At the start line


I won’t lie, I’m still not a fan of 2011. The eye continues to be the bane of my existence with too many doctors appointments and eye drops, though not as many of either as there used to be. I am keeping it dilated all the time and I’m still confined to glasses, all of which feels very oppressive. I suppose I should be grateful that I live in dreary Seattle and it’s January, but that feels just as oppressive right now. I would love to get away for some sun, but not only is that not in the cards financially, it would kill my dilated eye. So, I’m trying to put my awesome athlete mental toughness skills to work and am trying to focus on future goals and rise about the crap that’s going on right now.

To that end, I’ve spent the last few weeks putting together a training plan and targeting my “A” races for the upcoming year. The last two weeks have been spent in a “prep” phase where I’ve been doing some unstructured running, biking, swimming and weights and generally getting used to working out again. I’ve also been learning to use the new heart-rate monitor, as one of my goals is to be better about testing/measuring my fitness over the course of my training. Yesterday was my first test – a running time trial in the rain, with M & T as company. Though it was fifteen minutes instead of the 20 I was supposed to do, (I’m not a math whiz at the best of times, but even less so when I’m trying to calculate finish time while trying not to barf… ) I was relatively pleased with where I’m at pace-wise and it’s very cool to have so much data at my finger-tips.

Today is swim and bike testing (though not at the same time.) then next week training starts in earnest. I’m hoping the eye will get better soon and I can go back to wearing contacts and feeling like a normal person. I’m pretty excited at this more structured approach to my training and am hoping it pays off come summer. Worst case scenario, I’ve got to think all of this “mental toughness practice” I’ve been employing lately certainly will.

Connecting the dots


Today was the 25th anniversary of the Challenger explosion, which I realized thanks to Facebook. It’s also my mother’s 65th birthday (which I knew with no help from Facebook… ) Somehow I’ve never made the connection that the Challenger exploded on my mother’s birthday. When I mentioned this to her on the phone, she added that it was her 40th birthday and my dad was out of town on a business trip. What’s funny to me is that I very clearly remember sitting in my Biology class while my teacher and a few interested students listened to the launch on the radio but remember nothing about how (or if) we celebrated my mom’s birthday.

Now, I was 16 at the time, which probably explains more about this than I’d like to admit. And for me, the Challenger is one of those events that the date isn’t as important as the event itself – kind of like Pearl Harbor. But since I just celebrated my 40th birthday not too long ago, it’s one of those moments when I can put yourself in my mother’s shoes, though it’s very surreal to imagine myself having four kids, aged 16 – 8.

Oh well… Happy Birthday Mom!

A little organization goes a long way


I woke up in a very grumpy mood. For no real reason. I just was. I decided to pull myself out of it with a project that I’d been wanting to do for a long time. Tackle this shelf:

(No, not the wine… ) I’d seen some lovely Kolo photo boxes, so the boy and I made a trip out to buy them. The best part was that Paper Zone had a 20% discount on anything in the store, so they were on sale. Score! I spent the rest of the afternoon wrangling photos, which is a fun project because you get to look through all of your old pictures and see how young you (and your significant other and your pets, etc.) used to be and remember all of the places you’ve lived/wacky adventures you’ve had. And the best part is at the end of the process, here’s what your shelf looks like:

While I was sitting under the table taking this picture, I had to also take one of Wally being handsome:

Whew! I’m glad my photos now live on a hard drive instead of in an album. Much easier to keep organized. Until the next technology wave comes along…

Working from home


I’m fortunate enough to have a job situation that allows me to work from home two days a week. Lately, this has been a familiar sight:

Clingy George waiting to snuggle on me while I work. Such a lazy bum.

You gotta be kidding…


I love going to Target with M. Somehow, we always seem to find some product advertising a solution for something we didn’t know was a problem. Such as soap that gets rid of “kitchen hands.” Um, what? So, when Martha emerged around the corner with a dismayed expression, I wasted no time hurrying over to see what was up. Behold:

Black trashbags? How innovative. (eye roll.) What on earth is the point, dear advertisers? Why to hide the unsightly stains and spills from the INSIDE OF YOUR GARBAGE CAN! No, I’m not making that up:

If you seriously care what the inside of your garbage can looks like, you have problems. Problems far more extensive than a box of kitchen bags can solve. If I were a shrink, I’d just hang out in the garbage bag aisle of my local Target…




Like many contact lens wearers, I’m acutely aware of my eyes. So, on Wednesday when my eye was a little dry and irritated, I blamed my contact lens. I worked at home on Thursday, wore my glasses and it felt completely fine. Just to be safe, I switched to a new pair on Friday and wore them without a problem. So, when I woke up Saturday morning to a red eye that was screaming in pain, I was a little surprised (and upset about it.)

T and I briefly discussed calling the 24-hour consulting nurse hotline that Group Health offers, but with all of the cooking activities we both forgot about it. So on Sunday, when it was a little better pain-wise but I realized that the weird smudge I kept trying to wipe off my glasses was in fact on my eye, we decided to call. The nurse advised we go to urgent care, which is never my favorite thing, but I didn’t want to mess around with my eyesight.

I’ve only been to urgent care one other time – on New Years Eve day in 1997, when a terrible flu necessitated a trip to a horrible hospital in Oakland (Highland Hospital for any Bay Area folks out there) where we shared the waiting area with a very dangerous convict who was strapped to a gurney Hannibal Lechter style. This, needless to say, was much more pleasant and the only other folks in the waiting area were a few elderly couples and one poor mom with a baby, who had the most terrible cough I’ve ever heard.

The nice urgent care doctor looked at my poor eye under many bright lights to make sure there wasn’t anything in there/it wasn’t scratched, etc. He diagnosed me with conjunctivitis (aka pink eye) which didn’t seem like what I had, but I assumed there were different strains, so I took the eye drops and went home.

Two days later, the drops not only didn’t have any effect but when I woke up this morning, the smudge had become worse. Luckily, eye doctors are open on Tuesday so I was able to make an appointment and get a much more plausible diagnosis: iritus. (Isn’t that the most made-up sounding disease you’ve ever heard of?) So, armed with another batch of drops, I believe I’m on the mend. The nice thing about iritus is that it isn’t contagious, so I don’t have to worry about spreading it to the boy and my friends. Plus the drops they’ve given me seem to be working, so hopefully it will be all cleared up soon.

So, the jury is still out on 2011…

More kitchen hijinks


I love the blogosphere. I find the whole blogging movement fascinating. I love that we live in a world where people pick some random thing to do and then write a blog about it. Like the woman who decided to cook something in a crockpot every day for a year. I have blogs of all kinds in my reader, ranging from food blogs of all kinds to various friends random musings to triathlon training to frugal lifestyle. Unfortunately, they do put crazy ideas in my head, so when one of the blogs featured a post about once a month cooking, I should have averted my eyes.

Basically, the premise is that you do a huge cooking day where you produce a bunch of dinners (plus lunches and breakfasts, if you’re so inclined… ) to put in your freezer for the rest of the month. I don’t know if they are still around, but there were a bunch of retail businesses in Portland built around this idea. Like most people, T and I definitely struggle with trying to make healthy dinner choices when we get home tired from work/class/the gym, etc. So, I decided to give it a try and talked T into helping me.

We decided to make one breakfast, three lunches and four dinner recipes. I made the breakfast the night before (a cherry steel cut oatmeal recipe.) The next day was a flurry of prepping and cooking. Luckily, the site had great advice for how to organize everything in logical steps and it actually wasn’t too painful. (All of the Top Chef watching and the boy’s restaurant experience didn’t hurt either… ) Here’s T prepping the turkey burger patties:

Lasagnas ready for the freezer:

New Lodge dutch oven being put to good use:

By the end of the day, we’d finished all of our recipes and had created 74 servings of food and crammed them into our freezer. The best part was that M & J had invited us to dinner at their place, so we got to hang out and take a break from cooking for a while.

Erroneous grumpy toast on display:

J made some gorgeous baguettes:

It was a very enjoyable low-key evening with delicious food and some RockBand. Excellent Saturday night festivities all around.

New toy


As a reward for all of my swimming (and because I had a Road Runners gift card left over from my birthday) I chose to buy myself a last Christmas present on my way out of town. (Oregon’s lack of sales tax means it’s like getting things 10% off, when you live in Seattle… ) Behold the newest addition to my training arsenal:

It’s so much fancier than my previous heart-rate monitor, it’s not even funny. Granted I bought my previous one in 2004 and it has served me faithfully despite the shameless amount of abuse I have put it through. (It even sensed the end of it’s era – when I went to take it off my wrist, part of the watchband broke. Talk about timing!)

Since I’d had such a great run with my old 625x, I’d considered getting another Polar, but alas they still don’t really support the Mac platform. Garmin, on the other hand, is super easy to connect/download and has an insane amount of data for me to geek out on. It’s pretty unbelievable. I’ll try not to flood the blog with too much triathlete-geekiness…

Not a good start…


We went down to Oregon for the New Year’s weekend to see both sets of family, since we didn’t manage to make it down before Christmas. On one hand, it was like Christmas part 2, with more presents from my family and T’s. On the other hand, my mom and I enjoyed our traditional snipe-fest and our car’s brakes decided that New Years Eve day was the perfect time to start making a loud scary grinding noise.

We took the boys to doggie day-care for the day on Friday, since my mom now has three pugs to take care of and I didn’t think adding our rambunctious boys to the mix was a good idea. Wally behaved like a perfect angel and made his parents very proud when we dropped him off. But when we went to pick them up, Smokey Joe had somehow hurt himself during the morning outdoor play session and came limping out. He didn’t react to our squeezing it, so we decided to keep an eye on it and wrap it in a bandage for some extra support. I give you the poster-child for Lab Abuse:

Poor, pathetic pup. The bandage did make him stay off the leg, and after he chewed if off during the night, he was feeling better the next day. Plus, the brakes not only made it back to Seattle but turned out to be less extensive than I’d feared. So, 2011 redeemed itself somewhat…