Like Losing a Friend

1 Mar


Yesterday morning I took Izzie for an unplanned long walk.  It was positively gorgeous out, and I had to take advantage of the sunshine and warm weather!  Unfortunately for me, my little princess refuses to get her feet wet, and we encountered a fairly large puddle towards the end of our walk.  I made the leap over the puddle with her and immediately felt my knee tweak.  I should be banned from doing anything besides running until April 29!  Just like football players who aren’t permitted to go skiing.  It’s exactly like that, right?!







Anyway, I wasn’t too sure what to expect this morning, but I set out for a run anyway.  I ended up completing 4 miles without any pain, so  I’m calling it a successful morning!  As long as I can get slowly back into it in time to complete my few long runs right before the race I think I’ll be OK.  I made sure to seriously stretch both before and after my run today and have been icing on and off since I returned home.

Book Friends

Last week I started – and finished – The Hunger Games series.  I honestly can’t believe how sucked in I got.  I actually found myself excited to get caught behind a freight train on Wednesday, because it gave me the opportunity to read for an extra 10 minutes.

I loved everything about this series, and felt pretty depressed when I finished it up on Saturday.  I told Nick that the reason I felt depressed was because I missed my good friends Katniss and Peeta.  You know you’ve found a good book when you legitimately miss the characters once you are done reading.  I wish that there were more books in this series, but for now I’ll just have to settle for the movie.  For which I have already purchased tickets.  I asked Nick if he would be embarassed if I wore a Hunger Games shirt to the theater.












He laughed as though I were kidding, but I’m not sure he realizes quite how serious I am.  After all, this only happened a few years ago…











Riddikulus!  Have a wonderful Thursday!


A Suggestion for High School English Teachers

29 Feb

Nerd Alert!

Happy Wednesday!  I have been meaning to write this post for a while, but since the idea came to me about 3/4 of the way through a bottle of wine, it kinda slipped my mind 🙂  Since I saw that Julie is posting her review, as well as a link roundup, for The Paris Wife on Thursday, I figured it was high time I got to writing!

For my whole life, I’ve been big into reading.  I’ve almost always had a book that I’m making my way through, and have been known to immerse myself so fully in a book that I cannot be spoken to until I have finished.  Books are like TV marathons, but better.  You fall in love with characters.  You become invested in their lives.  And it doesn’t end after an hour.

However, when I was in high school, I often struggled with the required reading that we were given.  In fact, I only recently read Rebecca, which was on my freshman year summer reading list.  Not sure what I did at the time to prepare for the test, but I suspect Cliffs Notes were involved.

And that’s the issue – the test.  High school english teachers are tasked with the job of getting 14-17 year olds to read books, the subjects of which are perceived to be uninteresting, and then take a test on them.  Taking a test on a book removes all of the enjoyment.  It forces you to focus on mundane facts and names, while losing the general feeling of the story.

I only remember a handful of books that I was required to read in high school, and one of them stands out far beyond the rest.  Pride and Prejudice was, and is, one of my favorite stories – and not because I was forced to read it and take a test on it.  It’s my favorite because my teacher allowed us to watch the Colin Firth TV version after we finished each portion of the book.  I remember counting the minutes to English class because I was so excited to move on with the story of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.  Plus, Colin Firth is pretty dreamy, am I right?!?!










Although the movie was definitely a highlight of my classes, I also read and enjoyed the book.  This is not something that can be said for all of my high school required reading.

I promise there is a point to this, and it wasn’t just to get a picture of a wet Colin Firth on my blog…

The Paris Wife

A few months ago, I downloaded The Paris Wife.  I had been searching for a good book, and figured this one would fit the bill.  I tend to enjoy historical fiction, and didn’t really know a whole lot about Ernest Hemingway’s personal life.

The Paris Wife is told from the perspective of Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first wife.  It follows Hadley’s journey to Chicago at the age of 28, where she meets a 21 year old Ernest.  He is dynamic and intriguing, and the two immediately fall for one another.

It takes us with Hadley and Ernest to Paris, where Ernest builds his career, and the two mingle with the likes of Gertrude Stein and Scott Fitzgerald.  The reader is presented with a portrayal of Paris in the ’20s, where people are fueled by a love for literature and art – and, of course, Absinthe.  We get to know Hadley, and understand her struggle to find herself while still supporting her new husband.  I imagine this is something that many women struggled with, particularly in the early 1900s.  Her desire to be both supportive and independent made Hadley instantly likeable and relatable.

We also get an easy-to-read glimpse into Hemingway’s often-tumultuous life.  The author, Paula McLain, effectively presents a fictional autobiography, that leads the reader to believe that they are truly seeing Ernest, and Paris, through Hadley’s eyes.  The research that went into this book is clear, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to get lost in a good read.

My Suggestion

Shortly after finishing The Paris Wife, I rented Midnight in Paris.  I tend to be only so-so on Woody Allen films, but I really enjoyed this one.  Again, the viewer is presented with a fun glimpse into Paris in the ’20s.  I found myself more and more intrigued by this group of artists, and wanted to learn more about their lives.  While I was watching the movie I was so interested, in fact, that I immediately downloaded (what did people do before ereaders?!) A Moveable Feast, Hemingway’s own account of his time in Paris.








See?  There it is, sandwiched between several Young Adult novels.  I swear I didn’t download it just to boost my book list 🙂

I honestly never expected that I would read an Ernest Hemingway novel for pleasure.  It really got me to thinking about the importance that other media formats (movies, fictional novels) play in contriving interest for the original.  So, my suggestion to high school english teachers is this:

Give your students choices – maybe even take a cue from Holly Holliday and tweet them about the poignant points in the required reading books.  Show them William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as they read.










Let them watch Bridget Jones’ diary while reading Pride & Prejudice (best of both worlds – contemporary and Colin Firth).  Give a sneak peek of 10 Things I Hate About You while reading The Taming of the Shrew.  Let them read The Paris Wife before diving in to The Sun Also Rises.  Take advantage of these other formats, and get these kiddos interested in the story.  And maybe, just maybe, forget about the test.

*If you  happen to be a high school psychology teacher, please do me a favor and do not show this clip that has recently been making the rounds.

The beginning of this clip is pretty funny, and shows how we can use positive reinforcement to shape human behavior.  However, once he mentions negative reinforcement I was ready for a big ‘ol forehead smack.  Negative reinforcement is not the same as punishment!  Gah!

**If the producers of The Big Bang Theory happen to be reading this post, and are interested in continuing to use Behavior Analytic principles in their episodes, I will gladly provide consultative services.  My fee is $1 Million/episode.

Two Things Tuesday

28 Feb

Hey, it’s Tuesday!  Monday’s over and we are one step closer to the weekend.

My creativity is at an all-time low this morning, so I decided to take advantage of alliteration and present you with Two Things on this fine Tuesday.

1.  I went for a run this morning with no knee or foot pain.  I only ran 2 miles, but decided that was enough for today.  My prescribed mileage for the rest of the week is 10 miles on Thursday and 13 on Saturday.  My plan is to run 1/2 to 2/3 the prescribed mileage.  If I can do that without pain, I’ll be happy.

2.  During my run this morning, I found that my “extreme cold” winter gloves were too warm!








Slowly but surely, we’re working our way out of winter.  I can’t wait to run without bundling up in 20 layers again!

Swimming My Way to the Finish Line

24 Feb

With my recent string of injuries, I’ve been focusing on cross training quite a bit this week.  I decided to swim again this morning, which is quickly becoming my favorite way to cross train.  I often need to do some mental coercing to get there…









…but once I’m halfway through my first length, I never regret it.  Swimming makes me feel strong and capable, without putting extra stress on my existing injuries.  Plus, I get really awesome black eyes from my goggles!

I swam 3/4 mile this morning, and am planning to hit the pool again tomorrow as part of a mini-triathlon to replace my weekly long run.  Nick suggested I take the whole week off from running, and I think he’s got it right.  My plan is to swim and bike for an undetermined (as of now) amount of time, and then run 1-3 miles.  Luckily, my gym has an indoor track, so I can run without the treadmill, but also allow myself the opportunity to stop at any time without having to walk home in the freezing cold.  Win-win.

In other news, it’s cold and snowy in Chicago today.  Since I don’t have any appointments, I think I’ll turn the fireplace up to high and pretend I’m here.









Ahhh, if only…

Long Day

21 Feb

Today I had to be at a meeting in Central Illinois at 10am, so I was up and at ’em early.

There’s something about swimming a mile before 5:45 am that makes you feel ridiculously awesome.












There’s also something about driving nearly 3 hours, attending a work-through-lunch meeting, and driving 3 hours back home that makes you feel ridiculously tired.  I’ve already changed into my sweats and am about to pick up The Hunger Games (which I’ve finally gotten into).  Chances are, Nick will find me like this by the time he gets home from work.








And…that’s all I’ve got.  See ya in the am.

Fat is Flavor: A Running Mantra?

18 Feb


Last  night, Nick and I joined two friends for dinner at Girl & the Goat.  We’ve already made reservations for our next visit in May 🙂  The food at this place is so delicious, and it turns out green beans actually are a relatively good pre-run food.

Though the veg dishes are always top on my list, one of the highlights of our meal last night was a pork shank with kimchi.  Fat is flavor!!  Since we’d already had a few drinks by the time we had this dish, Nick and I decided it would be a great idea to ask for the bone to be wrapped up for Izzie.  The waitress let us know that this is actually a pretty common request, and she was more than happy to comply.

I hope you enjoy the following photos as much as I do:







































Usually Beanie is pretty discerning with people food and spends an exorbitant amount of time sniffing out what we give him before eating it.  I think he assumes we are trying to poison him.  But he went completely nuts for this bone!  As did Izzie, of course.  The two of them were practically fighting over who would get the next lick.  Yet more proof that fat is flavor!

Running Mantras

There have been several bloggers recently who’ve been talking about running mantras.  One of my favorites came from Brigid’s blog: “Run the mile you’re in“.  I’ve been using this recently, since I tend to think only about how much longer I have to go, and really need to focus on staying in the moment.  However, inspired by delicious pork, Nick introduced me to my new favorite running mantra yesterday:

“Run like a pork shoulder: low long and slow”.  This might not be the best mantra for someone who is planning on racing, but for someone like me who just wants to finish, long and slow is the name of the game.  I also like this mantra because it cracks me up every time I think of it, which helps when you’re running into the wind on a 30 degree day in Chicago.


This morning’s run was OK, but not nearly as good as I hoped it would be.  I made it 9 miles no problem – I was actually feeling pretty fantastic, and thought I’d have no problem knocking out 15 easy-peasy.  However, my right knee gave out right around the 9 mile mark, and my run was over at that moment.  Luckily for me I was 6 miles from home, so I started the long cold walk back.

I’ve been beating myself up a little bit, because this one was all my fault.  My knee gave me this same sort of trouble about a year ago when I was diagnosed with tendonitis in my right thigh.  Ever since then, I’ve diligently rolled my leg out before every run.  Except today.  I don’t know why I got lazy this morning, but I didn’t roll out, and my run suffered.  However, I’m choosing to look at the fact that I had a great 9 miles as a positive thing.

Plus, I learned my lesson, the foam roller and I will be best buds once again.

For now, Ibuprofen and an ice pack are where it’s at.  Have a great Saturday!


Top 5 Ways to Make a Bad Day Good (Countdown Style)

17 Feb

#5.  Watch the most recent episode of Jersey Shore.  There’s nothing about hearing Snooki call a doctor and say “I got a UTI and it hurts!” that won’t make you smile.  Nothing.










#4.  Eat a few half a bag of Cadbury mini eggs.  Chocolate makes you happy!  It’s science!








#3.  Complete your afternoon work with your puppy by your side.  Best thing about working from home, hands down.











#2.  Watch a clip of Reese Witherspoon 100% geeking out over meeting Kate Middleton.

I mean, she’s a princess y’all!!!!

And the #1 way to make a bad day good is…








to open your mail and find an American Girl catalog addressed to your husband.  Nick, you’re gonna be receiving these for life!  I bet you’re really glad you accompanied me on my Molly hunt before Christmas!!

And there you have it – the top 5 ways to make a bad day good.  Have a wonderful evening!