A Productive Weekend.

Over the last few months, our weekends have been less that productive around the house.  We’ve traveled some and had other commitments, so that slows things down considerably.  Plus, with it being summer, the last thing we want to do is be cooped up inside all weekend, when we get so little free time during the week.  So, with that said, we’ve made zero progress on the Master Bathroom remodel **hangs head in shame** so I have nothing new to share on that front.  However, this past weekend, we were able to make some progress on the house, overall!

Last week, I finally reached the point where I was fed up with our garage door opener.  There is only one car remote, that we share between two cars, and the garage door opener itself makes a horrible noise when you raise the door.  It has woken me up a few times when J leaves early for work, so I was fed up and done with it.  I realize this is totally a “First World Problem”…but dammit, I was finished.  So, I told J that our ONE priority this weekend was to replace the garage door opener with the new one that we’ve had, for months, sitting in the garage.  He agreed, and we decided to do it Saturday, since I had a band concert Sunday afternoon.

Saturday rolled around, and we woke early.  Had some breakfast, then J asked if we wanted to go for a walk/go to the gym and grocery, or just get started on the garage.  Oh no…I knew how this movie would end.  I wanted to get started first thing.  So, we backed out the cars, got all the equipment, and got started.  Surprisingly, it went well!  J and I do not normally do home repairs together, because we’re both “take charge” type of people, and both think we’re right…which can lead to arguments.  But, this time, it went so smoothly!  It took a bit of time (we had to rewire a few electrical things in the garage at the same time), but we finished it and everything worked!  SO QUIET!!  Plus, I also managed to weed the entire front yard landscaping, which was starting to resemble a jungle more than a front yard!  I was so glad to get those two things finished up and off our list…and who knows, maybe this jump started us on a new wave of home remodel productivity!

Much love,

A New Endeavor

A few years ago, J and I switched to bar soap from liquid soap in our shower.  For the longest time, I would use a loofah and liquid soap, and be happy as a pig in mud.  Then, I read an article on the number of germs those loofahs hold, and was immediately grossed out.  So, back to bar soap I went.  In addition to the germ aspect, I did more research on the plastics involved and the environmental impact of liquid soap, and was really disappointed.  The amount of energy spent turning the soap to liquid, plus the chemicals included to keep the soap in its liquid state are terrible for the environment, not to mention the amount of plastic involved in the packaging.   So, the environmental impact, combined with my germaphobia, made it an easy choice to go back to a bar soap.

However, bar soap is NOT cheap!  At least, not if you want something that isn’t chock full of chemicals that I can’t even begin to pronounce.  And, frankly, the idea of spending $4-$5 per each bar of soap (and I shower twice a day, so that stuff doesn’t last) is enough to make me want to cry.  I’m environmentally friendly, but I’m also cheap.  So, with the help of Pinterest and my awesome googling skills, I have determined that I’m going to make my own soap!  I think I’ll start with a simple melt and pour recipe, so that I don’t have to jump right in with the lye.  Plus, it’ll give me a chance to see if I enjoy making the soap at all, before really buying a ton of stuff I might never use.

I’m hoping to order a few things this weekend, and get to start on it before our 4th of July holiday!  I’ll be sure to update with my finished product and process, and I’m hoping to have some fabulous new soap to show off!

Much love,

J’s Birthday

J’s birthday is coming up next month, and it’s a bit of a big one.  He’s turning 35 this year, and I know it has him a bit down, as he feels like he’s getting older and things are falling apart (“they” always say wait until you’re 40, then it really goes downhill with your body, but I think J might be feeling it early).  So, I’d like to plan something fun for him, that will take his mind off the everyday stress, like work.  I know he enjoys outdoors things, and loves water parks, so I was trying to find something that would keep him entertained and busy, while still being fun and pseudo-relaxing.

Then, it came to me…we’re always talking about how a trip to Cincinnati (only a few hours away) would be a nice short weekend trip.  So, I booked it!  We’ll be taking Friday off work, and driving straight to King’s Island.  After a day spent riding the roller coasters and going to the water park, we’ll go back to Cincinnati and spend the night in a hotel.  Saturday morning we’ll wake up, then drive to Kentucky to see the Newport Aquarium and have lunch at the Hofbrauhaus (delicious German food!).  Saturday night we’ll stay in the city again, then Sunday we’ll explore Cincinnati a bit before driving home!  Maybe even a side trip to IKEA or Jungle Jim’s, if we want.

I hope he likes it…it’ll be hard keeping it a secret, but I think a surprise will do him some good!  Less than a month away, and I’m excited!

Much love,

Quarter Marathon, Check!

Last weekend, I participated in the inaugural Indiana Women’s Trail Run at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis.  I’d never done any sort of trail running before in my life.  I mean, sure…I’ve ran on the road, and I’ve hiked on the trail…but never both of those, combined.  I had been wanting to get back into running ever since my knee surgery last year, but the recovery took a bit.  And then, I was focused on weight loss through changing my diet, and our winter here was absolutely miserable, so running took a back seat.  Then, an email for this race came through my inbox, and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to get back into running shape!  So, I started running on the path that goes through our housing complex (3 mile loop), but wasn’t able to really get any good mileage out of that because my knees kept hurting.  I was really hoping that, after losing 50+ pounds, the knee issues would ease up…but apparently not.

So…for the past month, I’ve gotten in a few run/walks.  Nothing really significant, but I wasn’t too worried because the trail run was a walk or a run, depending on what fitness level each person was at.  So, no big deal, because I could always walk some of it if it became too much.  Which was highly likely, as this wasn’t a road run, but a trail run, and a lot of different muscle groups would be engaged that weren’t normally.

raceSaturday dawned quite dark, seeing as how I had to get up at 0500 to get to the race in time.  I was definitely rethinking this whole idea to up and do a quarter marathon (6.55 miles) that early in the morning, but I managed to drag my sorry ass to the race, if only for the cupcake that was promised me at the end.  (The Flying Cupcake gave each lady a free, full-sized cupcake for completing the race…WELL worth it!)  And, of course, I was FULL of energy once I got there, so it didn’t make much difference anyways.  There’s something about the few minutes before a race that will get the energy moving, the heart pumping, and the adrenaline racing…it’s such a heady feeling!  Once the race started, we were off.  And by “off”…I mean that most of us were walking due to the bottle neck at the start of the trail.  It took awhile for the pack to thin out and get moving, but about a quarter-mile in I was able to start jogging and get in stride.  And, surprisingly, I kept going, and going, and going!  I made it just past the second mile marker before I had to slow it down a bit, then at around 2.5 miles I moved to a fast walk.  I kept that up until mile 4, then ran another mile, the slowed it down to a jog, then a walk, until mile 6.  At mile 6, I kicked it into gear and finished the race at a run!

Trail running was SUCH a better experience for me than road running.  The ground was far more forgiving for my joints, and it was a constantly changing scenery, which really helps with my focus.  I kept my iPod running with my favorite mix of music (Pitch Perfect was the headliner for my race), and was able to push through the hills really well.  At the end of the race, I got my medal and my cupcake, and I was a VERY happy lady!  It was a fantastic experience, and I’ll definitely do it again next year.  I was telling J about how I think I’m going to start trail running instead of on the road, going forward, so I’m hoping to make it over to the local state park a couple of times a week to hit up the trails and get moving.  I still really love other cardio workouts, but there are times when nothing beats the feeling of feet slapping the earth.  This weekend was definitely a kick-start to a new wave of exercise!


Much love,

Internet Friends…Internet Loves.

One of the coolest things about my living abroad experiences were all the friends that I met via the internet.  Before J and I moved to the NL, I joined an internet board devoted to ladies living abroad.  Tons of great women on the board under a myriad of circumstances:  some moved due to work, some for love, some for school.  All incredibly diverse, and all sharing a wealth of information on what it was like to live outside your comfort zone.  Before we packed our bags, I frequented the board quite regularly, picking the minds of those who had gone before me, for any tidbit of advice I could get.  And tidbits I got!  Information on local customs, on what to bring and what to leave home, information on having children abroad, and personal experiences…it really ran the gamut!

Then, we got to the NL.  And it took a little while to settle in and really get a feeling for what we’d got ourselves into.  And the first few months, I was working from the apartment, and studying for the bar exam.  So, I was pretty busy.  But after that, I ventured out a little further…started meeting these women in person.  A lot of people would think I’m crazy.  “Meeting people OVER THE INTERNET?!” my mother would say…”Are you crazy?!”  And, there was a smidge of concern in the back of my mind, but nothing too overwhelming.  But then, I met T for the first time, in a train station in her town.  I was looking around for her, the only picture I had of her were shots from her Facebook profile.  And there she was!  This tiny little scrap of a woman, 5+ months pregnant at the time, barely skating past five feet tall.  We met up and talked for HOURS!  It was amazing, to find someone who you connect with so closely, on the other side of the world.

Over the next three years, I’d find many more dear friends that I initially “met” on the internet prior to meeting in person.  And I love them all, dearly.  T continues to be one of my best friends, to this day, and I still keep in contact with a few of the other ladies, either by phone or internet.  And though I’m now back in the US, we all still have this bond born of shared experience (and nurtured through genuine enjoyment of their company) that holds us all together still.  It was, and continues to be, the biggest bright spot of my time spent overseas.  I mean, don’t get me wrong…the travel was amazing, the foods were fabulous, the work experience was invaluable.  But the biggest thing?  It’s always been the people…the people are what are, and will continue to be for me, unforgettable.

So thanks, ladies.  Thanks for picking me up when I needed it, smacking me around when I deserved it, and holding my hand when I was scared.  I hold you all in my heart, and can’t wait until I see you again.

Much love,

Growing up.

picstitchIn a few short weeks, it will be a year since we brought two more kittens into our home.  They were born the first of June, so we got them at around eight weeks or so.  But, the other day, I looked at my two “little kittens” and realized, they’re now cats.  Hard to imagine (well, not really, Hana is fat)  but I guess everyone grows up at some point.

Last night, they were snuggled up next to me in bed, purring away while I scratched their head, and I could help but think back to when they were so tiny.  When we first got them, I could carry both of them in one hand with no effort.  Now…carrying them both at the same time in my arms is a feat!  But, they’re still my babies, no matter how big they get.  And…they get along fairly decently with Lily now!  Which is exciting, in and of itself!

So…happy birthday, my little furbabies.  I can’t explain the joy you’ve brought to our lives, and I look forward to several more birthdays with you.

Much love,

A Father for all Days

When I was five years old, I thought my Daddy hung the moon in the night sky, just for me.  When I was ten, I thought he was the best baseball coach out there, always ready to pitch me another ball for practice.  At fifteen, I was convinced my Dad was out there to ruin my life, and I’d never be able to wear the clothes I wanted or see the boys I liked.  Twenty came and went, and Dad was always there…no real angst in our relationship, but nothing spectacular either.  When I was twenty-five, he was walking me down the aisle and giving me away to the man who would now become first in my life, the slot that Daddy used to hold.  A few years ago, when I turned thirty, I really came to terms with Dad’s mortality.  He’d just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and I knew it was only a matter of time before he wasn’t around any more, so I had to make each moment count.

Today, I celebrated my Dad.  I went home to my parents’ place, spent time with them, and took my dad out for a good ol’ fashioned steak (lunch was his choice).  We talked and laughed, and I tried to ignore when he called me by my sister’s name, or when his hands shook too much to cut up his meat.  And on the way home, with J behind the wheel, a tear or two might have slipped down my face, hidden by my sunglasses.  Dad is still there, for the most part, but there are times when he’s just a shell of who he was.  I console myself with the fact that, overall, his quality of life isn’t terrible.  It’s nowhere near where it was, and I’m sure it kills him to have me help him out of the car like an invalid, but I think we could both agree that it would be worse.  A LOT worse.  And “worse” might be right around the corner, or it might never come…we really don’t know.

So…while today might be Father’s Day, and I wish the best to all the father’s out there, I am making a conscious decision to celebrate my father ALL days.  Because, sadly, we never know how many days we have left.  And I’d hate to look back on my time with him and have regrets that I didn’t do enough.  Didn’t tell him I loved him enough, didn’t hug him enough, or laugh with him enough.  So, starting today, I’m going to go into every day making sure that he knows that he’s always going to be my #1 Dad, no matter what.

Wedding 11-25-2008 7-03-37 PM

Much love,