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Monday, November 26, 2012

Our Dining Room Progress Over 2 Years

I just happened to look back at my post right after Thanksgiving 2010, and I included a little picture of our dining room. We had two folding tables that year, since we had yet to commit to dining room furniture. We did get some furniture shortly after, thanks to Stowebound Custom Furniture.

Our dining room in 2010
Well, look at it now! I just have to show it off, with the photo that I took Thanksgiving morning. Granted, the table is set properly in the 2012 photo, and I was actually trying to get a good photo (I think in the 2010 photo, I was actually just taking a picture of The Bug hanging out in the chair like he expected me to serve him). Anyway...

Dining room in 2012
Hooray for house progress!

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

What I'm Thankful For This Year

This has been quite a year. I say every year that I am more thankful than anything to be able to spend another year with my family and friends, and that my biggest fear is losing someone I love. And, this year I lost my dad. But, in the sadness and awfulness that surrounded his death and the 3 weeks of hospital time that led up to it, I can still find a few things to be thankful for in that.

The day he died, I got off of work early and headed down to the hospital. No one was there but dad, and I spent of couple of hours just sitting and reading and holding his hand. My brother and my dad's wife and her daughters and granddaughters did come later, and then they left for the night and it was just me again. I was spending the night there, since my brother had spent the night before. After everyone left, I said to dad, "you know, I had been wanting for a long time for us to spend some time one on one, since we hadn't done it in about 15 years... This really wasn't what I had in mind." He passed away less than an hour later, and I'm thankful for that time that I had with him, even if he may not have known I was even there.

And then there's my mom. She made it through a hospital stay in February and surgery in October. She's got another surgery coming in 2013, but at least things are looking pretty ok for her right now. I'm definitely thankful for that.

As for Todd and me - well, if you deciphered my photo from Tuesday, you know that we're expecting a new little family member of our own. Tuesday, we went in for an ultrasound and we were able to see our baby for the second time. The first time was at 7 weeks, and baby was just a blob on the screen. This time, he (or she, but we'll go with "he" since it's easy) was moving all around, moving his little arms and legs - and he looked like a baby! What a relief to see things progressing normally. I spent a major portion of my life thinking that I may not be able to get pregnant at all due to surgery and illness from when I was a teenager, and then I spent most of my first trimester worrying that something would go wrong. After all of that worry, getting pregnant so easily (it took seven months, if you're interested) seemed too good to be true. So, having a pregnancy - and a healthy one at that - is definitely something to be thankful for.

And -- I'm terribly thankful to be out of my first trimester. From what I've heard, the second trimester is the best one, so I can't wait! My nausea started disappearing about a week and a half ago, and last week I discovered that I actually had energy to run! Happiness! I've been running anyway, but skipping a lot of them and running a short 30 minute run in the morning would basically wear me out for the entire day. I'm definitely feeling more energetic. Although, my clothes do not fit at all. So, maybe I'm thankful for upcoming Black Friday sales on maternity clothes!

Todd started a new job in October, and he seems to be pretty happy in his new role. I'm thankful that he is working a tiny bit closer to home, and that he's found a place that makes him happy. He actually went on his job interview the very same day that I got my positive pregnancy test. Big changes all around for us, and most of all - I'm thankful that things seem to be headed in a more positive direction!

So, happy Thanksgiving everyone, enjoy family time and some delicious turkey on this lovely day!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012


To be fully baked on or around May 28, 2013...

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Cold Turkey 10K 2012

I've done this race once before, in 2010. That race happens to be my 10K PR, and I ran super fast! This year, not so much, but I went in with no goals, so that is pretty much why.

The Cold Turkey 10K takes place at my high school, so it's always a treat to go back and see how things have changed. This year, I pretty much stayed in the cafeteria, so the answer was : not much. The cafeteria looks pretty much the same as it did when I graduated in 1996.

Todd and I ran the race together. It was somewhat chilly - about 45 degrees - and I haven't adjusted to the cold yet this year, so I was cold at first. Our friend Sue joined us for the run. She was a group leader for the 10K training program and decided to take it easy for the training programs goal race and stick with us. Todd and I were basically running at a training pace and just enjoying ourselves. Between injury and other circumstances, I am not really trained for a PR and I was pretty much just running this race in order to get one more race under by belt before the end of the year.

The course starts behind the high school, winds through the complex (there are 5 schools in the complex - my middle school, my high school, the special school, the vocational school and the elementary school). Then, the course leaves the complex and heads down the road to a residential street before making a turn around to head back to the start line. It is rolling hills, including some reasonably large ones, but the $18 entry fee just can't be beat.

Here is a terrible race photo. L to R, Mark, Sue, Me and Todd
as we approach the finish
There's nothing really to report about the race - we did 1:1 intervals, and took it easy. We enjoyed the day, and met up with fellow group member Mark about a half mile from the finish. The four of us finished together at 1:17, which is somewhere in the middle of my 10K finish times (although most of my other 10Ks were finished in 70+ degree weather).

There was an awesome variety of snacks at the end, and the shirts were pretty nice. So, all in all, good race, if not eventful.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ten-Second Book Reviews

I realized that I haven't done one of these in a really long time! So, I have many to catch up on!

Midwives: It's a weird book choice, but I was curious about this one. The basic story is that a woman is giving birth at home using a midwife, and things just go horribly wrong. The midwife ends up performing a c-section on the mother, and a lengthy court battle ensues. This book reminded me a whole lot of books by Jodi Picoult, so if you like her writing and aren't afraid of the subject matter (I was told over and over again not to read it), give it a shot. It wasn't as disturbing to read as it sounds, and it wasn't as anti-midwife as it sounds (in fact, I think it gave a lot of pretty good arguments FOR home birth under normal circumstances). But, people read into things what they want.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President: Wow. I simply adored this book. It's the story of James Garfield, one of the four presidents that have been assassinated - and the one people usually forget. You know, haven't you thought "Lincoln, Kennedy... Uh, McKinley... and... ugh! Who is the other one?!" I really was expecting kind of a "meh" response to it, and I was concerned that I would be bored out of my skull reading presidential history. However, Candice Millard did an excellent job making me really believe that Garfield could have been one of our greatest presidents, if only he hadn't been needlessly shot by a crazy guy for really no reason at all. Top it all off with the fact that Garfield should have recovered from his wounds (and would have if he'd been shot only a decade or so later), and you have a wonderful, if not headshakingly frustrating story. If you're interested in history, medicine, or just want a good nonfiction read, this is one for you.

... and then I read The Soldier's Wife, and found the book that I would find "meh" and boring. It's the story of a woman living on the island of Guernsey during WWII, raising her two daughters. The island was German-occupied, and it becomes easy for her to get pretty sympathetic to the German soldiers (if you know what I mean, wink-wink). This makes it sound pretty awesome, and in fact it does pick up a little towards the end of the book. But, in general, zzzzz... I was bored. It was slow moving and bo-ring.

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1): A lot of times when I review books in a series, I review the whole series at once, but for A Song of Ice and Fire (which is the true name of the Game of Thrones series) I'm going to review them one by one. I had not yet seen the HBO series when I read Book 1, and I found it LONG and slow-moving. I liked it okay, and I gave it a so-so rating, but it wasn't until I actually watched the first season of the series that I started to truly enjoy it. This book basically sets everything up for the following books, and I think that if you're going to read the series, you should definitely start with this one and not skip ahead (even if you've seen the television series). It will be well worth it to get used to the names and the writing style, as well as learning all of the things that the series skips over. It's handy to know that there is an appendix at the end that explains the houses and who the characters are. I read on Kindle, so I didn't discover this until I was done, and it would really have been helpful to have known this all along...

Divergent: This is book one in a three-book (I think) young adult dystopian series. Does it sound like The Hunger Games based on that description? Well, the books are being touted as the next Hunger Games series, and there is a movie being made, so it's very HG-like. It's another story of a group of teens in a future dystopian world fighting each other, although not for the same reasons as in the HG series. The world is divided into "factions," and teenagers must choose which they want to be a part of. We follow the lead character through her choices, and also discover some pretty messed up things about the world she is living in. I enjoyed it, and I think that if you enjoyed The Hunger Games series, you should give this one a try.

Insurgent: The second book in the series, this one picks up right where Divergent left off (and I mean RIGHT where it left off - seconds later). Since I finished Divergent and immediately started Insurgent about a minute later, it felt to me like they were one long book. I'll say this - if you read Divergent and have a ton of questions about what is going on, and how things are working in this new world, never fear - Insurgent really answers a lot of questions. Although - it begs more questions. Based on how Insurgent ends, I think the third book in the series (not yet written or published, but author Veronica Roth is joking that it will be titled "Detergent") will hopefully tie everything up and answer the rest of the questions that I have about what is going on in this series.

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

How New York City Broke My Heart

Within an hour or two of my post yesterday, the 2012 New York City Marathon was canceled. I am still not choosing a side on the cancel vs not cancel debate. I can still see both sides.

It's reasonable to think that the marathon would have brought New York City together. I saw the people of New York last year. I know how they line First Avenue cheering for people that they don't even know. I heard strangers in Queens yelling "Thank you" for coming to their city and running the race. I didn't really consider it earlier in the week, but if someone had asked me if New Yorkers would be happy to have the marathon still go on, I would have remembered these things and probably said yes. I really, truly felt loved in New York last November. Marathons show endurance and pushing through strife - that is what we as marathoners do.

I would have also supported Mayor Bloomberg if he had chosen to cancel the race on Tuesday or Wednesday. When a city is hurting, when it is full of people who are struggling for power, or food, water or shelter, of course it would have been acceptable to cancel the race. New York just suffered a major disaster, canceling the race would have been a smart choice. Like I said yesterday, I couldn't imagine the marathon without the subway, so the decision to go on with the race was actually a surprise to me.

So, I am not choosing sides in that debate. Maybe I am naive to think that the Mayor had the city's best interests in mind when he chose to go forward with it, I don't know. I am not the mayor of New York City, so I don't have to make such decisions - and therefore I'm not going to.

So, what is my problem? When the race wasn't canceled, runners were placed in a difficult decision about whether or not still come and run. On the one hand, the mayor and the NYRRs were saying "come, it is fine." On the other hand, the backlash from New Yorkers was staggering. People who have trained for months, paid potentially thousands of dollars in airfare, hotel and race entry fees were forced to consider whether or not to run a race that was apparently still going to happen. Some of these people were running to run a marathon. Some of them were running for a cause such as cancer, autism, heart disease, and any other number of charities. Some of them had raised thousands of dollars under the assumption that they would run the race. Some of them had planned to pin photos of loved ones lost to disease or tragedy to their shirts and run in their honor. Running a marathon, especially New York City, is not just about running. Not only that, but the marathon in 2011 brought in $350 million in revenue to the city. That's not something to sneeze at.

Even this week, runners planning to still run the race were collecting supplies to bring to New York with them. They were struggling over the decision of whether or not to run. They were raising money for hurricane victims. They were offering to volunteer to help in New York after the run. They were trying to help.

So, when I read the things that New Yorkers were saying online, not about the NYRRs, not about Mary Wittenberg, not about Mayor Bloomburg, but about the actual runners of the race and the race itself, I felt betrayed by the city that had welcomed me and loved me just a year ago for coming and running through the streets. I feel that there is a vast misunderstanding about the race, about the runners and about how this event could have been turned into a positive thing once the decision was made to go ahead with it. This could have been a rallying cry, but instead it was an embarrassment.

What I saw on Facebook was runners being called selfish. Runners were called narcissists, shallow, and swear words that I won't repeat. Some people posted that they wanted the marathon canceled not only this year, but forever. Others worked on organizing people to go down to the marathon to throw garbage at the runners as they ran the race. Some people posted that they were hoping and praying that runners would die during the race. I kid you not, they said these things. Where was the woman holding up the sign that said "Brooklyn loves you!" just 12 months ago? Was she collecting garbage to throw? I can look at it as "these are just comments on the internet", but they were so fierce and so terrible, that I would have feared for my safety if I was a runner running the race tomorrow, and I would have canceled simply because I felt so unwelcome.

Runners are not the enemy here, but no one seems to realize that, and because of that, I am heartbroken and sad. The people of New York are the reason that the New York City Marathon is so great. Without their support, the marathon is nothing. And, I don't know how I would feel even in 2013 about coming to their city to run with the attitude that I see now.

Maybe the problem is that I tend to sense a general hatred of marathons and runners anyway. Just take a look at Chicago's 5 Things to Hate About Marathon Runners. Or how about when a mayoral candidate in Toronto made it an election platform to remove the marathon from its city streets? Or how about all of the examples that many of us have had about road rage against runners? Maybe I feel like people hate runners and marathoners anyway, so this whole charade was boiling all of that resentment to the surface. And it makes me really, really sad. I mean, the runners that are being chastised for "taking away resources" from victims are the same people that paid $255 each to pay for those resources to exist in the first place.

Let's also not forget that the basketball and football games will go on this weekend - and they will bring in more people to the city than runners planning to run tomorrow. Is it any wonder that I feel like there is a bias against running going on here?

In the end, the decision to cancel last night was probably the worst thing that could have happened. If the argument is that runners were taking hotel rooms from those in need, then canceling the race when these runners had already gotten into town was not helping anyone. If the argument was that the water, bagels, bananas, etc being brought in for the marathon should have been used to help the victims - I wonder if it actually will be. It's not exactly the NYRR's area of expertise to distribute bagels and water across a huge city to victims of a disaster. And, I wonder what if the marathon hadn't been planned and none of those things had been there in the first place? And I wonder if the victims would have been better served by the charity the runners were feeling coming into town - which has now been soured. Yes, there were generators being used to power the race - but do we really think that those generators would be redirected to the victims if the race hadn't been going forward? Do we really think they'll go the victims now? I don't.

I am disappointed in the whole ordeal. If the race was to be canceled, it should have been canceled on Tuesday or Wednesday. I would not have questioned that decision. Instead, we have an embarrassment and a debacle and cluster that I am ashamed of.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

NYC: Cancel or Don't Cancel?

I'm really torn on this. First of all, let me just have a moment of total and complete selfishness where I say that I'm glad that I ran the New York City Marathon last year.

New York was devastated during Hurricane Sandy, and the storm happened less than a week before the annual ING New York City Marathon. The NYC Marathon last year had over 46,000 finishers. That's a big race! It is, in fact, the largest marathon in the US. The race runs through all 5 boroughs of NYC, and has more spectators than I have ever seen at any other race. The people of New York come out for this and support the race, that's true.

That being said, the subway is still crippled. Parts of the city are without power. Emergency crews have been running around the clock to restore the city to normal. New York is not at its best right now.

Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the New York City marathon would go on as planned this Sunday. The New York City Road Runners are going ahead with it. Was this the right decision??

I have no idea.

The one thing that I think a few people fail to realize is that you cannot reschedule a 47,000 runner race. The logistics of doing so render it impossible - closing the city, rescheduling the support, getting new food and water and/or storing the water. Rescheduling a few weeks from now would bump against the Thanksgiving day parade. Rescheduling months from now would most likely begin to impact the 2013 marathon, which starts getting underway in April for registration. It's have the race this weekend, or don't have it at all. There are no other options, and none should be expected.

What if it was canceled? Well, I am sure most runners will find another race, if there are races that are still open. I would imagine other races that aren't already full would become so. Not that this is important. Would it hurt the morale of the city to have such an important event canceled? Would revenue in the city be lost - revenue that the city desperately needs right now? Is it better to have something to make people feel positive and happy about something?

What if it isn't canceled? To be honest, I cannot imagine the race without the subway running. It was critical to my race day plans. A lot of attention is being shown to emergency workers,who are already worn thin. Can they handle this event? Will the backlash from people upset about the marathon mean that it will not be as welcome in future years?

My initial thought was not to cancel, only because I feel like of course you should have it! Marathons are a great thing!! Marathons spread love and happiness, and that's what people need! You do things after a tragedy to bring yourself back up, that's how the world works. "We just can't do it" doesn't seem to be motto of the New York City that I know. But, it doesn't seem like NYC necessarily agrees with me. So, I don't know. I am curious to see how it goes, and I am curious to see how many finishers there are this year - I know that several people that I knew who were running it have dropped out.

What I do hate more than anything is that the comments that I see on Facebook revolve around selfishness. Oh, you're a runner, you're so selfish. I hate that word. Do people no realize how much money marathons raise for charities?  Geez.

Good luck, NYC runners, regardless!

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