Wonder Mom Wednesday Link Up: Reasons why I (sorta) exercise

One of the blogs that I follow, This Mama Runs for Cupcakes, has teamed up with Mom Who Tris and Mom Swim Bike Run to host a blog link-up called Wonder Mom Wednesday. They invited anyone to link up. I figured, “Why not?”

This week’s topic: Reasons WHY I exercise

This week’s topic seemed to fit with something my parents were saying over the weekend. They were mentioning how it used to be that they couldn’t get me to go outside and now I’m out there all the time running. I think this conversation occurred after my dad pointed out that the hotel we were staying at had a treadmill and I poo-pooed the idea of running on that vile thing if I didn’t have to (and anyway I had already rearranged my run plan for the week so that I had gotten my long run in the day before and didn’t have to run again until I was back at home.)

So why, after 20+ years of being a devout couch-potato (minus 2 years of being a soccer bench-warmer in junior high), did I start exercising?

Well, there was this guy…

No, seriously! Jay and I met at work way back when and there was a gym a block away from the lab. He was all into fitness and wanted to train me. When a built, blue-eyed scientist says, “hey, you wanna come work out with me?”,  you say YES.

It’s just one of those easy answers.

So I became a sorta gym rat for a while, but after changing jobs and moving, the whole “working out” thing wasn’t working out. I was in an on-again/off-again relationship with the gym, Les Mills classes, and Muay Thai classes for a few years. Then I went on meds that made me bruise at the drop of a hat and pulled back from the martial arts for fear of turning into a giant hematoma. After the meds, I wound up getting pregnant. I could have been that bitch who hits the gym right up until her water breaks- but I wasn’t. Adios gym membership!

Then I was 28 and holding on to pounds that needed to get the heck off my belly. I became involved in mud runs and OCRs because they looked fun and I could be sorta exercising but not really since obviously the gym can’t hold my attention. And it all just escalated from there. I needed to hit the gym more often so that carrying that sandbag up the mountain wouldn’t be so bad. So I did. Then I had to start running because there are only so many times you can be at the bottom of the race results list and not start feeling like a lump. (I’ve moved my way up to the top half of the list!)

So now I’m nearly 32 and I’m still keeping up with the running thing. The gym I’m hit or miss on. Time and trying to balance my running, Jay’s tri training, and being a mom keeps screwing with my ability to make it to my  BodyPump or BodyCombat classes (which are the only way that the gym is bearable for me.) I keep it up because:

  1. I’m a medal-whore. I adore that if there was an earthquake in the Hudson Valley, my house would jingle like Santa Claus was coming to town.

    Can’t wait to make 2014’s display!

  2. I like to eat bad food. Cupcakes, cheeseburger, cookies, greasy fried things with cheese… If I were to stop running/exercising, I’d probably pack on 30lbs within a month.

    Why doesn’t this come as a running tank and why don’t I own it?

  3. I like to drink. As a good Italian (and someone who has to fight traffic 2.5 hours each day), a glass of wine a night is pretty much mandatory. Those 200 calories have to go somewhere other than my already large thighs.
  4. I don’t want my kid to be fat. There are too many reasons why X could end up chubby- less recess/PE when he goes to school, video games and computer stuff making him sedentary, the fact that we stop for McDonalds way more often then we should. I want to set an example of activity for him. If mommy and daddy run, maybe he’ll want to (and he does!)
  5. I don’t want to be zombie-chow. Sure, actual brain-eating zombies may not ever actually be chasing me down, but you never know. This Girl Scout sticks by the “Be Prepared” motto.
  6. I don’t want to live with or die because of chronic/debilitating health issues. Diabetes is in my family. Heart issues are in my family. Stroke is in my family. I’ll do what I can to keep those things from happening to me ( and if I can do it without sacrificing the cheeseburgers, all the better :) )

So there’s the how and why I wake up early and go for 9.82 mile run before sitting in the car for 5 hours all so that I won’t have to run on a hotel treadmill.

Don’t forget to head over to the hosts’ blogs and check out the other linked up blogs!

She’s Leaving for College!

Where the hell did the last 18 years go? Like, seriously. Tomorrow I will be helping my mom and dad bring my itty bitty baby sister, Moo, to COLLEGE. What?!

I find it really funny that, while my husband is tearing up at the thought that our son is moving up to the ‘older 3 year old room’ at day care, I don’t bat an eye. He’s growing. Yeah, I know that. No biggie. But when it’s my sister, I get all like, “no effing way she’s got her driver’s license, has gotten a tattoo, graduated high school, and is heading off to college!” In my head she’s still 4 years old, playing with her eleventy trillion Disney princess dolls and adorably singing the wrong words to “Drift Away” and “All Star”.

Thinking about this whole leaving-for-college thing has gotten me thinking about how bloody different it is than when I left for school back in 2000. It’s only a 14 year different for crying out loud.

 Tuition:

’00: I believe Cedar Crest College was about $26,000/year when I attended. Thank the gods for my good grades and getting my senior year paid for in full, otherwise I’d still be in debt. Oh, wait. No. I’m still in student loan debt up to my eyeballs.

’14: She did not want to attend my alma mater- some silly business about there being no boys there. If she had gone, she’d be paying over $45,000 for her first year (minus the scholarship she’d get for being the sister of an alumna.)

Music:

’00: I brought my portable CD player with anti-skip protection and a giant case of 50+ CDs. Spiffy. I downloaded music for free from Audiophile, LimeWire, and a million other places where I could ‘pirate’ music because nobody was the wiser just yet.

Don’t forget: James Hetfield says, “Napster Bad”

It all got burned onto mix CDs which I still own to this day, although the quality is seriously in the shitter.

’14: Did she ever even have a CD player? She’s got a world of music available to her on her phone, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora…. whatever. She is unlucky in that she has to actually pay for her music on iTunes. Sucker.

Cell phones

’00: I didn’t leave for school with a cell phone. Nobody in my high school had a cell phone. Where I lived, pretty much only very important business people or people who thought they were very important business people had cell phones. I believe it was either over winter break or the summer after freshman year, I managed to convince my mom that I should get one, and when I did, it looked something like this:

I can’t even find my first phone through Google searches- that’s how cheap and shitastic it must have been, even at that time- but this looks pretty close. It could make calls and I could very slowly type out text messages that cost $0.25 a piece because I’m pretty sure there was no such thing as a text messaging plan yet. Definitely no email ( @aol.com, of course) or cameras or Instagram.

’14: She’s got an iPhone 4S, which even though there are newer models out, it still has more capabilities than my whole computer did. Which brings me to…

Laptops

’00: The family banded together to buy me a Dell Inspiron 2600 as a graduation present.

Oooh. Aaaah.

It beat the pants off of the giant IBM desktop with the 5 1/4 inch floppy disk drive that was sitting on the desk at my parents’ house with the external modem that went pshhhkkkkkkrrrr​kakingkakingkakingtsh​chchchchchchchcch​*ding*ding*ding* (yep I really looked up how to spell that.) It came with Windows XP and I thought it was so cool and futuristic.

’14: She’s heading out with a MacBook Air- Half the thickness, half the weight of the digitized brick I called a computer and probably more capacity than all the computers on my floor in Moore Hall combined. She’s was asking me how much hard drive space I thought she needed and I was dumbfounded. I had no clue what she would need now because ‘back in my day’ we couldn’t even contemplate the amount of space possible on a laptop. I stored my research papers on floppy disks for Christ’s sake.

 

Then again, some things don’t change at all, though, I guess:

Movies:

’00: One of the top grossing films for the summer of 2000: X-Men.

’14: One of the top grossing films for the summer of 2014: X-Men: Days of Future Past, weird huh?

In the News:

’00: During my freshman year there was violence in the Middle East, Israel and Palestinians were fighting, and riots broke in Cincinnati because a young black man was shot by a white police officer.

’14:  Right now there is violence in the Middle East, Israel and Palestinians are fighting, and there are riots in Ferguson, MO because a young black man was shot by a white police officer.

Sigh.

 

Anyway, I was introduced to the music of Tori Amos while I was away at college. This past year, Moo did a research paper on her and learned how wonderful she is, too. Tori Amos’ “Ribbons Undone” has always made me think of my little sis, so I’ll leave off with that.

You can cry now, Mom.

 

A Vacation in Numbers

8 – Hours spent traveling to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

35 – Minutes spent traveling, during which X slept.

9,862,367,251 – Number of times X asked a question (Are we going to Buela’s house, to the beach, to see Mema and Pop-Pop, for more Twizzlers….. )

4 – Miles from rental house at which X decided he needed to go “pee potty.”

7 – Days spent at the rental house

By the end of the week the pool deck was coated with X’s beach toys, Jay’s tri training gear, and Uncle Nicky’s WOD gear.

12 – Family members residing in the rental house -Grandma, Mom, Dad, Uncle, Aunt, Sister, 3 Cousins, Jay, X, and me,- sharing oxygen and candy and rum. Like the Real World, but stranger.

4 – Friends that we met up with while in DE. One couple lives in DE so we never get to see them and will probably see them even less seeing as they are expecting a BABY in, like, a week. Another couple happened to be vacationing with his family at the same time. Good times!

1 – Unexpected run-in with my freshman year RA- and it just so happened to occur while with my friend (from college) who also had been an RA. Weird.

2 – Boardwalks visited- a couple of visits to the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk and one night down at Ocean City.

1 – Gigantic stuffed frog won by my cousin on a boardwalk game. Guess what spoiled preschooler went home with it? You guessed it! The one that already has an entire San Diego Zoo worth of plush animals inhabiting his bed!

Now that frog shares space with Pigeon, Piggie, Gerald, Knufflebunny, Duckie, and Tiger.

6 – Days spent searching for the damned DVD player in the fancy-pants house of fancy-pantsness. I found it on the last day.  In the laundry room. WTF?

2.99 – Dollars spent renting the Incredibles via Amazon Instant Video on my KindleFire because X found the DVD collection (but not the DVD player) and NEEEEEEDED to watch “Mr. Uhcreble.”

13.3 – Miles I manged to run while on vacation. Couldn’t let my half marathon training go down the toilet. Surftown is in less than a month!

5 – Hours between leaving the rental house and when we NEEDED to pick up the dogs from the kennel Luxury Pet Resort.

On a Saturday. On the NJ Turnpike. Fat chance of that working out. Thankfully, I bought another hour of time when the groomer called to see if I wanted Brutus’ hair cut.

3 – Times X threw up in the car on the way home. We didn’t feed him anything so what exactly he threw up, I can’t be sure. I know there was a Flintstone vitamin in there because of the tell-tale magenta coloration that doesn’t come from foodstuffs.

2 – Times we stopped to clean X up. The 3rd time he puked I handed him a towel and told him to deal because we had to get home or I was shelling out another $100+ to the kennel for another day. Horrible parent, I know.

0 – Times I ate funnel cake, deep fried oreos, ice cream, or any of that other stuff that would ordinarily be a diet breaker on vacation. Let’s just not discuss all the Mali-dews, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and M&Ms I ate. Oh, and since I shared the tub o’ Thrashers french fries, they don’t count either.

FoodDay Friday – Nutella Brownies

Certain readers, who shall remain nameless have informed me that my blog has become a little Dirt heavy and can use a little more Frosting. If you feel the same as Nameless Jay, I’m sorry. Sometimes the Dirt just gets to happen a little more often than the Frosting, and thus the imbalance occurs in blog material.
Honestly, between my own training for the upcoming Surftown Half Marathon, allowing Jay the time for his triathlon training, and trying to be SuperMom, baking has taken a way backseat. Like, it’s so far in the backseat that it’s sitting in the trunk of the old, wood-paneled, family station wagon with no seatbelt. Because, seriously, if I skip a run or two, my weekly mileage drops and then when I return to 10-15 miles a week, bones get pissed and I get hurt. When I skip baking, I don’t eat 500 extra calories. So which would you opt to drop if you were trying to lose 10 pounds and cut 12 minutes off your half marathon time?

So today, I baked. I baked in a completely not-mine kitchen. It complicated things. I had no baking soda or my favorite cinnamon. My Kitchen-Aid is in a different state and I have none of my own pans, spatulas, or Nigella Lawson measuring cups. This is a horror of horrors to a baker. I’m pretty sure I’ve had nightmares like this.
What I did have, was state-of-the-art appliances in the kitchen of a million+ dollar vacation home in Rehoboth Beach (I’m not loaded- my Grandma rented it for the family to share for the week.)
Since the fancy kitchen does not come pre-loaded with all those baking staples that you need only 1 or 2 tsp of, I tried to find a recipe that did not require any of that stuff. Added challenge? My Aunt suffers from Celiac Disease and I wanted her to actually be able to eat what I make.
My Grandmother had just finished making these super delicious peanut butter cookies that consisted of nothing but 1cup each PB and sugar, and an egg. Easy peasy. If I could find something like that, I’d be golden. I hit my Pinterest Board and found 2 ingredient Nutella Brownies from The Kitchen. Nutella and eggs would allegedly create brownies.
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Witchcraft? Maybe. But I needed to find out, because my Grandma asked me for the recipe, so now it better effing work or I’ll be in trouble with an old Italian woman from the Bronx with probable mafia connections. Failed brownies could lead to a long walk on a short pier with a brand new pair of cement booties.
I whipped the hell out of the eggs using the fanciest stand mixer I’ve ever seen in my life.

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I mean look at that thing. All digital and light up and pretty. I just checked the MSRP and it’s a $450 mixer. Any readers out there have some extra monies to help me retire my KitchenAid and get this bad boy?
I digress. After making the eggs all fluffy I slowly added in some softened Nutella (a trip in the microwave loosened it up.) And that was it as far as the brownie batter had to go. I poured it into a square pan lined with parchment paper and non-stick cooking spray- the latter 2 being worthy expenses. Into the high end GE Monogram oven for 25 minutes.

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All done. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Barely anything to clean and very little to put away. This is my kind of baking these days.
The brownies were supposed to be for dessert, but I made the mistake of plating them and putting them on the counter next to Grandma’s PB cookies and Ricotta cookies.

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My baby (actually 18 and heading to college next weekend) cousin snatched one up and gave the final verdict on the brownies- “These are GOOD.”
I hope Grandma (who’s actually waiting until after dinner) enjoys them to. I really don’t want to have to sleep with the fishes.

Birds, Burns, and Other Stuff

Ah, Vacation. A time to sleep late, eat like crap, and relax. It’s 6:22am on the 2nd morning of a week at a gorgeous vacation house in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I have been awake for at least 45 minutes. Poo.

So here I am, ready to regale you with the wonderful things I’ve learned since leaving the house for this week of relaxation with the family.

(also, please excuse any wacky formatting going on here. This is my first time posting from my iPad and I’m still learning)

1. Jay and I have become “Pet Parents.”
I hate when people refer to pets as their kids and when the groomer or vet’s office calls me Brutus’ Mommy. It’s ridiculous. Brutus is a dog. But after dropping the boys off at the Pet n Play Resort for the week, it felt like there was a hole in the family. We’ve dropped the dogs at kennels before, but it’s never felt this wrong.

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2. My stomach does not like eating like crap
During the ride down from NY to DE: IHOP for breakfast, just an iced latte for lunch, greasy Chinese food for dinner. I felt like someone replaced my stomach and intestines with a pissed off boa constrictor.

3. You can walk a parrot.
On the Junction and Breakwater Trail yesterday, I saw a woman walking with a huge parrot. It was sitting on her arm, but she had a leash on it. Weird. I wanted to stop her to ask if she had to clean up the bird’s poo, like with a dog. I didn’t. Massive regrets.

4. I now get to suffer from “chub rub”
I must be running faster or my thighs must be changing shape, because for the first time ever, I’ve got an icky splotch of abraded skin on the inside of my left thigh. IMG_0002.JPGIt hurts like hell. I’ll need to go find some anti-chafe stuff before my next long run.

5. A sub-2:30 Half Marathon time might be in store for me.
The parrot- and friction-filled 8 mile run yesterday was in some gnarly humidity and really felt like ass during it, but I still kept my average pace at below 11min/mile.

IMG_0001.JPGAnd that even included time spent walking before finding the entrance to the trail- thanks MapMyRun, for still not functioning.

6. Cards Against Humanity is fine family fun.
Seriously. Having your 83 year old grandmother talking about Toni Morrison’s nether regions or Pac-Man guzzling bodily fluids found in rape kits (I’m trying to stay PG here, people) is hilarious.

FoodDay Friday – Smoothies!

Me and Breakfast aren’t the best of friends. I’m a fan of Elevensies and even a snack around Second Breakfast time, but waking up and eating food? Not so much. I need to wait an hour or two at least. I know it’s not great for the metabolism, but even a granola bar within the first hour of waking up makes me want to blow chunks sometimes.

To add extra meh-ness toward breakfast, I’m not a giant fan a breakfast foods in general. Pancakes are great once in blue moon. I will crave eggs every once in while, but most of the time I’m neither here nor there about them. Oatmeal I can only have on a cold winter’s morn. I do enjoy cereal, but who on Earth is satiated by a serving of Special K? Only the chick in the commercial- and I’m pretty sure she’s swinging into Dunkin’ for a box of Munchkins as soon as she’s done filming. Greek yogurt and granola was working for me for a little while, but I’m really partial to NatureBox granola and I only get so much of that in a teeny tiny package once a month, so within a week I run out and either skip the yogurt entirely or am stuck with whatever nowhere-near-as-nummy granola I can find in ShopRite. Sadness.

My latest foray into finding a breakfast item I can stand every morning, is the Smoothie. I’ve been blending so many smoothies that I actually killed a blender. It bled out and died right on my counter. Seriously. One day I’m blending up some bananas and spinach and whatever happened to be in my fridge, and my fancy pants professional quality KitchenAid started leaking fruity goo all over the place. The doohickey that holds the blades into the bottom got loose. I made Jay tighten it because I was 90% sure I’d hack a finger off if I tried, and went upon my merry way. Then the next time I made a smoothie, it did it again. Then again. Then I saw a sale at Kohl’s and decided, “Screw this shit. I’m buying a Ninja!”

I think this is the one I have. I dunno. It says Ninja on it. It has cups to go with it.

And I did. And it was good.

And I’ve been making smoothies for Jay and I every night, to have for breakfast in the morning. (Nope. Don’t make one for the kiddo. He’s a buttmonkey and won’t even try a smoothie even if it smells like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.)

My trips to Adams for produce are now almost always immediately followed by a mad dash to wash, bag, and freeze fruits and veggies for use in future smoothies. I learned very quickly that, although I have every intention of including spinach in every smoothie and therefor the big bag of spinach is exactly what I need, I will not use up all that spinach. It will become a bag of shriveled leaves in a pool of brownish water sitting in the refrigerator. Same applies to avocados, bananas, and pretty much any other fresh plant. So if you are new to the smoothie thing, learn from my bag of shriveled leaves and freeze your fixins.

What do I put in my smoothies? I have an entire Pinterest board of Smoothies. I could say that I follow all of these recipes precisely, but I’d be lying and that’s not nice. Instead, I’ll say that I use these as guidelines. More typically, my modus operandi is to see what produce looks good and go from there.  So check out that Pinterest board if you want. If not, here’s some of my favorites (click to see the recipes):

Smoothies are not a very photogenic food, but here are a couple other ones that I’ve made:

photo 1

Cantaloupe, Mango, and Carrot Juice

photo 3

Strawberries, Beets, and Mint

 

And for the record: today, the day that I knew I was going to write a post about smoothies, I totally forgot to make a smoothie for myself for breakfast. I ate a gnarly sausage, egg, and cheese from the cafeteria. That’s kind of the same thing, right?

Let me know your favorite smoothie recipes!

Zombie Vampires in my Head

**Possible SPOILER ALERT for The Strain books/FX tv series- but not really**

I read Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s books The Strain and The Fall well before I knew FX was making a TV version (Ok, so maybe I only listened to them because heaven forbid I get time to read actual books.) The Night Eternal- the last in the trilogy- is up next on my Audible queue, if I can every get done listening to The Godfather.  I listened to those books without having any nightmares. I watch vampire and zombie and werewolf and psychopath human people-torturers without the slightest hint of a restless night. Sure, I’ll have dreams about fighting the reanimated corpses of my friends and family every now and then, but when your husband has spent your entire courtship and marriage training you for the eventual zombie apocalypse, things like that happen.

Last night was a different story for some reason. I went right to sleep after watching the latest episode of The Strain- no different from every other time I’ve watched the show- and immediately fell into a nightmare involving vampire-zombie monsters. Fun. Here’s what happened in my head:

I worked for the CDC. Awesome! I would love to work for the CDC! I worked under Ephraim Goodweather- one of the main characters of the book who has discovered the strain of parasite/virus dealie causing people to die (ish) and develop a serious craving for the blood of their loved ones. Good times. Eph realizes that someone who had worked with the infected bodies had gone home to their family. He sends me to her house with a portable X-Ray machine that, for some reason, looks a miniature version of the transilluminator that I use at real-life work. With the X-ray machine, I should be able to see the beginning of the abnormal vasculature and cartilage formations, even if they aren’t showing outward symptoms. (My dreams don’t have a science editor and I’m not sure if this would work.)

I get to wear totally spiffy orange safety glasses while I use it. Very chic.

So I head out to this woman’s house where she has 4 kids- 1 of them, for some bizarre reason, is one of my co-workers from the non-dream realm – I’ll call her Kaylee. I sedate the young children but leave the woman, her teenage daughter and Kaylee. I scan the teenage daughter with my little X-ray machine and see that, sadly, she is infected and will need to be destroyed. I don’t tell her yet, but tell her to go sit down.  I scan the little girl- infected. I lay her down next to her big sister. I scan Kaylee- clean as a whistle. I tell her that it’s probably because she follows good lab practices. Why? I don’t know. It’s dream-Me. I say weird things.

Then I noticed that Sedated Little Boy is no longer where I left Sedated Little Boy. FUUUCK. The woman goes looking for her son. I don’t see either of them anymore. Then I see that the woman’s husband is pulling into the driveway. I try to stop him, but he goes running and looking for the wife once he notices crazy scientician lady me in front of his house. Then I see Sedated Little Boy not-so-sedately walking through the yard with blood all over his grey face. Fab-friggin-tastic. For additional fab-friggin-tasticity, Sedated Little Girl has now joined the Bloodlust Bunch and is hunting down Daddy. Teenage Girl is just panicking on the front lawn like the teenage daughter in Poltergeist, being of no use to anyone.

Let me just stand here and scream while my family fights monster trees and pissed off spirits implode my house! (google image search)

I have no clue where Kaylee is and hope that it wasn’t her blood on the boy-monster’s face. I’m pretty sure the woman is infected somewhere. I’m equally sure her husband will be zombie-vampire chow very shortly. Being completely prepared for such a situation, I pull out my trusty kukri machete that I have specifically for dealing with such types of situations.

Or not.

Real-life Me knows that when dealing with a zombie-vampire outbreak, one should leave the house to investigate possible infected persons armed with at least a bloody pocketknife. Actually, I always have at least a pocketknife on me- zombie possibilities or not. Dream Me is under the impression that a crisp white lab coat and a magical X-ray box are all I need to take on the undead (half-dead? dead-ish?) hordes. Sigh.

I started bashing zombie-vampire skulls with a very expensive light box while Abraham (the old man with the cool sword/cane combo in The Strain) comes out of nowhere to slice and dice to try to save the day.

And then I woke up and checked that my kukri was still in under my nightstand and that my knife was still in my purse. All good.

The End. I hope you have enjoyed your trip through my sub-conscious.