Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Reflections

The only thing missing, making the holidays only one tiny human short of perfect, the missing tiny human being the wonderful little munchkin growing inside of me, of course.  Had he been here to enjoy Christmas with us, everything would have been even better than perfect!  And for some reason, everything still seemed different this year.  Maybe it was the presence of children on Christmas morning that made everything so exciting and warm.  Or maybe it was the timing of our uneventful travel, leaving us time to get excited before Christmas and a couple days to unwind after.

Regardless, it was so wonderful.  My only regret is that we didn't have one more night because I had to bail on one of the most important stops of the trip.  Missing my cousin Allison and her family, and seeing the excitement on her kiddo's faces as they explained each gift they received with detail only recalled by the mind of a child.  It's one of my favorite parts of our trips home for Christmas.

Thankfully, I will be back in Michigan in a couple weeks and will be able to see Alli and the kids (and Matt too, I hope) during that trip.  (Allison, I am sending you the email with my schedule next!).

Pregnancy seems like such a long journey when it begins.  Forty weeks of constant change and weird stuff.  That's only 12 weeks of a full year that a woman ISN'T pregnant.  That's just crazy.  But here I am.  Twenty-four weeks down and only 16 weeks to go.  Where has the time gone?  Don't get me wrong, I don't want to go back in time or prolong this pregnancy business one day longer than I have to.  But it makes me wonder how quickly life-in-general will go once our son is actually here.  I am guessing that time passes in the blink of an eye, making me thankful for the fabulous camera that will hopefully help us capture and save some of the most special moments.

Thank you to all who were able to squeeze a quick visit in.  And I am VERY sorry to those I missed on this trip.

Cheers to a wonderful Christmas and I hope 2012 is as exciting, rewarding and special for you and your family as I am expecting it to be for mine.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A month already? Or should I say 6 months!

It's a little difficult to believe it's been a month since I last blogged. It's not that I haven't had anything to say, but most likely what I had to say I shouldn't have shared in such a public forum.  Right, Mom!

As for the baby, well, he's growing like crazy I think.  I am 23 weeks pregnant (as of tomorrow) which is 6 months according to the "What to Expect when you are Expecting" book.  I have found that if I put some music close to my belly I can encourage him to dance.  Here's hoping he inherits more of my moves and less of his dad's.  Although based on the  non-rhythmic kicking and fluttering about, I can safely say that either he hates my music choice and is running from it, or he's going to dance like his father. And let's just say that I didn't marry Chris for his dancing skills!

I am feeling pretty darn good.  I want to do things that I used to do but my stamina is not what it was a few months ago.  I get winded much easier, which is frustrating.  I ran 10 miles the week after I found out I was pregnant and now I get winded carrying laundry up the stairs.  It's all part of the process, I know.  And when I think about what I get for it, it's a pretty handsome reward.  Literally and figuratively.

It's a very weird feeling to want so badly to run with that stranger on the sidewalk who seems to be keeping a good pace for me, but knowing that if I even tried, I wouldn't make it a block before I tripped over a crack in the sidewalk or got so tired I decided to just sit down and wait for Chris to come get me.  Have I mentioned how clumsy I've become?  This kiddo sure has my center of gravity moving all over the place!  I've always been a little...ummm...heavy in the front, but this takes the cake!

We are very excited for Christmas in Michigan.  Here's hoping that our travels are uneventful.  It's not looking very good for us, but that's always happens this way.  If we can score a delay or cancellation along the way, I think that will keep us with a perfect record.  0 for all of them.  I don't think Chris and I have ever traveled to Michigan without something changing our plans.  It started in 2005 when I took him home with me for the first time and a massive thunderstorm ripped through the Dallas area...when the luggage cart was trying to get to safety, the driver got too close to the plane and knocked of an antenna from the nose of an aircraft.  Then there was the time that I just flat-out whiffed on our departure time and we missed our flight.

Today, Colorado is in the midst of preparing for yet another big snowstorm that will land at the same time we should take off.  I'll keep you updated on the McFarlane's luck.  It's similar to Murphy's law, but relates to my family and our travel adventures.  And by "adventure" I mean messed up travel experiences that could rival the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and/or "Home Alone."  But we expect it, therefore we laugh about it.

We've had blizzards and freezing fog, snow storms and thunderstorms, and aircraft maintenance.  We go to the airport fully prepared with snacks, games, books, fully charged batteries and all the necessary charging devices.  Bring it on Mother Nature.  You can't keep us down!  We're gonna have a baby and we're gonna get to Michigan no matter how much snow and wind you give us!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Throwing up the Sash

Chris and I have been together for seven Thanksgivings and have spent every one of them together with his family, and all but two have been in our  home. I always get excited, but this year is different and I can't really explain why.  Thanksgiving is a BIG holiday in the Rowland family.  Maybe the biggest.  I am so stinking excited for the entire holiday season that I just can't sit still.  I hate to admit this part, but I am already listening to Christmas music and have painted my nails the most festive color of reddish-pink that I can tolerate!

My excitement for the holidays is absolutely uncontainable.  Maybe it's the whole "I'm gonna have a baby" thing. Maybe it's because I know this is the last year that I have to celebrate Christmas without a legitimate visit to Santa (I love him!!).  The reason doesn't really matter.  The fact is that I am really excited and really happy, and isn't that what the holidays are all about?

Chris happened to be folding laundry in the bedroom portion of my office while I was listening to XM Holiday Traditions this week.  While he was in there I heard a man reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas."  When he got to the part of "...then out on the lawn arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.  Away to the window I flew like a flash.  Tore open the shutter and threw up the sash."  I added, "I guess I shouldn't have eaten so much sash" and burst out laughing.

My husband thought I had officially lost my mind.  I didn't make it up.  It was on a Christmas card that Grandma Melanie either received or gave, or something.  But regardless, I think she reused it EVERY year...she may have bought a million of them, I don't know for sure, but I am pretty sure it was her favorite!  And it was a perfect Christmas memory.  Family, do all of you remember that too?

So, with that, whether you like this or not, I will break out the first MERRY WOOLEY of the season!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Aversions Converted

I know I've written about how miserable the first trimester was.  The nausea, the food aversions, the tiredness, the nausea, did I mention the nausea?  Well, that passed and the second trimester began with really weird food aversions.  The smell of some foods that I love would seriously have me running away from the table.  And then all of a sudden, as if by magic, that went away too.  And has been replaced by the need to eat things I wouldn't normally eat. 

For example, I was watching TV earlier this week and saw a commercial for Wendy's. I don't really like fast food and would opt for a bowl of cereal before I'd eat it...until that dumb commercial showed a Frosty.  It's their chocolatey, ice creamy, super thick and rich cup of deliciousness.  I can't remember the last time I had one.  In fact, I can't remember having one...maybe ever (although I am sure that's not true).  But I needed one.  It was late, I was tired, and I resisted the urge to jump in the car and go get one.  Besides, there is nothing in a Wendy's Frosty that I need nutritionally.  Whew!  Dodged that one!

Sunday afternoon I had gone to Costco for a few cheap things (their Diet Dr. Pepper for Chris is super cheap and I had a $3 off coupon for paper towel).  As I looked for my favorite Greek yogurt, I walked past the Jimmy Dean turkey sausage links and for some reason I tossed them in the cart.  They were much cheaper than at the grocery store...for three dollars more I got four times as many.  And now I can't stop thinking about them.  I had three little turkey sausage links, some pickles and an apple for lunch yesterday.  The pickles and the apple are a staple for me anyway, but the sausages?  That's just weird...even for me. And I will probably have that again today.  Seriously?  Turkey sausage?  Non-pregnant, the sort of stunk to me.  Now, they smell like a perfect lunch!

 Then last night something made me think of root beer.  I needed a can of root beer.  But not any root beer, I really wanted the Whole Foods brand and I wanted a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it.  Then I decided that chocolate chip ice cream would be even better in it.  I don't like chocolate chips in my ice cream...they get stuck in my teeth and that's if they aren't threatening to break a tooth!  There's no nutritional value in any of that so I resisted the urge (again) and another, WHEW!  Glad that passed! 

One of these days, some odd-ball craving like this is going to strike while I am in a place that will enable me to do something about it. Please don't let it be something so weird that the clerk at the grocery store thinks I've lost my marbles!

With the exception of this sinus infection, this pregnancy thing just started getting a whole lot more fun.  Thank goodness I don't keep junk food in our house or I'd gain a million pounds! 

Monday, November 7, 2011


I know that I am only 16 weeks, 4 days pregnant. I also know that sometimes, my need to "answer the question" can sometimes overshadow the importance of patience.

Per the suggestion of most of my friends with kids, Chris and I started shopping for daycare as soon as the first trimester was over and we were "out of the woods," so to speak.  We had it in our heads that we would take our son to a "center" such as Kindercare or someplace similar.  And based on what we knew from our friends in Dallas and our friends here in Denver, we thought we had a pretty good grasp on the monthly expense of daycare.  Well, we were wrong.  We learned that the price of taking your child to a center is based as much on your zip code as it is on the quality of care.  And it was not going to be affordable for us.  And my "not affordable," I really mean, it was going to be more than twice what we THOUGHT it would be.  So, we weighed our options and forged ahead, just in a new direction.

A few weeks ago, I used the State of Colorado website to help me locate private daycare providers who are licensed through the state.  It even allowed me to see who had violations and who did not, and when their last social services surprise inspection took place.  I was a relief to learn that there were several who fit my irrational criteria of being perfect and also happen to be close to our home.

The only problem is that most in-home private daycare providers are limited to two children under the age of two, and only one can be twelve months or younger.  That tightens the scope a little.  Or a lot.  Of the seven I called, three never called me back (which removes them from my list automatically), three said to call back in April to see if they have availability and one said, "yes." 

We went to visit Violy today.  Her name is pronounced like ravioli, the food, only without the "ra" at the beginning.  On the phone, my impression was that she would be a great temporary solution until we found the perfect spot.  When we got to her house and got to meet her, I feel in love.  I wanted to shrink her down and put her in my pocket and keep her forever and ever.  She has a HUGE backyard with all kinds of play stuff, and unless it's muddy out, the kids play outside every day.  She makes lunch that is things like stir fry and chicken and homemade soups.  Every summer she grows all kinds of veggies in her garden that she uses to feed the kids.   They sing and read and color and practice the alphabet and counting.  And her house smelled good.  I mean REALLY good.  And that's saying a lot, coming from me.  Violy was warm and nurturing and motherly.  She seemed caring and genuinely loved what she does every day.  Her terms are fair and her price is in our budget.

My engineer of a husband hates "buying the first thing you see" but when we actually talked about it, this makes a lot of sense.  None of the others can't guarantee us today that our son will have a loving environment outside of our home when he's only six weeks old.  In fact, they don't really even want us to walk through until a spot becomes available.  A few cared so little about caring for our child that they never called me back.  And then there was Violy.  I am a pretty good judge of character and I felt very comfortable in her home.  So comfortable that I wondered if I could go nap there every afternoon.  If just felt good.

So, as soon as I publish post, I am calling Violy back and telling her to print the paperwork for us so that I can pick it up tonight and drop a check off to her for two weeks of daycare.

If being a mother didn't seem real before, it sure does now. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Scatter Pattern

I am feeling a little all over the place today.  So much to say, so much to do and VERY little time to get it all out.  So, you know me.  Here's a list that essentially summarizes the scatter pattern in my brain:

  1. We finally bought our good camera on Saturday.  After determining our budget and test-driving several of them, we landed on the Nikon D3000 and could not be happier.  We tinkered with it a little on Saturday and I think we are going to love it.  And the memory card plugs directly into the side of Chris' new iMac computer for easy downloading and editing.  YAY!!  Pictures will start rolling in soon!
  2. We were given our first hand-me-downs for baby-boy-Rowland.  A dear family friend, Rebecca had her son in May of this year and sent us a box stuffed FULL of his clothes from the summertime.  Chris and I were in absolute awe when we opened the box and saw all of the really cute things in there. It made it all seem very real.  Now we need to figure out where we are going to put them. For now, the box they came in will have to do.
  3. I leave tomorrow morning for Michigan for the week.  Most of my time will be spent in Detroit...very close to the airport, but I am going to manage to swing up to MP for a day to see the family and celebrate Dad's 65th birthday with him.  I will be a couple days early, but us McFarlanes celebrate for a week anyway, so I'll be there to kick it off!
  4. We have another winter storm watch.  Last Wednesday we ended up with 8 inches of snow.  This time it will start on Tuesday night and roll into Wednesday with another 4 - 8 inches of snow. Thankfully the first round has completely melted.  Here's hoping the next snow melts just as quickly.  Looks like I am getting out of dodge just in time!
  5. YIKES!  Trick-or-Treaters will be ringing our doorbell tonight from 6 to 8 pm. I guess I should run to the store and get some candy for them.  I don't have enough travel toothpaste to share with all of them (just kidding, of course!  I wouldn't share it with them even if I had it for them!).
  6. Groceries.  Bigger yikes. I don't even have anything here for lunch.  I guess I'll hit the store mid-day today for a quick trip.  
  7. I  mentioned that I am leaving tomorrow morning for MI.  Did I also mention that my work isn't quite ready for the trip?  Looks like it's going to be a long night.
  8. The pants I need for the trip are at the dry cleaners to be hemmed and cleaned.  Here's hoping that they got hemmed.  If not, I am in big trouble.
  9. I need to charge my Nook for my trip tomorrow.  And maybe download a book or magazine or something. I have a feeling that while tomorrow should be smooth sailing weather wise, I am thinking Saturday morning is going to strand me in Chicago.  Denver weather could be iffy for Saturday, and according to my typical travel-delay schedule, I am overdue for a long one.  Note to self:  Wear something comfy on Saturday.  
  10. Would it be asking too much if I asked Chris to rake the yard Saturday morning?  But only if the snow melts, of course.  Maybe I'll play the "but I'm carrying your child" card. I haven't used that yet.  It's been almost 16 weeks so I think I'm due.  
Well, that should do it for today. I will see some of you on Thursday (Mom!), and a few of you on Friday! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's all about the timing

Average snowfall for the month of October in the Denver area is about four inches.  Some years we get a monster storm or two, some years (like 2010) we don't get anything.  This year we fall somewhere in the middle. 

I love winter and I love snow storms.  IN THE WINTER.  This is pretty, and it's fun.  But since I don't get to play in the snow this year, I vote that it could wait until a more appropriate date to stick around.  It will be in the sixties by the weekend, so no complaints.

In summary, I think Abby the beagle and I agree on this October snowstorm.  Here's a picture.  NOTE:  I did not pose her. She's just mad I think!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cause and Effect

Karma.  The Buddhist/Hindu philosophy that the sum of a person's actions decides their fate.  If you really think about it, may religions/cultures have their own version of Karma.  An eye for an eye.  Do unto others... you get the point.  It's a philosophy that is deep rooted in our society but that is too often ignored. 

For years, I have tried to make regular deposits into my Karma Bank.  You know, doing something helpful for a stranger and expecting nothing in return.  I can't tell you how many cars I have jump started in airport parking lots.  I stopped counting at 12.   And that's just one example.  I like to help people. Friends and strangers alike.

I guess you'd like for me to get to the point so here goes.  Maternity leave is already stressing me out.  I love my job, but the company's continued growth and our department's constant reorganization has put all of is in a position of working in a silo.  I don't mind on most days.  In fact, my inner control freak likes it this way.  But when I think about going on maternity leave, it's worrisome that there is nobody on my team that has any clue what I do every day and who I am doing it for.  And vise versa.

Until today.  About six months ago, a woman from a different department at the company transferred to our team and we were glad to have her. I really like her.  Personally, she's a lot of fun to be around. Professionally, she's a brilliant strategic bank marketing mind.  Technically, well, let's just say she struggles a little with the technology we use to do our jobs.  It's been a challenge for her.  And in all honesty, she hasn't exactly been set up for success.  We have no training procedures in place and the projects we do, we just do, we don't document HOW to do them. Her learning curve has been steep with no sign of summit.  I can only imagine how stressful that must be for her (I am going to call her T).

T called me this morning, very upset and disappointed that she is having trouble finding projects to work on and feels like when she does find a project, it's a struggle to figure it out.  I think she was just venting on a bad day.  But that's when I felt like the heavens had opened and were shining a bright light on this HUGE opportunity for me and T.

I have a call in to my boss and am very excited about my idea/plan.  It's a win-win.  I see no down side to this. In approximately 6 months, somebody is going to have to manage my clients for about 6 weeks while I try to acclimate to motherhood.  Everyone on my team, with the exception of T, is bogged down and crazy-busy with their own clients.  I need someone with a lighter work load that will have time to learn the ins-and-outs of my clients and some of the ridiculous projects I do for them.  Holy cow! I had her on the phone!  Not only have I found the perfect person to fit in with my clients and cover for me, but I have found a way to get T some additional training on a wide-array of projects over the next 6 months. 

I feel like all of those deposits into my Karma Bank just paid of...and in gold too!  If you can believe this, T's sister just bought a house (it's under construction now) in Highlands Ranch and will be moving here in May.  Mid to late May.  T has offered to come out and stay with her sister and help her get settled.  Oh, and transition the clients back to me at that time.  I can't imagine a better solution for either of us.  Can you?

Thanks, Karma.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

That was NOT in the books

I am going to start noting these things because I am pretty sure nobody has written THIS book yet.  Seriously.  I have read five different pregnancy books, and so far, none of them are telling me what I want to know.

Now, I know that I am no exception to the rule. I am not special, out of the ordinary, super-extraordinary, or an anomaly in any way, shape or form.  But there are things that nobody tells you about until you complain about them and think there's something wrong with you.

While there have been other lessons throughout the 14 week journey, this is the first one that has really bugged me.  Since Sunday, I have been fighting with my allergies and sinuses. My doctor provided me with the list of "approved" pregnancy medications to help combat my symptoms.  And for those of you who know me well, you know that I am not much of a pill popper.  I avoid pills until I just can't stand it anymore.  But Sunday was rough.  I took a couple Tylenol before bed in hopes that it would take the edge off and let me sleep.  And that worked. 

Monday started the sinus headache.  And a doozie of a headache at that.  Waiting to take the Tylenol until I couldn't stand it, I opted for the Walgreen's brand of Tylenol Sinus Nighttime just before bed.  That was a load of malarkey.  Yesterday I woke up with a headache that had progressed from "doozie" to "whopper."  Holy cow.  But I also had a doctor appointment and a ton of stuff to get done.  So, I see my OB (sidebar--baby boy Rowland is perfect, growing like a weed and a heartbeat of 152 bpm!!) and she tells me that I likely have a sinus infection and should see my family doctor.

Last night I took the "approved" Benadryl hoping for just a little sleep and maybe for the headache to ease up a little.  No dice. Not only did I not sleep, but ever time I rolled over, if any part of my head and/or face touched a cold spot on my pillow, I wanted to cry.  No sleep for this momma to be.

So, today I called my primary care physician.  After totally messing up my appointment time (my fault, not his), he tells me that what I have is likely viral and not bacterial and because I am pregnant I can't really do anything about it.  His advice was to get lots of rest.  The pregnancy hormones took over, I began to cry and was a little (okay, a lot) frustrated and blurted out, "how am I supposed to get any rest when this stupid headache is keeping me awake and you are telling me there's nothing I can do about it."  (I didn't say the next part but really wanted to) Stupid, stupid man.

His chuckle was almost audible.  He handed me a tissue, let me calm down a little, and said, "well, clearly you have lost a little more sleep than you look like you have.  Stop at the pharmacy and pick up a new Neti Pot, a box of tissues, a heating pad and some Tylenol PM.  If nothing else, we will ease the pain a little and let you get some much needed rest."  Now we're talking.  He continued to explain to me that because of the increased progesterone in my system, if my body wants to make a little mucus, it will actually make a lot.  And because of the extra blood in my body, if I am supposed to have a little headache, it'll be a big one.  Seriously?  That's not in any of the books I read. 

I did as told (although I already have the heating pad) and returned home.  Five minutes with a heating pad on my face followed by a rinse with the Neti Pot and I am feeling a little better already.  Maybe he wasn't stupid. Maybe he just needed a little lesson in the tendency for pregnant women to be somewhat irrational and capable of emotional collapse at any given moment, and for no apparent reason.  Sorry about that, doc.

Just a few minutes ago, I was talking with a good friend of mine who also happens to be a coworker.  I told her the story about the headache, the doctor, the reaction and the cure.  Her response to me was this: "Sweetie, I could have told you all of that and saved you the $25 copay."  Seriously.  Always after the fact. From now on, maybe I should just start asking around before I call a doctor.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Establishment of the Baby Jar

When you find out you are pregnant, lots of things happen simultaneously.  And you learn a lot about your spouse that you never thought to ask.  For example, I learned that not only had my husband NEVER changed a diaper, he had never touched a diaper, or even seen one up close for that matter.  And all I could think was "holy you-know-what...what have I gotten  myself into?"

As it turned out, Chris had read some article about a family who, as soon as they found out they were expecting, purchased diapers every time they went to the grocery store and by the time the baby actually arrived, they didn't have to buy any diapers for a year or something crazy.  Chris thought we should give this a try, but while I saw value in the theory, I am somewhat superstitious, believe in Karma and love good juju so to me it seemed like a massive jinx.  But I didn't speak up. Instead, I went to the grocery store and bought my first package of diapers.  Holy WEIRD!  When I got home, Chris asked if he could look at one.  I saw this as my opportunity to encourage this behavior and try to make him comfortable with diaper-changing.

I actually convinced my husband that I could teach him to diaper a child that day.  Here's how we practiced first: 

Not to shabby for the first time EVER touching a diaper.  But per Chris' request, he'd like to try on something with legs.  I thought for a minute, ran up the stairs and pulled out my Ducky.  Ducky was given to me after my first knee surgery in 1992...complete with a leg bandage and all.  Ducky's knee healed years ago, but apparently now he needed a diaper:

He did pretty well.  I know a child with MOVING legs will be significantly different than Diet Coke and Ducky, but this was a start. 

When we were finished with the diapering of miscellaneous objects from around the house, I mentioned to Chris how worried I was about this diaper-buying thing and the bad juju it could bring us.  And after thinking for a minute, he agreed.  And that's when I told the story of the baby jar. 

I am pretty sure this story dates back to 1976.  Maybe earlier. I don't know for sure.  Only Mom and Dad can confirm that.  But when I was a kid, the cupboard near the microwave (just to the right) housed lots of things I don't remember and one thing that I remember vividly...the Baby Jar.  It was a gallon-size glass McFarlane Dairy milk jug full of coins.  I guess you could call it "spare" change, but it wasn't really spare. It had a purpose.  As the legend goes, when the Baby Jar was completely full of coins, Mom and Dad would have enough money to go to the Embers for dinner, sans-kids.

Now, I am sure that money was used for something different when Garren and I were babies. If dinner at the Embers was its original intention, they likely would have found a more fitting name for the jug.  So, let's say that when we were babies, it was used for baby stuff.

Well, I love the idea. And knowing that we are going to have bills up to our eyeballs from all the tests, ultrasounds, and let's not forget labor and delivery, we thought we'd upgrade the idea of the Baby Jar from one of coins to one of $20 bills.  And since that's harder to conceal, we are keeping it in an envelope in an undisclosed location.  Every time we go to King Soopers (our version of Kroger), we are taking $20 out in cash when we pay. 

First payment from the Baby Jar:  Paint the baby's room.  We have just over $200 now, and that ought to cover the project.  We will keep contributing as often as possible (or weekly at a minimum) and use the money for the bills that we know are on the way.  And when those are finished, it will be used for fancy dinners out (assuming we can find a baby sitter...I hear they are making $20 an hour now.  YIKES).

Side note to the Universe, Karma, juju and housing market:  PLEASE LET OUR (collective) parents sell their (respective) homes in March or sooner. Please and thank you!!  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The silence is broken

Blog topics have been especially difficult for me to come by for the past couple of months.  Not because I was out of ideas, but because everything I have been wanting to say needed to be kept secret.  Well, no more secrets!  I can finally break my silence.  And with excitement, say that I will now return to regular blogging, although it's about to take a completely new tone!

On August 8, after a bout of food poisoning and a borderline migraine, I was diagnosed with this:

faint second line. Was it really there?
After a major panic attack and the realization that the migraine and food poisoning were likely not what they seemed, the tears subsided.  In complete shock and disbelief, I ran to Walgreens for a second opinion of the diagnosis.  I was retested and the diagnosis was confirmed:
lines were not real enough. Can't mistake that word!!

OH MY GOSH!  I am pregnant!  Yep.  Pregnant.  I had no idea what I was supposed to do next.  There's no book for that.  No instructions inside the test kit that tell you who you call first, or what you need to do.  So, I freaked out, ran downstairs and told Chris.  After his panic attack subsided (ok, let's be honest here...his panic attack lasted for 11 more weeks, but more on that later.) I called the doctor who wanted to see me ASAP in that I am 35 and considered "higher risk."  As if I needed to hear that!! More freaking out ensued.

On August 15, the diagnosis was confirmed.  Yep.  Still pregnant!  Holy crap!  Now what?  Well, time to see a real doctor. I had been seeing a nurse practitioner.  So, on Tuesday, August 23, I met Dr. Allison.  I really liked her.  And from her I learned that when a "high risk" woman asks "are these cramps normal?" she will be rushed into an ultrasound.  And that's when we saw where our little poppy seed will be taking up residence until approximately April 22, 2012. The munchkin was too small to see on the ultrasound, but we could see the yolk sac (a term which still grosses me out a little).

This was the day before Mom and Dad's anniversary and I couldn't wait one more day to tell them.  So, we Skyped.  And I am completely disappointed to say that I wasn't quick enough to grab a screenshot of their reaction.  Shock. Happiness. Tears. Disbelief. Overwhelming excitement. Utter elation.  It was all there!  And while I may not have a still photo to capture that moment, I will forever have that memory.

Then we went to Florida over Labor Day for a vacation with Chris' parents.  And we got to tell them in person.  The reaction from my mother-in-law was just as priceless as my parents' reaction.  My always-stoic father-in-law smiled as big as I've seen him smile since the day I met him 6 and a half years ago, and the only thing he could say was, "well, I guess I'll get the 'For Sale' sign out when we get home!"  We're still waiting for that, but he's pretty excited too!  Rumor has it he's already changed his some of his passwords to reflect his incubating grand baby and pending grandparent-hood.

The stories of how people learned from there forward are pretty funny.  And should be a blog of their own. You need to hear the details about my "irresponsible drunkenness" and my grandmother asking "does your mother know?"  And the story and photos of the establishment of "The Baby Jar" are equally priceless.

So, here's what I will tell you today.  Because I will be 36 when I deliver, my doctor recommended several extra tests, such as the CVS and/or Amnio. The CVS is similar to the amnio but can be done sooner in the pregnancy (10 weeks) and because I am one of the least patient people on the planet, that's the option we chose. 

And as of Monday, October 3, I can tell you with 100% certainty that we have a completely healthy (no major chromosomal abnormalities) baby boy that's growing like a weed, and as of Saturday, October 15 (which is also our 5 year wedding anniversary) I will be out of my first trimester.  Thank goodness.  That morning sickness was ALL DAY LONG and is finally subsiding. 

Most of you already know that I am pregnant.  But the story is part of the fun of it. 

Cheers to the changes to come! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A letter to fruit

Dear Fruit,
I love you.  I mean REALLY love you.  And not just the you in pies (although, I really love that version of you too!).  I have decided that I could probably live on you, fruit, as well as bread, cheese and peanut butter. 

Earlier this week I bought a bag of you in the form of clementines.  You are perfect and juicy and sweet and easy to peel.  Can one really ask for more than that in you?  Yep. One can.  Seedless. 

When your grapes have seeds, I can eat them.  They are bitter, but edible.  When your clementines have seeds they are bitter and really crunchy and one really shouldn't eat them (I am making that up.  Maybe what I mean is that I WON'T eat them).  When each of your clementine sections has 2 ginormous seeds, not only do I have to pick them out, but you are totally gypping me on the amount of deliciousness you usually provide. 

So, in conclusion, oh loveable fruit.  Please ask your packagers to label you appropriately.  There's nothing worse than buying you "seedless" only to find out you are full of seeds.

You R. Whatyoueat

Monday, September 12, 2011


We have been DirecTV subscribers for years now.  Sure there have been stints with Cable from time to time, but we always come back to DirecTV.  And the remote control is always the same.  It's at the point now where I can, without looking down or turning on a light, navigate through the guide, my list of recoded programs, and the movie channels in the dark.

Operating that remote control is no different than any other repetitive chore that I've been doing for years.  It's as easy as making the bed, doing my hair and driving a car.  It just happens with little thought. 

We returned home late Saturday night from our week-long vacation in Florida.  Yesterday morning there was laundry and grocery shopping to be done before vegging out in front of the TV for some last minute relaxing before getting back to the daily grind.

It was great to have my familiar remote in my hand as I navigated from channel to channel and caught up on my recorded programs.  But my remote was sluggish,  I mean REALLY sluggish.  I was driving me nuts.  Then I realized that while it had a vacation from my hands, it's  batteries hadn't been recharged (or in this case replaced) in a very long time.  That poor thing was a burned out as I had been.

So, after replacing the batteries I sat back, flipped channels and thought to myself, "I guess we all needed our batteries recharged from time to time." 

It's good to be home, but it's even better to have fresh perspective and recharged batteries. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

End of the story

Wow.  I haven't blogged in what seems like weeks, and here I am posting 2 in one day!

Today, I am sad to report that our neighbors, witness protection from Jersey and and his Russia spy girlfriend, Anthony and Natasha, are moving out today.

I do not know for certain that Anthony is in the witness protection program, but he is from New Jersey with the thickest NJ accent I've ever heard and he did have to go out of town for a couple weeks not too long ago.  And his sisters wouldn't say where he was.  It was weird. And I also know for a fact that Natasha is Russian, but I don't know if she's really a spy.  But it makes for a great story in my imagination. 

Over the past 12 months, we've heard the most amusing things.  Like last November when we had a warm day, Anthony got the ladder out and climbed on the roof wearing jeans, a wife beater and a Santa hat.  When Natasha asked him what he was doing, his response was, "what do you think I'm doing?  I hanging the f-ing Christmas like you told me to."  To which Natasha replied in her thick Russian accent, "With a f-ing staple gun."  All outside my office window.  Funniest work day EVER!

He drives a cliche red Cadillac (early 2000 model) and twice a week he'd pull it out of the garage into the driveway, crank the radio volume on the local classic rock station, and sing along in his Jersey accent as he washed his car.  Again, always wearing a wife beater.

It's been hours of endless entertainment right out my office window.  And as we've gotten to know them over the past year, they are actually very nice people, with a super sweet son (his name is Christopher!!) and are the kind of neighbors that would do anything to help you in a bind.  I am actually sad to see them go.

Anthony said he met the new renters and they are a young couple with a couple of kids.  That sounds nice.  Far less entertaining, but nice.  I wonder what imaginary life I can concoct about the new family?  Who wants to help me get started?  Maybe I should meet them first before I start the make-believe!

Snapping out of it

If an object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest, I am not sure if I am moving or resting. 

Work stuff is moving at warp-speed.  New clients every week and so much exciting stuff happening.  But my house is full of dog hair and we didn't feel like cooking dinner last night.  So I was in motion and lazy all at the same time.

I think the answer is that we just need a change of scenery.  An opportunity to go unplugged and enjoy one last summer event.  For six months, Saturday mornings included long runs which prevented us from exploring the mountains as we typically do to beat the summer heat.  You'd think with all that running, I would have my fill of fresh air, but it's not the same.  I am ready to feel the wind on my face because it's windy, not because I am running fast.  So I guess that means I really want to be an object at rest for a few days. 

On Sunday we leave for Islamorada, FL for the week.  I think sea breeze and spotty cell phone service is just what we are looking for to refresh our perspectives and renew our energy.  And by the time we get home, the forecast is showing that window opening season will have resumed...which will also be a nice change of pace. It's been unusually warm here. We had 21 days in August that were over 90 and 20 in July.  I am more ready for sweatshirt weather than I have been in a really long time.  Well, since the 6 months we lived in Austin, TX anyway.

So, we are snapping out of this funk ASAP!  A week with no dogs and no dog hair.  A week of sea breezes and someone else to make the bed.  A week of bathing suits and warm water and sand between my toes.  It all sounds heavenly.  And it's only 3 days away!

Monday, August 22, 2011

If I had only known

Well, the summer of run has officially concluded.  And what a half marathon that was.  Not only did we gain an additional 2,500 feet in elevation just being in Vail, but the info on the race LIED to us.  Just outright lied.  The race packet and all literature said this about the race:  " As you run in the valley you will experience some rolling elevations but the route is designed with no sharp climbs.   You will however, experience the best of the mountain experience with runners enjoying views of the Gore and Holy Cross Mountain Ranges, running adjacent to Gore Creek and Holy Cross Wilderness, plus running through the iconic Vail and Lionshead Villages, finishing at Ford Park and being given a medal, flower and a flute of champagne by a handsome mountain hunk.  This event begins at an altitude of 8,247 ft but it is most flat with a total elevation gain of only 331 ft!"

What they really wanted to say was "steep pitches and knee-wrecking, scrambling downhills between the gentle rolling hills."  Holy COW!  For those of you familiar with my parent's property, for the last 3 miles, the so-called "gentle rolling hills" were like running up the hill from the river to the house then back down, TEN TIMES!!!

The other lie they told:  the flower and flute of campaign handed to us by a "handsome mountain hunk" was really handed to us by the mothers and guests of some of the runners.  None of whom were male. 

However, don't get me wrong. We had a great time!  And by that, I mean a lot of fun.  Our finishing time was 2:46:57.  That's almost 7 minutes SLOWER than our half in May.  But, that's OK. 

Do you remember when I posted about my goal for this race was to finish and not need a medic and the stipulation I put on that?  What I actually wrote was, "Rather than just finish, I want to finish without needing a medic.  At that altitude, I am not sure what to expect.  But unless the medic looks like John Stamos with a voice like Matthew McConaughey, I don't want to meet him (or her)." 

I wish I had needed the Medic.  It wasn't John Stamos or Matthew McConaughey, but it was Ryan Sutter.  For any Bachelor/Bachelorette fans out there, he's just as pretty in person.  And very kind.  I mean VERY kind.  After Lisa and I finished, we were standing in front of the Champagne tent and he walked up, touched my arm and asked if I was OK.  My response was, "Hi."  Seriously.   That's the best I could come up with?    I made the pretty man ask me again, fumbled my words and ended with "hi, thanks." 

And to make matters funnier, I had my camera/phone in my hand but didn't take a picture.  In Lisa's words, "if I had known he was going to be the medic, I would have crawled over the finish line!"  So, the race page website will have to be my proof that I really did meet the guy and that he really is that handsome!  See for yourself here.

 All in all, it was a great weekend.  Lots of girl time, lots of giggles, great food, fun times, and best of all, realizing that you've got the perfect friend when you say "I love napkins" and she knows that you mean pancakes. 


Friday, August 19, 2011

Random Thoughts

It's been a bit crazy this week.  And time seems to be simultaneously flying and dragging as the days pass.  The house is painted, and as soon as I get a spare minute to re-hang all of the pictures, I will be sure to post some before and after pics.  Here's what I will say about the new colors:  I had no idea how much I hated that Aztec orange until it was gone from our home.  Soooooooooo much better!

In about 2 hours, Lisa will be here to kick off our girls weekend as we conclude our Summer of Run.  On tap for tonight is the Sugarland concert at an outdoor amphitheater.  And the forecast is for evening thunderstorms.  I have a feeling there may be a delay tonight in that the band will likely be pretty gun-shy after the incident in Indiana last weekend.

Then tomorrow we will sleep in a little have some breakfast then jump in the car with our first stop at the Art Festival in Golden, CO.  Lisa goes every year and said it's great.  I figured, what the heck!  It's on the way-ish!

After the art festival we'll finish our drive over the continental divide ending in Vail, CO (and 8,000' elevation) to enjoy the pre-race expo.  And when we are finished with that, we get to have dinner with my "sister," Cait Doyle.  For those of you who don't know Cait, she started babysitting for me and Garren when we were pretty young. I think I was 8ish maybe?  And then she lived with us during college for a few years.  She's always been sort of a big-sister to me and rather than always telling the story, I just call her my sister. It's easier that way.

I haven't seen Cait in several years.  We keep in touch, via phone and facebook, but I haven't actually been able to hug her in a LOOOOONG time.  It will be so great to have dinner with her, and have Lisa meet her.  Even if it is only for a couple of hours. 

Then Sunday is race day in the morning, followed by a trip through the Vail Farmer's Market.  It's supposed to be a pretty great market and Colorado sweet corn is at its peak right now. Hook me up!!!  Then some lunch and the 2 1/2 hour drive home.

All-in-all, it should be a great weekend. Who knew that the best part of the weekend won't even be the race.  You can never have too much girl time!

Cheers to all the girlfriends out there.  I hope you have a weekend filled with friendship and laughter.  I know I will!  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A lot can happen in a year

Can you believe that a year ago this week we moved into our home?  After all the tears, and all the money, and all the afternoons walking through strange houses, we finally found one to call our own and have lived here a year. 

Over the past 365 days we have made small purchases here and there to make this home our own.  And today the painter will be here to repaint the stairwell, guest bathroom, our bathroom and the red wall in our master bedroom.  While red may be one of my favorite colors, it is also one of the least neutral colors on the color wheel.  We have opted to keep the wall the dramatic focal point of the room, but in a greenish brown tone that will go with virtually every color.  Except for the Barny purple in the guest bath, and that just needs to go away.  

I'll take some pictures when he's finished.  If it looks as fantastic as I am expecting it will, I am going to be over the moon excited.  And probably planning the next painting project for him.  He's fairly cheap and I absolutely HATE painting a textured wall.  And I've tried.  Twice. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

An End in Sight, or a New Beginning I See?

On December 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm after a cheeseburger and frings (half fries, half onion rings) and a couple of winter ales at the Cherry Cricket in Denver, one of my best friends (Lisa) and I signed a "contract" on the back of the specials menu. 
As per the "contract" we had to pick a 5K.  Which was to be the Valentine's Day 5k in Wash Park ("Wash" is short for Washington, but nobody in Denver calls it Washington Park).  It took me 40 minutes to run 3.15 miles and I had never been so proud of myself in my adult life.  Having never run a race before, and probably never even running 2 miles before this event, it was nothing short of amazing that I finished at all.  And if you'll remember, the sense of pride completely overwhelmed me and I spent the day in tears.

The training continued as we had registered for the Colfax Half Marathon.  Every Saturday morning, Lisa and I met for our long runs.  As we toured the neighborhoods of Wash Park (think: half-a-million for 1500 square feet) and into the Downtown Denver area, every week our run would end and I would think, "Wow!  I really am making progress. I think I could go another mile."  And so we ran and ran and ran for 12 weeks.  May 15 brought cold, misty, yucky weather and my first ever 13.1  Having partially torn my calf muscle, I was worried about the cold weather.  But it turns out that not only would I be A-OK, I would run the whole thing a minute per mile faster than the 5K only 12 weeks before.

And the running continued.  After dubbing this to be "The Summer of Run" about 2 weeks later, on Memorial Day, I ran the second-largest 10K race in the United States with 56,000 of my closest friends: The Bolder Boulder.  That was an experience and a lot of fun. My body was still trying to recover from the "half" but I managed to run that thing 30 seconds per mile faster than I had run the half.  Which is about right.  It's about half the distance of a half marathon. 

With only a week off, we started over with the training plan to prepare for the Diva's Half Marathon in Vail, CO. The training on this go-round has been lackluster, to say the least.  I don't feel as strong or prepared for 13.1.  Part of the problem is the weather.  That's right, the weather.  Running in heat and humidity is NO FUN AT ALL!  It zaps the life right out of me.  Bring on 38 degrees w/mist and snow any day.  For as much as I wished for summer running, I am now wishing it away.  My pace has picked up a bit too.  Last weekend I ran 9 miles with an average pace of 11:45.  That's a good 30 seconds per mile faster than the first half I ran.  And in exactly 12 days, I will run another 13.1.  Only this time at 8,000 feet rather than 6,000.  It should be interesting.  But as I've said before, I am in it for the pink feather boa and the tiara just before crossing the finish line.  And because it's chicks only, rather than a beer tent, we get a champagne toast.  My goal for this one is a step beyond the last: Rather than just finish, I want to finish without needing a medic.  At that altitude, I am not sure what to expect.  But unless the medic looks like John Stamos with a voice like Matthew McConaughey, I don't want to meet him (or her). 

In 12 days I will be out of events to train for. But with three trips in September (two personal and one business) and two in October (one personal and one business) it's OK to not stress about long runs.  Lisa and I have kicked around the idea of registering for another half that's in October but the entry fee is $100. And after the end of October there aren't many half-marathons in the Denver area until the spring.  Maybe we will take a month off.  Maybe we will register for an out-of-towner at sea-level (I have my sights set on the Tinkerbell run through Disneyland at night).  Or maybe we'll decide to go for the gusto and run a full marathon next year in which case, we need all the time we can get to double our longest distance.

Regardless of what Lisa and I do next, I am already looking forward to our next adventure and a new beginning. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ruff Life

NOTE:  I just found this in my drafts.  Looks like I meant to publish this on August 4 2011.  Too cute to delete!

Our beagle LOVES to be warm.  I mean warm in the sense that it can be 100 degrees outside and she wants to be wrapped up in a blanket while sitting in the sun.  In the mornings, we have our routine of getting up, running outside to do business and quickly running back in the house and straight to the dining room where there is an absolutely perfect sunbeam that comes through the windows.

This week, we are all having some struggles with our allergies.  Abby (the beagle) suffers the worst which, in turn, makes us suffer.  Between the snoring that could rival a bear in hibernation (assuming bears snore when they in cartoons) and the snarfing (which is technically called a reverse cough or sneeze), she's been keeping us up at night.  So last night I drugged her.  One magic Benadryl pill and we all sleep well.

Well, Abby overslept today.  She stayed in bed until almost 10:00 am.  Then it was the normal morning routine, run outside to do business and right back in to catch the sunbeam.  Only today, this is what she ran in to:

By the time the darn dog was able to be awake for more than 10 minutes, her sunbeam was gone.  Is that not the most pathetic face you've ever seen?  I, for a fleeting moment, felt so bad for her.  But not so bad that I couldn't exploit her sorrow just a little.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Camera woes

I haven't been very good about blogging lately.  Mostly because I haven't had much interesting to say and never want this to turn into a forum for the airing of the grievances unless said airing evokes laughter from others!  What's really on my mind is that I like to read blogs with pictures, and I haven't had any pictures to share recently.  Mostly because our only camera is attached to a cell phone and those just aren't fun to take.  By the time you launch the app, the moment has usually passed.  So on the docket for our next big purchase is a camera.  A really good camera.  And a few classes on how to take incredible pictures.

Chris and I are headed to Key Largo in exactly 32 days and would love nothing more than to start experimenting with the camera on that trip.  Ideally, by the time we go to Seattle to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary in October, I'd like to be pretty well versed in what works and what doesn't and how to decipher camera settings.

So, all my blogger friends, I know you all take wonderful pictures and have been on a similar camera hunt. I am not looking for one of those "fits in an Altoid's box" digital cameras or something that Ashton Kutcher endorses.  I want a real, honest-to-goodness, may be a bit of a hassle to carry around, heavy around my neck, with interchangeable lenses, at-home-expert cameras.

Can you help me?  What camera are you using and do you love it?  If you do, what do you love about it, and if you don't love it, what are its shortcomings and what do you wish you had in stead?

Thanks for the feedback :-)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Quit Smoking

My husband is a wonderful man. And when he gets excited about something you'd think he was six years old and waiting for Santa to deliver something to him. Couple that with the fact that after what seemed like endless research, if a new toy is the RIGHT toy, it had better be in stock.

Saturday afternoon, Chris' new Smokenator 1000 was delivered. The Smokenator 1000 is a contraption that turns any standard Weber grill into a smoker and looks like it was invented by some determined ole' chap in his California garage who's wife said "You absolutely MAY NOT spend $400 on a fancy smoker. You have enough grilling toys as it is." Hence the birth of the Smokenator.

My husband is also a stringent rule-follower. Just ask my family about a board game last Christmas where there were subjective guidelines as opposed to rules. Chris almost ended up needing a sedative and a straight jacket!  So for the Smokenator's maiden voyage, Chris obeyed EVERY last rule for smoking the chickens.  Even though I was in the background reminding him of altitude challenges, conversions and recipe alterations that we have learned the hard way in the past.

The instructions said to cook for 4 1/2 hours.  And we did.  Then another 2 1/2 hours.  And at that point, the Weber wasn't even getting to 225 degrees!  We decided to roll the dice and hope that the oven will actually turn on...and it did!!  I preheated to 400 and stuck the thermometer in it.  Although the oven never got over 300, the chickens were finally finished.  2 hours later.

So here's the math on the Smokenator 1000:  4 1/2 planned cooking time + 2 hours more + 2 hours to finish in the oven = chickens so smoky that I could barely tolerate them. 

I'll bet the ole' chap who invented the Smokenator saved up the sales revenue until he had enough to buy the $400 super fancy smoker. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ikea is coming! Ikea is coming!

The metro-Denver area has been talking about this day for FOUR years now. And finally, after eighteen months of construction, Ikea will open its doors on July 27! And it's in my town (or close enough!). People will travel for hours and hours and miles and miles to get to an Ikea. But not me! I run farther than the distance to my Ikea on Saturdays. Within 6 miles of my house I will have my very own Ikea and I am very excited about it.

Not that they make the best furniture in the world or have this special "thing" that I cannot live without. It's the experience of the store that I love. It's all so organized and there is a traffic pattern to be followed using HUGE arrows painted on the ground. And the millions of cuppies for super cheap! I love Ikea because I love organization in a store. No thing out of place. And everyone moving in the same direction ( I must have been in the military in a previous life). And the plethora of colors. And I love to change my mind about colors and things like pillows and blankets. Tragically I don't have the budget to change pillows and blankets as often as I'd like. But with Ikea, I totally can!

And starting Wednesday, July 27, every time I have a pretty plain glass serving bowl chip, I'll just go buy a new one at Ikea for $3. Or maybe I want to replace all the tomato stained storage containers. I can get a set of 12 for $5 at Ikea. I think you know where I am going with this.

The only sad part is that people are being permitted to start camping outside of Ikea this weekend. The place will be a ZOO for a few weeks. I will have to wait for my inaugural Ikea run for at least a month. For as much as I like the plan, layout, brightness and colorfulness of that store, I don't like crowds of people pushing gigantic shopping carts full of cuppies, pillows and blankets while trying to corral their toddlers by using terms like "I'm not going to tell you again" when really they will. Nope. I will patiently (and gladly) wait my turn. Mid-September should be safe. Better watch out, Ikea. Denver's been waiting for you!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lessons in Silence

What a perfect weekend. No plans left lots of time for us to just be us. Saturday was spent on our back porch in the shade, cooking a brisket and dodging thunderstorms. Two of them to be exact. But between storms we had some cocktails with chips and hummus and enjoyed quiet minute we had together. There was some talking, but more just gazing into the sky and scenery and appreciating the sounds and smells of a summertime neighborhood coming to life on a Saturday afternoon. It was perfect.

Sunday brought more quiet time in my head. I cleaned the house and enjoyed it so much I also cleaned out the pantry, under the bathroom sinks, under the kitchen sink, inside the freezer and refrigerator and any other closet that was on the "that's really starting to bug me list." No music, no TV, and no husband (he mowed the lawn then hibernated in the cool basement while I cleaned).

Being alone in my own head made for a perfect weekend. I made some to-do lists, appreciated the smells of cleaning, and just let my mind wander wherever it wanted to go until it just didn't want to go anymore. All that silence exhausted my mind and I have been sleeping like I haven't slept in weeks. Finally rested and starting the week off running! Who knew all I needed was a little mind-wandering time!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I win.

If you know me well, you know that there are very few sports I haven't played. At one point or another, I think I've played a bit of everything, except maybe soccer. That's not to say that I played the sports well, but all I need are the basic guidelines (others call them rules) and I will give it a shot. And I am better at some things than others.

As an adult, "sports" have been more like games to fill some free time. I would much rather pretend to know what I am doing on a tennis court than throw a smackdown in a game of gin-rummy. BOOOOOORIIIIING! I think I inherited some gene that makes it difficult to sit still indoors if the weather is sunny...regardless of temperature.

Ironically, I married a man who likes movies and books. He played hockey when we first met, but it's difficult to put that sport down and pick up where you left off. It's a vicious cycle really. He also says he likes volleyball, but I bruise pretty easily and just don't understand why you would want to hit a ball with your body (other than a foot) on purpose (no offense to those of you who love the's just not my thing).

Recently, hubby informed me that he used to love playing racquetball in high school and college and he'd like to play again but wanted me to play with him. SURE!! That's one I've never tried, but how hard can it be to get a racket, some ugly white shoes and safety glasses and knock a super bouncy ball off some walls for an hour.

I got the gist of the rules, put my gear on and we hit the court! Here's what I learned about myself, the sport, and the importance of skill in 60 minutes:
  1. I am competitive but don't expect to win on the first try
  2. Trying a new sport for the first time, I should have put the competition aside and learned the art and technique of hitting the ball.
  3. Super bouncy balls bounce where you hit them (assuming you know how to actually AIM where you want the ball to go) the ceiling, the light fixtures, the floor, and ideally the walls. I masted everything but the walls. (insert long sigh)
  4. The walls are ROCK hard and when you run into them swinging a racket like you're swatting at a swarm of bees, it's going to hurt.
  5. When running from side to side and all over the place swinging at the ball if it's anywhere close to where you are is not a great strategy for winning at racquetball, but it sure is a good workout! And obviously amusing to the punks waiting for their turn on the court.
  6. The object of the game is not "just hit the ball before it hits the ground twice, no matter what it takes." There's actually form and strategy. I guess I'll work on that next time.
I think I must have looked like one of those giant inflatable thingies with flailing arms outside of cell phone stores. Only with a racket in my hand and running around chasing a super bouncy rubber ball. Even I can appreciate a missed YouTube opportunity when I experience one!

Monday, July 11, 2011


I am thoroughly deflated for many reasons. Some good and others are not quite as awesome.

The Good Deflation:
  1. Vacation Deflation: This is a good one! Vacations can be go-go-go. And with an infant, a toddler and four more children, not to mention 12 adult McFarlane's, the noise can reach volumes Helen Keller could hear. Between the activities, altitude sleeplessness, a few extra adult beverages and noisy toddlers, there wasn't a lot of extra sleep happening in that house. Being home in my own bed, eating non-vacation foods and being back in my very comfortable routine is what I am calling Vacation Deflation, and it's a wonderful thing.
  2. Food Deflation: It's so great to be eating normal foods after a week of eating lots of chips and chocolate. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE chips and chocolate, but if I am not going to be running, I shouldn't be eating those things. Bringing home a bunch of mini-candy bars from the vacation and promptly tossing them in the trash was a bit of food deflation. It makes me sad and happy all at the same time. Oh, and I am still running...just have to undo what a week in the mountains did! But I loved every second of it! Especially learning about a smear of peanut butter on my s'more. Oh. My. Gosh! They were AWESOME!!!
The Not-as-Good-But-Still-Not-Bad Deflation:
  1. Weather Deflation: It's Monsoon season in Colorado. Afternoon rain and storms to fill our reservoirs for the dry end-of-summer and early fall is always welcomed. Except by those of us who have decided to take up golf. Standing around with thunder and lightening while holding a golf club is a VERY bad idea. And it sure deflates my excitement to be finished with a work day and headed to the driving range. On the upside, we've decided to take up racquetball and our first court reservation is tomorrow night! We even went and bought rackets, balls and safety glasses...oh and special non-marking shoes. I didn't even know non-running shoes existed. These are true "tennis shoes." Chris has played before. I am clueless. My goal is to run around and hit the ball. Who needs rules anyway?
The Totally-Not-Awesome Deflation:
  1. Savings Deflation: And this isn't about the economy. It's about our savings account. We've done a pretty good job of paying off debt and building our "just in case" savings account. We've saved enough to pay 2 months of bills and groceries. Three weeks ago we paid $60 to have the thermostat on our oven fixed. The technician has been back two more times to fix other problems with our range, including replacing the $350 brain of the dumb thing plus the $120 for him to walk in our front door. Thanks to our home warranty, we have only had to pay the initial $60 copay (it works like insurance for your house and I HIGHLY recommend it). However, the brain failed again. And there seems to be some discrepancy as to whether or not our warranty will provide the full price of replacement or it's depreciated value. To replace our current range with a comparable range will be approximately 2 months of living expenses. That's money deflation for you. It sort of makes us cringe at the thought of going to Seattle for our anniversary. If the warranty won't pay the full replacement costs, all extra money will be used to either replace the range or replace the money we spent to replace the range. Awesome. Oh the joys of home ownership. And it hasn't been a year. But on the up-side, at least if we have to replace it, I can pick WHATEVER I want...and this may be the perfect time to get that gas stove I've always wanted (just need to run a gas line...). I just paid the $26 annual fee for Consumer's Report so that I can find something that won't fail so quickly on me!!
On a side note, do yourself a favor, NEVER EVER EVER google for reviews of your appliances. My final deflation came when I learned that our appliances are some of the most unreliable and poorly made appliances on the market and a few have even been discontinued. I didn't pick them, but for what the previous owner paid for them, they should be lasting for decades!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hot stuff

Not a lot going on around here. It's been pretty quiet as we get ready for our week-long family vacation. I can't help but feel it's the calm before the storm...with 14 McFarlane's in one place at one time, it can only be called a storm. Or maybe a fray. OOOO...or chaos. Regardless, it will be fun! Before we know it, it will be fall and I will in the thick of busy travel season again.

But in the mean time, here's some hot stuff to think about.

Hot Air:
Summer is officially upon us and the weather in Denver is finally summer-like. And for the extended forecast, it's looking like the low to mid 90's and plentiful Colorado sunshine! Which is great. Except for those long runs on Saturday mornings as I continue with the Summer of Run and prepare for my second half-marathon of the season. I need to figure out a way to take more water with me. My water bottle holds enough for 5-6 miles on a hot morning, this weekend I run 8. Or at least that's the plan.

Hot Oven:
Well, ours isn't. The motherboard died. So, if I want to use the oven or stove top burners, I have to endure incessant a chronic smoke alarm. I love to cook, but there's got to be a better way. So, until we can get a new computer thingy for our oven/stove control panel, it will remain unplugged. Since we are having friends for dinner on Saturday, I am accepting a personal challenge of grilling EVERYTHING! So far, we are having pork chops, grilled garlic bread, grilled romaine salad with Caesar vinaigrette and for desert, grilled Colorado peaches with vanilla bean ice cream. I'll let you know how it goes.

Hot Dogs:
No, not the edible variety, I am talking about K9's in the summer. One of them is shedding and the other needs sunscreen on her belly. The shedding is grossing me out. We will have him groomed next week to get all of his undercoat pulled out, but it will only last until the next weather change when it will start all over again. As for the beagle and her love of a good hot sunbeam, well, let's just say that I don't have to worry about carpet or wood floor discoloration from too much sunlight. If there's a sunbeam in the house, she finds it and warms her belly until the sunbeam is gone for the day. With all the black hair on her body that actually gets hot to the touch, I am not sure how she stands it!

Stay cool!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

" This is the best invention since sliced bread"

To quote my husband directly! For those of you who read my guest blog post on Design Thoughts (owned by one of my oldest and dearest friends, Kim Salter), you know that Chris is turning a corner with regard to health.

He had his annual physical last week and at that time also received the results of his lab work. The a1c test (measures average blood sugar levels over a months time) came back slightly high. Couple that with his high cholesterol and tendency to carry his weight around his mid-section and he is, as the doctor called it, "almost pre-diabetic" and at an elevated risk for heart disease. His doctor recommended that he back off the refined carbs, sugars, white potatoes and empty calories and try to eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. All Chris heard was, "eat fewer carbs."

I will give it to him though, he is asking me questions like "is this one of those carbs that takes a long time to digest and won't spike my blood sugar?" Just asking is HUGE progress. We are overcoming his overwhelming need to have chips with his lunch by having homemade coleslaw (recipe to follow) that he can put in a ramekin. He won't measure anything so at least I know that the ramekin only holds 1/2 a cup...3/4 if you really pack it in.

Tuesday night we were having burgers for dinner and Chris was telling me how good they were, but when he is really craving a burger, it's not just the burger he's the act of eating with his hands (this is where we differ a little. I HATE getting condiments on my hands...they smell for hours!).

With that, I went to the refrigerator and opened the baggie of washed iceberg lettuce I had on hand, gently tore off a whole leaf and handed it to him. He looked at me like I was asking to tweeze his eyebrows or something. Sheesh. When I helped him wrap up his burger, the still thought I was crazy. Then he took a bite...the look on his face said it all! His happiness was written all over his face (and apron, and napkin, and hands)!

With a mouth full of a makeshift burger he exclaimed "Holy cow! That's the best invention since...well, sliced bread!" I am pretty sure I saw the lettuce wrapped burger offered as a low-carb burger on some menu somewhere so I can't take all the credit. But he thought I was a genius at that moment and who am I to disappoint him!

Side note: Butter lettuce would work better in that the leaves are more shaped and tend to stay in tact better than iceberg does...but who keeps butter lettuce in the refrigerator?

So, next time you are looking to ditch the bun but enjoy a burger, re-purpose your lettuce!

Coleslaw recipe:
1/2 c. Canola mayo (healthier fat than regular mayo...)
1/2 c. light sour cream (we actually use full fat organic. we just like it better!)
1 bag pre-shredded, pre-washed cabbage (or 1 head of do-it-yourself cabbage, good luck with that)
1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
2 limes
scallions for garnish (or 1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine mayo, sour cream, zest of 2 limes, and juice of 1 lime in a small bowl and mix well.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cabbage, cilantro and optional green onions (reserve scallions for garnish). Toss to combine
  3. Pour wet ingredients over cabbage and toss to combine (tongs work well for this)
  4. Cover and refrigerate. Eat when you want to!

Monday, June 13, 2011

I should have left the house earlier

In case you haven't heard this story, it's WAY to funny to not blog. Here's the scoop:

It was last week...Thursday, June 9, 2011. I had been in Dallas (well, Plano, TX actually) for a full week already and was scheduled to visit a client in Stuttgart, Arkansas.

My flight to Little Rock was to depart at 6:55 am. I stayed with my in-laws who live only 15 minutes from Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW).

The night before (Wednesday night) my mother-in-law and I discussed what time I would be getting up and leaving for the airport so that she would know why the dogs were barking in the wee morning hours. My plan was to get up at 4:30, hit the showers, and be out the door no later than 5:30 am.

At 3:45 I wake up, look at the clock and think "sweet! another hour of sleep" and fall back to sleep. Then I hear a tap on the door.

Carolyn: "Jenna, are you up"
Me: "Yeah, is everything OK."
Carolyn: "I don't know, are you up."
Me: "YES, are you OK?"
Carolyn: "Yeah, are you getting up"
Me: "Well, I am now, but it's only 4:50. I don't need to be up for another 45 minutes. Do you need something?"
Carolyn: "Oh, no, sorry, I thought you wanted to leave by 5:30"
Me: "HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!!!! Thank you! I am up now!"

Yep, I had 40 minutes to be client presentation worthy and out the door. Thank goodness I can be ready quickly when I have to.

5:30 am, I was out the door and on my way to return the rental car.

Returned the rental car by 5:50 and stood there waiting for the shuttle to the B terminal for 10 minutes. At 6:00 the manager told me to ride the bus to the A terminal and the driver would stop at B for me.

I confirmed with the driver he would stop at B.

Driver stopped at the A terminal, two people got off the bus, one got on. So, it was just me and one other guy.

Me: "Do you want me to get off here and take the sky link or will you stop at B"
Driver: "No, stay on the bus, I am going to B next."
Me: "Awesome, thank you!"

I watch the driver navigate the labyrinth that is DFW and am content that he's headed toward B. I look down to tweet some irrelevant fact and realize I've been on the bus too long. We are now headed back to the rental car facility.

Me: "Are we stopping at B?"
Driver: "Yeah, I forgot. I'll drop this guy off and take you back."
Me: "Um, that's not going to work for me. My flight leaves in 35 minutes."
Other Passenger: "Yeah, I have a meeting in Dallas at 8. I don't have time to go back to the terminal."
Me: "your car and meeting will be there if you are 10 minutes late. My plane will not be there if I am 10 minutes late."
Other Passenger: "Well, you should have left the house earlier."
Me: not out loud, but in my mind: "a$$hole"

We drop the guy at the facility and speed back to the B terminal. Security line is really long.

Me: "My flight leaves in 20 minutes. Is there any way that I could jump to the front of the line?"
TSA: "No. You should have left the house earlier."
Me: "yeah, that seems to be the consensus."

Finally through security 10 minutes before departure (and 12 gates away) I hear "Little Rock passenger Rowland, your flight is ready for departure and the door will be closing in 1 minute."

I run. In heels. Look like an idiot but JUST make the flight. People are staring at me. I am that guy, and yes, I know, I should have left the house earlier. I sit down. Buckle up and am ready to go. Breathe...

Pilot: "well, the ground crew forgot to load the gate check bags so we will be a few minutes late getting out of here but will be able to make it up in the air."
Me: "of course we will be late. I am sweating in a suit and my feet hurt. I could have walked."

Land in Little Rock, on time but I am starving! Haven't had anything to eat or drink. Walk across the hall to get a bagel with strawberry cream cheese (I couldn't resist!), a diet coke and HUGE bottle of water. Grab a stack of napkins for just in case.

Pick up rental car, confirm map. Let car get cooled down a little. Eat half the bagel and am ready to go.

Jump on highway, make first exit onto 2-lane highway for rest of route. Decide to finish bagel. Strawberry cream cheese is gooey from the heat. Drips out of dumb bagel, slides down my pinkie and onto the leg of my pants.

Me: "Awesome."
Me again: "I should have left the house earlier"

Reach for just-in-case-napkins. Left them on counter at bagel place.
Me: "Figures."

Pull to side of road in middle-of-nowhere-Arkansas and lick the cream cheese off my pants. Use water to dilute spot and say a prayer that it's not noticeable by the time I get to the bank.

Get to the bank with time to spare. Client is a friend of mine I have known since 2002 School of Bank Marketing.

Client: "Jenna, are you OK? Your eyes are HUGE." hand signals to her assistant
Me: "You are never going to believe the morning I've had"
Assistant walks in with a box of tissues and bottle of water.
Client: "It's ok, you are safe here. Do you want to talk about it?"
Assistant hands me the tissues, I burst out laughing! Not a sad story. No tissues necessary. I tell the story until we are all in hysterics and laughing until our eyes water and we all need a tissue. And the spot on my pants was not noticeable until I pointed it out to them.

On a totally unrelated note, a very dear friend of mine has asked me to be a guest blogger on her Design Thoughts blog. Kim is an amazing interior designer, new(ish) mom, and wonderful wife. If you take a peek at my guest post, peruse the rest of her site! Great design and decor ideas!

Monday, June 6, 2011

But wait, there's more!!

I have blogged a few times about my love/hate relationship with Facebook. Today's story is a love story. One of my oldest, dearest friends, Kim had posted something about ants taking over her kitchen. Another friend of ours, Michelle, posted something about Tansy on a cotton ball keeping them out of the house. This was the second or third response Michelle had had to a friend of ours that was a natural remedy.

Last week, my cousin Allison and I had sequential posts and were getting lost in the memory of Grandma Melanie. And just when I thought I knew all the ways you could use panty hose that didn't involve legs of any kind, my friend Michelle posted one of the most incredible natural remedy blog posts I have read in a while. And it included yet another use for pantyhose! Check it out here!

Thanks, 'Shell for the shout-out. And for the additional use of pantyhose :-)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Confessions of a Wannabe

As per my morning routine, I scanned my friends' and family blogs and found that today, my cousin Allison wrote a blog titled, "Pantyhose...thrifty tips from Grandma Melanie" and I nearly spit coffee all over my computer when I read the title. The flood of memories and photographs in my mind were overwhelming. I laughed so hard I am fairly certain I woke the neighbors.

To follow suit, I am here to confess some things that have promoted my husband to ask "did Grandma Melanie teach you that?" On some occasions, he even pays me the highest compliment of saying "you are just like your Grandma Melanie," although at the moment he doesn't mean it as such--later in her life she did some things that nobody really wanted her using a makeshift scooter to wheel through the crawl space. But I sure hope I am just like her. She was pretty remarkable. So, today I will list the confessions of a wannabe Grandma Melanie.

  1. I reuse baggies for dry foods until there are holes in them too big to hold what I want to put in them next.
  2. I drink coffee out of the same mug every morning
  3. I made Good Cookies this week (that's a post for another day!)
  4. I actually said on Monday, "my legs hurt, my allergies are killing me and I am weak. But I have my own teeth!" Really, Jenna? You had to throw out the "teeth" reference? Unless you heard Grandma say that, you wouldn't get it. But in my defense, I had just finished the BolderBoulder 10k with 56,000 people, uphill and hungry.
  5. I tied my ski boots together for the season with pantyhose
  6. Like Allison, I actually contemplated cutting the elastic off some underwear because I needed a giant rubber band. I resisted that one.
  7. I started whistling for no apparent reason. And I liked it.
  8. I have been shopping for wind chimes. I used to hate wind chimes
  9. I have been smiling and waving a lot lately. Not sure what prompted that, but it's an OK thing.
  10. Chris caught me climbing on the counter tops to get something heavy down that I couldn't reach. When he offered to get it for me, I just glared at him like he was an idiot for asking and went about my business. That evoked a laugh out of both of us.
  11. I cut a hole in a old beach towel to make a smock.
Now, while that's not a comprehensive list, some of the things I am doing are because it's just a darn good, thrifty idea that Grandma Melanie gave me. The others are things that I don't even think about. Trying to always find the good, smiling and waving, whistling, and fierce independence are things that I think I must have just picked up along the way. When I do them I am not thinking "oh, Grandma used to do this..." They just sort of happen. And it's not a bad thing at all. And for all of the Grandma Melanie I am noticing in me, I see even more of it in Allison. Alli, if you read this, if I find underwear elastics anywhere in your house ever, I will put perfume in your laundry detergent. For all the marvelous things we picked up from Grandma Melanie, that's the only one that may fall in to "too tacky to be thrifty" category. However, if you want to stash turtles or peanut butter crackers in every drawer in the house, I will support that. Love you!!