Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Life's Little Lessons

You never know when you'll come across a teaching opportunity with your kids. Sometimes, it's when a stranger is yelling obscenities at you in the grocery store parking lot.

I went to the grocery store during peak traffic the other day. There was a decent open space, but it was on the other side of the 2-way aisle. I knew that rush hour shopping was not the time for a 3-point turn to make the space. I drove around so I could come at it from the right side. (Keeping my fingers crossed that it'd be there when I got back around, of course.)

As I'm turning the wheel to pull into the space, a lady coming from the opposite direction punches the gas. At this point, my front right tire is crossing the edge of the white line, yet she turns on her blinker to claim the space. Huh?! I finish pulling into the space.

She waits behind my car for me to step out, with her window rolled down. I got out, to be immediately hailed with a "You took my space. I had on my blinker. Are you blind?"

Wow. My reply "It's on my side. I pulled around to take this spot without tying up the aisle. You came in after me."

Her reply, a little louder this time, "It's 2-way. You have no right to that space."

"You know, I didn't do anything wrong by taking this space."

"You stole my space." A little louder this time.

"No, I didn't. Look, it's obviously way more important to you than me, though,and I'm feeling pretty good today. Tell you what, I'll move, you can have the space." (Wow. I wish I could make that more eloquent, but that's what I said.)

As I turn to climb back in my car and move, she screams out "you're an asshole!"
To make things even stranger, she drove off when I put my truck in reverse. Somebody else took the space, and I moved to the space that had opened 3-4 spaces further down the aisle.

Yes, that's right. At this point, spaces had opened on both sides.

All in all, a strange incident. I can only assume this nicely dressed woman (late 40's-early 50's) in her shiny sedan was having a bad day, and felt the situation called for an avenging angel, ala Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes. That I wasn't an obnoxious teenager trying to be rude didn't fit her scenario, so was skipped over in her fury.

Where's the teaching opportunity? I'm getting to that.

"Mom? Why'd that lady call you that?"

"I'm guessing she's having a bad day, Ben. She thought she ought to get that parking space, so I was going to give it to her."

"But, if you gave her the space, why'd she yell at you?"

"Because the space wasn't what she wanted anymore, honey. She just wanted somebody to yell at."

We headed into the store. In the produce section, near the apples, "Hey mom! There's that lady that called you an asshole!"

"Ben, I told you not to repeat that word." I said as I turned around, to face the extremely embarrassed woman walk off in a huff. She had no idea there had been an audience, apparently.

"I love you, Ben."

We had a short talk during the rest of our shopping about why lashing out in a temper is not a good idea. It does come back to you in some way, just like that cranky woman, who was avoiding aisles when she saw us.

It was also a chance to talk about letting things go, instead of getting angry. The person who lashes out changes their whole day by doing so. By shrugging my shoulders and going on with my day, we were focusing on brownie mix-ins, instead of angry words.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More MyShape

Rebecca emailed me after yesterday's review of the skirt and the MyShape shopping experience. She wanted to know about my answers to the profile questions about fit. She also mentioned the relatively small number of recommendations for her.

I think the recommendations will increase in both number and variety as she adds more information to her profile. I tinkered with the fit preferences several times, first to add information, then to change it after seeing the first round of suggestions.

My personal shop was originally front loaded with loose, flowing bubble tops and other items which would hang right off my broad shoulders. As so many other moms, the last thing I want is to be given the "is she or isn't she" look. I went back into the preferences. I found that a "close fitting" on shoulders and bust moved clothing with empire waists and wraps ahead of the bubbles. Waist-comfortable. Hips-loose. And pants were listed at below the waist (.5-1.5 in)

If you're wondering about the types of suggestions, there's individual items, complete with size recommendations. There is also a section for Play/Work/Going Out outfits. Here are a few of my 'M Shape' recommended outfits:I can see myself in any of these outfits. I like the way they're presented. It's easy to look at these and think about combinations I could make with items I already have in my closet. For example, I have a pair of slightly faded black pinstripe pants which I could use in either of those first two outfits. White tee and black cami are both in my drawer, so the sweater and jacket is all I'd need to finish these off. And... I have a creamy heavier knit shrug which I could use for a cold weather version of the first outfit.

I could easily use my 3/4 sleeve scoop-neck black tee with either those cargos or skirt. I really like the shape & pattern of the skirt ($60), and it's going on my wish list, if I can figure out which skirt(s) would have to go before I brought this in. I like the cargos, and do need to replace my old size 10 favorites, but would probably choose a different material than the silk MyShape carries.

About prints:
I'm not as big on the prints. Of the two above, I'd only wear one. That first photo is of the lovely ABS Hippie Shirt. I would not wear this. Ever. Wait. I have to modify that slightly. If someone I loved dearly bought this shirt and gave it to me, I'd wear it only on occasions when I'd be seeing this person. Then, I'd take away the checkbook, for having the lack of common sense to spend $242 on a piece of "hippie" clothing. It would actually make a beautiful skirt, but I'm not putting that on my top.

I find the second print strangely appealing. It's not just the cut, which I love. It's the fabric pattern, too. The Sweet Pea floral shirt is a happy shirt. At $72, I'm not racing to purchase it, but I'll keep an eye out during the next round of sales.

Now for the dressies, as my daughter used to say. The first dress is by Elana KaHan. It's really lovely. I can see myself in this twirly skirt on an evening out for dinner and the symphony. It's spun nylon, and a beautiful deep green. I can't remember the exact price, but think it's in the $120-150 range. Not bad, if it were to be the official dressy for a few years.

The second dress has a wonderful vintage feel. The cut of the sleeves and the smocked shoulders are both well-suited to me. It's soft jersey (cozy!) and $118. This is probably the better price per wear dress, as it could be dressed up with jewelry and heels, or go to the office with a sweater and flats.

The final item in the photo calls to my inner princess. That should warn me off right there, since I was actually a tomboy as a kid. Kay Ungers Ottoman Coat. It. Is. Beautiful. It wants to be mine. If I had the $462 to spend on a single item, I probably still wouldn't. But I'd want to.

Anyway, MyShape is running a 25% off sale for everyone with a personal shop for the last 3 days of January. If you browse through the sale items, there are quite a few bargains. I'm picking up the washable suede snap front jacket ($49, less 25%) from the first photo, so hands off.

Lemons... Lemonade

It's a good news, bad news kind of a day. Bad news - two of my children are home with the upper respiratory ick I had last week. Good news - it's a milder case than I had. More good news - one of the children home is of the teenage variety.

As long as they are both comfortably resting and have the phone handy, I will be able go for a short run before picking my healthy daughter up from school this afternoon. (Yea!)

Less than two weeks to the Chattahoochee Challenge 10k.... gotta run.

Monday, January 28, 2008

MyShape Test - The Skirt

I'm almost back to human after the flu, so I figured I'd dress like a real person today. Pulled the denim skirt I picked out from my personal shop at MyShape. It was the perfect choice for today, since I'm still in the mood for cozy t-shirts and warm tights.

Of the MyShape body types, I am an M. I was skeptical - was sure I should have been type Y. When I first pulled this skirt from the box late last week; it just looked like the waist would be too small for me. Maybe I just have a slightly more distorted body image than I thought.

When I tried it on, it fit. It sits slightly higher on the waist than I normally wear, but that's okay. Running is slowly changing my shape, and as the next few months shave a bit more of the stored fat off my middle, the skirt will drop slightly to just below my belly button. I don't have to worry about it falling off, as it's not any danger of ending up larger than my hips.

I really like this skirt. The 'V' stitching across the back (pictured) does something near miraculous. It creates the illusion of a curvy rear. If you click on the image, you can get a close up of the stitching detail. The front has the same detail, but the fly breaks up the 'V', so I don't have the appearance of a curvy tummy.

So far, I'm going on record as a fan of MyShape. I'll post photos of the other items I purchased as I work them into my wardrobe this week. Assuming, of course, the rest of my family doesn't come down with the bug I had last week. If that happens, I'll be in jeans and robotussin spotted t-shirts for a while longer.

Clearing Camera

I sync'd up my phone last night, and this picture popped up in iPhoto.

It's supposed to hit 60 degrees for the next couple of days, but this is what last Sunday looked like.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lunch for Aliens

New Parenting Rule - Do Not Call Children to The Kitchen for Lunch When This Is The First Thing They'll See
The fear and panic was evident in their voices. "What IS that?!" they asked, completely overlooking the peanut butter & honey sandwiches on whole wheat with fruit sitting on plates next to the stove. I was tempted to start spooning it into bowls. But it wasn't finished, and I can't say I'd have been likely to try it myself at this stage.

It's a Cilantro Shake, loosely based on the recipe over at We Like It Raw. I don't have all the ingredients, so had to improvise. I thought it was pretty good, but I was the only one of that opinion. Since the veggies and fruit were pureed, rather than juiced, I wasn't left hungry a half hour after finishing. I'm not a big fan of grapefruit in any quantity or form, but this was tolerable. (Plus, I get bonus points on the Try Something New Rule I use with the kids.)
Here's the list:
Lemon, peeled & sectioned
Grapefruit, peeled & sectioned
Cucumber, peeled & seeded
Pineapple Chunks (fresh)
Tablespoon of honey
Sprinkling of Cinnamon (generous)
1/2 cup strong green tea (cold)
2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Powder
2-3 Handfuls of Spinach

Place in blender and mix until as smooth enough to drink through a straw.

When I fix this particular variation again, I will probably pick up some of the Superfood green powder and either the Agave Nectar or Stevia called for in the WLIR version. That's a future Whole Foods splurge. For now, I think I'll stick with my juiced Apple, Ginger, Carrot, Parsley, Celery, Cucumber combo.

I will be making the WLIR Mango & Avacado Salad again though, and often. It was wonderful. The Yerba Mate Latte was pretty good, too. My favorite part about it was the cashew milk. It was very tempting to drink that on its own while I was stirring in the honey & cinnamon.

Big hat tip to Gala Darling for her links to WLIR last week!

The More Things Change

During my daily reading, I came across this quote at The Agitator:

“I am suspicious of this railroading of bills through our House of Representatives, and I refuse to vote for a measure unseen and unknown. … I want the RECORD to show that I was, and am, against this bill and this method of procedure; and I believe no good will come out of it for America. We must not abdicate our power to exercise judgment. We must not allow ourselves to be swept off our feet by hysteria, and we must not let the power of the Executive paralyze our legislative action. If we do, it would be better for us to resign and go home-and save the people the salary they are paying us.

“I look forward to that day when we shall read the bill we are considering, and see the author of the bill stand before the House and explain it, and then, after calm deliberation and sober judgment- after full and free debate-I hope to see sane and sensible legislation passed which will lift America out of this panic and disaster into which we were plunged.”

He followed the quote with an admonition to click through, for the who & when.

I figured it was Ron Paul. Probably about the Patriot Act. Or the Patriot Act II. Or the war funding. Or Medicare Rx coverage. Or maybe the current economic stimulus package that's on Rush Order. I couldn't think of many lawmakers, or any really, who talk like this these days. So I clicked the link...

...and ended up reading the answer at Downsize DC. I'm a big fan of this group, though they tend to get overshadowed by Reason, Cato, and Mises when I'm looking for answers. Downsize DC is a grassroots group working to get a law passed to make mandatory a certain amount of time before a vote on new or changed bills, in order to ensure everyone has had time to read through the entire text.

While reading through the papers we sign is a habit for most of us Regular Joes and Janes, we apparently have a Congress full of people who don't even bother to skim the content of the bills which have so much power over the lives of millions. Even worse, this has been the status quo for quite some time. That speech I quoted earlier? It was made by Rep. Ernest Lundeen from Minnesota in March, 1933 upon passage of the Emergency Banking Relief Act.

Different Congress, same legislative B.S.

Friday, January 25, 2008

MyShape Test - Pt. 2

My order from arrived today! All four items were included, so I guess that 2-3 week delay on the pants... wasn't. I opened the box to find a lovely drawstring bag containing my items, and a personalized thank you note (see white envelope), and details on the return policy (free shipping). They request that you give them details on returns, so they can adjust fit and color preferences for future orders.

I'm still feeling pretty icky, so playing dress up in my wardrobe is not in the cards for today. I will try everything on, and will get a couple of photos when I can stand being out of my fuzzy slippers.

Before trying anything on, I'd say there's one item which may not work for me. The skirt, which is a really cool A-line cut is probably going to be too small for my waist... at least for the part of my waist where I like to hang my skirts. It would probably fit perfectly if I wear it exactly half way between my hips and ribs.

Both shirts will probably be great, and the pants appear to be correct, as well. I hope the pants work, because I L-O-V-E the color. Bittersweet is the name, and it is the super dark brown of a french roast coffee bean.

UPDATE: Everything fits. Not just fits, but fits properly. Even the skirt... heck... especially the skirt. The white blouse fits across my broad shoulders without being too loose around my waist. The pants, fantastic!

The red stretchy shirt I bought is more vivid than I anticipated, but since I'll likely be wearing with dark blue jeans and a neutral cardigan or jacket, not a problem. My mom has always said I ought to wear more color, and I'm finding that she's right about more and more of this stuff as I get older. Just don't tell her I said that.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Saturday was fantastic. Had a big weekend of snow play, movies and housework planned. The three day weekend made all things seem possible. Then, the Sunday morning headache turned into a fever, chills, sore throat. M took over most kid matters. Somehow, it was still necessary for me to rise from the grave - sorry, bed - to fix dinner. I must have been close to delirious, because I didn't think to question that until today.

Anyway, after three days of soup, hot tea and popsicles, I'm semi-human. Still have a whole lot of congestion and sinus pressure, but it's managable... mostly. So far, it looks like rigorous use of lysol and an OCD amount of handwashing may have prevented the spread through family. (I hope, I hope!)

Which leaves me with a cup of hot lemon/honey water, bundled in my fuzzy sweater, pondering the same thing I wondered when sick as a child. Is it possible to sneeze out your brain?

I miss running. Not as much as I miss breathing through my nose, but close.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Somewhere around 10:30-11:00 this morning, the eagerly awaited snow began to fall. I was up and ready to run at my normal time, but purposefully put it off until the snow started. I mean, seriously, how often does a girl in Atlanta get a chance to run through big fluffy snowflakes?

Plus, now I can claim that nothing will stop my training program.
Not rain, nor sleet....

When I left, the flakes had just begun to stick to the wet muddy mess from the first half hour or so of sleet. You can barely see it in the photo.

25 minutes, 2.5 miles later, everything was beginning to look quite wintry... including me. The photo is not so great, as my camera lens on the phone was suffering from perma-fog.

Running in the snow was great. I scrunched up my nose to see snowflakes up close, and stuck my tongue out to catch a few. Was probably the most actual fun I've had on a run. Was more like playtime.

Anyway, went for an easy, but steady, pace and tried to maintain it on the hills. My only regret is that I didn't have another 30 mins to keep going. Now, I'm off to make lunch, stuff my sneakers with newspaper, and begin the mitten hunt for the small people. I hear we're building a snowman after lunch. I'm hoping they won't be too disappointed when the snow only yields a snow-keebler elf.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mainstream Media Commercial

From Funny or Die. Love it! Laughter was lessened slightly by realization at how very close this spoof is to reality.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Testing MyShape

A few weeks ago, Rebecca posted about body shapes, and a website called MyShape. You go through a rather thorough process of measuring arms, natural waist, low waist, shoulders, thighs, the distance from the center of your knee to the ground.... you get the idea. Using these measurements, a personal shop is built for you based on your body type.

I was expecting to be a Y, since I have broad shoulders, slim hips, little waist definition and a rather flat rear view. According to their system though, I'm an M.

With the post holiday sale prices, and the $25 discount for the first purchase through your personal store, I shopped MyShape today. The size recommendations are handy. No looking at a different size chart for each different label. It was interesting to see. Size 6 in one skirt, size 2 in another. Love that vanity sizing, eh?

I ordered a white blouse, a pair of pants, a denim skirt and a long sleeve shirred tee. Total price after discount, $73. There's a 2 week shipping estimate on the pants, but the skirt and tops should be along sooner.

Logging In

Ugh. Busy, busy couple of weeks. Kids are back in school, I'm almost caught up on map projects, and the house is half-way cleared of legos & barbies. Not a lot of time to post, but I have been keeping up with my running. I'm not cycling much right now. Will be back on the bike when temps are above 50 degrees. I admit it, I'm a wimp.

Here's my workout summary for January so far:

12/31-1/6 - 11.5 miles
Easy Run (2x) - 7.5 miles
Walk w/kids (2x) - 4 miles

1/7-1/13 - 19.5 miles
Beginners Running Clinic (Mon)
Easy Run - 5.5 mi, 59:06
Hill/Trail - 5(ish), 66:07
Long Run - 7 mi, 1:18

And, my updated January chart:

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008 Resolution - Keep Moving!

2007 was an odd year for me. I'd already lost the weight in 2006. In 2006, I also faced my anxiety over swimming by taking lessons and losing the panic over having my face under water. I also started guitar lessons back in November of 2006. I didn't really have any definite goals for this last year. I wanted to exercise and be fit, not just "not fat". I wanted to work on healthier eating habits, too.

Here's what happened:
Started cycling.
Took our summer vacation in the mountains, tent camping. Proved kids can survive full week without cartoons & xbox.
Ate more veggies, less meat.
Ate breakfast more than half the week.
Cut my caffeine intake from two pots of coffee per day to one cup of coffee or a cup or two of tea.
Switched from generic guitar lessons to classical.

Sometime this fall I started running, too. Not sure how that happened. Maybe it was as part of a plan to jog next to my 6-year-old while she's trying to get rid of the training wheels. (She's not quite tall enough for her new bike, so training wheels are still on. Oh well.)

And the healthier food has caught on with the family. The kids might not be ready to dig into sweet potato curry with spinach yet, but they've been very good about trying new things alongside the normal main dish. They like the cauliflower, tolerate butter beans, hate black-eyed peas, and love when we pick up a sampling of three or four different types of apples to slice up for a taste testing as a snack or side. Or when we get one type of apple from three different countries and compare (fuji is great for this).

The healthier eating meant more homemade food. This lead to a drop in the money spent on eating out. The change in diet also made a difference in the number of people taking allergy meds. And in the number of colds, all good for the budget.

All good things. I'm happy with what's been accomplished. There's not that much I want to CHANGE this year. So, 2008 is going to have to be about momentum. Need to keep going on this path, and to see if I can pull everyone else in this house along for the ride. Not in a kicking-and-screaming way. More like the way the trail-a-bike allows the kids to pedal along while attached to my bike.

So, for 2008:
Health/Fitness Goals - I'm going to start training now for the Thanksgiving Half-Marathon. Signed up for a Monday morning running clinic with the Atlanta Track Club that starts January 7. The group is training to run the Atlanta Women's 5k on March 22. On my own, I'll be prepping for the Chattahoochee Challenge 10k. That's February 9, so the next four weeks are the first big push for this year. (Reminder - SIGN UP this week!) I'll pick another few races for between now and fall, but one of them will not be the Peachtree on July 4. I prefer the bike when temps are over 90, thank you very much.
I'm also going to ride a half or metric century later this year. I remember seeing a few listed in my area last year, but will have to do my research for 2008. 30-40 mile rides were the norm for my summer Saturdays, so I should be able to take it (gradually) up to the 50-60 mile mark.

House/Home Goals - Stick with "try something new" with the kids. I'll keep working in new fruit/veggie combos, and see if I can work in a meatless day or two for everyone each week. Simplifying is another area on which we all need to work. It's easier with the boys than with my daughter, but the one toy in, one (or more) toy out policy needs to be enforced. I'm applying the same rule to myself, as I'm replacing more of my now oversized wardrobe pieces.

In addition to the items above, I'm going to work on planning. Mini-goals, checkpoints, calendars. This one will have to begin once the kids are back in school. Between, school, music/sports lessons (theirs & mine), travel, work, and life, there's too many variables before we settle into the new schedule.

Ticker Tracker

I love the internet! You can find anything... sometimes even something useful. And free. Did I mention free?

It's my January goal for run/cycle miles. Didn't want to set it too high, since I have the kids home for another week, and 10-20 mile cycling days might have to be replaced with two mile runs on the treadmill or indoor track.

More on goals later - right now I need to break up a fight over chairs. The game, not the furniture.