Sunday, March 31, 2013

10-20-30 Challenge

Last week my co-worker and good friend told me she had done 20 minutes of exercising/day as one of her Lent goals.  Then my BRB forwarded this website/blog and I'm hooked.  Here is her explanation of the 10-20-30 and then I'll tell you what I'm going to do...

The 10 – 20 – 30 Challenge

Get ready for the 10 – 20 – 30 Challenge!
10 or more people committing to 20 minutes a day for 30 days.
The 10 – 20 – 30 Challenge will begin on April 1st.
I’d love for you to Commit2Twenty and join us in this challenge.
Like our new Commit2Twenty Facebook page to receive daily inspiration, motivation, and support throughout the 10 – 20 – 30 Challenge!

    The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor. – Vince Lombardi

What’s Your Twenty? Leave me a reply and let me know!

So my Twenty is going to be reading 20 minutes/day to my kids (either one or both depending on availability)- I know this sounds weird, because I write/post like I read a lot.  I do, and I do read a lot to my kids, but lately I feel like I haven't been reading as much/daily to my kids.  So starting tomorrow will be 30 days of kid friendly reading for 20 minutes daily. 

If any of you are interested please go to  It is a great way to work on a goal/project without putting too much stress into your life.  How many of us know we waste 20 minutes/day either checking email, watching TV, or just well... being lazy. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring Break

No we didn't go to a tropical beach, wind surf, get a tan, or drink "umbrella drinks" by a pool.  We did go South- St. Louis, MO (1st stop), then East and North (Chicago and the Burbs) and then West- home.

It was a great week and I seriously can't believe how fast the time flew by.  Me and the kids drove in a wonderful snow storm the first hour of our trip last Monday.  After getting through Southern Iowa into Missouri it was smooth sailing. We stayed with my long lost friend (aka Skeeter), her boyfriend, and her two adorable (loved a little too much by my youngest) cats. 

You know when you have a true friend: someone who goes out and buys you all that you requested on your grocery list, puts up with your youngest who gets up at 6:45 a.m. every morning rain or shine, tolerates a lot more "kid tv" then has been watched ever in her downtown "city loft", and has her boyfriend haul in all our gear from the car and back out to the car and spend the day at the zoo :).  No really- great friend and great trip to St. Louis.  Highlights: Zoo (free- great, even though a little chilly), World Fair Pavilion (O.K. so I thought it was from the World's Fair AKA "Meet me in St. Louis" movie, but it actually was built five years after the fair as a memorial to fair), Museum of History (Great World's Fair exhibit), Science Center, Bluebird Hill Restaurant/Diner, Central Library St. Louis, City Museum and of course sharing wine, good food and Funfetti cake with friends.

The penguins were great.
Crazy Apes
Loved the World's Fair Exhibit at Museum of History
We then drove onto Chicago/Burbs to spend time with grandparents.  My sister and my niece came home Friday- my youngest left with one set of grandparents to travel to Florida (yep- I'm inwardly crying- sun, sun, I need some warm sun)- o.k. back to topic... So since it was just me, sister and the "big kids" we traveled via metra to the Windy City and enjoyed a day at the Art Institute, some time At the Bean, lunch at Pot Belly's and of course just time together.

Cousins at the Picasso
The Bean
It was a fun Spring Break!  Thanks friends and family who put us up and put up with us.  Now back to the real world.   

Monday, March 25, 2013

A good night

With my little man. Picked him up from school today and drive straight to Olive Garden for dinner, just the 2 of us. Youngest is in sunny 80 degree Florida with grandparents (yep my kids have such a rough life:) ).

So the thing I enjoyed most tonight was the way I felt my oldest had my undivided attention. No competing with younger sis or mom's cell phone, or rushing due to after school activities. He talked tons.

Following dinner ...( which was great- he chose chicken gnocchi soup, chicken fingers with side of spaghetti sauce and grapes. I had this spicy shrimp pasta dish- which I of course substituted with chicken- chatty natty don't do seafood). We had a great waitress too! ...We then went to Barnes and Noble to pick out books the Easter bunny will be sending to cousins in Indiana - Aunt Melissa don't tell. Then he picked out a book for us to start tonight and read while sis is in Florida- drum roll... Little House in the Big Woods by Laura ingles wilder. Yep he's my son!

It was a good night and something I should try and do with both my favorite oldest child and favorite youngest child every now and again. Separate time allows for some pretty special time, memories and talks.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Like clockwork

My youngest is up every morning at 6:45. Rain/shine, no matter how late or early she went to bed. So these pics, although not beautiful- yep that's my morning "do", represent my everyday life.

I like that she is a morning person. I love that she is so happy in the morning. A great way to start the day. Happy Wednesday and good morning.

P.S. she just told me "your the best momma in the world". What a great way to start the day. I'd take that kind of wake up call every morning.

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Leprechaun Dash 2012

Kids and I left Friday to drive to Des Moines to pick up my race packet at the Animal Rescue League Shelter.  When I received information on pack up pick up it just said Animal Rescue League of Des Moines packet pick up until 7 pm on Friday.  So I googled Animal Rescue League of Des Moines and headed on my way to the address I found via internet. 

I had a tough time getting to the street I needed to be on for the Animal rescue League and I had a horrible time finding this South Ridge Mall it was housed in.  So after 30 minutes + of wasted time finding the place kids and I walked in to find out there were several Animal Rescue Leagues in Des Moines and the one I needed to go to was in Ankeny.  So pack of the kids and head back across Des Moines to Ankeny.  Made me feel better when I picked up the race day package I commented that next year they should put the address where pick up can take place.  The guy said I wasn't the only racer who had gone to the wrong Animal Rescue League that day. 

So head back in the care back into Des Moines near Merle Hay Mall where our friends live.  About 15 minutes after getting there I realized I had forgotten a very important part of my race day attire- nope not my shoes- those who know me well enough that next to my shoes the worst thing I could forget would be my sports bra.  So after dinner I ran to the nearest Kohl's and found a high support Champion underwire sports bra- thank you Kohl's.  Then after getting the kids to bed I sat and talked to my friend and painted my nails green- I was going all out for the Leprechaun dash.  About 1 hour later I went to take a quick shower before bed- no really it was quick.  Half way through my shower I looked down and saw green stuff on the shower floor- yep- all but my thumbs and pinky finger nail polish had came off.  I was really beginning to think I wasn't suppose to run the race.  Well I reapplied the polish, read a little and went to sleep.

Morning of race day.

There's good old me waving!

After Race shot

    Palmer joined me in a beer- mine was green of course.                Showing off my socks.

Despite all of the above craziness I ended up having a great race.  It was very cold in the beginning.  It was in the 30's but with the wind shield felt like low 20's.  However, the lasses and lads stepped up to their named shoots and we prepared to start the race.  Lasses get a 5 minute start and then the lads follow trying to catch up.  I got in between the 9-10 min/mile pace group.  I started out pretty fast, I think because I really couldn't feel my feet due to the cold and I wanted to warm up quickly.  I ended up going really fast (for me) and able to sustain the pace throughout the race.  The race course was fast, wound around a lovely park/lake area.  My kids and friends saw me twice and they had a ball (no pun intended) throwing football around and chasing each other to keep warm during the race.  Following the race we headed to my friend's law office which had a really nice shower/bathroom.  I was able to get cleaned up and head to the Green Block Party to pick up my free cup of green beer- winning gender won a free cup of beer at the end- Girls kicked butt (36:19 winning time).  Last funny of the morning.  When I got out of the shower and got ready to change into my clothes I found that I had packed my blue pull on snow pants instead of my blue running pants. Luckily I didn't look to dorky with a sweatshirt and coat to cover the hideous 1980's snow pants.  Anyways, great race I will definitely sign up for next year's, but this time I will call ahead for clear driving directions to race day pack pick up and also remember my sport's bra.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Traveling Mercies

So along with my recent "feed people" signs I've also run across Anne Lamott's name enough in the last two months I sat down and read one of her books this month. " Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith".  My son the other day said "Mom you are almost done with that book, what's it about?"  I was caught off guard- I didn't know how to answer. Do I tell him it is about a lady who has  rough teenage years (no really lots of sex, drinks, drugs) and young adult years (and continuation of many of the same activities she did as teen, but finally realizes she is an alcoholic and drug addict)  and then found God- now all my non-Christian/atheist friends please don't run away from this post- this author- Anne Lamott she's really good. She gets religion in the way I think it was meant to represent, plus she is just so witty and smart in her words. 

So I kept on hearing the name Anne Lamott. I heard it on my running podcast I listen to-one of the runners/writers was talking about how she loved Anne's prayers ( noted below). Then I ran into her in the reading of my favorite part of the New York Times-Book section on Sundays. And then even at my local library a new nonfiction book about her son, Sam,  having a son. So again I took it as a sign I was suppose to read something by her. I'm not a huge "baby person " so I wasn't too interested in reading that one so I went to the nonfiction area and found this one. It was a perfect pick for my first introduction to Anne Lamott. I loved the way she wrote about her life and her religion in a way that didn't make me cringe. Don't get me wrong I don't have a problem with God and I enjoy going to church but there are very few people who have the ability to talk about God or religion in an everyday manor without making me uneasy. Anne accomplishes that because she keeps it real and she is h invest, open, and non-judgemental. Here are quotes I just loved from my first introduction to Anne Lamott! 

Pg 82 " Here are the two best prayers I know ' help me, help me, help me' and ' thank you, thank you, thank you".
I say  AMEN to that sentence!

Pg 93 " It's so awful attacking your child. It is the worst thing I know, to shout loudly at this fifty pound being with his huge brown eyes. It's like bitch slapping E.T."  O.k. side note- I love the movie E.T. and I was so touched by this movie when I saw it in 2nd grade that I remember crying for an hour after the movie had ended- I know E.T. lives, but I was just so touched by his relationship with Elliott.

Sorry couldn't read my scribble/notes but this one is from the Why I make Sam Go To Church chapter "I make him because I can. I outweigh him by nearly 75 lbs. But that is only part of it. The main reason is that I want to give him what I found in the world. Which is to see a path and a light to see by".

Page 215 "Everything is usually so masked or perfumed or disguised in the world and it's so touching when you get to see something real and human. I think that's why most of us stay close to our families, no matter how neurotic the members, how deeply annoying or dull- because when people have seen you at your worst, you don't have to out on the mask as much."

Page 241 "and then I remember this basic religious principle that God isn't there to take away our suffering or our pain but to fill it with his or her presence".

Page 264 "This is the most spiritual truth I know: that even when we're most sure that love can't conquer all, it seems to anyway."

Again she's not a holy roller she lives a real life with hard ache and hard times but does alright. I will definitely read some of her others.

A sign

Someone is trying to tell me that I need to help feed others.

3 Saturdays ago I signed up for a community garden with my kids.  We are super excited because I'm hoping this community garden area will provide a place I can grow vegetables without worrying about critters eating them up.  On the form to sign up for the garden plot you could sign up to donate a row of your garden to the local Ecumenical Food Bank.  This food bank will gladly except our fresh vegetables for those in our neighborhoods who don't have the resources to buy food/vegetables. 
The next day at church the director for the Free Lunch Program in Iowa City came and spoke about her program and a new initiative 1105 Project.  I posted on this earlier.  I listened to her talk about how they provide coffee, PB&J sandwiches in the morning and lunch starts at 10 a.m. and after 1pm you can box up any leftovers for take home meals. The meals are prepared and served by volunteers and much of the food is donated or bought at discounted price. No questions asked- everyone who walks through the door get a free lunch.  People aren't just homeless eating their lunch at the Free Lunch Program- they are many times people who are trying to just get by and this free meal is a few more dollars in their pockets.  I've wanted to volunteer at the program, but haven't been able to due to our church provides meals on a Friday every month and children can only volunteer when older- so add this on my "to do list" once my youngest starts kindergarten this fall.
Then about a week later I was invited to a meeting at two friends of mine house about the mobile food pack unit that is coming to Iowa City June 7 and 8th.  The initiative is called Feed My Starving Children. Feed My Starving Children is a non-profit Christian organization committed to feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit. The approach is simple: children and adults hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children, and they ship the meals to nearly 70 countries around the world. The group brings pretty much everything needed to to help 500 volunteers pack meals for those in need over a two day period.  It is a great initiative because you don't have to give money, but can also give of your time and their volunteer age is 5 years of age and older.  Children don hair nets and are put on the production line to help package meals for those less fortunate.  The organization is also looking for donations ($22,000 raised= 200,000 meals).  The breakdown of how your money is used is amazing: 22cents/day= one meal, $80 feeds a child for one year, $400 feeds a family of five. 
Here is contact info for the event: 
Volunteer shifts will be organized in a month or so.  A great way to get kids involved in making a difference.

Then my church circle got involved in NAMI walk ( - It is a long one because it takes you directly to the Iowa City/Johnson county walk.  One of the major ways our circle was asked to help- make cookies- lots of cookies for walkers.  So I'll be baking some cookies for another great cause "Changing Minds One Step at a time". 

Last Sunday I talked to a friend whose father in-law had a stroke which has left him very debilitated.  The family is trying to keep him at home and so people have been asked to help with meals, groceries, errands etc.  So again food comes into play.

The same Sunday I found out about needing to bake cookies for NAMI our family signed up to walk the Crop Walk.  I remember walking in the Crop Walk as a kid.  Those Big Stop Sign Stickers stating "Stop Hunger".  A couple of families signing up asked if the walk would happen if it rained that day- I loved the answer the sign up leader for the event had- "The kids we are walking for have to walk rain/shine to get there food everyday so we will walk in the same way".

Here is the info for that walk:
Walk Day location: Chauncey Swan Park, next to the parking garage where the Farmers' Market is held.
Arrive early to register, get inspired, and hand in your envelopes. Step-off: 1:30 p.m.

Karen Casavant,

 Every dollar raised for our CROP Hunger Walk will be increased this year! The Feinstein Foundation ( will divide $1 million among hunger-fighting agencies that raise funds during March and April. So the more funds we raise from March 1 to April 30, the more we'll receive. Every dollar counts even more!

CROP Hunger Walks help children and families worldwide – and here in the U.S. – to have food for today, while building for a better tomorrow.  Our local efforts are making a huge difference... and you are part of it!

Then I opened one of my recent journals and read an article about "food insecurity".  This term means " the lack of access to enough food to fully meet basic nutritional needs at all times because of lack of resources." Contemporary Pediatrics page 10
The article gave the following numbers to scare me into thinking I further need to help get "food" to others: 2010- 6.2 million suburban households were food insecure, and 2.3 million at very low food security.  The article again reminded me that many of those food insecure are around us on a daily basis and you just never know who they are.  I love food and just can't imagine not having food to eat or not being able to give my children enough food for them to feel full. 

O.K. so I'm a sign person.  Like if I hear an author's name over and over again I take it as a "sign" I'm suppose to pick up that author's book(s) and read.  When I dream about a long lost friend or family member I take it as a "sign" I need to call them or email them.  So the "sign"
 of late is I need to help feed others in some way or another. 

I've enclosed all the links above for those that live in the area or those who want to donate from afar via internet- those who are feeling it is a "sign" to get involved in "feeding" others. 

Lastly, Do You Believe in Signs? 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Writing slump

I've kind of felt like I'm in a writing slump- likely because I just haven't been writing enough. I've been keeping up with my letter- snail mail writing -1 per week. I've not felt like I have anything ecstatic to share: plus the things I like to write about make me wonder who wants to read over and over again about running, reading, charitable giving, etc.

Lately I could send something out weekly to friends and families about all the help out there that is needed by different groups/organizations. That's not a bad thing to communicate, but I don't want to be constantly asking, asking, asking. Plus I start to feel a little "demanding" which is a characteristic I've been told I had during childhood (maybe even still :). Maybe this is me warning you the reader that some upcoming posts will be doing just that "asking for your help".

Well need to do spelling list with oldest so enough  jibber/jabber for now. Happy Monday - is it bad that I'm counting down the hours until I can get in bed and snuggle up with my bedtime read and cat Blue?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

February Running

So my mileage for February: 38 miles.  Seems strange to type those numbers, but yep 38 miles.  I went back and looked at my running weeks/days in February and first thing I took a whole week off the first week of February because prior months I had run 88,80, and 70 and thought I needed a little break.  Those of you who follow my blog then remember that after my week off running I got sick with a horribly annoying cold/sinus fun.  Despite the cold I still managed to run 4 days a week for the rest of February.  However, my mileage on running days was averaged at 3 miles.  I just didn't have many long runs at all so hence why my mileage for February was lower. 

I think the break helped, even though I also think it hurt me overall because I got that horrible cold/sinus stuff and I really think me running routinely has kept me somewhat healthy and happy.  The break gave me time to look at training plans/schedules for the upcoming year.  My Best running buddy and I are back at it and we have sat down and penciled in our runs/schedules.  I've totally missed her running presence and am enjoying having someone to chat about running with and run with on a regular basis. 

I did learn a lesson this past week that incorporating interval or speed work into my runs early morning may make me change my normal morning process of not eating much, unless I'm running 5 or more.  I struggled heavily due to low energy stores.  So I will start eating a little something prior to my speed work in the a.m. 

Onto March- I'm following the another mother runner finish it 10K plan in prep for the Leprechaun Dash 10K I do in a couple of weeks.  I'll have a week off from scheduled "training plan" and then will start my another mother runner's half marathon "own it" plan.  Shall be a fun month of running :).

Saturday, March 2, 2013

February Reads

It has been another good month of reading.  Here are the books I read and my reviews.

"Chasing Shakespeares" by Sarah Smith
Interesting story about trying to find out who Shakespeare was.  It was an O.K. read.  A little on the long side and unfortunately some of the information was lost on me because I just don't know enough about Shakespeare.  It did make me want to read some Shaespeare, but again don't know if I'm that "high brow" of a literary buff.

Note To Self: On Keeping a Journal And Other Dangerous Pursuits by Samara O'Shea was another O.K. book.  I enjoyed her book on writing letters better (see last month's book review for more). I just wasn't interested in reading her old diary/journal entries.  Kind of made me wonder if my children/husband/friends would find my journals of interest or totally boring- but I do believe we write in our diaries/journals for us not thinking we are going to find ourselves famous one day. 
 Here are some of the quotes I did enjoy from the book:

"Write what you want and whenever you want" (pg 2)

"Writing solidifies thought, which can be unnerving, but it also gives you a sense of control." (9)

"We all have moments of madness, the more in tune you are with all of your thoughts... the more in tune you are with yourself ." (9)

"My favorite journal-like quality of blogs is that they go unedited... Of course I have to suffer the consequences and take credit for any and all mistakes, but for writers, it is a gift to have works published completely unaltered." (p 96)

Mile Markers by Kristin Armstrong was GREAT READ!  I wrote enough a few days ago on this one, but again would tell any of my friends to read this book whether they are runners or not. 

Maze Runner by James Dashner was our book club read for the month.  I love book club for so many reasons, but this book or type of book is just one of them.  I would never pick up this book to read on my own- just not my genre/interest.  However, I really enjoyed it.  So much that I will read the other 2 and just found out the Prelude book is out.  So thanks bookies for making me read different books.
Oh- the premise of the book- big surprise dystopian society and children/teens fighting for their lives.  Reminded many of us from book club of the book "Lord of the Flies". 
I tried two different books on tape: The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriani Trigiani and Once a Runner by John Parker.  Couldn't get into either one.  I listened to over half the Runner book and likely won't read that one, but will likely try and read "The Shoemaker's Wife" or listen to it when I'm into higher mileage training.  I think it is the kind of book you can't just listen to 30-40 minutes of and leave for a couple of days- I just couldn't get into it and have heard from some of my reading buddies how great it is. 
Onto- March (Finished Harry Potter on the 1st day of March) and just finishing the 5th of the Armand Gamache Mysteries  by Louise Penny (I swear I could read all of those books- have 7 more- in a month's time if I allowed myself- so enjoy her writing and the stories).
Happy Reading!