Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Running on the brain, sunburn on the head

Sunday's training schedule was an 8-mile run. I got up and did it fairly early, so I wouldn't mess up our weekly Panera grading date. I knew I wouldn't feel like running after we were finished.

Based on the weather, I probably would have felt like running after Panera. When I left the restaurant, it was almost 50 and sunny out. But, because I motivated early, I ran inside. On the treadmill. For. Eight. Miles. At 8:30, when I left for Gold's it was only 30 out, and I knew I couldn't slog through that temp by myself.

Thankfully, I got one of the TWO good treadmills (seriously, Gold's, it's 2010. Can we upgrade our 1987 model treadmills?). And, even better, the one I got was right in front of the TV, so I got to choose my running accompaniment for the morning. I chose E! Channel, because I knew I could watch The Soup, E! News Weekend and The Daily 10. Perfect fluff for 90 minutes of running.

The run felt pretty good. I wasn't dying at the end, but it did get pretty monotonous on the treadmill. I can't wait until temps get high enough to do all my runs outside.

Anyway, back to the title of this post. I must have had running on the brain after Sunday, because that night I had the strangest dream. It's coming back to me in bits and pieces.

I was in a strange city, running in a marathon. In the middle of the race, there was a "challenge" of some sort. We ran into an open stadium, and I remember that I changed my shoes (quickly, as if I was racing) and a man was shouting instructions to me.

"Run up the stairs, all the way, once. Then, run around the top of the stadium once, then run back down the stairs. Then, continue on your marathon way."

Uh, what?

I barely remember doing it in the dream, but I'm pretty sure I was climbing the stairs walking, then crawling, then pushing through it. Somehow I made it out of the stadium.

The next thing I remember from the dream is that there was a stop in a hotel room. I assume it was my room, because all of my luggage and gear was in the room. (How convenient that my lodging was right on the race route, and that I had remembered my hotel key card...)

Once inside my room, I removed the white visor I was wearing, thinking at that exact moment "Jeez. A visor? That was stupid. My part is going to be so sunburned."

Sure enough, the next scene I remember from the dream is me looking at the top of my head in a mirror to see a giant red and pink patch of blistered skin just above my forehead. Ouch.

I fashioned a covering for that sunburned patch out of something, slathered on a bunch more sunscreen on the rest of my exposed skin and headed out of the room to finish the marathon.

I can't tell you HOW I finished the race, because the last thing I remember as my alarm went off was walking out of the hotel room.

I do remember stumbling through my bedroom door into the bathroom because I wasn't fully awake. I hate being jarred from a deep, dreamful sleep by the darned alarm clock. It makes me off all morning!

Monday, January 25, 2010

A knitting progress report

One of my goals for 2010, as reported at the first of the year:

Keep knitting. And trying new and different patterns. Work through the yarn stash. Knit up what I already have, and then I can get new fun yarn. Maybe I'll start knitting things and randomly sending them to people I know...Who knows.

Since then, I've worked on a handful of projects. I completed a hat for Adam and below, you can see the matching scarf I'm working on. I've made a lot of progress, but it's just ribbing, and requires lots of weaving in ends because of the striping. Because of all that, I've taken small breaks from the scarf for other projects.

I'm participating in a sock KAL (knit along) that my mom told me about. I've knit A sock before, so this helps me meet the goal of trying something different. I've never done a KAL before, and I'm hoping that because I'm doing it with a bunch of other people, I'll actually get a PAIR of socks knit by the end of this project.

It's fun because we get new instructions on Friday afternoons. I get an easily digestible knitting assignment for each weekend.

In other KAL news, I also tried this dishcloth KAL from Rachel's Knitting Corner. She gives a washcloth knit along on the third week of each month, and you knit just a few rows a day. Again, a good excuse to sit down and do just a little bit of knitting each night.

I just finished it tonight. Needs to be blocked, as you can probably see. I used two colors of Sugar and Cream 100 percent cotton yarn. It's my go-to dishcloth yarn. I don't usually use more than one color of yarn, so again I was able to work on my goal of trying new knitting techniques. It was actually pretty easy to carry the two colors along the edge.

I've got a few more rows to do on the sock in the next few days, then I need to get back to work on Adam's scarf. I'd like to finish it within the next week or so.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Maturity Notice

I received a "maturity notice" in the mail the other day. At first, I thought maybe someone was patting me on the back for being a good girl, having a good job, nice house, etc.

It wasn't. It was something even better than that. We paid off our little red Ford Focus! Woo hoo! The montly payments weren't that bad, because it was a 72-month, zero-percent loan, but still. I think that's an accomplishment. And, anyone who worked with me at the Eagle knows that for a while there, I changed cars pretty frequently.

The Focus doesn't have a lot of miles on it, either, so it should last us a while more. We might not have a bunch of fancy stuff, but we have what we need, and now the only debt we have is the payment on my car. That's a nice feeling. I'm glad we don't have to spend our paychecks paying for stuff bought months (and in some cases, years) before.

For those of you with kids, be sure you're teaching them about credit cards and debt, because there isn't a class in the public schools that deals with that. We touch on it a little bit in our advisory classes, but personal finance is definitely something kids should learn before they head off for the easy-credit land of college.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Driving the Dodge Caravan thru the Taco Bell drive thru

I watch a lot of TV. Those of you who know me or read this blog have probably figured that out. Despite that fact, I don't watch a lot of commercials. I'd say 75 percent of my TV watching is on the DVR these days.

I'm either not home, or too busy at the time the show is on, to watch it live. The other 25 percent is mostly treadmill time, when it's on as a distraction.

Lately, though, I've noticed two commercials that really chap my hide.

First, and some of you have already commented on this on Twitter and Facebook, is the Taco Bell Drive Thru Diet. I'm just going to say it: Are you freaking kidding me? Unless that woman ate super fatty menu items at Taco Bell every day of the week earlier in her life, I don't see how eating Taco Bell can help you lose weight.

Sure, the "Fresco" menu items might be healthier choices than say, the Burrito Supreme, but it's not diet food. Give me a break. I'm pretty sure if I were to go on the Drive Thru Diet I would gain weight, since I don't eat fast food more than once or twice a week (a benefit of not being a newspaper photographer anymore, when I used to eat it all the time!).

The other commercial that is driving me crazy is the Dodge Caravan commercial that tells men "Because come on, what's more manly than driving around with your five offspring in the car?" Seriously? That's the measure of a man now? How many children he can father? Is Dodge trying to cash in on the Duggars and John and Kate "phenomenon"? I'm pretty sure the last thing the planet needs is a car company encouraging people to overpopulate the planet even more.

That Dodge commercial is incredibly sexist. It's okay for women to be stuck driving minivans, but if a man does it...He needs to be pounding his chest the entire time.

Are there any other commercials out there right now we can discuss?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What a 180.

I won't go into too much detail about winter break and then winter break 2.0 (the three snow days last week) because I'm sure you're tired of hearing about "all the extra time off" teachers get.

This week has been a complete turnaround from last week's life of leisure.

First of all, we're back to regularly scheduled programming at school.

Second, yearbook is trying to complete a deadline that was due last Friday. We didn't finish because of the snow days. Plus, we had proofs to return on Monday night.

Third, newspaper's deadline is next Monday (which we have off for Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday), so they had worknight this week.

Fourth, my grad class was Tuesday night from 5-9.

Fifth, AFTER newspaper worknight, we had 8th grade round up, where they come in and learn about all of the possible activities they can get involved in. That didn't get over until 8:30.

So, Monday, got home about 6:30.

Tuesday: 9 p.m. (prof let us out a tiny bit early, thankfully).

Wednesday: 9 p.m.

Tonight: 5:40 (left fairly early, just had heavy traffic heading home).

Tomorrow is finally Friday. I think last week's unexpected vacation left me seriously unprepared for a full work week. I had psyched myself up to return on the day after Christmas break, and having the snow days was a real motivation killer!

There's good news and bad news at the end of this tunnel: Since it's MLK day on Monday, newspaper won't have a day at school to work on deadline. So, we're working on Saturday during the day. Good news is, WHEN we get done on Saturday (when, not IF), we won't have to work on Saturday, so I'll still get to have a "weekend" - two days off.

When you think of me this week, visualize a hamster on a wheel, trying in vain to keep up. I'm going to do a quick Biggest Loser Wii workout right now, before 30 Rock, since I have had ZERO time to exercise this week. There's a 7-mile run staring at me this weekend. It won't be pretty.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Can I get a fist pump for GTL?

If you don't know what that stands for, consider yourself among the lucky (and smart) ones.

I've been hearing here and there of a new show on MTV called "Jersey Shore." Bobby Moynihan did a great impression of one of the main characters on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago. My interest was piqued.

That says a lot, considering I haven't actively turned the channel to MTV in, say, 12 years. Oh, wait, there was that one season when they ran "The Paper" about a high school newspaper staff. I did watch that show each week.

But I digress. I hate MTV these days. Not for the reasons one would assume a 32-year-old would grow to hate it. When I was young (middle and high school) I thought old people wouldn't like MTV because it would be too loud, and they would grow to hate the type of music played on MTV. Little did I know the reason I would grow to hate MTV is because it's not M TV any more. Ridiculous "reality" shows about self-involved 20-somethings just do not hold my interest.

After watching last week's "The Soup" I decided to DVR an episode of "Jersey Shore" so I could see what all the fuss is about. I figured I couldn't deride it til I tried it.

Let the derision begin.

Basically, all you need to know is that GTL stands for "Gym, Tanning, Laundry" which, combined with barhopping, fist pumping and general debauchery, is all the cast members feel they need to do with their lives. I'm hoping that any teens who are watching this stupid show are watching it because they get a good laugh out of it, not because they aspire to be like this and be on MTV.

If you're looking to make a little money in the stock market, look into hair gel, because these gentlemen are ALL ABOUT the hair gel, and god knows it's only a matter of time before it becomes a trend.

I suppose the show is good for a laugh, because Adam, Mitzi, Bets and I got some good laughs out of one we watched last night. Our laughs mostly came from the ridiculous nicknames they've given themselves: Snooki AKA Snookers, Snickers, Mike The Situation, Sammi the Sweetheart, etc.

If you want to find out what your "Jersey Shore" nickname would be, there are a few nickname generators out there. Here's our group nicknames:

Me: The Tight End
Adam: A-Train
Mitzi: The Opportunity
Betsy: Tanny

I need to stop writing about this right now, because I'm afraid that combined with the drop in IQ I experienced from just watching the show, trying to dissect the show might make me a total idiot.

Have any of you watched it?

Friday, January 8, 2010

In recent knitting news

Observant readers of this blog might recognize these arm warmers, though it's been about 15 months since they were last posted on the blog. Back then, I had finished the first one and started the second. The student in knitting club at school had seamed the first one for me, because she's an awesome seamstress.

Then, I finished knitting the second, but set it aside because I didn't want to have to seam it. I love knitting, but I hate seaming - probably because I'm not very good at it. The pattern, from "One Skein" by Leigh Radford, is pretty simple, but they do take a while since the yarn is lightweight and the needles are small.

Since we've been out of school the last few days, and it's super cold outside and in here, I decided it was high time to seam the second one so I could wear them while knitting and working on the computer. So glad I did. Thanks to Hubs for shooting this photo (in which you can see I'm wearing our Snuggie...)

Adam gave me a 2010 Knitting calendar for Christmas, and he picked this striped alpiner hat pattern out. It was a very quick project - just took about two days. The pattern calls for it to be knit flat and seamed up the back, so another one I had to challenge myself with.

I knit this with Bernat Baby Alpaca yarn, which feels delicious. And, bonus: it was on sale two for $5 at Michael's the day after New Year's. I will most likely be buying more of that yarn soon. You might notice the crochet edging around the bottom of the hat (the white part). This was a good project because it forced me to exercise a few different skills.

I'm working on this matching scarf. The color in the photo is a little funky, it was just a quick iPhone pic to post on Twitter. It's looking great so far, but will require lots of end-weaving-in because of the stripes. I can't wait to get a photo of Adam modeling both pieces once they're finished. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cabin Fever - It's set in

And, we are off AGAIN tomorrow.

I would be much more excited at this prospect if it wasn't 100 below outside, and if I didn't feel crappy. I must have a cold or bronchitis or something, because I've got an awful wheezy cough, and my body aches.

Good news is - it shouldn't be H1N1 or the seasonal flu, since I've been vaccinated for both this year (first time I've ever gotten a flu shot, at least as an adult). I'm not really sure how I got sick, since it was winter break and I was only around a few of my friends, my husband and my parents, and none of them are sick.

Maybe one of the other teachers got me sick on the first day back, or maybe someone at the gym didn't wipe off/sanitize the treadmill when they were done and I got their germs. Jerks.

So, today I knit some, watched a little TV, and read a book - "Olive Kitteridge." It's good. I'll read it some more tonight, but first I need to do a little work on my grad school assignments. I'll be reading those for the next few hours, and possibly doing a little writing. The more I do tonight, the less I have to do this weekend.

I just wish I felt like going somewhere, but I don't want to leave the house. Good thing we've got plenty of food! Adam is working tonight, so I'll do my work while he's AT work.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cabin Fever Countdown

Welp, today was a snow day (we knew last night). And, we got word by 4 p.m. today that tomorrow will be a snow day, too.

I'm betting we'll be out of school on Friday, as well. Why not just go for the trifecta?

The snow didn't start until this afternoon, so I did get up and go to the gym. I thought a 3-mile run was scheduled for today, so that's what I did. When I got home to check the schedule for tomorrow, I realized I read it off by one day.

Having graduate classes on Tuesday nights messes me up. Class is from 5-9 p.m., so I don't work out on those days. I was supposed to do some interval training today, and then the 3-mile run tomorrow. Based on the view outside my window at this point, looks like I'll be relegated to a Biggest Loser Wii workout tomorrow.

Teachers went back to school on Monday, for a half-day of meetings and then time to work in our rooms in the afternoon. That time is vital for me - helps me clear the docket and get mentally prepared to greet students on their first day back. We had one day back with the kids on Tuesday, and then this mini-vacation.

I'm guessing that my trip to the gym today will be the only time I get outside in the next couple of days. I don't want to shovel the drive, and if I don't need to be on the road with idiots, I won't be.

Besides, my snow day kind of turned into a sick day - Monday night's nagging cough turned into joint aches, sore throat and cough after school yesterday and right on through my class last night. I guess the good news is if I'm sick on our days off, I don't have to write sub plans because everyone's at home!

So far today, after the gym, we watched a movie (Away We Go, with Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski), I've knit and read a couple of magazines. I might be a tiny bit crazy after a couple more days like this. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 4, 2010

There's more snow on the ground, so maybe you need one of these...

A brief peek outside the window on Sunday morning revealed yet another couple inches of snow on the ground in Shawnee, America. When the weather is such, pretty much all I want to do is wrap up in knitted goodness and hunker down on the couch.

What better time to highlight some Etsy items you could make great use of in this kind of weather?

I don't think I've left the house once this week without a hat on my head. It's vital when the temperatures are below zero. Here are a few cool ones I found on Etsy.

This Winterberry hat is darling. I might need to buy it for myself, so you should check it out fast!

This photo is a little small, but click on this link to go look at this Hazelnut Brown Lace Handknitted Cap. This would look great with a dressy coat, for a night out.

If you're looking for something for the man in your life, here's a manly man's waffle-knitted hat.

For the teeniest, tiniest among us, there's a darling oatmeal-colored baby hat in my shop.

I also think that this Rugby Handknit baby hat would look super-cute on a tiny baby. The yarn is so big and chunky.

These are just a few of the handmade items I found while browsing on Etsy this morning. Remember, if you're looking for birthday gifts, shop Etsy - it's a great way to support artisans and crafters who would just like to get their work out there.

Happy shopping, and happy crafting!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Even with the gym, it's hard to work out in the cold

On the Half training schedule for today, a 3-mile pace run was staring me in the face. Yesterday was supposed to be a rest day, but because my workout schedule was somewhat lacking earlier this week, I went ahead and did an upper-body/cardio workout on the Biggest Loser Wii game last night. Unfortunately, my Wii balance board told me I gained a pound this week! At least my BL character, Michelle, wasn't up for elimination!

I didn't do a lot of running this week, since I did about four hours of shoveling snow. Oy.

There's a sign on the door at Gold's that says "Know that showing up is half the battle." Yes, typically this is true. If I can just GET my lazy ass to the gym, I will work out.

However, when you wake up to wind chills of -10, just going to the gym is the entire battle. Even though I only had to be outside for a total of about five minutes coming and going it was still a motivation killer knowing I would be freezing my running shoes off.

I did it, though. I got up, had my typical Saturday morning pre-run breakfast of coffee, toast and peanut butter, and I went to the gym. Since it's Jan. 2, the place was pretty crowded. Lots of faces I didn't recognize. Must be the resolution crowd. I'll be interested to see how long some of them last. I hope I see them past the next few weeks. That's been me before, waking up Jan. 1, thinking "This is finally the year..." and going to the gym every day for about a week, then quitting!

My three miles were okay today, and tomorrow I'm scheduled for six. Mitzi and Kat are doing this too, so I know they are right there with me.

Thank goodness I HAVE a gym membership. There's no way in H E double hockey sticks I'd be out running in these temps!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 - No hovercrafts or robot maids, but still all good

Happy New Year, friends!

I've done resolutions in the past, and it seems I never accomplish them (short attention span, I think). So, my "resolutions" this year will be more in the form of goals.

Blog more. I noticed that in 2007, when I started this blog, I posted 217 times. In 2008, 234 times. In 2009, after I discovered Twitter - 49 times. Sad, sad, sad.

All that tweeting and time wasted playing Bejewled on Facebook seriously handicapped my blogging. The whole point of starting this blog was to get me writing every day. I always tell my students, the more you write, the better you get at it, just like playing an instrument or a sport. Based on my blogging performance in the last year, I'd say I'm a bad influence.

I'd like to say that I'll post to Betsy's photo blog (I have to call it Betsy's because I haven't posted on it since, oh, last summer), but I know that I'm overextended in cyberspace. I cannot commit to two blogs, tweeting, Facebook, and e-mail. It's probably because I have that silly little thing called a real job...

Keep the e-mail inbox under control. I have a bad habit of not deleting e-mail as I read it, or not saving what I need from it and getting rid of the rest. Just in my g-mail inbox, there were 2,300 messages on Dec. 30. With a little bit of work yesterday (interrupted by sledding) and some work today, I've culled it down to fewer than 800. I will get it cleaned out today. I should do the same with the work inbox as well. It's overwhelming to have all that "junk" always there.

I need to read, decide, file attachments and info immediately, then delete the dang message.

Weekly Panera grading dates. You've probably read something about this over on Betsy's blog, but I need to commit to it as well. For some reason, it's so much easier for me to get school work done if I am not at home. Going to Panera with the girls makes it something I look forward to instead of dreading. We did this a lot at the beginning of the school year, and I was so much more caught up on grading and planning at that point.

Keep motivated and MAKE the time to run and exercise. When I get in the habit of running and working out, I really do like doing it. It's easy to do this during a two-week break from school, when I can go at any point during the day. I need to decide on a schedule and stick to it. Magazines and Web sites always say to schedule workouts on the calendar like you do every other appointment. Maybe I'll try that.

Kat, Mitzi and I have registered to run the Dallas Rock and Roll Half Marathon in March, so at least I have that date staring me down, and a training schedule to stick to. That helps on the motivation front.

Last year, I ran 375 miles. I would love to set a goal of running 500, or even 750, as I have tried to in the past, but I never make it that far. So, my goal is to best my total of 375 for this year. As long as I go farther than that, I'll be happy.

Keep knitting. And trying new and different patterns. Work through the yarn stash. Knit up what I already have, and then I can get new fun yarn. Maybe I'll start knitting things and randomly sending them to people I know...Who knows.

Reading. I would also like to continue my reading list. I've been trying to read more frequently than I had been in years, and I think I did a pretty good job last year. I'll keep up the list on the right side of my blog so you can see what I've been up to. If you have any suggestions for good reads, comment away. I'm always looking for new authors.

I suppose that's enough for now. I don't want to set a super-ambitious agenda simply because it's Jan. 1, and then disappoint myself later. Maybe I should make a goal to check in with myself every couple of months to see how it goes?

What are your New Year's resolutions? How will you do it?
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