Monday, December 23, 2013

Entering Narnia

We stayed at the Inn at Pocono Manor on Friday night and were greatly pleased to find a giant wardrobe in one of the rooms of the suite.

We thought we might lose Helen, as she tried to enter the wardrobe.

She never did tell us what she saw - but I do believe her acting classes are starting to pay off

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Current Events Fail - Even the Play-Doh Makers are More Informed Than Me

It seems A LOT of stuff happens in this world without me having any knowledge. As I've said before in this space, I'm OK with that - though it can be embarrassing when someone mentions a recent event and I stare blankly, quickly trying to figure out what they are talking about. Sometimes, I get lucky, and discover they're talking about a TV show - and then I can just give my standard line about saving TV for when I'm older. But other times? I'm not so lucky.

As a little test of my knowledge of what happened in 2013, I checked out the PLAY-DOH recreations of last year's events -  "A year in PLAY-DOH Moments".

The results?

Not good, people. But there's one that Helen and I both nailed.

I already miss our trip to London last summer. But for the record - if Will and Kate ever need a babysitter - Helen and I are available! We don't mind the inconvenience of traveling at all.


Monday, December 16, 2013

My Friends are Problem Solvers!

After posting about my very sad non-chocolate treat purchase, a friend walked down the hallway and handed me a snack size Snickers bar. It was so amazing. I even ate the whole thing since it was already half-sized. It was particularly nice of my friend to bring me the Snickers bar because it was outside of her office that I had left the offensive Twizzlers. She could've come and told me she got sick from eating Twizzlers, much like I had done the day earlier, and asked me to keep my stinky treats to myself. But instead, she gifted me some chocolate.

Then, my friend Karen, who writes a brilliant blog - The Yellow Ladybird, emailed to commiserate with me, and thought I ought to right the wrong by making myself a decadent hot chocolate drink.

I did.

Thank you, Karen. It was delicious.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Something I Should Know About Myself - Chocolate and Not-Chocolate

There are two kinds of treats. Those that are chocolate - and those that are not chocolate. The ones in the former category are always superior to the ones in the latter category. I know this for a few reasons.

First, some days, I decide to eat a candy bar while I'm sitting at my desk at work. When I do this, I eat half of the candy bar, and save the other half for later.* Then, for the next several days, when I open my desk drawer (which is a somewhat rare event, as the stuff I actually need is piled all over my desk, rather than tucked away in the drawers) I get all excited that I have half a candy bar in there. Most of the time, I don't even eat it, because I think about how excited I will be the next time I find the candy bar, and I want to feel that thrill again.**

Second, whenever I eat something that is chocolate, I am happy. It doesn't even matter how much I eat. I am always happy. I do not feel this way when I eat other treats.

I tell you this all as background, and I'm writing it here as a reminder to myself, lest the events of yesterday not be repeated by me again.

Here's what happened.

I had a coupon for $5 of free stuff at CVS. Woohoo! I decided to go get myself 5 candy bars, because having 5 candy bars in my desk would be almost more awesome than I can imagine. Right? I mean, opening the desk drawer with half a candy bar is good, so FIVE must be amazing.

Unfortunately, I cannot report if it is amazing, because when I got to CVS, I saw an ad for Twizzlers. Two giant packages for $5.00. Coincidence? I don't think so. The fates were clearly telling me something. And I listened!

I was initially very excited about the thought of all that high fructose corn syrup pulsing through my veins, and reminded myself of the 3.5 miles I had run the night before, so I convinced myself I really, really should eat the Twizzlers.

I ate one. Meh. It was OK, but not that good.

So I ate another. That one also was not very good.

So I ate a third. And then I realized I felt horribly ill.

So here I am, with my two GIANT packages of Twizzlers and NO candy bar, and all I could think about was how awesome it would be to have a candy bar instead of the Twizzlers.

I foisted the Twizzlers off on my coworkers (who apparently love them because the entire bag was gone when I got to work this morning).

And then I resolved to write this little reminder to myself to never be tricked again into buying any treats that fall into the not chocolate category. They are terrible. They will bring you no happiness. They are definitely inferior to chocolate.

I won't even bother to open my desk drawer today because all I will think about is how I COULD still have 4.5 candy bars in there if I had done what I set out to do yesterday and purchased the candy bars. But instead? My drawer is void of chocolate.

*I should note here, that it was not until I was an adult that I realized eating half a candy bar is a ridiculously weird behavior. My sister does it, too, and because we spent a lot of time around each other during the formative years of our lives, we reinforced this weird behavior in each other and came to think of it as normal. I was sharing a beach house with friends one weekend about 10 years ago when someone noticed my half candy bar sitting around. They inquired whose it was, and Ed told them it had to be mine. How did he know? Because apparently I am the only person who eats only half the candy bar. The other people at the beach house then alerted me to the fact that this is an extremely weird behavior.

**This is probably also weird, but it produces a lot of happiness for me - way more than just eating the other half upon discovery.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Decorating the Tree

On December 1, we performed the traditional tree decorating ritual. Only this year, I decided to parse out a few ornaments and leave the rest in the box. It was both fun - and will be easy to clean up when the season passes! Grinch - I know.

Helen is finally tall enough to hang the stocking on the mantle with no stool. She was extremely proud of this feat. And yes - Aunt Linda - the kids ADORE the two stockings you made them. Simply gorgeous.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

First 5K for Connor

On Saturday, this kid ran 11:53 minute miles and completed his first 5K. Ed paced him, which is good for two reasons. First, absent Ed, Connor likely would've tore across the start line in such a fashion that he would've been burned out completely in 50 yards. Second, I signed Connor up incorrectly, so he was officially signed up for the 1 mile run, not the 5K. This is only important because it means Connor gets a start time for the 5K, but not an end time. As far as the record book knows, that kid is still running.

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Because I am trying to run faster and longer, I ran the race in front of Ed and Connor. It was an out and back course, and I missed Connor and Ed when I passed them, so I really had no idea where they were. After I finished, I grabbed a bagel (for Ed) and a banana (for me) and went in search of my men.

As soon as I saw Connor get close to the home stretch, I ran with him cheering, and he turned the jets on! That kid sprinted hard, had a look that he might die when he was only halfway through the home stretch, and then kicked it in gear and crossed the line running.

I was thrilled and proud of Connor - because I knew it was hard for him.

I want that kid to know his body can be strong and fast. So that some day? When he has the option of running through a forest or driving through it, he gets out of the car and runs.

After the race, Connor said he planned on training more for the next run, and even volunteered to join me at my 6AM workouts that I've been doing the last three weeks. I'm not sure he's ready to join the moms in the neighborhood yet, but I'm already looking forward to when he is.


Make Your Own Shirt!

A few weeks ago, a representative from Allied asked me if I was interested in creating a shirt and then reviewing it over here. I was very excited - and then I just couldn't find inspiration for what to do.

Your job? Upload text or photos to Allied, and then they'll make you a shirt. Easy, right?

Well...apparently you need to be more creative than me. Because I am newly in love with my new running group "Moms on the Run", I decided to upload their logo to Allied and voila - I got a shirt - which I wore in the Jingle Bell 5K.

The shirt is quite nice. I ordered a small, and it appears to be true to size. I've washed the shirt twice at this point, and the logo I had printed still looks good. There's several quality levels, sizes, and fits. Mine is the short sleeve budget Gildan tee with front printing. I'm considering making it my official race shirt - and I'm also considering writing the races I complete in permanent marker on the back.

I'm thinking I need to spend some time on a project and make some sort of family shirt - for our trip to the Dude Ranch next summer! (more to come on that)


Friday, December 6, 2013

Advent Calendar

It seems we hit the ground running with Christmas this year. Connor and Helen (especially Helen) were eager to get the tree up and even more eager to pry their Advent calendars open. We've abandoned the cheap chocolate calendars in favor of the Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar (Connor) and a homemade calendar (Helen). Connor loved his Lego calendar last year (that he purchased himself with birthday money) and Helen doesn't like the cheap chocolates that come in the calendars I used to purchase, so she ended up giving it all away to Connor.

True to form, Connor loves the Lego Star Wars calendar. And, I hate to admit it, but it does provide him with a lot of fun. And really, how much worse is a tiny cheap plastic toy than a piece of chocolate?

Helen's calendar is still incomplete. I purchase a wooden frame that needed to be put together that has 25 cardboard boxes that get pulled out. I had dreams of how this calendar would look. Yes, I had dreams. But, in typical fashion, the dreams were a bit beyond both my capabilities and the time available for the project. So instead of a really awesome and beautiful calendar, Helen got this.

No matter. She's pleased as can be. She even knows several of the items in the calendar, but it doesn't seem to damper her excitement much at all about finding them on their appropriate day. In fact, she even made a couple of the items in the calendar! Several of the items in the calendar are little notes that say "Have a cup of hot cocoa with mom" or "Go on a trailer bike ride with Dad". Connor threw in a few of his own, which I thought was pretty sweet of him. He also had a few little things that would fit in the boxes sitting around, so he gifted them to Helen. Two days ago, she received a shark's tooth that Connor had cast in plaster. The first thing Helen did after opening it was run upstairs and thank Connor. At this age at least, a little something can go a long way.

The first day, Helen opened the supplies to make this tree. I stole the idea from here. I fell in love with it last year, when I first saw it posted, but didn't have the time to execute. Our version has a sample of nearly every color of wool I've dyed over the years. I did the cutting of the wool, and then Connor helped Helen sew it all together. It was the first ornament on our tree.

Importantly, I haven't put numbers on any of the drawers. I wait to do that until the night before when I have a better sense of what I can accomplish the next day. For example, I don't want to give her a ticket to have cocoa with me if I'm going to be gone at bedtime. And likewise, I'm not going to ask Connor to make good on his promise to jump on the neighbor's trampoline with Helen if it's cold and rainy.

So far, so good. Though tonight I'm scheduled to make a popcorn garland for our tree - and I'm a little bit nervous about the mess that's going to follow.

Now...I just need to think of things for the last 8 days of Advent so that Helen doesn't get surprised by the empty boxes!