XTERRA Richmond 21K Trail Run 2015

About three months ago, on the eve of the Shamrock Half Marathon, I sat at the table of our rented beach house recording future training run distances on a calendar.  I should have been sleeping, but I instead needed to know what was going to come next.  I’ve set the far-off goal of completing the Richmond Marathon in November, but I needed a few shorter races in the meantime to keep me focused and motivated.  First up….XTERRA Richmond 21K Trail Run.  Today was the day!

My training leading up to the race went well.  I ran Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday most weeks, alternating between a hilly three mile loop in our neighborhood before school and the treadmill at the Y in the afternoons.  The highlight of each week was my long run on Saturday mornings.  As the weather warmed up and dried out, I tried to do as many of these runs on the trail as possible.  I twice logged miles on the Buttermilk Trail in Richmond.  My last two long runs were on Liberty Mountain (11 miles) and on the trails parallel to the Blackwater Creek Trail (12 miles)…two of my favorite spots in Lynchburg.  With school getting out this past week, I was also able to catch up on lost hours of sleep.  I was feeling ready!

Our family headed to Richmond Friday after lunch, and we stopped at REI before making our way to Grandma’s house.  We downed a great pre-race meal from Joe’s Inn and then took the kids for a quick swim before bedtime.  Grandma and the little people decided to sleep in the tent in the backyard, so I got to sleep fairly quickly.  I slept completely unencumbered by any pesky snugglers.  It was beautiful.

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We had decided that Jay would take me to the start, and the rest of the family would wait at the Reedy Creek Tunnel aid station.  From there they would be able to see me three times during the race.   Jay was kind enough to drop me off near the start so that I could pick up my packet while he went to park the car.

Bag checked.  Porta-Potty visited.  Bib pinned.  Husband hugged.  Before picture taken.  Let’s do this!


The first mile and a half were ridiculously hot.  We started in the Brown’s Island/Tredegar area and ran past this cool spot, over a bridge, and across the Flood Wall.  I blew through the first aid station way too fast.  I grabbed only one cup of water and ended up pouring most of it on me.  I promised myself that at all other aid stations I was going to slow down and actually drink something.  I know that I should have expected the heat when signing up for a race in Richmond in June, but I’m not going to lie…it caught me off guard.  Even at 8am, the sun felt pretty brutal, but I kept trucking knowing that we would get to the trail soon.  I was so relieved when we finally dipped down into the shade.

I don’t remember much of the next section except for the steps that RVA-ers call the “Mayan Ruins.”   The runners in front of me had come to a slow crawl up these steep steps.  For half a second I was a bit annoyed.  Then I realized that I couldn’t have moved any faster than we were already going, and I quickly got over myself.  Two girls behind me decided they were taking the road less traveled and went up the steps that were around to the right.  I think they realized it wasn’t any faster, however, when they ended up right back behind me at the top.

The main thing that kept me going was knowing that my family was waiting for me at the Forest Hills Park aid station.  I could hear them cheering before I could see them.  Both kids wanted to give me a hug, and I gladly obliged.  I dumped a couple more cups of water on myself, downed a few, grabbed a gel, and kept going.  There were several switchbacks right above their watching spot, so I got to see (and hear) them a few more times.  By this first loop of the park, there were a handful of us that were all doing about the same pace together.  One guy behind me told me that it was his fourth time doing this race, and warned me to save my energy for the second loop.  Turns out I felt much better the second time around.  I think it had to do with the fact that I had at least a little bit of an idea how far I had left to go.  There were no mile markers, so the first time around I just kept wondering how close I was to seeing my family again.

I remember a few other things from the park loop.  At one point we crossed a creek.  Both times over it I dipped down and splashed water on myself to try to cool off.  It helped for about 30 seconds.  :)  Right before the aid station there was a really skinny cement bridge to cross.  I remember being a tad bit nervous that I would run right off the thing, but I was too embarrassed to slow down and walk.  The second time around there was an old man standing at the end with a big bouquet of sunflowers.  Somebody behind me joked, “Oh, how nice! You brought me flowers!”  He didn’t seem to get it…just confused why several sweaty people were running straight at him.

During this section I also remember contemplating some of the differences between road races and trail races.  This is only my second trail race, and there’s this whole new added element of passing people that you don’t really have to worry about on a wide road.  Several times I heard people right behind me that I thought wanted to pass, but it turns out they seemed to be fine with following my slow, slogging pace.  Other times I got right up behind somebody else and then had to really convince myself that I had enough juice to pass them and then stay in front.  More than once those people passed me again at the aid stations while I was busy dumping cups of cold water on my head.  I also got lapped in the park loop by three or four of the guys who went on to win the race.  Impressive.

After I passed my family for the third time, I headed into the Reedy Creek Tunnel where the race volunteer promised me air conditioning.  I admit I was so out of it at that point that I believed her for a half a second.  Ha.  The water crossing that I had heard about turned out to just be maybe three inches of running water.  No biggie.  My favorite part of the whole race, however, was the bouldering we had to do to cross the river.  I’m sure my tired self bounding crawling over the huge rocks was quite a site, but the race volunteers were quite encouraging at this point.  One guy said something like, “Just power yourself over to that big rock, climb this ladder, and then you’re in the shade!”  I joked to him, “I don’t think I’ll be powering anywhere at this point,” as I basically slid down the rock on my butt and then leaned forward to catch the next one with my hands.  I’m certain he was lying, but he said, “Looked pretty powerful to me,” as I climbed the ladder.  I’ll take it.

By the time I was winding my way through Belle Isle, I was alone.  No more leap frogging with runners around me.  At this point I was really thankful for the hundreds of signs put up by the trail organizers because I never worried that I was going to get lost.  As I came out of the wooded trails, I was relieved to see the suspended bridge because I knew we were almost done, but the section right before it was especially hot.  It was at this point that I realized that my goal of 12 minute miles was out of the picture.  I just kept trying to remind myself to finish and finish well.

On the road between the suspended bridge and the finish, I started leap frogging again with another tired runner.  He would walk, and I would jog slowly past him.  Then he got up enough speed to pass me, and I didn’t have it in me to power past him.  As we approached the finish line, cheered on by three especially great volunteers, I had passed him.  But at the very last stretch, he tried to pass me one final time.  I sprinted with everything I had left (which wasn’t much), and it appeared we crossed at exactly the same moment.  Turns out the official race results say I beat him by exactly one second.  Woot!  It’s the little victories, huh?  My final time was 2:36:13 which was a pace of 12:29 per mile.

I found Jay, drank a few more cups of water, and we sat in the shade a while to cool down.  We then went for a kid-free post race meal at Millie’s, a restaurant I read about in another runner’s blog.   I got the Huevos Rancheros, and it was absolutely amazing.  Go there!

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Jay asked me when I was done if I’d run this race again.  Definitely, yes.  Here’s my quick list of grows and glows to sum it up:

Mile markers.  Maybe this is taboo in a trail race, but I really like knowing how far I have left to go.
Finish line.   The race course took a sharp turn at the very end, which meant you couldn’t see the finish to gauge how far you had left to go.  I’m always leery of starting to sprint too soon, and this time I waited too long.
Heat.  Maybe the race organizers could work on that for next year?  JK.  More like, maybe I need to do a few mid-day training runs so I’m not such a wimp.

Course.  The race is called an “urban adventure,” and they aren’t joking.  I liked how varied the trail was, and the runners really got a few beautiful views of the city.
People.  The volunteers were helpful, and so were the runners.
Signage.  I never really had to worry about getting lost.
Family.  It was SO good to have them waiting for me at Reedy Creek.  I’m not sure what else would have kept me going!
I finished!  Though I didn’t make my goal of 12 min pace, I am choosing to be excited that I completed this tough course, with a smile, injury free.


Now on to training for the next race!  Up next:  Percival’s Island 5 Miler.

Spring Mememberies

Chica doesn’t talk about her Memembery Book anymore, but I still think that I need one.  Here’s the spring 2015 edition…

1.  In March, I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach.  My time was right under  two hours, and I couldn’t have been more pleased.  Two of my favorite mememberies from that weekend include biking to the start in the dark with Jay and seeing my sweet family on the course twice.  While I was there, I mapped out my racing and training plan for the next six months or so.  I’ve got 4 races on the calendar:  XTERRA Richmond in June, Percival’s Island Five Miler in July, Virginia 10 Miler in September, and the Richmond Marathon in November.  I am SO enjoying the training right now.
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2.  Each year our fourth graders go on an overnight field trip to an outdoor education camp.  This year we tried out a new location, W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center, and we loved it!  We went canoeing, fishing, tried out archery, held snakes, made s’mores by the campfire, practiced using a compass, and learned how to start a fire without matches.  I have three favorite mememberies from our time there….an early morning run with two mommas, playing adults vs. kids soccer, and a hilarious dinner conversation about the birds and the bees chickens and puppies.  Ask me sometime about the unfortunate consequences of having an OB-GYN doc for a mom.  :)


3.  Thanks to a too-good-to-pass-up Groupon deal, our family of four took a quick Spring Break trip to DC.  We stayed in Tyson’s Corner and took the Metro into the city two different days.  On our first day there we went to the new air & space museum and visited a friend’s church for his Saturday evening service.  On Sunday we toured the zoo, ate at Hard Rock Cafe, and checked out the Building Museum.  Monday was monument day, and we made quite the trek:  Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial.  We ate a very tired lunch at McDonald’s across from the White House then headed home.  A few of my favorite mememberies were watching Chica learn how to read the Metro map, a paper airplane contest in the air & space museum, and the gift from Jay of a free hour to sip sangria and read in the hotel restaurant.

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4.  For her birthday, grandma gifted Chica with a weekend at Mom & Me at Eagle Eyrie.  We met my friend Stephanie and her daughter Gracie there.  Chica had a fabulous time, and I had fun watching her have fun.  I’m not sure what she would offer as her favorite part, but I enjoyed packing shoeboxes, eating ice cream, visiting with Stephanie, and just having a chance to focus on one kid.

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5.  We spent Mother’s Day in Richmond with my mom.  It was delightful.  Saturday morning I got to go on a long trail run on the Buttermilk Trail.  After my run I took several laps around the South of the James Farmer’s Market in Forest Hill Park.  The rest of the time we mostly rested and cooked.  I used this weekend as an excuse to try out two new recipes:  stuffed shells and spinach salad.  They were keepers, and I have repeated both once since that weekend.  A few more mememberies from that weekend include an early morning walk with my mom, fishing with the kids and Grandma on the dock, and a brief photo shoot with Jay. He wanted me to try to capture a new head shot he could use for work and school:


6.  The other major event for that weekend was applying for college.  What the what!?!  I know….as if two kids, a job, a husband, a house, and marathon training were not enough, I’ve decided to start working on my masters.  Woohoo!  I’m going to working on a M.A. in Mathematics Education (K-6) from Western Governors University.  If all goes well with my admissions interview this week, I start July 1.  I can’t wait, actually.  Here’s my excited-but-whattheheckhaveigotteninto face:

7.  The very next weekend brought a long awaited visit from my college friend, Sarah-Anne.  She arrived the day of my final SOL, so I was able to take off the next day to spend with her and three other college friends in Richmond.  Perhaps my favorite part of her visit is that life just continued to happen ’round here, and she got to be a part of it.  Doing dishes, packing lunches, going for weekend long runs, hanging out with my momma….it was fun to do all of those things together.  I felt blessed to be able to do Friday kid-free so that I could soak in the sweetness of my friends’ kids instead of worrying about mine.   Also, Saturday morning SAL and I returned to the same farmer’s market from the weekend before.  My mom gave us each $20 to spend, and we eeked every cent out of it…goat cheese, quinoa bowl, ripe strawberries, fresh juice, crepe, homemade granola bar, and snap peas.  Yum.

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8.  We were double blessed with cross country guests that weekend.  Uncle Justin and Aunt Rachel came in from California, and we were able to celebrate the upcoming birth of the latest baby Proffitt.  At some point during the weekend Bubba caught wind of the fact that there was a baby growing in Rachel’s belly and asked, “Can I pet it?”  I think that story is going to get a lot of miles!  Chica and I thoroughly enjoyed the baby shower together.  We so can’t wait to meet Baby Proffitt!

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9.  My kids really rocked their SOL tests.  I am so proud of them.  As promised, they were rewarded with extra recess, popsicles, and the privilege of pieing me.  Here’s the video of me getting pied for your viewing pleasure….


10.  And finally, this past week Jay and I treated four fun fourth graders to an afternoon of Science & S’mores.  This was a silent auction idea that we dreamed up for our spring carnival.  We microwaved ivory soap, made everyone’s favorite non-Newtonian fluid, played with snap circuits, attempted a popsicle stick chain reaction, and…best of all…played with dry ice to our hearts’ content.

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Since we never really got the popsicle thing to work at school, we of course had to try it again at home:


11.  I was going to stop at 10 mememberies, but I found this picture in my phone as I was looking at others.  It was too good to pass up.  Bubba insisted on wearing his bowtie to school twice this week.  He would have worn it a third day, but he ran out of clean polo shirts.  He’s convinced that button down shirts need neckties, not bowties.  I’m certain he won’t stop asking about it until he gets one.  Funny guy.

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How about you, friends?  What’s your favorite spring memembery?  I hope you’ll leave me a comment and share!



When There’s No School Monday

In my book, three day weekends are permission to take two full days off.  Why waste a perfectly beautiful, almost-summer day grading papers and answering emails when you can save that for Monday?!

So yesterday after I had finished my Saturday morning long run, Jay reminded me that it was almost time for him to retire to the bat cave for a full day of paper writing.  (Unfortunately the three day weekend rule doesn’t apply to master’s students.  Bummer.)  I knew that in order to keep both of us from losing our minds, the little people and I needed to vacate the premises.  It took a while to decide on a destination, but I finally landed on Holiday Lake.

Before lunch we fished from the dock and checked out what the rangers had to offer at the “touch table”.  After lunch we visited with the rangers again to make an owl craft.  I think perhaps the two poor guys had seen enough of us, so they suggested a short-ish hike to an overlook for us.  I finally took out my camera at this point…


Bubba thought this tree looked like a train.  Minutes later, he got too close to the bank and completely submerged one of his boots.  He wasn’t such a happy hiker after that._MG_8608

Chica is into maps these days.  She was our navigator.

I love this picture that Chica took…

And of course if you let one try the camera, you have to let the other.

Here’s where I count my kairos moments for the day.  I just sat on the bank watching them throw rock after rock after rock into the water.  This never gets old…for me or them.


We visited the rangers one more time and tried out their casting station.  So fun!  I’ve already put this Backyard Bass set on our upcoming Christmas list!

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We ended the day with a few more minutes of real fishing and ice cream on the way home.  Bubba had missed his nap, so he slept on the way home and then even longer once we got back.  Perfect.

Come summer.  Come long, peaceful days of new adventures.

Halfway is Okay

Every once in a while I have all of my stuff together.  The other 51 weeks in the year, I feel like I’m barely making it.

I figured out a long time ago that one obvious solution to this coming-apart-at-the-seams feeling is to just pick one or two areas of my life to do really well at any given time and just let the rest sort of coast.  Sometimes this means I’m kicking butt at schoolwork while my house is a disaster.  Other times I’m taking great care of my body with lots of running and cooking while the ungraded papers start to pile up.  And when the undone feeling in that neglected area gets too great, I spend a day or two catching up and readjust my focus for the next week or so.  I’ve come to be fine with this rhythm.  At peace with it, actually.

I can’t say that the work is finished or that somehow I can fully describe to you what has happened, but this has been a school year of Jesus readjusting my priorities in an even bigger way.  And as lame as this might sound, I have to admit that it started with the long delayed obedience of quitting the Facebooks.  It took me a while to connect those two dots…my prayer for readjusted priorities and Jesus’ call to give up this huge time suck on my life.  But…uh…hello!?!  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Give up this thing that brings no glory to anyone but myself and gain time to bring glory to Jesus.

It’s still a work in progress, but I just feel myself finally pouring less of myself into the bring-glory-to-me things and more into the bring-glory-to-Him things.

So somehow this is all connected to what I thought I was going to write about when I sat down here…my dining room floor.

It’s disgusting really.

Tonight after dinner I noticed just how bad it was.  But I decided not to clean it.

I decided to load the dishwasher and put the leftovers away but leave the floor.  My family was outside in the front yard ready to go for a walk. The bits of paper and the crumbs and the who knows what else can wait.  As I shut the front door I chimed to Jay for the third or fourth time this weekend, “Halfway is okay*!”  And we walked, and it was fun.  We waved at new neighbors and watched helicopter seeds twirl and practiced looking both ways at stop signs.  There was Bubba poking Jay in the butt and Jay pooting in Bubba’s poor face and lots and lots of laughs.  The dining room floor is still waiting, and no one cares.

So just in case you need permission tonight, friends, halfway really is okay.

Clean half of the dishes.
Grade half of the papers.
Eat half of your meals healthy this week.
Or go for a half mile walk instead of none.
Put away half of the laundry.

And use the rest of the time to snuggle a few more minutes or shoot a few more hoops on the driveway or read another book at bedtime.  You’ll be glad you did.

Less glory for me; more glory for Him.

*P.S. While I wholeheartedly believe that, “Halfway is okay,” applies to any and all housework situations, there are plenty of occasions where this mantra does not apply.  Say, for example, keeping matches away from little people, baking chicken, or covering private parts.  Use responsibly.

I’m Done Deciding What’s For Dinner

2-24-15.  I wrote that date on the bathroom mirror and the number that showed on the scale.  I could no longer button 95% of my pants comfortably.  Enough feeling sorry for myself and pouting.  It was time to make a change.

Step 1:  Overhaul the weekly menu plan.  Our predictable rotation of pizza, hamburgers, pasta, pancakes, and nuggets just wasn’t cutting it.  The kids were happy with it, and cooking was easy.  But that miserable feeling each morning of trying on four pairs of pants that don’t fit trumps happy and easy.  Ugh.

So like every other week for nearly the past 10 years, I got out the yellow spiral notepad and tried to decide what we would have.  Another ugh.

Enter Why-Didn’t-I-Try-This-Idea-Sooner #167:  A four week menu plan.  Hello!?!

I remember I spent one of our many snow days creating it.  Four weeks seemed long enough that it wouldn’t feel like we were always eating the same thing, but short enough that I could come up with enough different ideas to make it work.  I typed it up in Google Sheets, shared it with Jay, and verified with him that it wasn’t too heavy on the Mexican themed meals.  He agreed.  Woot!

I’ve been done deciding what’s for dinner for a little over two months now…I just see what’s next and plan my grocery list accordingly.  Sure, I still have to figure out which meal goes which night each week, but the hard part’s already done for me.  And because I needed some sort of break from grading SOL review papers this afternoon and I have a few friends who have seemed at least a little interested in the idea, I decided to share it with you.  So…here goes…

Week 1

Grilled Chicken with Fiesta Bean Salad  We have grilled chicken once each week because neither of us get tired of it, and it’s one of the few proteins both kids will eat.  Most weeks we get it from Fresh Market on Tuesdays when it’s on sale for $2.99 a pound.  That husband of mine knows how to cook a pretty perfect piece of chicken.  If you come to eat at our house some night, this is most likely what we’ll feed you.

Santa Fe Turkey Stuffed Peppers  If you follow any of the links, you’ll discover pretty quickly that they all come from Skinnytaste.com.  I found her site several years ago when we were doing Weight Watchers because all of her recipes have points values included.  I can honestly say that we’ve never cooked something from this site that we didn’t like….this one included!

Crock Pot Creamy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese  Since I made my meal plan in the winter, I have a soup each week.  This is one I’m ready to swap out already for something more summer-friendly.  I also have a crock pot meal each week, so it would be great to find something that can cook all day to replace it.  Send me your ideas if you have any!

Baked tilapia, quinoa, & steamed broccoli  I know it’s not the healthiest way to eat it, but we get breaded filets from Sam’s.  This is our gotta-have-dinner-ready-quick-night meal, so I try to keep it as simple as possible.  We get these microwaveable bags of rice and quinoa, and I also steam the broccoli in the microwave.  So easy.

Week 2

Grilled chicken with edamame & strawberries I’m going to just go ahead and admit that my kids don’t eat much of these things on my menu.  I know it goes against all good advice when it comes to feeding little people, but I often end up fixing them something different.  I still give them mostly healthy choices (*see my list below), but it’s just not a battle that I’m up for fighting right now.  I keep offering the other stuff and hoping that by the time they get to college, maybe they’ll learn to eat real food like I did!  All that being said, this is a meal they actually love!  We’ve tried these two brands of edamame recently, and both were great from the microwave tossed with a little bit of salt.

Taco salads Nothing fancy here.  We usually do 1 lb. of hamburger, lettuce, a few chips, cheese, diced peppers, and the best salsa ever.  This week we’re having company, and I need to have it ready when I get home.  I learned from my friend Ashley that you can just put chicken breasts in the crock put, dump a jar of salsa over it, and leave it on low all day for perfectly shred-able chicken when you get home.  That’s how we’ll have it this week!

Crock Put Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps  I was mostly joking when I suggested this recipe to Jay.  He agreed to try it, and it has turned out to be one of his favorites.  Who knew?  We’ve been using the living butter lettuce for the wraps with broccoli slaw and blue cheese dressing for the topping.

Kale and Potato Soup with Turkey Sausage This is another one that I was surprised that Jay liked, however it’s time to swap it out for something that doesn’t make you think of a cold, rainy day.  This week we’re going to try this pasta recipe as a possibility.  We’ll see how it goes.

Week 3

Grilled chicken with roasted veggies  I like to cut up peppers, zucchini, squash, red onion, and a few potatoes for my roasted veggies.  Broccoli and mushrooms work well too.  I toss them with olive oil, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, and red pepper flakes.  I just make it up as I go along each time, but here’s the basic idea if you need a recipe.

Shepherd’s Pie  This is definitely one the kids won’t touch.  The good part about that, though, is that lunches are done for Jay and me for the next 2 days.  We only plan to cook 3 or 4 meals a week because we can cover the rest of the days with leftovers, the occasional dinner out, or a meal with the in-laws.

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili  Jay’s instructions were to go easy on the cumin and chili powder meals, but this is one I just couldn’t pass up.  We have a standing agreement that he’ll eat it for dinner and maybe one day’s worth of leftovers, but I have to take care of all the rest.  Fine by me.  This is a ridiculously easy recipe, and it makes a ton.  Give it a try the next time you have to feed a bunch of hungry people!

Petite Crust-less Quiche, asparagus, quinoa  Last time I made this I used ham instead of the sausage that the recipe calls for.  The kiddos will eat ham on a good day, so they had it on the same night as us.  When I cook the asparagus, I use a little bit of olive oil, garlic salt, and crushed red pepper and put them under the broiler until they are crunchy.  Yum.

Week 4

Salads with grilled chicken  I could eat this several times a week, but Jay…not so much.  Most weeks I end up eating the leftover chicken on a salad a few times as my lunch.  This is our favorite dressing these days.

Pasta  Nothing especially creative here.  The kids like pasta (Bubba with sauce…Chica without), so it’s another meal where I don’t have to think too hard.  We’ve lightened it up by cutting the amount of pasta we’re eating, halving the amount of ground beef, and adding sautéed zucchini, squash, peppers, and onions to make it seem like a bigger meal.

Slow Cooker Pork and Green Chile Stew  This is a really ugly meal, but it’s so yummy and easy!  Don’t skip the avocado if you try it.

Mini Meatloaves, green beans, strawberries  My only meal from a real cookbook!  I did some digging and found the recipe online though.  Here it is.  I like to use ground turkey for this.  I used to serve this with mashed potatoes or rice, but now I try to skip the extra starch.

*What the little people eat…
Main dishes:  English muffins with Laughing Cow cheese or pizza toppings, mac & cheese, cheese toast, ham, chicken nuggets, grilled chicken, pasta
Sides:  yogurt, applesauce, craisins, bananas, apples, edamame, broccoli (under duress), carrots, grapes, cucumbers, pretzels, Cheez-Its, pepperonis, strawberries


So…there you have it.  All you never wanted to know about what we eat in our house.  Maybe you do your menu planning every day at 5:30, each weekend, or once every two weeks.  Whenever it happens at your house, maybe you’ve found a new idea or two you can use here!

I’d love for you to leave me a comment with your go-to healthy dinner idea.  Once Jay has finally had enough of the taco chili or salads with chicken, I’ll have a new idea ready to go!

P.S.  I realized I started out by saying that my menu overhaul was step #1 to getting back into those pants I couldn’t wear.  We’ve done lots of other things, but it all really boils down to this:  Eat less.  Move more.  Two months later….my pants fit again.  Woot!

Bathing Suits, Ice Cubes, and the Kingdom

As a parent of two kids, having only one kid around reminds me of bathing suits.

I remember from my swim team days that the really good, big kids would wear two bathing suits sometimes to practice.  The idea was that two suits = more drag = more work = stronger muscles.  Then when the meet would come and they’d wear only one suit, swimming would be noticeably easier.

Hear me:  I’m not at all suggesting that my two kids are a drag.  I promise.

I’m just saying that they are constantly working out my parenting muscles, and when I get the unexpected blessing of hanging out with just one of them, I sometimes feel that easy-breezy feeling of swimming with just one suit.

Tonight would be no exception.

Chica is spending the night with Nana so that she can get to her early morning violin lesson on time.  While Jay drove her over, Bubba and I were left to finish cleaning up dinner and do bedtime.  Chica’s usually our resident table clearer, so without her here, I tagged Bubba for the job.  This was after, of course, surveying that what was left on the table was (mostly) three-year-old friendly.

His first instructions were to put his cup in the sink and his straw in the trashcan.  Easy enough, right?

Next thing I know all of the water from his cup is dripping down the cabinet and into a puddle in front of the sink.  Not easy enough, apparently.

This is what I wanted to say:  “Bubbaaaaaaaa!!!!!  Ugggghhhhhh!!!!  How hard could it be???  Seriously?  Get out of here and sit on the sofa.  For a long time.  Now!”  And again for effect, “Ughhhhh!!!”

Maybe it was the one kid/bathing suit thing.  Maybe it was his sweet little stunned look.  Maybe it was me finally learning to listen to Jesus in the moments that count.  Whatever the reason, I took a nice long pause, and instead managed a calm, “Why did that happen?”

“I was trying to pour the water into the sink through my straw.”

“That was a bad choice, Bub.  What will you do next time?”

He points, “Straw-trashcan.  Cup-sink.”

“You’re right.  Like I asked you to.”  Still with a calm that I so rarely manage, “Well, what do you think we should do now?”

“I don’t know.”

While it occurred to me that his answer might have been in an attempt to avoid what was coming next, it is also entirely possible that he just didn’t know what to do.  Chica usually fetches the spill cleaner-uppers (aka leftover cloth diapers), so with her gone, I figured this was a good time for him to learn.

“Come with me.  I’ll show you where the good towels are.”

So I proceeded to show him how to open up the towel wide, lay it on the spill, and wipe back and forth.  He was rather bothered by the bunching up at first, but he quickly got over it…and then into it actually!  Realizing it was going to take a while, I went back to loading the dishwasher.  Despite my calmness, I also decided that one spill was plenty for this night, so I finished clearing the table myself.

At one point I grabbed somebody’s cup that held a few leftover ice cubes.  Not thinking, I slung them into the sink and onto a metal baking sheet….right above where Bubba was working.

“Whoa!  That was loud, Mommy.”

“You’re right, Bub.  Sorry.”

“You made a bad choice, Mommy.”

“Well….I’m not sure it was a bad choice.  I was just dumping the cup out, and it hit the pan.”

And then, with exactly the same tone I had used on him minutes earlier…

“Where should you put the ice next time, Mommy?”

Yes, I did eventually answer him, but only after laughing out loud.  Touché, Bubba.  Touché.


My prayer these days is to live in the Kingdom.  By some strange path, bathing suits and a spilled cup of water and my funny little Bubba have all lead me back there, back here, to contemplating the Kingdom some more.

I hold lots of jobs as Mom.  Dishwasher loader.  Backpack emptier.  Bath giver.  Booboo patcher.  Smoothie maker.

I’m starting to think I should maybe add Kingdom tour guide to my résumé.  Even though I admittedly don’t fully get it myself, I am introducing them to a kingdom….whether it be my own or the Kingdom.

What will they see?

Blessed are the merciful…
Or blessed are the ones that don’t make a mess?

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles…
Or give a little extra only when you don’t have homework and aren’t too tired?

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…
Or seek first the approval and admiration of others?


Jesus, give me the strength to introduce my two little people to your kingdom, one spilled glass at a time.

Lessons From a Violin Concert

Dear Chica,

I underestimated you.  Forgive me.

Tonight was the night of your first Suzuki Marathon Festival.  Despite the struggle it was to help you and Bubba quietly endure many, many minutes of sitting and listening, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I hope it was the first of many.

As the songs got shorter and so did the players, we all were anticipating when they’d flash that Lightly Row poster.  Even Bubba.  The moment finally came, and up you waltzed behind that red curtain, violin tucked under your arm just like you’ve learned.

Only problem was, you kept on waltzing in your signature Chica way.  Right onto the stage.  Two songs too soon.


Your daddy and I panicked a bit for you.  We were absolutely sure that you would lose it as soon as you realized everyone else was playing a song you didn’t know.  We both pictured you running off the stage and melting into a puddle of tears.  I tried hard to catch your gaze, ready to wave you back off if you looked my way.

But you never did.  Girl friend, you faked it.  Beautifully.

You faked it so well that for a minute I thought, “Maybe she knows that song after all. Maybe this is the one they’ve just started, and she knows more than we all think she does.”

But no.  You had no clue, but nobody could tell.  You just rolled with it.  We underestimated you big time.

Afterwards, as we got in the car, I told you again how proud I was of how you had handled yourself.  Can I just remind you your priceless response?

“Well…what was I supposed to do?  I would have looked like a fool if I had run off the stage.”

Sometimes you are so wise.

So, Chica, let me just go ahead and fill you in on the fact that this certainly won’t be the last time that you may want to run, but it will often be best to just fake it:

Your first real soccer game.
Tryouts for the school play.
That job interview you thought you’d never land.
Your first day of your first job.
Your entire first year (or 5?) of being Mrs. Somebody.

Oh…and without a doubt…that day they wrap a pink little baby up in a blanket and tell you you’re actually allowed to take her home.  That day I can guarantee you won’t know the song.  Don’t run.  You’ll look a fool.  Instead, just copy those around you that are doing it well.

Nobody will know.  Well…maybe I’ll know because I’ve been there.  But you’ll fool the rest of them.  I’m sure of it.

I love you,