage was mild, and no one was injured.  This earthquake was almost a record breaker and was the largest since the 1800s.  Yes, it was the earthquake of the century.  Could we also call it a bicentennial earthquake?

Image via here.

Now, we're supposed to be hit by Hurricane Irene.  I'm have mixed emotions as to how I feel about this.  Plenty of people are panicking.  They have tubs of water and plenty of kerosene and they're securing anything that's not tied down.  I'm getting phone calls from my mom and texts from the in-laws telling us to be prepared.  However, as far as I can tell, the most we'll get here in RIC is a tropical storm.  Serious? Yes.  Stay home weather?  Yes.  Design a bunker?  No.

Anyway, I'm left feeling slightly anxious and under-prepared.  Oh, and I'm more than a little annoyed.  I mean, we go through hurricane season every year.  I've lived through plenty of hurricanes and tropical storms, and there's never been a problem.  However, the last BIG hurricane that came through here was Isabel, and she was quite a doozy.  I think people are thinking of her and are preparing for the absolute worst.  So, just to make all the parents happy, here's my emergency plan:

  • Know where all the flashlights and candles are, and have matches/lighter to light them.  I do expect we'll lose power at some point.
  • Have a book to read since I know the dogs will be freaking out over the storm and I won't get any sleep.
  • Have plenty of foods for grilling in case we're out of power for a while.  If we don't lose power, we'll still enjoy the grilled foods.
  • Shower at the gym.  We can also get a bit of water from here if necessary.  I doubt we'll lose water, but at least there's a plan.
  • If worse comes to worse, we can always stay at Dad's house or at friends' houses.  I really doubt it will come to that, so I'm not at all concerned about packing a bag.
Alright, I hope you're all happy.  Now watch.  It will probably be nothing.  Of course, I could just be like the proverbial grasshopper and y'all are the ants, in which case I'll be mooching off you shortly.  :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I love food.  I really love food.  My idea of the perfect day is the ability to eat whatever I wanted all day long and not have to think about my body or my wallet.  Ahhh, that would be beautiful.  However, as I've gotten older, I've also started to notice how food affects me, and that has given me reason to think about every bite I take.

Like most people, I'm attracted to certain foods, and like most people, if I eat a lot I'll gain weight.  That, however, is not all there is.  As I've mentioned before on my blog, I recently decided to cut a lot of processed sugar from my diet.  I had really noticed some HUGE changes there, but I don't think I realized just how huge they were until last week.

Before my diet changed, I often felt the following symptoms:

  • Bloating/gas or abdominal pain (TMI?)
  • Itchy skin rash
  • Joint pain
  • Tingling or numbness in hands / feet
  • Canker sores
  • Irritability or changes in behavior
  • Anxiety attacks
  • And many more...
I was also borderline hypoglycemic.  I had gone to the doctor to be checked out for multiple things, including but not limited to thyroid issues, sarcoidosis, and heart defects (that numb hands and feet thing got to me).  I went to the dermatologist twice for what she called eczema, but it seemed odd to me and steroids were only a temporary fix.  The one thing that consistently listed a lot of my symptoms was Celiac disease, but something told me it wasn't that.  Anyway, I did change my diet, but instead of cutting gluten, I cut processed sugar. 

This took a huge change in attitude, because I could no longer think, "Oh, I've earned these calories, I can have those M&Ms."  Instead, I had to think, "My body does not need, nor does it want those M&Ms."  I went through a bit of a detox, and I ate about two metric tons of watermelon to get through it (thank God for summer).  Then, all of a sudden, I started feeling better.

My anxiety attacks all but went away, the joint pain lessened, my mood swings completely diminished, and everything else slowly started to fade away (yes, even the bloating/gas).  If I did have something processed, I'd start to feel sick and my stomach would not be nice to me.

Last week, though, I had a different mindset.  The thought was, "I'm on vacation!  Let's enjoy it!"  Hello lovely Klondike bars and frozen custard!  By Tuesday (or maybe Monday) my tummy was already protesting.  It was like my early warning system, but I didn't listen to it.  Next to go was my energy.  Workouts were harder and my motivation to do them was lacking.  By the end, there were some small mood swings, but that could have also been simply the end of vacation getting to me.  Still, though, all these things weren't enough to stop me from having another Klondike bar (yes, ice cream is my weakness).

This week is what shocked me, though.  As my tummy readjusts and everything processes through, I get to suffer through more belly aches.  My fingers have been a little tingly and my anxiety levels are heightened.  Oh, and that skin rash that was fading away came back in full new places.

Looking back now, I'm asking myself, "Was that Klondike bar worth it?"  Ummm, NO!  It definitely was not.  Admittedly, my eating could have been a lot worse, but it also could have been better.  Why would I want to put my body through all that?  What good did those Klondike bars do me? 

I think the next time I'm craving something so sugary, I'll go for a run!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Summer Vacation

This past week, Hans and I have been on vacation.  Oh what a lovely vacation it has been!  Ideally, Hans and I would escape off to some remote location and have the whole week to just ourselves and Cody.  This vacation, though, was not that.  This vacation was with Hans' whole family.

Of course, this meant there was a lot of anxiety going into the vacation.  When we left Friday morning, I was worried about so many things.  How would my race go? (Well, we know the answer to that one.)  Would I get along with everyone, or would tensions be high?  How annoyed would I get over things that never would have even come close to affecting my family on vacations?  Would my nephew, whom I haven't seen in a year, like me?  What about food?  Is it possible to vacation with people whose food choices are completely different from yours and still eat the way you want to?  What about exercise?  Would I get enough?  These are some pretty serious questions, and I'm happy to report I have some pretty decent answers.

The Family
I am relaxed and happy to report that things went surprisingly well on this trip.  Hans family and my family are somewhat...different (from each other, not from the world).  In the past, this has caused many a tense moments and, dare I say, resentment towards each other.  Over the past few years, though, I've noticed that my relationship with his family has slowly improved.  Still, though, I was nervous that a whole week with the whole family could be problematic.  Maybe it's just that I was super-relaxed and I really had not a care in the world, but I enjoyed the family.  I didn't just tolerate, I didn't vent behind peoples' backs.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with everyone.  In fact, I even miss that time spent with them now.  Sure, there were tense moments (it was a whole family in one house for a week), but all in all things were great!

Oh, and my nephew was absolutely adorable.  He does like me, and I have the slobbery, food-stained kisses on my shirt to prove it.  I love that little guy.  Cody loved the little guy too.

I'd say we're happy.
Cody's even sharing his bed.

The Food and Fitness
Well, I can give myself a C.  Things started off really well.  After my 5k, I was so elated that I made sure I kept going like that.  I ate as healthy as I could, and on less-healthy things I'd take small portions...large enough to not be rude (or hungry), but small enough to work quickly through my system.  About half-way through the week, though, I think I said, "Aww, screw it!"  I had a lot of custard, and I felt free to help myself to the desserts.  It was always the desserts.  My stomach seriously rebelled, and my workouts became a lot harder.  I did, however, do all my planned workouts in their entirety, and I had a lot of running on the beach.  I missed going to the gym, though, and I'm looking forward to going back tomorrow.

The Boys
Cody and Hans LOVED their beach trip.  I know Hans loved the time off from the dogs, and Cody loved having us all to himself.  There was definitely some joy over being in the ocean, too.  Hans, unfortunately, caught a head cold in the latter half of the trip, so he's feeling like crud now, but Cody is just plain old worn out.  Lots of sleep is needed for this boy!

That's some special guy love.  Yes, I love my boys.

Someone's exhausted after having just chased all the seagulls off the beach.

All in all, I've returned feeling happy and refreshed.  I don't think I realized just how much I needed that break until I had that break.  I'd be more than happy to do it again!  For now, though, it's back to the daily grind...which luckily I enjoy!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My First 5k

All throughout my Up and Running 5k course, Julia Jones, our coach, told us we would not die.  No matter how we felt, we would not die.  Well, this is only partially true.  It is true, of course, that physically I am still very much alive.  But to say that part of me didn't die would be a lie.  Today, the part of me who said I could not do this, the part of me that saw me as ugly or not-good-enough, was squashed.  That part of me is very much dead.  In its place is a loud voice that is cheering me on, screaming YOU CAN DO THIS!!!  And guess what.  I did.

I had my alarm set for 6:00 am, but I was up at 5:30.  I wanted to go!  A few months ago, I would have been doing this:

Instead, I was getting dressed, eating my banana, and letting myself get super worked up.  Would I be the last one to finish?  Would I meet my goal(s)?  My main goal was to finish without walking, but I was also really hoping to be under 40 minutes, preferably closer to 35 minutes.

Hans and I arrived at the site at 7:20, and I spent the next 35 minutes warming up and chatting with other runners.  We'd found out the night before that Cody was allowed to run with me, so Cody was there attracting attention from everyone (and keeping me sane). 

At 7:58 I was on the starting line.

See Cody?

At 8:00 a.m. the race started.  I tried as hard as I could to start out slow.  I'd seen some massive hills the night before, and in fact one of the roads was named Hillside Dr. 

As people passed me, I had this overwhelming fear that I'd finish last.  I couldn't hear people behind me.  Are there any people there??

At one point, I saw Hans cheering me on.  Cody saw Hans too.  Actually, that was the only snafu.  He wanted to get to Daddy!

Then the rains came.  There was thunder and big, fat rain drops.  It was very cold and sent shivers through my body.  I continued on.

Finally, I saw the finish line.  I ran as hard as I could.  As I entered the chute, I saw Hans ready to take a picture.  Unfortunately, the camera didn't click, so I don't have the wonderful picture of me going through the finish line.  There was probably too much water on the lens. 

At that point, the heavens opens up.  I like to say that God was raining his praises on me.  :P  I was planning on leaving just to get out of the rain, but Hans said I should stay for the awards.  I thought, "Well, maybe they'll have a little something for all of the participants."

I was wet and cold by this point, but I was happy to be supporting all of the super-fast runners who placed first, second, and third.  Imagine my surprise when we got to the Women age 24-29 category and they called my name for the 3rd place ribbon!!!!  My first-ever 5k, and I won a ribbon!!!!!!

I am very, very happy!!!

I ran the whole way.  Goal #1 complete.  My time was 35:25.  Goal #2 complete.  I completely rocked it!  Goal #3...Yay!!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Alright, bare with me for a completely random post.

Have you ever been shoe shopping?  I'm sure you have.  Do you have the same problem I have?  You know, the one where one shoe fits but the other one is just a little too big?  That is always a problem for me!  If it fits my right foot, it's too big for my left.  If it fits my left foot, it's too small for my right.

So, I must ask myself this: Why are shoes sold in pairs that HAVE to be the same size?  As soon as a shoe retailer realizes that peoples feet are not the same size even though they're on the same body, then that shoe retailer will earn millions!

Personally, I think it's a conspiracy between the shoe makers and the insert makers.  If our shoes were fitted perfectly, there would be no (or at least little) need for inserts.  GRRRR!

Thank you for reading my completely random post.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Feeling Better

Saturday was a very long day...a very, very long day.  I can't tell you exactly what I did (or else I'd have to kill you), but let's just say it involved me waking at 2:00 am, driving for 2.5 hours, waiting, cheering, and waiting some more, and then driving another 5 hours thanks to traffic.  I came home absolutely exhausted, and I knew long before I got home that I'd be feeling Saturday for a while. 

I always joke that I'm an 80 year old stuck in a 25 year old's body.  I prefer crocheting to partying, reading to t.v., and sleep to not sleep.  My body has trouble recuperating from a day like Saturday, and this time was no different.  I thought yesterday's work out with Absolute Sports Performance would kill me, and for the first time in my life I was extremely close to vomiting.  Hans and I did go to the Watermelon Festival, but that left me done for the day.  Lots and lots of sleep was to be had after that. 

My plan for today was to clean in the morning and then go to a Master Swim class at the gym.  I just couldn't muster the energy.  At 9:30 this morning, I was still lying on the couch trying to muster the energy to take care of the laundry.  The class started in 1 hour.  I thought, "There's no way I'll make it through a gym class.  I'm sleeping in and I'll go swimming later today."  Luckily, at 9:45 something else kicked in.  I had written this class on my schedule.  It was actually important enough for me to put in writing.  This is the only class of its kind all week, and I'd really been wanting to try it.  So, I hurried upstairs, moved some clothes to the dryer (they'd already been washed), threw on my swimsuit, packed my gym bag, and away I went.

Boy am I glad I went!  At first I was slightly mortified because I was the only one under 70 in the pool.  But then, some younger people started to show up.  One girl was even at my skill level, so that was very helpful.  Most importantly, though, I'm no longer so tired.  I mean, yes, the work out killed.  I swam for an hour!  However, I can work through this mild physical exhaustion.  The mental exhaustion is what has passed.  I'm feeling happy and rejuvenated.  Heck, I'm even going to bike to some local shops just because I feel like moving some more.  That is really good!

Well, it's not my prettiest picture, but here I am feeling much better after a swim...and a shower.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Hans and I have decided to join a gym.  We have a lot of equipment in our home already, but the one thing we don't have (and certainly can't afford) is a pool.  So, we've joined Gold's Gym. 

One thing I hate about the gym is actually having to use the machines.  Unless it's one I'm extremely familiar with, I feel like all eyes are on me as I figure out how the machine works.  I need to schedule an appointment with one of the trainers so I can be shown, but until then I'm working out in the Cinema room (a fantastic room that shows movies and is dark so no one can see you).  I'm actually really proud of myself for how secure I am in the pool.  I still don't LOVE walking around in my swimsuit, but I'm not terrified to remove my towel either.

ANYWAY, I was shocked when we signed up for the gym because Hans did not react the way I'd expected.  I was talking about using ellipticals and doing different classes, and Hans said he really only wanted the pool, and he wasn't sure he'd keep it up, and he may just forfeit his membership at the end of his trial period.  I kind of understood this, but I wanted to give the gym a fair shot, so I devised a plan to get us there at least 4 times in the week.  Yesterday, the plan was to go to a class.

Hans  He was going to do it for me, but he was visibly nervous, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong.  Then, it hit me.  He was insecure.  He didn't want to stick out, and he was afraid of looking like a fool.  I was amazed.  Here was Hans, my personal Buddha, worrying about what other people thought. He's never been worried about things like that (or so I thought), but here he was...worrying.  That's when I realized that we're all worried about what others think, but most of us are too busy worrying about ourselves to look at others.  That's something I'm going to be thinking a lot about when I'm feeling not-so-confident.

Oh, and just so you know, we were late getting to the class, so we went to the Cinema Room instead (Insecurities Be Gone!), and then to the pool. 

Speaking of insecurities, less than a month ago, I signed up to run my first ever 5k.  The date is next Saturday.  For some people, a 5k is nothing, but for me it's HUGE.  It's the first step to attaining some large goals of mine.  Part of me is super excited.  I've really been enjoying running with my Up & Running plan (seriously, if any of you are considering it, you should do it.  It's amazing), and I think I'll be able to run the whole thing, even if I run it slow.

But then I think, "What if I can't?"  What if there are more hills than what I'm used to?  What if it's hot and really sunny?  What if I come in dead last?  While I know that it's fine if I walk a portion, I really want to run the whole thing.  What if I can't?

Basically, there's this constant battle in my head, becoming more vicious and much bloodier as the days pass, between my positive attitude and my insecurities.  So, I'm asking all of you.  What do you do when you're feeling not-so-confident?  How do you overcome the evil mind demons?  Any tips are greatly appreciated!

Monday, August 1, 2011


Can I just share with you how unbelievably happy I've been?  I'm not sure what it is, but life is good.  Alright, so I have a clue as to what it might be.  Those changes have been working.  I'm starting to feel good about everything, and I love it (hurray for endorphins).

Up & Running
The course is almost over.  I only have 5 more runs left (including a 5k), and I don't want it to end.  The group of women I've been running with is wonderful, and their encouragement is superb.  I'm planning on moving on to the 10k course.  Part of me is torn about this (it's extra money), but I've loved the group too much to give it up.  Here we go!

New Clothes
I don't spend a lot of money on clothes.  A lot of my clothes are torn or worn or just plain cheap.  This may change some day, but for now I don't see the reason is spending a fortune on a pair of jeans that a dog could just bite through.  Yes, I often search for quality, but sometimes price comes first.

This weekend, I changed that a bit.  I'm not a fan of my running clothes.  I mean, they get the job done, but they could be better...a lot better.  So, after transporting a dog to VA Beach, Hans and I decided to stop in the outlet mall in Williamsburg.  There's a Nike Outlet there, and I thought it might be a good idea to check it out.

I am now a Nike convert.  I'd always thought their stuff was overpriced, but now I love it.  First, I love the way they organize their store (by sport so there's no guesswork as to what you're getting).  Second, I love their products.  I fell in love with just about everything I touched, and it all fit well.  I left the store on Saturday having spent way more than what I should have, but after wearing some of them to my workouts, I don't regret it one bit.  Sometimes comfort is worth the price.

Well, you know that last January I bought a new bike.  It's a glorious, most magnificent, blue bike.  I love it.  With the warmer weather, I've also been trying to use it more.  Hans and I have ridden our bikes to a few places...the grocery store, out to dinner, etc, but I really want to ride more.  Last night, we were itching to get out, so we hopped on our bikes, rode to an ice cream parlor, skipped the ice cream, and rode back.  We only went about 4 mi, but it was just enough to satisfy our craving.  I firmly believe we'll be going for another ride tonight...maybe to an ice cream shop that's farther away.  :)

Anyway, I'm also trying to get more involved.  I'm seriously considering joining a riding group just to get more experience with more guidance.  I admittedly know nothing about cycling, and I'd like a tutor!

Well, with all this running and all this cycling, I got to thinking about combining the two, adding swimming, and going for a triathlon.  I looked at some local sprint tris in the area, and I realized that if I work on my swimming I'd could definitely do a tri.  So, my two questions are: 1) Where's the best (re: Cheapest) place in the area to go swimming?  2) When should I do it?  There's one in October, but I'm really hesitant to sign up for that.  What do you think?