Friday, October 26, 2012

Please Motivate Me

When I say please motivate me, I really mean please sponsor me.  You see, since I ran my first 5K, I want to run many more 5K's.  After one 5K, I am addicted, and while I could run at my local track for free, it's not the same.  The 5K's have charities associated with them that use the race as a way to raise money and awareness.  The 5K's have trails and paths that are more challenging, and the people watching is fun while running.

It's not that I can't afford the entry fees to the 5K's, or even that I can't afford good shoes or new orthotics or the travel costs.  No, none of that is what I am seeking sponsorship for.  If you read about my inspiration for my first 5K, you know I run for Dylan.  My goals when running 5K's are telling Dylan's story and raising awareness for the March of Dimes.  So I want you to sponsor me - commit $ XX per every 5K I run, and when the March of Dimes fundraising for 2013 comes around, donate that committment to the March of Dimes Team, Devoted to Dylan.

Want to make it interesting?  Have graduated commitments based on the number of 5K's I run, the completion time, if I run the whole race.  Or get creative and dare me to wear a turkey on my head for the Turkey Trot runs or dress like an elf for a Jingle Bell run!  But please, motivate me to run faster, run more 5K's, and raise awareness for babies!  I will consider all commitments, so please, email me at or post a comment here.  I will happily make a spreadsheet to track the commitments and where I stand in completing those commitments.  You know I love a good excel spreadsheet, so please, help me. :)

I'll give you the excerpt on a letter I am sending in to help the March of Dimes receive it's own custard flavor at a local custard shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where the family of Dylan reside.

I am a member/supporter of a local March of Dimes family team, Devoted to Dylan.  I joined/supported the team because I am inspired by the strength and love Patrick and Jen radiate.  Hearing about Dylan motivates me every day to be a better member of society, a more patient wife, and a more loving mother who always remembers that not everyone gets to experience the highs and lows of parenthood.  Before hearing their story, I did not have a charity of choice; I supported several, but never became very involved.  Patrick and Jen have motivated me to spread the word about Dylan and the March of Dimes.  I live hundreds of miles from them, but that will not stop me from telling their story, promoting March of Dimes, and encouraging others to join me in the fundraising effort. In my growing story about Dylan, I would love to tell people about a local, custard shop that supported a member of its community by creating a flavor to commemorate the March of Dimes.  The Devoted to Dylan March of Dimes team 2012 fundraising efforts made them not only #1 in Milwaukee, but also #1 in Wisconsin and #9 in the country! 

Before I end my plea for sponsorship, here are two exceptions to any challenges:

1. My shirt - I have Devoted to Dylan shirts, and I will always wear these when I run, so nothing can cover my shirt.

2. My face - I have a plan for what I will wear on my face to also show support to the Devoted to Dylan March of Dimes team, so no facial challenges.  

So, Bring it On! please!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Inspired to Run - The First 5K

The last time I ran a race in a large event, I was in elementary school.  I know I was running somewhere near downtown Columbia, and while I was in the lead for my age group, I didn't reserve enough energy to maintain my position.  Part of the problem was I decided to break in new shoes on the race day because I wanted nice, white shoes on race day.  Big mistake.

I see a podiatrist regularly for feet issues, and they prescribe me prescription orthotics to keep me walking and running pigeon toed since the way I walk was not corrected, thus my ligaments grew in a pattern to how I walked.  When I tried to force my feet outward, I experience pain in my knees, hips and back.  So by no means, did I want to run for the heck of it.

However, after walking for the March of Dimes in April and also walking 4+ miles almost daily during my pregnancy, I assumed my body could handle running.  But I wasn't motivated to run just cause. No, a very special boy named Dylan that inspired me to walk in the March of Dimes has motivated me to run.  Sure, the charities that I will run for won't be the MOD, but I will wear a shirting honoring Dylan, and everyone behind me will see his name.  I will make sure that there are people behind me to see his name.  In fact, my first 5K, I heard people talking that it was a great idea (my shirt) and asked where I had it made. Thank you, thank you for reading my shirt.

So on to my first 5K - The run was called Color Me Rad and I heard about it from a college friend.  Since she already had a team, I started my own called The Palmetto Ladies. I know, originality was lacking, but whatever, it worked.  I tried to recruit many, but I heard a lot more excuses than yes's. So be it.  Anyway, two of my sister's friends and my sister in law bravely joined me.  I believe this was the first 5K for 3 of us, with my sister in law completing others some years back.  I was excited that they joined me.

The night before the race, courtesy of my mom, my sister in law and I stayed in a hotel in Columbia, SC while the other two memebers stayed at a friend's house in Columbia.  I set an alarm for 6:25 AM since I am a chronic snoozer, while SIL set an alarm for 6:45 AM; we went to bed at 9:30 PM.  I peeled my butt out of bed at 6:35 am and began getting ready.  I was quietly going about my business, when I had the need to flush the toilet....the flush was probably heard on the first floor along with my jumping.  The toilet was so dang loud and unexpected that I woke my SIL before her alarm clock.  No big deal.  I ate a banana, proceeded to get dressed, and then waited on my SIL to finish her oatmeal.

We left around 7:10 AM when the temperature was approximately 47 degrees Fahrenheit.  We drove 15 minutes to downtown Columbia with the heat blasting to warm us up.  After easily finding parking, we jumped out the truck, debated on carrying water bottles, and took before pictures.  We were in shorts and t-shirts, though I opted for a long sleeve tee compared to SIL's short sleeve. Silly right wrist needed to be kept "warm".

We walked to the Colonial Center to the starting line and looked for our other teammates, which we never did find.  SIL and I quickly found our place at the starting line and waited until 8AM.  The temperature was supposedly 50 degrees Fahrenheit and very tolerable.  SIL and I tried to read a guy's watch for the time, but he talks with his hand, and while we tried to creep on his wrist, he kept moving it.  Good thing he never turned and looked at us, otherwise, he would see us staring at his arm like crazy!

Finally, the race began, and we climbed the first hill, passing the slow runners and walkers.  We ran and talked and wondered when the first color station would occur.  We decided we could run slow through the color station to ensure we were properly coated.  We ran through the first station, I was coated in color, but SIL looked like she skipped the entire event!  So at the next color station, SIL was bound and determined to be painted whatever color it was, but again, she came out practically clean!  Her frustration reminded me of Ross off of Friends trying to get an even spray tan.  He counts incorrectly, and gets too much tan on one side, then goes back and screws up again.

So on the third color, SIL and I switch sides, slow down the pace, and she gets color bombed. Too much, in fact, the lovely sunglasses they gave us did not help her poor eyes.  The dust when into her left eye, but being a trooper, she kept on running.  From this station on, Amanda did not have to worry about not being hit with color.  In fact, I wish I made her my body guard for color.  At one station, the guy did not realize I am short, so instead of hitting me in the chest he gave me a great dose of green right inside of my ear.  Greeeeat, now I can have greenish ear wax.  Black heads...pshhhh, green heads.  Anyway, we were making great time and never slowed our running pace, but then we hit a strenuous hill.

Two things kept me going during this 5K - SIL's pace and Dylan.  I did not want to let either one of them down by running. Make no mistake, I ran 3.12 miles at a local track without stopping.  In fact, I had my time down to 26 minutes, and I assumed that Columbia was relatively flat....because it is.  However, the race officials found the most daunting hills possible.  On the last hill, which looked straight to the sky, I had to dig deep for inspiration.  No, SIL was not going to walk, neither was I.  So while I had the push from Dylan to keep running up the hill, I had to resort to a reward.  So as I am running  up this hill and passing others with my SIL, I am shouting HOT FRESH NOW! KRISPY KREME DONUTS!  Yes, I was screaming about donuts, and yes, SIL and I made it up the hill by running.  Unfortunately, after I made it up the hill, the pain shooting from my wrist to my shoulder told me I should walk.  So for approximately 1/10th of a mile, I walked, flex my hand, and stretched my arm.  The routine helped my wrist, and I was quickly back to running.  The rest of the race was down hill, and SIL and I handled it easily.  We crossed the finish line, grabbed our color bombs, and celebrated.

After chugging water, we had our picture taken then hurried to the truck.  I had spare clothes, so I quickly changed in the parking garage while SIL tried to knock off the loose color in order to keep my truck clean.  We took our after photos and then left to go back to the hotel.  After a 5K, we felt we deserved some hearty food at the hotel.  We had plenty of stares, but we just smiled and told people what we did.  Most were just waking up, so we felt pretty accomplished running a 5K and being back at the hotel while others were just moving around.  After breakfast, we took turns scrubbing ourselves in the shower and blowing blue snot.  It's amazing the colors you see when you sneeze.

SIL and I parted ways, but were so excited that we already committed to running the Color Me Rad next year.  However, in the meantime, we are searching for other races.  We found a Turkey Trot in Greenville, SC that supports Leukemia research which is very near and dear to SIL, literally.  In addition, I have an Uncle fighting a two year battle with the monster so why not help the cause?  In addition, we found a Jingle Bell 5K in Greenville, which means we should dress up Christmasy like....why not have fun and run for a good cause?

In the end, I can only thank Dylan for his inspiration that he and his parents have provided.  Without them, I wouldn't be addicted and wanting to help all these causes all while making sure more people know Dylan and his story.  No matter what I run, I will always wear my Dylan shirt, and in fact, am looking for more ways to show my support to the March of Dimes and Dylan.  So if you see me asking for 5K participants, don't hesitate to join me.  Whether you walk or run, you can help support many people and help me in honoring a very special boy. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Organizing What You Can't See

I continute to work on my tasks to help organize and clean up the house. So far, here's a list of items I completed:
  • Clean entire guest bathroom
  • Clean Master bath counters
  • Steam clean all the carpet
  • Mop all the floors
  • Organize the kitchen drawers
  • Organize the attic
  • Tried to pinterest recipes
  • Began dePenguinizing Aidan's room
  • Wash and vacuum my truck
  • Mount the bike trailer quick disconnect on my bike
However, there are things I did not accomplish, such as
  • Order Aidan's pictures
  • Make a 1 year memory book of Aidan's pictures
  • Build a PVC shelf for organization of storage containers.
I had a feeling that I was missing a measuring spoon, but I couldn't tell because others who help put dishes away don't always find the right drawer, so I had to reorganize and straighten up the drawers.

I have a lot of kitchen gadgets, but I lose touch with them when the drawers get messy.  I also know that I have lots of duplicates, but that is necessary so that you aren't constantly washing dishes while cooking or baking.

So far, it's been over the week, and the drawers look just as organized.  Currently, my teaspoon measuring spoon is missing.  I have no idea where it's at since I searched the other drawers. 

For the attic organization, I had pinned this to try and build.  I measured my containers, checked AJ's tools for a pipe cutter, and drew up the plans and took off material quantities.

However, I quickly found that the cost of the crosses made building this pinned item more expensive then buying a shelf from Lowe's.  The crosses alone were over $64.00. 

If you can find 1" crosses for significantly less than $2.37 each, then you can probably build this shelf for less than something you can buy at Lowe's.  The advantages of the shelf were you could build it to whatever height and depth specifications you needed, where as a store bought shelf was set, unless you wanted to shell out a $100 and get a tall, adjustable shelf.  This is not what I wanted.  I wanted something easily built, but also easily taken apart.  I mean, working in the attic, even in October is very hot.

So I bought a shelf kit, assembled it in the attic using a rubber mallet, and began my organization.  It was quite the success and now we have a lot more room to store a lot more baby clothes...or penguins (the stuffed variety).



 Of the two Pinterest recipes, one was a dud (cookie dough bites) and one was a huge success.  I made venison meatballs using this recipe.  They were a huge hit with fact, Aidan gobbled up more than I did.

Sharing Memories

My blood runneth orange.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I cheer for Clemson.  I was never a big college football fan until I attended Clemson, and as the Clemson song says, "there are something in these hills."  Something special no doubt.

On Saturday, AJ and I had the opportunity to share part of those memories we have with Aidan.  It was surreal being in Memorial Stadium at Death Valley, sitting in seats that I help erect, and looking straight at the end zone where we use to cheer.  Never would I have thought that those seats I help ensure had level concrete would be hosts to my family. 

As I stood to sing the National Anthem, say the pledge of allegiance, and bow my head in silence, I thought of Aidan one day attending Clemson.  I know, one step at a time, but I couldn't help but think about being in Clemson 18 years from now watching a game with Aidan because it was parent's weekend.  I know, I need to slow down and enjoy the moment.  It's also possible that Aidan will choose a different college, and I am okay with that, but for now, I will daydream of moving my son into the freshman dorms of Clemson University.

Aidan was quite the trooper.  He was up at 6:30 AM; someone must have whispered in his ear that he was going to have an exciting day.  He was immediately dressed in orange and allowed to play until our departure time.  He napped well, ate well, and played with his books.  Then came the stroller ride, saying hi to his uncle, and tailgating with friends.  He didn't fuss, he only showed off his walking (and throwing) skills. 

Once at the game, he was excited for the band, danced with the stadium music, and clapped at opportune times.  He was never scared of the cannons or fireworks, and he made friends with all of the people around us.  At one point, however, he was to antsy to be held, so I took him out to the concourse where he walked back and forth, banged on glass, and overlooked the tailgate lot through platform rails.

We stayed until the end of the 3rd quarter when we knew we had pushed our luck for the day.  Aidan hadn't napped since the car ride, and his behavior was on the verge of going down hill.  Overall, we had a fantastic day, Aidan enjoyed his first game, and I was able to cheer loudly without looking crazy.  The day was a success, and we look forward to sharing many more Clemson memories with Aidan.  We hope he grows up cheering for the Tigers.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Art of Giving a Gift

When I pick out a gift or a card for that matter, I search, think, search, think some more, and finally decide I found the best this world has to offer me based on the idea I have in my head. Seriously, standing with me in a card aisle hoping for a quick selection is like hoping the Chicago Cubs will win a World Series in my lifetime. Notgonnahappen. Gift giving can cause me anxiety because I don't want to just pick any ol' gift out. I want it to be thoughtful, and sure most people do, but I stress about it. So much that Christmas gets me nervous. I want the person to love my gift and cherish it, who doesn't though, right??? Anyway, my latest gift giving adventure was for a wonderful little boy turning 1 in September. His dad happens to be serving in the military and flies helicopters, very cool, very respectable. I knew the parents liked having helicopter themed items, but I didn't want just any item. I mean, they could probably find all the Carter's onesies with helicopters...or Gymboree...or Fisher Price. So, when I began looking for unique helicopther themed, baby safe gifts, I wound up having to be creative and slightly crafty because everything I found was not the right gift I wanted to give.

I knew the birthday boy liked wooden blocks. My search for helicopter wood blocks directed me to a shop on Etsy. This shop made a transportation themed wood block set, so I thought, maybe the shop will make a customized wood block set with different helicopter designs. To my disappointment, the shop said "No." Well fine, I don't want your stupid blocks.

I pouted, surely those blocks would be a great, unique gift. Then I remembered the dremel tool we keep in our garage, and I knew it had an engraving set with it. My plan was to create my own custom wood blocks for the birthday boy. Well, I needed wood blocks, so I bought those stupid wood blocks from the Etsy shop, which fortunately does sell blank wood blocks. These blocks are organic with no preservatives, so it meant baby mouth safe. Yay!

The blocks I needed to get to work. First step, I needed to design what I would engrave. I knew I needed to plan for the joints because the harder engraving needed to be on the solid block and not where it transitions to another block. 

After measuring the blocks and drawing them on Engineering paper, I was ready to begin the helicopter design.

When I finished the basic design, I realized I needed to transfer the design to the blocks. It's easier to erase on paper than on wood blocks...I had sticker printer paper leftover from last Christmas's crafty adventure, that I made a copy of the helicopter onto this paper, cut it out, and laid it on the blocks.

The next step was using the dremel tool to cut the outline and intial engraving.  Fine tuning the engraving would come next.  Part of the process was learning what speed to set the dremel on and whether to use the larger engraving piece or the smaller one.  I also experimented with using a sander to help even out the larger areas, such as the helicopter blades, but the sander left marks on the blocks that I didn't like.

I also learned that different wood types reacted to the dremel engraver differently, sometimes a real pain.  The pine (right hand blocks) were not cool with changes in direction, so curves were difficult, and the engraver jumped outside of the lines.  The darker woods were more difficult to break the surface, but easier to make more intricate designs.  Curves were no problem, and you can hold the engraver in place to create a dark spot, so it allows more creativity. 
Finally to accent the engraving, I used a wood block conditioning oil and a Q-tip to "stain" the outline.  Wood block conditioner is food grade safe, so it's also baby mouth safe, and it adds a nice touch to the finish product.
Here's a view of the other sides, well, except one.  No idea how I forgot to photograph the final side.

The receiver loved the gift, which warmed my heart immensely.  I am so glad the Etsy shop refused to create a custom block set because it allowed me to create a more personal block set.