Sunday, December 30, 2007

It was like a Christmas Miracle

My plan was to post a Christmas recap in pictures, but unfortunately I ran into a bit of a snag….

I should first back up and say Collin surprised me on Christmas morning with the best gift ever. He had told me a couple of days before Christmas that what he got me would “keep me busy” and I thought, wonderful – he bought me a project (note, “project” in our house is synonymous with “time sensitive activity likely to cause stress, but in the end will result in a sense of accomplishment”). Now, don’t get me wrong, I like projects, I’m even somewhat looking forward to working on the den this winter, but a project as a gift?? Ugh. So when I opened up this on Christmas morning you could say I was just a wee bit thrilled. I’ve told Collin many times how I desperately wanted a new camera, I apparently do not give him enough credit, not only was he listening, he even had the specifics correct.

I’m a complete novice when it comes to photography, but already I’m loving this thing. Mostly I love how it takes the picture when I ask it too. And I also love my new zoom capabilities. On Christmas morning I took Maia outside just to play around and I got some fun shots of her in the snow. These would not have been possible with our old camera as it just never took the shot quick enough.

Anyway, the bad news is, the card reader we have doesn’t work with this disk. So, we’re going to have to take a trip to Best Buy and hopefully I’ll have some pictures to share soon.

In the meantime though, I wanted to stop in and wish you all a safe and Happy New Year. We’re having friends over to our house so as soon as the Packer game is done I need to get back to cleaning.

Also, if you haven’t checked out the Fitness Challenge below, please do so! We’ll be starting this Tuesday, the first day of 2008, and I promise it will be fun. You know, if you consider the sensation of a forest fire burning between your inner thighs from the constant rubbing during a 30 min run fun? Kidding. Just kidding. :)

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Fitness Challenge!!

As 2007 draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about the resolutions I want to make for 2008. One item on that list, of course, pertains to getting back into a regular exercise routine. I know, I know, how cliché right? However, I can understand why this resolution is so common. The holidays are so hectic and, if you are anything like me, between the months of November and January exercise tends to take second fiddle.

As I was running on the treadmill the other day, the first run in a very long time, I couldn’t help but wonder why I have let exercise slip so far down the priority list. I was thinking it would be so much easier if I had something to keep me motivated. And that’s when it hit me, a Fitness Challenge.

The rules are very simple. For each 10 minutes of exercise you will get 1 point. Exercise includes any of the following:

- Cardio
- Weight training
- Mind/Body activities such as yoga or Pilates

At the end of each week you can send me your points. No need to tell me what you did, just your points, and I’ll keep a running tally throughout the month. Don’t be worried if you don’t have a lot of points to report, I’ll be the only one seeing them and I will not judge – in the last two weeks I have worked out 1 time. Yes, you read that right, once.

And, the best part!! There will be prizes!! At the end of the first month (January) the person with the most points will get their choice of a prize. Prizes will likely include workout accessories that I’ve used and love.

If you are interested in joining the Fitness Challenge, leave a comment below or send me an email.

(I should note that I ran this past my family over Christmas breakfast and my mom asked about weight loss points. I’ve decided not to include points for weight loss as I don’t want that to be the focus.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Nativity Story

It is not my intention to discuss politics or religion on this blog often. I understand that these are touchy subjects and rarely do you have two people who agree completely on either topic. However, it is my website and therefore I do reserve the right to do so when I feel compelled. If you find these topics to be offensive, it might be best not to read the rest of this post.

It is Sunday morning and the storm that they predicted to roll in over the weekend is here in full force. My brother called this morning to say the roads are very bad and it would be best to stay at home today if possible. So instead of running out to get those last few gifts, we decided to start a fire and watch a movie. I had gotten The Nativity Story purposefully to watch before Christmas. It seems most households have some sort of movie tradition when it comes to Christmas. In ours growing up it was Ralphie; Christmas did not feel complete until we watched A Christmas Story. In others it may be Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation, Miracle on 34th Street or Prancer. My hopes were that we would like this movie enough that we could start a tradition in our household of watching it in the days leading up to Christmas.

I’m not sure I could say enough good things about this movie; I enjoyed it that much. Now, I realize my point of view is biased, but I really believe that even someone that did not share my religious beliefs could appreciate this movie for the elegance, yet simplicity, in which it tells the story of Jesus’ birth. In my opinion, the actors’ performances were top notch. I could feel their pain and fears of living under the rule of a king who felt no mercy and thought nothing of bloodshed in order to protect his position, being willing to take even the lives of his own wife and sons. And yet, with them, I was filled with hope and joy, with the promise of a better future. Throughout the movie I found myself getting choked up as my emotions swung from fear and anger to happiness and anticipation.

The other thing I think this movie did a great job of portraying, at least for me, is the reason that Catholics honor Mary. Her trust and faith is so strong, even in the face of adversity. Notice I use the word honor. I use this purposefully; a common misconception is that Catholics worship Mary as they do Jesus. (I’m more than happy to talk about the difference between these two if you’d like, but I don’t want to get off on a Catholic tangent here as that wasn’t the purpose of this post.) But what it did for me that I was not expecting was leave me with a much deeper respect for Joseph. Setting up my nativity scene has always been my favorite part of decorating for Christmas, but after watching this movie, I think it is going to hold even more meaning.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the consumerism of Christmas. I’m incredibly guilty of it. Yesterday, after running out to pick up those “last few things” I had an entire trunk full of gifts to unload. Watching this reminded me of the true meaning of Christmas. Yes, it is a time to rejoice and celebrate a special gift. That gift however, is not found under the Christmas tree wrapped in pretty red paper and tied with a gold bow. It is the gift of Jesus Christ and the best way to celebrate that gift is to spread love to all of mankind.

Anyway, all of this to say, I highly recommend seeing this movie if you were at all considering it, and if you could do so before Tuesday, even better.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

He said it should improve my life by 110%

Or, maybe more accurately, by 5% in my right eye and 4% in my left eye.

Apparently the 2+ years I waited to get back into the eye doctor we not good to me. I think his exact words to be were: Are you having trouble driving at night?? Because YOU CAN'T SEE!!!!! (Yes, just like that, in all caps and with 5 exclamations points. 5 exclamations points - I can actually count each one of them! Hooray!)

Obviously I have not mastered the self portrait holdie-outie, but after 20 or so takes I said screw it, good enough.

Next up, my new contacts, and an opportunity in which you get to vote on what color you like best. Aren't you excited?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dear Santa

Said over dinner this evening:

Him: I will NEVER buy you a pig for Christmas. Or a goat. Or for your Birthday.

How can he say no to these?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Trail Markers of Life

A couple of years ago we spent a winter weekend at our cabin in Rhinelander with Justin and Kira. It was a typical February weekend in the north woods, cold with lots and lots of snow. When you walked outside you could see your breath and getting our bundled bodies in and out of the car was a challenge. We spent Saturday afternoon on our favorite cross-country ski trail just south of town. On Sunday we tested out a snowshoe trail, which we learned about from the sporting goods store we make sure we stop at each time we are in town. The trail circled a small downhill ski slope and lodge. When we arrived we stopped in at the lodge to get the trail map and take a peek at the place. It was a small outfit with lots of young children testing out their skills. The hill was busy and we said we should return some day just to take a few runs down the slope. After getting the map we moseyed out to the snowshoe trail head. For as busy as the ski slope was just a few hundred feet behind us, when we stepped foot on the trail it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. It had snowed quite a bit the week before we were there and no one yet had laid foot on the trail. It was pristine. The sun glistened off the fresh snow and with each step we took the crunching sound of breaking trail resounded throughout the forest.

The trail, which was only lightly marked by a red flag on a tree every few hundred feet, led us down by a river and then wound us back up through the woods. What I remember most about the trail is how quiet it was, and how much we felt a part of nature. Based on our map we knew that we were supposed to be circling the ski slope, but at one point, without realizing we had wandered too far, we found ourselves off of the trail following a logging road that was leading us in the wrong direction. We took turns going out from the post, this safe spot to which we’d return if we didn’t find the red flag we were looking for, the signal that we were on the right track. It took us some time, but one of the boys did finally find the marker and called the rest of the group to join them. From there, the trail led us straight up the back of the ski slope. It was steep, and at times difficult to maneuver, but when we got to the top we stopped, just to take it all in. Beautiful does not do it justice. There we stood, at the top of the ski hill, looking out on the land below us, land that was covered in lush green pines with a frosted river nestled in between them all. Birds flew high above us and it felt good just to be there, to be alive, to see something so gorgeous. We promised ourselves that we would come back, despite getting a little lost, despite the steep climb that made our thighs burn, the view from the top was worth it.

I’ve come to a point in my life where I feel like I have lost sight of my trail makers. It’s as if I’m out on that logging road spinning circles. I keep taking a few steps in different directions, looking for the red flag, but so far I just haven’t found it. And so I find myself back at post, which is a safe spot, but it is not on the trail. I have a few things coming up this week they may, potentially, lead me to a red flag, lead me back to the trail. I’m hoping that if the flag is there, that I will see it. But at the same time, I’m hoping that I do not mistake some sort of other red marker for the flag to my trail. It is sometimes difficult when we are out here, all alone, to remember that if we are patient and diligent, we will find our way back and that we will make it up the slope, even if it makes our thighs burn. I’m just praying that some day, hopefully soon, I can make it up the hill and after looking out at the breathtaking scene, I’ll realize it was all worth it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Next I'll be carrying her in my purse

When we brought Maia home last March she was just a wee little thing; weighing in less than 10 lbs she was visibly smaller than the cat. The kennel she stayed in during the day fit easily in the back seat of my car and she was not yet big enough to climb onto the furniture or bed. During the night when she woke up I would carry her outside to go to potty and then we’d sit, shhhhshing her back to sleep. At night she’d fall asleep by 8 pm, curled up on a blanket by the couch, or, as she preferred, in our arms.

Over the next few months she grew quicker than I could have ever imagined and by the time my brother came to stay with us in June she was quickly dubbed “The Monster.” One look at her and you know instantly where she got her name; she now weighs in at almost 100 lbs, but still has the energy of a typical 11-mo old puppy. It is quite obvious that she is a large dog. Obvious, that is, to everyone but Maia.

As I type this she is laying next to me on the couch, squirming, because I’m apparently taking up to much room on her throne. And later this evening I can guarantee I’ll find her on our bed, curled up, as if she is trying to hide. Her head will be on my pillow and she’ll be peering up at me, her big brown eyes questioning whether or not I can see her.

It is apparent that Maia believes she is still a small dog; a dog that could be carried out to go potty in the snow, a dog that could fall asleep in our arms, a dog that could sit comfortably in our lap.

Maia, with her favorite auntie Kira

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Lazy Sunday

Since the winter season has fallen upon us everyday pleasantries have inevitably changed from "Morning", "Hi, how are you?" or "Beautiful weather we're having" to "'s cold", "I hate driving in this slushy shit; where are the plows?" or "Argh, they're calling for more snow."

Although I agree that its cold and I've been driving like a Grandma for the past week, I have to admit that winter is slowly moving up on my list as favorite season. Part of this has to do with the fact that I love cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. But more importantly, winter seems to invoke in me a sense of calmness. Because the weather no longer allows it, we don't travel as much in the winter and we don't spend every evening and weekend working until the sun goes down on the long list of house and yard projects. Instead, the snow and the cold tend to keep us home, in front of the fire, watching more movies, reading more books, and doing things that I enjoy, but never feel like I have the time to do.

I especially love Sundays in the winter because, as you know, it is football season. And where we live football is like a religion. And although I love watching the Pack play, I think what I like even more is that for 3 hours on Sunday afternoon I have nothing else to do but sit in front of the tv and watch the game. The laundry can wait, the dishwasher will be unloaded tonight, and the Christmas tree that we have not begun decorating? We'll work on that after the game. For now, all that is on my to-do list is to sit here and relax while, if we are lucky, Brett leads us to another win.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Up and Running!

It has been 23 days now since I set up this page. 23 days to actually get the balls to write my first post. I've thought alot about posting over the last 3+ weeks, but I just haven't been able to get over this first obligatory post. I mean, what the hell am I supposed to say???

So, for now, I'll say this, I'm really excited about having this blog. I'm hoping I can use it to keep our friends and family up to date on the everyday happenings of our life. I'm not exactly sure yet what route it is going to take, I mean telling my close friends that I named my hemorrhoid Jerry is one thing, but telling the Internet? I don't know if I'm up for that yet? Just kidding! Or am I? ;)

Either way, the one thing I do feel the need to disclose is that despite the fact that I'm the daughter of an English teacher, I'm terrible, terrible! at grammar and spelling. If you need someone to balance your checkbook or analyze your cash flow and debt service coverage ability, I'm your gal. But if you're looking for wondrously structured sentences that are perfectly punctuated, you're probably not going to find them here, no, instead you'll find lots of run-on sentences, full of way to many commas, because I love commas, and I have yet to master the semicolon.

So, I'll close this first post by saying thanks for stopping by My Merlot. Pull up a chair and grab a glass, we're uncorking the first bottle and it should be a good time.