So Spicy

Our spice cabinet was a nightmare. Actually, it would be more accurate to call it our spice/medicine/vitamin/random jar/pharmacy paperwork cabinet… and anything else cylindrical in shape that didn’t have a more logical place to go in our kitchen.

IMG_4861_2There were a few problems that had been bugging me with this cabinet. For starters, the only shelf that I could actually see well was the bottom shelf, meaning that anything that landed on the top two shelves would potentially be lost and its existence forgotten. This results in the occasional duplicate purchase or two… or three… oops.

IMG_4865_2Second, Jay – the love of my life – has a major spice addiction. He loves seasoning everything and he loves creating his own seasoning concoctions for dipping bread in. He orders them online and finds new seasonings when we go on vacation. This means that our spice collection grows considerably faster than it ever gets consumed. And sometimes it ends up expiring before it has a chance to flavor up a meal for a second time. Ew. Finally, it was downright dangerous. Because I can’t easily reach the top two shelves, and because they are completely packed with expired spices, duplicate spices, and Jay’s newest purchases, opening the cabinet frequently resulted in a few bottles crashing down on top of my head. Not fun. Who wants to go to the hospital with a fennel seed concussion?

IMG_4862_2I’d tried a few different things to clean out the cabinet, but with no luck. A gizmo I bought at The Container Store ended up taking up more space than it provided, and a drawer/shelf combination that I returned because no spice cabinet disaster needs a $40 fix like that. Aside from the cabinet, we also have a small rack on our kitchen counter that holds 16 jars of spices. I think it was a hand-me-down when we first got married. I’d spray-painted it black and rubbed off all the gummy labels years ago, rewriting them on with a permanent marker but never satisfied with how blah the whole setup looked. It was time to do something once and for all.

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IMG_4864The first thing I did was to pull everything out of the cabinet. I trashed out all the expired medications and put the unexpired bottles and vitamins all in one basket (they had previously been in separate baskets) on the top shelf. Then I sorted out the spices and pulled out all of the bottles that had expired there, too. It was quite impressive (she said sarcastically so as to hide her embarrassment).

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I’d seen some spice jar labels before, but they were usually for the fronts of the jars and since our jar fronts weren’t exposed in their holder. After poking around on Etsy for a bit, I found some simple black and white labels and ordered them. I had a bit of trouble printing them, but the seller was super helpful and eventually I had my labels. (You can order similar ones from her here.)

All that was left was to decide which spices I wanted in my rack, which had previously held 4-5 that we had probably never even opened. I emptied and washed out the jars of the ones that went unused, then chose our 16 most-used herbs and seasonings and put the new labels on the tops. Ta da!

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The stickers are just paper, so I know we’ll have to be careful not to get them wet. But as far as I’m concerned, this was a one-time fix. This rack has lived a long life in our home – if we end up needing new labels again I think I’ll just invest in a new spice rack. For now though, I’m loving this one. :)

IMG_5680Our newly-cleaned cabinet looks much better too, and my fears of hospitalization as a result of a spice avalanche are over. I’m so happy with how this turned out, and I’m especially thrilled that it didn’t cost me $40 to do it. Now all I have to do is keep Jay from filling it all back up again! :D

A Spoonful of Love

Today is Valentine’s Day. <3 It’s also the 39th anniversary of my in-laws.

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I love these two more than they’ll ever know. But they also don’t know that one small interaction between the two of them impacted me so deeply that it caused me to have more love for their relationship, more love for them as individuals, and more love for their son.

Jay and I will celebrate our 13th anniversary later this year, and we’ve experienced our share of ups and downs. Our biggest arguments were always centered around children – mainly whether or not we were ready to have them (I was, he wasn’t so sure). We’ve disagreed with the best ways to spend our money (he’s a genius at this, so I usually defer to him), struggled with infertility (it took us just over 16 months to get pregnant with Julia), and loss (both of Jay’s grandfathers passed within the same year). We’ve seen each other at our best – and our worst. We’ve done sickness and health. I don’t handle sickness very well – Jay’s or mine – which is usually when he sees me at my worst. :D

Pam and Woody, my in-laws, have never been an outwardly lovey-dovey pair. They are affectionate with each other, for sure – a kiss here, a backrub there. They laugh and catch each other’s eye when out together at a restaurant. They vacation together and support each other’s aspirations. But they don’t always hold hands or giggle or finish each other’s sentences or anything like that. I’ve actually seen them disagree (usually about mundane details like the last movie they saw or the name of the guy that installed their windows) more than I’ve seen them smooch. Jay and his father are ridiculously alike, and Pam and I have had many fabulous “you’re-not-the-only-wife-going-through-this” conversations where we vent about our handsome hubbies. My mother-in-law is a strong, no-nonsense woman; my father-in-law a hardworking goofball. Their marriage isn’t perfect, and although their expressions of love are subtle, it’s plainly evident how strong their love for each other really is.

I’ve watched their interactions for the past 14 years. In all this time, one singular moment in their marriage stands out to me more than any other: watching my strong, no-nonsense mother-in-law patiently feel spoonfuls of ice to my father-in-law. Such a small, silly thing, but it touched me more deeply than any other act of love I’d witnessed in my life.

Let me give you a little backstory to that spoonful of ice. Exactly a year ago, Pam and Woody were in London celebrating their 38th anniversary when Woody stepped into a pothole in the street and fell, causing multiple and severe injuries to his ankle and leg. They ended up spending the rest of their vacation in a London hospital, the doctors doing what they could to ease his pain while Pam and Woody waited to fly home so that he could have his injuries cared for back here in the states. Soon after they arrived, my father-in-law had the surgeries necessary to put him on the slow road to recovery. The girls and I went to visit him in the hospital, and that’s when I saw Pam spoon-feeding him the ice.

In that moment, I saw what true love is all about. My father-in-law was nothing short of a mess in that hospital bed – unshaven, unable to sit up, completely groggy from the pain meds. My beautiful mother-in-law was gently giving him ice. He was looking right into her eyes with nothing but gratitude and adoration. There wasn’t an ounce of no-nonsense in her, not a drop of goofiness in him. It was a side of their relationship I’d never seen before. I know that Woody would probably have been happier if I hadn’t seen him like that, and at first I was a little uncomfortable myself. But I’m so thankful I did witness this almost private moment between them. It was beautiful, and that image has remained with me over the past year.

Today is Valentine’s Day. <3 Pam and Woody are celebrating their 39th anniversary today. My parents will be celebrating their 37th anniversary later this month. Jay and I will be celebrating 13 years this June. Love takes many forms and looks like many things, and I pray that even my most ordinary actions towards Jay reflect the depth of love I saw in that one small spoonful of ice.

_MG_1928Happy Anniversary, Pam and Woody. I love you both so much. <3

*** Photos by Linda Benedict Photography ***

My Signature Color

I think I have Tiffany blue radar. Seriously, I see Tiffany blue everywhere. Anytime I come across something in my favorite color, it catches my eye and makes me smile. And sometimes I take a picture of it… just in case I suddenly decide that everything I own needs to be this color. :)

On a trip for my birthday last November it just so happened that the lampshades were the most soothing shade of blue. I know I slept better because they were so beautiful… is that crazy?

IMG_3190I swear I could run faster if I had these sneakers… especially if I was running to Tiffany’s IN these sneakers!

IMG_5646And this car. I <3 this car. I hope one day to be a gray-haired old lady cruising down the highway in something spunky like this!

IMG_4136This chandelier was hanging in the Tiffany’s store on 5th Avenue in New York City. I really, really love this and would love to have something like this hanging over my dining room table.

IMG_3342I found these pajama pants on Amazon and kinda had to have them… the drawstring is actually a white satin ribbon, which is about as close to Tiffany-themed jammies as I can imagine!

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 9.54.10 PMThis past Christmas brought a little more Tiffany blue into my world all on it’s own. Jay found a killer deal on a Kitchenaid mixer, something that I’d been wanting since we got married. Emily picked out some new earbuds in my favorite color, and I received a new copy of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. There was also a pretty blue box in that white satin ribbon under the tree – Jay barely managed to rack up enough flyer miles to qualify for a gift card, but he did – and we are going shopping on our next date night!

IMG_4629I’ll leave with you one last picture… Emily realized that she, Julia, and I all have mint jeans and decided that we should all wear mint and gray one day over the Christmas break. This photo makes me smile more than any of the others. <3 :)

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I recently told a friend at church that every so often I feel like I might be overdoing it – that I wear variations of Tiffany blue too much and maybe should consider resisting the next purchase I want to make that has anything to do with it. She told me no way – this is my signature color.

I’m going with that. :)

The Writing on the Desk

“Mommy, something interesting happened today! Something mysterious!”

These are the words Emily was saying to me as I tried to navigate my SUV out of the psychotic pickup line at her school. (I swear, I still love the car line). She had just climbed into the car, and all my focus was on not hitting the other vehicles around me, so I didn’t really process what she was saying until a few minutes later when we pulled off the school campus. When her words finally sank in I actually had to have her repeat them, as it’s extremely unusual for her to volunteer information about her day – recently her school had to evacuate due to safety concerns in the neighborhood, and when Jay asked her if anything interesting had happened that day she told him she’d had pizza for lunch.

So, I had her repeat herself. She very excitedly tells me that there had been a mystery in her classroom, and that no one could solve it. Apparently, while she and her reading group partners had been working on a project, someone had written this in pencil on her desk:

Emily you are wacded

I had her elaborate a little, and I was eventually able to gather the following information surrounding the event: after finishing her project Emily had returned to her desk and found the message. At some point her teacher was informed and she was not happy about it. After asking the class who was responsible and not finding the culprit, she gave Emily a wipe to clean off her desk with. According to Emily, the last word written was impossible to read – even for the teacher – and most of the class thought it said “wasted.” (For the record, Jay and I immediately thought it said “wicked.”) She had absolutely no clue who wrote it, and was pretty giddy at the thought of a mysterious message.

Now, when Emily first started telling me about her “mystery” I was caught up in her excitement. She’s a very well-liked kid, so my first thought was that a friend was sending her a message – or maybe that she even had a secret admirer, since Valentine’s Day is around the corner. But somewhere in the middle of her story the wheels in my Momma Bear brain started spinning, and I started thinking in a different direction – that this was not a message meant to make her smile, but instead to make her cry.

I’ve been the victim of bullying, and as a result my Bully Radar triggers very easily. I imagined someone sneaking up to her desk and writing a message meant to hurt her – and I started thinking that this could explain why the last word was illegible and nonsensical… if the author had started to change his or her mind or almost got caught. I asked Emily if there was anyone in her class being mean to her, anyone that she wasn’t getting along with, anyone that she thought might be upset at her.

Very bright-eyed and cheerily she said, “No, I get along with everyone in my class. I just can’t imagine what that message meant and who wrote it!” (Picture rainbows and sunshine while she said that). She didn’t see potential threat or aggression, she didn’t see a single negative possibility. She didn’t even consider that this message might not have been a good thing. She saw intrigue – that someone in her class wrote something just for her – and that fact alone made her feel special and part of something interesting.

And in that moment my sweet, sweet Emily reminded me of something I so often forget – the importance of thinking positively. To see the good in situations. To stop fearing the worst, looking over my shoulders to see who might be out to get me. To seek the mysteries in life and let life’s experiences make me feel special.

IMG_3590_2I think I want to be more like my daughter. <3

Horses, Cows, and Miles – Oh My!

I completed my second half-marathon! It was definitely a rough ride training for this race, but in the end I managed to run all 13.1 miles without stopping – and beat last year’s time to boot! :)

IMG_5446The expo for the event was held at The Runner’s Pace, a store located in the local mall. My mom and I headed over and picked up my race day packet, which included a shirt, bib, and a couple of small freebies from local businesses. This run had a chip system unique to any others I’d experienced; after checking in at the registration table they had me stand a foot or so away from a camera and computer that scanned the chip in my bib. Once it made a beeping sound my name popped up on the computer and I was officially a participant. I loved the countdown clock too – so exciting!

IMG_4998I was definitely nervous all night, mainly out of the fear that I’d oversleep and miss my start time. Like last year I had everything I needed for the run all laid out so that I could just wake up, get dressed, and head off. The morning temperature was predicted to be in the high 30s, so I’d brought my running jacket. Since it has zippered pockets, I was able to bring my ID, insurance card, credit card, Burt’s Bees grapefruit lip balm, and my phone. I also had my iPod shuffle (loaded up with an audiobook), patella brace, sunglasses, socks, sports bra, tank top, running pants, and, of course, my beloved Asics . In the morning I got dressed, put on my bib, grabbed a Luna bar, and headed back to the mall where the start/finish line was. As soon as I got there I hit the restrooms – between my nerves and the chilly air (it was 36 degrees!), I knew I would have to tinkle before too long anyway. :)

IMG_5010The event was comprised of three races: the full marathon, the half marathon, and a 5K. All three races had the same starting line, so the races were staggered by 15 minutes, with my race beginning at 7:15a, so after the national anthem was sung and the marathoners had left, the other 13.1-ers and I headed to the starting line.

IMG_5017This particular event is considered one of the most scenic in the country, and it did not disappoint. By the end of the first mile we had left the city behind, passed a “scenic drive” sign, and entered another world. It was as if civilization had disappeared. The sun had just risen and there were rays of light streaming through the trees. A light mist rose from a nearby pond. Ducks quacked. The air was crisp. And it was soooooo quiet.

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The course certainly lived up to its claims. The country roads were absolutely beautiful.

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Along the way there were horses…

IMG_5043 … and moss-covered trees…

IMG_5083…and even cows. I just had to take a selfie with these guys. :)

IMG_5081Aside from the amazing scenery and stillness of it all, the race featured rest stops that set it apart from any other I’d heard of or experienced. The stops were spaced about 1.5-2 miles apart, and each one offered water, Gatorade, bananas, and gels (energizing snacks). They also had a port-o-potty at every stop, which was totally awesome – mainly because I totally needed one about 9 miles in. This is the face of a girl who’s trying to look like she doesn’t need to tinkle. :D

IMG_5056At around 10 miles I started to feel the effects of the hills I’d been unable to train for, and I could feel myself dragging. But I pressed on, and before too long I came out of the rural part of the course and back into the urban. The course looped back to the mall parking lot where we’d started, and as I rounded the last corner the first marathon finisher passed me, escorted by the police. But I could tell that for my family it was even more exciting to see me coming – I just love this picture of Jay telling my mom that I’m coming (you can see me running to the left of the girl in the pink – as the police escort leaves :D ).

IMG_5435Seeing my family at the finish line was the absolute best feeling ever. The girls had made signs for me, and my mom was capturing everything on her camera. This was my 10th running event since my first 5K, and out of all those events it’s only the third time I’ve had someone waiting to watch me cross the finish line.

IMG_5434And cross it I did, with a finishing time of 2:34:13, a 12-minute improvement over last year’s time! I still average about a 12-minute mile, but considering there were about a gajillion hills, I’m so happy (and shocked) that I managed to maintain that speed. And yes, once I ran past my mom’s camera I kinda forgot that the event had its own cameraman… hence the awkward pic. But hey, I FINISHED!!!

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This was by far my favorite race so far. The scenery was beautiful, the weather was perfect. I beat my previous time and wore my favorite color doing it. I conquered a new course and earned my 6th medal. I ran in a different city and crossed an item off my bucket list. But best of all, my family was there. My dad, my mom, my hunk of a man, and my beauties. Nothing could be better than that. <3

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Pull out a Puzzle

It’s National Puzzle Day! :)

PuzzleI’ve always been a lover of puzzles – word puzzles, number puzzles, logic puzzles, and of course, jigsaws. I think I get it from my mom and her side of the family; my grandfather is amazing at crossword puzzles and loved working jigsaws, my grandmother enjoys games like Clue, and my mom has always worked at various word puzzles too. Then there’s the bathroom sudoku book my family’s been contributing to for a while now…. :D I grew up loving jigsaws the best, but whenever I had to travel somewhere I just couldn’t go without a book of variety puzzles in my bag. I’m still a total nut for games like Tetris, and I’ve always thought it would be fun to be a bagger at a grocery store, fitting all those different shaped items in bags all day like a neverending puzzle.

IMG_5259Today is a day that honors all of these puzzle types and more (well, maybe not the grocery bagging). :) The benefits of working puzzles are many: they keep your mind sharp, increase spatial and logical reasoning, beat boredom, provide relaxation, increase vocabulary (word puzzles) or number sense (number puzzles), and can be lots of fun once you find a puzzle type you enjoy. Puzzles can bring people together – I love picking Jay’s brain to help me complete a crossword (I didn’t inherit any solving talent from my grandfather, unfortunately), and the girls love to help me work on my jigsaws. And of course there’s the satisfaction of completing a puzzle, no matter what kind you do.

I’m currently working on this crazy circular jigsaw that’s just a photo of grass. It’s only 500 pieces, but when the image on every piece is almost identical to the next, it’s a challenge all on its own. I can’t wait to get this one done!

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Happy National Puzzle Day, I hope you all get a chance to relax with one today!

For my other posts on puzzles click here (time lapse video), here (making a puzzle board), and here (progression of a 6,000 piece). :)

My Encounter with a Major Celebrity

In October of 2013, a spontaneous trip to a little off-the-beaten-path zoo in Georgia resulted in an unexpected face-to-face encounter with a major celebrity. A majorly good-looking, majorly talented, and majorly studly celebrity. A celebrity in a major motion picture with major co-stars. He was quite impressive to look at, but somehow I managed to keep my composure together. He was even nice enough to let me take a selfie with him. It was a majorly amazing experience, because he was one of the major stars in one of my all-time favorite movie series.

People. I met a celebrity from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.

IMG_3663Okay, so he didn’t get too close, but if you look way in the background, you can see him. No, I haven’t lost my mind – it’s the elk. He’s the major character I met :)

IMG_3670That October Jay, the girls, and I had taken a trip to Georgia with Jay’s parents. We found ourselves a little stumped for something fun to do with the girls one afternoon, and after a little Googling we discovered that we weren’t too far from a small zoo. We packed up the car and headed out to Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo.

Once we got there, we wandered around for a bit enjoying the animals – and then turned a corner and saw this:

IMG_3629It was a blue screen, a tool moviemakers use to change the background behind an actor, animal, or other object. I stopped one of the zookeepers and asked about the screen setup. She told me that the preserve was a popular spot for filmmakers – specifically, the animals. She said that they had just wrapped up the day before and were probably coming back to clean up their equipment later that day or the next. I asked her if she knew which movie they had been working on (it’s always fun to know these things), and she said something like, “I think they said it was some famous movie about… games? They were filming that elk over there, I think he’s a major character in the movie or something.” I asked her if she was talking about The Hunger Games, and she said, “Yeah, I think that’s it.”

WHAAAAAAT???

I instantly could not stop beaming, and immediately snapped a picture and sent a text to my best friend and fellow Hunger Games nut, Sanne. All I kept thinking was that if I’d just been there the day before I might have seen Peeta. Hey, a girl can dream, right? :D

IMG_3638As soon as I got home I scanned the book to see if there was any mention of an elk. I couldn’t remember one, but maybe I’d just forgotten. I also searched the internet, but there was no mention of an elk anywhere in the book there either. What was the deal with this “major character?”

Fast-forward a year, and the day after Mockingjay was released Sanne and I are in a movie theater in Times Square munching our Milk Duds and popcorn. Suddenly, there he is – the elk! He appears in the scene where Katniss and Gale are hunting in the woods above District 13. They come across him, observe him for a minute, then decide to let him live. And that’s it. That’s the elk’s major role in the movie. You can laugh now, especially because Peeta wasn’t even in the scene.

IMG_3686I did some digging online, and found a blip about the elk in an interview by Vincent Frei. He interviewed Charles Gibson, a Production Visual Effects Supervisor on the film, and this was their exchange on the subject (you can read the whole interview here):

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 2.40.33 PMSo there you go – my first major encounter with a major character in a major motion picture. When you see the movie again, look for the elk. Then think of me and try not to be jealous. :)

What to Write?

Jay’s at the wheel, jamming to Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer, and the girls are quietly coloring in the backseat – every so often one of them will share with the other what they are working on: “Hey Emily, I just colored a callapillar green!” Me? I’m riding in the car with my laptop open, trying to think of something interesting to write about.

I’m sure that until I actually began typing this I looked pretty bizarre to passing truckers (or anyone else seated in an elevated driving position). My computer sits in my lap, blank-screened, while I stare out the window. Nothing is coming to mind. The funny thing is that I actually woke up twice last night with topic ideas, but by the time I woke for good in the morning that’s all I could remember – that I had ideas.

I ask Jay what I should write about, and he throws out – jokingly – that I should write about his topic for an upcoming workshop he’s presenting. He’s a riot. I ask the girls, and after struggling for a few minutes and asking me if I’ve already written about her love for bugs (to which I replied that indeed, I already had), Emily finally said, “Whatever. Books.” I didn’t tell her that I’ve written about that too. I turn my attention to Julia, and without hesitation she says, “Pirates.” The only thing that comes to mind anymore when I think about pirates is that Johnny Depp does nothing for me.

We’re on our way to my parents’ house for the weekend, so I’ve got thoughts of them and my brother running through my head – memories of childhood always go hand-in-hand with a visit to their place, and since it’s been months since we’ve gotten together I’m looking forward to seeing them. My half-marathon is this weekend, and I’m thinking of the light, lingering cough that’s still got a hold of me, and wondering if my legs (and the weather) will be kind to me tomorrow morning as I run. Hopefully, by this time tomorrow, I’ll have another medal around my neck.

As always, God’s abundant blessings in my life are also ever-present in my thoughts: my hunk of a husband safely driving us in my car; our beautiful daughters sweetly sharing colored pencils in the backseat; our full bellies after our traditional pre-road trip breakfast at our favorite diner; a trunk packed with bags full of technology, nice clothes, and of course, my Jitney Tote from Tiffany’s.

I guess the ironic thing is that I probably have tons of things I could write about – clearly I’ve managed to write a whole post about having nothing in particular to say. But I think sometimes a lack of focus can be a good thing. I’m more relaxed than usual while writing this, and I’m a big believer that everyone should engage in metacognition now and again.

As for me, I think I’ve met today’s quota. Time to pull out my easy crossword puzzles – I’ve done enough thinking for today. :P

PS – I wrote this post yesterday and forgot to publish it – my half marathon was this morning and it was great!

Love Handles

Fat is sneaky.

You know it’s coming, because since Christmas all you’ve eaten is junk. And on top of that you haven’t been able to work out because you’ve been sick. On top of that you’ve had two kids, you’re in your mid-30s, and there’s no going back to the metabolism you had in your teens.

But nevertheless, fat creeps up on you gradually, until one day you remove your clothing before a shower and catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and there they are: LOVE HANDLES.

Now, I admit to being a momma with a muffintop. My muffintop and I have become good friends – it lets me stuff it mercilessly into my pants and squeeze it with the insistence of going down a notch on the belt buckle. And, in return, I release it from its restrained misery and allow it to respond to gravity’s call at the end of the day. I’m okay with this relationship. It grows and shrinks in response to my water (and McDonald’s) intake or current exercise levels, and I’ve become adept at managing it so it isn’t out of control. I’ve got no disillusions about my muffintop, and while I’m keen to suck it in should the outfit require me to do so, I’ve also been known to prove to people that it still exists if the outfit does not. (Sorry, Brittany). The thing is, while the muffintop might hang a bit over the top of my jeans, it all smooths back out when the day is done.

I work out fairly regularly. I eat junk, but I really make a daily effort to balance it with food that will actually nourish my body. Being sick though has done me in, and nearly 3 weeks of no exercise and “comfort food,” and there they are: two lumps of fatty mush residing just above my hips. And these bad boys don’t smooth out. Nope, they’ve decided they like it there, and that the rules of gravity don’t apply to them.

I don’t think I’ve ever had love handles before. I’m mushy and smushy, I’ve got dimples in my thighs, and I’ve been sucking in my pooch since I was on my high school swim team. But I’m pretty active and have done well maintaining my weight, so this was new territory for me.

I know, boo hoo.

But, after taking one in each hand and squeezing them a bit to be sure they were real, and pressing down on them to see if I could make my body reabsorb them, I realized that those blobs of ugly fat had snuck up on me, they were, in fact, quite real, and that they wouldn’t go away on their own. I was 100% to blame for their existence, but I was also 100% capable of doing something about it. And believe me, I will be doing something about it.

Besides, my muffintop says there isn’t room enough for all of them. :D

Running in a Santa Suit

Right before Christmas I participated in a local run called the Jingle Jog 5K. After doing a Halloween-themed 5K and a St. Patrick’s Day 10K I had my heart set on completing a Christmas event, and when I found out that this one included a finisher’s medal, I immediately signed up. Finding a 5K that gives medals isn’t easy, and since I love collecting the silly things I wasn’t going to let this one pass me by! :)

IMG_4332The event fee was $30, and included a festive bib and a Santa suit – a hat, coat (with the event name on the front), pants, a belt, and jingle bells. And, of course, the finisher’s medal. Let’s not forget the medal. :P The suit was made of a felt-like material, and I hadn’t planned to wear it, but at the last minute I decided that I was going to go for it and channel my inner Santa. I put some bells in my hair and attached the jingle bells they gave me to my shoelaces so they’d jingle when I ran.

IMG_4333Usually at these costume/themed events it seems that the crowd is pretty balanced between costumed participants and non-costumed participants. Runners and walkers alike are found to be anywhere from fully decked out to wearing everyday running attire, with a good number somewhere in between. But not this event – every single person I saw was clearly there to be a part of this 5K. There were reindeer costumes, elves, and a snowman or two – including an Olaf – and, of course, Santas everywhere!

IMG_4227I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the sea of Santas… here we all are at the starting line…

IMG_4229…starting out on our run…

IMG_4242…and heading over the first hill.

IMG_4245I ran about a 12-minute mile. I might have been able to do better had it not been for the crowd and the heat. Running in a felt Santa suit is no joke – I think that next year if I run this again I’ll be cutting off the sleeves and turning the pants into shorts. And I’m guessing it was slowing everyone else down too, because no one really seemed to be in a hurry to finish. They had Christmas carolers along the route, and I saw quite a few runners stopping to listen and join in.

IMG_4249It was a ton of fun being one of the hundreds of Santas running down our city streets, but I’ll admit that I was craning my neck over all the red hats to see if that finish line was nearing. It was SO hot in that suit! Thankfully, I saw the blue “finish” arch before I started stripping, and I crossed underneath it fully clothed. Seriously though, there was some major swoob going on under that suit.
(swoob = boob sweat. You’re welcome. :D )

IMG_4265I’ve found that events like this usually bring out the best in people, but I think that all the Christmas cheer in the air really kicked things up a notch. Everyone was laughing and smiling, and some even broke out in song at various times during the event. I had many people offering to take pictures for me once they saw my arms weren’t long enough to catch my whole suit in a selfie, and a few even exchanged Christmas greetings with me while we ran. My favorite part of the run though were all those jingle bells. Everyone had found different ways to attach them to their clothing, and it really sounded like we were running alongside Santa’s sleigh the whole time.

IMG_4277Well, that’s my favorite part if you don’t count the medal. ;)