Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mother/Son 5K

So this morning, bright an early, Mason and I drove to City High School in Iowa City to participate in the "Get Moving" 5K.  This 5K is a fundraiser for our local school clinics, which happen to be run by many of my colleagues- nurse practitioners.  My running buddy and I thought it would be a good idea to do the run along with our two oldest kids (both first graders).  I was unsure how long we would actually run and what kind of whining I would have to deal with during the run. 

Mason did great!  He ran the first mile and then ran/walked the rest of the race.  Primarily walking up hills, but otherwise was always moving.  He really enjoyed it.  He started talking about how he wanted to do it next year with dad and Kate too.  I think my favorite question/quote of the run was "Mom do I get to throw my cup down on the street?"- this in reference to the water stations that were thankfully set at mile 1 and mile 2.5.  It was worth the early rising and I'm so glad to have had this experience with him.

He's excited to put another ribbon on his bulletin board.

Friday, August 26, 2011

168 hours

There are 168 hours in a week—this is a new approach to getting the most out of them It’s an unquestioned truth of modern life: we are all starved for time. With the rise of two-income families, extreme jobs, and the ability to log on to the world 24/7, life is so frenzied we can barely breathe. But what if we actually have plenty of time? What if we could sleep eight hours a night, exercise five days a week, and learn how to play the piano without sacrificing work, family time, or any other activity that is important to us? According to Laura Vanderkam, we can. If we re-examine our weekly allotment of 168 hours, we’ll find that, with a little reorganization and prioritizing, we can dedicate more time to the things we want to do without having to make sacrifices.--

So I kind of fell upon this book when looking for another book in the library.  It is in the "self help" section, and sometimes "self help" books can put me off, because a lot of "self help" books are basically one person's views on how to take care of a problem/issue.  However, this book is not one person's views.  Laura Vanderkam interviewed several people and used their life stories to get different points across about time management.  As you should know by now I love writing down favorite quotes/ideas I read from books no matter the genre of book- so here are a few I loved from this book.

"When you focus on what you do best, on what brings you the satisfaction there is plenty of space for everything".

"If you want others to believe you are successful, it helps to believe this yourself."

"The point is to treat your children like privileged clients. You have to think through the time you are going to spend together because it is valuable."

"A good marriage gives you great energy for achieving success in all parts of life."

"If you have a busy life, you simply can't leave your most meaningful leisure activities to chance".

"Thou art worth every moment"- Rachmaninoff's Vespers movement 4

There were different activities the author has you do throughout the book.  For example writing your list of 100 dreams.  Pretty sad, but when I did this activity I made it to about 30 and then started to struggle with what else I want to do in my life.  This list makes you aware of different areas of your life you need to focus on in order to accomplish dreams (i.e. family, travel, work, exercise, etc).  She had numerous statistics throughout the book on how people spend their time.  For example, looking at "time-diary studies" of large population found that in "1975 married parents spent 12.4 hours with each other, without the kids each week.  by 2000, that was down to 9.1 hours".  Sometimes numbers can be awakening and it made me look at how I spend my own "168 hours". She has different chapters throughout the book to evaluate different times in our 168 hours.  For instance, a whole chapter on work.  She made me further evaluate my own work time.  How much time during the work day do I spend responding to emails/phone calls and generally "chatting" with co-workers instead of focusing on projects or work that is more relevant to getting done what I need and want to in order to be successful in my career.  

One of her activities in the book was filling out your own 168 hours spreadsheet to help you evaluate where you are spending your time.   I did not do the spreadsheet on my own weekly time management, but I think I may try to do it in one of the upcoming weeks.  I think it would be a good tool to help me evaluate just how much quality time (not caregiving time) I spend with my kids, how much time I spend with Matt (again real  time), and how much time I have left or have to focus on getting some of my 100 dreams done. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a way to better utilize their own "168 hours".  Her blog is pretty interesting too.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Zucchini and Books...

I had half of this post all ready to go, but in my non-techno-savy way of being me must have done something because when I went back to edit the post all I had was two sentences and the picture of this book cover- ARGH! So here I go again.  I'll try to be as enthusiastic as I was about this post first time around.  

This book was very good and it read pretty quickly, because I wanted to know what was going to happen.  This is not a feel good book.  It deals with some heavy subject matter, but it was still very enjoyable- I know sound morbid, but I really enjoyed the plot and the character development.  I had read about this book awhile ago and put it on my "to read" list. However, I didn't read the jacket cover when starting to read the book.  So I went into this book with really no idea about the story line.  It was interesting, but I do think some of my "bookies" (book club girls) would remark that the first 1/2 was a little slow.  However, I didn't mind the time she took developing the character and the last 1/2 flew by.  I don't want to say much more and give the story away.  I really liked it.

The Second book I'm highlighting in this post was something I somewhat fell upon- can't really remember how I found it.  It is called Gift from the Sea.  It is written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh  and it was published in 1955. 

Here is my friend Wiki's take... 
While on vacation on Florida's Captiva Island in the early 1950s, Lindbergh wrote this essay-style work taking shells on the beach for inspiration, and reflecting on the lives of Americans, particularly American women, in the mid-twentieth century. She shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment during her visit.

This book was another short read, there weren't any page numbers in the copy I borrowed from local library.  I might have been drawn to this book because I kind of feel like I'm going through an almost "35 year old" crisis- go ahead laugh :).  I just have felt a tad bit lost, angry and becoming cynical about life.  I also was drawn to this book because I've been to Captiva Island and have enjoyed my time when I've been on this Gulf side Florida island.  It's sister Sanibel Island is where I have stayed twice with my family, but connected to it is Captiva and we have driven to it's wonderful beaches to enjoy some soft sand/clear water rest and relaxation. 

Here is the introduction to her book.  I have enclosed it because I think it really speaks to how no matter time or class (she was way above my economic status) women/men/people can have some of the same feelings/needs.  I've also enclosed some of my favorite quotes from the book.  At times the book read like poetry, which I'm not the biggest fan of, but I felt like I had to pay attention to what she was saying to really grasp her points. 

I began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work and human relationships.  And since I think best with a pencil in my hand, I started naturally to write.  I had the feeling, when the thoughts first clarified on paper, that my experience was very different from other people's.  (Are we all under this illusion?) My situation had, in certain ways, more freedom than that of most people, and in certain other ways, much less.
    Besides, I thought, not all women are searching for a new pattern of living, or want a contemplative corner of their own.  Many women are content with their lives as they are.  They manage amazingly well, far better than I, it seemed to me, looking at their lives from the outside.  With envy and admiration, I observed the porcelain perfection of their smoothly ticking days.  Perhaps they had no problems, or had found the answers long ago.  No, I decided, these discussions would have value and interest only for myself. 
    But as I went on writing and simultaneously talking with other women, young, and old, with different lives and experiences- those who supported themselves, those who wished careers, those who were hard-working housewives and mothers, and those with more ease- I found that my points of view was not unique.  In varying settings and under different forms, I discovered that many women, and men, too, were grappling with essentially the same questions as I, and were hungry to discuss and argue and hammer out possible answers.  Even those whose lives had appeared to be ticking imperturbably under their smiling clock-faces were often trying, like me, to evolve another rhythm with more creative pauses in it, more adjustment to their individual needs, and new and more alive relationships to themselves as well as others. 
    And so gradually, these chapters, fed by conversations, arguments and revelations from men and women of all groups, became more than my individual story, until I decided in the end to give them back to the people who had shared and stimulated many of these thoughts.  Here, then, with my warm feelings of gratitude and companionship for those working along the same lines, I return my gift from the sea. 

Again this book doesn't read like a novel or even short story.  Some call it inspirational literature.  I found it lovely.  Here are a few more lines I really connected with from the book. 

When one is a stranger to oneself then one is especially estranged from others, too.

Our daily life does not prepare us for contemplation.  How can a single weekly hour of church, helpful as it may be, counteract the many daily hours of distraction that surrounds it.

But can one actually find oneself in someone else? In someone else's love?...I believe that true identity is found as Eckhart once said, by "going into one's own ground and knowing oneself."

One must lose one's life to find it.

So I know some may be wondering where does the zucchini fit in.  In part of this book she talks about solitude and the importance of simplicity and the act of doing simple things, like cooking for instance, can help you refocus.  Hence, on Friday I made 7 loaves of zucchini bread.  Thanks to Teri from work for the zucchini on steroids (I should've taken a picture of that for the post).  It was the size of a billy club and wider around.  I made 2 plain zucchini bread, 3 banana zucchini breads, and 2 peanut butter zucchini breads.  It was peaceful cooking by myself in my parents kitchen on Friday with no one but me and my dad at home. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Help- correction

So first off let me apologize for my misspelling of Abilene's name from "The Help"- It is is spelled Aibileen.  Also, someone knew I needed some help of my own when they put in the New York Sunday Times Arts and Leisure section a front page article titled: "Black-and-White Struggle With a Rosy Glow".  The basis of this article is how sometimes Hollywood glosses over the truth or maybe hides the violence/turbulence of the time era mid 1960's.  The article talks about a documentary I never heard of called "Eyes on the Prize" and specifically episodes of the documentary called "Bridge to Freedom" - in reference to the Edmund Petus Bridge- site of the Bloody Sunday protest where several hundred marchers were beaten by state troopers (March 1965).  The article goes on to name several movies (some documentaries): Spike Lee's 1963 Birmingham Church bombing "Four Little Girls", Stanley Nelson's "Freedom Riders"., Spike Lee's  1992 "Malcolm X", "Mississippi Burning" 1988, and "The Long Walk Home" (1990).  I haven't seen any of these, but if anything this article tells me how naive I was to make the comment "why did it take until 2011" to have a movie come out like "The Help".  However, maybe I'm not naive, because the article brings up that their is not a lot of pain/suffering of the physical type seen in the movie.  I think this movie is actually looking at how you can remove the physical suffering that comes with this era and show how someone's emotional/mental state can suffer just as much.  So sorry for the misspelling of Aibileen and I will have to become more educated on the above movies, especially the "Eyes on the Prize" that was referenced throughout the article. 

I remembered after reading the above article yesterday a movie I saw with my parents in the movie theatre long ago (1984) "Places of the Heart".  It takes place in Texas during the Great Depression and is about a widow and her children trying to keep the family farm afloat with the help of a blind man, and African American.  Good movie with interesting characters. A lot of racial issues comes up throughout the movie and I think is an accurate portrayal of the time.  The daughter in the movie reminds me a lot of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.  Sally Field plays the lead lady and she does a great job- so good she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Roll.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Help

So I read this book last year, another book club book, and really liked it.  No, more than liked it, I was amazed by it.  How does someone write this kind of book first time out of the shoot.  I wanted to know more about the author and I really couldn't find a whole lot, but here is my friend Wikipedia:

Stockett is known for her 2009 debut novel, The Help, which is about African American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi during the 1960s. The novel climbed best seller charts a few months after it was released, eventually selling 5 million copies as of August 2011.
Until 2001, Stockett lived in New York City  , where she worked in publishing. She lives in Atlanta and has a daughter from a previous marriage.
Reflective of her first novel, Stockett was raised by an African American  domestic worker in lieu of an absentee mother.

When I went to her site I didn't learn much more.  Anywhoo- the book was well written, with great character development, and tugged at my heart.  Today, I remembered my love for the book, because I went and saw the movie.  A friend of mine, who I lovingly call "Skeeter" (she is independent, from the south, and a red head)- this is a character from The Help, and I went to see the movie.  First off the theatre was packed and I felt that we were some of the youngest viewers in the theatre.   I wondered what some of the theatre watches were thinking throughout the movie- did they like it as much as the book?  Did they remember a time like the time period depicted in the movie/book? The movie did the book justice and I was engrossed with the story, despite already knowing the story.  Emma Stone played the movie "Skeeter" perfectly.  I left the movie wondering why it is 2011 and a story like this about "The Help" took this long to come out.  I can't believe living the life any of the women portrayed in this movie/time period did.  One of the most amazing relationships of the book/movie is between a little girl Mae Mobbley and Abaline (the help). Every morning when Abaline gets Mae Mobbley up she says "you is kind, you is smart, you is important".  This line resounds throughout the book/movie and I think it is something all of us should remember on a daily basis.  The other amazing line is about loving your enemies- wow need more of that in my life- not the most forgiving person- and if loving your enemies gives you freedom I need to definitely take this on as a personal challenge. 

O.k. back to the book/movie- I don't want to ruin either for those of you who haven't read/seen it- so my ending message is read it/see it- because it is pure greatness.  Thanks to my "Skeeter" for going and seeing the movie with me. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bookmarks Continued

Today the kids and I tried to finish our tour of all the Bookmarks in Johnson County.  Two books are still not finished and so we will have to save those for another day.  Here are the few we visited today.  Following the hunt for bookmarks we went to downtown Iowa City and enjoyed the public library, eating lunch with special guest- dad/Matt, then headed over to see the progress with Sand in the City.  Sand in the City is put on by numerous groups who all produce different sand sculptures and are competing for first prize.  Although the sculptures weren't very far along the kids enjoyed playing in the kid's sand pit.  

Alice in Wonderland

Clifford the Big Red Dog


The World According to Gable

This is a great quote- I think I like this "Gable" guy.

The Count of Monte Cristo

Off for some fun in the sand.

 It was a great last Friday of summer vacation.  I really can't believe how the summer has flown by.  Although I didn't get my goal of visiting all parks in Iowa City/Coralville/North Liberty done I do feel like the kids and me did a lot of fun things outside this summer.  I love where we live.  I love both Coralville and Iowa City and the fact that we are only 4 hours away from Chicago and three hours away from Oswego.  So blessed to have the opportunity to spend time with family throughout this summer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My last 3 books

Over the last 30 days I've read three books.  The first one took me as long as the other two books to read.  I thought all of them were o.k. and fascinating in their own way.  Here goes:

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption [Book] 

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.

So the first 1/3-1/2 of the book was somewhat slow, but once the above mentioned crash happens the book read much more quickly.  Louis Zamperini was a runner- Olympics 1936 bronze- but then ended up in POW camp(s) in Japan.  The story taught me a lot about World War II and the Japanese culture/philosophy of war during that era.  I also found the information about the B 24 and B 29 interesting and scary (not a real safe plane).  These two planes Matt's grandpa flew in World War II so it was very surreal to read about the pilot and think it could've been grandpa.  I think the story is at times too detailed and I was a little disappointed in this read, but I did learn a lot about the time. 

My second book I first saw at a check out lane at one of the two local public libraries I frequent.  I wrote the title down in my "wish list" of books to read and figured it would end up being just that a "wish"; then after the above book I was in need of some fluff/no real using the noggin reading and thought how about that "Beatrix Potter historical fiction" mystery I put on my "wish" list a few months ago. 
The Tale of Hill Top Farm (Beatrix Potter Mystery Book 1)
In this first Cottage Tale, Albert introduces Beatrix, an animal lover and Good Samaritan with a knack for solving mysteries. With help from her entourage of talking animal friends, Beatrix sets out to win over the human hearts of Sawrey, where she's just bought an old farm--and plans to stay.

I have always loved Beatrix Potter's children's books and so it was fun to read adult mystery book in which I learn a little about Beatrix Potter's real life while also getting to hear from her animal friends- who do try and help solve mysteries.  It was a fun book and like I said earlier I needed some "no brainer" reading.  When I need some more "no brainer" time I plan to look into the other two books in this series.

My third book is this month's book club pick.  When Matt came back from public library telling me he had a hard time finding it I was wondering why.  I had told him to go to the fiction section and look under Atwood- for Margaret Atwood and find her book called "The Handmaid's Tale".  He said he couldn't find it until he asked the fiction desk guy to help him out.  Well to my surprise it was in Sci Fi.  Now I'm not a huge SciFi person.  I normal don't get the plot and can't really follow along with what is going on in these books.  This book was a little surprising and as Madeline L'Engle's book club book pick "An Acceptable Time" (SciFi also) surprised me pleasantly I enjoyed reading it.  Margaret Atwood's writing style was enjoyable, but I did and still do struggle to understand what exactly occurred.  I read it with my fiction/novel reader's mind set and eye and found it to be somewhat of a love story.  Now some of my book club had already read the book, but wanted to reread or review it again and their comments were all about it being about politics.  I see where they got that take from, but me being me- and not very politically minded - I read it almost similar to how I would read a book about World War II and the Holocaust.  This book was 300 pages in paperback, but it was so engaging I finished it within 3-4 days-which is good for me considering I'm not that quick of a reader. 

Book Description

March 16, 1998
In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now....

Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid's Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.
If you look under wikipedia about this book there are varied themes they focus on and really break the book down in a way that I did not when reading.  That is the thing with me I normally just read for the enjoyment of reading and don't get very analytical in my reading.  Also all the above comments in italics are reviews of the books by others not myself.  It has been a varied month of reading but each book gave me something I didn't have before reading them. 


Monday, August 8, 2011

I Tried a Triathlon

Well not really me- my hubbie, my sister, brother in-law and son did this past Sunday in my home town Oswego.  It is a great sprint tri mainly due to the swim occurring in a pool.
 It is a very doable length and I've done it in the past.  The first year my bike time was ridiculous- in the bad ridiculous not good- maybe due to not having checked the tires before biking.  Someone has a picture of me on the bike where the front wheel is basically touching the rim to the ground because of lack of air in the tire.  This year I sat out due to my fall in June and due to wanting to mainly focus on training for Chicago Marathon. This was my sister's first tri and she did GREAT!  She swam well and biked faster than her older sister had in past tri's.  I'm really proud of her.  Following the race Mason competed in his first tri- kid's tri for ages 4-7 years old.  It was a 12 yard swim, 200 yard bike and 50 yard dash.  It was so fun to watch. 

The best part of yesterday, besides everyone finishing healthy and smiling, was when we returned home to Iowa and the kids wanted to train for their next tri by doing laps in our culdesac- Kate rode her scooter than would jump off scooter and run the lap.  Mason would ride his bike a lap and then jump off and run.  It was so darn cute and made me realize we are influencing our kid's activity levels. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer fun

I love going to the pool in the summer. This is another tribute to my mother. From an early age I remember our swim tags my mom would sew onto our swimsuits at the beginning of each swimming season. We would go to our local civic center pool and swim the afternoons away. During adult swim my mom would always enjoy swimming laps. She really is a beautiful swimmer.

Today I went again to this civic center- altgough now it is an aquatic center with great slides in place of diving boards. My kids, hubbie, sister, brother in-law, their kids and my parents spent the afternoon swimming. I love watching my kids enjoy the pool as much as I do. I'm a little sad that this upcoming week is our last week of summer vacation before school starts. I think time at the pool will definitely be on my "to do" list this week.

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