I Whine for a Bit and Then List Ten Happies (not a real word)

Like everyone, I’m in shock that it’s August already. In my previous life as an English teacher, this is when I would start to freak out/get excited about the beginning of a new school year. I’d be planning units, getting my classroom ready, and reconnecting with colleagues. I miss that. Whoa – I didn’t intend for this post to get all down-in-the-dumps so quickly, but it’s been a little rough around here lately.

Big “first world problems” happening in our household. For one, as I explained already, we sold our house. Fast. Now we don’t have a new house to move into…that is unless you count our friends’ basement. We’ve been packing up the last seven years of our lives, and our dining and living rooms are filled with boxes. The walls are empty and closets are half full. It’s sad, but I’m okay. We are so incredible fortunate to have amazing friends who have offered up space in their house to live and/or store some of our belongings that we don’t want in storage.

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This week, we were THIS close to having a great house. The house was on the market last year, didn’t sell, and was for sale again. We put in a few informal offers, and it seemed like she may accept. Then she changed her mind. And then we almost had it again. And then she said she was going to take it off the market. Hope, sadness, hope, sadness. After this last rejection, Brody and I have both moved on and realized this house will not be our forever home.

Our options now are to either wait for a house (in our price range that we like) to come on the market in the one neighborhood (fully developed, elementary school, pool, sidewalks, green space, etc.) we like, or build in a different neighborhood (which is also a really nice area but still being developed obviously). If we build and commit by September 1, the house would be complete by January 15. Such big decisions.

Another “first world problem” we’re dealing with is Finley. Oh my. Fevers, crabbiness, runny noses, night wakings, and did I mention crabbiness? I keep reminding myself of how horrible she must feel. I’ve heard that if adults experienced the pain babies feel when their teeth come in, we’d all be on high strength pain killers.

There have been some very good moments too in the past couple weeks. It’s not like me to be such a Debbie Downer, so here are ten awesome things about my life:

1. Finley is becoming a walker! It’s so cool to see her moving like a person.

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2. We took a family trip to the zoo (on Finley’s super crabby day), and we had a great time. It’s some good and interesting people watching there on the weekends! Finley seemed to like the ostrich the most.

3. As we pack, we’ve also been purging. Lots of trips to Goodwill and lots of crap thrown away (we bought a Bagster and will have Waste Management pick it up before we move).

4. I’ve had a few good long runs alone and with friends. However, Brody and I have decided to not run the Madison Mini anymore. This was going to be a race we ran together, and with him getting sick and injured and us moving, we’re not ready. We’d like to do a fall half marathon instead.

5. My mom sold her condo and is moving up north to the cottage permanently. She’s officially retired and will be living in a beautiful house on the best lake ever.

6. I made a delicious dinner two nights ago: PaleOMG’s Thai Pork and Veggie Meatballs. The sauce is ridiculous. If I wasn’t trying to clean out the random food in my freezer, I’d buy more pork and curry powder and make it again soon.

7. Finley loves her Radio Flyer. Every time we walk past it in the garage, she points and grunts. She holds on to the handlebars, and it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever.

8. Starbuck’s iced caramel machiaccto with whole milk = yum. I crave these all the time. I mean, why wouldn’t I? It’s the perfect combination of sugar, fat, and caffeine.

9. Today Brody and I are taking a pasta cooking class at A Pig in a Fur Coat with a bunch of other friends. We went in with two other couples and bid on the class through a raffle at a charity event. Yes, I know pasta is a grain and not Paleo/Primal. It’s a conscious cheat and will be worth it.

10.¬†I read a book! My friend loaned me A Fault in Our Stars, and I really enjoyed it. I haven’t read a book for MONTHS (my previous English teacher self is scolding current SAHM self), and how I missed it. I once owned this book, but a student borrowed it and never returned it.¬†Anyways, I’d like to see the movie now. Ha! Like that’ll happen.

Happy Saturday folks! Have a good weekend!

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Friday Facts [11-1-13]

1. We switched our dental insurance (we were on mine) and needed to find a new dentist office. I love our new place but do not love the new insurance. Two cavities = $240!!!! Apparently they only cover a certain kind of cavity fill that most dental offices do not even OFFER! What the heck? Ridiculous. I’ve never been a regular flosser, but that bill has become the kind of incentive I need to keep up this healthy habit.

2. Brody and I have a date night planned for Saturday night! My mom is coming to visit this weekend and suggested we go out while she babysits Finley. On the agenda: dinner at Umami or Alchemy (or some place in the Willy St. area) and the UW men’s hockey game.

3. Finley and I went to Brody’s office for a little trick or treating. She wasn’t into the head piece of her costume but otherwise held it together while being shown off.
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This was after she took the penguin costume off.
All of the new faces were likely very stimulating, and with it being nap time when we left, she passed out in the car on the way home.

4. You know how I was all frustrated with Finley’s naps? Well as I type this, she’s been asleep for 52 minutes. She transitioned into a second sleep cycle! Edited to add: She slept for 90 minutes – wahoo!

5. I’ve got four almost too ripe bananas that I’m planning on baking with, and I’m thinking banana pumpkin bread. The zucchini pumpkin bread I made last week turned out so well, but I think the banana may be even better.

6. How is it already November? I was thinking yesterday what I’d likely be doing if I was teaching. The newness of the year would’ve worn off, Homecoming would be past, and we’d be looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. I would also have developed good relationships with my classes, be enjoying B lunch with my coworkers, and spent many hours brainstorming and problem solving with close friends/English teachers. I do miss these aspects of my former career, but as I’ve said, I love what I’m doing now too.

7. Yesterday I picked up a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks (sorry Brody) on my way to Mother Baby Hour. I’m not sure if they’re offered anymore with October being done, but even if they are, I think it’ll have been my last one of the year. I did find one pumpkin-flavored food I do not like: these. I brought them to girls weekend, and everyone agreed they were super funky. They had a strange, sour after taste. So disappointing.

8. We bought FLOR carpets squares for the family room. I love the color and graphic pattern.
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Brody’s also going to make a new coffee table (the crate one that’s all over the interweb). The one we have right now has a glass tabletop and isn’t very kid-friendly. Although Finley isn’t mobile yet, it’ll happen soon. Plus, the kid I’m watching part time is walking. Being able to wheel the coffee table (yup, he’s putting wheels on it – so smart!) over to the side will provide a good space to play.

9. Frankie has a vet appointment next week. He now has two wellness appointments a year because at eight years old, he’s considered a senior dog.
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He’s such a sweet dog (notice his front paw over Brody’s leg), but he has the worst breath ever.

10. On Monday night, Brody and I went to see The Head and the Heart play at the Orpheum. They were incredible! The female vocalist blew the roof off the place during “Rivers and Roads.”

I made it to ten – success! Have a wonderful weekend!

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First Afternoon of Summer

First and most importantly, I want you all to know I celebrated National Donut Day yesterday. I couldn’t decide on just one donut, so I had two halves.
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So good and tasted great with a little iced coffee.

Yesterday around 12:30pm, I graded my last final exam. My fifth full year of teaching was complete. It felt awesome but weird.

Next year I’ll be taking off the entire first semester to stay home with Baby. Knowing I wouldn’t be back in the building or seeing my students and coworkers for many months was surreal. I had many colleagues stop by to make sure I made it, wish me good luck, and chat about pregnancy/birth/kids. I will miss working but know I’ll enjoy being a stay at home mom for a little while.

It’s always a funky transition from the go-go-go of the end the year to the beginning of summer. I literally walked in to my house and had NOTHING to do. Truly nothing.

So what did I do?

I took a nap here.

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I talked on the phone with this pretty lady (who is due with her second boy in two weeks!).

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I went to the dog park.

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I ate an amazing dinner with Brody al fresco: steak from Jacobson Brothers and grilled veggies.

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I read a little of Gone Girl before turning the lights out at 10pm.

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As I said on Facebook, I am so proud of Baby for listening to my request and waiting to make her grand entrance. But now she can come – we’re ready. Like, maybe tomorrow…

Questions:
Any teachers out there get what I’m saying about the transition into summer?
How would you spend an afternoon with nothing to do?
Do you eat outside often during the summer? Favorite outdoor meal?

“I Said Brrr…”

“It’s cold in here. There must be some Lightning in the atmosphere!”

Not sure why I’ve had such an affinity for quoting tv and movies lately, but here’s another one.

Can you name it?

Maybe if you inserted Toros instead of Lightning.

If you guessed Bring It On, you are right!

In high school, we actually used that cheer. We were cool and obviously didn’t mind that it didn’t make any sense (cold and lightning do not go together). Regardless, I thought of it because of these frigid temperatures.

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Don’t those numbers make you want to curl up in a fuzzy blanket on the couch in front of the fire? I’d sip warm tea (either TJ’s vanilla cinnamon or that chai-like tea with the tiger on the box), start a book, eat grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch, and take a catnap in the afternoon. In reality, I’ll spend most of the day in a high school, giving final exams, and grading until I can’t see straight. Maybe I’ll still have some tea once I get home.

I do love Wisconsin for many reasons, but these cold temperatures are not one of them. While walking the dogs this morning, I felt my nose hairs freeze – you know it’s cold when that happens. I would’ve worn my snow pants but I don’t think I can button them anymore.

Speaking of not fitting, here’s another (hopefully better) picture of me and the belly.

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After my last post and belly picture, Brody informed me that it was not a very attractive photo of me. I took it in the morning when I still have bags under my eyes – I hope he realizes those bags will probably be making a semi-permanent appearance come summer. Also, I really struggle to take good selfies. Any tips?
Note: To give my lovely husband credit, he is normally extremely complimentary and didn’t hurt my feelings by being honest about that photo.

Stay warm if you’re in a cold state! If you’re not, know you’re lucky.

Questions:
What’s the coldest temp (with or without wind chill) you’ve ever experienced?
What would be your perfect cold-temp-stay-inside day?
Seriously – how do I take decent pics of myself with my iPhone?

I am Ridikolus

Did you catch that 30 Rock reference? Many seasons ago, LL Cool J had a guest appearance with Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, and Alec Baldwin. Someone told LL Cool J something was ridiculous; he responded by saying “I am Ridikolus.”

Ridiculous has so many meanings (stupid, funny, amazing, etc.). As a writing prompt for my students the other day, I provided this question: What is ridiculous? I had fun answering the question myself.

Teenagers having babies.

Drivers who attempt to merge on to a highway going less than 55mph.

The Walking Dead (and now Jericho while we wait for season three to start up again).

How unsatisfying NA wine is.

Teenage girls cutting themselves to get Justin Bieber to stop smoking weed.

That first semester of the school year is almost over!

The Notre Dame quarterback who made up his girlfriend.

Swiss chocolate.

Getting a huge box of maternity clothes from Brody’s coworker’s wife (who has had four kids).

Root beer floats.

How long it took me to buy new bras.

Eating the same thing (shredded beef meant to be for French dip sandwiches) four days in a row.

The pink elephant scene in Dumbo.

How many questions a three year old asks.

Question:
What is ridiculous to you?

Ten Facts About My Life Recently

I can’t believe break is almost over. Even with those two extra days, it has flown by. Good thing I’ve got a couple big things to look forward to!

Today I have lots of random thoughts and pictures to share.

1. We had a nice Christmas with my mom, my sister, her boyfriend, and Brody’s mom. It was pretty low-key and we barely left the couch or kitchen table. Brody cooked two rib roasts (long story) Christmas Eve. We opened gifts Christmas morning while eating Sara Lee butter streusel coffee cake.
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After presents, my family (except me) went to church, and we spent the afternoon watching movies. Oh, and we ate – a lot and often. ‘Tis the season!

2. Brody got me a fabulous gift: a babymoon! Over my Spring Break in March, we are going to New York for four days!!! We’re staying in Soho, and the only thing set in stone as of now is we’re going to see The Book of Mormon. Any restaurant recommendations?

3. Moose and Frankie have been loving the snow. Those first few days were hard on their paws, though. Snow packs easily between their pads, so every few minutes, they are licking at them (which only makes it worse). Both dogs also LOVED the bull pizzle (aka bully stick aka bull penis). Unfortunately their stomachs didn’t love the pizzle, and we’ve been dealing with some nasty bathroom issues. To let everything work its way out, we switched the dogs over to rice and boiled chicken.
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Frankie was not happy about his rice breakfast.

4. Our friends, Barret and Kelly, parents of Owen, sent us our first official piece of baby clothing: a Blackhawks onesie!
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It is so adorable – even Brody said so with a big smile on his face. Whether this kid is a boy or girl, it is already determined he/she will play hockey and will be a Blackhawks fan.

5. Real Simple failed me. I know – I am still in shock.
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Normally their recipes are great, but this one (pasta with sausage, arugula, and bread crumbs) missed the mark. Brody thought the arugula was too strong, but I tasted lots of thyme from the toasted bread crumbs. We both didn’t even finish our meals. I had a small bowl of Cedar Crest vanilla ice cream and Brody made nachos. Healthy alternatives around here.

6. I went to yoga yesterday! It was my second class at Bliss Flow Yoga on University Ave. Groupon had a deal a while back: $20 for 20 classes. Even if I only make it a few more times before it expires in April, that’s still a good deal. I felt comfortable doing just about everything as my belly isn’t getting in the way yet.

7. Post yoga, I met Brody for lunch. We went to Gates & Brovi, a newer restaurant on Monroe St. We both started with soup: roasted cauliflower for me and clam chowder for Brody.
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For the main course, I chose the chick pea tuna sandwich. Obviously it had tuna and chick peas but also included slices of hard boiled eggs, pepperocini, capers, kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce. It was salty and delicious.
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Brody had a classic burger and was very happy with it. Besides the good food, the decor is very inviting and casual with lots of reclaimed looking wood and high ceilings.

8. Real cream in coffee is SO much better than milk or flavored creamer. I bought half and half for the mashed potatoes on Christmas Eve (which you need to have with a roast), and there is at least half a container left. Yum!

9. It hasn’t all been eating and relaxing around here. I made it to work for four hours on Thursday and got lots of work done. My teaching license is set to expire in June, and in order to renew it, I need to finish my PDP (professional development plan) and submit it to DPI (Department of Public Instruction). Sidenote: The number of acronyms in education is incredible. I worked on my PDP for two hours and then planned lessons and emailed parents for the last two. At home I finished lots of grading on my two snow days and then yesterday I began grading research papers my juniors wrote. My goal for today is to finish one class, which has only seven papers left. I can do it!

10. My weekend plans involve the dog park (of course), the gym, Best Buy (to pick up a camera, a new point and shoot, Brody and I ordered), grading, watching a video about Huck Finn, seeing Django Unchained, and definitely some couch time.

Have a fabulous Saturday!

Questions:
What was your favorite gift? The best gift you gave?
What good restaurant have you been to recently?
What do you have planned for the weekend?

Snow Day Part Two

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On Wednesday, I thought there was no way we’d have a snow day on Friday, but here I am, at home, and I will be home now until January 2 because of winter break. A thirteen day break is quite long, and sometimes these longer breaks make it even more difficult to go back. I hope that doesn’t sound like I am complaining, though, because I very much appreciate this perk of being a teacher.

My morning started off like yesterday: toast, a hot beverage (coffee this time), and grading.

Then I worked out.

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After 65 minutes on the elliptical, my feet were sufficiently tingly and I had worked up a light sweat. I hopefully will be able to get to yoga one day this weekend and maybe start running again next week after Brody’s bronchitis clears up.

Grocery stores make me happy, especially empty ones.

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A few key buys: kombucha (for $3 each), orange juice (for Brody’s vitamin C needs and my love), and dates.

You know what doesn’t make me happy? Dog poop…in the house…on the carpet. Moose must be having some tummy troubles, which I feel bad for, but I also feel bad for me because the house smells bad and it takes at least twenty minutes to thoroughly clean it up. I’ve heard that dogs can tell if you’re pregnant and sometimes act out. I don’t think that is necessarily the case here, but I do think that’s an interesting notion.

I made plans this morning to meet my friend Jennifer at the dog park this afternoon. She was a little late, but the dogs had fun playing in the deep snow and I liked sitting on a bench under a tree taking in the winter scene.
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Normally, without snow, I can make it around the dog park loop, which is 2/3 a mile, in 12 minutes. It took Jennifer and I at least 30 minutes to do one lap. The snow was deep, up to my knees in some areas, as no one else had been crazy enough to go there and forge a path for us. Jerks. We actually took a few breaks, and at one point sat down in the snow to rest for a couple minutes. This was definitely my second workout of the day!
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It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, so I’d like to share what I’m making for dinner tonight. This was a Wine and Recipe recipe by Kathy from Mel’s bar food theme night. I loved these and hope they turn out.

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
By Rachel Ray

Ingredients:
-2 tbs vegetable oil
-4 tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
-1/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce
-1 pound ground chicken, preferably thigh meat
-1 large egg
-3/4 cup bread crumbs
-1/2 celery stalk, minced
-1 tsp salt

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 450 and evenly drizzle oil over baking dish.
2) Combine butter and hot sauce in a sauce pan, and cook over low heat, whisking until butter is melted. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
3) Combine chicken, hot sauce mixture, egg, celery, bread crumbs, and salt in a large bowl by hand.
4) Roll the mixture into round, 3/4 inch balls, making sure to make the meat firmly. Place balls on baking sheet, touching one another, to form a grid.
5) Roast for 15 to 20 minutes. The center of the balls should be 165 degrees.

Serve these with celery stalks and dip in blue cheese or ranch dressing.

Have a great Friday night, and to all you teachers or students out there, happy winter break!!!

Questions:
Do you enjoy or despise grocery store trips?
What was your workout today?
What is your favorite meatball recipe?

Snow Day

A winter wonderland in Wisconsin!
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Around 5pm last night, my district canceled classes for today. We were one of the last districts in the area – heck, even Madison Public Schools had canceled. I was pretty certain we would be having a snow day, so like most other teachers (and hopefully students), I brought lots of work home to do. There was no way I wasn’t going to take advantage of a day off to not chip away at the mounds of grading I have. (A few too many negatives in that sentence.)

I slept in a little (by only thirty minutes) and had a nice relaxing breakfast of toast with sunflower seed butter on one piece and cream cheese and strawberry jelly on the other. Because Brody’s been sick, we have orange juice, which I love, so I had a glass of that as well. Coffee would’ve rounded out my first meal of the day perfectly, but I accidentally left the grounds in the coffee maker from last week (oops) and some mold was growing. Gross, I know. After a few runs with vinegar and water, it’ll be good to go for tomorrow.

Although Brody’s work was canceled, he still drove in for a few hours of work. To be as productive as possible while he was gone, I made myself a “to do” list to stay focused.
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I first graded literary analysis essays, ones that students turned in over a month ago. It felt SO good to get those done.

Taking a break from school work, I put on holiday music and wrapped some presents for Brody, my sister, and my mom. Our tree looks so much better with presents under it.
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Lunch was decent: chicken noodle soup from Copps (Brody bought it but didn’t like the strong oregano flavor), a few Triscuits, an orange, and three dark chocolate covered marshmallows.

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Have you tried these? They are fantastic. Since becoming pregnant, my sweet tooth has been a little off. While I still crave sugar, anything too rich does not taste good. At a holiday party last week, I took a chocolate truffle and could only eat half of it. That is crazy talk coming from me.

The power of the “to do” list worked its magic early this afternoon and forced me to read four chapters of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Did you have to read this in high school? This is my first year teaching it at my current school, and I am actually enjoying it (both the book and the teaching). I read it in high school but don’t remember being blown away like I was with East of Eden. While I don’t think many students are enjoying and liking this classic, I think they can appreciate it. Maybe they won’t totally get its importance until we finish the whole book.

Has my snow day been all work and no play? No sir-ree (is that how you spell that?). I cleaned out a few drawers in the future baby’s room closet, I showered, and I am writing this now. Wow – that makes me seem pretty lame. Brody and I are actually about to watch Midnight in Paris, which I LOVE, and maybe I’ll take a nap later on. See? I am fun…and lazy, like Moose.

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Happy Thursday!

Questions:
Did you have snow days as a kid? What did you do on your day off?
Are you a “to do” list maker?
What was the best book you read in high school?

I’m Alive

Good morning! It’s been a while. Life has been busy, grading has taken over my life, and I have little motivation to do anything except relax on the couch after 7pm. But I am back and hopefully will now be resuming somewhat of a regular blogging schedule.

Considering it’s 7:30am and I haven’t posted for two weeks, do not expect an organized post. That will happen again soon, but not today.

1. Every time I hear “binders full of women,” I giggle. I actually saw that portion of the debate and thought it was a strange comment.

2. Along with ignoring my blog, I also have been ignoring other people’s blogs. I now have over two hundred posts to read. I will not ignore you all forever – promise.

3. On the radio this morning I heard that the Grateful Dead is partnering with Dogfish Head Brewing Company to create an IPA. Brody loves both of those things.

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4. School has been going really well. I love my job, and I love learning how I can improve my teaching. I was lucky enough to attend two conferences recently: one about RtI and the other for English teachers.

5. Two Sundays ago Brody and I went to Daisy’s cupcakery for breakfast. I have never gotten huevos racheros before – have I been missing out!

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This was amazing. I could eat this For breakfast every weekend morning an be a happy, happy girl.

Short and sweet. See you again soon!

Epiphanies

Epiphany #1
I swear to God that when I left last Friday morning, it was still “summer” in Wisconsin. Warm temps, green trees, and flip flops. Now this:

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Driving back from MN Tuesday.
And this!

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Heck, even my dogs match the colors.

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The last few CSAs have also included squash.

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Butternut squash soup is coming up!

Epiphany #2
BodyPump hurts after a couple weeks off.

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source
This is EXACTLY what I look like at BP at 5:30am. It is uncanny, I tell you.
A minor epiphany occurred this morning when I realized it wasn’t Tuesday. Last night I looked at the group fitness schedule and apparently looked at Tuesday. Excited, or as excited as I can be before the sun comes up, I asked for my BodyCombat ticket. The front desk lady looked at me like I was silly and told me I could choose between RPM (spin) or Pump.

BodyPump went well, and I am already sore. Tomorrow is a rest day luckily, as I see challenges in walking, stairs, and sitting.

Epiphany #3
I like salty dinners.

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ThIs disgusting looking yet delicious recipe is from a recent issue of Real Simple. We got collards in our CSA last week, and when I saw this soup, I wanted to try it. Instead of andouille sausage I used pork and chicken sausage (I had a coupon and it was double coupon day yesterday!). Although there is no added salt, this soup is salty! Maybe it’s from the dried beans? The chicken broth? The sausage? Regardless, I am totally into it, just like I love me some teriyaki meatballs (also salty and also a Real Simple recipe).

Epiphany #4
My Costco Asics were not working for me. After a few long runs resulting in blisters on both feet, I realized it was time to return to my beloved Gel Nimbus 12s.

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Oh how I missed you.

I ran in these yesterday afternoon on my teacher run, and not surprisingly, they felt incredible.

**********

So I guess you may have noticed my lack of posts recently, especially during the weekdays. Being back at school is kicking my butt! I don’t want to force posts, and when the day is done, sometimes I need the couch, Brody lying next to me, and The Voice. Hopefully life calms down a little in these next few months, though. It’s been go Go GO!

Have a wonderful night!

Question:
What epiphany have you had recently?