February 29, 2008

60-Day Challenge

There are a handful of moms on a discussion board that I'm participating in a Challenge with. The premise is that we each pick 3 things to do that will help to make us healthier and we stick with it for 60 days. Sounds fairly easy, huh?

The rules are simple:

1. Choose three things that will make you a healthier person--physically, emotionally, spiritually--and do them for this 60-day period, from now through April 26.

2. If it's the kind of thing you do every day (like drinking enough water), do it every day. If it's the kind of thing you do less often (like exercising three times a week, or seeing a therapist once a week) do it at that frequency.

3. If you don't do it one day, rub some dirt on it and keep going. The important thing is hanging in there through the end, not doing it perfectly every day.

4. If you realize one of the things you picked just isn't going to work for your life, pick something else and switch. There's no point in dragging yourself through something that doesn't make sense just because you posted here that you would. This is for you, not for the internets at large.

5. Post your three things here today. Every day I'll post a little check-in post, where you can keep a record of what you did the day before. If you want to post, post. If you don't, don't. Once a week I'll post a longer post to discuss how it's going.

6. No judging other people's three things, but if you have info that could help them, please post it.

7. Have fun!

Although it deserves another post in its entirety, I am already trying to implement a handful of healthy choices in my life. It started with going to the gym and trying to get into better shape but it has morphed slightly as my goals have changed. (That post is coming, I promise.)

That being said, there are 6 things that I'm going to challenge myself to uphold. Yeah, I know. 6 is more than 3. I'm already trying to do 3 of the things already; 3 of them are new choices. The ones that are in bold are the new ones that are going to be the most challenging for me.

Stop drinking diet soda and drink water instead.
Drink 64+ ounces of water a day.
Exercise for 15-25 minutes a day.
Start running.
Eat 5+ servings of fruits/vegetables every day.
Go to bed at a decent time.

So far I'm doing really well. Obviously I've only been doing it for 2 days though. Hopefully by the end of 60 days these choices will be concretely implemented in my day and it will be something that I continue with.

If anyone is interested in starting, we're on day 3 but would love more company! You can find the origins of the challenge at "Ask Moxie: Anyone up for a challenge?".

February 26, 2008

That Felt Good

Yesterday was a major catch-up day for me. I talked to 2 different friends on the phone that I haven't spoken to in WAY too long. It's amazing how a couple of 30-minute phone calls can rejuvenate your spirits.

Friend #1 is my grad school savior. Kristy and I started talking regularly in 2002. My brain can't remember exactly when we met, but I'm sure we had a handful of undergrad classes together before then. We had similar thesis projects and spent many an hour commiserating about classes, soil testing or just life in general. Typically if I wasn't in my lab, I was in hers, or vice versa. When we weren't chit chatting about something we were typically in class together as probably 75% of our classes were scheduled at the same time. I whole heartedly admit that she is one of the main reasons that I made it through grad school with my sanity and sense of humor. When we graduated in 2004 our regular conversations became intermittent. Her husband started medical school and she moved 45 minutes away. I started working full time and became wrapped up in starting a family (and everything that it entailed). I think that I've only seen her once since we graduated and that was back in 2005 at some meetings. But anyways...she's due to have baby #2 on Friday so I was determined to call before the new little one arrived. We had a fantastic conversation yesterday. It made me realize how much I miss our conversations.

Friend #2 is one of my high school saviors. Nate listened to my woes about everything High School related. We'd sit and talk for hours after meetings or practices (we were involved in a club together as officers our junior/senior years) and he was one of the few people who would be honest with me and tell me to pull my head out of my ass. Sometimes I'd listen; sometimes I wouldn't. We went off to Michigan State together and took a handful of classes concurrently so our conversations continued. I was dating one of his best friends when I went to Nepal (check out the "A Story for the Ages..." posts from March 2006 for more background on that). So when I came back and broke up with Kyle, there was some tension between N and I for a while. We made amends and I couldn't blame him as we was room mates with the guy after all. Hahaha. After C and I married and moved to Utah, N moved to Arizona to finish his schooling. We went down for his wedding and I haven't seen him since then. In the midst of my miscarriages in 2005 he moved to Colorado to teach and I lost contact with him. (I'm beginning to see a trend that I let many friendships lapse during that time. That bothers me because I know it was my fault.) A couple of weeks ago a mutual friend of ours (one that I have stayed in contact with) asked me if I had talked to Nathan recently. This prompted me to consult my good friend G00gle and see if I could track him down. Much to my surprise he called me almost immediately after I sent an email. After a few messages left on voice mails, we finally had a conversation last night. It was another fantastic chat and it also made me realized how much I've missed talking to him.

So my goal is to make a concerted effort to stay in contact with these friends. Although our lives had taken us in very different directions, talking to them reminds me of who I am and where I've been. And how important they are (and all my friends are) in my life. Those phone conversations are definitely worthwhile.

February 22, 2008

Moab (Mis)Adventures

This was a hard post for me to write. And probably even harder for me to publish when I'm done. That being said, it's the truth and you can take it or leave it.

Last weekend we went head to head with one of the biggest challenges we face as parents -- trying to merge our pre-baby days with our child. You always know that your life is going to change (and it's one of the first things people bring up in conversation when they find out you're expecting your first child) but I don't really think you're prepared for it. Or maybe some people are. We just may have just missed that section in childbirth class.

Don't get me wrong, we've had to adjust. When we do go to dinner we go out earlier because KT needs to be in bed when we used to think about going out. Errands are run around nap schedules; doctors appointments can no longer be scheduled any time the office is open. For the most part though, KT is fairly flexible and we don't usually have problems with going out and doing stuff. But for us this was the first major reality check. And there was a stretch of time where both C and I could see everything we hoped to do in the next few years crumbling into a pile of dust and tantrums.

The hardest thing we deal with is KT not getting enough sleep. When she's tired she's cranky and then everyone is cranky trying to deal with her. At home she sleeps like a champ -- 12+ hours at night and 2, 2-hour naps during the day (yeah, I know I'm lucky for that) -- but when she's someplace else it's touch and go. If there is a crib for her to sleep in she's perfectly fine. She slept wonderfully at C's Mom and Dad's and my Mom's over Christmas because they both had cribs. No crib though, typically means no sleep. She will sometimes nap in her pack 'n play but only after crying herself to sleep. I can't sleep if she's in bed with us and she sleeps fitfully. She rolls all over, sprawls herself sideways between us, jabs her little toes into your ribs, pokes you in the eyes, pulls on your ears and tries to lay on top of you.

Friday night was hell trying to get her to sleep in the hotel room. We first tried to put her in the pack 'n play and she threw a holy tantrum. At 9 o'clock at night in a hotel, I'm not going to subject my neighbors to that so we brought her into bed with us. Surprisingly, she fell asleep quickly snuggled next to her Dad. It was short lived. An hour later she was awake and thought it was playtime. The rolling, sprawling, jabbing, poking, pulling and laying carried on until almost midnight when she fell asleep on top of me. After 15 minutes I tried to lay her down in the pack 'n play. Her eyes immediately flew open as her head touched the blanket and the screaming started. So back to bed she went with us. Back to playtime we went (although C and I lay there as quiet and still as can be) and this time it was interspersed with crying/whining because she was way overtired. Finally at 2am she crashed (6 hours past her normal bedtime) and I slept fitfully next to her until she woke up 4 hours later.

The plan was to get breakfast, hike, get some lunch, take a nap, hike, get some dinner and go to bed. Sounds simple enough. When we got into Arches NP and out to the trailhead for the 1st hike, KT threw one of her fits. She's been in the backpack carrier before and never had a problem with it (granted it was either at the store or here at home); we use my M0by and Erg0 at least once a week too. But there was no calming her down in the carrier. I tried the Erg0 and she cried as I walked her around the parking lot in it. Our thought was that she would work through it and quit crying after a while. So we'd just tough it out for the little bit she was crying. Everyone got loaded back into the car and to a new destination we headed. Delic@te Arch was busy and we weren't going to ruin the experience for other people by letting our child scream. We battled a 4WD road and its slimy clay-based mud across the park to Tower Arch, crossing our fingers we didn't get stuck. Wouldn't it be our luck that someone had beat us there by 5 minutes and the 2 guys were just heading out on the trail? Attempt #2 was similar the first. Screaming, wailing, throwing her head back, kicking, etc. For fear of upsetting the 2 hikers we closed up shop yet again and this time headed back into town.

At one point on the drive back into Moab, I looked over at C and I could see the same look in his eyes that was burrowing deep into my heart. A look of fear that was shaking both of us to our core. What would we do if she won't go into the carrier? How would we hike? To some people, that answer is obvious. You don't go. I know that, I get that. But if you thought that you don't know us.

We're not the type to vacation at a resort full of people. You probably will never find us with our toes in the sand, sitting in a lounge chair by the ocean, sipping a fruity drink. That's not a vacation to us. A vacation to us is getting out away from people, being surrounded by fresh air, open skies and the wilderness. We hike. We camp. We fly-fish. We snowshoe. We spend weekends floating down a river casting flies to hungry trout; we sleep out under the stars listening to the chirp of crickets and the bugling of elk; we've hiked more miles that I could even count; we've seen more beautiful landscapes in the last 9 years together than many people will see in their lifetime. We pride ourselves on hiking the less traveled trails and never seeing another soul for miles.

To have a child that does not hike would be devastating. It would be like a librarian having a child who didn't like to read; the child of an Olympic athlete preferring to watch from the bleachers. We were both scared but were afraid to mention it aloud for fear of it coming true.

KT slept Saturday night, in the pack 'n play for a solid 8 hours without a sound. I'm not sure if she felt more comfortable in the hotel room or if she was just utterly exhausted and couldn't fight it any longer. C and I collapsed into bed that night too with the thoughts of "what if" weighing heavily on our minds. We both hoped that daylight and much needed sleep would give way to a better day on Sunday.

Fortunately, it did. We did 2 of our favorite hikes with KT on Sunday. She loved both of them. Hopefully we can take that as a sign of what's to come.

February 19, 2008

Post Getaway Stress

Wow. 4 days away from my computer and I'm overwhelmed this morning. 54 new emails on my work account; 35 emails on my personal account; 64 new posts to read on Goog!e reader and 4 message boards to try to catch up on.

And that doesn't even include the mountain of laundry that needs to be washed, the gear that needs to be put away, the grocery shopping that needs to be done, the needy dogs that require heaps of attention after 4 days in the kennel, the pictures that need to be pulled off of the camera and everything else that comes with returning home.

Yikes. Definitely a drawback to having our anniversary be the first day we're home. Now I'm trying to juggle all of this and get everything in order to either go out to dinner tonight or have a nice meal at home.

But back to the topic of photos. Anyone want to give their recommendation on photo hosting sites (besides Photo.bucket)? I'd like to have someplace where I can start putting large amounts of photos online to have friends/family access them.

February 14, 2008

Getting Away

When we were living in Utah, we celebrated all of our wedding anniversaries in Moab. The first 6 that we were married were spent down there. It's one of our favorite places to go and became a tradition for us. We'd take the long weekend (President's Day) and spend a few days down there. It was always quiet and relaxed because the tourist season hasn't begun yet.

Last year we didn't do anything to speak of for our anniversary. Lucky #7 was spent here at home with a 3-month old baby (not that I'm complaining). To be honest we haven't done anything for ourselves since we went to Moab in 2006. The few trips we've made since moving to Idaho have been to visit friends/family. No camping trips last summer, no weekends away just to get away.

I am beyond excited. Although C has figured out the surprise, I booked the dogs into the kennel this weekend and have reservations at the hotel in Moab we always stayed at. We leave tomorrow morning and come home on Monday.

I am excited to be headed to one of my all-time favorite places. I am excited to get out of the house and hike. I am excited to be surrounded by the beauty of red rock country. I am excited that we've made it another year together. I am excited that it's probably been one of the best years we've had (albeit a few hiccups here and there). And most importantly, I am excited to take KT and show her how incredible and awe-inspiring some places can be.

February 13, 2008

Christmas (cont.)

Let's see...where did I leave off?? Oh yeah.

KT's meds worked like a charm and she was happy and healthy before all Christmas gatherings were to take place, thankfully.

C's extended family got together the weekend before Christmas. KT loved the attention and the commotion. C and I loved the time she got to spend with family and especially that she got to meet so many people for the first time.

We spent an uneventful Christmas Eve day with C's Mom, Dad and Grandma all whilst trying to pack everything back into the car and head out to visit my family. Although we left most of our presents with them to ship to Idaho for us, we struggled to get everything jammed back into our vehicle.

Our families live on different sides of the state -- mine on the very Eastern side of Michigan (in the "Thumb") and his down by the Michigan/Ohio/Indiana border. It's about 225 miles from point A to point B and takes about 4 hours to drive it. The worst of the drive is that my parents live about an hour from the interstate so we lose time on the last leg. We usually split the drive up, C drives from his parents to the Lansing area and then I drive from Lansing on. It makes sense as we are both quite familiar with the respective sections of the drive after going back and forth while at MSU.

We decided to hit the road a little earlier than planned in an attempt to get to my Mom's by KT's dinnertime. For the most part the roads were clear, in terms of both snow and other vehicles. We stopped when we got off the interstate for a quick diaper change and coffee for C and I. The last section of the drive is the most strenuous psychologically. It's all through farm country (i.e. open fields and small towns) on 2-lane country highways. I know where the deer are typically the worst and am on constant watch for the 4-legged little buggers. By the time that hour is over and the vehicle is parked in my Mom's driveway, I'm exhausted.

So on we go. Busting ass on Christmas Eve through farm country and trying to avoid Christmas music on the XM radio (I hate holiday music. Hate it.) We've gone more than halfways when out of the corner of my eye I see a deer ON the yellow line and before I know it, it's too late. In a conversation held at a later time, both C and I comment on how this little monster came out of nowhere. Neither one of us saw it come onto the road. It just appeared. I hit the brakes but couldn't avoid hitting it.

I'm on the shoulder of the road as fast as I can be and both of us jump out of the vehicle. C's first thought was of the new radiator we had put in just before the trip. Me, well, I was just incredibly pissed that I had hit the deer. I've been driving legally for almost 14 years and it's the first one I've hit. And I'm mad that we're 1800 miles from home when I hit it. And even more mad that we were 20 miles from my folks.

Thankfully, the damage initially appeared to be minimal (it later turned out to be $2500 in repairs). There were 3 things that all factored in to give us as good of an outcome as possible: the deer was a yearling and couldn't have weighed more than 100 pounds; it was coming diagonally across the road so I caught it with the front corner; I drive a '95 4runner that sits up higher than a sedan and was built with metal not fiberglass. The air dam was busted off on the front corner, the blinker was annihilated and the bumper appeared to be pushed up/in slightly. All in all it could have been much, much worse.

Since it was Christmas Eve, the vehicle was drivable and the deer was dead, an officer wasn't dispatched to the scene. They took some basic information and asked that I come into the station after the holiday to file a report. This at first upset me that I'd have to make a special trip to do so but it was better than sitting there for 30 minutes waiting for a cop. As I'm on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, I see Cris about 50 yards behind the vehicle walking back and forth across the highway. Actually all I can see is the beam of his flashlight dancing across the asphalt but I remember wondering to myself what the hell he was doing. All the sudden he pops back into the passenger seat, grinning broadly and displaying the license plate that had come off! We'd just put new tags on the plates (in Idaho we're required to have both a front and rear license plate) and he didn't want to spend the money to re-register. Silly boy,but it's totally the way he thinks.

The last 20 miles was the most nerve wracking that I've ever driven. I figured that it would be our luck to have another one jump in the road. Thankfully that didn't happen.

February 12, 2008

2 Year Blog-iversay

2 years ago today I started this blog.
Life has certainly come a long way in two years.

New job.
New house.
New state.
New baby.

It's been a good 2 years.

Thanks to everyone who has joined me for this crazy adventure I call life.

"Issue" Defined

It's amazing how many phone calls/emails I got when I posted last and mentioned an "issue" that had me all worked up.

For those that were around last February, you might remember this and this...Well, it was that time of year again. The grant didn't get funded last year and the same opportunity reopened the first of the year for applications. We agreed to give it the 'ole college try and revamp the proposal according to reviewer suggestions and resubmit it for try #2. I pushed as hard as I feasibly could to not work on it again this year. Not after the struggles I had last year trying to get responses/cooperation from my collaborators. Especially since the decision was reached 16 days before the application was due into the USDA. This meant I had about 10 days to get it completed and into the departmental office for review/approval.

I did it. I worked insane hours yet again and dealt with horrible response times from those I was working with. I averaged 2-3 hours of sleep a night and lived on massive amounts of caffeine. It was due into the USDA on Friday, February 1st at 5pm EST but had to be submitted (after approval) by an office on campus. Tuesday of that week I had it into my department contact. Wednesday she had all of the departmental and college signatures and she walked it over to the Office of Sponsored Programs. I did a little jig in my kitchen on Wednesday when she called me to tell me it was officially in the hands of OSP.

Wednesday night a horrible, horrible storm blew into the West and dumped almost 2' of snow in Western Idaho. The main campus in Moscow was shut down for the day. Closed. Due to weather. Damn. When I woke Thursday morning to that email it was not received well. I spent most of the day trying to get in touch with anyone who could possibly help me, to no avail. No one could reach the girl in OSP who was responsible for submitting the grant.

Thursday night, another email from the University. Campus is closed AGAIN on Friday. Due to Weather. Damn, damn. Someone (besides C) can attest that I was not in a good mood when I got this email. Friday morning I spent all of my time on the phone trying to get in touch with my OSP contact. Still to no avail. As a last ditch effort I called Washington D.C. and tried to plead my case with the USDA contact. I left a message and hoped for a phone call back.

I finally got in touch with the girl who was submitting the grant. Her phone/DSL service had been in and out due to the storm and she was scrambling to get everything ready for submission. 20 minutes before the deadline I received a confirmation email that our application package had been received. Disaster narrowly averted.

I completely understand that it wouldn't have been my fault if it didn't make it in on time. It still would have stunk though. Especially considering the time and effort I put into it. Busting my a$$ to make sure that it did get done and submitted to campus on time. To have it not make it into the goverment due to weather?? Ugh. Would have felt like missing a championship game because your team got stuck in traffic.

So once again we wait. And cross our fingers that our proposal will be better received that last year. I guarantee that I will NOT submit it a 3rd time. I don't know if I can handle this kind of stress 3 years in a row.

And for those of you that are wondering...surprisingly enough, I DID get an extension from D.C. Thankfully I didn't need to use it.