31 January 2012

Laughter is the best medicine...

In the wake of yesterday's downer session, I struggled mightily all day and night and this morning. This sh*t is some hard sh*t, people. Though I sometimes dwell, I rarely wallow. With that in mind, I knew that what I really needed was a good, solid dose of humor.

I turned to Pinterest. I needed the one-shot, one-liner, bust-a-gut-on-impulse kind of guffaw that can be found there.

Here are a few that worked for me...

This one because it reminded me of me last night...

                                                         Source: lolriot.com via XL on Pinterest

And this one because wouldn't it be nice?

                                                           Source: jokideo.com via XL on Pinterest

Lately, I've been wondering how this keeps happening too...
but I don't have that glowy smile on my face like she does...

                                                         Source: google.de via XL on Pinterest

Boobs! How could I not laugh and share?
What I see in my mind every time I see someone posting about a Handful Sports Bra.


The number's been disconnected...
must figure out how to Get the Hell Over It on my own :) ...

I think cavorting on the beach in a llama suit would make it all better!

Source: lolriot.com via XL on Pinterest

Anyone have a llama suit and want to meet me at the beach?

30 January 2012

Would whoever took my serotonin please give it back?

At the end of last week I got some information that confirmed my suspicions. Of course they were bad suspicions. Of course... because do we ever have suspicions that are good?

My bank statement confirmed my suspicions. I was indeed rolling in dough and able to live the life of my fantasies.

After reviewing the x-rays and lab tests, the doctor confirmed my suspicions that the pain in my leg was due to a gross lack of chocolate and ice cream in my diet. 

Nope. It never works out like that.

Instead it goes something like this...

The lab results confirmed my suspicions that, in fact, I really do feel like crap for an actual reason that is measurable and quantifiable.

I have not been feeling like myself for several months now...since mid-November. You may not have noticed, and that's good. We animals are masters at hiding illnesses and vulnerabilities. It helps keep us safe from predators.

I've been feeling like this without even doing a hard workout.
And I've been looking like this, too :(

I've felt similarly before... a couple of times. I remember sitting in my OB/GYN's office two years ago. My baby was one year old and I was 47. I was holding two handouts that seemed pertinent and useful (Menopause Facts and Coping with Postpartum Depression), and I was crying when she came into the exam room. I held the booklets out as I turned my tear-streaked face toward her and pleaded, "Which one is me? What do I do?" She looked at them, looked at me, and said, "Wow...Yeah... I guess you really did a number on yourself, eh?" I know that sounds awfully unprofessional, but we have that kind of conversational relationship...which I love. It was at this appointment that anti-depressants were discussed for a second time (we had talked about using them to help with my migraines about two years earlier). This time I took the prescription and filled it.

Following a nightmare break-in period and significant dosage changes, the medication seemed to help immensely, and life held sunshine again. I started running. I was playing with my kids and looking forward to spending time with them. I did the laundry. I got to be ME. Then I started getting the migraines again. My anti-depressant doctor started bitching at me about Imitrex. (I don't like this doctor...she is the opposite of my OB). So I decided to pursue other avenues regarding the migraines.

Enter Neurogistics.

Through all of this earlier stuff, I'd also been seeing an acupuncturist whom I trust implicitly and think the world of. She is my first round of defense when something goes awry. She gave me the information about Neurogistics. Through them, I had a set of neurotransmitter and cortisol level tests performed. Nothing was in the optimal range, and quite notably, serotonin and cortisol were very low. My clinician developed a protocol to boost things up and help my body start doing what it is supposed to when it's healthy and not massively stressed out.

A retest six months later showed that everything was getting to where it was supposed to be. I had a great summer and early fall. I liked being with my kids. I ran. I was feeling so good about my life.

Beginning in mid-November, I began a month-long course of treatment to help with some intestinal issues. Less than a week into it, I knew something was not right. But I also knew that sometimes things get worse before they get better.

Things didn't get better. By Christmas, I was concerned. I retested in early January. It is these results I just received. The results confirming my bad suspicions. Everything is worse than it was the first time I tested. My serotonin level is less than half of the low end of normal. I sent a copy of these numbers to my acupunturist who emailed this in response:

Holy moly ... it's amazing you're so high functioning with your kids and are maintaining a good marriage!! Not that I doubted the struggling you're going through, but this shows on paper the Herculean effort you put into living a normal life. 

I have an appointment with my Neurogistics clinician on Wednesday. I'm hoping she gives me the Magic Bullet that they've been keeping secret. And if those researchers who believe there is no correlation between low serotonin and depression could please let my body in on that news and then tell it what the heck IS happening and how to fix things, I would really appreciate it :)

I just want to live a normal life...without the Herculean effort. Please?

28 January 2012

In Search Of: Content

Things have been pretty uneventful on the XL front...with one exception that I am not yet ready to share. I will share...of course...but I want to do a good job of it. A really good job of it.

So while the ideas for that share have been marinating in my brain, I went for a little bike ride and took the kids out to dinner. I was hoping for high drama during both events so that I'd have something fun and funny (or at least interesting) to share right now...but both were essentially drama-free events.

It was a gorgeous day for a bike ride, though a touch windy. Everyone and his brother, sister, and off-leash dog were out on the trail today. Sometimes I wish people would just stay home...with their illegally off-leash dogs. But when it looks like this out...

...how can you blame them for wanting to revel in the summer-like beauty of this January day?

I just rode around for an hour...I don't think my heart-rate went over 100. I was trying to enjoy life and feel happy. I was able to force it for about 30 minutes, then I started crying. Not like wailing-and-moaning crying...just tears and some soft hiccups. I finished up by the time I got home.

The kids had been begging for burritos...not homemade ones, though. They wanted real American taqueria burritos. (Isn't this akin to an oxymoron or something? Where are my English majors?) So I packed the unruly brood into the minivan, and we went in search of drama for the blog burritos for dinner. We wound up at Picante. It's very family-friendly (read: LOUD) with decent-to-good food.

I was more shocked than anyone (and probably the only one disappointed...but only because of the need for blog material) by my children's flawless behavior inside the restaurant. Outside was a different story...

The requisite pre-dinner head-stepping...

...and pre-dinner pretend-rifle-firing.

I think this one just had to pee.

Given these antics, I was geared up to mentally take notes for a great Dinner Disaster blog post...that didn't materialize. Realizing it was a win either way :) I sat back and enjoyed my meal... in a restaurant with all four of my children. Enjoyed... for the first time ever!

Hmmmm... I suppose that is slightly interesting.

So here's what's been going on with me this past week...in case you missed something...and we wouldn't want that to happen...

  • While eating Cheetos and watching NASCAR, I shared way many more random things about myself (twenty-two things, to be exact)
  • my little girl now pees and poops in the potty :)  are y'all doing a happy dance for that? cuz you should be
  • I showed you how to make a Rundihat and an XLBand :)
  • we got confused about Richard or Gene Simmons...and this morning I had a somewhat similar conversation with my husband... I asked a question that this guy could've used in his routine... which one is James Taylor and which is Jackson Browne?
  • but the coolest thing I did was yank my kid's teeth out with my bare hands!  And he was happy about it :)
  • and then finally there's the Pinterest thing... 
I hope everyone's enjoying their weekend :) And that all the racers have had or end up having awesome race experiences!

27 January 2012

Vecchio Venerdì... a big family legacy

Going with the tired musings of a semi-depressed, quasi-injured, tired mom of a less kids than this woman in the picture has... I'm heading back to my roots and resurrecting the good ol' Vecchio Venerdì, which means 'old Friday' in Italian. I thought it was a classier alliteration than 'Foto Friday' when I started doing it a year ago. You know I go for classy every time...and you know how much I loovvvvve alliteration ;-)


These are my ancestors. You've seen a couple of them before...if you've been reading my blog for the past year...or poring over pages from the past in an effort to glean as much info about me as possible.

In this photo circa 1914, the family patriarch (AKA GCL)...the very same one with the college snack-bar named after him...is the one wearing the hat. He was also the son of that murdered, itinerant butcher mentioned in the linked post.

All six of his children are pictured with him. They are the same kids who played indian in 1912. My grandpa Hugo is the cute one who looks sort of like Q-man...smiley, squinting into the sun...second from the left. GCL holds Isabel, the only girl and the second youngest of the bunch (she would be 100 this year but passed away in 2009). Apparently, they were inseparable. 

Mutter (they were German) holds the youngest, who grew up to become the father of a cousin with whom I am very, very close. This wee boy became a prison reformer and voluntarily served time in a penitentiary as part of his work (who remembers Brubaker with Robert Redford? yeah...like that). Sadly, he died while still a young man in an auto accident.

The little guy beside my grandpa was killed by an automobile as well. He was still a child.

I sure wish I knew more about what life was like for them.

Rumor has it GCL ran a might tight ship...and judging from the grip he has on the oldest child's arm, I'd say that rumor holds some validity.

Do you wish you knew more about your ancestors' family life? Or do you already know enough to satisfy your curiosity? Any good stories?

26 January 2012

Who needs a doorknob and some string ...

...when you have an experienced tooth-extractor in the house?

I don't want you to mistakenly think I have a license to practice dentistry... I don't. I do have a pincer-like grip and do not faint at the sight of blood, though. And when my kids are experiencing discomfort, you betcha I'm going to try to figure out a way to help.

It started a few months ago with Big G. He had a tooth to lose before they'd put the braces on. He had started working it on his own in fear of getting a professional extraction, complete with giant hypodermic needles of numbing agents and big pairs of pliers and mouth-cranking-open apparatuses. He wanted none of that. The offending tooth had been dangling by a root for about a week and bugging the daylights out of him when I offered to yank it out.

I explained that first I'd put a topical numbing agent on the area, then I'd wash my hands while the numbing started. Once the area was numb, I'd grab the tooth and yank it out. So simple. Yes, I told him, there would be blood...but we have gauze for that!

He was game.

We brushed on a little of this...

And less than 2 minutes later, the tooth was comfortably out and the bloody hole was packed in gauze.

Then a few weeks back, Baby X asked for the same thing when her loose tooth was interfering in her ability to enjoy any meal. The whole 'operation' went off without a hitch :)

But they were experienced tooth-losers.

Q-man has been anxiously awaiting the day (or night) when he could put a tooth under his pillow in anticipation of the Tooth Fairy. As you may remember, the Tooth Fairy at our house may be forgetful at times, but she has also been known to be foolishly generous! He's been working on a couple of teeth for over a month now, and this week they got to the annoying stage.

Hey, mom...will you pull my teeth out for me?

Of course I obliged.

He says it hurt...but he is cackling like a freakin' hyena...how much could it have hurt? We did get that top one out last night...nearly identical scenario. He's now feverishly working on the adjacent teeth. He wasn't satisfied with the dollar amount the Tooth Fairy left for him, and he knows the only way to get more money is to lose more teeth!

The highlights of this movie for me are:

  • how awesome I look when I am ready to go to bed
  • the fact that there is so much background noise that it sounds like I run an out-of-control daycare
  • the poor guy gagging on that wad of gauze
  • and, of course, how hysterically he is laughing!

Ever had teeth pulled?

Ever done that doorknob trick or seen it done?

25 January 2012

Because that Shut Up and Run girl said to...

I was hanging out in my green bikini, enjoying Cheetos and NASCAR when I saw that I was tagged.

Thanks, Beth (and Tall Mom!). I know you know that I love these things. Except for all the linking you have to do, they are somewhat cathartic sometimes. Or embarrassing. Or sometimes just boring. Whatever... here it is...

A New Bunch of Random XL Crap in One Tidy, Long-ass Post

Here are the rules:
1. Post these rules
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer
5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people!

Random Things About Me
  1. I love practical jokes...simple or elaborate. 
  2. Several times when I was rowing seriously, I skipped Christmas and/or Thanksgiving because Tuesday and Thursday evenings were weight workouts. Some may say "Wowza, XL! That was so hardcore!" And while I think it may have helped me mentally in the years I did that, it really shouts out "Whoa, chick...Get a life!" to me now. 
  3. I struggle mightily with self-confidence. One friend in particular has been privy to my psycho, pre-race freak-outs this past year. It is not a pretty thing. 
  4. When I was in Cuba for the PanAm Games, we went out for our first row on the course. We were in a pair which is what is called a 'blind' boat (no coxswain and facing backwards so one can't see where one is going). We headed up the course following the prescribed pattern and made our cut across the lanes at the prescribed point. What wasn't prescribed was crashing into a solid, immoveable starting platform. Yeah, I did it. It was my fault since I was steering. Yeah, we broke the brand-new boat...but fortunately the boat-builder was on hand and could fix it by the next day.
  5. I have never broken a bone...except my nose...but I have collapsed a lung. I almost died.
  6. I paid $8.50 for a dozen eggs last week because I believe that pasture-raised, 'happy' chickens will produce eggs that are better for you. I am a total believer in the energetics of food. They did taste better...even my 6-year old said so.
  7. I pulled Q-Man's teeth out this week with my bare hands. They were his first two teeth to lose and were each dangling by a root. He was sick of them annoying him while he ate, so he asked me to pull them out. I obliged. It was a bloody mess.
  8. I used to be able to do 15 pull-ups in 45 seconds. Now I can't even do one. I should get back on that.
  9. I tried out for American Gladiators while pregnant. I didn't make the cut.
  10. I f*ucking HATE ants. We are in the middle of dealing with a horrendous infestation. I f*ucking HATE ants. They warrant the f-word.
  11. One of the stupidest things I have ever done is to hike down the Schilthorn (a big mountain in Switzerland) in the snow while pregnant and carrying a 5-year old in a frame-pack on my back. With a funky hip. We made it. It took us 6.5 hours to complete what was supposed to be a 2-hour hike. 
Beth's Questions for Me:
  1. In five words or less, tell me your most embarrassing moment. Indoor balcony, vomiting, people below.
  2. What’s one habit you need to break? Staying up too late...this was my New Years Resolution :(
  3. What’s your favorite book of all time?  I have lots of favorites...Miss Rumphius is one. Joy Luck Club, Gone With the Wind, Pillars of the Earth, Les Misérables, Shibumi...and more.
  4. Have you ever cheated on a test or a partner (don’t need to tell me which one)? Yes, sort of.
  5. If you weren’t doing your current job, what would be your profession? Highly-paid creative genius whose talents are sought after by many.
  6. Do you think Bob Harper is gay? No. He's secretly hoping that everyone is asking that question though.
  7. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received? My acupuncturist told me she'd want me in her lifeboat because I am the most resourceful survivor-type she has ever met.
  8. Would you be able to run further or faster? Some days it's one, some days it's the other. If you make me pick one right now I'll say "faster."
  9. What food gives you gas? Broccoli and garlic...either on their own or together.
  10. Ever done a cleanse or had a colonic? Yes, both.
  11. What’s your dream marathon? Even though it's only 23 kilometers, I'm going with the Napoleon Run in Corsica
Mel's Questions for Me...   
  1. What is your favorite season for running and why? here in California I love running in the summer because it is cool. When I lived in Philadelphia, I loved running in the fall. I'm a cool weather runner :)
  2. If you could meet any famous person, who would it be and why? Living – Steve Martin or Robin Williams. Both strike me as very intelligent, sensitive, insightful people who would also be a ton of fun to hang out with.
  3. What is your mantra, favorite quote, and/or words you live by? 

    Everything will be all right in the end. If it's not all right, then it's not the end.

  4. If you could have ANY ONE ITEM for free, what would it be? a new mattress.
  5. How did your parents come up with your name? I am named after my paternal grandmother.
  6. Do you collect anything? If so, what? Yes. One thing I collect is little cars from the Pixar/Disney movie "Cars."
  7. How did you meet your significant other? we met at work and it was love at first sight.
  8. If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Côte d'Azur in France. It is beautiful and warm and friendly and interesting and I love it there.
  9. What is your favorite fruit and vegetable? fruit – a perfect peach. vegetable – spinach!
  10. What is your favorite color? Dark and brilliant green.
  11. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of me (Tall Mom)? amazingly and genuinely NICE... you're what my husband calls 'good people'...I am so glad to have met you in person :)
11 Questions for New Tag-ees...
  1. What is your 'comfort food'?
  2. Do you exercise better when you are angry or happy?
  3. Have you ever done anything to the point of puking? What?
  4. Any embarrassing nicknames in your past? Spill it.
  5. Guilty movie pleasure?
  6. Do you like or dislike these tagging memes?
  7. Why do you run? (might seem like a stupid question, but I'm curious)
  8. Would you rather be rich or famous?
  9. If you could go anywhere tomorrow without any worries (everything would be taken care of perfectly for the duration) where would you go, 
  10. with whom and 
  11. for how long?

People Tagged  (yes, I realize my tag-ees are all women...well, except Kovas) :
  1. Ali Mc...Running with Spatulas
  2. TriMOEngr...Climbing those hills...
  3. Michelle...Running with Attitude
  4. Hiker Mom
  5. Jess...who gets large numbers of people to run with her through cemeteries
  6. Jolene (who I see was already tagged...so she's off the hook...go read about her!)
  7. A So-Called Runner, Courtney
  8. Nicole, who is Becoming a Mother Runner
  9. Jamie...Chosen Chaos
  10. Just Keep Running
  11. Kovas who keeps two blogs...this one and that one.

If you've already been tagged, you don't need to do this again. But would you put a link to your tag post in a comment so we can read all about you? Thanks!

P.S. This is NOT like a chain-letter. Nothing bad will happen to you if you blow it off. So don't worry :)

23 January 2012

Monday Musings, Mistakes, and Threats of Litigation

Today is a rainy day here. I have a sick kid home from school, a sick husband home from work, a fully-potty-trained toddler running around, and I'm feeling kind of blah. It's the kind of day where I want to just curl up and eat grilled cheese (which I can't) and drink Dr. Pepper (which I can't) and watch raunchy-humored, R-rated movies by myself (which I can't).

I've just started a month-long dietary clean-up. "Just" as in this morning. I'm already bummed out. Fortunately, I've done this program a couple of times in the past and know that the break-in period is a little less than a week...so I'm pretty sure I can tough it out. But at the moment, grilled cheese sounds so super appealing. Or tuna casserole. Sadly, dairy is on the wrong side of the list :(  So I'll content myself with brown rice and veggies and fruit and water...

Here's the awesome news...

I ran 7 hilly miles on Sunday! I have the best running partner in the whole world. We mesh :) We stopped to stretch every couple of miles, and we ran easy. It was divine. My calves seem mostly adjusted to the forefoot/midfoot strike deal, and the only part of my body that complained was my iliopsoas. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that's the main pain-maker. Of course, I'm also convinced I have ankylosing spondylitis... but I could be mistaken.

Speaking of being mistaken...here's a mistake I always make. And I now know I'm not the only one who makes this mistake... apparently Tony Stewart does, too.


This issue came up the other day when I saw RoseRunner's awesome tongue-to-nose trick. Does anyone else make this mistake?  Can anyone else do that trick? I've always wanted to, but my nose is too long.

I know that litigious, bald, music-industry-working, triathletes would never make this mistake, and I would surmise that my difficulty making this differentiation will be used against me in a court of law should "Dude vs. XL" ever actually go to court.

For those of you who are in the dark on this one, I've received a 'cease and desist' order regarding my XLBands...click the links to see the products in question. What I find most unfortunate is that I am not selling XLBands...in fact, my video shows you how to make them for free...

I am spreading knowledge to the masses...much like Johannes Gutenberg.

Furthermore, elitist Dudeband™ wearers must follow all sorts of crazy rules. XLBands have no such requirements, pretentiousnesses, or bullsh*t attached to their usage. While you may think this lessens the specialness of the item, au contraire. It makes a useful and life-changing item accessible to the world.

Like socks.

And much like socks, having a lawyer tell me to stop spreading the word about XLBands because the Dudeband™ dude is annoyed/jealous/greedy is akin to telling a knitter that she must 'cease and desist' knitting socks for her friends and family because the inventor of socks says so.

Dude...I am not profiting from the XLBand...the world is benefitting. Back off.

Or maybe buddy up.

21 January 2012

Recycle Repurpose Reuse (do-it-yourself Dudeband™)... and BIC Bands winner!

The winner of the BIC Bands sparkly headband giveaway is...

#20... Corrina Beana!!!  as chosen by the random number generator on random.org

I learned yesterday that simultaneously, there was a rival giveaway going on... for The DUDEBAND™. Ending one minute earlier than mine, the Dudeband™ claims it never loses. 

I'm here to tell you that while the Dudeband™ is cutting edge, missing that giveaway is no cause for tears or disappointment because they are really easy to make on your own. Simply grab an old t-shirt and a pair of scissors and watch this video tutorial...

As you can see, there is really no reason to be upset if you were a loser in either of these giveaways... because we can all be winners! Plain OR fancy...you can have both... and on a budget :)

If you're super duper lucky and quick to leave a comment, I'm giving away 8 XLBands (called that because I made them...but they are every bit as good as the Dudeband™) to the first 8 commenters who state they would like one. I have 4 white, 2 black and 2 greenish-brownish weird color. Pay attention to what's been spoken for when leaving your comment. And if you'd like custom sparkle added, that's free, too...just let me know you want it. I can create a design especially for you, or you can specify what you'd like. In case you need some help deciding how to glam up your XLBand, names are popular, as are hearts. Or might I suggest going with...


And if you really, really want the hat... I may be willing to part with it.

20 January 2012

Not Interesting to Anyone but Me

Just like Facebook status updates about these things, I can imagine that blog posts about potty-training leave those who are not entrenched in the process rolling their eyes so hard that you can hear them click.


Those were your eyeballs rolling in their sockets because this is a post about potty-training.

Don't worry...that pic of the cute pink potty is the only picture in the post, and I won't go into gory details. But since this blog serves as a record of my kids' goings-on (in addition to words about fitness and training and other stuff), this post is appropriate and necessary.

Miss C is my youngest and final child. She was in a diaper longer than the other three were. She just didn't give a ----, and I was too lazy busy preoccupied to bust the diaper-free move. Doing neither of us any favors, I also think there was an element of "oh, my last baby...don't want her to grow up" going on...which is partly why I haven't bothered to wean her either. Slacker mom, I am. Whatever...

One week ago, I felt ready to take this beast on. Though she had been dry through the night for over a week, when confronted with the prospect of daytime dryness, Miss C was not entirely on board, but I was game for her resistance. After 5 straight days of pee everywhere (well, fortunately she had a penchant for only peeing on the tiled floors and not the carpets) and several pants-soilings, I am ecstatic to announce that we have had 3 consecutive accident-free days!

I attribute this potty-training success entirely to my superior parenting skills. There is no luck involved. The child has nothing to do with it. If you can't potty-train a developmentally-on-track child before they graduate from high school, well, you just suck as a parent. I really hope some of you more sensitive-types caught the tongue-in-cheekness of that. I am absolutely grateful to all of you awesome and amazing well-wishers who wished me good luck when I announced this undertaking last Friday. 

My idol, Catey, who has 8 kids and is expecting her ninth (her husband is trying to catch up to mine), was reflecting on how long she's been changing diapers and how many diapers she's changed and shared with me that even though those numbers are HUGE, she would rather change diapers than potty-train. And she wrote this, which totally cracked me up, in an email the other day...

There is a woman who writes and I love to read her stuff...she had a half a billion kids and I remember at one point she said she quit trying to potty train her kids.  She let them go as long as possible and then waited until they were old enough to make wild promises about never having an accident ever before finally letting them out of diapers.

I am most thankful that Miss C ended up being far less resistant as the process unfolded. I know there will be accidents. I know there may be regression. And while the growing up of my baby is bittersweet, I am feeling great about not changing another diaper until I either have grandchildren or must deal with spousal incontinence. I hope fervently to experience the joy of the former and to escape the misery of the latter.

If you have kids, did you have an easy time with potty-training?

If you have no kids, is potty-training one of the reasons you don't?


18 January 2012

Headband Review Video and Giveaway

Over the past several months, I've come to be in possession of three different kinds of headbands...

  • Sandra at Absolutely Narcissism felt embarrassed sorry for me after I posted my crazed Einstein hair look and sent me a Lululemon headband to help tame the insane mane,
  • Megan gave away SparklySoul headbands on her blog WatchMeGoRun a few months ago, and I won the giveaway, and
  • I met Sandy who makes BIC Bands when I was in Las Vegas to visit Denny's during the RockNRoll Half-Marathon and she asked if I'd like to try out her wares...of course I said "YES!" as it was the very first time someone has offered me something super cool to try out! Thanks so much, Sandy :)
Today I present them to you in my Headband Review Video...omg... super lame... but I know y'all have been missing my lovely voice and wrinkly hands... here's two minutes of viewing and listening pleasure...

(FYI... there is an audio issue halfway into the video...I'm trying to fix it so don't rag on me)

Okay, the audio isn't working for me. If it's working for you...AWESOME. If not, I go on to say that all three headbands worked well...except for that speed issue with the first one. If I had to pick one of the three I couldn't do it because I liked them all equally well. The determining factor would be price and stylistic preference, and I was too lazy to find the prices before I made the video. So that's what I said.

I'm such a dork.

Now up for grabs is the awesome, no-slip, black sparkly BIC Bands headband pictured below. Enter to win one to try out for yourself!

If you'd like to enter this giveaway simply tell me so in a comment below :) You could be nice and "like" Sandy's BIC Bands FB page or follow my blog somehow, but none of that is mandatory. Do leave a comment, though, if you want to enter... telepathic entries will not be accepted. 

Entries close Friday January 20th at midnight. Winner announced Saturday. 

This message is from Giraffy, author of 365 Days of Awesome and mom to 5-year old Gabby (who has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia):

Hey, runner friends. Need a headband? BIC Bands will be donating a portion of their January and February proceeds to PCRF's Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon | 10K | 5K | 1K: Reaching for the Cure, benefiting kids like MY DAUGHTER who have cancer. Shop shop shop!

So even if you don't win the giveaway, you could buy one of these fabulous, no-slip, super cute headbands and know that you are contributing to an amazing cause.

Disclaimer: I received the BIC Bands headbands for personal use, review and giveaway from Sandy of BIC Bands. 

17 January 2012

My Cyclist Rant

I'm all for finding alternative modes of transportation and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. I think bicycles are pretty awesome. And while I know there are a good number of intelligent, considerate and careful bicyclists out there, I have come across an inordinate number of bozos.

Around these parts there are all manner of jokes about cyclists. And I know that cyclists poke fun at/ ridicule/rail on and on about drivers. It's a two-way street. Yes. I know.

Sometimes, however, I see things that make me scratch my head with one hand and work really hard to refrain from dialing Child Protective Services with the other. Riding on crazy-busy streets with little kids is one such thing. Whether on their own little bikes or in a seat attached to the grown-up bike or in one of those cute little trailer thingies... seriously, people, what in the hell are you thinking? Granted I have seen some such situations where it is clear that this is the family mode of transportation by necessity, and in those situations, I just look upward and say a prayer for them. But when mommy or daddy is out tra-la-la-ing and junior is skittering all over the place without a helmet on...

We are not in the Netherlands! This is not a quaint, picturesque village bike path! This is (sadly) not an environment where motorists are conditioned to be able to dodge your meandering child! This is a main thoroughfare with speed limit of 35 and everyone exceeds that! Do not ride here with your kid!

I am able to deep-breathe my way through these moments usually, but the other morning I saw something that made me cringe...recoil...And then I saw the bigger picture and found it even more disturbing. There was a lightning quick flicker of "hey, that's kind of cool!" until reality set in and the danger was apparent.

It was a dad riding on the bike pictured below. Behind him was his kindergartener, shakily riding a two-wheeler sans helmet (I used the french word for 'without' because they were going to the french school). Dad was also sans helmet. In the big box in front of the bike was a two-year old...thankfully wearing a helmet! The toddler was sitting on the white bench seat. There is no seat belt or harness... just a little 1/2-inch wide leash to hold.

Kind of cool, right?

What do you think about the safety-factor?

I am being totally honest when I own my judgement of this parent and say...

Whoa...dude is...

Not the sharpest tool in the shed.
As smart as a stick.
Not the brightest crayon in the box.
Dumber than a box of hair.
A few sandwiches short of a picnic.
About as sharp as a marble.
A couple of pineapples shy of a luau.

I wish we lived in a more bicycle-friendly area, but we don't. I don't think this guy is from around here. Well, maybe he is. Berkeleyans are famous for self-righteously indignant behavior even when safety is compromised and sanity disregarded. I can say that because I'm from here. I can't stop him from doing stupid stuff...I know that. I just wish he'd at least get his older kid a helmet.

16 January 2012

Stepping back...

It's only been sixteen months.

Two years ago, running seemed like a pipe dream. I couldn't even walk my kids to the pool down the street because of pain and a vicious limp. A year ago, riding my bike was impossible because I didn't have the pain-free flexibility to put my leg over the bar to get on or off, and I was deathly afraid of falling because I didn't even have the pain-free strength to balance myself...or catch myself.

Eight years is a really long time. But I am so grateful that it wasn't my lifetime. So grateful.

The next time you're hurting and needing to sit out a few weeks or a month, or your rehab is dragging on for nearly a year, think about eight years. Or even better, think about your lifetime.

In sixteen months I've gone from trudging and shuffling alternating with walking for 15 minutes every other day to being able to run over thirteen miles without stopping (except to take a crap at Denny's). I've participated in a 200-mile epic relay. I dropped my mile time by almost 2 minutes and my 5K time by almost 5 minutes...both still nowhere near PRs but a good restart :) It has been so encouraging and reaffirming, and it's been a lot for my body to handle. I've been impatient and asked my body to handle more than it safely can. I've gotten caught up in the whirlwind of blogging endurance athletes..."keeping up with the Joneses," as one reader put it so aptly in an email the other day.

This same reader inquired as to my motivation to run. He pointed out that "if running takes more out than it puts in -even if its the greatest thing since sliced bread, the automobile or reality tv- there are other ways to appease (y)our desires.And he's right.

I need to step back.

I need to not run a full marathon right now.

I need to be more patient with the process. I need to find what I need to focus on in order to be fit and healthy and not in pain for the long haul. For my lifetime.

Another excerpt from a subsequent email is this very good point:

...if injury forced lifestyle changes and being sedentary for 8 years, then it would take 8 years to fully restore the body to a point of full vigor and also be able to comfortably maintain it indefinitely.

With this in mind, I'm pulling myself out of running a full marathon this spring. I certainly have mixed feelings... bummed and relieved.

The focus is going to be on enjoying the process...much like it was when I recommenced running. I will be getting stronger in a less forced fashion with an emphasis on shorter distances and much more cross-training. And less planning. I don't get paid to run so it damn well better be FUN.

I see that I can't work the volume AND the intensity right now that are necessary to successfully run a full marathon. I would be hurting and miserable. Too much, too soon. Constantly battling pain doesn't mean I'm tough...it means I'm stupid.

I feel solid in my decision to step back from the full marathon in Eugene. I do think I'll still run in some races...I've signed up for a few already...and perhaps I'll take on the half in Eugene. I'll still have goals...they'll just be different. I am by nature pretty driven and nearly incapable of not always having some sort of challenge to gnaw away at or bulldoze my way through. And I'll leave that dangling participle there to just annoy the crap out of the grammar police :)

I ran last night... six miles...stretching at every 3/4-mile and changing my shoes periodically. I feel good, and that's what's important.

And today my animal-liner-upper set up this...

it's a picnic

I don't want to be in pain... I want to play with my kids and have fun.

13 January 2012

I'm wondering what's going on with me, too.

Even my non-running readers are probably wondering...

What's up with your running, XL? You haven't written a running post in forever! Are you in stealth mode? Did you hang it up? What gives?

So here's the story...

I started running in my new shoes and my calves got super sore. I worked through it. Then I got a muscle knot in one calf that was beyond persistent and left me hobbling. Not wanting to injure myself or run weird or whatever, I took a week off. But it wasn't just a week off. I had only run three times in three weeks following the Las Vegas debacle on December 4, 2011. All of this lack of running has resulted in me feeling nervous about running a full marathon in April. I have acknowledged to myself and my training partner that it may not happen. It might...but I'm leaving the "not" door open with my head held high. It's taken a good deal of soul-searching and several talks with my husband to reach a place of comfort on the topic. I allowed myself to be over-amped by all the awesomeness that surrounds me here in BlogLand. I am coming back from 8 years off of everything. And I'm older. I need to be patient. And realistic.

Which leaves me with a big "We'll see..."

This sounds all grounded and philosophical, but I am really bummed out. Don't feel sorry for me, though, because I'll probably get over it soon enough.

I ran on Tuesday for 2 miles and it was good. I'll run tonight for 2 or 3, I hope. Taking it one day at a time. The hip still experiences some pain. I sure wish that would just not happen anymore :(

Since there's not much to share in the way of workout news, I'm giving a 'mommy update'...

Miss C started potty-training yesterday. This is the oldest child of mine to do this. She is really mad that this is happening. I've done this before, but never have I had a child be mad about it! I'll spare you all the details, but suffice it to say that I've been mopping up pee all day today. Thankfully, she's been accidenting on the tile floor and not the carpet. Wish us luck :)

Here are a few pictures from the last couple of days...

She is very pensive at times.

She LOVES oatmeal!

Last night I went out for one short hour. 
In that time, she created this amazing animal line-up... 
three-quarters of it by herself.

She likes to scare me...

But she says she's just watching Big G doing his homework.
Given her delight in jumping, this gives me a heart-attack.

So there ya have it...what's new in my world.

Gotta go mop some more pee now.

12 January 2012

Easy Fitness and Beauty Solutions...Now Available

My favorite blogger posted this on Facebook the other day. Don't get your panties in a wad if that link didn't lead to you...I love you and your blog, too...but she is special. She is the reason why I am here. She is a lovely person, inside and out. And I could seriously use some beauty tips. This video is thoroughly enlightening...and entertaining.

Some celebrities may have teams of trainers and macrobiotic chefs to help them get in shape and look superfit, and some celebrities have teams of make-up and hair personnel. And let's not forget the nannies. But there is one thing that is nearly universally used to create "the look"of the beautiful people we see on the covers of magazines as we wait in line at the grocery store.

Available to all of us now for much less expense is this beauty and fitness trick whose tagline is...

"Transform your look the way celebrities do with this beauty industry secret that's now available for the first time ever!"


While they make is sound so easy, I've tried it and it's not easy. I think I'll stick to eating well and exercising. And be mired in imperfection.

11 January 2012

That Christmas Tree was pretty spectacular...but what now?

Today is Tree-Recycling Day... but the flyers the collection department passed out stated that you need to cut the tree up so that it would fit into your yard waste container. This is no small feat when you have a freakin' TWELVE-FOOT tall tree!!!!

Because I know a thing or two about trees (having majored in Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture in college...yes, that is a real major), I was able to boss guide my husband to a perfect solution...

First, trim off the branches...

 Can you find the loppers?

Working out some post-burglarization frustrations...

Who am I kidding? I don't think I've used my college degree in any job I've ever held. My husband is a born arborist and wields those loppers like a pro without any help from me.

Okay, so this isn't as funny in pictures on a blog post as it was in real life. But I was laughing so hard I almost fell down the stairs.

And this post is saving us from another 'ravings of an insane injured athlete' post. You're welcome :)

10 January 2012

Okay... I'm ready!

You hear that, Body?

I'm ready to go. See? I'm smiling. I'm chipper! Head's in the right place!

You can quit dragging your feet, buck up, and cooperate any time.

We can be done with the migraine jazz. That is so old now. We've been doing that routine for 6 years. And the hip biz? Yeah, 86'ing it from the premises. Eight years was enough. The fact that you're insisting on flirting with that mess still is just unconscionable.



I've done the little exercises. I've done the stretches. I've had the PT and massages. I've taken it easy. I've rested. Lord knows I've rested. I've even changed the way I run.

I'm ready.

I'm ready for it to feel good. I'm ready for the hard part to be the workout.

I'm tired of the hard part being just making it through the day in pain.

Body? Are you listening to me? ARE YOU????


Pretty please?

08 January 2012

Doing Odd Jobs

I found myself intrigued with this week's Monday Listicles prompt (link at the end)... Squashed Mom suggested we write about our Top Ten Strange (odd/unusual/funny/interesting) Jobs we may have had. And if you haven't had ten jobs yet...well, wow. That's cool, I guess. Then you can give us ten things about your working life that are funny/odd/whatever that might make a good read. Which is not to say that what follows is necessarily a 'good read'.... 

My very first job (other than babysitting) was cleaning hot tubs and saunas...I lasted one shift. It was just gross. And the lady was weird and super uptight. It was valuable lesson to learn right off the work-force bat that if your entry-level, skill-less job is a lousy fit, you can just go find another one.

I traded hot tubs for telephones. I was a telemarketer (#2) for texture coating for houses...cold-calling people at dinner time. It was the most demoralizing job EVER. I remember tallying one night that in my 3-hour shift minus 15-minute break I called 225 people and had only 2 people respond favorably. This was not because I sucked at this sucky job. I actually did really well ... I have a great phone voice and great phone manners when the situation warrants these things. Only 2 people responded favorably because no one wants telemarketer a**holes to call them at dinner time...or EVER. Unless they are super lonely. The things I hated the most about the job (other than just the job) were:

  • calling mobile home parks...because you cannot use this stupid product on a mobile home! 
  • calling the military base...because the residents cannot decide to do anything to their homes :P 
  • calling a number and asking for someone who had passed away or was super ill :( 

Lame product. Lame job. Not lame worker.

This segued into being a coffee jerk (#3)...now called a "barista" in fashionable circles. Neither one of the happy people in the picture below is me, but that is the actual café in which I worked. I could make a wicked cappuccino. I don't drink coffee myself (remember, it makes me like Hammy in Over the Hedge), but I was really good at making it :)

My most favorite job ever was being a rowing coach (#4). I remember tooling around in my little motorboat on a beautiful sunny spring day saying aloud to myself..."I can't believe they pay me to do this!" Of course, they weren't paying me very much. And the job was seasonal at the high school level. The pay wasn't much better when I moved up to the collegiate level, but it was a year round position.

And this fed into the opportunity to be a ...community college instructor!(#5) My class was Learn to Row. I taught this for a few semesters. There were people from all walks of life, all ages, all sizes, all different levels of athletic ability. It was a total trip. It was way harder than coaching because high school and college kids listen a whole lot better than stubborn grown-ups.

Somewhere around this coaching time, I also was a mail-order company coordinator (#6). I had this job for 3 years. This was the only job I ever got fired from. There was a lot of tension due to a new (and useless) 'general manager' who just plain ol' didn't like me. And when my co-worker was pissed at me and said, "F*** you, XL" to me, I didn't just walk away. I said it back. But louder. The GM heard me say it. Only me. I was told to pack my things and leave. No warning. No second chance. Just leave.

So disappointing because I was so great with bubble wrap, peanuts and a tape gun.

Another guy who left that company around the same time I did started a black market t-shirt selling business. He had a line of shirts with great rowing graphics to sell at big regattas. He needed a selling buddy (#7), and I certainly had the time and needed the money since I had just been canned. I am so glad I blog anonymously...

We were like this...only it was shirts not hats. 
And we sold them out of a sneaky duffel bag and not a big blue coat. 
It wasn't within the letters of the law, and we did have to keep our eyeballs peeled,
and we did end up needing to jump into the bushes and run up wooded hills to escape.

I did a stint as a florist delivery driver (#8). I became intimately familiar with the entire city of Philadelphia and most of its outlying areas. I was working three jobs at that time...three jobs and over 80 hours a week. I couldn't hack the hours and still train effectively (this was back when I was rowing). I quit right after Valentine's Day ...which was the most insane workday I have ever experienced.

One of the other of the three jobs I was holding down simultaneously was that of nightclub coat-check girl (#9). I was holed up in a little room at the Trocadero Nightclub. You give me a dollar, I hang your coat up and give you a ticket. DO NOT LOSE THE TICKET! Your coat stays safe while you dance, drink and try to hook up. Did I mention you need the ticket to get your coat back? This was the best job I ever had...except for the hours. I raked in tips like nobody could believe. I made more than the bartenders and cocktail waitresses. I had goals, people. At first I tried to get a quarter of the people who checked a coat to tip me at least a dollar. When that was happening regularly, I upped it to one third of my patrons. And then I went for half. I was really quick and efficient and friendly. I know...you're thinking "BFD, girl...you were a friggin' coat check girl." Yeah, but I was a damn good one.

So years and years go by... and I decide that grad school is a waste of time and money. I realize I hate waiting tables. I want to be a teacher, but I also want to make some money. I'm going to be a realtor (#10). I do the coursework, I pass the test, I buy the cute suit. But I'll tell ya...it is really hard to be a realtor without a car.


But it was a bad year for real estate anyway. And that was the year I met my future husband and his six children. So I decided to give it all up for love :P

This never happened. Ever. I don't think it really EVER happens.

Head on over to Stasha's NorthWest Mommy and tell us about your weird jobs!


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