Thursday, December 30, 2010

Holidays and head colds

We're back from a very nice visit with family. I'll share more about that later, but for now, I want to wish The Engineer a very happy 41st birthday! I love and appreciate my guy!

And now...I came home with a head cold, so I think I'll rest my brain and my body most of the day today. At least until some medicine kicks in and hopefully restores my energy!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vacation and a video

We are headed out today to visit family, so I probably won't be on the computer much through December 27. But by way of farewell, here's a little video of Chickie and Zoodle singing. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cindy Loo Who would be happy

I like the Kohl's Cares for Kids program--they offer books and toys for $5 each, and the net profits benefit children's charities.

Right now, several Dr. Seuss books with matching toys are being sold. We bought How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the Grinch stuffed animal, for a total of $10. I generally don't ever buy stuffed animals (since they quickly seem to multiply and take over the house!) But this one was so cute; I expect we'll keep him around a long time! (I suspect this may be the Grinch after his heart grew three sizes.... He looks way too nice to be the mean Grinch!)


Dr. Seuss books remain popular and tend to remain pricey too, so I was thrilled to get this one for $5! I know There's a Wocket in My Pocket was also available, and at least one other that I wasn't familiar with. They all have matching stuffed animals too.

Disclosure: Once again...not a sponsored post!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Audio books

Recently I was looking through old emails and realized my sister had sent us a gift certificate to last Christmas. I redeemed it for an audio book that I listened to while I was driving to and from Dallas for my race.

I hadn't listened to an audio book in years, and I was reminded just how fun it is. It's great being able to do other, housework, whatever...while listening to a book! And a good "reader" is really fun to listen to.

The value of audiobooks was reinforced to me when I recently got wrapped up in a very long, two-book, sci-fi series. The story was great, but the combined length of the books was 2,000 pages, and reading them took way too many hours! I didn't crochet at all this week until I finished the second book last night...and while I enjoyed the series and want to read more by this author, I don't want my life to be so taken over by a book again when I have so many other things I need to do this time of year!

So I told The Engineer I wanted a subscription to Audible for Christmas. (Disclosure--this isn't a sponsored post!) Right now they have a special deal...$7.50 per month for the first three months of membership. After that the price goes up to the normal price of $15 per month. That membership price includes one audio book per month. And we can cancel whenever we want.

That's a great deal, because the next book I wanted to read--or rather, listen to--by this author I've discovered is over 22 hours of audio, and the normal price is $40. So I'm getting it for $7.50...and I can do useful things like crocheting while I'm listening to it!

My friend Sasha listens to audiobooks while she runs. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to listen to this author's books while I run. He creates so many characters and plot lines, and my mind tends to wander when I'm running. But hopefully I can find some less-complex books later from Audible, ones that would be fun to hear while I run.

What about you? Do you listen to audiobooks, or have you in the past?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stinky mommy

My running is teaching my kids several things.
  • Exercise can be fun.
  • Meeting goals is rewarding.
  • Sweat makes you stinky.
Yep, they've started noticing that when I get home from running, sometimes I can be...well...pungent. And they delight in pointing it out. But it's going a little too far.

"Mommy," Zoodle said when I got home this morning, "Are you sweaty?"

I confirmed that I was indeed sweaty. From the other room, Chickie heard us, and came in, holding her nose.

"Chickie, that's rude," I said.

From 20 feet away, she said, "Mommy, you need to take a bath."

"Stop that, Chickie," I said. "You can't even smell me from over there."

"Yes I can!" she insisted, still holding her nose.

By then I was genuinely annoyed. "No," I insisted, "you can't. And it's really rude to do that."

Sure, Chickie should feel that our home is a safe place to be honest.

But I should also feel that our home is a safe place to least for a little while!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mocha Fudge recipe

"It's been a long time since you made me fudge," The Engineer told me the other day.

I gave him a long look. "I don't think I've ever in my life made fudge," I said. "You must be thinking of someone else."

Well, turns out the other woman he was confusing me with was his mom, who used to make fudge. Okay, I don't mind being mistaken for her. She's a great lady! Of course, if he remembers it from childhood, it was probably fantastic fudge. Could I measure up to that?

First I thought I'd just take the easy route and buy him some gourmet fudge. They were sampling various flavors at Costco, so I asked for a piece of the Belgian chocolate variety, with the full intention of buying some...until it hit my tongue and I realized it was made with mild milk chocolate. I know my man well enough to know he wants rich, dark chocolate (and I agree!)

Then I came across a recipe for Cappuccino Fudge on the lovely food blog Annie's Eats. Not only did it sound delicious, it looked very easy, with only about 15 minutes of prep time. So I tried it last night...and The Engineer was not disappointed. It's rich and delicious!


They say men marry a woman who reminds them of their mom. Now with this easy fudge, I can remind The Engineer of his mom in one more sweet way.

Here's the recipe, renamed and with a few minor adjustments. Enjoy!

Mocha Fudge

1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow creme (I used generic)
1/2 c. sugar
2/3 c. heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. butter or margarine (I used unsalted butter)
2 tsp. instant coffee granules* (I used a super-cheap brand)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 bag (12 oz.) dark chocolate chips (I used Hershey's Special Dark, which we love)

*Note: Original recipe calls for 1 tsp. coffee. I accidentally used 1 Tbsp., and we all liked it. I think it would be best with about 2 tsp. but you can certainly alter this according to taste.

1. Line an 8" square baking pan with aluminum foil.
2. In a 2 quart saucepan, mix all ingredients except chocolate chips. Bring to a boil on the stove on medium heat, stirring constantly.
3. Once it's boiling, continue to cook 5 minutes longer, still stirring constantly. The mixture will reduce a lot as it boils.
4. Remove from heat, and stir the chocolate chips in until melted smoothly.
5. Pour into prepared baking pan, and smooth top with a rubber spatula.
6. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Pull edges of foil to get entire batch out of the pan. Peel off the foil, and cut fudge into small, rich squares. Store in refrigerator.

Slightly altered from recipe at Annie's Eats.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blogging mojo, where are you?

Blogging mojo, pray tell, where are you?
Did you run away? Or perhaps you flew?
For it appears
My writing ideas
Are gone. And where? I haven't a clue.

Let's hope the mojo returns....

Monday, December 13, 2010

'Tis the season...for snowmen and gingerbread

There really is something magical about the combination of butter, marshmallows and crispy rice cereal. The other day I was in a cooking/crafting mood, and so each member of our family got their own snowman.


We all four thoroughly enjoyed them! Zoodle's developing quite a little sense of humor, and really put on a show while eating his. "This snowman doesn't have any eyes!" he exclaimed when he'd eaten the chocolate chips. "This snowman doesn't have any nose!"


He really got giggly when he said, "This snowman doesn't have a head!"

How do you get an almost-five-year-old to eat her dinner? Snowman bribery!


I'd also picked up some gingerbread-flavored marshmallows. (In fact, they're shaped like little gingerbread men--so cute!) They're made by Kraft. I used them to make another batch of treats, but when I tried them, they just weren't quite right. Nothing some chocolate chips and a microwave couldn't fix.


This gingerbread chocolate version has a richer, more adult flavor...or at least that's what you can tell yourself to justify not sharing with the kids!

Hope you are enjoying a sweet holiday!

This isn't a sponsored post, but if you're hungry, the Original Rice Krispies Treats recipe can be found here!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The early days of the Internet

I sometimes listen to an NPR podcast called Science Friday.

Oh, great, did I just lose every reader with that first sentence?

Well, in case you're still with me, I've got to recommend that you take some time to listen to one of the show's recent stories, "The Future of the Internet." It's a rebroadcast of a segment of a 1993 Science Friday episode.

Think back to 1993. Did you even know what the Internet was? My dad is pretty tech-savvy, and I think we got Compuserve in 1994 or 1995. We got a certain number of hours of access per month (five, maybe?), and beyond that we had to pay per minute. There was no Google or Facebook or Twitter, and--oh, this one makes my heart ache--no Amazon! (And speaking of Amazon, remember when it was just an online bookstore?)

The comments on this show are just awesome. One guy named Dave calls in and suggests, "Let's say I find some song I really like. It'd be nice to go to, like, Sony, or RCA, or wherever these record companies are, and download a particular song and if I like it, you know, upload a credit card number." (Let's hope this guy invested in Apple early on, and profited off iTunes!)

Another lady calls in, worried about how we know what information to trust on the Internet. (Of course, this was years before teachers had to set rules about using Wikipedia as a source!)

And then there are the numerous references to "electronic mail." (When's the last time you even pondered what "email" stands for?)

So if you've got a chance, I really think you'll enjoy this "blast from the past" and, like me, you'll be amazed how much the world has changed in 17 years. Click here to listen to the whole story.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Portrait by My Kid

It's time for a fun new series, and you're invited to participate! It's called "My Portrait by My Kid." It's easy....
  • Just ask your kid to draw a picture of you (or grab another kid if you don't have any!)
  • Post the portrait on your blog (and/or use it as your avatar on Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Link to your blog post (or Twitter/Facebook profile or wherever you've posted it) using Mister Linky below.
  • Feel free to snag my little button if you'd like.

I plan to repeat this every so often; I think it'll be fun to see how our kids' views of us change, and how their artistic skills improve.

Oh, and I musn't forget.... Here's my new portrait! Chickie (almost 5 years old) drew this.


Have fun!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I'm trying to make sure I get all my new hat designs on my blog so customers have one place to see them all (by clicking on the tag "crochet examples".) So bear with me even if you've already seen the hats on Facebook and/or Twitter!

This hat was a custom design from an adult male...and it sure was fun to make!

El Cabrio (Goat) Hat


Photobucket Photobucket

Also, I've decided to limit my hat production (for sale) to one every one to two weeks. If you've ordered a hat and I've given you a timeline, I still plan to stick with that. But for future orders, be aware that production time may be longer if there are a lot of other orders ahead of yours.

This will help me keep crochet where I want it to be in my life--a hobby that I enjoy and make a little money at, instead of a part-time job that requires lots of hours for little pay! I think the designing and stitching aspects are both really fun...when I can keep them in balance with the rest of my life. I appreciate your orders and your support!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Race Report: My first half marathon!

Wow...I did it!

I got up on Saturday and got on the road to Dallas. When I got there, I met up with my friend Megan and her beautiful family--hubby, three kids, and one on the way! I've known Megan since high school, and it's fun that we've ended up living close enough to see each other every once in awhile. With all those kids, you can't fault us for forgetting to take a picture...but I'll always remember the incredible green beans we had at Babe's Chicken. Wow, there may not have been any nutrients left in those suckers, but they sure were good!

After that I headed to the hotel to get settled in. Then it was time to meet Sasha. I've "known" Sasha for almost five years, but this was the first time we'd met in person. We were on an online message board for our daughters, who are the same age. Since then, we've kept in touch via blogging, Facebook, and email. I first heard about the Couch-to-5K running plan from Sasha, so she was one of my inspirations to start running. It was wonderful to meet her in person!

Sasha and I picked up our race packets and soon headed to dinner to meet another friend, Elaine--also a mommy message board/blog/Facebook friend.


Sasha and Elaine already knew each other, but it was the first time I'd met Elaine, and again it was great to spend "real" time with someone I've spent "virtual" time with for years! We had a wonderful dinner together (pasta, of course!)

We joked about how weird people think it is to meet up with online friends...but really, I knew these girls well enough to be sure neither of them would end up being a creepy 50-year-old man! They were both just as nice in person as they are online!

Elaine headed home, and Sasha and I drove back to the hotel to finalize our plans for the morning and to relax. We both slept well (which for me is not normal the night before a race!) and got up bright and early the next morning. Sasha's friend Jennifer (my friend now too!) met us so we could all go to the race together.

My recurring running issue--that tight IT band which sometimes is caused by tightness in my glutes--had cropped back up last Monday, and I'll admit, I was paranoid it would bother me during this race. I had my little massage ball with me, and I rolled out that area at least six times on the morning of the race. I rolled it in my hotel room, outside waiting for the train, on a bench when the train dropped us off, and in a building waiting for the race to start. Injuries definitely bring out my inner control freak!

When we got to Fair Park where the race was starting, we walked in and immediately saw a local radio station booth, broadcasting live. Through speakers, I heard the guy commenting on various things people were wearing, so I stopped, lifted my Vibram Five Fingers-shod foot, and wiggled my toes. He'd never seen any before, so he called me over, gave me a headset, and interviewed me about my shoes! I was able to give just a bit of info about minimalist running (including a warning to ease into it slowly.) It just added to the overall fun and memorable-ness of the experience!

We got there around 7:30, knowing the race started at 8. It was cold, in the 30s. I'd taken a friend's great advice, bringing an old long-sleeved shirt I didn't need anymore, and wearing it over my running clothes. I also wore a hat I didn't care about (both of which I ditched right before the race started.) Even with that...standing around waiting was not fun!! But it was only for a little over half an hour, right?

Wrong. I knew it would take a few minutes to get to the start line because we aren't the fastest of runners, and we were stationed far back. But the street we started on wasn't particularly wide, and that meant a really long line. We were near the back of the crowd of 22,000 participants (for the marathon, half marathon, and relay), and we didn't get started until about 8:55! Thankfully we were able to spend some of that time inside, just waiting for the line to move.

Finally it was our turn. As they let through each (large) group of runners, they did a countdown, blew confetti in the air, and played music, so the start still felt special for us!

We got started, and Sasha and Jennifer (both faster than I) pulled ahead while I did my customary slooow race start. I quickly felt warmer, and less than two miles in, I stepped off the street to take off my toesocks. (My Vibrams are more comfortable without socks anyway.) I also pulled my little massage ball out of my Camelbak and massaged some tight muscles in my glutes. I didn't know if they'd get tight enough to start pulling on my IT band, but I preferred to lose some time trying to get loose, than to suddenly cramp up during the race, and have to stop running.

I repeated the rolling/massage around four miles in. About halfway through the race, my foot arches were hurting, and I again stopped, using the ball to roll the bottom of my feet through my shoes.

Afterward, I had to consider--should I have made those three stops in the first half of the race? Well, the foot rolling didn't seem to work...but focusing on relaxing my feet after that did work, so for my next race I'll try to relax and work through foot soreness that way. But I did make it through the race without my IT band cramping, and for all I know that may have been because I took the time to massage those muscles once they were warmed up. So while I wish I hadn't needed to do that, I'm glad I took the cautious route.

Once I got past the first half of the race, my body really loosened up, and I was feeling good...well, good considering how long I'd been running! You know, 13.1 miles is just far. It's hard! So you can imagine how happy I was when I saw this sign:


10 miles down. "Only" 3.1 go!

Because I'm slow, I was running with a lot of others who found this distance challenging, and we were excited as we saw those nice high numbers on the mile markers! "Who else is a first-timer?" I called out at 10 miles. Other runners raised their hands and cheered. "We're going to make it!" I called out. More cheering ensued!

Before the race I'd let my Twitter friends know that if they sent me direct messages, I'd get them on my phone. I got a lot of awesome DMs and other text messages--it was so encouraging! At around nine miles...when the race was really feeling hard--I received two Scriptures from my Twitter friend Seansmoma. That was exactly what I needed to read at that time!

The last three miles were really hard, but I knew I'd get through! As I approached the finish line, I was saying, "Thank you, Jesus!", realizing that my prayers had been answered and my recurring injury hadn't made me start walking as I'd feared it would. Through the last hundred yards or so, I was beaming! I didn't have the energy to actually sprint, but I was able to pick up speed. I lifted my arms in the air and cheered as I ran through the chute. And then...I stopped running. It was a little unbelievable to me that I could actually stop (and didn't have to start again!)

Then the emotions overtook me, and I was crying and trying to keep myself from falling apart completely. It just felt so incredible, knowing how hard I'd worked to get to this distance, and knowing I'd finished it, running the whole way. The feeling was amazing!

In the race rankings, my time (2:34:21, 11:46/mile) doesn't look too great. But in my rankings, that's a good time, beating my long run pace by one second per mile. I was happy with it, and felt I'd handled the race the best way I knew how.

Every mile of training, every physical therapy appointment, every sore was all worth it! I'm so happy and blessed that 13 1/2 months ago, 32 years into my life, I became a runner!

Sasha, me, and Jennifer...half marathon finishers!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's sixtacular blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

"Good luck," NOT "Break a leg"!

My college degree is in theatre, and so I'm in the habit of saying "Break a leg" (since "Good luck" is considered bad luck in the theatre.) But I have to stop myself when I want to say "Break a leg" to a fellow runner...because it's not exactly encouraging in that instance!

Today I'm off to Dallas for tomorrow's half first. Feel free to wish me luck...including no broken legs! And if you're the praying sort, that's even more appreciated.

By the way, thank you all so much for your words of advice on yesterday's discipline post. I'm sorry I didn't respond individually, but I appreciated all the good ideas (and there were a lot of good ideas!) They are rolling around in my head now, and I think having more options is going to be so helpful to me. You guys rock!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Discipline ideas?

I'm putting out a general call for creative discipline ideas! Right now I don't want to read any books so I'm taking the shortcut route and asking you instead.

I feel that the negative consequences we're giving Chickie right now are hit or miss in terms of their effectiveness. We do mostly time outs, grounding (longer than a time out), and loss of TV/computer privileges.

We don't spank and right now that's not something I want to add to our discipline plan.

Chickie's a "tester;" she likes to see what she can get away with. She's not the most compliant kid, which can make things challenging for me (since I was very compliant as a child.) But I love her independence and creativity; I just want to channel it in the right direction.

Thanks in advance!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


We were listening to "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" yesterday, and it got to the part about "eight tiny reindeer."

Chickie immediately wanted to know why Santa "ate tiny reindeer."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tale of a tree

We've been thinking of getting a new Christmas that's pre-lit and taller than our old one. We found one we loved at Sears on the day after Thanksgiving. It looked so realistic, with the high-quality branches and the brown trunk peeking through.


But we weren't sure if we wanted to spend the money. It cost more than we'd expected, even being on sale. At home I checked online and realized the price was quite good; nice artificial nine-foot trees can be very pricey.

Later we went to a store that was having a big Christmas tree sale, and we didn't find anything we liked as much as the first one we'd seen--nothing even came close. Chickie, however, found the one she wanted to buy.


Thankfully The Engineer and I have veto power, so we left that store without a tree.

We continued to discuss our options, and finally decided we really wanted the tree, and that the price was justified, considering how many years we plan to use it. So yesterday The Engineer picked it up and assembled it.

At an early stage of the assembly, Chickie protested, "That doesn't look like a Christmas tree!"


Thankfully, once it was all put together, with the branches spread out and the lights plugged in, it looked very much like a Christmas tree, and we liked it just as much as we had in the store.


This morning, I dragged out the ornaments, and this was the first year both kids were actually pretty helpful.

Photobucket Photobucket

The tree is beautiful. Our theme is "Toddler/Preschool Chic." This popular tree decorating theme involves plastic, wooden, and cloth ornaments on the bottom half of the tree; with breakable ornaments on the top half.


Happy December first...and Merry Christmas!