Monday, November 28, 2011

52 weeks later...

We did it!

It's the one year anniversary of the workout journey that started with four friends, $80 and a jar.

I'm happy to report that the money and the jar are gathering dust in a bottom drawer in my kitchen and that we are all still standing.

[Fine print: well, technically, B is taking a brief hiatus until the arrival of Baby Girl O. But she did make it through week 30 of her pregnancy and she will be rejoining us right after her six-week postpartum check-up, right B??]

Our story started one cold, dark, snowy December night when we said yes to something that sounded crazy at the time: work out five times a week, 15 minutes minimum for as long as it takes...for what, we weren't sure. All we knew was that our money, pride and extra mommy pounds were on the line.

52 weeks later, we ended up with way more than we bargained for.

Yes, we are more fit and we're better runners, swimmers, and yogis. We're stronger, we breath easier and our pants fit better. We've met some goals, crossed some finish lines, and made some memories.

More importantly, we've learned some lessons that reach way beyond the realm of the workout world. Life lessons learned:

Yes is more fun than no. I'm a logical sort of gal and if something doesn't make tons of sense to me, I will probably say no. 5:30am swimming, you say? No, thank you. Errr, I mean, OK. Laughing hysterically with your best friends before the sun rises and then flying high on swim endorphins for the rest of the day?? Yes, please. Case in point: yes is more fun than no. The next time the word 'no' is on the tip of your tongue, try saying 'yes' instead. (Unless someone is asking you to jump off a cliff or bake four dozen cookies for a bake sale. In those instances, you should still say 'no.')

We were created to live in community. Stop trying to do things on your own. Seriously. Stop it. It's exhausting and not near as much fun. In a group, you can push each other, cheer for each other, lean on each other, celebrate together. Gather up some sisters, neighbors, MOPSers, same-church-section-sitters or random strangers and start living life. Together.

You is kind. You is smart. You is important. OK, maybe I learned that one from reading The Help, but it applies here too. It's easy in MommyLand to get caught up with everyone else's needs - which is admirable - and in the process we forget about ourselves - which is not so cool. This past year, I have realized that MeMyself&I have actual goals and dreams, and I have done things just for me. Revolutionary. It might sound selfish, but I would argue that taking care of yourself will in turn make you a better wife, mother, friend, worker, etc.

Be the change. I know it's cliche, but it's true. You can complain about being bored, unhappy or unhealthy. Or you can get up and do something about it. Which option will you pick? Do you want to run a 5K? You're going to have to get off the couch. Do you want to start your own business, make some new friends, or find a way to serve in your community? Make a plan, set a goal, and for goodness sake, just start.

Choose grace. Some days you're feeling it and you can run the extra mile. Some days you're not. Mama said there'd be days like this and (all together now) it's O...K... When you can't quite get it all together, extend yourself grace. And when you have extra love, energy, encouragement to spare, extend grace to others. Stop beating yourself up, stop judging others. Tomorrow is a new day. I promise.

* * * * *

One of my favorite pins reads: A year from now, you will wish you had started today.

It's one year later {260 workouts each, for those of you keeping track at home} and I am so, so glad we started.

Year Two and the journey continues...

{Previous Posts}

Friday, November 25, 2011 {thankful.}

Another week, another batch of Instagrams.

A handful of moments captured, big and small.

1. Pinterest strikes again.

2. Our two year old's current love language? E-L-M-O.

3. Found this gem while cleaning out the basement. 

4. A late night game of Go Fish.

5. I have a love-hate relationship with my swim bag.

6. A favorite Lowell hot spot.

7. Blessed. Thankful.

8. Learning how to play dominoes while we digest our turkey.

9. Pumpkin or apple? Both, please.

10. Mady ♥'s Uncle Chad's cell phone.

life rearranged

Thursday, November 24, 2011

uninvited guests

A week and a half ago, Matt opened the door to the basement and saw a little mouse friend scurry down the stairs.

The big question: who to call first? An exterminator, the producers of Hoarders, or my trusty pal T-licious?

(You can never have too much moral support at a time like this.)

A brief pause for a bit of irony: Ella had just received from my parents that evening a Calico Critter's luxury townhome complete with a mouse family. T-licous was kind enough to ask at one point: has it dawned on you that the mice might be drawn to the other mouse family living upstairs in their fancy mouse house?

It seems that everyone you talk to has a mouse story or two. The most unhelpful thing to hear after you have seen a mouse in your house?

"There's never just one."

We put a couple of traps down in the basement loaded up with peanut butter and crossed our fingers. I spent a couple of restless nights filled with mousey dreams.

It's unnerving knowing there are little rodents scurrying around in your house, trust me.

Know what's even more unnerving than that?

Waking up to traps that have been licked clean but with no sign of any mouse bodies.

Know what's even more unnerving than that??

Opening a kitchen drawer and finding mouse droppings.

Time to call in the Mouse Man. (Anyone wonder how you end up being the Mouse Man? I'd like to job shadow him sometime.)

He checked for entry points, set some bait, and shook his head and said, "There's never just one."

In the end, we caught four. And I think our mouse story is over.

We've had two nights of traps set and all the peanut butter is still there. We're crossing our fingers that the mouse hotel is out of business.

I'm a half-full sort of gal and in the spirit of being positive, here are a few good things that came out of our mouse house guest experience:

  • Our basement is now completely clean and organized. This was not just a quick job, this was a purge-as-if-your-life-depends-on-it-before-you-get-turned-into-Hoarders type project.
  • I finally worked up the courage to get the ball rolling on our basement finishing project.
  • It reminded me how thankful I am to have a nice, manly husband who is willing to check the house for mice and dispose of mouse bodies before my feet hit the floor in the morning.
  • I felt the love of friends actually willing to pray for my mouse problems - and we caught two little fellows the next two nights after we met for small group. Coincidence or divine mouse trapping? You decide.
  • It gave me several opportunities to send hilarious photos to Matt and my gal pals of pretend mice planking and horsemanning.

As we count our blessings this time of year, remember, there is always, always something to be thankful for. Even if it's for the mice.

Friday, November 18, 2011 {Chicago edition}

24 hours.

Amazing food. 

Best. Concert. Ever. 

Wandering the streets of one of the coolest cities in America.

Friends. Really, really good friends.

One teensy incident involving our gas tank.

Side splitting laughter.

Memories that will stand the test of time.

1. Kissing in the park. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

2. The Purple Pig. Cheese, swine & wine. Ask for Darma.

3. Wine wisdom.

5. Hey mama. Hey hey mama.

6. Hanging with the Matt with two t's.

7. Two guys who are glad they brought their wives along.

8. View from the Hancock Center.

9. The most amazing sliders, especially at 12:30am.

10. Our favorite Chicago breakfast spot.

11. Cool cupcakes.

13. Bridge planking.

14. And...we just ran out of gas.

15. Matt driving away with a seemingly nice stranger.
[We crossed our fingers that he would be back again.]

16. An inconvenience but it might just have been worth the laughs.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 {birthday edition}

I have wanted to join in on the Instagram craze for months now - ever since T started the trend - but my lack of an iPhone has been holding me back. This past week (mostly in honor of birthday week), I have been stealing Matt's phone every chance I get.

We had an action-packed week: three birthday's, a wine and cheese party and a quick trip to Chicago (which deserves a post of it's own).

Without further ado, I present to you the first ever terpblog InstaFriday.

1. Friday Night Legos.

2. Sunshine cupcakes - inspired by this pin and our bright-eyed little girl.

3. Birthday flowers from Daddy.

4. She's FIVE!

5. Ella's birthday surprise, tucked away in Mommy's closet.

6. The scavenger hunt begins! {Daddy's specialty}

7. Curt & Janine throw another amazing wine and cheese party.

8. Some of my favorite girls.

9. It's not really a party until somebody planks.

10. Thankful for many wonderful friends who celebrate our kids along with us - another great gift from Ms. Bethany

11. He's SEVEN!

12. Dirt cups, complete with worms (recipe here).

13. The best sorts of friends call you up and sing to you on your birthday.

14. My favorite party hosting tip: invest in some mason jars for drinks.

15. D's alligator.

life rearranged

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

{birthday} breakfast-ing

If you know our family at all, you know that November = birthdays around here. Four birthday's in eight days (November 9 | 12 | 13 | 17) and as the wife/mom I try to make each person's day special someway, somehow.

Matt's turn is first and although he enjoys dessert, the real way to his heart is through breakfast food. His current favorite? Baked oatmeal.

A MOPS mom made this baked oatmeal recipe last year for a MOPS meeting and I just had to get my hands on it. It's quickly become a family favorite. As an added bonus, it can be mixed up the night before and in the morning you just have to pop it in the oven.

Baked Oatmeal

6 eggs (We think it's too egg-y with 6 eggs, I used 5 this time and it was perfect)
1 C oil
1 C sugar
3 2/3 C oatmeal
1 T baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 C milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix ingredients together. Refrigerate overnight (in mixing bowl). Bake in a greased, uncovered 9x13 pan for 1/2 hr. at 350. Warm milk and pour over individual servings of oatmeal. Cinnamon, sugar, raisins and brown sugar can be sprinkled over top.

(I started baking the oatmeal in a muffin tin and we like the individual servings, plus it doesn't take as long to bake - usually about 20 minutes. Makes about 18 regular sized "muffins".)

Happy birthday, Matt! We love you!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


The {current} story of my life:

Ella went to school today in two adorable french braids. Might be because I'm the most amazing hair mom-of-the-year. Might be because it's been (at least) two days since her last bath and we were running late this morning. (Hint: it's the second one).

I blog regularly because I love to do it and you make time for the things you love. Something I don't love? COOKING. It's a big week around here if I cook even twice for my family. Last week's "home-cooked" meals featured a rotisserie chicken from Family Fare and a precooked pot roast from Costco that I microwaved minutes before setting it on the table.

I have a beautiful Erin Condron life planner that I write our family's (color-coded!) schedule in each week. I realized Saturday night around 9pm that I had completely forgotten to go in and help with Ella's class on Friday afternoon. Oops.

I look fairly pulled together on Sunday mornings and MOPS mornings (when you're most likely to see me). Those are usually the only two times that you can find me in non-elastic-waisted paints. My typical uniform: my "nice" yoga pants for going "out" and my sweats for staying in.

Yes, I exercise regularly (I've got money riding on it). BUT, I don't always read to my kids on a consistent basis (maybe I need to make a bet about that too).

I am a SAHM who works 8-12 hours a week from home with no formal childcare. Sounds good, right? My dirty little secret? I have someone come in and clean our house for 4 hours every other week because I tried doing it all and I almost had a nervous breakdown.

My point?

Things aren't always what they seem.

There are things in my life that I do well. I am proud of those things. I feel good about those things.

There are also many ways that I fall short on a daily basis.

If I choose, I can look around me and see people doing all sorts of fabulous things better than me and I can feel discouraged, even jealous.

I can beat myself up: coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Or I can focus on the positive in me, the good in me. My gifts. My strengths.

My things-I-do-well and your things-you-do-well are probably different things.

And that's the best news I've heard all week. We are all created to be unique and different.

In addition, each season of our life lends itself to different strengths and weaknesses.

Stop dwelling on the ways you feel you come up short. Stop should-ing, stop comparing. Celebrate the things you do well.

Extend yourself an extra ounce ton of grace. Today. Right now.

Embrace your you-ness and start living.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

one sweet race

The Hot Chocolate 15K is billed as America's Sweetest Race.

I first heard about it from my friend EB while we chatted at the park one fine September morning. I went home and immediately told my go-to running gals about the race and we all verbally signed on.

And then reality set in.

9.3 miles??

And then fear crept in.

What if we can't do it? What if we fail?

KMac and I quietly tried to back out, hoping T would forget about it.

Two and a half weeks before the race, the inevitable happened: she held us to our verbal agreement.

[Actually she said she was running it with or without us and in that moment we knew we had to go...there was no way we were letting her run that race by herself!]

So we filled out our registrations and booked our hotel. We fit a couple of long runs into our workout schedules. And then we packed our bags and we were off.

And the race was sweet, indeed.

Sweetness is...

giggling your way through an I-forgot-my-iPod-in-Hudsonville crisis

scrambling out of bed at a very early hour, lacing up your running shoes and knowing there is nothing else you would rather be doing at that very moment.

enjoying the beauty of a big city on a sunny, crisp fall morning while Needtobreath blares in your ear buds

running side by side with two of your dearest friends on God's green earth

feeling like a real runner as you navigate through aid stations and suck down Hammer Gels

channeling the support you received ahead of time from your family and friends as the run begins to get hard (my bro-in-law's words became my mantra around mile 5: "Kill it, sis.")

passing the 5K marker and realizing that a distance that seemed hard 8 months ago felt like a warm-up

seeing the 10K marker and knowing that you are running faster than your last 10K race time...with 3.1 miles still to go

facing a hill head-on at mile 9 and not slowing down, because you know you've got this, you've trained for this

finishing strong - and finding out that your last 5K split was the fastest of the three

enjoying a well-deserved runners high while basking in your achievement {1:25:33}

knocking #6 off of your Year 32 list

and, of course, sweetness is...

being handed chocolate bars, fondue and hot chocolate just past the finish line for your efforts.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Craft Night {yarn-wrapped letter}

Now that we've started crafting, we just can't stop. The lovely KMac opened up her home to us last night and hosted our second craft night.

We worked on all sorts of things, mostly yarn related, including Thankful Treesyarn wrapped wreaths, a yarn wrapped monogram, and a coffee filter wreath.

I made a couple yarn wrapped wreaths last Thanksgiving {here & here} so I decided to expand my horizons and try a yarn wrapped monogram.

Our projects in various states of done-ness.

My "E" ended up being a lot of fun to do - the end result is perfectly imperfect and I realized that I had to embrace that pretty early on. I did learn a thing or two and if I did another one, I would take a little bit more care to cover my corners. Every letter is going to have it's own unique set of problems depending on whether you have a straight or curved letter. If you try it, I would study a few on Pinterest and then have a good plan in place before you start - you will need to wrap it several times in different directions.

The big star of the night was Kara's fabulous {giant) Sizzix machine. We used it to cut our felt flowers to embellish our yarn-y projects.

This morning I have a happy little 4 1/2 girl who loves her new E for her room (she's already asking where the L's and the A are). I call that a craft night success!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

the hurricane that wasn't (& other memories)

We returned home late Monday night from a week in Mexico (in Playa del Carmen, to be exact) with the kids and my parents and brother and sister-in-law and their kids.

Vacation highlights (or in some cases lowlights)...

* * * * *

The big story of the week was almost having front row seats to Hurricane Rina.

Quick multiple choice question: it's never a good sign when you see the resort staff

a) removing the glass pieces from all of the chandeliers
b) covering all the windows
c) filling and stacking sand bags around the pool area
d) tying up the branches on all the palm trees
e) all of the above

I had myself convinced at first that this was old hat for them - kind of like how Michiganders are used to snow storms but out of towners freak out at a few snowflakes - until Matt asked a resort worker if this sort of thing happened often and she said, "oh no, this never happens."

At first, the hurricane was on direct course to hit the area we were in on Thursday around lunch time - we woke up that day thinking we would be stuck in a hurricane shelter for 12 hours that day. As the day went on, they kept bumping the time forward until finally the only slight inconvenience was being stuck in our rooms from about 9pm until morning.

The weather eventually settled on a tropical storm that came in the night on Thursday. We braced ourselves for a couple of days of heavy winds and rain...that never came. Instead, we had three more days of beautiful weather before heading home.

* * * * *

Mayan coffee = amazing. Who knew??

If you're ever in Mexico, ask for it. We're not sure if this is really what the Mayans drink or just something they made up for the tourists, but it sure is delicious.

* * * * *

Our resort was located just a block away from 5th Avenue - a really cool shopping and dining strip. Our other experience with an all-inclusive was in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and when you are there you are miles and miles from anything, besides other all-inclusives. 

It was nice to be able to see a little bit of the city and experience some culture (tourist-afied, of course) and despite some of the stories coming out of Mexico right now, we felt perfectly safe.

* * * * *

And finally, flying there and back with a tiny baby terrorist who looks a little bit like this:

My apologies to the other members of Delta flights #2211, #0531, #0536 and #2262.

We especially apologize to the woman sitting behind us on the first flight who told her husband, "That was the worst flight I have ever been on," and to the couple sitting in front of us on the way home who got up and changed seats halfway through the flight.

Her new nickname? The Singing Senorita.

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