Thursday, April 29, 2010

Race Day

Those of you who know me well know that I'm a runner at heart.  That doesn't mean I'm very fast or even that I run very often right now, but it's still my favorite way to exercise.  And I still get so nostalgic for my high school cross country days whenever I run in or visit a  race.

A couple of years ago our school introduced an amazing and empowering new program called,  Girls on the Run .  When Cami first joined that  inaugural group I thought it was just about running and I was thrilled even for that, but it turns out it was so much more.  Along with the season of training to run a 5k together, they also learn about healthy eating habits, developing a healthy body image, and effective ways to deal with stress.  It truly is an inspired program which I've been proud to have my girls participate in.

 Since the girls must be in 3rd grade before they can join, this was Emma's first year to participate.  We were somewhat disappointed when, after the season began, we realized that the final race was held on Sunday this year.  We debated about what to do, since we definitely did not want her to miss out on the feeling of accomplishment from running the 5k, but also did not want to run on the Sabbath.  Serendipitously our high school was sponsoring a 5k run this past Saturday.  We were a little hesitant that it would work for Emma since it's an entire month earlier than her official GOTR race would have been and she hadn't worked up to that distance yet in her practices.  However, in the end,  we decided that being surrounded by the familiar faces of people from her elementary school (some kids, mostly teachers), would make it the next best thing to running with her team. With Adam an eager miler in the fun run, thus began our family day at the races.

Since Glen consistently runs 6-7 miles at a time, he got the job of accompanying Emma.  My heart melted when we went to cheer them on in the middle of the race and found them sticking together like glue with Glen giving Emma little pep talks to keep her spirits up.  *sniff* 


I thought I was taking the easy job when I agreed to run with Adam.  It's only a mile after all and he's only in first grade.  I really didn't think it could be that bad, but I was....WRONG!!  Adam's legs may be a lot shorter than mine, but that kid of mine is a fast runner.  I was feeling pretty stupid at how much I was struggling to keep up with him, but when we crossed the finish line with a mile time of 7:30  I didn't feel quite so badly anymore.  I'm pretty sure I haven't run that fast in about 20 years or so. 


Afterward they were both beaming with pride and my eyes were watery.    Watching them work hard and run through the pain is a sight that never fails to inspire me. 

Way to go Emma and Adam!

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Best Birthday Ever

 I've thought many times about how cool it would be to be wealthy and to be able to go around and do random nice things for people...like paying their rent.  Or buying their groceries.  Or starting a scholarship fund.    But for as cool as it sounded, it always seemed too hard.  We're not wealthy and my life is crazy busy.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I read here about a woman who decided to celebrate her birthday by performing random acts of kindness around town....one for every year of her life.

So it was, that I realized that while we may not be wealthy, we certainly aren't destitute either.  I decided to copycat her idea and celebrate my 37th birthday by spending the week performing 37 random acts of kindness. I hesitated sharing this special experience here in a public forum, but decided that since I had been inspired by someone else, that perhaps I, too, may inspire someone else to start their own ripples of kindness, thereby perpetuating the good going forward.


Here is my report:  


*  NOTE:  Many of the gift cards I used during this kindness spree were ones that I had saved from gifts I had received earlier, so it wasn't quite as expensive to do this as it looks on the surface.  I also requested my husband not to buy me any fancy gifts for my birthday, so that we could use the money for this instead.
 

1.  Let Emma and friends hold a cookie and water stand in the front yard, despite me being busy and not really wanting to have to clean up from a 9-year-old cookie baking spree--it sure made their day though when they each earned a couple dollars from nice neighbors who humored them and their latest foray into the business world


2.  Let the preschool kids come over for a last minute playdate when the teacher had sick kids
 

 3.  Took a walk around the neighborhood and picked up 2 bags full of trash--I was shocked at how much trash we found, especially in the area near the busy road.  We decided we need to do this on a more regular basis.  


4. Made homemade bread and brought it to the kids' teachers for no reason

5.  Sent a surprise package to unsuspecting recipient

6.  Paid for car behind me at Chick-fil-A drive-through--this was actually one of the first "jobs" of my kindness spree and I was totally unprepared for how choked up I got when I looked through the rear-view mirror and saw her previously somber face turn into a big grin at being told that her bill had been paid

7. Visa gift card set on the front seat of a car with an open window
8.  Gave a friend an unexpected gift

9. Forgave Cami and didn't ground her for 25 years when she announced my actual age from the pulpit during her sacrament meeting talk today--I figured since I was announcing my age here for the world wide web to know, I couldn't get too mad at her

10. Taped a grocery store gift card  to the windshield of car in elementary school parking lot--I found I really liked the anonymity of putting things on people's cars. 


11. Gave balloons to a family with 4 kids--This was a good lesson on sharing for Ellie, who was insanely jealous that I had not gotten her a balloon as well.

12. Brought an unexpected dinner to a family who is moving soon

13.Taped exact change onto 3 vending machines


14. Gave money to a homeless person in DC--it sounds small, but it's definitely something I don't do on a regular basis

15. Taped  goofy candy bar notes onto 2 people's windshields


16.  Paid for someone's dinner at McDonald's

17. Donated generously to Gifts of the Heart (a church sponsored clothing and household item exchange)

18. Taped packs of gum with nice notes onto 2 car's windows
 
19. Carried bulky bags for a friend while she ran in a race

20. On the way out the door after eating my birthday dinner at Chevy's, dropped a gift card onto a neighboring table 

21. Brought an unexpected dinner to a friend having a crazy day--this is one of those things that I need to do more often.  While I'm always willing to sign-up to bring a dinner, sometimes I don't think of the people who haven't asked for help. 

22.  Sent an old friend a "real" letter.  You know the kind you have to put a stamp onto.


23.  Taped a Barnes and Noble gift card  to the windshield of car
 24.  Walked into Target and handed a lady a Target gift card--she actually didn't seem very excited about it, but still I felt strongly that she was the right person to give it to.

25.  Dropped a basket of flowers off at a random person's house

26.  Taped an Itunes gift card onto the windshield of a car 

27.  Brought treats and cards to local fire station to say, "Thanks for serving our community."
28.  Didn't yell at the kids when they were grumpy and quarreling on my birthday

29.  Found a lady walking in the park and handed her an Itunes gift card 

30.  Brought treats and a note to someone who just moved in

31.  Gathered stray carts scattered around a parking lot and returned them to the store--this one was something that was actually noticed by the store manager who was quite happy and expressed his gratitude. 

32.   Left kind notes in random places

33.  Brought a bottle of laundry soap with several quarters taped to it and dropped them off at the local laundromat

34.  Paid for car behind us at McDonald's drive-through--this probably ended up being one of my favorite ways to surprise people.  I got to see their reaction through the rear-view mirror, but did not have to talk to them. 

35.  Handed out lollipops to children after church was over--sorry if I sent your kids home on a sugar high 
36. Put an Itunes gift card on the front seat of someone's car

37.  Said yes to the kids when they wanted to eat spaghetti and meatball dinner outside in the yard--I'm quite sure our neighbors think we are a little on the strange side, but, hey, it made the kids happy and kept the meatballs off our floor! 


Although, there's no way I could keep up this frenetic pace of handing people gift cards and candy, I do hope that in the future that I will better be able to recognize opportunities for reaching out to others...in large and small ways.  It truly was an experience of a life-time and I want to thank my family for being supportive of our crazy adventures that took us all over town.  It truly was the best birthday ever.  :) 

Acts of kindness are like pebbles tossed into a reflecting pool. The ripples radiate outward long after the deed is done.



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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cookies and Cuties

 This week I am tense, tired, and unfocused.  I've spent all day every day running non-stop and at the end of the day can't figure out what it was that I've accomplished in all that running.

I guess that's why I'm craving chocolate chip cookies with every fiber of my being today.  Warm, soft, right out of the oven, and oozing with melted chocolate.  I've pretty much thought of little else since about 10:00 this morning.   Drool. drool. drool.  A little bit of snappiness, a whole lot of drooling,  and three-fourths of a pack of gum later and I think I can say that I've officially conquered one of the strongest sugar cravings I've experienced yet.

On days like this though, there is one craving I can't get enough of....
It's the anticipation of waking up in the morning and wondering what outfit my five-year-old will put together today.  And I hesitate to admit this, but I crave the backwards shirts and tutus over pants with the cowboy boots, more than I crave a cute matching outfit, because it never fails to put a smile on my face.  I seriously hope she takes a long, long time to outgrow this eclectic fashion sense, because this is one craving that won't give me fat thighs.  :)

(PS--I planted all that random stuff in my car, so as not to make anyone feel badly about my spotlessly clean car.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My week in NUMB3RS

1 field trip on Wednesday, 1 field trip on Friday, 1 more field trip on Thursday
2 stores in 1 afternoon to restock my empty fridge
3 days of preschool at my house in the last week
4 times of rebooting the computer yesterday before it got off the system recovery screen
5:15 the alarm clock rings
6 hours of sleep I've been averaging lately
7 times a day I wonder where my brain has gone
8 people I feed and take care of every day
9 or so treats I turn down each week (it's getting easier now)
10 loads of laundry I fold each week (at least)
25-30 minutes each day it takes me just to drive home from Spencer's high school in the evenings
60 degrees and gorgeous this week
100% excited for the weekend already

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Monday, April 19, 2010

30 Things to Blog About

I'm having a major writing block tonight, so I've decided that this post will be dedicated to an uncensored brainstormed list of ideas for blog topics that I can write about another night, when my brain is slightly less frazzled.  Feel free to vote for your favorite ideas (or go ahead and use them as a springboard for your own post). 

1.  My favorite guilty pleasures
2.  The names I almost named my kids
3. My life in Haiku
4. Facebook--love it or hate it
5.  Photo walk of my neighborhood in spring
6.  A spotlight on my favorite children's books
7.  Bake off of two celebrities' recipes
8.  How I met my husband
9.  An insider's guide for touring a local attraction
10.  Favorite board games
11.  What I wish I'd known when I first had kids
12.  Celebrities I wish I could meet and which ones I never want to meet
13.  Why keeping me up late at night is a bad idea
14.  Talking to kids about the birds and the bees
15.  A heated discussion on the ObamaCare
16.  The hazards of naming kids with unusually spelled names
17. Things I said I'd never do
18.  My least favorite children's toys
19.  The pros and cons of dog ownership
20.   My favorite cookbook and why
21.  Pet peeves
22.  My idea of comfort food
23.  The best household shortcuts I know
24.  My basement--what color should we paint it?
25.  My favorite cheap/free date night ideas
26.  Cheap/free things to do with the kids
27.   Why blogging is a stress reliever for me
28.   5 things I wish I knew how to do
29.   All about my dream vacation destination
30.  A day in the life of Lara


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Friday, April 16, 2010

Flashback Friday: Cool Factor

Crying at the grocery store, climbing into our bed at night, emptying off the bookshelves again, eating only bread and cheese for 3 days straight....

Yep, I hate to say it, but I'm afraid all those other moms were right...those really were the good old days! 

I mean, seriously, look at me.  I had naturally brown hair,  size 6 pants,  and that cute chunky toddler on Glen's shoulders (and the little preschooler taking this photo) thought we were the coolest people in the world.

I'd take a pee puddled floor any day of the week to regain just a small fraction of that cool factor back! 

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Confessions of a Guilty Conscience

Confession #1-- I wanted to forthrightly divulge that even if Emma had come up with a science fair project with the intent to maim innocent creatures of the earth in a microwave, that she would have been kaboshed within 2 seconds by the approval committee who seem to have an aversion to that sort of thing. 

Confession #2--The picture of the science fair board was hijacked from the Fail blog

Confession #3--The topic of Emma's science fair project was assigned to them by their teacher after they took too long to decide. 

Confession #4--Their exact same project is done by at least 43,209 students across America in any given year.  50 bucks if you can guess what it is.    Here's a hint...it has something to do with something in this post

Confession #5--My hypothesis was not disproved.

Confession #6--I don't have 50 cents in my wallet, yet alone 50 bucks.


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 Deanne wins with a perfect guess!

Before: 

Photobucket


30 seconds in a bottle:
 
Photobucket


After: 


Conclusion:  







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Monday, April 12, 2010

I ♥ Desserts

I haven't been participating very much with I ♥ Faces lately (could be that my photography skills are roughly equal to my singing skills), but since the theme this week  is dessert week and with me going on my third month without sweets (except on Sundays), I figure I could do with a little reminiscing over my old well-loved delicious desserts.  I had over 100 to choose from over on my recipe blog.    This photo is of my Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, which is divinely decadent, rich and creamy, perfectly peanut buttery and chocolatey.  And, doggone it,  I haven't had it in months and it's making me use lots of run-on sentences.


Be sure to head on over to I ♥ Faces to check out lots of other sweet photos!



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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Who's in Charge?

 I hate being in charge.

Well, maybe I should qualify that.  I actually like being in charge when it's something I feel passionately about.  Like preschool.  Or teaching my kids chew with their mouths closed.  

But when it comes to other stuff, I'd prefer to be a follower.  Give me a job and I'll do it.  And a decent job at that.   I just don't like being a taskmaster. 

Take science fair projects, for example.  I usually avoid them, but if my kids are required to do one, I'd rather not have to collaborate with anybody else to make it happen.  Trying to coordinate schedules is one thing, but figuring out which mom is in charge is a nightmare.

Right now Emma is in the middle of a required project with 2 other people.  Direction on the project is loose, to say the least, and it is abundantly clear that neither of the other 2 parents is willing to take charge and make things happen.

A small part of me wants to take over and just get the darn project over with, but I'm having a bit of an attitude problem about it all...

A) I don't like forced science fair projects and I'm not very good at them.

B) I have more kids' schedules to work around than the other 2 parents combined.

C)  I spend enough of my life trying to keep my own kids on task.  Giving me temporary power over a couple of extra kids may just go to my head and cause me to declare myself dictator over the entire universe and no one wants that to happen. 

D)  I prefer thinking my opinions are correct and don't like having my hypotheses disproved.

So, in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation, I've opted for the "benevolent dictator" approach.  Emma picks the project.  They perform the experiment at their houses...



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Friday, April 9, 2010

Homework Equation


With a high schooler and a middle schooler in the house, we've been having more of our fair share of late night homework sessions lately.  With the younger kids, I'm a stickler for getting all their work done before playing, but with the older kids I feel like I need to let them have a little more freedom with their time management.   One child, however, seems to fiddle around all afternoon only to break out their thick stack of homework after dinner.   Sadly, it reminds me of myself when I was a student.

 The last couple of weeks have been particularly bad with some end-of-quarter projects coming due.  A couple of times have found her up well past mid-night plugging away at some power point presentation or history timeline.  

In one way I feel so bad for her getting so little sleep on a school night, but on the other hand I feel like she's brought in on herself with her poor prioritizing habits.

So, now, on the parenting end of this equation, I have a dilemma.  Ideally I prefer to be up when my kids are up---to be there to lend support by trying to keep them on task, being there to bounce ideas off of, and being there to tell them that it's good enough to go to bed.  I guess, I just like letting them know I'm there.

I have a problem though.  With the arrival of early morning seminary into our household, not only do I have very limited function after about 10:30pm, but I also get kind of mean and surly when I'm up late at night.    

So, now I wonder....do I go to bed and leave them to their own devices way into the wee hours of the morning to finish their project, knowing that I'll be nicer and happier the next day?  Or do I sacrifice my own sleep (and my next day's functionality) and stay up with them to show support?  I truly feel torn.

What do you do in your house?   What about when you were a student?

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What Rhymes with Easter?

Easter eggs.  Some muddy, some bright.  
All of them tasty and won't last a night.  


Baskets on the head.  
Quite a funny tradition, they said. 
I say, good thing they weren't filled with lead! 


Ready, set, go.
They're off to find their Easter treasure,
mixed with fun beyond measure.



Frilly skirts and muddy feet,
Make for an Easter princess, so sweet. 


With his candy all eaten,
He just couldn't be beaten.
Eggs for breakfast, eggs for lunch,
We didn't keep count, but he sure ate a bunch!  


 If the phone you cannot find,
Just look with my Cami dear
it's likely implanted in her ear.
Just don't try to take her eggs
She'll probably swat you on the legs.
Hope you all had a Happy Easter
and, um, didn't once fall upon your keester. 


(Hehe.   It was either "keester" or some made up word like seester or meester. )
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Random Cute Picture...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Going to the Beach (Lara Style)

1.  Tell the kids for weeks in advance that we'll figure out somewhere fun to go during our week long Spring Break.

2.  Let Monday-Thursday of Spring Break go by without making any plans and filling the time with  playdates, school projects, the playground, and one day trip.
  A song about a "straight A nerd", a chicken, and slope intercept form all set to "Don't Stop Believin'" will earn Cami extra credit in algebra, but ended up taking up an entire day of our Spring Break to host her group. 

3.  In desperation on Friday morning (that Glen has taken off work), waffle back and forth between 3 possible places we can still pull off that last minute....  Philadelphia, Assateague Island, or Baltimore. 

4.  Since it's 80° and sunny we finally choose to go camping on the beach at Assateague Island

5.  Start packing camping supplies,  etc.

6.  Have a PMS induced meltdown when we realize that the campgrounds don't accept reservations this early in the year.   

7.  Get a hotel reservation and tell the disappointed kids to put away their warm camping clothes and pack tshirts, shorts, and swimsuits.  

8.  Finally roll out of the house mid-afternoon and get caught in beltway traffic.

9.  Arrive to Assateague Island after a 4-hour car ride and see the Campground FULL signs and resist yelling, "I told you so," at the whole family.

10.  Get out of the car and realize that it's it at least 30° cooler than it was when we left DC.

11.  Take lots of pictures of shivering kids in the beautiful setting sun and realize that we have no plans whatsoever for our time at the freezing beach. 

12.  Eat dinner at 8:30.

13.  Go to the hotel and relish in the fact that we're sleeping in a warm bed instead of on the lumpy ground.

14.  Wake up, drive to Ocean City and realize that it's about 45° and windy as heck.

15.  Go back to the car and fish out coats, jackets, and hats for every member of the family.  Thank heavens I hadn't done my twice yearly car cleaning lately.


16.   Go with the flow, buy a couple kites, and take advantage of the brisk wind.

 my husband is a manly man who didn't need to stoop to wearing winter attire on the beach

17.  Spend the next few hours flying kites, digging/laying in the sand, and collecting sea shells.

trying to keep warm

18.  Grab a quick lunch and head back home just in time for Glen and Spencer to head to the Priesthood session and me to grocery shop for my still unplanned Easter dinner.

 We always have something citrus-y for dessert on Easter (usually lemon meringue pie), but Cami ended up making this amazing citrus cheesecake for us this year.  Yum-o-licious!

19.  Subject my friends to a long-winded, rambling account of how disorganized I really am.

20.  Then subject those same friends to 47,000 pictures of my family at the beach...



Spencer was trying so hard to suppress a smile in all the pictures.  Fact was, he was laughing hysterically 2 seconds after this picture was taken. 


I don't know where all of Assateague's wild horses were hiding, but we only saw a couple while we were there.



Strict sea shell limits were implemented to ensure that we didn't have to buy a trailer to take them all home in. 

Kite flying was exciting for about 5-minutes. 

Ellie face-planted it right into the frigid water at Assateague Island.  She was really mad at me for taking a picture of her in her misery, but she so rarely gets upset about anything, I thought it was cute.  


I wish I looked this cute in the whipping wind and fog.


The world's most frazzle headed woman (and her patient husband)

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