Thursday, January 26, 2012

These Are The Good Times

This has been a good week, which is surprising, because so much was stacked against me.

For one thing, it was overcast several days. I hate overcast weather (except when I'm out running, cuz I truly hate running with the sun in my eyes, and sunglasses are just one more thing to wear). For life, I like sun. Even a few hours of sun a day. Luckily, today I was able to catch some rays - of course, it was while I was out running, but I pretty much decided to be thankful about having any sun at all and just deal.

I got to run twice this week with a partner! I like this. Somehow as much as I like the zen aspect of turning up a mp3 player loud and running alone and just enjoying the brain-deadness of it for awhile, there's something really amazing about having a partner. And we made it 2.5 miles on Tuesday and the whole 3 miles today! Felt good.

Okay, it didn't feel good while it was being done.

But it felt good afterwards.


Plus - does it GET any more amazing than this?!?

I SWEAR she was happy (if I'd had more time to take the shot, I would have caught her smiling mouth, but I knew I had 1.5 seconds to take the picture before she refused to pose again).

We got to hang out for about 20 minutes today in my truck while we waited to pick Maggie up from her appointment. Quotes from the day:

Me: *I closed my eyes for a second and leaned against the back of the seat*

Abby: "Sarah, WAKE UP! People sleep in BEDS, not TRUCKS!"

(I thought about explaining to her that trucks actually HAVE beds, but decided not to go there)

Abby: "Sarah, look at the picture I did at school today."

Me: "Abby, that's so gorgeous!"

Abby: "Yeah... it was for you, but it's so pretty, it's for mommy instead." :)

(Abby's coolness heirarchy: Mommy first, Maggie second, Sarah and Daddy somewhere below that lol)

Abby: "I like to sleep in mama's big bed."

Me: "Yeah, but Mommy's going to fix up your new big girl room, and you'll get your own big-girl bed... are you going to sleep in your big girl bed then?"

Abby: "Oh yes... but it's going to take a loooooong time to get my room ready." *smug smile*

I had my first yoga class on Monday - now, granted, I haven't practiced in six months, but I don't remember it being so painful! Not sore muscle painful, or even stiff muscle painful, but shooting-pain-as-if-I'd-bumped-my-funny-bone painful. My wrists and arms were still unhappy the next day. I decided to give them a bit to recover and try again on Monday. :( It may be time to invest in a good, thick mat, or at least a cheap pad to go under my current one.

And speaking of buying things... I went out and bought running/yoga/workout clothes this week. I have now been running consistently for six months, and I had this epiphany this week that having running clothes - not just cobbled-from-pj's-and-sweats clothes - would make my life easier. It took a little hunting, but I now have three shirts and a pair of nice running pants (I want another pair and a pair of long shorts but I can't find exactly what I'm hunting for right now) and I was right, it makes it much easier when I have clothes I can throw in a gym bag and KNOW will fit and work. :)

Lest you think that my whole life is about exercising (hah!), let me assure you there's quite a bit of eating going on, too. Like a birthday girl's-night-out to Red Robin with Ruth, who turned 12 today.

So, my running partner/friend and I were talking today about doing an "indefinitely single and completely happy" girl's date instead of our run on Valentine's Day. Pedicures or manicures, chocolate, and coffee were mentioned as part of this date. Is it totally lame that I immediately started thinking about what sort of manicure I wanted? I bought a copy Seventeen later that day, and inside the front cover, I found the cutest nail polish ever.

Yes, those are little hearts floating around in glittry nail polish. Too much? Probably. Totally fun? Oh, yes... :)

This weekend is going to be crazy and I'm regretting it a little already. I've been exhausted all week - it seems like no matter how early I go to bed, I still wake up tired. I suspect this has to do with the waxing moon (somehow the increased light at night messes with my sleep). What I really want to do is to take a long hot bath with some nice-smelling bubbles, crawl into some comfy pajamas and then into bed, and not get out of either all weekend. In reality, I have to get the kids to do some schoolwork tomorrow (while the school routing is getting better, this last week has had holes), have a literature discussion circle with the twins, run errands for Ruth's birthday party, clean the house for Ruth's birthday party, cook food for Ruth's birthday party, decorate for Ruth's birthday party, go to running class, find a minute to wrap birthday presents for assorted people and get Khy's present in the mail, make a trip to Sears to return an order from Lands End, and also try to put away some laundry so that my clean clothes don't end up in a heap with my dirty ones.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Things I Love:

  • Snowy days when you don't have to go anywhere

  • Good customer service representatives

  • Clearance racks

  • Starbucks - especially the one in my area, the employees there are so AMAZING and always remember that my sister is allergic to dairy and how to modify her order

  • The way trees in winter reach for the sky

  • Finding $5 DIY gel nail kits (that don't require UV or LED lights OR special removers - can't wait to try this out later this week with a beautician friend!)

  • Thinking about next Christmas already - I'm going to make an attempt at doing all home/handmade gifts this year, so my goal is to start now and do a few gifts per month to take the stress factor away.

  • Having a running partner - I have two running dates scheduled for this week and I can't wait!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bookstore Score

Two Christmases ago, some friends of mine gave me a gift certificate to the local used bookstore. It's taken me this long to use it, but Sunday after church and a yummy lunch at Bob Evans (go soup and salad combo! lol), a friend and I ducked in to see what kind of goodies we could find.

First off, let me just say that if traditional bookstores smell good - ink and paper and glue and binding - used bookstores smell twice as good. It's the smell of history. :)

The prices were AMAZING and I came away with a nice little haul.

(l-r, top to bottom: Keesha's House by Helen Frost, Lost In A Good Book by Jasper Fforde, Songs of Stage and Screen by Michael Crawford, Passion by Jose Carreras, and Chant by the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo De Silos)

Reactions so far:

Keesha's House is AMAZING. Like, book-of-the-year, gush-about-it-to-everyone-I-know amazing. I knew I had a winner when I picked it up in the bookstore, flipped it open randomly to the middle, and was immediately sucked in. Bought it, brought it home, ran a hot bath with bubbles, and read it cover-to-cover that night.

The format is unusual - it's a novel in various forms of verse, each poem from a different character's perspective. There is Keesha, for whom the book is named, and six "main characters" - Harris, Katie, Stephy, Dontay, Carmen, and Jason -who are all inextricably linked together. Multiple "secondary characters" (who have relationships with one or more of the main characters) make appearances, albeit sometimes brief (Katie's English teacher, for instance, who interjects 13 lines about halfway through the book, tellingly titled "Not Much I Can Do").

The poetry is gripping, easy to read, and approachable - one of my favorite reviews says that it "sets poetry free into the real world, where it also belongs."

It's gritty - never disturbing, but truly realistic in an unflinching way. I cried out when I read page 85, desperately hoping I had misread or misunderstood what I saw printed there, and when I realized that it was true I cried, thus adding Keesha's House to the small list of books I've cried over.

In short, it's amazing. Read it - you can get a copy for $1.50 and a couple bucks shipping on Amazon, and you won't regret it.

Lost In A Good Book

Fun, fun fun! Part Alice In Wonderland, part Roald Dahl, part the very best of Diana Wyne Jones and Lloyd Alexander, part space comedy, yet entirely grown up, it's a delightful read. Apparently this is the second book in a series, but I didn't have any trouble finding my way after the first chapter or so. About halfway through the novel right now, so I'll have to complete this review later, but it's made my bathtime reading sessions a pleasure. :)

And now on to some music...

Songs of Stage And Screen is a little tiny bit of a letdown. It's not out of print, and I suspect one of Crawford's earlier works, and kind of lacks the rickness and artistic interpretation of his more recent recordings. A little predictable? Maybe even the teensiest bit... boring? *cringe* I need to listen to it again to be sure.

Passion - Okay, so I bought this because I thought this was actually Jose Cura, you know, who sang in Sarah Brightman's "Time To Say Goodbye" album? And, it clearly is not. In fact, if I'd been thinking a little more clearly, I would have realized that the reason I recognize his name is because Carreras is, in fact, one of the three tenors! Happy mistake, and a stunning album. It will be satisfying my operatic cravings for awhile.

Chant. I've been thinking about Gregorian chants lately, not sure why, so when I say this at the bookstore for $2 I figured it was as cheap a way as any to indulge my curiousity. This, out of all the CD's I bought that day, was the one I listened to last and the one that hasn't left my CD player yet. Restful, not at all creepy, and soaring harmonies and melodies. I find myself humming or vocalizing along. I would love to find a good translation of the words from Latin so that I could dwell on the worship aspect of the music. (And, btw, I'm thinking a second recording would make an excellent addition to the one I already have. :))

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


It's a new year, a new chance to eat well, and I've been cooking on the fly (most of the ideas below make enough for 2 servings, except for the pizza).

Chicken Not-Really-Pizza

Cook a boneless, skinless chicken breast in a nonstick pan with salt and pepper to taste. Slice into strips. Spread one whole-wheat pita with 2 TBS of your favorite hummus and sprinkle with 1/4 cup crumbled feta. Completely cover with baby spinach and/or fresh herbs (don't be afraid to pile them high - they'll "melt"). Lay chicken slices over greens and bake for 10 minutes (or until greens are wilted) on 300. Optional: some sliced tomatoes and black olives would be amazing. :)

This was so good I made it for lunch again the next day, too, sans chicken (I would have, but the chicken breast I brought cooked up smelling fishy... better safe than sorry).

Fiesta Chicken Bowl
Mix one cup black beans, 1 cup salsa, and 2 cups chopped kale. Lay one boneless, skinless chicken breast in a baking dish and pour salsa mixture over top. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 or until chicken is done. Optional: top with grated Babybel cheddar cheese, and/or some plain Greek yogurt.

"Fake" Chicken Curry

Put one boneless, skinless chicken breast into a saucepan and add 1 cup water, 1 cup frozen mixed veggies of your choice, and 1 TSP each of soy sauce, sesame oil, and minced garlic, a hefty dash of ground ginger and curry powder, and one chopped tomato. When chicken is cooked through, shred, and serve with/over brown rice. Optional: a splash of coconut milk and/or a dab of peanut butter - I was out, but I can tell this would send this over the top!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Finding New Energy

I got this text from Robin this morning:

I miss you! but... I am so energized from our visit. I feel like I can face this next year and make it thru. :)

All I can say is "Amen!" I feel exactly the same way. And while I may have cried a bit last night after I had to hand Khy over to Robin, give them both hugs, and send them through the security line at the airport... and had another little moment of self-pity when I heard a sound this morning while I was sleeping and thought, "I'll go play with Khy so she can take a shower..." and when I saw Khy's little balloon bobbing around my ceiling, looking forlorn... in short, while I miss them terribly, having them here has brought back some of the "ordinary everyday" magic in my world.
Like the way that dusk settled in tonight, wearing periwinkle-and-rose ombre...

Or the fact that it's thisclose to being a full moon...

Even beautiful is the way the branches of trees reach wistfully for the sky...

It's gonna be a good year.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year, A New Beginning

I knew it was going to be a great year as early as Thursday, when I drove up to the airport.


It's amazing having them here! My BFF is gorgeous, and so is her little guy (who warmed up to all of us pretty quickly).

She and I put Khy to bed on Friday, then snuck back downstairs to the living room with glasses and a bottle of sparkling cider. I stoked up the dying fire, and we stayed up exchanging presents and getting caught up.

Saturday was spent having our own belated Christmas celebration, as Khy opened his gifts.

Just another instance of never knowing what gifts are going to be the favorites. I got Khy this mini Etch-A-Sketch as a stocking stuffer, and it completely eclipsed the other gifts in popularity. :)

That evening, we were ready to rock in a New Year. :)

There was some clogging/dancing (though we managed to get it out of our system before our guests arrived!).

We totally lucked out, and one of our good friends who recently got married and moved away was in the area for the holidays! It was so much fun having our "bro" back! (Though sadly his wife had to work and couldn't join us. :( )

We got a round of board and card games going - Scrabble Slam, Tetris, and Apples To Apples.

For the record, I did win exactly one round - running in a race is "difficult".

Then it was 2012!

Here's to a great new year - one full of adventure and peace! :)