Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 By the Books

Currently there are 8 library books sitting on my bedside table.  I just need a free weekend to catch up on my stack.

This year, a lot of non-fiction cycled through my hands.  The Remedy, The Meat Racket, Adrift, Dethroning the King, Everybody's Got Something....all come with my highest recommendations.

The star rankings are my own, I didn't get much book reviewing done this year but you can tell from the 1-5 scale how I felt about each book.

Which leads me to the natural question....Have you read any good books lately?

1. Pittacus Lore - The Rise of Nine *****
2. Cassandra Clare - City of Fallen Angels *****
3. Cassandra Clare - City of Lost Souls *****
4. Jeannette Walls - Silver Star *****
5. Ernest Hemingway - The Old Man and the Sea***
6. Cassandra Clare - Clockwork Angel ****
7. Veronica Roth - Divergent *****
8. Cassandra Clare - Clockwork Prince ****
9. Cassandra Clare - Clockwork Princess ****
10. Ron Rash - Serena *****
11. Orson Scott Card - Rebekah *****
12. JRR Tolkien - The Silmarillion Vol 1 ***
13. Diane Setterfield - The Thirteenth Tale *****
14. Robert Hicks - A Separate Country ****
15. Veronica Roth - Insurgent ***
16. Veronica Roth - Allegiant ***
17. Jeff Olson - The Slight Edge *****
18. Malcolm Gladwell - Outliers ****
19. Kirby Larson - Hattie Big Sky *****
20. JRR Tolkien - The Silmarillion Vol 2 ***
21. Ernest Hemingway - To Have and Have Not **
22. Daniel James Brown - The Boys in the Boat ***
23. Brunonia Barry - The Lace Reader *****
24. Ernest Hemingway - For Whom the Bell Tolls *
25. Matthew Quick - The Good Luck of Right Now **
26. Julie Macintosh - Dethroning the King *****
27. Daniel Gilbert - Stumbling on  Happiness ***
28. Robert Edsel - The Monuments Men ****
29. Robin Roberts - From the Heart *****
30. Alan Bradley - The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches *****
31. Ali Wentworth - Ali in Wonderland ***
32. Christopher Moore - The Stupidest Angel *
33. B. J. Novak - One More Thing *
34. Jim Gaffigan - Dad is Fat *****
35. Paulo Coelho - Manuscript found in Accra ****
36. Ruth Ozeki - A Tale for the Time Being *
37. Ransom Riggs - Mrs. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children ****
38. Mary Karr - The Liars' Club **
39. Rob Lowe - Stories I only Tell My Friends **
40. Juliet Schor - The Overspent American ***
41. Napoleon Hill - Think and Grow Rich ***
42. Dave Bruno - The 100 Thing Challenge *****
43. Rachel Joyce - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry *****
44. Shawn Achor - The Happiness Advantage *****
45. Elizabeth Smart - My Story *****
46. Helene Wecker - The Golem and the Jinni ***
47. Michael Morpurgo - War Horse ****
48. Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Love in the Time of Cholera ***
49. Leif Enger - Peace Like a River ****
50. Lauren Graham - Someday, Someday, Maybe ****
51. Ridley Pearson - Kingdom Keepers ***
52. Ben Haas - Look Away, Look Away ***
53. Maggie Stiefvater - Sinner *****
54. Justin Halpern - I Suck at Girls ****
55. Joe de Sena - Spartan Up *****
56. Tom Ryan - Following Atticus *****
57. Terry McMillan - Who Asked You? *****
58. Brian Jacques - Redwall ****
59. Solomon Northup - Twelve Years a Slave ****
60. Thomas Goetz - The Remedy *****
61. Thomas Stanley - The Millionaire Next Door *****
62. David Roberts - Alone on the Ice **
63. Lev Grossman - The Magicians ***
64. Tara Conklin - The House Girl ****
65. Cassandra Clare - City of Heavenly Fire ****
66. Amy Bloom - Lucky Us *****
67. E. Lockhart - We Were Liars *****
68. Steven Callahan - Adrift *****
69. Robin Roberts - Everybody's Got Something *****
70. Jacqueline Winspear - The Care and Management of Lies *****
71. Paulo Coelho - Adultery **
72. Robert Kurson - Shadow Divers *****
72. Adam Corolla - Not Taco Bell Material **
73. Lucinda Vardey - Mother Teresa A Simple Path *****
74. Nancy Horan - Under the Wide and Starry Sky *****
75. Jordan Belfort - Wolf of Wall Street **
76. Sue Monk Kidd - The Invention of Wings *****
77. Ben Sherwood - The Survivor's Club *****
78. Christopher Leonard - The Meat Racket *****
79. Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale ****
80. Beth Macy - Factory Man ****
81. Amy Poehler - Yes Please *****
82. Bill Nye - Undeniable **
83. James Herriot - Favorite Dog Stories *****
84. Ernest Hemingway - A Moveable Feast **

Last year's reading list

2014 Resolutions revisited

As 2014 winds down and we prepare ourselves for 2015, it's time to see how I did on my goals this year.

In short they were:

1. 2:05 half marathon

2. master double unders

3. work on my pistol form

How they worked out:
1. My fastest half marathon this year, 1:58:40.  Maybe I should retire from half marathons now.  I eeked out 493 miles on my running shoes this year and managed a sub 7 min mile.  I'm satisfied with these stats.

2. I don't know about master...but I have a great rope now and I'm up to 40 unbroken double unders.  It still might take me longer to finish a workout than if I was doing singles but I'm happy to not have to do singles anymore.

3. Wait...what?  I guess there's always next year for pistols.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's the cinnamon sticks

Cold then. A slow gritting lorry flashed its orange globe at me as I came here.  I see our parents have left a glass jar of pot-pourri with you-fir cones in it, cinnamon sticks.  A dried, golden pear.  I don't know what its scent is-spice, but also a musk, of some kind.  Frankincense?  Nor do I know very much of how love is shown, for I so rarely show it.  But these are the gestures people remember, or kneel at, I know that much.  It isn't the big declarations.  No brass bands playing.  It's cinnamon sticks, or a drawing of sleeping dog.  Or the gift of a stone moved with the sea for so many years that its rolled into a smooth round ball.

Advent is one of my very favorite seasons in the church year.  A time of preparing and getting ready for Christmas.  It has been fun each year to add something to our little family's advent traditions.

For several years now I have eyed my sister's advent calendar, with its perfect sized pockets for lindor chocolate balls.  She bought it at a craft fair many years ago and I haven't found anything like it in my own wanderings.

Oh I have scoured pinterest and it's advent boards and there are plenty of good ideas out there.  But alas, these hands of mine are not so crafty.  It always looks better in my head than it turns out in real life.

But I gave it a good go this year.  I made my own festive red and green paper bags, filled with two pieces of candy and a task inside to be completed by the family each night.  The outside has a bible verse to be read before opening the gift.  Why two toned bags?  Because I have two littles of course!  And I thought it would make it easier to remember who's turn it is.

(side note: I tried to mix the candy up a little so it would be a surprise.  Among other things there are strawberry candies, the lindor balls, andes mints, candy canes, butterscotch disks.  I didn't put too many of the lindor balls in because I wasn't sure how they would go over with the 8 and under crowd and lets face it...they are kind of pricey.  Just yesterday, Bobby asked me if I had any more of those little chocolate balls that melt in your mouth....I knew I loved that kid!  He has good taste.)

My goal for this advent season?  Less crazy stressing and more preparing.
Preparing our home.
Preparing our hearts.
Preparing the way for what matters most.

Now that I am somewhat happy with our Advent calendar, I have got my eye on this,
cradle to cross wreath (, it intrigues me, maybe next year.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A New Year

4-H end of the year awards banquet

Changing some things up this year, hoping for a strong and productive year as the leader of the Dog club and the girlchild has signed up for rabbit club.  First item on the agenda, find a baby rabbit.

This will be a learning experience for all of us!

chugging away

Now that all the clocks have been turned back for winter, I find myself out of daylight to run sprints after work.  You will find me bright and early on Sunday mornings at the track...still chipping away at my new year's resolutions.

Four seconds and 7 weeks to get my mile time under 7 minutes....

Friday, September 26, 2014

Happy Weekend

I am absolutely in love with this race picture from the Color Me Rad run last weekend.  

That Boy
That backward glance
Those hands clasped tightly together
My world right there

Friday, August 22, 2014

Running with the Bears

There is something to be experienced when you sign up for a hugely popular running event.  The kind of event that sells out quickly or the kind you have to put your name in a drawing just to have a chance at getting into the race.  I've done both the Disneyland half marathon and the Tinkerbell race.   And I had a great time at them (Disneyland is one of my favoritest places after all!)  They are races to be experienced, but they aren't races you set PRs at and more often than not it's a good hour from the time the starting gun goes off till you actually cross the START line.

I've had my eye on Running with the Bears since last year.  It's the very opposite of the Disneyland runs, with the exception that it does sell out early.  Sells out because the race is capped at 350 people.  350.  That's it.  Instead of 20,000.  I registered ridiculously early for it, designated it an "A" race priority on the training calendar for my heart rate monitor training, and set a goal to get a new half marathon PR at it.
I'm glad I did!  I enjoyed everything about the race weekend.

Some fun facts about this small scale race:
It's rural - Which means you will have to preplan your lodging and coffee options.  But well worth it I think.  It also means you can run with your dog if you want, headphones are on the approved list, and you don't have to worry about road closures or traffic lights.  All the funds raised from the run go to the foster children program, Mountain Circle Family Services, so you can enjoy your run and know that all the money raised is going to a good cause.

So that's my short, little rave about running with the bears.  I enjoyed the event so much I decided that this will be my marathon course next year.  It's been on my bucket list for a while now and I'm not getting any younger over here.  It's a beautiful course, it's a boston qualifier (not that I'm anywhere close enough to be fast enough for that!), there are no time limits on the course (this is a lot more my speed!), and the course is heavy on well stocked, enthusiastic aid stations.

Here are a few pictures from the weekend ~

pre-planning the race day outfit
I am probably the worst at being a minimalist packer.  I am always afraid it will be too hot or too cold or I won't want to wear that shirt...etc.  So I packed enough for an entire week for a two day running/camping trip.

I ordered a couple temporary tattoos from the race's online store.  I was surprised when I opened up the envelope to find 10 bear claw tattoos along with a hand written note from the race coordinator saying she threw in a few extra for practice.  Bonus!  (And thanks Josie!)

The boy was personally escorted into the finish line by one of the race staff.  That is something you don't see every day.   I stood at the finish for quite some time (after I soaked my feet in the ice bath) and watched.  Everyone got their very own finish line cheer squad.  I'm pretty sure I did too, but I have to admit I was watching the seconds tick off my garmin so closely, I really didn't notice, dang!

There was tons of goodies to eat and drink at the finish line, as well as the obligatory sweaty selfie picture.  Two people in this picture got PRs.  Woo and Hoo!

I honestly was only running against myself this race.  My fastest half marathon time last year was 2:06.  With age groups 10 years deep I was pretty sure there wasn't any way I was winning an award.  Turns out I got third...not too bad!

Hard to decide which statistic I'm most proud of.  I had been feeling like getting a sub 2 hour time was unattainable.  Maybe I should retire from half marathons now!

My sister-in-law and I, just goofing around with our new bear friend.

This was the first race where we camped and ran in the same weekend.  It takes a little more planning and I was glad for the comfort of the air mattress and my compression socks!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Following Atticus

I'm not dead (we established that last week) and I didn't quit reading...I'm sure you were worried about both!  Truth be told, I've read quite a few doozies lately that weren't worth talking about.

I also have run out of books that are both officially on my "to read" list and are available at the library, so I have been browsing the e-book list at the library for what's available now.

That's how I found Tom Ryan's Following Atticus.

I thought, I like dogs....I read Marley and Me....I'll give it a go.  It turned out to be a great book!  A book about one little, furry puppy saving a man's life.   Together they hiked mountains that the world told them were too hard for such a duo to accomplish. 

And (spoiler alert!), even better than Marley and Me, Atticus is still around today, enjoying life.  He even has his own blog and facebook page.  If you are a dog lover or outdoor enthusiast I bet you'd enjoy this book just as much as I did.  

Friday, August 8, 2014

Oh, Hi There

So...I'm still alive.

I realize it has been crickets here for the last month on the old blog.  I find myself staring into the last week of summer vacation and thinking, What? It's time for back to school already?  The kids had some good play dates, I managed to mostly stay up on the weed situation in the garden (which was a new years resolution!), we made it to the water park once, I got to see my sister two different times (still loving the fact that she's back in my time zone), so I guess we did get a lot done.

I turned a year older last week.  The boy helped me plan a fun birthday beer crawl and I was able to talk everyone at the gym into running with me.

Reno had fireworks just for my birthday.  They really shouldn't have, but I totally loved them!  (okay, okay...they were for hot August nights but whatever).

My sister stayed a week with us, good thing the Sulley-monster is so cute...otherwise he wouldn't be allowed on my bed!

Bob lost three teeth in as many weeks.

And just last night I caught Emma sitting at the table giving grandpa a pep talk about not being scared when they cut his cast off.

In the next week there will be school shopping and one last camping trip for the kids before we head back to homework and stricter bedtimes.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Yay Idaho

My sister and her husband recently moved to Idaho from Illinois.  We couldn't be happier to have them back in our time zone!  Daniel is going to be teaching at the University of Idaho starting this fall.

There are plans for Emma to spend more time there learning what's really involved in having a horse all your own.

And now there are twice as many reasons to make the 12 hour drive up to Idaho.  We can visit Jacko and my brother Steve all at the same time. 

We spent this trip checking out the new digs, polishing our Frisbee skills, and playing with our favorite Irish Wolfhound puppy.

The barn where Jacko is boarding her horses has a miniature.  We finally found one just Emma's size so she can actually hold the hooves up by herself.

Even Bob took a turn.  I was quite surprised!

Looking forward to many more trips up North.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Reno Tahoe Odyssey 2014

This year marked the fourth year I have run the Reno Tahoe Odyssey and the first year I got to be "Van Mom".  I let the boys do the driving and did my best to be hands on and supportive (even in the wee hours of the night!)

Disco Velveeta year 4

A pretty sweet addition to our team this year, my brother and his wife, William and Erin - respectively, ran with us.  Maybe one day we will take over a whole van...who knows!

The exchange at the top of Dog Valley
 This year also marked the most "training" the boy logged for the relay.  I think we might have found a winning system here, sign him up for as many 10K races as I can find between February and the end of May and call it good.  He did well this year!

The boy and I ran back to back legs.  It was pretty nice to be able to hand off to each other.  He ran leg five which has some good runs, it's the route I did last year.  This year I tackled leg 6.  Short on miles but steep on hills.  I wanted a good challenge, I'm really happy with my times!

Our crew, waiting at Homewood for the start of our second legs.  If you haven't done a relay race before, there really is no experience quite like it.  You'll end up short on sleep but the journey is beyond worth it!  Thinking about doing a relay run?  Here are some great tips for first timers.

I logged 19 kills this year.  19.  And an even better all three of my runs I only got passed by one person.  I was very surprised (and happy) about this.  Historically, I have been the passee not the passer!

Middle of the night shenanigans in our way-cool socks!  What else are you gonna do at 2 am??

What a Kindergarten Grad looks like

Bob with his teacher on graduation day

For the kindergarten graduation program this year, the classes learned 4 songs in sign language.  
All of those crazy hand gestures that bob has been walking around doing in the last month finally make sense now!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tough Mudder

I found this old draft dated September 2012  while I was cleaning out the old blog clutter today.   I considered just deleting it.  But I couldn't bring myself to do it.  You see, I started crossfit as a desperate, I-better-get-my-act-together-I'm-signed-up-for-the-tough-mudder move, and I found a family there.  One that celebrates accomplishments and encourages every single person who walks through the door.  I considered finishing the end of the draft as I imagine I would have.  But instead, I've left it as is.  Truth be told, it has been quite a journey.  The tough mudder is still an accomplishment in my book, even though it ended in ACL reconstruction and 6 months of physical therapy.  Crossfit carried me through therapy and recovery and I am faster than I ever was before.  For that and the amazing friendships I have made along the way, I am very grateful.

The gym is organizing a tough mudder team this year.  
They will have a good time at it, I am sure!

And so....

Last year I put running the Tough Mudder on my bucket-to-do list.  So when a girlfriend called me up and asked if I'd be on her team I couldn't really tell her no.  This was going to be my one chance and the motivation I needed.

Mostly because I didn't want to chicken out I stayed away from the website and the training guide.  Smart right?

It turns out that I joined a team chalk full of workout-junkies!  And so I didn't disappoint them with my athletic abilities I decided I better get my act together.  I joined crossfit.  After attending classes twice a week for months now you'd think I'd feel like I'm getting stronger.  I leave class every day feeling like I have so much more room for improvement.  But you know what?  It's just what I need.  I'm not a pusher.  Speedwork is virtually non-existent for me.  I need the accountability of some one telling me to run faster or squat deeper.

An unexpected bonus to all of this, is that I am becoming a faster runner.  Running, is where my heart really is, and without consciously trying, my half marathon time improved by 15 minutes.

Monday, May 19, 2014

First Communion

Emma, Will, and Grandma Cathy (that's my wedding veil on her head, yay!)

Hard to believe we have arrived at first communion already!
She was so excited.

We studied.
Memorized prayers.
Made crafts (Emma's teacher is amazing).
Did first confession.

And had a long talk about not making sour faces after tasting the communion wine.

Welcome to the table little one!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Let's Do it Again

Mile one, just for fun
Mile two, just for you
Mile three, just for me
Mile four, give me more
Mile five, I am alive
Mile six, just for kicks
Mile seven, I am in heaven
Mile eight, it feels great
Mile nine, I'm right on time
Mile ten, let's do it again

No one ever talks about miles 11-13.1! :)

pre-run selfie

A few weeks ago the boy and I ran the Safari Park half marathon in San Diego.  I have really been looking forward to this one!

I was pretty happy with this picture.  The only one I took while in motion, shot from the hip (literally...I had the camera tethered there).  I am always impressed by the runners who do the whole thing carrying flags!

That guy, on the right there, is running barefoot....he has his shoes tucked into the back of his shorts.  I can't even imagine 13.1 miles barefoot.

Now, I studied the course before hand, and knew it had three good sized hills, but it is something else entirely to be standing at the bottom and know what you have in store.

Quite possibly my favorite sign along the course!  There is truth in that.

Running through the park was pretty cool!  The elephants and rhinos were my favorite.

Only one half marathon left on the books this year.  I wanted to enjoy and sight see the zoo run so it was a little bit slower than I am capable of.  But the next one is going to be a time goal!

And then it's planning for next year, maybe next year will be the year for me to check a marathon off my bucket list.   I do love the half marathon distance though, the run at Mammoth is pretty high on on wish list too.  

Moms and their little boys

Here's a photo from a recent wedding we attended.  Bob was so excited to bust a move. 
This is the one picture I got of us dancing that wasn't blurry.

I kinda really like that little guy of mine!

Stumbling on Happiness

Can you predict what is going to make you happy?  Turns out humans are kind of terrible at that.  Daniel Gilbert's book is the non-fiction equivalent to Coelho's The Alchemist.

Using examples from psychology research Gilbert details why it seems we always pick the slowest line at the grocery store or how come that chocolate chip cookie never quite tastes as good as we imagined it would.

My favorite quote from the book, about determining our future with foresight...

Foresight is fragile talent that often leaves us squinting, straining to see what it would be like to have this, go there, or do that.  There's no simple formula for finding happiness.  If our great big brains don't allow us to go surefootedly into our futures, they at least allow us to understand what makes us stumble.

I've really been liking hanging out in the non-fiction section of the library.  Who know what I might find next to pick up!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Reno's Run or Dye

My little non-athlete watched his sister participate in two different 5K color runs.  He was pretty sure that we were playing favorites and so when then next one came around, Bob really wanted to run it.
He did awesome. 
We were a little slower than sister and Dad but mostly because Bob was on a mission to get as colorful as possible.

View from the top

The aftermath.
As the color swirled down the drain, little voices could be heard talking about "THE NEXT TIME...."
Never been to a color run?  They are pretty fun!  Here's our finish line party 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Boys in the Boat

Last week, I finished reading Daniel James Brown's The Boys in the Boat.  It's the story of the University of Washington's 1936 rowing team and their journey to the Olympic games in Berlin that year.   In case you are not familiar with my geography, I don't live anywhere even remotely close to a large enough body of water for rowing to be a blip on my radar.

But I did really enjoy the book!  As someone who has been drinking the crossfit kool-aid for just about 2 years now, I found the physical description of rowing amusing.  It's the only exercise around that works every muscle in your body from head to toe all while sitting on your butt.  I smiled to myself as I read over that part, and thought "I know about sore muscles."

Turns out I don't really.  I did my first rowing for time workout last week, 30 minutes of straight rowing, which for me turned out to be 3.8 miles.
And then my whole everything hurt for four full days afterward.  All I could think about was how that Daniel J Brown was not even kidding around.  And also, no wonder those crew boys in Boston started the November Project so they could stay in shape in the off season!

Since this is technically a post about a book...and I'm still a tiny bit cranky about my experience at the library today, I will vent.  For a sentence or two anyway.
The library, one of my favoritest places to go, has switched to all self-serve check out kiosks.  No more making small talk with the librarians about what's new and other great book choices.  The only way you get to interact with the librarian now is if you are checking out a DVD or CD and they have to remove the security lock on the case.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Oh Hi!

I knew having two kids in school would be busy, but it seems like most days is a race to get it all done by bedtime.

The crossfit games are over now.  The bruises from doing a million (okay...not a million, but it sure felt like it at the time) thrusters are starting to fade.  I am still nursing a pretty tender bump on my shin from box jumps.

It was an amazing, challenging, and exhausting experience. I honestly can't wait till next year to do it again. My list of things that I need to work on is long. But it is such a rewarding feeling to learn a new skill or move heavier weight. Top of my list is kipping pull-ups and double unders. I will get them...
And now it's time to focus our attention on running.  The Reno-Tahoe Odyssey will be here before we know it.

Ah, the daffodils, an instant day brighter when I pull into the driveway.  We have been working hard on prepping for the coming growing season.  The boy aerated the lawn, we started seeds in the greenhouse, and put in our spring planting order to the nursery.

And I launched a new business.  It's been time consuming coming up to speed knowledge-wise but the boy has been a rockstar at home and I'm really enjoying this experience.  Good things are coming.  This is Bobby's "Let me tell you about Nerium" face, I love it!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Missed and not Forgotten

Mama, the sunday school teacher asked if anyone had prayer requests.
I prayed for Beatrix.
I still miss her.

So do I little one.  So do I.


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