Friday, November 30, 2012

Call Me Crazy

Call me crazy, but I'm about to sign up for an 8k run taking place next April and I haven't stuck to a regular workout routine since shuffling through my first 5k a year ago.

I know what you're thinking. "Here we go again," right?

Go ahead, roll your eyes. I wouldn't blame you.

I really don't know what came over me. All I know is that between nagging insomnia and a waistline that expands if I even look in the general direction of a pastry, I had to do something. After reading through my old blog posts chronicling my experience going from the couch to a 5k, I scrambled to find a new goal towards which I could shuffle.

To that end, I jumped in at week 4 of the program that got me ready for last year's Turkey Trot. That means in 5 weeks, I'll be able to run 3 miles. Without stopping. From there, I plan on switching over to a 10k training plan my former varsity cross-country running son drew up for me. That's 13 weeks' worth of training and the race is in 18 weeks.

It's all good. Really.

Wanna join me?

This time, I'm hoping to drag my two youngest sons along for the ride - one, fresh off his high school cross-country season and the other, my former mini coach (aka, Prefon-James). By April, I'm hoping I can keep up with them. Otherwise, they'll be dragging me.

Until next time...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Move Over Martha

I have long held that the arch nemesis to plate spinners everywhere is Martha Stewart. Simmering in her crafty household perfection, the ridiculously high standard she sets is one to which those of us laboring in the trenches don't even bother to aspire.

But when it comes to Thanksgiving, there is another foe of sorts - an artist who emblazoned his idea of wholesome Americana on the the covers of the Saturday Evening Post for years. Thats right. Norman Rockwell. For many generations, he set the bar for us all. 

I never realized until this year, though, that I had been falling into his trap. Heaping more pressure on myself than spoonfuls of stuffing on my plate, food was always the focus and the table had to be perfection. It just had to be.

This year, though, something odd and wonderful happened. My focus shifted from food to, of all things, family.

It all started when I was stepping out of the shower with just minutes to spare before the guests were due to arrive. 

Someone tapped on the door. 

"Hang on a minute!" I shouted. 

I wrapped my hair in a towel and shimmied into my jeans and a sport bra (because, really, who wants to be bothered with having to adjust bra straps when you are about to serve food to thirty people?). 

I was vigorously towel drying my hair when I heard the second tap. 

I knew if I surrendered the bathroom to this intruder, I'd never be ready in time. 

"Just a second!" I called out.

But the tapper persisted. Fearing it was my youngest who had already tried the other bathrooms and was about to make more of a mess than I was willing to deal with, I flung open the door. Shirtless.

There, grinning from ear to ear, was my first born. The one who told me that he had to work on Thanksgiving and couldn't join us. The one who I had felt so very bad for as I pictured him alone and hungry in his dorm room on Thanksgiving day. 

"Surprised?" he asked.

Uh...yeah! 

I took a record thirty seconds to dry my hair, pull on a shirt and make it to the kitchen where I saw my father-in-law and his family arriving bearing two large foil pans filled with his famous rice and beans and chicken dish.

"Put these in the oven to keep warm," someone said. I was aghast. Real estate on the inside of my humble little appliance was at a premium. And the potatoes still needed mashing. I felt myself morphing, one holiday too early, into the Grinch.

I started delegating to the anyone who had the misfortune of getting in my way. By the time I finally took my seat beside my husband, I was ready to fling a turkey leg at anyone who made a sound.

Then my husband made a brief, but beautiful, toast and everyone dug in.

That's when Norman himself elbowed his way into my subconscious. I looked out over the crowd. Every one was chatting and laughing, eating and drinking.

And quite unexpectedly, I felt like the Grinch at the end of the show when his tiny, shriveled heart begins to grow and grow and GROW. 

One glance out at my family, my big extended family, and I remembered just how blessed I am. 

Norman would've been proud...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ode to Thanksgiving

Presenting.... my second annual Ode to Thanksgiving. This year, it's set to the tune of "Leaving on a Jet Plane" (with my humblest apologies to the late, great John Denver). Enjoy!

Well the turkey's bought, it's thawing now.
It looked much smaller at the store.
I need to fill my oven with this bird.
But the pies need baking, the stuffing too.
The rolls can wait, but what to do?
Already I'm so worried I could cry.

(photo credit www.easypeasyfoods.com)
"So grill it and bake the rest,"
That's what my dear spouse just said.
"Cook it on a bed of hot charcoal."
'Cause I'm anxious about Thanksgiving
Don't know why I offered to host again.
I tell you now, this is the last time.


There's no way we're grilling, it just won't fit.
With no time to dig a barbecue pit,
I tell my spouse, "Go get some more charcoal.
Everyone will love it," I reassure.
"Every hour you'll check the temperature.
When it's done, I'll have mine with a roll."

"So grill it and bake the rest,"
That's what my dear spouse just said.
"Cook it on a bed of hot charcoal."
'Cause I'm wonderin' about Thanksgiving.
Don't know why I offered to host again.
I tell you now, this might be OK.

But the grill is just a little Weber
Not a big gas-fueled number.
The vents are clogged and we're out of mesquite chips.
"It doesn't matter," my hubby reasoned.
"The meat will cook, the outside's seasoned.
Don't worry now. Just enjoy the day."

"So grill it and bake the rest,"
That's what my dear spouse just said.
"Cook it on a bed of hot charcoal."
'Cause I'm excited about Thanksgiving
Don't know why I offered to host again.
But in hindsight, not a bad idea.

'Cause I'm really loving Thanksgiving
So glad I offered to host again.
I tell you now, I've never felt so blest!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving is Coming - Like it or Not

This time of year seems to be all about countdowns. A coping device, they help us brace ourselves for the inevitable. And they're all over the news.

There are countdowns to the dreaded fiscal cliff, Black Friday (now, disturbingly, elbowing its way into Thanksgiving Thursday), the end of the world (per that murky and oft-misinterpreted Mayan calendar) and, if that doesn't happen, Christmas and New Year's.

Like I need more pressure in my life.

Taking matters into my own hands, I create lists. I love lists. They bring order to my life and help me retain an air of organization about me when all others are losing theirs.

In fact, I just sent out a Thanksgiving Prep list to my sisters. While I am hosting the affair, we always divvy up the menu. Now that that's done, I can prepare my shopping list. How do I know how much to get? I check my guest list.

I think you get the picture.

Lists are empowering. They make even the most daunting task seem do-able by breaking it down line item by line item.

So ignore all those countdowns meant to fill us with dread and enjoy my own Thanksgiving tale instead.