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I Run For My Life

I have thirteen marathons under my fuel belt. Thirty-seven more to go.

Updated: 2018-04-10T07:04:23.164-05:00


Is This Thing On?


I'm baaaaack! Well, maybe. I firmly believe that social media has killed the majority of all running blogs. I used to blog after I enjoyed it tremendously. I enjoyed the camaraderie of it all. So, we'll see if anyone even notices this.

I have been back on the roads for just over 18 weeks now. I have a LONG way to go, but I am enjoying the journey!

How I Do It


People ask me all the time how I handle Chasen being gone for so long on his trips to China. At this point, I'm an old pro! He started going 2-4 times per year when Isaac was 20 months old, so I have plenty of experience. Here's what I do.

Before he leaves, a few things must be addressed.
  1. The exterior lights on our house must all be working. Safety first!
  2. The yard must be in tip top shape. It must look well cared for and occupied!
  3. Any minor household repairs must be completed (slow draining showers or finicky toilets, etc.).
Once he is gone, the work on the inside of the house begins.
  1. I thoroughly clean the house, and I try hard to keep it that way. It makes life easier. 
  2. I do all of his laundry, so that his closet is clean as a whistle. I'm a recovering neat freak, you know.
Our lifestyle changes a bit when we are alone, mostly for ease and safety.
  1. I cook a big meal every three days or so. Leftovers are key!
  2. We spend a lot of time outdoors, weather permitting, and then we bump up bath time to before dinner (of leftovers!) to make for an easier evening.
  3. I try to not overload myself with extracurricular activities. The simple life is best.
  4. We almost never go out after dark. If my car is going to break down somewhere, I'd rather it be during the light of day.
  5. To that end, we almost never leave town while Chasen is gone.
  6. I take advantage of my big, empty bed (in which I sleep like an "X," according to Chasen) and go to bed as early as possible.
That's really it. It's easy peasy. Even so, concerned people always come up to me (especially at church) and ask how we are "holding up." It makes me laugh. We've definitely been around the block. We've only had trouble twice, and each time someone from our church has quickly come to our rescue, as well as my neighbor (who is better than 911). There ya have it!  

Land Between the Lakes 23k


Back in December, my casual (read: 99% on Facebook) friendship with a woman named Kathlene turned into an actual, real friendship when she began asking me about CrossFit. We worked out together a few times, and we even went running together. That's right -- yours truly kinda sorta has a running partner after all these years. Sometimes we'd run together and then do CrossFit afterward. I know, I know... we might want to get our heads examined. I've heard that before!She knew I was training for the New Orleans Marathon, and she asked me what my plans were after that. Since I had recently found another "driveable" race to possibly check off my 50-states list, I told her: the Land Between the Lakes Trail Run (marathon) in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. It wasn't a done deal, though, because a) I needed to see how NOLA would go, and, b) Chasen would likely be out of the country, which would present a childcare problem. Lo and behold, Kathlene's parents have a nice RV setup really, really close to the run, and she could accompany me and keep Isaac. Hmmm... the wheels started turning.   After NOLA I hemmed and hawed, and I even contacted the race director, since the deadline for a guaranteed medal had passed. He gave me his word that, if I signed up by the weekend from the link he personally sent me (!!!), I'd get a medal. By golly, I pulled the trigger. I wasn't sure how it would go, as I have very little positive experience on trails (yes, you need to read that post from 2007!) but I wasn't going to let that stop me from this red carpet trip. Isaac and I picked up Kathlene and her son, Jack, and we headed to Kentucky. We saw lots and lots of snow (for these parts) along the way. It was bewildering to me, as ours was long gone. Here we are outside the small, friendly race expo.I got a nice zipper bag.I've never had a hot pink race shirt before. I love it!After the expo (Kathlene's first!) we walked down to the lighthouse/marina area. LBL is simply gorgeous, snow or not. You just can't beat that view.Both Isaac and Jack were given nice, green caps. Isaac tossed his in the water (and got in big trouble).Here's my sweet pal who made all of this possible.And here is the lighthouse of "Lighthouse Landing."LBL is a boater's paradise.After being blown away by the scenery, we headed back to Kathlene's parents' RV. I had never actually stayed in an RV, so I was quite excited. Isaac was even more excited and actually referred to it as "his dream come true."For two nights we got to call this place home.It was snowy, slushy, and muddy. Naively, I thought the trails would be OK. The communication from the race director indicated that they were in decent shape. Nonetheless, my boy needed something other than running shoes to romp around in. So we went shopping. My Mississippi boy insisted on camo rubber boots. Whatever floats his boat... and keeps his feet dry.I had my more-often-than-not pre-race dinner at Cracker Barrel.The next morning, Kathlene drove me to the race start (at Lighthouse Landing) at 5:40 AM. The race was to begin at 6:30 AM. Why so early? Because there was also a 23k race (14.291 miles), a 60k, and a 50 miler. Phew!There go the runners, ready to face the trails!Even though we stopped at a McDonald's on the way to the start, because the camper did not yet have running water hooked up for the season, would you believe that I had a Code Brown as soon as the race began? NOT GOOD. Believe me when I tell you that I ran as quickly as I possibly could to the first port-o-potty, which was at the end of the asphalt. So long, asphalt. I decided a few days ahead of time that I was going to run Garmin-free. After all, this was going to be a new adventure for me. And, per my post from 2007, I needed to pay attention to nothing else but the trail ahead of me. Look.At.That.Snow.Here I am just before the asphalt ended. Asphalt, I'll miss you.The port-o-potty and the first water stop, as I said, were at the end of the asphalt. This is what I faced n[...]

Double Unders


Ever since I began doing CrossFit, I have struggled with my capabilities. Believe me, I have a LONG way to go. L-O-N-G. But, occasionally, I do something that really surprises me. Back in December I discovered that I could do a handstand. Yep, me, the 39-year-old who has never taken a gymnastics class. Thank the Lord my coach snapped this pic. Otherwise, I'd never believe it. Ha. That's the thing about CrossFit. It's all about doing things you never thought possible in a very supportive community/environment. Trust me - everyone there was cheering me on. CrossFit is also about finding your weaknesses and working on them. As I said, I have LOTS. In particular I couldn't squat worth squat! My coach has worked tirelessly with me on that. I'm happy to report that I have improved quite a bit. Contrary to popular belief, it's not all weight lifting. In fact, it's only a third of it. It's about combining Olympic lifting elements, gymnastic movements, and metabolic conditioning. So there's a lot to focus on! I'm not the strongest person out there, but I am improving. I've worked myself up to a 165# dead lift, a 135# back squat, and a 100# front squat. And, I can now easily swing a 35# kettle bell. Like the handstand above, for me in particular, some of the more fun things to work on require only your body weight and coordination/balance. Come to find out, I don't have a lot of coordination/balance, which is why the handstand was so shocking. One thing I did NOT take to instantly is called a Double Under. It's a jump rope movement in which the rope should pass under your feet TWICE during one jump. Tough stuff! Mind you, prior to 2013 I hadn't jumped rope since probably 1987. Since it's such an excellent conditioning element, I asked for my own jump rope for Christmas. I was, by golly, going to work on my double unders.   I only got my first double under back in January. I was so excited about it that I screamed and did my "only at CrossFit happy dance." Last Saturday I actually surprised myself and did sixty of them, I was so proud. I really didn't think I could do it. With Chasen traveling in Asia for the longest period of time ever, 14.5 days, I decided that I needed a special project to keep me busy. I call it "Susan's Double Under Camp." Each day I am working on my double unders. On day 1 I tried desperately to get two consecutive DU's, but I couldn't. My goal, period, is two. I came close, but I just couldn't get the right rhythm. On day 2... I got two!!! I did it multiple times, in fact. I was on top of the world. Today, day 3, it took a while, but I got three. Three! I did it a few times, to my amazement, and then decided to try to video myself so I could figure out how to be more rhythmic and efficient. You'll never guess what happened next.       allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />I got SIX in a row!I believe the video speaks for itself. I was shocked! It goes to show that practice and perseverance pay off. My technique has a way to go, but I am going to continue to try to improve, day by day. Mark my words. I'm fired up about these doubles![...]

Baked Cilantro Lime Herbed Chicken


I have come up with another super easy, nutritious chicken recipe! Per the usual, it's an adaptation of someone else's recipe. My BFF sent me this link. She's always on the lookout for paleo-friendly recipes for me. Love her!

We had snow today in North Mississippi, and, trust me, that's rare. It's way below freezing, and I wanted a dinner that would both warm me up and stick to my ribs. This adaptation was a home run! Here's what I did:
  • In a gallon size baggie, I sliced and squeezed a lime, as well as a few tablespoons of cilantro.
  • To that I added about a quarter cup of olive oil and a bit of garlic.
  • Then came the motherload of spices, all "just a dash" or so: oregano, basil, paprika, onion powder, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary. 
  • I put four chicken breasts in there, shook it all up, and let it sit on the counter for an hour or so.
  • Into a 9x13 pan it all got plopped. Easy peasy!

 I baked this for AN HOUR at 400 degrees. 

At the halfway point I added one sliced sweet potato. Remember me wanting something that would stick to my ribs?

Ah, the finished product!

People, this.was.good. Even 5-year-old Isaac loved it. I can't wait to have leftovers tomorrow. I'd venture to say that it'd still be delicious (and oh so moist!) if you left out a spice or two. Happy cooking!

Isaac's Fifth Birthday


Well, folks, we've hit another milestone. My sweet, little Isaac is now a big five-year-old. I won't say the usual "Where has the time gone?" Truly, it seems like five years. Five glorious years, that is, of being a stay-at-home mom who has not missed one moment. Thank you, sweet hubby! We settled on a minion theme this year, as in the minions from Despicable Me I & II. Isaac LOVES those movies, as do most small kids. Heck, I love them, too! And, minions are the bomb diggity. So, as a non-Pinterest person, I immediately started googling "minion party ideas." I knew what had to be done. Minion cupcakes! Yes, with Twinkies. Easy peasy.My big boy helped me make those cupcakes. His official duty was to press the eyeballs onto a dab of black frosting. He loves to be a helper.He woke on his birthday (2/15) and I presented he and Chasen with matching Spider-Man ties. A fellow stay-at-home mom in Georgia makes them (affordably!) and takes custom requests.  Look at those two. Am I lucky or what?We headed to our church about two hours ahead of the party to set up. I had been working for over a week on all of the decor. Phew - a "home grown" party is a lot of work.  There's my tippy-toed fella standing underneath a minion welcome sign. Food table. Yep, I painted that sign. I love the minion lemonade dispenser. The goody bags look like the evil minions. Notice the innocent looking popcorn. Two long tables were plenty to seat the minions... err, little boys. Chasen worked many nights painting all of these "minion bowling pins." Family selfie, aka the calm before the storm.The next thing I knew, we had thirteen little boys running around! Literally, they did almost nothing but run around. It made me wonder why I put so much time into decorations and games. But, Isaac had a great time, and that's what counts.  Pin the goggles on the minions got a lot of laughs. Those guys loved the sparkle candle! Here's most of the crew. This was before they ground popcorn into the carpet. Ugh!These boys' lives were enriched on this day, as most of them experienced Twinkies for the first time! If you ask any of them, though, I bet they'd say their favorite parts were the minion cupcakes and running around playing tag. Ah, little boys, gotta love 'em.  This is most of Isaac's loot.We're so fortunate to have so many sweet pals for Isaac, most of whom attend our church. I know they're about to become a bit "scattered about" with everyone attending different kindergartens in the fall (yes, this fall!) but I hope some of these little guys will be his lifelong friends. And I look forward to many more birthday parties![...]

Running Conversations


Last week I had the privilege of being featured on the Running Conversations podcast! If you haven't heard of it, let me break it down right now. Adam "Zen Runner" Tinkoff interviews runners of all abilities, ages, mindsets, and locations about anything and everything. In my case he wanted to hear about my recent New Orleans Marathon experience. We chatted for about 40 minutes, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You can listen to it here. Thanks!

New Orleans Marathon


Marathon #13 is in the books! And, it was a doozy of a journey. One of the reasons I chose the New Orleans Rock 'n' Roll Marathon is because of the awesome medal. Duh! Another reason was because it was within driving distance (6 hours, anyway). The final reason was because I have a very, very sweet friend, Robin, who recently relocated to the general area. Her son and Isaac are friends, so we arranged for the two of us to stay with her for several days. Score! She'd be able to keep Isaac for me while I was running the marathon, and he'd have a fun time with his friend. That's a win-win.Isaac and I left at 9 AM on Friday morning. The race wasn't until Sunday (Super Bowl Sunday, that is). I have to say that he did an amazing job during the long drive.A movie and some popcorn is all it takes, most of the time, to keep him happy.We pulled into downtown New Orleans just past 4 PM. I was excited to take Isaac to the race expo with me. He's getting so big! I knew he'd enjoy seeing all that was there.  There he is with his trusty pal, Stinky Dog.These Mardi Gras beads greeted us. We got my race bib, timing strip for my shoe, shirt, and loot bag. Then we walked around for just a bit. I'm not a big race expo person. If you've seen one, you've seen them all. But this was Isaac's first large one, so I stuck it out for a while.Ha!I really, really like my charcoal grey technical tee. Isaac wanted to carry my things. After the expo we headed out to Robin's house in Houma, Louisiana. My phone directed me on a 90 minute journey there. That felt longer than the drive to New Orleans. But we finally made it.Here are Isaac and Charlie, enjoying some cupcakes from our hometown.And here is Isaac wearing Charlie's "shrimp boots."On Saturday morning we all headed into New Orleans to do some sight seeing. After a lunch of grilled shrimp, we toured the very neat Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Then we walked along the riverfront area. That is where IT happened: a seagull pooped on my arm. I thought someone had thrown a rock at me! Then I discovered what it really was. Eeewwww! I thought "This has got to be some sort of good omen, somehow." Ha. Here we are along the river. It was a gorgeous day.After a streetcar ride and some more walking around, we got ready to call it a day. Robin had arranged for us to stay at her sister's home that evening in nearby Metairie. That would mean only a 10 minute drive to the race for me, and I greatly appreciated that. After dinner I laid out all of my gear, and that included putting my timing strip on my shoe.I slept alone in Robin's niece's room that night, and I slept well. I was a little leery about only having ONE alarm set, but I trusted that everything would be OK. Even when I stay at hotels with three alarms, I usually wake up before my phone tells me to. So at 5 AM I was up making eggs and getting ready.Here I am all ready to go, for the most part.I got the the premium parking lot with ease. You see, this race started and finished miles apart. So, unless I got dropped off, I'd have a long walk back to my car. The extra $20 spent on the lot by the finish line, as well as the shuttle to the start, was money well spent.For a race this large, I anticipated the lines for the port-o-potties to be very long. But they weren't. That's a first! Of course, there seemed to be hundreds of them. Say what you may about the Rock 'n' Roll races, but everything seemed to be very well thought out, logistically. I made my way to the starting area, and I discovered my corral, #15, was blocks and blocks away. The race was just that large! I finally got there after the gun had fired, but this was a wave start, so I had plenty of time to spare. In fact, I didn't start until 7:28 AM. So what did I do for almost a half hour? I people watched, waited for my Garmin to find signal, and I observed the FOG. Ther[...]

Homemade Energy Bars


I am participating in a 60 day STRICT paleo challenge at CrossFit. There's a lot more to it than just the food, but for the purpose of this post, "just the facts, ma'am." So, with a marathon looming ahead, I was told that my Gu's would count as a "cheat meal," which would cost me 10 points. OH, HECK NO! If I'm going to have a cheat meal, it is going to be something sinfully scrumptious, not stinkin' Gu. Enough said.So a friend suggested that I try homemade energy bars instead. She had a recipe (100% paleo!) that she was quite fond of, so I gave it a whirl. The original recipe can be found here.  Chasen and I decided have a go of it, so he sped off to the store to get all, whopping three ingredients:1 cups almonds1 cup pecans1 cup datesThat's all, folks. Really. How simple!I put each into my tiny food processor, individually, because it can't fit much more than one cup. After mere seconds each was blended to smithereens. I then dumped it into a large bowl and moved on to the next ingredient. So fast!*Note: I added a bit of salt because it's something I desperately need while running.Here is the mix, sticky dates included. So good you could eat it with a spoon!Next I elected to put just a splash of water in to make it mix up a touch easier. It smelled just like pecan pie! Who wouldn't love that? FYI the dates are what "hold it all together."Now it's ready to move on to the next, easy step.I filled an 8x8 pan with wax paper and pressed the mix into it.The pan needed to chill in the fridge until the gigantic bar was firm. I let it do so overnight. The next morning I removed it from the pan. Easy peasy.Using a pizza cutter, I sliced it into Gu-sized strips.My typical Gu has 100 calories. The entire pan of bars has about 1900 calories. I sliced it into eight (yes, only six are pictured -- quality control, people!) and each had about 238 calories. I certainly do NOT worry about counting calories while running a marathon, but I was comforted knowing that I'd be getting more per serving.The snack sized bags could easily be safety pinned to my fuel belt, I was certain. After all, they're only a tiny bit larger than a typical energy gel. We liked these so much, from a taste standpoint, that Isaac and I immediately made another batch the next morning just to have around the house. When you can please a "nut job" runner, a man with high standards, and a 4-year-old all in one go... well, that's saying something. I hope you love them as much as we do![...]



Last summer Chasen had a class pretty much every Saturday morning. It got old really, really quickly. He missed some t-ball games, which stank, but at least we were occupied. When t-ball ran out, I was at a loss for things to keep us busy. So I decided to check "blueberry picking" off my Mississippi bucket list. You see, ever since we moved here 5+ years ago, I've heard people talk about going blueberry picking. So I did a little research and discovered that the Nesbit Blueberry Plantation was less than 10 miles away. Score! I loaded Isaac up and off we went.We were some of the first people to arrive. It was July... in Mississippi... so it was H-O-T. I won't lie; I hated every second of it. Unless there is running involved, I'm really an indoor girl. Hey - it is what it is. Nonetheless, Isaac and I went up and down rows and rows of beautiful blueberry bushes. He was having a blast, and all the while I was wishing to load up and go to Sonic and get a cold drink. Ha! It took about two hours, I think, but we finally picked one measly gallon of homegrown blueberries for $12.    There I am with my gallon bucket tied around my waist. Love those red New Balance 990's!We got home and I realized just how many blueberries were in a gallon. Holy moly! What was I going to do with all of those? I looked in a favorite cookbook by Southern Living and found a couple of recipes. One was for a blueberry pie (which I made a month later) and the other was for blueberry jam. I measured out the required amounts for each and froze them. Was I really planning to make jam? Me?Sure enough, I was. I decided it'd make a sweet Christmas present for close friends. I mean, who doesn't like jam? It was actually quite easy. First I had to crush the blueberries, so I just put them in my blender. Next they went in a large pot with lemon juice and SEVEN CUPS OF SUGAR. Get your insulin ready, friends!  That's a pretty color, huh?I added some liquid pectin, which I had never heard of, and stirred and stirred. The tricky part was ladling it into 8 oz jars.  I didn't make too much of a mess, but jammin', by definition, is a messy task. So get ready!What came next surprised me, as I didn't read ahead in my recipe. I had to "process" the jars in boiling water for five minutes.   Boiling closed jars seems dangerous, but I survived.There they are! Ten beautiful little jars of jam. I was anticipating five, and I have rechecked my math, so I am still clueless as to why I ended up with ten. Say hello to my little friends!I am so, so proud of my jam. It pretty much makes my awful two hours in Nesbit worth it. And despite all of the sugar, it really tastes like fresh blueberries. Guess I know what I'll be doing next summer! [...]

Mt. Nebo State Park / Turkey Run 5k


After a whopping seventeen months, my family finally got to spend a little vacation time together. Due to various factors, we've only gotten to take trips separately, and that stinks! So earlier this fall we decided that -- by golly! -- we were going to go camping no matter what. And so we did. Being that I am a native Arkansan, and Chasen spent probably 12 or 13 years there, we both know that there is just no better place to camp. They don't call it The Natural State for nothing! So he found us an affordable, available cabin at Mt. Nebo State Park. We loaded up his truck, added in Isaac's good friend, Michael, and we headed west.  This sign preceded a VERY steep, windy road to majestic views.We would our way up Mt. Nebo and I thought to myself "there's a good chance I may not do any running this weekend," even though I had my gear. I was planning to run, but that hill was very discouraging.After checking in at the visitor's center, we easily found our sweet, little cabin. It had a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living room with two futons and a lovely fireplace. Perfect! Here is a rear view showing the awesome rock patio area. This is what it overlooked. Seriously!Chasen went out to search for a playground for the boys, and he discovered that a 5k was going to be held within the park the next morning. That was my sign; the run was going to happen, hills or no hills.After a rather exhausting two weeks, I slept like a rock that night. In fact, I got about eleven hours of sleep. The beauty of traveling with small children, and staying in close quarters, is that you basically have to go to sleep at the same time as them. While that may be annoying at times, on this occasion it was a blessing.After cooking a big breakfast on Saturday morning, I headed to the 5k area to see if I could register "with my good looks," as I had no cash or checks with me. Just a few hundred feet from our cabin I saw eighteen deer cross the road. Yes, 18!  They just kept on going and going!I located the 5k organizers, and they graciously said I could mail in my entry fee. So I hurried back to the cabin and got into my running clothes. The four of us went to the start/finish area and waited it out. The boys were happy to play on the playground equipment. The did so during the entire race.It was a VERY small race. It was the first running of the event, and I think the impending rain may have deterred a lot of potential participants. There were 22 of us in all. I was to maintain a 12:00 pace, per my new running coach (more on him later). That, believe it or not, is a big stretch for me these days. Unfortunately, I have slowed down incredibly over the past few years. My coach is going to help fix that! None the less, I was worried about the 12:00 pace. One reason I was excited about the 5k is because I knew it would help to push me. And it did.I kept my sights on a college girl in front of me (yes, probably 18-20 years younger). She stayed about 100-200 feet ahead of me until mile 2. I was determined to catch her. I finally got to about 50 feet behind her. I knew it was "now or never," so I hustled up. I got close, and she surged ahead. Finally, I had the chance again, and I surged more. I passed her, and I was "hell bent and whiskey bound" to keep it that way. The finish wasn't too much farther up, so I just gave it all I had. Chasen and the boys were at the final corner, and they were cheering for me. That helped! I crossed the finish line in 36:24, which is about an 11:45 pace. Whoo hoo!I came in at 12 of 22. I'm not used to being in the middle of the pack! Ha. But guess what it was good enough for: A medal for little ole me! I couldn't believe it! There's 2/3 of my handsome cheering section. Here's my race t-shirt. I like the tur[...]

Happy Fall, Y'all!


Crafting is NOT my thing. When I'm good at something, I'm really good at it. But when I'm bad... my, my, my! And crafting is something that is not my strong suit. However, we should always try to improve ourselves by trying new things. So I saw an idea for a wreath that promised to be easy, and I decided to go for it. It involved two trips to the fabric store (that's one more than I was happy with), lots of cutting out circles (94 to be exact), and even more uttering of the question, with rolled eyes, "WHY am I doing this?" This is what I've ended up with/settled with:

See Isaac in the reflection? He LOVES this ole thing. 

Isaac was by my side for pretty much the whole process, so I couldn't just quit and throw the whole works in the trash. He also picked out all of the accompanying pumpkins and gourds.

Here is my back door's fall scene, complete with old New Balance.

Runner Feet, Be Gone!


Like most everyone out there, I enjoy seeing friends' posts on Facebook. While some posts may be annoying recipe shares, every once in a while I see something that really looks to be worth investigating. One day I happened upon something that really caught my attention: a "foot soaking" solution. As someone who has her fair share of yucky, dead skin on her poor ole marathon feet, I thought this was worth a shot.

Looks simple enough, right?

With as straightforward an ingredients list as that, it was worth trying. Most people probably already have those items on hand. The only thing is... as is, that recipe makes one cup of liquid. That's NOT enough to cover two rough feet! I quadruple that and get a whopping two cups of liquid. It is sufficient. 

Just like it says, soak those babies for ten minutes.

After the soak, with your feet still wet, you'll find it rather quick and easy to use a pumice stone. In no time you'll have smooth, minty fresh feet. 

Thanksgiving in a Pot


If you know me personally, then you know that I love to cook. I love the "love" that is involved with providing a tasty, nutritious meal for my family. Recently a friend sent a highly recommended rosemary chicken recipe my way. Immediately I wanted to change some things about it, and boy did I get it right! I call it Thanksgiving in a Pot because it involves sweet potatoes and rosemary. Obviously you could easily use white potatoes and it would still be delicious.Thanksgiving in a Pot3/4 pound sweet potatoes, cut into bite size pieces2 teaspoons salt2-3 sprigs rosemary1 clove minced garlicpinch of red pepper flakesjuice of two lemons (I use concentrate and eyeball it)2 tablespoons olive oil4 chicken breasts1. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into bite size pieces. Place them in water and bring to a boil.2. Pile the salt, garlic, red pepper flakes, and rosemary leaves (save one sprig, though) on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, mince and mash it all into a paste. Transfer to a small bowl and add the lemon juice and olive oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat each piece.3. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken pieces and let each side barely brown.                                                            I cut my boneless, skinless pieces in half.4. Place the chicken into a Le Creuset type pot. (Mine is a bargain version.) Pour the sweet potatoes on top of it, as well as all of the drippings from the chicken skillet. Add the remaining sprig of rosemary, as well as some additional lemon juice (if you so desire).Yep, just pile it all in there.5. Bake, uncovered, at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes. The finished product will make your kitchen smell like a holiday!  Here it is on a plate. My family adores it.This dish is the definition of succulent: tender, juicy, tasty. The combination of lemon, red pepper, and rosemary is something to write home about![...]

Homemade Laundry Detergent


I am a frugal person by nature. And I have been a die-hard Dave Ramsey follower for 3.5 years now. These two facts, in combination with my perception that my family of three produces a ridiculous amount of dirty laundry, led me to jump on the homemade laundry detergent bandwagon just over a year ago. Supposedly it's cheaper and better.Well, guess what. That's true! We LOVE our homemade detergent. I just can't imagine having to use the store bought stuff ever again. I have been using this recipe. It offers some choices, so I'm going to go ahead and tell you how I do it. Here's what you'll need:5-gallon bucket, or a container of a similar size [note: it doesn't make five gallons... probably three]cheese grater4 lb 12 oz box of Borax3 lb 7 ox box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda3 lb container of OxiClean28.2 oz of Zote Soap (Fels Naptha is an acceptable substitute) [note: different scents are available]4 lb box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda56 oz of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener [note: different scents are available]funnel Here are my ingredients. They're all found on the laundry aisle of a grocery store.The hardest part of this little project is grating the soap. Once that part is over, it's smooth, money-saving sailing. Simply put a small portion of each ingredient into the bucket and mix it all up. Repeat until it's all in the bucket.Being that we're in the middle of a home renovation, we recently had to mix up some floor leveler in a bucket. Chasen bought a "mud mixer" that fits onto the end of a regular hand drill (see below). I suggested we use that for the detergent and it was much easier.  Even if you only use this for detergent, it's worth it to purchase one.Once it's all mixed up, using a mud mixer or a large spoon, you'll need a small funnel of sorts to put the detergent into the fabric softener containers for easy day-to-day use. We use an oil funnel that can be found, for free, at most gas stations.The black line on the inside of the fabric softener lid denotes 2 tablespoons. That's all each load requires! Isn't that amazing? We think so. One bucket lasts us between 5-7 months. The ingredients (not counting the bucket, grater, etc.) cost me $32.85 last time. So that's approximately $5-$7 per month. That's a huge savings for us, especially since I seem to be constantly washing sweaty running clothes.We truly love how well this works AND smells. The two ingredients that determine the scent, as indicated above, are the fabric softener and the bars of soap. The fabric softener comes in three or four choices, and the soap comes in two or three. I don't think you can go wrong with any combination.Happy Laundry Day![...]

Indianapolis Marathon


Let's start from the beginning. Why did I choose the Indianapolis Marathon? There are a few reasons. With eleven marathons under my belt (in hopes of completing 50), I have nearly exhausted all of my "driveable" options. Thus, most races are going to require flying. Even though all of Chasen's work travel makes frequent flyer miles semi-abundant, it's unrealistic for us all to go to each race; that would use up all of the miles and boost the cost of each trip at least two-fold, if not more. Thus, I go it alone. With that in mind, and a lack of vacation days, I needed to pick a destination that Chasen wouldn't mind missing (and that's about as nicely as I can put it). Indy fit the time frame, wasn't an enormous race, was seemingly flat, and had a pretty decent medal. You know me -- it's all about the medal!    Just as I did for the Wisconsin Marathon back in May, I trained using my own ad hoc version of a CrossFit Endurance plan. I gave it all I had, and I felt prepared. The only difference was my "problem ankle" began to rear its ugly head a few weeks prior. I simply added more of a taper to give it a rest. I arrived in Indy with no problems. Soon thereafter I headed to the expo. I was thrilled to receive a long sleeve, hunter green tech shirt! I've never had a shirt of this color before. The Indy foliage is proudly displayed. I had high hopes of gorgeous scenery.I uncharacteristically signed up for the pre-race pasta party. It was cheap, and I thought it'd be fun to eat and chat with some other runners. Well, that didn't happen. It was restaurant style, so I was seated alone. The food was so-so. I would have been better off just going to a restaurant of my choosing, like I normally do. Lesson learned.I got plenty of sleep that night, as pre-race sleep goes. I had a good, clean breakfast of sliced turkey, sweet potato, and banana. The next thing I knew I had found a parking spot less than a block from my starting corral. Sounds great, right? It should except... it was raining.    Here I am just before the race started. Bundled up and ready to get after it!It rained for MILES. Theoretically, a light rain doesn't sound too bad. However, a light rain is capable of quickly soaking you to the bone, especially your feet. Not zesty! My ears stayed dry and warm, thanks to my ear muffs. My head/hair was OK, as well as upper body, for the most part. But still... the rain stinks. When you can feel the water squishing in your shoes, it's just not a good thing. Like most races, the first mile or two was very congested. I had to run a bit faster than I really wanted to, but it was alright. From a speed and body standpoint, the first eight miles were good. I was feeling fine and doing well. The course weaved in and out of Fort Harrison State Park. It was run on city streets, paved park roads, paved trails, and even through grass and mud at times. It ran the gamut! The promised, prized "fall foliage" was not that impressive, in my opinion. For one thing, I was soaking wet, so my views are a bit tarnished. For another thing, if you've ever visited Northwest Arkansas (or even New England) in the fall, nothing else will ever compare. It was relatively flat; I only remember experiencing one hill.    Water stops were abundant. Most were staffed by young men in military attire. They were very polite! I was disappointed by the lack of food present; I'm used to seeing banana halves, potato chips, candy, etc. from time to time along a good course. Obviously I come prepared with Gu, but I enjoy those little extras. There were zero. Also missing was spectators. Once we left the starting area[...]

Isaac's LAST First Day of Mother's Day Out


My little 8 lb 5 oz baby boy is already 4 1/2 years old. Today marked another milestone: his last "first day of pre-K." That's right, one more year until kindergarten. Already! He began his final year of Mother's Day Out today. His true first day seems like just like yesterday. Oh how little he was! In his cool, retro lunch box I taped some photo box pictures of our family.For his lunch he requested peanuts, walnuts, an orange, olives, and some grapes. I also included a boiled egg and his juice/water. This big guy is 43.75" tall already.  I love him to pieces. What a hunk! He sports his "running shoes" just like Mommy's. :-)We had the chance to meet his teachers at an Open House last week. So we knew exactly where to go and who all to expect.  This definitely looks like a "big kid" classroom to me. Sniff, sniff. There are 12 kids in his class (6 and 6). He knows a lot of them already.He immediately settled in and began playing when I dropped him off.Summer flew by, but at the same time it felt very long. I know Isaac is ready to get back to a normal, structured schedule. He'll be at MDO for twenty hours per week, and I'll be on my own. Wish us luck![...]

Swimming Lessons 2013


I'm proud to announce that Isaac has finished up another week of swimming lessons. He took this same week long class last summer, and boy has he improved!                                                            Each day this week, M-F, I'd drop him off for an hour with Coach Melissa.He has loved it, that's for sure. I got a good report each day after class. For the last twenty minutes of the last class, the parents get to come and watch. Every child has the opportunity to show off their new skills.When Chasen and I arrived, there sat six eager swimmers (two were absent). allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />First he used some kickboards. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Next he swim from Melissa to Cady, the teenage helper, and then back to Melissa.  allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />He floated on his back for ten seconds. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />This is my favorite: the big swim! Notice him saying "Hi Mommy!" as he walks past me.  allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' /> After all was said and done, they each got to do a "victory lap."I think it is absolutely incredible what can be learned/taught in five hours. And I know for a fact that these skills are valuable, because of an incident that happened last week. A dear friend took Isaac, along with her own children, to a pool. My little daredevil slipped away and jumped right into the deep end! While it scared my friend to death, and caused all three lifeguards to spring into action, Isaac was able to keep his head above water and use his arms to stay afloat. Phew - that was a close call! The first thing I thought when I got over the shock of what he put my friend through was "thank heaven for those swimming lessons!" Thank you, Coach Melissa.[...]

Mighty Guy Little Tri


Today we attended the second annual Mighty Guy Little Tri. We went last year, also. You can read about it here. This year was a bit bigger, as was my boy. It started with the run. Each portion of the tri had a distance of about 35 yards, give or take. Chasen got Isaac to the start for the run, as I was stationed up ahead with his bike.  There's Isaac on the left in red. Chasen is directly behind him in the navy blue shirt.Isaac was to me in a flash. I got him on his bike and off we went. He's still not super comfortable on his bike, so I stayed with him the entire distance. Lots of parents did the same.  There we are, red and red.  Hey, guy, look ahead!It took quite a while for him to do the biking portion (by comparison, but he was far from last). Chasen met us at the end and Isaac began to sprint toward the water. There he goes, ready for the fire truck. Now he's getting to the spray of the fire truck. Another action shot courtesy of my visiting BFF, Jennifer. I was rather surprised by what happened next. He actually did not want to go all the way through the water! Last year we could hardly pull him out of the water; he was soaked to the bone. Chasen literally had to pick him up today, legs kicking, to carry him the last few yards across the finish line to earn his cool medal. I was shocked! Once again, all kids were #1. Love it! Chasen and I look on as Isaac perches atop the "podium." There's my little champ! Here is Jennifer, the "official photographer" of Isaac's race. Bless her! Isaac's cool medal, which looks much more "grown up" that last year's.The middle part swivels AND is has hologram images. Very, very cool!I'm sure we'll be back for more next Memorial Day weekend. We can't wait![...]

Isaac's Spring Program


Now I am the mother of a boy who has made it successfully through two school programs! I proudly sat in the front row and he waved at me and smiled. Awww - this mama thing is an excellent gig!

There he and his pal Jack are coming into the sanctuary.

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"Rise and Shine"

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 "Little David Play On Your Harp"

Here is everyone who participated, minus a few tiny ones in a the "bye bye buggy."

They sang six songs, and they did a wonderful job. I couldn't have been more proud. I can tell you already that I am going to be an emotional wreck at next year's preschool graduation. Just thinking about "Pomp and Circumstance" makes me tear up. Times goes too quickly! At the end of the program a slide show was played with photos from the school year, and this song was playing:

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You CAN NOT listen to these lyrics without crying. I dare ya!

Being Isaac's mother is the greatest gift I have ever been given. So, as the song goes, "Let them be little!" 

50 in 50


After I ran my first marathon, I knew I wanted to run another. I made the goal of running one in every state. Yes, I was hooked. Here's how my map looks so far. 

11 down, 39 more to go.

It's interesting to me to explain why I've run the states I have. Let's see if you agree.
  1. Arkansas: I'm from Arkansas, and I lived there at the time. That's a no-brainer.
  2. Tennessee: At the time it was about a 2.5 hour drive to Memphis. Easy-peasy.
  3. Alabama: By this point I had moved to Mississippi, so I thought Mississippi would be #3. But, due to timing, I needed to run one at the end of the calendar year (long story). So we loaded up my 9 month 27 day old baby boy and made the 3-hour drive and got it done.
  4. Illinois: Being that I went to college in Chicago, the Chicago Marathon was on my bucket list. There ya have it.
  5. Texas: I had one more free airline ticket to use up from my pre-Dave Ramsey credit card days, and due to timing and available flights, it had to be Texas.
  6. Missouri: By this point it had become all about the medal (and it still is!) so we made the 5-hour drive and I earned an awesome caboose medal.
  7. Ohio: The Flying Pig is a top notch event with an awesome medal. As a bonus, Cincinnati is gorgeous.
  8. Idaho: A huge family vacation prompted this one.
  9. Georgia: I could run with my longtime friend (a bit) and we could drive to this one as a family.
  10. Mississippi: At last! The medal is incredible, and it's a short 3-hour drive to Jackson.
  11. Wisconsin: Again, an awesome medal, plus a short drive from Chicago. 

Wisconsin Marathon


After marathon #10 (heck, even before, if I'm being completely honest) I knew that I wanted to take some time off from running. I was, simply put, burned out. Four marathons in eight months will do that to a girl. That's when I decided to "dedicate myself" to CrossFit. I began and completed a 10-week BodyComp Challenge. Now that was an accomplishment! There is nothing easy about CrossFit. Nothing! Somewhere within those ten weeks, I discovered the finishers medal for the Wisconsin Marathon. The rest is history; I knew I just HAD to have it. After all my big talk about taking a break from running, I was about to embark on something a little crazy: CrossFit (which I was not about to give up!) PLUS running. Insane, table for one. I got the blessing of my CrossFit trainer when I suggested that I train for it using a CrossFit Endurance training plan. Actually, to be clear, I used the running portion only of that plan in combination with my 3-4 CrossFit sessions per week.  For the past twelve weeks I have doubted whether or not the CFE plan would be "enough," as I was doing very little running. For the previous TEN marathons, I banged out a double digit longrun every weekend, with 2-4 shorter runs per week. CFE had me only going up to 10 miles. Period. Ever. *gulp* And LOTS of speedwork. Basically, only speedwork, of which previously I was not a fan. I just kept thinking to myself, "Look, you've run ten marathons, Thousands of those very fit CrossFit people can't be wrong." So I gave it the old college try.I headed to Chicago (where I attended college) with my Blues Brothers inspired getup in tow. You see, for the first time ever I decided to run in costume. At this particular Wisconsin race, if you dress with even a bit of cheese on you, you get to start in the "All Cheese Corral." Inspired by this year's "blue cheese" medal, with the help of a talented friend, I composed a rather cool costume. But more on that later.   See my fedora? Yes, marathoners travel with "marathon luggage." My first order of business in Chicago was to have lunch with some sorority sisters. Yes, I was in a sorority. I was even president once. And I'll have you know that I have inspired a few of these ladies to run races.  There we are, some of the Kappas of the 90's.I said goodbye and drove myself up to Kenosha, Wisconsin. It's situated right on Lake Michigan, just about an hour and a half north of suburban Chicago, where my lunch ended up being.  See, I was there.The "help yourself" race expo took place at a hotel. I was in and out in no time. I found it extremely ironic (yet delicious!) that a "cheesy" place like Wisconsin would proudly promote and distribute cheese made in Vermont. I just can't wrap my mind around that. Signs involving cheese and beer were everywhere. Chasen says Wisconsin has its priorities right. Cool light blue tech shirt. I love it!  See Mr. Blue Cheese? It was he that I was trying to emulate with my costume. This is the back of the shirt. Mr. Blue Cheese was even on the race bibs. Love him!  Here I am in my hotel room on the morning of the race.I must brag on my friend Roxanne. She sewed the collar/tie combo for me, and she even put velcro on it so it'd be easy for me. Love her! And I'll have you know that my fedora, hat band, collar, tie, and sunglasses cost me just under $7 (thanks to Roxanne's free sewing).  Here I am in the "All Cheese Corral" b[...]

Isaac's First T-Ball Game


Today was Isaac's first t-ball game. I knew when I signed him up that it was going to be a good learning experience for him and a GREAT photography opportunity for me. Yep - the truth is, I signed him up 99% for the pictures. Since I never played any team sports growing up, the other 1% was for him. Ha! We put Chasen on a plane for Baltimore early this morning, so I had to be the official motivator, photographer, drink holder, etc. No biggie - this mama can multitask. I quickly learned that I was to also be the team shirt distributor, which was easy enough. Truth be told, I was dying for Isaac to get his shirt with his name on it! There he is, lucky #7. And bless them for spelling his name correctly. Here a few players are practicing catching. Or looking the other way.  There ya go - look at the coach!  Pre-game pep talk. Coach Clinton is a VERY patient man. Bless him!Pre-game prayer. One of the best parts! allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Isaac's first time at bat. Everyone gets to bat once per inning. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Isaac is running from first to home. His pal Jake was last to bat, so he drove them all home. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Isaac's first time to catch. Everyone gets to catch once per inning.  allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' /> Isaac's second time at bat. He did better!There he is running from third base to home. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Isaac's third time at bat. This was about where the enthusiasm wore off. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' /> Last time at bat... ready to be done.This was so, so, so cute! I really liked it for about as long as the kids did -- about thirty minutes. The second thirty minutes were filled with lots of playing with grass, staring at traffic, etc. Hopefully the kids' attention span will lengthen as the season goes on. We have five more games to play! Here they all are giving high fives when it was done.Post-game pep talk. 1,2,3... go Maroon![...]

Cyclist In Training


Isaac received a Lightning McQueen bicycle for his 4th birthday last month. Since then he hasn't shown a whole lot of interest in it. Well, to be clear, he loves to "repair" it with its accompanying tool kit, but that's about it. He never really had ANY interest in mastering his tricycle when he was younger; he much preferred me to push him in it. Last summer when he did the Mighty Guy Little Tri, a certain member of my household was none too pleased with Isaac basically just sitting there during the bike portion. Ahem.

We finally got a warm-ish spring day, so I encouraged Isaac to try to ride it some more. Lo and behold, he did quite well! Take a gander. 

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When he stops, he uses his favorite expletive "Oh Pickles!" Haaaaa!

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I'm so proud! If only Chasen could have been here to see it. Dang China...

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One day soon he'll be able to ride all the way to the garage.

Look out, Mighty Guy Little Tri, we're comin' for ya!

***I am a believer in riding with a helmet. This was an isolated incident.***

CrossFit BodyComp Challenge


After the Mississippi Blues Marathon, and even leading up to it, I knew that I wanted a bit of time off from running. I was definitely a bit burned out. Four marathons in eight months will do that to a girl! I took about a week off, and then embarked on something completely different. And Chasen joined me!For the following ten weeks, I began having my rear handed to me about four times per week at my local CrossFit as part of a Body Comp Challenge (a 10-week body changing competition). What is CrossFit, you ask? From the website: "that which optimizes fitness (constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity)." Translation: (in my own words) weight training at a certain pace, plyometric exercises, timed workouts... basically anything that makes one pour sweat and maybe even feel like they're going to vomit (thank goodness that never happened to me - yet). Wow - I have loved it! The folks at DeSoto CrossFit have been so very encouraging and nice.You might remember me trying this before in late summer. I didn't last long due to various circumstances. This time I was out for blood! Like I said, I went about four times per week. That's forty difficult workouts! My physical results, in my opinion, were pretty terrific. I lost 2" in my waist and 2.5" in my hips! I lost 3.5 pounds, as well (yes, it could have been better, but I am human). My other measurements increased, which was surprising to me, because I feel that I look soooooo much better. The female trainer that took my measurements said that it was a good thing -- so there ya go. I'm pleased as punch.Here is a list of some of the things I have been doing: lunges, squats, dead lifts, back squats, shoulder presses, hammer curls, tricep extensions, sit ups, push ups, dips, pull ups (modified at this point), goblet squats, kettle bell swings, box jumps (also modified), snatches, cleans, bent over rows, bench presses, wall balls, burpees, planks, split jumps, frog hops, face pulls, jumping jacks, Turkish get ups, high knees, lumberjack squats, Russian step ups, side crunches, supermans, wall sits, calf raises, reverse sit ups. Yea -- it's no wonder that my body has changed.Have I missed running during the past ten weeks? Not too much, to be honest. I even toyed with the idea of not running for about six months. As in, not one step, other than that which is sometimes required at CrossFit. But, you know me, marathons are where my heart is. My main goal with all of this fantastic CrossFitting is to become a stronger runner. So I'm now trying to live in both worlds. I've even registered for marathon #11, the Wisconsin Marathon. I'm training for it by loosely following a training plan created by CrossFit Endurance, an endurance sports training program dedicated to improving performance, fitness, and endurance sports potential. You run LOTS less than with a traditional marathon training plan, and you do lots of speedwork (my least favorite thing to do). It's a mental challenge for this woman! But I do believe in the CrossFit way, and I know for a fact that my legs are MUCH stronger than before, as is the rest of me. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Isaac we[...]