Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Add it to the list

I can go on and on and on about how much I love living in Colorado. In fact, I am pretty sure I have gone on and on about it.

My morning computer routine includes checking for the forecast. It's a habit, and it usually doesn't change from the forecast I saw at 6:00 the night before, but you know routines. My day just isn't complete without checking the weather. Sometimes several times. My name is Jenna, and I am a weather addict.

Well, to add to the list of reasons I love living in Colorado, I have to add this:
I could live without the wind tomorrow (it puts our area at high risk for another wild fire), but Saturday is my birthday and Friday night is my birthday dinner downtown, and opening day of the Colorado Rockies baseball season. Sunday is back to sunny and 54, but I don't care. I leave for Florida Sunday morning for work for the week! It's gonna be waaaaaaaaaaaaarm!! YAY!!

Thanks mother nature! This is the BEST birthday gift you've ever given me!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring in my step

On the heels of yesterday's "YAY me" post, here's one for a good laugh. Every morning I get up and cross another running activity off my list. Today, at 5:45 am, woke up to my alarm, rolled out of bed and peeked out the window to make sure there was no fog. I'll run outside in the dark, in wind, rain and snow, but not fog.

With a light dusting of snow glistening from the streetlight, I geared up and headed out for a 4 miler. The air was cool and damp which is a nice chance of pace from the incredibly dry air we've had all winter. It smelled of spring and damp grass and wood. You know the smell.

And then it started. 0.67 miles was the first sneeze. 0.75 was the first blowing of the nose. I continued to alternate between sneezing and nose blowing through 10 tissues and one sleeve (gross, right?!?!). My second mile took me through a sidewalk-less street and forced me to run on the side of the road which was all mud (see above dusting of snow satire). So now I am snotty and muddy but keep going. Overall, I feel OK.

At some point my ears said "this playlist is no good" while my legs simultaneously said "you've got to be kidding me, was this hill here last week?" and my new fancy-pants watch said 3.25 miles. I was totally spent, but I only three-quarters of a mile left and I still had one sleeve in reserve, should I need it.

Running through the park, all I wanted to do was finish. Dog owners are 50/50 about picking up after their pups, but at least the messes are never on the sidewalk. Apparently the coyotes didn't get the "only poop, or do other gross stuff in the grass" memo and it appeared they were particularly active last night.

So, my last three-quarters of a mile were spent running in a zig-zag pattern around piles of coyote stuff. And then I sneezed.

I was closest to home at 3.90 and called it a day without finishing that last tenth of a mile (although I did walk it). Abby was up this morning, which is rare for our dog, and she couldn't get enough of my shoes. Curious as to what she was smelling, I picked them up and looked at them when I realized that my last sneeze must have propelled me into a gift from a coyote. And it wasn't poop...

So, today, with some "spring" completely compacted into the sole of my shoe, I declare war on allergies and coyotes. Not sure what that means. But it feels good to say it!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Friends, Family, Mentors and Heroes

I update my iGoogle homepage frequently with a countdown timer that keeps me excited for events and vacations. In 47 days, 20 hours, 57 minutes and 12 seconds (give or take a few minutes & seconds for writing time!) I will be running 13.1 miles.

I want to start by saying, Lisa K., I know this is hard to read (assuming you are reading it) but there is something you should and my cousin Allison are HUGE inspirations to me. You are true runners. Your love of running, for a long time, I thought was a little crazy. But now I get it. Lisa K., I am so sorry that your love has been taken away from you for a while, but you will get it back. Alli and Lisa, thanks for being my mentors and heroes, friends and family. Maybe this fall we can all run together...Whether it's around the river or around the block makes no difference to me.

On Saturday, my long run was 6 miles, and I ran all of them without stopping (except for 2 stoplights) and finished in 1 hour, 14 minutes, 5 seconds. While I am not setting any land speed records or shattering any 6 mile run records, I am breaking my own records left and right!

With every passing long run, I run longer and farther than I ever have before. And with every run I fall deeper and deeper in love with running. I had no idea I had it in me. I figured I had the determination, but didn't think I'd actually like it, let alone love it this much!

As I think about this coming Saturday, I get a little excited. Not only will I turn 35 on Saturday, I will also run 7 miles for the first time in my life. That's more than half the distance I need to run in 47 days and is more than three times the distance I had ever run before (who am I kidding, before training I had never run two whole miles!). I so wholeheartedly KNOW that I can do this and hope that I get to do it again and again and again.

So, with that, Lisa, as you continue your journey back to your wings, thanks for being one of mine.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Lumber Company

As a kid, I have very fond memories of going to "the lumber company" with Dad on Saturday mornings. I really don't know what we went for, but remember it being during the spring and summer know, the months where you can smell grass and trees (insert sneeze and sniffle!!) and flowers and the sound of children playing outside mixes with sounds of home improvement projects.

The smell of the lumber company, which holds the formal name of Mission Lumber, is not so unique, but is very distinctive. It's the smell of sawdust, varnish and... popcorn. That's right, popcorn! On those beautiful Saturday mornings when I was lucky enough to be able to tag along with Dad to the lumber company, I remember having small paper bag of popcorn as we walked through the countless aisles of nails and wood (or at least that's how I remember it!).

Very close to our house we have an ACE Hardware. I love that place, and it smells just like the lumber company of my memory. Chris and I went to get some ant killer (which is a story for another day) on Sunday morning, and as soon as we walked in, it smelled just like it was supposed to. So, I walked to the back of the store, past the paint department, grabbed a small paper bag and put a scoop of popcorn in it. We walked through the store, lollygagging through the grills, paint color choices, hoses, and rakes as we ate one perfectly delicious kernel of lumber company popcorn at a time.

I want to go there every weekend. It's a happy place for me. Too bad happy isn't the same as cheap! They are selling the daddy of ALL Weber grills's HUGE and completely AWESOME! And 300 bucks! Stupid lumber company and your hypnotizing magical aroma of popcorn and manual labor. You make spending money smell so wonderful.

We didn't get the grill, but Chris said that if I make him go back there and smell the wonderfulness of the lumber company and share my happy memories on a 70-degree weekend day again, we are coming home with that Weber!

We're gonna need a bigger deck.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

There will be no photos in this post

I went to the dentist this morning to have 2 cavities filled. One tiny one on the bottom and a slightly larger one right above it...both on the right side of my mouth. I pride myself on having pretty good teeth. This is only the second and third cavity I have ever had, so you can imagine how upset I was to learn that my 16 years of being an boring dental patient had ended.

So, this morning I got up a little earlier than normal, ran 4 miles, jumped in the shower and was in the dentist's chair by 7:45. As was no surprise, he had a little trouble getting my upper jaw to numb. My lower jaw and tongue have no problems, but the upper, well, let's just say that after the initial round of shots that numb most human mouths, I got 4 more shots. We waited 5 minutes, then 4 more. Then I got two last shots in the jaw for good measure. And all that finally did the trick.

This dentist, Dr. Mack, numbed me SOOO well that I can't even take a sip of water at 9:45. And I know this because I tried. Cold water down the front of your shirt isn't very funny. And now my jaw (back by my ear) hurts bad enough that I really just want to take some Advil and maybe have a little breakfast. But again, can't swallow anything and my tongue and cheek are still numb.

Get it, my tongue and cheek are still numb! That's funny. I guess I will end the satire on that note.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Airport Redemption

Sometimes traveling for work is the pits. Strike that. MOST times traveling for work is the pits. But the personal benefits often times make up for it. With all the loyalty rewards I receive from my business travel, Chris and I are almost always guaranteed space in the overhead compartment for our carry on suitcase, a free rental car once or twice a year and at least one trip to Michigan paid for with miles. And let's not forget a night or two at a Hilton property. All are very nice perks.

The down side is a trip like my Sunday-Monday adventure. The last two days have been absolutely brutal! Saturday night we changed the clocks and I am pretty sure everyone has read a post, made a post or thought about reading or making a post about how the time change really messes up their little ones. Well, it messed up this not-so-little one something FIERCE!

My flight left on Sunday morning at 6:00 am. We live 40 minutes away from the airport, but with parking, shuttles and security, we budget for an hour to get through security, and boarding was to begin at 5:30 am. That means I needed to get up at 3:00 am in order to shower and get to the airport on time. Funny thing, the actual time change was to occur at 2:00 am. So, if we spring forward at 2:00 am to 3:00 am, then it could have been possible to miss the time of 3:00 and move straight to 3:01 depending on how many seconds ahead my clock may be. And with the whole new year thing and iPhone alarms not working, I was a little worried. I set two alarms for 3:05 just be be safe. And because I was so worried, I looked at the clock every 30-45 minutes or so. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep on Saturday night.

Sunday, the flight was non eventful but I had to connect through Chicago O'Hare, which I typically avoid like the plague. For me, my on-time departure and arrival stats in and out of ORD is about 50%. Not very promising. But Sunday was uneventful. And for as tired as I was, I got to go through the tunnel that was surely designed by Jerry Garcia, or maybe Pink Floyd or some other drugged-up rocker. Nevertheless, even the crankiest of travelers can appreciate the effort ORD makes to garner a smile out of travelers, experts and rookies alike.

I remember spending hours in the tunnel of moving colors as a kid when we were stuck in Chicago on our way to Florida. The walls are lined with gigantic paint chips in order of color and the ceiling with squiggly lines of color that move opposite the moving walkway. They change color and dance through the "sky" causing anyone who's not immune to smiling to look up. If you are really into it, you won't hear the constant repetition of "moving walkway is ending, please look down." 9 out of 10 times through that tunnel, I have seen someone stumble at the end.

So, my goal for the rest of my business travel this year is to find the redeeming quality of the airports I go through. O'Hare, thanks for the tunnel! It always makes me smile!

I will start trying to think of something nice to say about the North Terminal in Detroit. So far I am coming up empty. OH, EMPTY! That's it! It's empty! Which means there's always a place to sit! Thanks DTW for allowing me to sit by an outlet and charge my phone before my flight!

Friday, March 11, 2011


To those who know me well, you know that I inherited a MASSIVE sweet tooth, likely from Grandma Peg. And for those who don't believe that can be genetically passed through generations, the nurture vs. nature battle continues. I will agree that I may have learned my sweet tooth, but that learning would also be from Gram. So, I will still say I inherited it!

For my practice wedding, Gram gave me a wooden recipe box that had several of her recipes in it, hand-written when her beautiful handwriting was still fairly decipherable. Some of the recipes include Almond crunch brittle, Texas sheet cake, vanilla ice cream, German chocolate cake, Gram's chocolate cake, and yes, her infamous chocolate chip cookies. Can you see the theme?

And those recipes I have made taste just like I remember. I will also say that the cookie recipe make a lot of cookies. Maybe because the 3 cups of chocolate chips bulks up the volume. Or maybe it's the three sticks of butter. Regardless, they are pretty darn good cookies!

And I made a batch last night. I have found that sometimes after lunch I like to have a bite of something sweet. And while Whole Foods makes some pretty awesome chocolate chip cookies, they are 99 cents each (which is not THAT expensive) but they are really big. And here's my problem: when I want a cookie, I want A cookie...meaning the WHOLE thing. I try to break it in half but always end up eat both halves. So isn't it better to make cookies at home that are small in size so that I can scratch the itch without over indulging? I sure think so.

And I've tried "healthy" cookies, but they aren't the same. On the days when I want a cookie, I want the dumb cookie. I have found that it's better to have one good cookie than to eat the healthy one and still want a good one. So, here's the justification for me:

For as long as I am running 12 miles a week or more, and have activity a total of 5 days or more every week, we can have cookies in the house and I can have a cookie on the days I want a cookie, which is most of them. If I stop running, I stop baking. If that's not incentive to run, I don't know what is!

Oh, and I am taking half of the cookies from yesterday to Mom and Dad on Sunday. They are meeting me in Detroit for dinner Sunday night and staying the night at the same hotel so we can hang out. I have a presentation Monday morning and fly back to Denver Monday night. Quick trip, but I'll be back in April for a couple of days.

And we couldn't possibly eat all the cookies this recipe makes before the go bad. So, it's better to share! And we have a really small freezer.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute

Woodsy the Owl is a staple from my childhood. And a wise old owl he was. Way better than the "Don't Mess with Texas" anti-littering campaign from the 70's and 80's. At least for children it was better!

A few weeks ago Chris and I were watching TV and heard the strangest noise coming from outside. The dogs were snooping around in the back yard so we figured it was them. I let them in, but the noise continued.

After 30 minutes of pure annoyance, it was time to figure out where on earth the noise was coming from and what was causing it. I grabbed the gigantic maglite flashlight and headed outside (Reuger in tow, nothing will attack me if he's with me. I know, I am a total wus!).

It only took a minute outside to figure out that the noise was coming from an owl, but his whereabouts were still undetermined. Then all of a sudden, this HUGE flying thing was aimed at what I thought was my head...pretty sure I didn't look like food to the big old owl, but nonetheless I felt like I was being dive-bombed by a WWII bomber plane. That bird was huge! But his flight was so smooth and with what looked like little effort, as quickly as he appeared, he was gone into the open space beyond the reach of the flashlight.

He's been back many times since we "made" him, but rather than being terrified, I am excited. Woodsy has made our rooftop his lookout point during many late evenings for the last few weeks. How cool is that? We have a resident owl!

Well, it's not cool. SOOOO not cool. Did you know owls only hang out where there is prey? That means that our neighborhood apparently has an abundance of small critters that Woodsy finds delectable. Awesome.

When I was in 6th grade we went to an overnight camp (Camp Rotary in Clare, MI I think?). One of our science projects during the camp was to learn all about the owls that lived in the woods and how they ate, digested and...ummm...well..."passed" their food. Owls "spit" things called an "owl pellet" which contains the non-yummy parts of prey, like the fur and bones. We actually had to dissect one and identify the critter consumed as dinner. Gross.

However, that experience leads me to today and ties in this entirely random blog post. Woodsy left a gift for us on our back deck last night. Part of me wants to say, "thanks for getting the mouse before he got in my house," while the other part of me wants to shoot the owl for spitting the carcass of a field mouse on the deck for the dogs to find.

Either way, it's part of the food chain and also inevitable when you live so close to so much open space. We have elk crossing sings only 3 miles from the house.

So, I will end on this note:
Dear Woodsy the Owl. I was a good kid and gave a hoot and didn't pollute (much). I'd appreciate the same in return, and if you must "pollute" your pellets, please continue your flight an additional 10 feet to the other side of the fence line. Please and thank you.

Now swoop on my friend, swoop on!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras has never been a thing in my family. Maybe it's because I wasn't raised Catholic. Maybe it's because we never gave up something for Lent so there was no need for Fat Tuesday. Regardless, I have always thought the parties and theme of Mardi Gras seemed like fun. I've never been to or thrown a party with such a theme, but this year we've been invited to one and I am pretty excited.

For Chris, Mardi Gras marks the beginning of mudbug season ("mudbug" is slang for "crawfish," and you get thrown out of the South if you call them "crayfish") and the official spring party of the south: the Crawfish Boil.

Crawfish Boils are an all-day event. It begins with the purging of the critters in a gigantic water and salt filled drainable vessel, usually a cooler of some sort. The mini-lobsters will play in there until they are empty of disgusting stuff, then get a quick rinse off and before making the nosedive into a turkey fryer bath of boiling water, Old Bay seasoning, halved potatoes, third-ears of corn and chunks of andouille (pronounced an-dewy) sausage. The critters will cook away in there until the potatoes are cooked through and the corn is bright yellow, being stirred often with long "spoons" such as hockey sticks, golf clubs, baseball bats and the occasional bar stool leg.

When ready for consumption, the mudbugs, sausage, corn and potatoes will be dumped onto a picnic table, card table, patio table, or any combination of the three, covered in newspaper, a salt shaker and the leftover Old Bay, where the boil attendees will eat with their hands while they ingest the first tastes of Spring in the south.

And let's not forget the King Cake. But be very careful to not eat the baby. I think it's very bad luck.

With beads and masks abound, it is sure to be a perfect evening with two friends and 26 strangers. Few parties bring a group of people together like the shared love of a Crawfish Boil.

I have only been to one other Crawfish Boil, Chris was the host and we had only been dating for a month. The party was so much fun, and new friends were made. However, the cleanup of the crawfish shells almost resulted in a trip to the ER for me: swollen tongue and violent vomiting. Turns out I am allergic to mudbugs (and other water-dwellers from the crustacean family). For this party, I will be taking food I can eat and will keep my utensils in my pocket until I am finished eating...Once the eating begins, most people don't think about what they have touched and what may happen if I get the goobers on my hands and into my mouth. It's pretty unpleasant and VERY embarrassing.

Saturday night is sure to be full of fun, adventure, new friends, old friends, and plenty of laughs. Too bad my flight leaves at 6:00 am on Sunday morning for Detroit. Sigh. It will also be an early night.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A perfect weekend

Traveling across the country for a quick trip is something I am no stranger to. I've been doing that for the better part of 6 years now and in all truth, most of the time I enjoy it. I get to see new cities and appreciate them for all their glory, sometimes grand and sometimes well, not as grand. But really it's the people that make places special. Even in Stuttgart Arkansas!

The weekend was really special for me, and Angie. I spent three perfect days with my best friend and her three incredible children. Luke and Lydia, the twins, were born at 27 weeks...and I was there three days after they were born. It was the most terrifying feeling so see them weigh less than 3 pounds and fit in the palm of my hand. I love those little buggers like they were my own.

In the visits I have made to visit the three muskateers, I have fed them, held them and flawlessly executed a midnight feeding so mom and dad could sleep. I have been puked on, peed on, and yes, even pooped on. We have played and laughed, and learned new words. And I have learned so much about unconditional love that I can't even begin to put into words. With the twins there were a few months were we didn't know if they both would make it. With all the worries of such a premature birth, so many problems would arise every day. But on February 6th Luke and Lydia celebrated their third birthday and in October, the perfectly charming, incredibly smart little miss smiley face, Eloise will be 2.

Here's a picture of Lydia that Angie took today. She sent to to me in an email with this note:

Lydia coming home from school today. She brought Raggedy Ann to show the class and said her great grandma made it for her!! :) We miss you! Lydia asked if you were sleeping downstairs this morning!

Have a great week!! Xoxo

Grandma Peg made that Raggedy Ann for her, and an Andy doll for Luke. They love those dolls more than any other doll they have. When I told Lydia that my mimi (that's what she calls grandma's) made Raggedy Ann for her, she asked if my mimi is her mimi too. I told her that my grandma would be kind of like her great grandma. She was so excited that Auntie Jenna's mimi made the dolls that she told her entire world. How cute is that!

We have decided to do this every 6 months. But the next trip, Angie gets the break and will come out here for the weekend! I can't wait, although I will miss the kids. A lot.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A moment to VENT

I have had a rough couple of mornings. And I want to vent it out. One part of me says, "YES, write it, do it, come on, you know you want to." While the other part of me says, "Don't. Nobody wants to read that, and blogs are not the place for whining."

So, today I am giving in to the inner voice that doesn't always guide me in the right direction. And because I don't want to completely whine, I am going to put my "beefs" into list form today. A good list always makes me feel better.

  1. Yesterday both dogs puked. I have nothing else to say about that.
  2. So that I don't fall behind in my training, I had to do my long run this morning. I know it was only 4 miles, but it felt like 100. But on the plus side, I get to go to Cleveland this weekend to see Angie and family. Which I am just over the moon about! So excited I can hardly stand it! But I am hurting a little this morning from the run.
  3. After the never ending run, I hit the shower. I barely had my toes dried before Chris came in and said, "Abby is doing the lick-and-gag. What do you want me to do with her?" Really? He couldn't just do SOMETHING? Before 7:30 this morning I had run 4 miles, unloaded the dishwasher, took the trash out and showered. He got up at 7:30. I love my husband, but dealing with pet-drama isn't one of his fortes apparently. So he locked her in the bathroom with me. Awesome.
  4. For those of you who don't know what the lick-and-gag is, it's the vicious cycle (caused by allergies) our beagle goes through, and the wind up sometimes takes more than 30 minutes before the puke. See my first note. Enough said.
  5. I barricaded Abby in the kitchen in that I had a conference call to conduct. So, after finishing said call, I went downstairs and cleaned up the mess, which was easy compared to yesterday's projectile on me and the carpet.
  6. Finally had a moment to make some breakfast. I evidently lost track of how much water I was putting in my oatmeal this morning. I ended up with something more along the lines of cream of wheat. It was cinnamon flavored mush with a banana. Doubly mushy but not inedible.
  7. While nuking my oatmeal I noticed that the sweet potato we planned to have with dinner tonight looked kinda funny. When I touched it, it almost disintegrated in my hands. Completely rotten. Guess I'll have to go pick up another one after JA today.
  8. I have a flight tomorrow morning at 6:00 connecting through Chicago O'Hare. After yesterday and today, Karma is either going to say to me "Sorry kiddo, I tried to warn you," or (and this is the one I am really hoping for), "You've put up with enough for this week, I'll let you off easy." Either way I won't be surprised with what I believe to be the inevitable delay.
I am starting to think that McFarlane luck doesn't apply to just travel anymore, but to the entire week leading up to travel. I can't control any of this (except the oatmeal incident) so I am going to brush it off and chalk it up to "I have a pretty stinking easy life and every now and then I need to be reminded of what parents go through DAILY."

So, in short, kudos to all you moms out there. Holy catfish do you do a lot for your families!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

To shuffle or not to shuffle...

I have the second version of the iPod Shuffle. It is tiny and clips to my shirt or jacket or whatever garment I want to clip it to. That little bugger has been my exercise motivator for more than three years and it's still going strong. Well, strong enough anyway.

After running with my iPhone in an arm band and listening to XM radio, I realized that changing stations mid-run is too difficult without stopping, and for as much as I love XM, the stations that I listen to on a run are rather repetitive and often have morning mini-countdowns. That means that there is no more variety on the super-clunky-phone-launched-XM app than there is on my iPhod shuffle.

Over the weekend I loaded the shuffle up with 5 hours worth of "new" music. It certainly isn't new, but it isn't what I hear on the radio all day long either, and some of the songs are my all-time favorites. So, here's my conundrum: Should I shuffle the music (which means the iPod will pick which song to play next and is totally random) or listen in some sort of order?

I haven't figured out how to make the little bugger play the songs in the order I tell it. My choices are alpha by song, alpha by artist or shuffled. I don't like alpha by artist because I end up hearing three John Mayer songs followed by three John Mellencamp songs. That's annoying. I like them and all, but not all at one time. I like to spread the wealth!

The only problem with shuffling is that the iPod will often latch on to a few songs and play them during every run and completely ignore others. So, then, does alpha by song make sense? The only complaint is that all the "Dancing" songs play back-to-back. Which is OK.

Here's the beauty of alpha by song: Today I heard George Michael sing "Faith" (and yes I could see the video in my mind from 9th grade...didn't know what gay was then!) followed by the CMU Marching Bad playing the "Fight Song" and Scissor Sisters singing "I Don't Feel Like Dancing"

Today was a record pace for me. 3 miles in 36 minutes flat!!!