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Thursday, December 29, 2011

2012 Goals

It's easy to see the new year as an opportunity to do a complete overhaul on myself, but I know me and I know I can only strive toward goals that are simple and attainable.  So, again, I'm breaking it down into a few key facets of my life and have limited each facet to 3 principle goals.

Here we go 2012:

  • Marriage: Again, keep date nights as a focus for Jerry and I.  I'd like to continue to aim for 1 date night a month.
  • Parenthood: Try to live in the moment and lighten up.  I do my best to appreciate this time with the kids while they're young, but like any parent, I have plenty of moments of frustration, anxiety, and even anger.  Sometimes, I feel I am too quick with these emotions, and I'd like to try and focus on fostering greater patience and learning what battles are worth fighting.
  • Friendship: Make time for friends.  In the past few years, with kids, it's become easy to push friendships to the back burner, but in the last few months of 2011, I made the time to keep up with some lunches with girlfriends, and we enjoyed an evening out with our friends (without kids) and it reminded me of how valuable it is to keep up with friends -- both past and present.
Financial (I've never made a separate list for money, but in the past few years, I've been more conscientious and mindful of how we save, invest, and spend.  So, this year, I have a few specific goals that are monetary.)
  • Save: The past few years have been devoted to paying off our debt; now, it's time to build the savings.  Ideally, I'd like to create an emergency fund that would consist of 4 months worth of Jerry's salary (net).
  • Invest: Research, decide upon, and contribute to the kids' college savings plans.  They each have savings accounts, but those earn, like, 1% interest.  I want to invest in some accounts that would more realistically build adequate amounts for each child's college fund.
  • Save again: We need a new car, but if possible, I'd like to actually save up to buy one in full, not finance anything.  This is a lofty goal, but after paying off our debt, I'm not eager to finance another vehicle.
  • Grading: Learn to create an electronic gradebook.  I'm completely inept with Excel, but it's the 21st century.  Time to learn.
  • Technology: I have the bare minimum knowledge with how to teach classes online, and while I don't want to teach online, I see that the future of teaching will at least demand a knowledge of blending online components with a tradition bricks-and-mortar approach.  Time to take some of the tech classes.  Blergh.
  • Spending: I have some money to burn that was part of my POY award last year and I've been waffling for months about what to do with it.  Time to decide.
  • Miles: Track my mileage.  2011 was a complete bust in terms of keeping track of my mileage, and I really feel more accountable when I do it.  Time to return to record keeping.
  • Time:  Never go more than 2 days between runs.  My motto, since high school, has always been to not go more than 3 days between workouts, but in the past few months, I've lagged enough that I have -- at times -- allowed as much as 4 days to come between me and some sort of committed physical activity.  When I do that, I feel like shark farts.  So, new rule: 2 days is the maximum spacing between runs!
  • Training: Return to HM shape.  I feel like I'm at my running best when I'm in HM shape (running about 20-30 miles a week).  And with that middle distance training, speed usually returns hand in hand.  I hope for that to be a nice side effect.
So, there ya go: Bring on the end of the world!  Hello 2012!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 in Review

'Tis the season to read a lot of "Year in Review" posts, and I must join in.  So, time to review my 2011 goals and see how I did:

  • Enjoy the remainder of this pregnancy. With Norah, I was so excited and eager to have her born, I feel as though I willed that pregnancy to just be done with, and it wasn't until she was born, that I realized how special pregnancy is. This time around, I'm trying to appreciate it.  I did appreciate it, but I still got impatient at the end.  Guess I'm just an impatient preggo!
  • Make more time for dates with Jerry. As parents, it's easy to lose track of time, and at the end of the week, it's often just easiest to order Chinese, rent a movie On Demand, and call that a date. But as nice as nights like that are, I need to make the time and effort to get a babysitter and actually go sit across a table from Jerry and eat real food and have real conversations.  Success!  We've made an effort to get out for "date night" about once a month, and it's been worthwhile.
  • Read more books. I got a Nook for Christmas this year, and I'm eager to give e-reading a go! Plus, several friends got Nooks, so hopefully, we can take advantage of the lend option and save ourselves some book buying.  Blended success here.  I read quite a bit in the first half of the year, and then...Caleb was born and the reading really sharply dropped off.  Right now, I read regularly, but it takes me about 1,000% longer to get through a book because my time spent reading is so greatly diminished.
  • Financially, I want to pay off our car loan.  Success!  Now the only debt we have is our mortgage.

  • Serve on two committees, either departmental or college-wide. Success! 
  • Put real effort into applying for either a Classroom Reasearch Award or the Endowed Teaching Chair. Both of these options offer professional recoginition and cash awards.  I put real effort into the Endowed Teaching Chair award, but was denied the opportunity to advance in the process.  This award is highly competition at my institution (there's a hefty monetary reward), so I'm not surprised I wasn't selected (again. this was my 3rd year in a row being nominated but not being selected to move forward to the interview portion).  I did, however, win Professor of the Year, which was an unexpected award for 2011.
  • Publish another short story.  Success!  You can go here if you're interested.

  • Run consistently for as long as I'm able during this pregnancy.  Did my best here, but only ran until I was 27 weeks preggo, which fell short of my expectation to run until at least 32 weeks as I did with Norah.  Still, I feel satisfied with my effort.
  • Run some preggo races.  Fail!  I ran ZERO preggo races.
  • Run a fall or early winter HM.  Fail!  The only race I ran in 2011 was the 5K Turkey Trot.  All in all, running was a challenge for me this year.

As always a mixed bag of success and failure, and of course, unexpected deviations, challenges and joys.  Now to start pondering some 2012 goals.  Of those, I have NO clue.  Need to put my thinking cap on!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Halleluja and Holy Sh*t!

Where's the Tylenol?

Christmas was great fun this year: Caleb's 1st Christmas and Norah's first Christmas where she really had a grasp on what was going on.  Of course, as wonderful as it was, it was also pure chaos -- a mayhem of presents, over-excitement, and a few meltdowns throw in for good measure.  But for all the madness, having Norah bounce on our bed Christmas morning proclaiming "Santa Claus!  Santa Claus!" pretty much MADE the holiday.

Here's the rundown in pics:

Caleb and his mountain of gifts on Christmas Eve.  Typical baby, he was mainly interested in paper and packaging.

Caleb "reading" one of his books.

Caleb chewing on one of his new toys.

Christmas morning -- Santa Claus! -- and Norah was a flurry of unwrapping.  She loved her gifts, but it was the unwrapping itself which was most pleasurable to her.

The aftermath of Christmas morning: Paper, boxes, and presents strewn EVERYwhere.

Norah prepping for a Christmas morning walk: New sunglasses and her new princess Belle in the stroller.  Her lips are also super glossed with about 18 layers of new lipgloss.

An unexpected favorite was a purple tu-tu that was a stocking stuffer.  She wore it all day on Christmas day (with jeans and tee shirt), and she insisted on wearing it with her PJs to bed as well.

And today, we went to Sugar Sand Park in Boca (carousel, awesome park, and science explorium), and she paired the tu-tu with a Halloween tee, shorts, and princess Crocs.  The girl has S-T-Y-L-E.

All in all, it was a fantastic holiday, but our house feels like a disaster zone, and I'm kinda counting down the hours until noon tomorrow when I drop both kids off at daycare again!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Winter Wishing

For most runners, this time of year means pulling out the running tights, jackets, hats and gloves and braving the wintry cold to get runs done outside.  But for me?  It still means running in heat.

3 days before Christmas, and yesterday I went for a 5 miler in the afternoon.  It was 82 degrees out.  Surprisingly, in the shade, it wasn't bad at all, but the last mile of my 5 mile route had zero shade, and the timing meant that the sun was right in my face the entire time.  I slugged through it, but when I got home, I was BEET red!

After a cool shower, I laid down on the bed with the fan on for a few minutes so I could cool off.

Is it weird to have winter envy?  Because I do, especially this time of year when it's ironic to see snowmen everywhere, but no snow.  (Norah is very into "Frosty the Snowman" this year, which is funny since she's never even seen snow.)  I know most would love a warm run at this point in the calendar year, so tell ya what, why don't we trade for a week or so?

I think a week of winter would be all I'd need to feel like I gotten my share of it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Haven't Been Blogging, But

I have been running!

In fact, it's been glorious lately.  Since on break, I'm enjoying a lot of wonderful "me" time and that includes getting to some needed chores (organizing closets and cleaning kitchen cabinets, etc) as well as fun stuff (pedicure, afternoon naps, and reading), and of course, solo running time!

The weather has been temperate, but a little warm in the afternoons when I have my time off, so the runs have been short, but it's been nice to get out each day.

I have other stuff I could blog about, but I have been feeling very un-internet-y, so excuse this lame excuse for a post and move on to those who are still putting in some blog-effort this season. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011


As I was getting ready for my run yesterday, I couldn't find my iPod.  Last I had seen it, Norah had been walking around with it.  Not good.  I remember thinking when I saw her with it: "Grab that from her and stow it or you'll never find it again."  Did I take my own mental advice?  Nope.  Must've gotten distracted by something else.

I searched a few places that popped into my mind as "Norah places," but when it didn't turn up in any of those spots, I gave up and went for the run without my tunes.  I know there are some running purists out there who don't like to run with music and will (probably correctly) tell me that it's dangerous and will be the death of me, but I don't care.  Running by myself is about the only time I listen to adult music, and I think it's Awesome Sauce to not have Elmo's ABC Song ringing through my eardrums.

So, I ran -- sans tunes -- and when I got back I figured I'd look in a few more spots that occurred to me while I was out running (since I was without music, I had the brain space to think of other hiding spots Norah might have stashed the iPod).  Still no dice.  I gave up and figured I'd find it in a year (like the DVD remote we lost for a year) in some familiar, yet unexpected place.

Then, I unloaded the dryer, and...viola!  There it was!  Whether she'd stuck it in one of her precious pockets, or just stuck it in a hamper, I don't know, but I do know it went through the wash and then the dryer.  I didn't have high hopes that I could resurrect it, but I have resurrected past iPods, and as in "The Princess Bride," with iPods, there are a couple kinds of death.

So, I plugged it into my laptop and it actually came on and synced up to iTunes.  Thus, I conclude it must've only been "Mostly Dead."  According to its blinky orange light, it's currently charging; let's hope this will be the chocolate covered pill it needs and it will back to life by this afternoon's run!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Santa, Baby!

This morning, I took Norah and Caleb to see Santa at the mall.  I figured 10 am on a Wednesday would be a good, lowkey time, and it was.  We were 2nd in line.

The kids did well with Santa.  Norah didn't want to sit on his lap, but she sat on the available rocking horse, and Caleb took Santa's knee.  Neither kid could be coaxed into smiling, but neither is crying, so that's a "win" in my book!
Norah did give Santa a high five, and when prompted to answer what she'd like for Christmas, she replied, matter of factly: "I want presents."  There ya go, Santa should be able to do that!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

7 Things About Norah

Jamoosh tagged me to list "7 random things about Norah."  Harder than it first seems since I already share so many random things about her, but here goes:

1.  Norah's favorite t-shirt is her "Jessie" shirt.  It features Jessie and Bullseye from "Toy Story."  As soon as it's washed, she puts it on -- she doesn't even wait for it to cool from the dryer.
2.  Norah prefers to be barefoot over any kind of shoe.  She kicks off her shoes at any opportunity, and we often refer to her as a "barefoot hippie."  Something tells me she has barefoot running in her future.  But, if she has to wear shoes, she prefers her Crocs, which is just being a clogged-foot hippie ;)

3.  Norah still uses a pacifier.  She especially requires one for sleeping.  We keep hoping she'll just naturally grow out of it, but so far, just wishing that she'll give it up hasn't worked.
4.  Norah's favorite toys are baby dolls and stuffed animals.  They all lead pretty active lives in our home, and some even get the pleasure of dining with her.  Clifford, featured below, is also among the privledeged half dozen who sleep with her.  It's crowded in her little bed.
5.  Despite her affection for cuddly toys, the most surprising toy that Norah loves is Rex.  What's even more comical is how Rex frequently gets very girly makeovers. 
6.  Norah is an early riser.  6:15 is sleeping in to her.  And, she's awake and cheery at that hour.  It's awful.

7.  Norah is fun, outgoing, smart, and charming.  I hope she never changes.
I think I'm supposed to tag 7 more bloggers, but I'm not gonna do that.  And, thus, why chain letters always die with me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Deck the Helmet

I finished my grades for the term, so I am free!  FREEDOM!  I've counted, and I have 13 afternoons of 4 and 1/2 hours a piece -- all. to. myself!  Mwahuahuaha!  What will I do with all that time?

Plan to take over the world.  Of course.

Anyway, with my first afternoon of freedom, I actually downloaded some pics off the camera, and I forgot to mention before that Caleb's helmet is now decorated.  For December, he is sporting the fashionable, seasonable look:  Mistletoe!
Because he needs lots of kisses!

On the side, it says "Merry Christmas" and on the back is a cute reindeer.  I don't have any pics of the reindeer.  Just take my word that it's cute.  Below is a shot where you can partially see the side with the "Merry Christmas."
Yeah, Norah's a good big sister who insists on helping with nearly every Caleb task there is.  If she had the dexterity, she'd change his diapers in a heartbeat.  As it is, she settles for standing on her step stool and observing, and commenting, during changings.

But, back to the Helmet Baby, today he had his first "helmet check-up/adjustment" and he's already showing improvement, and they adjusted the helmet accordingly.  While we were in the waiting room, there were 2 other helmet babies there, and each one had stickers on their helmets too.  One had his name emblazoned on the front, and the other, a girl, had a pink helmet with flowers and butterflies and stuff.  It seems most parents with helmet babies have fun with it and decorate the helmets.  Might as well.

If it's pretty visually, it helps distract us from its awful stench -- yeah, despite cleaning it once a day, the helmet is one stinky piece of baby accessory.  It reminds me of my shin guards from my years as a soccer player. 

In other helmet tidbits, we've already become so accustomed to Caleb in his helmet that when we take it off for his one hour of head freedom every day, his head seems unbelievably tiny.  In fact, you know what he reminds me of during that hour?  You know the scene from "Return of the Jedi" when Luke takes off Darth Vader's mask and helmet, and Anakin's head seems small and pasty?  Yeah, that's what Caleb's head seems like sans-helmet.  I hope this resemblence doesn't indicate any future temptation to cross over to "the dark side"!

Anyway, Jerry made the stickers, and they peel off, so after Christmas, Caleb will don a new theme.  What that is is a mystery even to me.  We'll have to see what Jerry can come up with!

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I must confess: I eat like I'm a 16 year old boy.

This morning, it was Jerry's turn to rise with the kidlets, and he opted to take both of them to the grocery store in order to knock that chore out at 7 am (pure madness, in my opinion).  Thus, I was left alone in the house with 2 delightful options: A.) Stay in bed and sleep, or B.) Get up and enjoy some coffee and uninterrupted interweb time.  I kinda split the difference by sleeping 15 more minutes and then getting up.

Anyhoo, back to nutrition, let me share with you what I chose for my breakfast items: Oreos and coffee.

Yes, I am eating Oreos for breakfast.  I said it, I don't regret it.

Many of you participate in the "What I Ate Wednesday" and whenever I look at your food for the day, I'm always struck by how healthy it all is.  Granted, I try to eat a pretty healthy, and if nothing else, varied diet.  But, I'll be honest: There are days when nary a fruit or vegetable touches my lips.  I know that a better diet could help me shed a few unnecessary pounds, could help me run better, and could fill me with some sort of inner glow...you know, because eating healthy means you have good poops and people who poop good seem to be pretty happy, glowing people.

But, again I'll be honest: I'm not dissatisfied with my weight.  Sure, I could be a leaner, trimmer, running machine, but I also would rather not give up Oreos for breakfast.  And, I already poop pretty good.  Coffee, people, coffee!

I figure the running helps balance out the calorie differential, and really, my central running purpose has never been for weight loss purposes.  Yes, it's a nice side effect, but I need the stress relief and energy expression more than anything else.  And speaking of running, now that I've finished my coffee and Oreos, I think I shall go for a run: This breakfast was good fuel...right?

Thursday, December 08, 2011

3 Miler Redux

Knowing that I'd have a similar schedule today as I did yesterday, I just left my stinky running clothes in my office, and this afternoon, I donned my smelly running attire for a repeat of yesterday's 3 mile running break.  Today, I also had the added bonus of overcast skies and slightly cooler temps, so it was an even more pleasant experience!

I did feel a bit like a stink-machine having not taken home or washed my running clothes, but I figured I was just gonna re-sweatify them, so what's the point?  Usually, I never double-wear running clothes because I typically soak them in sweat so the idea of re-using before washing is often times rather grotesque.

But what about you?  Will you use them twice before washing?  Is it conditional -- maybe contingent upon sweat-soakage and stinkage?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Brief Break

One of the benefits of final's week is that I don't have to hold regular office hours.  Technically, I just have to be here to proctor my exams.  But, I am typically here my regular hours so that I can spend my time at work grading (I get next to nothing accomplished at home, so it's best to do my work AT work).

Anyhoo, today I just have one final to give at 6:30 pm, but I was still here at noon in order to get in a solid 6+ hours of grading.  It's paid off too -- I got two classes done, plus I finished my syllabi for next term, I got some other miscellaneous work done, and of course met with several students who had/were experiencing the typical finals-week-near-death-experiences (one guy apparently was rushed to the emergency room on Monday, which was his class's final exam date, because he was vommiting blood -- he had documentation so I don't doubt him, but still, blood barf?  Good god, people!  Why are you puking blood during finals week?). 

But at about 4 pm, my brain was tired and I needed a break.  So, I got on my running stuff (no office hours obligations!) and headed out for a 3 miler.

It felt good to get out, stretch my legs, breathe the fresh air, and rest my weary brain.

I was dripping sweat when I returned to find a student waiting for me (another dude who'd apparently had a hospital visit that occured during our exam time -- are their limbs soon going to be falling off?), but who cares?  It's finals week!  Which is like super-duper-casual-week in my opinion.  If I'm here in something that's not my bathrobe, I think I deserve some props.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Two Things Tuesday: On Soreness and Stacks of Grading

On Saturday night, Jerry, Norah, and I (Caleb stayed at home with my SIL who is here visiting) attended my department's holiday party.  It was at my dean's home, and in his backyard, there was an old jungle gym/swing set that they'd had there when their kids were younger (their kids are in college now if that gives an indication of the age of this thing).  Anyway, it had some rings, so I thought it'd be fun to show off and do some flips for Norah.

She thought I was the bomb-diggity for that, and she begged, "Again!"  I obliged with several more flips.  My arms were achin'.  But, she HAD to tell Jerry about my accomplishment, and Jerry didn't believe that I could do this, so he had to see: One more flip.  Then, Jerry assisted Norah in her "flips," so one last time, she had to see me repeat it.  Good lord, my achin' arms!

Sunday, the day after, wasn't terrible.  But yesterday?  My arms were like flaccid lumps of arm meat.  I had to swallow a fistful of Advil just to get through the day.  Today they are a bit better, but still sore. 

Does this prompt me to think that I need to do more strength training?  Nah.  I just clearly need to avoid my dean's backyard from here on to eternity.

Stacks of Grading
No marathon analogy here: This week is a sprint. 

This is finals week, and I have approximately 125 essays to read by Monday.  Actually, about 100 because I just finished one class's.  My grades for the term are due on Tuesday, and even though I know I CAN do it, I'm at a point right now where I just don't wanna.

Plus, some of these essays are T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E.  Notice I spelled that right?  Well, in one essay I read this afternoon, the student didn't even manage to spell her own name right!  This is what I'm dealing with.

Add to that the sudden finals-induced-drama that students are always stricken with (Grandmas start to die with alarming frequency), and I just want to fast-forward to a week from today when my semester will be done and I can focus on the less stressful activity of doing my ENTIRE Christmas shopping in one week.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

More Running and 6 Months

The good weather continued this morning, and I got to get in another 3 miler with Caleb in the stroller.  Before we left, Jerry filled the air in the BOB's tires -- guess I have a tendency to neglect that! -- and it always amazes me at the difference that makes!

For the 1st 2 miles, I was pushing into the wind, so it was still tough going, despite the comfortable temp and the freshly filled tires.  But, for the last mile, I had the wind at my back, and for the first time in a loooooooong time with the stroller, I ran a 9:52 min/mile.  For me, that's like a stroller landspeed record!

In other baby news, Caleb is now 6 months!

It seemed that with Norah from 6 months to 1 year, all the milestones started to come like a whirlwind, and I can already see how that will probably be true with Caleb as well.  He started solid food:
He doesn't LIKE it, but he did start it.  His objection doesn't seem to be the food itself, just the fact that we want to shove it in their with a spoon.  He clamps his mouth shut and sticks his tongue out, and is like, "Nope, thanks, I'm good."  The only thing he remotely finds acceptable are sweet potatoes.

He's also a Rolley Rollerson who now rolls all over the place.  We set him down in one spot, turn our backs, and he's across the room (or, wedged up against a piece of furniture).  Norah is funny with him; this morning, she was in the living room with him and I heard her exclaim: "Caleb's rolling over!  Good job, Buddy!"  I wonder what she'll think in a few months when he's crawling after her.

He's also sitting, with support, really well.  Of course, he's REAL tipsy right now, so he'll seem well-balanced, and then ker-plunk!  He's face first in the floor!  At least with the helmet now, he's got some crash protection.
Reflecting on any age for a child makes it feel as though the time is flying, but I'm honestly like, "Seriously, 6 months?  Already?  Where has it gone?"  I don't even think I've finished his baby book past his delivery...oopsie!  That's on my "to-do" over my winter break! :)