31 March 2011

I've been dually honored...

that's me :P

KD of Life – Inspired by the Wee Man has tagged me with a Versatile Blogger award :)
Do I think I'm versatile?

You got that right ;-)

Who else writes deeply emotionally-charged stories of forgiveness one day and then four days later is showing you a spurtle?

I like subtitle movies AND Barney.

My versatility speaks in so many different ways... 
that's why I'm versatile :D

There is lots and lots of information already available on me, XLMIC... 
click here to see the collection.

But KD is clamoring for more!  Woo hoo! So here goes... As a recipient of this great honor, I share 7 random things about myself... sounds suspiciously like the Stylish Blogger Award, hmmmmmm.... so since Adam over at I Am Boring stuck honored me with THAT one, 

let's kill two birds with one stone... 
Shall we?

watch out... this is going to be picture-heavy :)

Number One:  I always wanted to travel but never had the chance... unless you count Cuba (see pic in sidebar... and vote!).  But when I met my man and found out he was a wannabe traveler, too, we just could not be stopped.  Not even by .... kids!  We dragged our oldest everywhere... even in utero.      
Hawaii, 4 months pregnant
Looking super-glam in front of the cathedral at Chartres in France,
6 months pregnant
On the way to L.A... not sure if this was before or after I shot the guy across the aisle with a 
high-powered stream of breastmilk! Big G was 5 weeks old.
 New Zealand, south island... getting ready to get in that little plane to go see Milford Sound...
NZ, north island... Cape Reinga at the norther tip of the country. I am what seems to be the third person to the left of the lighthouse... the one holding the baby, trying to protect him from the CRAZY wind!
Big G was 9 weeks old...
yes, it was insane but AWESOME!
In the crown of Lady Liberty on a trip to NYC.
It was freezing, he was teething and I got my first postpartum period... surprise! Fun times :)
Baby boy was 4 months old.
We slept on the most uncomfortable sleeper sofa in the whole entire universe (not that there are many comfy ones, but...) and I actually ended up sleeping on the floor... with my baby.
Yeah, Paris, France.
He was 6 months old.
What I remember the most of this trip was tons of spit up and the first time my hip collapsed :(
It was still fun anyway.
Chicago to visit one of my very best friends and her three kids.
Big G is in the yellow shirt. The boy in the white is only 3 MONTHS older than Big G, who was 8 months old. He still a very big boy and Big G is still very small.

No, not done yet ;-)

Moorea... a heart-shaped island off the coast of Tahiti.
Super fun except for some sourness on the part of our traveling companions. And it was truly a tropical paradise!
Big G was almost 10 months old.
 Switzerland... the Schilthorn...
the patio of the revolving restaurant from that James Bond movie
 Hiking down from there... like the psycho-overachiever that I am... holding on to cables with a baby in a pack is not something I necessarily recommend...
On the same trip, we went to Italy... this is in Bellagio.
Little kids LOVE gravel! They can be entertained for hours if there is any gravel.
He was 11 and a half months old when we got home from this trip.

Number Two:  I had a boyfriend with a motorcycle. Despite the fact that I look happy, I really hated it... it freaked the crap outta me.

Number Three:  I used to dye my hair blonde.  Now I dye it regular.  So it's not grey.

Number Four:  I have only been camping once. Well, when I was a kid I think we went camping three times... two cross-country driving trips and one trip to a state park... but I remember very little of how to camp.  My husband took me camping for my 33rd birthday... one night in a tiny tent...
So. Fun.

Number Five:  I have dual citizenship... and so do my kids. My husband is jealous and is working on getting it, too.

Number Six: I suffer from chilblains. It hurts and it looks gross.

Number Seven:  I have tons and tons of embarrassing photos of my kids :D

These are just two.


I am really stuck for who to award these to next... so I'll give it to all of you!  Please leave a comment for us and share your randomness!  Pretty please!  

30 March 2011

I hate my toilets. (this IS running-related... sort of...)

Just once I want to just flush...


I want to not plunge.

Or flush twice. Or thrice.

Or quattrice... is there a word for 'four times'?

I have expressed my ... frustration... for our low-flow toilets before

I hate them.

I have been told that it is not the toilet, it is the paper. HA! Lies. These things clog even without paper.

When I was having my "issue" none of this was an issue.  But since things have been "resolved"... we are back to clog-central :(  And we rent, so changing out the toilets is not an option.

Here's the running part:

We all know that exercise helps with ... "resolution".  And last night I went running.  And I was reminded at the end of that difficult tempo run when all I wanted to do was chill out and be a blob on the sofa while my sweet husband served me the awesome dinner he had prepared exactly why I hate our low-flows.  Grrrr....  Plunge-o-rama.

It was a GREAT tempo run.  A little warm up followed by a little bit o' drills. Then 3 miles at threshold (for me that means @ 9:23/mile)... and there were supposed to be some 100's after that, but I am still wicked sore from the marathon relay on Sunday and didn't want to chance injury.  Including the cool down, it was a total of 5 miles.  Average of 9:16/mile pace... the splits were super consistent.  Yay, me! :)

I've got an easy 5 on the books for tomorrow and .... TEN slated for this weekend.  I am nervous about that.  We'll see...

And I'm not even going to mention all the awesome chances to win crap that I have going on right now... you can see them in the sidebar ;-)

Musique pour Mercredi... and CONTESTS!

Getting the business out of the way first...

Remember to VOTE!!!  
>  >  >  >  >
you just click on that picture of me and Fidel Castro and you should be transported to your very own voting station... there you will click on the voting button.  In case you are late to the game (or haven't been paying attention) the competition has heated up... we (click on that to see why I say "we") are now not only facing the cute cuddliness of the Berenstain Bears and the immortality of plasticated Charo, but the allure of David Duchovny as well as the power behind the Dark Side... Darth Vader!

And if you are a gadget-lover, or need to find a wedding shower or housewarming gift, enter to win a $20 gift card to Williams-Sonoma! click on that or check the sidebar :)

And now for our musicale interlude...

This was #13 on France's pop chart last week.  Soooooo bizarre...

The song plays through twice, the first time with the subtitles and the second time without.  I found the scrolling words to be most distracting.  But I have attention span issues :P

Do you like subtitles?
– in movies where I can't understand the language... yes! But I hate it when the words distract from the action... or when I can't read the dang words 'cuz the type is too light or too dark and really have no clue what is being said.

Why do you think only 5 people have entered the gift card giveaway?
– someone told me that the instructions were too complicated. Another person said the instructions were in a font that is too small to read. Is Williams-Sonoma a sucky company? What do you think?

28 March 2011

Granny's Gadgets – Quarterly Review and Giveaway!

Don't be alarmed!

I am not out of gadgets! There are still many more to come :)

This little change-up is to give us all a bit of a breather, have a chance to see what we've learned, digest the information and talk about which are winners and which are ... not. I know you can go to my tabbed page "Granny's Gadgets" and check out what we've seen so far, but how many people do that? So I am putting it all together into this one post, so we can easily compare.

And there is a lil' giveaway attached to this whole shebang!

The Meat Pounder started the gadget game... it was a mystery. And in its post, how I came to be in possession of Granny's Gadgets is explained. Mandatory reading for any GG lover :)

Over the past 12 weeks, we've seen 4 gadgets that are egg-related.  There was the super cool egg topper, the nostalgic egg slicer, the bizarre contraceptive-device-esque egg peeler, and the nearly-unanimously-agreed-as-unnecessary egg separator.

There were three items that relate directly to baking... the very handy pie-slice-lifter-outter thing, the well-loved and oft-used apple corer, and the super birthday gadget... the cake tester!

We pondered seemingly-broken utensils... our grapefruit tools :P

And rounded things out with our Valentine's Day-appropriate spurtle (who doesn't love saying that?) and attempted to take fancy presentation to famous-restaurant-standards with the butter stamp mold thingamajig.

This brings us to the giveaway part...

To help you start (or continue) your own gadget collection, you can win a...
$20 gift card 

There are several ways to win this amazing jumpstart toward your own heirloom Granny's Gadgets set. Here's how you can enter:

  1. Mandatory!(only this first one is mandatory)  write a comment telling which was your favorite gadget video to date and why (gets you 1 entry), then you can also...
  2. leave a comment about which gadget you wish you had (1 more entry) OR
  3. post a comment detailing which gadget you felt was a dud and why (2 entries!) OR
  4. go to the Taking It On Facebook page and click "like" (another 2 entries) OR
  5. link this giveaway on your blog or Facebook (worth 2 entries) OR
  6. tell me what kind of gadget do you hope to see in the future! (1 more entry)

You get a brownie point for being a public, official follower of Taking It On... but you needn't follow if you don't like to read my stuff :P And do let me know in the comment that you are a follower. If you add it all up, that's TEN possible ways to win! WOW! I know!

You don't need a google account to leave a comment... anyone can leave a comment :)
And you don't need to leave a separate comment for each entry if you don't want to, just maybe put the corresponding 'ways to enter' number in front of each entry within a single comment... I can add them all up and sort it all out.  

The entries will close Monday April 4, 2011 at 8 a.m. I will announce the winner in that day's Granny's Gadgets post.

Good luck to all who choose to play!  And remember...

you've gotta play to win ;-)

(And don't forget to vote in the photo contest in the sidebar!!!)

Disclaimer:  Williams-Sonoma had nothing to do with this giveaway, other than selling me the gift card ;-)  This giveaway is solely a way of thanking gadget-lovers, followers and "likers" for supporting my blog... and trying to find out if anyone is actually paying attention to this mess :P 

Oakland Marathon Relay Recap!

Such a sunshiny medal!

I could sum this run up in three words...

Smoked. Pissed. Thrashed.

But that would be super boring ... and you all want to know the details, right?

Right off the bat, I need to tip my hat to all the finishers of this full marathon... they are all rockstars, each and every one of them deserves a Nail award.  This course is really, really demanding.  The elevation profile doesn't do the difficulty justice... at all.

Danny pointed out that if you do the math, it is just a 1% incline.  F that noise.  The subtleties are absent in that profile.  The climbing seems to never. stop. for. eleven. miles.  Okay, there are microscopic dips and levels occasionally... but they are just enough to give you the hope to keep on truckin'... and just enough to make it equal that 1% figure, balancing out the climbs.  Imagine, if you will, going uphill for the first 11 miles of a marathon.  Not up and down hills... but UP.  Just UP.

Okay, now on to my leg o' this madness...

The whole shebang was beginning at 7:30 a.m. down at City Hall.  The lead-off runs 6 miles up into the hills and hands off mid-hill to #2.  Here is the scene at the hand-off:

My lead-off thought it would take her about an hour to get there, meaning a hand-off at around 8:30. I arrived at around 8:15 to get warmed up and nervous excited.  It was a really cool scene... I have never participated in a relay, and I have never done a big, urban marathon before.  The diversity of peoples in every single way imaginable was awesome!  The relay component sky-rocketed this level of diversity, I think.  As I was watching the people pass by or hand off at this spot, I started to realize just how hard the lead-off leg was.  When my lead-off got there, the hand-off went smoothly, and I started my chug up the hill.

I knew right away that this was just a test of survival.  And I couldn't imagine the fortitude of those doing the full.  The course winds through a hilly residential neighborhood that is very lovely... I saw none of it.  It goes through a little neighborhood shopping area... it was a blur... and not because of my speed.  It was ALL. UP. HILL.  About a mile and a half into my leg, I got smoked. She was the first relay person to pass me. Smoked. Ah, well....
Then I heard these guys!
How could I not stop and take a picture?
this was in the middle of a moderate hill that felt like freaking the Alps...
appreciate that I stopped and took a pic for the blog 'cuz 
starting again was so hard :P
When I got to the top of the Alpenhorn incline, I got smoked by some chick who runs for the same club as the other smoker. Sheesh.... I just watched her bright gold shirt zoom off in the distance ahead...

The course leveled off for a moment, and I entertained ideas of speeding up to try and stay the same distance behind her... but then the incline started again and I just focused on steady running and smiling :) The 10-mile mark (for me indicating about a mile to go) was at the top of that particular incline... things got really steep as you near that mark... then you go through a parking lot and past the Mormon Temple.  There were LOTS of people cheering in front of the Temple.  As you round that bend, the huge descent begins....


Knowing that I would be done in about one mile and the hill was about one mile, meaning that once I was at the bottom, I was almost done, I just let 'er rip.  But....

I had to pee.

No matter how delicately you try to run down a massive hill, it is going to be somewhat jarring.  And... well... I pissed in my pants.  Not completely.  But enough.  And I totally didn't care 'cuz I was almost duh-huunnn!  Mile 10 to Mile 11 was done in 8 minutes.  Things leveled there and I could see my hand-off point.  My girl was right in front.... waving and waiting.... I was sooooooo happy to see her!  I gave her the thingy and that was it. Over. Wet.

And my legs were thrashed.

My family was there waiting!  Woo hooo!  Actually the kids were all sitting in the car, supremely annoyed that they had to leave the house in the morning to drive into the ghetto to see mommy run.  But they cheered up when I announced that I was sorry it would be smelling like pee in the car because I peed in my pants.  Yeah, they thought that was hilarious!

I went home and took a shower and washed my hair... but this is me at home before cleaning up, still in my spiffy racing duds... 20-year old peed-in Sporthill pants and a faded 15-year old cotton tank top. My shoe is untied because the car key was in there.

Here is my team!
We finished the whole thing in a combined-effort 4:13 and change.
My leg was a little over 5 miles in just under 50 minutes.  And our anchor (the woman in black) 
did her 7.5 miles in one hour.
I went back to the finish line after I got showered and changed... kinda lame, but...

And I had a heck of a time finding parking because of all those dang marathoners!  
I did such a totally amazing job parallel parking,
I had to share it.
Be impressed!

That is my mondo pickup truck... 
really, I parked it between those two cars.
With no help.

Did you race this weekend?  How'd it go?

Are you a good parallel parker?
– this truck is 23 feet long.  It is a crew cab, long bed.  And it's wide.  I am a parking rockstar.

Don't underestimate The Force!

I neeeed your votes!
>  >  >  >  >  >  >

First we were up against the Berenstain Bears... and in a dorkiness contest, those guys are pretty hard to beat.

Then it was Charo.  The girl is looking "tired" and plastic... and the contestant is looking pretty dorky ;-)

I thought the competition couldn't get any stiffer after they threw David Duchovny at us.  Not too much dorkier than having your pic taken with a sex addict celebrity.

But now it's....

Darth Vader!

Guys! Help! Fidel and I need your votes to win you the prize!

Remember... I am doing this for all of YOU! click on that to see the deets...

So go click on that pic in the sidebar... it'll take you right to the voting station.  And go click on that Facebook badge a little lower down on my sidebar, then "like" that Taking It On Facebook page for a chance to share in the contest winnings.

Ever had your picture taken with a celebrity?  If yes... go enter the contest!

26 March 2011

Marathon relay? Tomorrow? Me?!!


Okay!  :)

A friend called me this morning.  One of my pack of running friends... we are a pack, like wolves... a pack of ... I don't know how many 'cuz I think I am the Lone Wolf.

I know some of my friends run, but I don't always know which ones run. We don't talk about running... ever. I know they run because I will occasionally see a Facebook update about how one of them just finished an awesome 8-miler (the same route I had done the day before... alone) or how one of them has been training for a half-marathon and is getting on a plane in the morning to go to the race.

I always leave a comment. Something like, "Hey! I ran that this weekend, too! Want to buddy up next weekend?" or "Awesome! Hope it goes well! Let me know if you ever want to go running together when you get back in town :)" They always reply along the lines of, "Yeeaaaahhhhh..... okay....." And I continue my loopy-doo figure-eightyeights inside The Gate... in the dark... alone.

Until someone drops out of a relay team.

And I get the call.

They all know I am running now because since last October I have been ramming down their throats posting links to my blog on Facebook. I am not sure if they think I am laughable or intimidating :P But maybe my beginning cross-training has signaled a certain je ne sais quoi ... indicating a level of seriousness heretofore unmentioned or alluded to leads to these kinds of calls.

"Hey, XL... what're you doing tomorrow?'
"Hi, Y! I don't have any plans... what's up?"
"Want to run in the Oakland Marathon Relay tomorrow? Our second leg just dropped out on us."
"OOOoooooo (squeal of delight)! Sure! How far?"
"Between 5 and 6 miles... we have everything... the hand-off is at Temescal... you know where that is?"

I know where it is and am remembering checking out this race about 2 weeks ago as a possible "training run" as there is also a 10K and a half as part of this Oakland Running Festival. And I am realizing that the leg they want me to take is ... ummmm... well, killer.  And not in a "ooooo, killer dress, doll!" sort of way.
Check out this hump... That'll be me.
No wonder their second leg dropped out :P

Would you jump into a race like this... even if were against the rules?

25 March 2011

Vecchio Venerdì... She would be about 160...

"Goma" Haüssler 
was born in the 1850's in Germany. 

She was my grandfather's grandmother, 
my father's great-grandmother, 
my great-great-grandmother.

She immigrated to the US around 1880 or so.  

She was in a challenging marriage to a difficult man... described in genealogical literature as an "itinerant butcher" who "liked to drink."  Awesome... big knives, big booze.  Not a winning combo.  

Interestingly, his death proves this.  

He was injured in a knife fight over a game of cards. Alcohol was involved. Apparently, he was playing at a friend's house...not sure if they called them 'playdates' back then. The cards came out. The liquor was flowing. Order is not important.  Someone may or may not have cheated but someone thought he did. And.... out came the knife.

Ol' Karl got stabbed.

Evidently, this signaled "game over" to him, and he decided to walk home.

In central Pennsylvania... in the winter.

In the snow.

I'm thinking wifey was no stranger to such shenanigans and did not have a whole lot of sympathy.  I don't think a doctor was called, but that part is unclear.  What we do know is that a couple of days later, he bled to death from the injuries sustained... in the kitchen, on the floor.

Agnes looks pretty content in this picture.  I am going to venture a guess that it was taken after Karl's demise.

Any colorful characters in your family tree?
–there are lots in mine. This is all for this week, though ;-)


And remember to VOTE today!   
and if you didn't get the skinny on how YOU can win, too... click here!

24 March 2011

The P90X Workout for Moms

My husband follows the P90X program. I often watch and listen while he works out, and I have heard them refer to this particular episode... the one my husband does the least... as the "The 'Mother' of all P90X Workouts".  I have asked my husband why he rarely does this workout. His answer: it's mostly for legs and his legs are fine. shhhhh... but I think it's because they call it a workout for moms.

Well, since I was home alone with 3 kids and it was raining, going for a run yesterday or last night was out of the question
but after the comedy-of-errors morning I'd had, I was needing some sort of something to soothe my soul... or something...
So I decided an evening consisting of a casual 'Mom Workout' that focuses on legs was just the ticket to end my day right :)

I figured it'd help clear my head, get a couple of lonely endorphins kickin' around maybe help them find a few friends, be a semi-substitute for the run that was on the schedule...

What is this 'workout for moms'?
it is

Gonna do a lil'

But first I needed some o' this...

I have single-handedly eaten all of that which you see is missing.

After filling my pie-hole with ... well... with pie, I put the kids to bed and suited up.

Time for a lil'

There is a guy in the demonstration group who has a prosthetic leg... meaning he is doing the workout with one leg.  ONE.  I think he can be considered a nail.

It took about 45 minutes to do the workout, including the warm up and the cool down.  It was really hard.  I had the most trouble with the regular jumping jacks... but that is not fitness-related. Remember, I've had 4 kids... next time I just need a pad or something... but only for that exercise. I did my best and left the rest.  Then I needed some more pie.

The P90X Mother's Workout gets my vote.  But... is this cross-training?  I really didn't want to do any cross-training... might wreck my image.  I might start looking ... serious.

Do not forget to vote!  If you haven't heard the news, the competition is really heating up.
Fidel and I are up against a sex addict, a plastified old lady and the flippin' Berenstain Bears!  
Vote for US and you may win $20 worth of something :)

A Sex Addict, a Plasticated Lady, and the Berenstain Bears

They are upping the ante daily!

I really hope you guys are voting for me EVERY DAY!  You're allowed to. It is not cheating in this particular contest! Did you know that?

Go!  >  >  >  >  >

Fidel is way too classy to lose to David Duchovny.  Way too natural to lose to Charo.  And way to ... ummm... normal? ... to lose to the freakin' Berenstain Bears!

And remember...

I am not doing this for me... I am doing it for you :)

I am splitting the winnings between five people who "like" my Facebook page.  The winners will be selected at random. It'll be fun. It'll be real. It'll be real fun.  yes, I am a dork.  That is why I should win this contest!






Or enter a picture of your own!  
– I have a friend who played professional basketball and has a pic of himself with Dr. J in the days of his  huge 'fro... I am trying to talk him into entering his picture. I love the competition!

23 March 2011

All of this happened before 9:15 ...

Today has been a busy day.

First, Baby X set off on her first overnight field trip with her third-grade class... 3 days and 2 nights to stay in cabins, hike around, get really wet (it's supposed to rain all 3 days), do the campfire thang (in the rain... yeah, right), learn stuff, yada yada yada...

She is soooooo excited!
The most awesome thing about this girl is that she is almost always up for anything.  
She is excited about this trip... EVEN WITH THE RAIN.
Change and challenge?
Bring 'em on!
(I think she takes after her mom)

My husband is chaperoning the trip.
He is also excited.
Two nights of sleeping in a rustic bunkbed, 
surrounded by 8- and 9-year old boys screaming and stinking,
keeping those overprivileged kids motivated in the cold and rain...

Of course he's excited ;-)

They had to leave super early. There was a search-frenzy before they could leave... the little camera.  


It could not be found... it was nowhere.  It wasn't even in my car (which is where it should NOT have been anyway... but they did look which meant unlocking my car and going inside of it... this part becomes important in a minute).  So they left without the little camera but took the big, honkin' professional-photographer-that-he-is camera.

About an hour later it was time for the the boys and I to head off to school.  Miss C had just created a perfectly-timed 'present' for me... so I sent the boys out to go on in the car and get buckled in.  I'm in the middle of clean-up when Big G starts asking me where the keys are (do you see where this is headed? I didn't). I very annoyedly give him the verbal list of the places he should look and should already know to look.  He looks.  He can't find. I finish my job and start looking.  We are now late.

And it hits me.

I make the call.

Me: Hey, babe. Where did you put the keys to my car after you looked for the camera?
Him: Oh... %^@#!
Me:  Yeeeeahhhh, that's what I thought. Okay... well, we won't bother looking for them anymore! Good to know! Have fun!  *click*

They were in his coat pocket.

I find the spare where it is actually supposed to be!  (score!)
I find the extra house key... also where it is supposed to be!  (double score!)

We leave.

We get stuck in heavy traffic because we have left the house after the "tipping point"... it is now full-on rush hour.
Finally off the freeway, the unthinkable happens...

See that white truck?
That's where it happened... 
where I 
ran out of gas!
but there were a lot of cars behind me 
Two good samaritans noticed that I was standing outside of the car 
with the hazards on
in the middle of the intersection
and offered to help push me to the side.
it always amazes me how few people are willing to "get involved"
and how awesome it is that ANYone is willing.

Once we were parked in an actual parking place,
I hoofed on down to this
gas station

where I bought 
and filled

I then cavorted back to the car
cavorted because I was so 

a) that it wasn't pouring down rain,
b) that I had cash on hand to buy the goods,
c) that it was only a block and a half between car and gas station
(this mess could've happened on the frickin freeway, in all that rush hour traffic)
d)  that my oldest is old enough to stay in the car with the youngers so that my hoofing only took a couple of minutes instead of a solid hour ;-)

After I returned to the car and put the little sip o' gas in the tank (without any spillage, I might add ;) ),
I insisted on shooting a video to further document the morning drama... as if the pics and the post aren't enough :P

This annoyed Big G because we were already running SUPER late to school.
 Like that is different than any other day? but I figured we were already soooo late...

Would this be considered an excused tardy? And excusable one?

That's what I thought :P

To all of you punctual people out there... what would you have done differently so that punctuality would have been achieved?
– This is an area in which I need a lot of help!


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