Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

It is crazy to think that Thanksgiving has already come and gone! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and hope that you and your family did as well! Here is a run down of how our long weekend went...
Last week was a bit crazy as I had to work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (all 12 hour shifts) and we planned to leave from my work as soon as I got off on Wednesday night. This meant lots of planning and packing each evening after I got home. I left for work at 6 AM Wednesday morning and had to make sure everything was organized so Tim could load his car and meet me later that evening. When I got off of work they were waiting for me in the parking lot. After a quick stop at Culver's (great start to my weekend of eating!) we were on our way. Isaac rode with me and Tim had the other two and the dogs (two cars were needed due to Tim and the older boys coming back home to go deer hunting). Isaac talked my ear off and we had fun jammin' to our favorite songs on the radio. It was really nice to have that time with just Isaac! We made it safely back to my mom's and unloaded the car. Once that was done we made a quick visit to Tim's mom because we weren't going to be seeing her for Thanksgiving. By the time we made it back to my mom's I was beat! It had already been a long week and we hadn't even gotten to the holiday yet.
Thanksgiving Day-
Tim and I got up and got our butts out the door for a great 4 mile run. We have been making this a tradition since we started running. Rain was coming and we managed to get our run in just before it let loose. It felt great to get out there and start out the holiday with a run together. It is always fun to come back and run in our hometown... hills and all!

We did some quick stretching and got cleaned up and headed off to my Grandma's to celebrate Thanksgiving. Of course there was lots of wonderful food involved! I have to say my family sure knows how to cook! I did pretty good in the eating department though. I kept my portions in control and didn't overdo it. 
After lunch there was a little crafting by the little (and some big) turkeys.

Then it was a family game of BINGO. Grandma Betty was in her glory playing with two daughters, some grandkids and great-grandkids. Isaac proved that he has her luck and won several of the games played.
Aunt Julie got to fulfill her dream of being a BINGO caller and did a great job!
After the Christmas decorations were put up it was time for a little story courtesy of Aidan.

Aidan reading Happy Thanksgiving Biscuit to all who wanted to listen
Grandma Jane bought him this book a couple of weeks ago when they made the deal that he would practice reading it so he could read it for Grandma Betty on Thanksgiving. He did a great job!
Tim and the older boys headed for home so that they could get ready for deer hunting over the weekend. That left me and Aidan hanging out with my mom for the rest of the weekend.
We started out our weekend by heading to the Peanuts Movie.

My Aunt Julie and her husband Mark joined us and we all had a great time. Aidan loved the movie and all of the attention he was getting from being the only kid in the group.
Aidan and Mollie started the day off by being lazy bums!

I, on the other hand, got out there for a quick run. It was a bit colder and windier than the day before but it was still a great run to help burn off the splurge from the day before.

We spent the rest of the afternoon/evening doing a little shopping in town and also made a quick trip to Dubuque to get some supplies for our crafting that we had planned for the weekend.
While we were out doing all of this, Isaac was heading out for his first time deer hunting!

Isaac- first time deer hunting
I think it is safe to say he was excited! The weekend didn't prove to be very successful in the deer hunting department but it sounded like they all had a good time.
We had planned to craft all day but plans changed as my mom had to cater for a funeral. She works for the same reception hall and catering company that I did all through high school and college. Actually, she took my opening when I left and has been helping out on weekends and for special events ever since. The owner was gone for the holiday weekend so she was in charge of taking care of everything for the funeral and asked if I would be willing to help instead of asking one of the high school kids to come in. It has been a long time since I have worked there but I knew it would all come back so Aidan and I ended up helping for the day.
The ladies helping in the church kitchen loved this little man!

Aidan did a great job helping! He even told me on the way home on Sunday that this was his favorite part of the whole weekend- "having to work". I didn't get any pictures, but he was a great help once we got back to the reception hall and had all of the dishes to do. He loved helping with the huge dishwasher! We all made a great team and got everything cleaned up quickly so we could enjoy the rest of our day.
One of the rewards for working so hard was a carriage ride through downtown. 
Horse drawn carriage ride! It was chilly but it was worth the wait.
Then it was time to craft!
Peppermint candy ornaments
This was the first time making the peppermint candy ornaments and I have to admit that they didn't go exactly as we thought they would. Out of the six we attempted we only ended up with two successful ornaments. We need to work on our technique on these.
We also mixed up salt dough ornaments and got them in the oven baking which we also learned is a lengthy process. We kept checking on them all evening while we started on a few other projects (no pictures as those didn't get finished...yet!)
We worked on finishing up our salt dough ornaments by adding some paint and decorations.
you can see the two successful peppermint candy ornaments on the bottom

We made a few other quick projects (pictures to come on those) and before we knew it we needed to head for home.

Tim texted earlier in the morning that they would be home in time to go "hunt" for our Christmas tree so we had to get home for that adventure.

Once everyone was home we loaded up and headed for the Christmas tree farm. We have been cutting our own tree for several years and everyone loves this tradition. Before we get to this year's adventure, let's revisit last years "tree hunting adventure".

Last year we had some issues...

First, I worked every weekend around the time we normally get our tree.

Then, we planned a perfect afternoon to head out to get it and the tree farm wasn't open. That was our only time to get one so we ended up at..

yep, Menards!

2014 tree hunt

2014 tree hunt

the traditional dragging the tree to the car- 2014

tree hunt 2014
It was disappointing to not get to cut one down but 2014 will be a memorable year for our tree hunt tradition. In the end we all loved the tree we ended up with.

Now, back to this year's tree hunt!

It is a bit of a climb to the top but it is always worth it! The view is incredible and we always have great luck finding a tree at the top!

Mollie even got to join us for the adventure this year!
It turned out to be a great day for our tree hunt and we found a tree that we think will be perfect for this year! We got it up in the stand and it is ready and waiting for us to decorate! Our annual tree hunt is one of my favorite traditions that we have created with our boys and I look forward to continuing this tradition for many years to come.

What are your favorite traditions with your family?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ordinary Life

I came across this "graphic" on Facebook recently and feel like it really sums things up for me over the past several years.

Like I said in a previous post, I was recently doing some soul searching. This forced me to really look at my life and my priorities. Due to that soul searching I made some much needed changes. We all have our ups and downs but when you take time to look at the big picture, life is pretty amazing and is breathtakingly beautiful!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

UWL Turkey Trot 2015

We ran this race for the first time back in 2011 when we (Tim, Riley, and I) did it with my dad and a friend of his from work.

Three Generations running- 2011

Dad and his friend- 2011
We had a great time and loved the race. It was close. Everything was so smooth with registration and packet pickup. The cost was great! Race day was easy to maneuver. And, it was fun! Due to a conflict we took 2012 off but were back to run it again in 2013 as a family.
Tim, Riley, Isaac and myself ran the 5K. Aidan did Jr. Gobblers
Last year I wasn't thinking when I picked up an extra shift at work so we missed it again. As soon as I heard the date for this years' race I made sure to put it on our calendar so I wouldn't make that mistake again.
We procrastinated signing up... like we waited until Thursday night to do it. But we were still able to do it online and the price was still great. For this race they have early bird registration (until Nov. 1) that has a price break and normal registration up until race day. Like I said earlier, the cost for this race is really good! You even have the option to do it at a lower cost if you don't want a t-shirt... but who wouldn't want the great long sleeved t-shirt that they usually have!?!
So, Tim signed us up Thursday night via a program that he logged into through his Facebook account (this detail is important later). Friday night (while I was still working) he and Riley made the 10 minute trip to UWL to pick up our packets- another very smooth, quick process.
Another very nice thing about this race is the 9 AM start time! We are not early morning people at our house, so we love that we can get up at 7 AM, have some breakfast and leave the house about 8 AM for the race! We knew there would be a couple of road closures and wanted to make sure to get through before those happened. We made our way into the Rec Center and got our numbers pinned on, bathroom stops made and then had a little fun seeing the mascots. Did I mention that we were able to hang out in the Rec Center??? Where it is warm???
 While waiting for Tim to come back from the bathroom, I got my Timehop notification for today. I couldn't help but laugh when I saw it and couldn't wait to show it to Riley. There were pictures from us doing this race back in 2011 on my Timehop. Of course we couldn't resist re-creating those pictures after we saw them!

Riley and Me with Subman- 2011

Riley and Me with Subman- 2015

Riley, Tim and Me with Flash- 2011

Riley, Tim and me with Flash (with Stryker, the UWL Eagle photo bombing)- 2015

After finishing up our photo recreations it wasn't long and they were telling us to head out to the start line. It was fun to hear the Screaming Eagles Drum line playing as we walked the couple of blocks. Once we got to the start line we had to get a pre-race selfie.

Pre-race selfie
Then I wanted to get a "feet picture" and my lovely husband made fun of me but my teenager just complied. 
first snow fall of the season
The only reason I wanted this one was because last night was our first snow fall of the season! Once these pictures were out of the way we found where we should line up. For this race you predict your finish time (which also means no watches... more on this in a bit) and they had you line up based on that. Tim and I predicted our finish time to be 28:33 and Riley predicted his as 24:30. Based on this Riley would start a ways ahead of us in the lineup but he decided to just start with us and make his way up through the pack. We did a little stretching and ran into the campus a bit to get warmed up. I had never seen this part of campus. With the light dusting of snow it was absolutely beautiful!
UWL Campus
By the time we did that it was just about time to get started. We had time for one last picture before we were off.

Tim and Riley
 There was no gun or big send off. It was just the announcer counting us down over the loud speaker and we were off. Riley took off right away and weaved his way through everyone and we didn't see him again until the end where he was waiting for us. The road on this first section had slippery spots but as long as you stayed towards the middle it wasn't bad. I was feeling really good during this stretch but I could feel that we were starting out pretty fast. It wasn't far into the race when I had to tell Tim that we needed to calm it down!

By the time we made the first turn onto the busier street you didn't really have to worry about ice but you had to make sure to watch out for potholes and cracked pavement. This section of road was really bad! We were also heading into the wind for this section of the race. Midway through this stretch we managed to get up onto the sidewalk and it was much better but I was already feeling our pace... remember earlier when I mentioned no watches... yay, did I also mention how much I rely on that to maintain my pace? Did I mention how much I don't like running without my watch?  Again, I told Tim that we needed to back it down a bit (I think this was near the 1 mile mark) or I wasn't going to be able to hold on for the whole race.

As we made the turn to the trail the wind was gone and the sun started to hit us and I started to warm up. This is a beautiful stretch of the race... running on a paved trail through the marsh which was covered in a light dusting of snow. My glasses kept fogging up but I was still able to take it all in. They had done a great job of salting many spots on the trail so it was pretty much just wet. We were still in amongst a lot of other runners but it wasn't too bad getting around people when we needed to. During this stretch I started to really feel out of breath and had to really focus on my breathing.

As we turned onto another section of the trail I had to flip open my gloves as my hands were getting too warm. It wasn't long that I ended up taking them off completely. With the wind at our backs, I was getting warm. As we came off the trail and back onto a street, I really started to struggle and slowed back a bit from Tim. There were two girls running together that passed me and the one (a girl wearing a red jacket and red/white stocking hat... just in case you know her or if she ever reads this) turned back to me and told me to keep going, that I had this and that she had been following me for the whole race. That was just what I needed at that moment and I don't think she could ever know how much that helped me! I continued to struggle but that lit the fire that I needed to keep pushing through. It wasn't long and the stadium was in sight. Since we have done this race in the past I knew that we still had a lap to run on the track but we were almost there. I kept fighting through and kept that girl with the red jacket in my sights. Tim did a great job encouraging me as we made our way onto the track. But the track was covered in snow and was slippery from everyone running on it ahead of us. I knew I was almost there so I started to pick up the pace. As we rounded that last corner we could see the clock and Tim told me to come on because we were so close to our predicted time. We sprinted (as much as I could at that point) to the finish! We quickly found Riley (thanks to the bright orange shirt) waiting to see us come onto the track but he had missed us.

We made our way to the results print out line, grabbed some water and made our way back to the Rec Center for some food. We spent some time stretching while we ate and checked Facebook. That is where we learned that Tim signing us up through his account was an important detail... when we finished it automatically posted our times to his page. How cool is that? We knew that we didn't get any awards but we stuck around to see who won and to support them.

Overall, it was a greatly managed race by those who put it on- thanks to them for all of their hard work! As for us... it sounds like Riley had a pretty great race and had a great time. Tim could have finished much faster but he stuck by my side through a rough last half of the race. My breathing never really got better but I fought through and finished strong and am grateful that he was by my side! I didn't love it while running it but overall I loved the time that we all got to spend together. It is so much fun to be able to do this with Riley!

Post-race selfie

My Race Stats:
Time: 28:25
(Predicted Time: 28:33)
Pace: 9:09 min/mi
Overall: 378/898
Female: 177/594
F35-39: 17/58
Tim's Race Stats:
Time: 28:25
(Predicted Time: 28:33)
Pace: 9:09 Pace: 9:09 min/mi
Overall: 376/898
Male: 200/304
M35-39: 15/23
Riley's Race Stats:
Time: 23:24
(Predicted Time: 24:30)
Pace: 7:32 min/mi
Overall: 106/898
Male: 81/304
M10-14: 8/36
Please note: Isaac and Aidan had the option to do the race too but weren't interested this year. Once we got home and were talking about it they both said maybe next year!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pitty train and a sinking ship

A lot has happened since my last post 2 months ago! Before I catch you up on all of the posts in my head that never made it to the blog I want to start with an update on "where I am" right now.

Back in January I posted that my word for 2015 was going to be CHALLENGE. I guess I should have thought harder before selecting that word... or maybe not- maybe it is the perfect word for my year. There was no question that work had been a challenge over the past couple of years and that definitely continued into this year. My normal outlet for dealing with all of that was to workout but the challenge of some breathing issues followed by some knee/hip pain made that more and more difficult. It has been a challenge over the past 3-4 months to get to the bottom of those issues and to figure out the best ways to deal with all of it. All while the challenge of work kept building. I started to feel like work was changing me into someone that I didn't like anymore. I started to feel defeated both at work and with my workouts. I don't know if I would go as far as saying I was depressed but I would definitely say that I had boarded the Pity Train!

I am not sure if I came to this conclusion before coming across the above picture on Facebook or if it was this picture that brought me to this conclusion. It doesn't matter- either way I realize that I needed to make some changes in my life and get off of that "Pity Train"!  I talked to my boss about the possibility of making a change at work- going back to "having a home" instead of "floating" and being an "SOS". She gave me some options and I had to do some soul searching as to what was best for me and my family. This week it is official and I now have a new home in the Periop area (OR, Pre-op, Recovery, and Outpatient Surgery). I knew work had been a challenge for me but I didn't realize just how much it was weighing on me until I saw my schedule for the next 6 weeks change to my new "home". I have to say that I have an amazing sense of relief! I recently came across the following picture on Facebook and I think it sums it up perfectly!

 What was happening around me was starting to get inside of me. It was weighing me down and causing ME to sink. I didn't like who I was becoming so it was time to challenge myself. I had to do some soul searching to decide if that position was right for me

 It was a tough decision but I know it is what is right for me! Since seeing that schedule change, I feel more like myself than I have in a long time and it is exciting. I am back and I am choosing to challenge myself and grow by moving beyond those circumstances!

NOTE: After pulmonary function tests, a couple of different inhalers, a chest x-ray, a laryngoscopy and now acid reflux meds-  I think we are finally getting to the bottom of my breathing issues. As far as the knee/hip pain... some time at the chiropractor, a couple of pairs of new shoes and spending some time with the foam roller have started to help.