Monday, April 30, 2012

Dork Alert

Parenting is HARD.  See, I can write a blog that is not all flowers, hearts and rainbows.

We get no instructions.  There is no manual.  But oh... there are MILLIONS of "experts", some with children and some without (how that makes them an expert is beyond my comprehension).  How anyone is qualified to be an "expert" on child rearing is also beyond me.  What's the measurement?  That your grown kids are not serial killers?  What if they grow up, are perfectly healthy and happy and work at a convenience store making $9 an hour for their entire life.  Does that parent qualify as an expert?

Who knows.

Here's what I do know.  Parenthood is messy.  It's complicated.  It's exhausting.  It's confusing.   

I will agree, however, that it is the most incredibly rewarding task a person can accomplish.  Raising children goes well beyond a full time job.  Nobody tells you that once you have kids, you will worry about them every hour of every day your entire life (even when they are grown and out of the house).  You will experience every joy and every heart break they ever have right along with them as if it were you own (while experiencing your own of course). 

This weekend little guy had a friend spend the night.  He isn't a new friend, but the first time coming to our house.  He's athletic like Coop, smart and funny.  His parents are awesome ~ although we haven't spent much time with them, when we are around them we enjoy their company.

I found myself nervous, though.  Funny, it wasn't my friend coming to visit.  But Coop, much like me, knows how to be one thing:  totally himself.  He doesn't change his behavior or characteristics to suit different people.  He is genuine, which is a giant thing I love about him.  Equally though, he can be quite a dork.  Yep.  He can.  He is a 10 year old boy!  So I found myself desperately wanting to correct him when he dorked out in front of his friend, hoping he wouldn't judge Coop as a dork therefore rendering him dorky for the rest of his school years.  How stupid is that?  Seriously, if this one kid thought Coop was a dork I am CERTAIN it would not change the outcome of Coop's adulthood.  Still, I was worried.

So I spent the better part of the evening hoping Coop wasn't TOO much of a dork for the likes of this little boy.  Oh my.  And I'm medicated... imagine that I wasn't?!

I'm not sure what drives this, but I know that I'm not the only one.  I have lots of friends that worry about their kids interactions with others.  "Are they good when they go to another's house?  Do they eat all of their food?  Do they tell the friend's parents that hubs and I have sex 6 times a day? (slight exaggeration... slight)."  Even as adults, we want to be accepted... and be extension we want our kids to be accepted, too.

Oh well.  I'm happy to announce that the friend still likes little guy.  At least for now.  Maybe being an individual truly is appreciated in this next generation? (although I'm not holding my breath...)



Happy Monday, friends!
Jen

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Eat this, not that

There is something magic that happens when you complete a 7 mile run before noon.  You feel an amazing sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in not only completing your workout for the day but also running 7 freakin' miles!

We are onto week two of the Hill training and I am so proud of hubs and his determination!  Not only is he killing the miles (seemingly effortlessly), he is still managing our diets.  This has been the best treat ever, one he does every time I train for a long run.  By having him hijack our food, it takes all of the pressure off of me to think "hmmm, what should we eat tonight?" at 8:00 pm when I get home after little guy's practice.  Honestly, I would forgo any extra in my life to pay for this service!  This beats a housekeeper hands down!

As I type, he is finishing up slicing up a pork loin into chops and roasts for this week.  He made a GIANT batch of homemade granola, which we cannot seem to get enough.  Sweet potatoes are cooking in the oven.  Smoked chicken just came out of the smoker.  Today is our "cheat day" and I'm not even sure we are cheating anymore!  

We decided a few weeks ago that we actually could live in a big city and be "market shoppers".  We love hitting the store every day for fresh fruit and veggies, as they never seem to make it all week when we buy them on Sunday.  We have changed our shopping pattern entirely.  Instead of buying "bulk" we buy exactly what we need to eat, almost entirely eliminating the dreaded leftovers (of which we NEVER eat).  I'm feeling pretty successful with our food intake!

As we begin week 3 of our 12 week training program condensed into 6 weeks, I'm feeling pretty confident that he will be totally prepared for the big run.  We tackled some big elevation today and he pushed right through it.  Because Davis' don't walk (he agrees with our friend PParks)...



Forward we go!  Have a great week, everyone!

Jen

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Middle Stop on a LONG Journey

I had a great opportunity to catch up with an old friend this weekend!  Such fun, especially when you don't live in the same state!

My friend Melissa came to stay with me en route to Orlando (from Park City, Utah, via Cheyenne, WY, Kansas City, MO, Memphis, TN and home).  When she told me she was planning to stay in KC since it was in the middle of a long drive day 2, I insisted she stay with me.  We haven't seen each other in over a year (our last visit was in Vegas ~ work event).  She's a serious trooper - I could NOT survive that many hours in a car... especially by myself!  She did have a furry companion for her travels, little Misha.  Books on tape (even the Grey series) could not keep me company that long!  Oh, and did I happen to mention she just had an ACL repair surgery less than a month ago?  Geesh ~ who could endure that drive after that?!




Our visit was filled memories of work travels, updates on Gallagher friends and simple laughs (and wine, of course).  My only goal was to give her a comfy place to lay her head and some good ole fashioned friend love.  Hubs whipped up some pork tenderloin with a black bean/corn salsa that was to DIE for and she even played Wii with Coop.  What a good sport!




I miss my friends that live far away.  The G girls (well, half of them) are having reunion this weekend and I'm so sad I'm not there to see them.  We always laugh so hard at mundane things, true inspiration!  After Bubba leaves for boot camp, I am determined to get to Florida to catch up!  Now I can see TWO friends again while in Florida!  I'm convinced our retirement will be there (and secretly pray the kids are stationed there.)  We shall see!

Girlfriends are such an amazing asset, one in which we often forget to be grateful.  We move through our chaotic lives as mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and workers and forget that the pillars holding us up through most of our journeys are our girlfriends.  I am so thankful for my mine!

Happy Saturday, friends!

Jen

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday FAVES!

It's another FRIDAY, so more faves to share from the interweb we know and love! Enjoy, friends!


FAVE RUNNING MOTIVATION

Oh yeah, get ready hubs! The hills are a comin'! Thank GOD we live where we do, where virtually every long run is filled with hills. Gives us a leg up for the Hospital Hill half! :)




FAVE EAR LOVE

Oooh, I gotta have these! Super cute!




FAVE HEALTHY YUMMO

Okay, I'm putting this in the healthy category. It's CLOSE, friends! Don't be hating on me! I'm thinking these would rock after a long run... sitting on my porch, of course. Not like you need it, but click here if you need to know how to make these nom noms! PB Nana Chocolate Bites




FAVE TRUTH

Oh, I wish I could give this to every middle school kid. I made SO many decisions in my teens that I regret because I thought it was how I was "supposed to be". For starters I would have NEVER married my ex!

FAVE RUGGED STUFF

This is for my great friend, Dr. C. We have been chatting up trail shoes with all of our rugged activities planned for this year, so I'm thinking these would totally do the trick!!



FAVE FOODIE REMINDER

Um... yes, I need a police dog to keep me out of my pantry. And my fridge. And the snack drawer. I'm a total failure when it comes to moderation if I have anything remotely snacky in my house. I wonder how Bella would get alone with him?



FAVE VEGGIE

YUMMO. I am in love with asparagus!! This looks so awesome, I could just pick it up off my computer screen! We already had asparagus once this week but I'm thinking a second calling is necessary!






FAVE NIECE LOVE

So I blogged that I went shopping with my niece, Z last weekend (when picking up my first pair of TOMS) and I couldn't help but share HER new love! She was so cute, bouncing around the store excited for her new pair of kicks. And how cute are they, seriously?! So glad she liked them!


FAVE STEPS

I love all things porches, steps and entryways. The more welcoming, the better. I found this sweet spot in Bali ~ how awesome is that?!




Have a great Friday, friends!

Jen

Thursday, April 26, 2012

You do WHAT?!

It's Take Your Child to Work Day!  I took Coop to Gallagher with me one year and upon his return to school, he was asked to write a paper about what I did.  Awesome.  So what do I do, Coop?

"My mom talks on the phone all day."

Yep, son.  You are correct.  I talk on the phone all day.  Maybe that is why I never want to talk on the phone at home at night!

This year, he stepped it up.  When my CEO asked him what he thinks I do, his reply was much closer.

"She sells insurance."

Bingo.  Although he has no clue what that means, what kind of insurance I sell or how I do it, he knows that is what I do.  And that I talk on the phone a lot.  So Coop, what do you want to do when you grow up?  NOT sell insurance.  Hee hee...



Working hard on his school research paper

Happy Thursday, friends!

Jen

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Impending Arrival

Yep, a dedication blog... I do don't much of these, but sometimes it is required!

It's a bittersweet day today but filled with upcoming excitement.  My work BFF is taking a summer vacation, just like the end of the school year.  Except she's bringing a little one into the world, so no rest for her!

I'm super excited for her - this will be her second little love and most certainly an awesome experience.  But I'm super sad, too (I know, how selfish of me!)  I will miss our giggles, collaboration and fun at work.  Not that she's moving to Tibet or anything, but you know the feeling when a bestie moves away... that's how I feel today.

I had a pretty long courting process prior to joining my new firm last year.  I'm not sure I can even count the amount of meetings I had with my CEO and President, but of course the meetings that stood out the most were the ones I had with Kelly.  She is such an amazing woman, mother, friend and co-worker!  She has amazing organizational skills, holds us all together with great ease and has great vision for our future.  If I had a dollar for every time she has asked me in the past year if there was anything she could do to help me succeed, I'd be the richest woman on earth.  Yeah, even more than Oprah!  Kel makes my work life complete (yes, dorky I realize).

SO - here's tipping a cocktail for you, Kel!  I know you will have the best delivery ever and that sweet little girl will come into the world so blessed to have you as a mother!  (And yes, it IS a girl!  I just know.)  I can't WAIT to meet her finally!




Happy last day at work, friend!


Jen

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Simple Respect

"All children behave as well as they are treated." - Anonymous

I love this simple statement.  It speaks volumes.  A lot of parents struggle with the invisible line, the one that defines how strict to be, how far to guide and how much independence to give to a child. 

When do we let them ride their bike down the street alone?  How old should they be to stay home alone for 15 minutes, 1 hour, an evening?  Can we tell them what friends to have, what clothes to wear, what words to say?  It's a tricky, tricky evolvement.

I have friends in all places on the parental spectrum.  Friends that are ultra conservative and very protective of their children, to friends that are their children's "friend" and won't establish any boundaries for their kids.  I've learned there isn't really a right or wrong way, as long as you are providing a safe and loving environment for your child to grow up.  Of course, with some exceptions (because of course my blog IS my opinion, as you all know by now).

I don't care if your kids sleep in your bed.  I didn't do it, but that doesn't make me right by any means.  And I don't care if your kids have to pick up their toys before they go to bed.  Mine never did, but again that doesn't make me right either.  The little idiosyncrasies of raising your kids depends greatly on the way you choose to live your own life, by which they are an extension.

What I do believe in is simple:  I think all children should be able to live in an environment that is not intimidating.  To me, this is a no brainer.  Every human being should have a "safe spot", a place where they can go and be unjudged, loved unconditionally (without obligation) and able to express themselves freely. 

Unfortunately, I know a lot of kiddos that are not afforded that simple opportunity.  Their parents love them conditionally (if you do this, I will give you that).  They are bullied, treated as though their parents are superior.  The worst?  When the parents are "cooler" than their kids, cuss at them, talk to them with sarcasm in their voice and no love in their hearts. 

Example?  "I don't know why you would wear that, it makes you look like a whore."  Really?  We are going to tell the 13 year old she looks like a whore?  I've got an idea.... DON'T BUY IT for her.  Help her understand her value in her body, don't beat her up after the fact and treat her like she's stupid.  All that does is damage her self esteem and teach her to fight others with cruel words.

Millions of people are raising their kids in this manner.  Guess what?  The kid that comes to school and shoots others.  Why do you think that happens?  They are insecure, bullies themselves... spawned by their parents.

I think it is VITAL that this tide changes.  That someone, somewhere sees when this is occurring and tries to help.  Sure, it's not an easy task.  Maybe you don't raise your kids this way but know that they will have friends raised this way.  Then what?  Tell them they can't be friends with other damaged kids?  It doesn't quite work that way, as we all know.

My thought is if you see a child acting out and you know this is their environment, try to tell them constantly how awesome they are.  Even if it's only you giving them this perspective, try to build them up, give them kudos for their accomplishments and don't criticize them.  Remember they are getting enough of that at home. 

And try to remember the simple quote above:  if you expect your children to behave well, treat them well.  Respect them as humans and they too will learn to be respectful.

Jen






Monday, April 23, 2012

TRUE SOUL STEPS!

I am so SUPER excited to share with you today, friends!

I had an awesome opportunity to hang out with my niece Z Saturday night and oh my, we had a BLAST!  It's been a long time since I've been around a 14 year old and I forgot how incredibly fun they can be.  We giggled, laughed, shopped and macked on Zac Efron in his new flick, The Lucky One.  Wowzer, that boy is ripped!  Awesome eye candy!

Anyway, as we shopped and talked, I came upon a sign in a shoe store window that I just couldn't ignore any longer.  I have yearned for a pair of TOMS for about 2 years now, from the first time I read their story.  To be completely honest, I wasn't really thrilled with their shoes so much but their mission was so compelling to me.

For those of you that aren't aware, I'll inform you! 
Blake Mycoskie, a born entrepreneur, is the founder of the TOMS organization.  Some of you may remember him as being on the Amazing Race with his sister Paige, coming within minutes of winning the $1 million dollar prize!  He founded TOMS in 2006 when he saw the hardships facing children growing up barefoot in Argentina.  I can't even begin to imagine all of the kids on my street even with no shoes and he was faced with thousands, with no end in sight. 


He started a movement, which he named One for One.  His idea was simple:  I'm going to create a shoe, and for every single pair I sell, I will give a second pair to a child in need.  One year after creating his company, he returned to Argentina to hand place 10,000 pairs of shoes on children!  What an amazing accomplishment!


What I also love about the company is the youth!  College kids are becoming involved in the company through internships, campus activities, etc. and systemically the company continues to grow through social media. 

SO... after a long wait, I finally purchased my first pair of TOMS.  I'm so hooked!!  As most of you know I am NOT a brand name girl and certainly not materialistic, but something changes in my mind when I realize my shoes are also on the feet of some beautiful child that otherwise may not have had any.  It puts a special spring in my step!


If you would like to read more about TOMS story, click here.  TOMS  They have lots of different styles like wedges, ballet flats, vegan and sequins and are mostly sold at stores at the mall, not your local Famous Footwear or DSW.

Hopefully their story inspires you, too!

Happy Monday, friends!
Jen

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What Hill?

Well, leave it to me to be a little bit onery :).  Hubs has been running now since February so I figured with the Brew to Brew and Rock the Parkway races, he would be prime to hit up for a half.  As all babies of the fam, we know EXACTLY how to get what we want.  So about three weeks ago following the euphoria (and FUN) of Brew to Brew, I dropped the bomb.

Me: He babe, what do you think about maybe running a half this fall?
Hubs:  Um, possibly.  13 miles, huh?  When are you thinking?
Me:  Oh, let's do Gobbler Grind. It's fairly flat and in November.  That gives you plenty of time.
Hubs:  Okay, I'll think about that.

So strategically I started to plan.  Bwah, hah, hah hah (wringing hands).  Our Gary Gribble visit probably clenched it, most likely.  New shoes that are custom fit ALWAYS do the trick.  They make you feel like you can run a million miles... without blisters or pain anywhere!  His first few runs in them he immediately felt better in his stride, opened up and has already knocked off almost a minute of his time, not to mention a pesky stitch in his knee has completely left!  

I got brave on Friday and pulled the Higdon training calendar for a novice.  Crap, 12 weeks.  That's right, I forgot that.  Well, from his last two races, plus those training runs, we were probably around week 4 or 5 anyway.  I mean how hard will it be to accelerate a couple of weeks?  (Smiling again)

I sent him a custom calendar with a simple question... whatcha think?

He had a very simple answer:  for Gobbler, right?

Um, not exactly.  How about Hospital Hill?

His response? You have GOT to be kidding me!

Nope, wasn't kidding.  I told him we would just run our 6 mile long run this weekend and give it a shot.  I already knew he would love it.. and I was so right!  Not only did he love it, we have registered for the run!  Woo hoo!!  I love this run... I've done it the last three years and the swag is off the hook!  The after party is a blast!



And the best part of all of it?  Now that we are "training", we are eating fantastic!  He has been pulling recipes like a mad man and writing menus, making midmeal snacks.  I am SET. This is my biggest weakness ~ food.  I do not take for granted how incredibly lucky I am to have a man that loves the kitchen and prepares most of our food.  It makes my life so much easier.

Off to eat a yummo egg salad I just watched him create.  Let the training begin (although only 6 weeks of it!)

Wish us luck!

Jen



Friday, April 20, 2012

FRIDAY FAVES!!

Happy Friday, friends!  Oh how I have missed you!  My heart aches when I can't blog.  I truly use this canvas as an escape of my words so this week has been brutal traveling with an inability to write. No worries, I'm back for a good long while now so you can sit back and enjoy my ramblings!

Although I did travel all week, it gave me some time to scour the internet for some new loves.  This week is more of a dedication week ~ so each thing I found that I love I knew someone else specifically would love it as well.  This one's for YOU! :)

FAVE DESSERT

This one is for my fave preggers friend, Kelly.  She is loving all things banana and I am certain this would be right up her alley!!  Click here for Emeril's Banana Cream Pie!




FAVE WINE IDEA

This one is for my fantastic friend CBone who even after 4 years, I still miss her every single day.  We would have a blast beach hanging with a pair of these puppies!




FAVE YUMMO

Yep, you guessed it.  This one is for hubs.  He LOVES shrimp and fish tacos and of course, who wouldn't love avocado!  This is definitely on our to-do list of menus.  Click here for the recipe (as if you need it!)  Shrimp Tacos




FAVE FUR LOVE

My brother Chris had beautiful Weimerieners (I'm sure I hacked that and can't find it on my spellcheck!) back in the 90's and I was introduced then to this beautiful breed.  My coworker Martha has a beautiful little girl named Lucy I was privileged to meet yesterday!  She is absolutely gorgeous, what a sweet heart!  This one's for Martha :).




FAVE SASSY QUOTE

As if Hepburn wasn't sassy.  I love this quote!  This applies to my ex perfectly ~ he is a master of blaming everyone in the world for his faults rather than be accountable for his own actions.  Everyone knows someone that behaves this way.  It's just a shame.  Think how better we would all be if we just took responsibility for our own actions!




FAVE BRACELET

I've shown another version of this before but this one has color in it!  This is for my Kate, who she and I share a love now for anchors thanks to Bubba enlisting in the Navy.  We will have to find these!




FAVE PARTY IDEA

This one is for my friend Tracye.  We both love to entertain, and both love wine.  So why wouldn't this rock?  I'm thinking I could even build this myself for not a lot of moolah.  Maybe commission my father in law for help?  Love it!







FAVE NEW FASHION

This love is for my friend Teresa.  We have a new shared love of wrap rings, thanks to another coworker who is fashioning them as fast as we can buy them up!  She hasn't done one with pearls to my knowledge, so this is a fantastic way to "fancy" them up a bit.  Love it!




FAVE SUN SHADE

Okay, this one is for me :).  I need a new pair of fancy shades for running around in and these jumped right out at me.  I love all things aviator anyway so it's just an added bonus that they are Oakley.  Although I must say I don a $6 pair of Target glasses most days so this would be quite the stretch financially and I would have difficulty slapping down the money on such a frivolous purchase.  But I love them nonetheless!


FAVE CALORIE SPLURGE

This one is totally for my little guy.  He absolutely loves caramel, chocolate, ice cream!  He would jump up and down if I brought this into the house!  They are only 120 calories but I suppose you are only supposed to eat one.  Yeah, I'm sure that would happen.

I'm gonna have to go on a search since my local Hy-Vee doesn't have them... yet.



Happy Friday, friends!!

Jen

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Glamorous Life

Home at last!  It's a miracle... 72 hours in a minivan.  And not just any minivan... I think it is the biggest minivan on the market, if that's even possible.  What an oxymoron.

I took out on Tuesday with a coworker to see a client ~ you know my glamorous career causes me to visit exotic places like Bridgeton, Missouri and Granite City, Illinois.  Hold your jealousy, friends... I know how envious you can be.

My poor coworker.  I hope she comes back to work tomorrow after having to endure me for that length of time.  If she didn't know me before the trip she sure as hell knows me now!  7 straight hours in one day in the car will do that.

My week started out fairly normal.  Regular Monday with a run and even time to blog, busy day at work then straight to Enterprise to pick up my rental.  "Ma'am (remember to come back and kill the 22 year old Enterprise worker), I hope you don't mind driving a minivan this week."  "Um, yes... I actually do mind" I say as nicely as possible.  Flash a flirty smile... "Don't you have anything like a Charger?  That's what I rented last month."  "No ma'am (kill shot), all of our standard cars were rented on Sunday and this morning to our business travelers, thus only leaving the returned weekend vehicles.... which are all minivans."  Poor kid starts sweating.  I'm sure he can tell I am less than pleased about this option.

"Okay, that's fine... I'll take the silver one please" I say curtly.  He checks me out in 5 minutes, shakes my hand nervously and then runs into the building.

So I sit in the minivan in the parking lot.  You have GOT to be kidding me.  I've driven for (ahem) 24 years now and I have never owned anything remotely close to this size of car.  Even when Davis had the Explorer I never drove it.  And it sure didn't have a third row of seats!

I head to pick up my coworker and realize I can't see a damn thing on any side of the car.  Apparently they forgot to tell me the entire vehicle was a blind spot.  Fantastic.  This is going to be one hell of a week.

I had one awesome destination run in fabulous Florrisant, Missouri on Wednesday morning (basically looking exactly like Kansas City...)  After our work and lunch were complete, we head to our afternoon appointment.

Oh my god.  I didn't realize we needed hazard pay in the insurance industry.

If you have never been to Granite City, Illinois, this may be hard to picture.  It's not really industrial, like much of western Illinois.  But it's not really a "community" either.  It's tired.  Maybe a little old.  I'm not sure any new commerce has been in the community in years.  Maybe a McDonald's or something.  And our client is smack dab next to a house... which sits in their parking lot. Yes, you read that correctly.  This house sits right in the middle of a parking lot, with no other house neighbors on either side or front/back.  It's alone, in between two brick buildings.

Let's see if these visuals help... make sure to notice there are no other houses around!




So suffice it to say, even though we parked our van next to a BMW, we were still uncomfortable about our surroundings.

Off to Peoria, IL, another 2 1/2 hours north, to visit another client.  Not realizing there was a State Farm convention in town, we land the only hotel rooms available in a 1970's porn hotel.  Yep, old, worn out light oak furniture with brass lamps.  It was awesome.  At least it was clean... sort of.

We have arrived safely at home, only slightly scathed from our trip.  We still like each other (at least I still like her).  Hopefully she will come back to work tomorrow.  One can only pray.

Happy Thursday, friends!  

Jen

Monday, April 16, 2012

Kick It!

The bug has bitten... hard.  Davis is a runner!  I love it... he was such an athlete growing up and in high school and played softball when we first got married, but since then he (and we) have fallen into the regular routine of raising kids, paying bills, working careers and being unselfish, not giving enough to ourselves.  With Bubba moved out 4 years and little guy closing the gap to college, we are trying to take advantage of those moments of freedom without responsibilities and use them to take care of our bodies and our minds.  

Hubs got the green light January 8, 2012 to "resume normal activities".  We had to have quite the discussion with the surgeon, one I'm not sure he's necessarily heard before.  

Hubs:  I've taken up bowhunting, so can I draw and shoot my bow now?
Cicc:  Sure, I don't see why not.  Just listen to your body and if you feel strange twinges, stop.

Hubs:  I want to start Insanity Asylum this month, is that okay?
Cicc:  Um, sure.  Just listen to your body.  Have you ever done that before?
Hubs:  Nope.
Cicc:  Good for you!

Hubs:  I'm signed up for Warrior Dash in May. Any worries about that?
Cicc:  Um, isn't that a race with obstacles?
Hubs:  Yep.
Cicc:  Um, no worries.  Have you ever done that before?
Hubs:  Nope.

And so on and so on and so on.  Every discussion is something hubs hasn't done before.  He's taking a new lease on life and SPRINTING forward, no prisoners in his wake.

I love it.

I'm usually the one saying "Hey, let's sky dive this weekend!"  Always pushing the envelope, wanting to try new stuff.  This has been awesome to see the tide turn!

I'm pretty protective of him, though.  I'm constantly asking him how he's feeling, which I'm sure he's going to punch me in the face soon.  If he twinges or winces his eyes, I immediately want to know if it's his back.  But it never is... luckily.

So to cap off all this work, hubs made his first date with Gary Gribble and bought his first official pair of running shoes this weekend.  His eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store.  And this was of course after he ran his first official 5k race, Rock the Parkway, on Saturday.  And finished with his fastest time to date.

Awesome.

Brew to Brew, 2nd leg finish... Mr. Davis


I couldn't be more proud of him.  So lift your Miller high, sweet love.  You have earned it!  I am so proud of the work you have been exerting since January and you even entertaining me (twisting arm) in considering the half at Gobbler Grind this fall.  At least I didn't ask you to run Hospital Hill. Or the KC Marathon.  See, I'm a nice girl! :)

Love ya, hubs!

Jen

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Complete Love

 I'm in love.  Total, complete, unconditional love.  

We have had yet another awesomely fun packed weekend and as I sit and reflect on all we experienced, my most treasured moment was a simple, quiet, uninterrupted one.


There is absolutely nothing that comes even close to the love a grandparent feels for their grandchildren.  Nothing.  Even with as much as you love your children, holding your children's most precious gift from God in your arms, knowing they are connected to you permanently and for your lifetime... it's the most amazing feeling ever.

So short post today.  Nugget is on his way over for a day of play.  I am loving this special time with him and realize that although giving him all of my heart will hurt tremendously when they leave in a few months, I wouldn't trade these opportunities for ANYTHING.

Happy Sunday, friends!

Jen

Friday, April 13, 2012

FRIDAY FAVES!

Yay... you know what today is?!  FRIIIII DAY!  So excited!

It's also strangely our beloved Kansas City Royals Home Opener... a game I haven't missed in 10 years!  Of course it's raining, but there could always be worse things... like sitting at a computer screen all day.

So I'm off to get drenched most likely, enjoy ice cold Miller Lites with my good friend KK who I miss terribly, and get my blue swag on.

Here is my fave list for this week!  Enjoy!


FAVE BASEBALL TEAM

Yep, I'm a tried and true.  I vividly remember the 1985 World Series (and the ONLY) that Royals won.  I was 14. :)  Here is a pic of my G girls and one of our many Home Opener events together!





FAVE BOOK CLUB BOOK (SO FAR)

Although book club isn't until the first week of May and we are strictly told NOT to talk about our readings until then, I just cannot help myself.  On the recommendation of many women we know, my group chose 50 Shades of Grey as our book this month.  And I finished it in 4 days... would have been faster if I didn't have to do pesky things like eat, vacuum, wash clothes or sleep.  I absolutely LOVED the book.  I have already downloaded and am about halfway through the second one (it's a trilogy).  Thank god someone has finally written a book for women (or men I suppose) that ISN'T something the tweeners can flood the movies to see.  Nope, this one ranks right up there with 9 1/2 weeks!  That's all for now.. no spoiler alert for my gals that don't start until the week of book review :).




FAVE SASSY QUOTE

I love these e-cards.  They make me laugh out loud!  This one is particularly funny to me since hubs and I are working out and running together a  lot lately. :)
FAVE DESTINATION

Yep, by now you all know my love of Italy.  So this week, it's gotta be Venice.  I swear I could live on that little boat, weather permitting.  Ahhh, pure bliss.



FAVE VEGGIE

Hubs can attest that this one tops my charts.  We eat roasted broccoli exactly like this at least twice a week, more in the summer!  It's one of my complete faves and perfect way to cook it :).  Click here for the recipe:  Roasted Broccoli.





FAVE MOTIVATION

I felt this a few times last weekend on our Brew to Brew run.  And sometimes, this is the only way to push through.




FAVE APP

As the warmer weather keeps creeping closer to KC, I'm loving all foods fresh and summery.  This one looks absolutely delightful, especially since we make our own salsa all summer anyway!  Click here if interested in the recipe:  Shrimp Salsa.






FAVE PORCH

I love front porches.  It was a prerequisite of mine when we built our house that we have a front porch I can sit on, drink my coffee and just reflect.  My momma spent HOURS sitting on our porch when I was growing up, a memory I will never forget.

This one would be perfect.




FAVE YUMMO

I am always looking for ideas for red velvet anything.  It is one of our faves in my house!  These looked to scrumptious to pass up!  Click here for the recipe:  Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies.

FAVE SHOE FETISH

Okay, I love shoes.  But I rarely buy new ones.  Because I'm cheap, and change my mind a lot and don't want to spend the money on something that will sit in my closet.  But my friend Laura and I spotted these in the window of Nine West in Atlanta this week and I fell in LOVE.  The one pic doesn't do justice either, because when you spin them you will find some beautiful mango coloring in them on the other side.  Ah, sigh.... I really, really want them!



Happy Friday the 13th, friends!  Don't walk under any ladders today!

Jen

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Step off, Steps!

Time for a controversial post.  Haven't had one of those in a super long time, so I'm dusting off my opinions to smack them down on you again.  Sorry readers - sometimes I just can't keep my trap shut.  At least I own my actions and words (as I'm hiding behind my computer screen...)

Seriously though... I just have to know the alternate side to my opinions.  I yearn to hear differing opinions.  It helps me learn just how crazy other's points of view and teaches me objectivity.  And if any of you know me, you know I want to be right so I better learn my objectors!  So I beg of you - if you have a different opinion or would like to "enlighten" me, give it a shot.  I'll try to listen.  Really, I will.

A good friend of mine is still struggling with her ex in coparenting their children.  Their kids are being affected, no doubt.  They are both angry with each other for certain reasons.  They are still working out communication efforts and the like.  The oldest is yearning for his father's attention.  The youngest acts out sometimes unprovoked.  The kids have been to therapy.  The mom (my friend) has asked for help from friends and loved ones.  But no matter what she does, no matter what the kids do, no matter what anyone's needs are, the simple fact is that the dad remarried immediately after their divorce and his wife doesn't like his ex (my friend).  That's the bottom line.  To the new wife (3rd, in case you were wondering), his ex-wife is just in the way.  As a matter of fact, the kids are, too.  She just wants to be married to him with no interruptions.  No other commitments.  No baggage.

Mind you she has her own children, too - of which she does not have physical custody of either of them by either of their fathers.  Yep, probably her 3rd marriage, too.  Not that there is anything wrong with that - some people are slow learners and need three tries.  But some are just... well...

I wish he would just grow up and see what he is doing to their kids.  But instead, he has caved.  It's SO much easier to just cave.  Because if he wants to see his kids, he has to fight his new wife.  If he wants or needs to talk to his ex about the kids, he has to fight his new wife.  If he wants to see his kids activities (where - oh my god - the ex might be!), he has to fight his new wife.  He really can't win ever, because the new wife will never let him.

See a pattern here?


So he takes the easy path.  He stops.  Stops participating.  Stops asking questions.  Stops taking the kids on his days.  Just stops.  Ah, so much better.  The 3rd wife has stopped bitching.

Now what?  It's all quiet on the battlefield... no arguing with ex, right?  Nope... that's where he makes his grave mistake.  Because he was so focused on his 3rd wife's feelings, he has completely overlooked his children's feelings.  Guess who is cleaning that up?  Hate her all you want, stepmoms reading this.  But bio mom is the one that tucks those kids in bed and apologizes (or tries to) to them for daddy not being there.  She's the one attempting to defend his honor and integrity to the kids (and believe me, she hates him... but she does it anyway) knowing any shred of relationship they have left will most likely be her words and encouragement.  Sure, she could throw him under the bus.  She could tell the kids he's a piece of crap.  And I'm sure eventually, if he keeps on this path of destruction with the kids hearts, she will tell them he's a piece of crap.  Because it's all she will have left to help them understand he will never change and get any better.  And she is battling him, nonstop.  She is trying to get him to pull his head out of his ass.  She is trying to show him what is going to happen in the future if he keeps this up.  So she is a big 'ole bitch - because she has to be. 



So that's better for the kids, right?  Just avoid the ex, avoid the kids and appease the new wife?

I just can't get this through my thick head.  I remarried once in my life.  I had a 3 year old son.  I told (and showed) my husband how much my son meant to me.  THE ENTIRE WORLD.  I made it quite clear that his needs came first, and my hubs totally and unequivocally understood this fact.  He never, ever, ever tried to get in the middle of any conversation, email, verbal discussion or meeting with my ex over my son's needs.  We didn't have to go to group therapy to figure out how to coparent together.  My husband gave me room to coparent with my ex.

And I'm sure he swallowed HARD - a lot!  Oh, he sure caught the brunt of all of my frustrations with my ex when he didn't do what he said he was going to do, or didn't support our son in his activities.    Yep, he kept his mouth shut and let me rant and rave, knowing full well that it was my responsibility to navigate this mess I put myself in.  He silently supported me in my efforts to raise my son and loved him (and me) unconditionally. 

My heart aches for my friend.  She is in a no-win situation.  She is watching the clock tick on all the opportunities the kid's dad has to be involved and yet he keeps abstaining to appease his wife.  And he seemingly doesn't care, so she thinks.

I try to remind her that unless he is completely soul-less, he will care.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow... but someday, when he's old and the 3rd wife has long moved out and he is sitting alone in his house with no relationship with his kids, he will care.  Maybe pity himself... but nonetheless it will sting. His decisions will cause remorse.  She may never see them, but he will feel them.  I guarantee it.  Every large life event that the kids have that he misses will put 25 more feet of distance emotionally between him and them.  And eventually, they will no longer see or speak to him.  And their pain will subside because they will grow to learn that it had nothing to do with them and everything to do with his own decisions.

New wife wins.  I guess that's what she's in this for to begin with.

Stay strong, bio moms.  You are doing a great job loving your kids.  Remember it's not your job to defend your ex's actions to your kiddos.  Unfortunately, let them feel the pain.  It will make them stronger.  Just hug and love them through it and show them YOU are their constant in life.

And if by some strange stroke of luck I do have any men readers, please know this.  Although my examples are pretty gender biased most times, I do realize there are really fantastic fathers and really crappy bio mom's, too.  I see dad's raising their kids alone and loving them through their mother nightmares.  I also realize there are some fantastic stepmothers and without them, kiddos  would be in a world of hurt.  Remember, Bubba has a stepmom and she is FANTASTIC!  I'm not sure how things would have been for my son had he not had her to love and unconditionally care for him when he did see his father.  I pray for her all the time having to raise her three children with my ex and his 4th wife.  Nightmares all around... she's in the same boat as my friend above.  Of course she's crazy though, it's all her fault.  Isn't it always when the new wife moves in?  Keep talking, pot.

It always comes back, regardless of gender, to loving your kids unconditionally and putting their needs first and not your own.  Unselfish parenting.

And so a new book idea arises....

Jen


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Running Travels

Ah, I love my destination runs.  They are so rewarding ~ combining my love of running with my love of traveling!  This week was a new place so I'm SUPER excited!  I will say though that I had complete separation anxiety over not blogging but I did pick up a new writing opportunity... more to come on that end!


This week I had a great opportunity to visit with an old friend (and my first Sales mentor), LL.  She lives in San Fran but had a work appt in Atlanta so I tagged along.  We had a great time catching up, laughing and being overserved.  Isn't that what girlfriends do?  Blogger is having difficulty today so I can't upload pictures just yet... I can try to update them later.

I ran a beautiful 3 mile run Monday morning (sans hubs, unfortunately) through Piedmont Park.  WOW.  The weather was a perfect 68 degrees and since it's April, the humidity was quite low.  It was absolutely fantastic to feel the warm sun on my face.

I absolutely love new places to run.  Add this now to the list of Nashville, TN, Santa Monica, CA (lots), Sarasota and Orlando, FL, Dallas, TX,  Hermiston, Oregon, Las Vegas, NV... I'm sure I'm leaving some out.  Here are two of my fave pics from those trips.

Santa Monica, California


Sarasota, Florida


We spent the rest of our time together (after the work stuff) hanging out shopping and walking the midtown Atlanta area.  I most definitely want to go back with hubs- I absolutely loved it there!  I'm sure I would sing a different tune in August!

Hope you have a great hump day, friends!  I've been missing you!


Jen

Saturday, April 07, 2012

EVERYBODY CUT!

It takes a LOT to shock me.  I mean a LOT.  I'm pretty naive and agree that if others say something, I typically believe it.  Hubs pats me on the head a lot (in that very condescending, "oh you didn't get it again" kind of way.

But last night hubs threw me a good one.  

Little guy and I went for a field trip after work yesterday to buy flowers.  I absolutely love walking into a house with flowers greeting me at the door!  I have a ton of work to do this year as I didn't plan any annuals last year so thankfully Bubba rounded up all the soil and mulch I would need and I had the final task of getting stuff into the ground.

We stopped by Hy-Vee to pick up dinner (Coop's choice ~ chicken caeser wraps and fresh fruit... have I told you how much I love this kid?) and on our way out, we splurged and rented some Red Box movies.  Oh what an awesome concept.  $1.  Who wouldn't do that (and keep them out for a week thus resulting in the same cost as the movie theater)?

When we do rent movies in our house, we all get one pick.  One for mom, one for dad, one for little guy.  Little guy always picks some ultra violent video game which I succumb only because in his real life he is the sweetest, most gentle thing ever.  He clearly needs to live vicariously through a video game. Yep, mom of the year award nailed down for me.

I picked a political piece for Davis - J. Edgar.  Will be right up his alley.

For me?  Although I have waited forever to see it, desperately bucking the system because of my first love, I picked up the new Footloose.  I was a tried and true Footloose fan in 1984.  I was 13 years old when it came out.  I danced and danced and danced around my living room.  I begged my mom for the soundtrack cassette tape.  I wanted red cowboy boots (but didn't get any).  And in my tween years, I wanted to be rebellious like Ariel.  Alas, did I know that I would really would be in a much bigger way.  Ah, some other blog.  I found the original Ariel to be absolutely stunning although she wasn't the most beautiful movie star around at that time.   She was tall and skinny, and so was I at that time... so I totally wanted to be her.

I raise my hand before dinner...."me, me, ME!  I want my movie to go first!"  We pop in the disk.




Hubs has never seen Footloose.  NEVER.  Not one, single, solitary time.  Not even on TNT reruns.  He has never seen THE ORIGINAL Footloose.


How in the world is that possible?  He graduated his school (ahem) in 1987!  He would have been in the prime of his high school years and this is a high school movie?? He's seen Breakfast Club and St. Elmo's Fire and Ferris Beuller's Day Off... so how did this one get through the cracks?

I was in awe.  I just couldn't believe it.

Suffice it to say he thought I was a complete dork when I could sing every word to every song last night.  And recite half of the dialog.
Oh and by the way, the new movie was produced EXCELLENTLY.  They completely left the original in tact and just updated some of the surroundings, music, clothes, etc.  It was incredible.  I think it may be the first remake I have seen that truly did justice to the original.

After the movie was over we had to dance in the living room, singing the Footloose song.  Even little guy.  Because Blake Shelton is awesome.

Happy Saturday, friends!

Jen

Friday, April 06, 2012

FRIDAY FAVES!

IT'S FRIDAY!  You know what that means!!

I put together my faves for the week - things I find from around the web - and share them with my readers.  A special tribute for some Easter loves this week!

Enjoy, friends!

FAVE COOKIE

I am a SUCKER for all things Cadbury.  I will never forget the first time I ate a full Cadbury Egg ~ all to myself!  Such yum, I can barely describe how happy it makes me!  So to stick the mini's in a cookie?  OH YEAH, BABY!  Click here for the recipe:  Mini Cadbury Cookies



FAVE INSIDE DECORATION

I love cherry blossom trees.  It reminds me of Spring in D.C ~ there are so many trees there all in bloom.  It's just fantastic.  This decorating tip reminds me of it, with eggs of course :).




FAVE DOOR ADORNMENT

I'm a sucker for wreaths and a huge book lover, so this idea is perfect for me! 



FAVE CELEBRATORY ITEM

I saw this idea last year from a neighbor friend and thought it was just fantastic.  If you have never made resurrection rolls with your kiddos, give it a try.  Super easy and the message is powerful!  Click here for directions:  Resurrection Rolls






FAVE DRINK


Oh yeah, peeps... check this one out!  Cadbury Egg Martini!  Bartender, serve me one NOW!! 
Click here for the ingredients:  Cadbury Egg Martini




FAVE WORKOUT IDEA

This would probably not work in my house.  I can only imagine little guy cracking open one of our eggs hoping for cashola or sweets and finding this.  Although lately he has been taking his conditioning pretty seriously, I'm sure he might have a few ideas about this!  At any rate, I think it's cute!




FAVE EASTER SUPPER ITEM

A complete necessity in the Davis household.  We all LOVE deviled eggs!  I love how pretty these look with the colored eggs... gonna have to use a dozen with this idea!







FAVE COLORING IDEA

I absolutely love coloring Easter eggs, but dread all of the dye stuff.  It seems no matter how hard I try or how many kits I buy my fingers are the ones to always end up blue for days.  I loved this idea - natural dye for eggs made from veggies!  I'm not sure how brilliant the colors would be but if they look like the picture, I'm sold!  Click here to learn more:  Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs





FAVE "EGG" IDEA

I love decorating for the season / holiday!  These just seemed like a no-brain idea to me, considering the back of my house is all floor to ceiling windows.  I think these might be in order!  For complete directions, click here:  Easter Egg Garland






FAVE TREAT IDEA

I'm always looking for stuff to jam into a plastic egg.  We usually resort to cash, change or candy.  This idea is AWESOME for little guy since he is such a reward driven kid! 




Have a great Friday, friends!!


Jen