Friday, October 21, 2011


There are times when I just need to look up and take a deep breath.  When I took this photo, that is exactly what I did.  It reminds me of Shel Silverstein's book, "The Giving Tree", one of Josh's favorite books.  I haven't picked up my camera for months.  The digital sensor needs to be fixed, which means filling out some paperwork, packing it up and sending it back to the manufacturer. 

Needless to say, that task has sat on my "To Do" list for the last several months.  But today, while walking Pippi, I noticed a leaf laying on the sidewalk with several rounded drops of dew sitting silently on top.  Rays of sunshine lit up half of the clear drops.  I longed for my camera and vowed to get it fixed.  There are times when everything in life feels like the life of my camera.  I pick it up, then hit some paperwork or a hassle, so I put it down.  Whatever I am doing collects some dust until something hits me out of the blue that calls me back to pick it up again. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

“Uh, I think I think I pulled something…” -Me about 30 minutes after my first Crossfit class

                There are no two ways about it, my first Crossfit class was a little intimidating.  I had watched a few videos online, so I was prepared for the warehouse-like atmosphere, and knew the workout would be tough.  The woman I spoke to on the phone prior to my first class did her best to screen my fitness abilities.  I told her that I found out about Crossfit from an article in Hers Muscle Fitness.  That little nugget must have sold her on my fitness level.  Buuuuttt, just because I subscribe to Hers Muscle Fitness does  not mean I follow all of their training tenets, like refraining from Chex Mix or pizza or creamer in my coffee.

Is this me yet?  It is going to take way more than Crossfit for that!  This lady does not enjoy Mexican pizza and Rolling Rock apparently.  Six pack abs and killer shoulders are just not worth giving those things up.
                 What it also did not mean, which we would both soon discover, was that I knew enough about Olympic Power Lifting.  I figured it couldn’t be that different from the free weight lifting I already do now. Wrong.  Let me back up for a minute, because despite this problem, it was NOT the first and most pressing issue.  My first problem, which they really need to find a way to warn you about, was bladder control.  No, I do not wear Depends, but I do have the bladder the size of a shrunken walnut.  Ladies, if you have had children, take heed.  Use the bathroom before you start a Crossfit class!  Why?  Because it is all about jumping.  Crossfit workouts consist of different rotations.   They post a WOD (wad) workout of the day, up on a huge dry erase board.  The workout consists of three or four exercises which you are to then do a certain number of times in row for time.  On this particular day the WOD was:  1. Jumping pull-ups  2.  dead lifts 205/315 and 60 single jumps.  Now, that was the main workout, the warm up had consisted of burpees where bend down and slam your chest against the ground before you pop up to reach and jump toward the ceiling, more pull ups and sit ups.  Let’s focus on the jumping though.  Considering that just a few weeks ago I ripped a hole in my workout pants while doing squats without realizing it and ended up with my ass hanging out for 30 minutes before a very kind and embarrassed gentlemen told me about it, I was a tad worried about peeing my pants in front of several seriously pumped up people in a warehouse with only one exit door.  So, this is my service to you women out there, do this little test to check for pee-vulnerability before you try a class.  Jump up and down as fast and as hard as you can for a minute.  If you passed, super, you can try a class without any extra equipment.  If not, well then I don’t need to tell you that you will need to pack some extra supplies before you start class.

Check out this link for an example of jumping pull ups:

                Back to the power lifting, did you notice the 205/315 numbers next to the dead lifts on the WOD?  That is the prescribed amount of weight we should be lifting for a female/male.  I was supposed to be dead lifting 205 pounds!  When I went to try a dead lift, I was apparently doing a Romanian dead lift.  Duh, of course those are sooooo different.  My coach, a female in her 2O’s who is also a rowing star of some sort, tried her best to remain patient with me, but I got a little flustered as she was helping me get my body set up.  Her: “Move you feet under your hips.”  Me: I move my feet back.  Her: “ No UNDER your hips”  Me: I move them up again.  Apparently I had no idea where the hell my own hips were.  I finally got it right, or at least she walked away from me, her thinly veiled expression saying, “How did you get into this class?”   I started working up in weight to see how close I could get to 205 pounds.  I stopped at 95.  That turned out to be the magic number that was hard enough and also reassured me that I would roll out of class wheelchair.
                After dealing with those two problems, I had the time of my life.  The workout moved quickly and challenged me to work harder than I have worked in awhile.  The class was pretty small and despite the fact that we were all working our tails off, a sense of camaraderie prevailed.  The coach kept track of all of reps and times on the huge dry erase board which provided motivation.  When she shouted “Nice job Kate” as I completed a final dead lift with the best form I could, I felt a surge of pride. The hour flew by and I enjoyed it immensely.
                The following three days I discovered that rolling over in bed took quite a bit of effort.  My back filed abuse charges with headquarters and it took awhile for things to settle down in that area.  It was also a little tricky turning my head after whatever it was that tore in my shoulder. That healed too.   Would I take another class?  Umm… YEAH!   My back was just a normal good workout sore.  My shoulder, well, I am choosing to believe that I pulled it doing something else, like maybe brushing my hair or waving to the kids on the bus.  Before I can take any more regular classes I need to take their “On Ramp” class to make sure I use proper form so I don’t get hurt.  That is probably a good idea.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I just got off the phone with the Crossfit Gym in my area.  I am going to try a few classes this week.  Check out this link.  Pretty awesome.

I am ready to try something new and honestly I really like lifting.  This looks tough, but I need something new.

So this week I am saying "Yes" to Crossfit and getting my butt kicked!

Monday, August 15, 2011


The other day I took Pippi out for her evening walk.  As we rounded our final corner, my neighbor was in the process of setting this door out on by the curb.  Intrigued I asked him, "Are you setting that door out as trash?"  He stated that indeed he was. Apparently his garage had reached a tipping point and it was time to get rid of some bigger items taking up residence there.  Just to be sure I followed up my first question with, "So you are just giving this away for free?" 

Yes he was.


I rushed home to fetch my trusty Civic.  Together we slowly drove the door around the block to our house.

I had to leave both of my passenger side doors open as I drove  in order to fit the door into my car.  No problem.  A few police officers live in our neighborhood.  I held my breath that I would not run into them on my quick jaunt home.  Did I mention the door was free?
  So Mr. Door went from my neighbor's garage straight to my garage.  As Josh and I unloaded the car, I excitedly shared with him how we could turn this free door horizontal and make it a headboard for our bedroom!  Hurray!
Anyone notice a little problem with that idea?  This is what I had in mind when I picked up the door.
 The problem is that the door featured in this picture has completely different paneling from my free door.  The door I picked up would not be symmetrical if we hung it as a headboard.  I thought about throwing caution to the wind and still doing it.  Unfortunately, when I casually mentioned this idea to Josh, he thought it would bug him.  It probably would bug me too honestly.  But I really like the door.  Josh wanted to put it back in the trash.  Undeterred, I did a bit of Googling.

As a result, I found the perfect use for our free door!  Check out this link to see...

Pretty cool huh?  It will mean that I will need to paint the door and and order glass to go over it.  I want to put the large desk in our playroom.  It would be great to have that area for me to sew or the kids to do bigger craft projects.  Josh and I decided on file cabinets instead of saw horses.  We are going to try and get a set at Goodwill and then spray paint them a color to either match or compliment the color we paint the door.

I only have a week left of vacation. Will this get done before then?  Probably not.  But it is still exciting to have a plan and know that we can put the free door to use in our house!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How to Say "No"

I have heard from many sources, from my own friends, to articles in women’s magazines, to Oprah, that many women struggle with saying no.  I do not have this problem.  Quite the contrary, I feel that I need to practice saying “Yes” more often.  

Recently a friend of mine asked me if I felt guilty when I say “No.”  Honestly, sometimes I do, for a moment.  But most of the time, I say no for good reasons and my many “Nos” are really just another way of saying “Yes” to something else.  For example, saying to my daughter, “No, you cannot go to this fifth birthday party this month,” may be hard for a second or two where I feel like an evil joy-smasher.  The “No” actually leads straight to a “Yes” to more family time and a more relaxed Mommy.

Some people need the process broken down for them.  How do you say no when you are put on the spot, say when the PTO president calls you to chair the Teacher Appreciation Week or when your neighbor wants you to play the flute for her ferret and clean out the cage each day while she’s in Costa Rica for a month? 

 Here are my 5 simple steps:
·         “That is not going to work for me right now”
·         Stop
·         Repeat
·         Divert
·         Leave

1.       Memorize this line:  “That is not going to work for me right now.”  Practice it.  Cross stitch it into a pillow if you need to, but have it ready in the forefront of your mind.  It works with anything.  Try it.
Person A:  “Kate, can you babysit my eight kids for the day while I get a pedicure and have my false eyelashes replaced?”
Kate:  “Oh, that is not going to work for me right now.”

Person B- “Kate, I am hosting a party for ( __________), do you want to come and feel pressured to buy about $50.00 worth of stuff that you aren’t really interested in?”
Kate:  “Oh, that is not going to work for me right now.”
You get the idea.  The problem people have with this step is that they feel the need to explain themselves.  They feel that they need to have a good reason for saying No.  You don’t.  Your reason is you don’t want to do it. That is enough. 

2.   Stop talking:  Do not explain, do not make excuses, do not lie.  If you need to, count in your head to keep your mouth shut.  Do, “ 1 one thousand, 2 one thousand, 3 one thousand …” if the silence is killing you.  Or stick an apple your mouth if have one handy. Whatever works, improvise.

3.       Repeat:  “That is not going to work for me right now.” if the person is persistent.  For example, Person A may come back with, “Oh really, because I just really need to get my lashes fixed before the big circus gala and I am just completely out of options!” 
You:  “That is not going to work for me right now.”  Be prepared to repeat your line of refusal.  It will sound robotic to you at first, but stick with it.

4.       Divert attention:  The easiest way to do this is to compliment the person on something.  Like with Person A:  “Oh Sally, you always look gorgeous!  I loved that sequined elephant dress you wore the other day.   Where do find such unique clothes?”  Or forget the compliment and ask them about themselves, “How is the circus business doing in this economy? Are you still swallowing knives?”

5.       Take your leave: Once you have said no and diverted their attention, it is time to get out of Dodge.  The best thing for no novices to do is leave the scene; otherwise you will probably crack under the pressure to say yes.  Then, all of your work will go swirling down the toilet.  If you are on the phone that may mean saying, “I need to let you go.  Can we talk later?”  If you are face to face and you cannot totally leave, use the toilet trick.  Even if you know where it is, ask where the restroom is located and excuse yourself.  No one is going to follow you into the restroom.  Unless they also have to go too, in which case, I don’t know, you’re on your own.  Maybe grunt in the stall and wonder aloud about the green roast beef you ate for dinner last night.  That won’t happen though.  In all my years of saying no I have never been followed into the restroom.  Head in, wash your hands a few times, go if you need to, and relish your victory.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back to School- Organizational Plan

Here is what I like to do:
1.  Come up with a great organizational plan.
2.  Buy supplies to execute that plan.
3.  Get the plan 85% put together. 
4. Execute the plan for approximately 3 weeks.
5.  Fall off the wagon and tackle a new project somewhere else instead.

I discovered a few years ago after taking some diagnostic career-associated tests and questionnaires, that this tendency makes me a “big picture” person and not a “detail oriented person”.  Good thing I married a detail guy!  Anyway, apparently this breaks down in the following way.  Big picture people get really excited and pumped by a new idea and seeing it all come together in their mind.  And basically, just the rush from the idea is enough.  The details sort of weigh us down and burst the creative bubble.  So, sometimes we don’t really get around to doing the big idea, and because the idea itself is the exciting part, we’re okay with that.
In my case, this means I often have several projects going at once, and few get completely finished off.  In my two weeks off, I am attempting to get some things completed.  BUT, true to form, before I do that, I wanted to get just one last project started.

This is my “Back to School” project.  With two kids in school now, I need to get my act in gear, especially since I will have a full load of classes as well.  We are lucky enough to have a mudroom.  I put this room to work.  I painted the door in the chalkboard paint a few months ago.  What I wanted to prevent is me forgetting to fill out a form, or getting annoyed with the kids just laying everything out on my desk and then asking me if I read it every 3.5 seconds.

I bought a wall file folder for each child and one for myself.  All papers that I need to see are to be put in my Inbox by my desk in the kitchen.  Then, when I am finished looking at them, or filling them out, anything that needs to go back to school goes into their inbox.  These file holders or in-boxes are right next to the door, so they can see them as they walk out to the bus.  They know to check their boxes before they leave for school and put any papers back in their folders for school.  So far, this new plan has worked like a charm!  It has been absolutely flawless for one day! :)

I let the kids pick out decorative paper at Michael's to spruce up their boxes. I laminated the paper to keep it from ripping or fraying. FYI-these same clear file folders were almost $11 at Office Maxx and only $2.99 at Target!

My goal this year is to say "YES" more often. In this case I said "yes" to 100% finished.  I almost skipped laminating the papers since it was "pretty much done".  But I hauled my butt back out and finished it up.  Wha-who!  Little victories people, little victories.
I did let them pick out their own paper, but I asked them to stay in the same color scheme.  It worked!
The teacher in me has to have "procedures" for transition times.  This is what we came up with for our after school procedures.  I love the chalkboard door for this type of stuff!  

Plastic wall file folders hold papers or anything that should be placed in the backpack for the following day.
They each also have their own hooks for coats later on that are hung at their height.

This is my "Inbox" to hold papers from the kids.  After I fill out the forms, I place them in their boxes to be loaded into their backpacks.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What was that?

School started in my town yesterday and I did what every kindergarten mother does on the first day of school…I cried.  What makes it a little different for me is that with both Kai and Elizabeth, I did not at all expect to cry.  When the pit in my stomach began to form, it took me by surprise, like checking your reflection in the mirror and discovering you have a huge chunk of spinach stuck in your teeth.  The sense of sadness and dread left me a little bewildered, thinking, “Huh, how did that get there?”  I have never been a clingy mom, nor have I ever had clingy kids.  I never lingered in doorways when I dropped my kids off at childcare, nor do I rush in for “One last hug.”  For better or worse, I usually drop my kids off and skip away to enjoy work or some well deserved alone time.
                I did okay for the first hour.  But after that first hour, I felt a like I had eaten some bad meat or something.  Then, before I could stop myself, I impulsively dialed my husband at work.  He barely got out his “Hello,” before I started spurting about, “I know this is crazy Josh, I know I’ve been talking about how great this would be, having the kids both in school,  but I am SO SAAAAD our baby is at school!  I feel so sad.  What is my problem?”  Again, before Josh could tell me what my problem was, I proceeded to dramatically chronicle Kai’s entire life with us.  The day we brought him home from China, how quickly he learned English, his first day in the Teddy Bear two year old class at our church, etc.  In those moments, you don’t list the matchbox car flushed down the toilet, or the three broken kitchen chairs, or the many temper tantrums in public places where you haul them out kicking and screaming tucked sideways under your arm.  Nope, the brain filters all of that junk out.  Josh listened with patience.  A hint of slightly forced understanding slipped through with his over emphasis on the sympathetic tone, “Oh, I know it.  I K-N-O-W…” 
                What he was really thinking with each “I know…” is, “I know you are NUTS Kate!” He is correct.  I’ve been giddy for the last couple of weeks pondering this day.  Both of the kids in school, full time!  At last, I would have a little bit of time to myself.  Oh the projects I would get done, the writing I would do! My humble sewing machine would break from overuse.  My lonely bike and I would finally tour those beckoning country roads for hours on end.  All of this was supposed to transpire during the two week break I have right now between the kids being starting school and me starting the fall semester for my school.
                I am used to Elizabeth being in school full time.  I see now, that I am not used to Kai being in school full time. The shock came from being at home alone.  Usually, I am at school or at work when the kids are at school.  So, I did it. I cried.  Part of me felt a little better that I did cry.  Sometimes I feel guilty listening to other mothers talk about how much they do not want summer to end; meanwhile I have a mental countdown ticking away.  At the end of the day, both of the kids bounded into the house ecstatic with news of their first day.  We are moving on as a family. 
                I’ve got a two week break to get some things done, and then it is full throttle to finish my masters program.  I just hope I am excited about my year as the kids seem to be about theirs!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mama Raccoon

For the last two weeks or so, I have gotten up each morning, poured my coffee, grabbed by book and headed out to our sun room to wake up.  And for those last few weeks, I listened to Mama Raccoon shuffled and purr beneath my feet.  Sometimes, she would head into our crawl space for some recreational banging on the air vents.  After Josh woke up and we’d sit together with our coffee, now in the office, listening to Mama Raccoon slam bang around beneath us.  She seemed to like to be wherever I was.  So if I sat in the sun room, there she was, scratching the dirt under the floor.  If we moved to the office, she banged around the crawl space like my children seem to do each time I pick up the phone to make a call.  It is like an invisible signal goes out that says, “Get her attention now, she is about to do something that does not include us!”
                We’ve had a Mama before.  Two years ago, Josh evicted Mama and her babies by pouring drops of ammonia through the cracks in the sun-room floor.  The fumes made her grab her babies one by one and move them to our neighbor’s yard.  But this time, that didn’t work.  We had to call in the big guns, Animal Control.  This didn’t bother me until I heard the cost, $150 for them to set the trap and $55 per animal they caught.  So, if that Mama has babies, guess how much those cute boogers will cost us?  A ton! 
                What did I do?  I did what any responsible homeowner would do.  I ignored it for awhile.  Sometimes ignoring things really does work, like the headache that goes away once you leave work or the whining kid who gets distracted by a shiny rock in the dirt.  It can be an effective strategy, but not one I would recommend for raccoons.  I tried though.  I pretended I didn’t hear her purring away as I drank my coffee the next morning.  It was as if I reasoned that by loosening up a bit about wild animals living beneath my feet would make it all cool and fine.  I ignored the banging on the vents while my stomach churned with the fear that perhaps she would fly through one of the air vents and latch onto my innocent ankles with her sharp teeth.  Ignoring worked for about 3 and half minutes.   
                So, I did it.  I called the Animal Control guy. He came and set a trap.  Sure enough, this morning, Mama Raccoon was sitting in the trap, looking adorable and defeated.  I felt relieved and awful at the same time.  Poor little lady.  I was wallowing in my empathy for Mama as the Animal Control man scooped up the trap.  The minute he lifted that trap up, she growled and hissed with such vigor that it sent chills all the way down to my fleshy ankles.

                The lesson of the tale is this:  If you care about your ankles, call Animal Control and pay the big bucks to haul Mama Raccoon to a pretty park preserve nearby.  Oh, and don’t forget, ignoring raccoons doesn’t make them go away; it makes them have babies under your sun-room floor.  This is my service announcement for the month.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Time to change things up

It is time to give the blog a little face lift, a BLOG-OVER shall we say?  I envision a blog-over sort of like a do-over, or a makeover, OR even a sleepover.  After each of these fine events everything looks better and more hip.  I suppose that isn't really true with a sleepover, in which case you end up just tired and cranky wondering why in the heck other people don't eat breakfast at a decent hour?

I happen to have some time on my hands this weekend.  So we'll see how this blog-over goes.  I hope to change the title, the layout, (which I have already tweaked a bit), and then actually post to it.  I hope to make these changes because honestly, the title and the description do not really describe who I am anymore.  I am moving on from coffee and triathlons.  The pursuit of both activities were leaving me wiped out and jittery, like an old lab rat working way to hard to get the cheese.

It is time for some subtle changes.  Letting go of the pursuit of running to avoid knee surgery, cutting WAY back on the coffee to just one measured cup a day (I know!  Do I sound 80 yet?), and hopefully writing a little bit more often than never- at- all.  Yes, my standards are high, but I refuse to be deterred!

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'd rather be....


Today, I should be catching up on my reading for class.  Instead, I chose to sew.  And it felt seeewwww good.  (ha!)

Tomorrow I'll pay the price for getting behind with the reading for class, but sometimes you just gotta cut loose and break out the sewing machine!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's 2011. Cell phone networks are 4G; razors have five blades; and Starbucks is introducing a 31-ounce drink. What will be "upgraded" next?

All upgrades will reach the limit.  In order to upgrade, you will have to downgrade.  People will start buying retro cell phones that only dial six of the seven digits in a number before the battery dies. Plastic surgery will be so “yesterday”, wrinkles and the ability to smile without looking like the Joker will announce to the world that Botox is over.  Living in a 400 square foot home with two kids and three Labradors will be tres chic.  No one will carry around water bottles that hold a gallon of liquid.  Instead, it will be all the rage to risk your life by sipping from public water fountains. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

If you became a spy and could pick anyone (living or dead, real or fictional) as your partner, who would it be?

I think I have to go with George Clooney.  He’s smart, funny and not bad looking.  He can drive a fast car well, has a passion for the world and is interested in politics.  I think he would be a good partner.  George would have my back but also wouldn’t hesitate to let me kick some butt when appropriate.  My specialty would be a high swing kick to the face.  Swing kicks and maybe elbow jabs. 

After a long day of chasing bad guys, we’d grab something to eat and kick back with a beer that I would actually like to drink since we are hanging out in la la land.  Normally I cannot stand beer, but a Diet Coke just doesn’t seem right in this case.  I’d say, “So, what do you think is going to transpire in Egypt now that Mubarak has resigned?”  And we’d debate and talk late into the night.  We’d leave for Egypt on an early flight out the next morning, lots of bad guys hanging out there right now.  Not to worry though, George and Kate are on the way.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

Write about a place where you could not happily live.

      I’d like to think that I could happily live anywhere.  I’ve always told Josh that I would move anywhere but Texas, although that sentiment could possibly bite me in my Indiana butt.  I can tell you what makes me really happy about places.  First, I really need a wonderful library.  Next, I want bike paths.  I would love to be able to ride my bike as many places as possible.  We chose our house that we live in now because it is close to several miles of bike paths.  I love trees and being outside. Our home now is surrounded by several cottonwood trees that loom above our second story.  Their utter beauty makes up for the leaves that must be picked up from July through November.
       I could not live happily without Josh or the kids.  But since we get to go together as a family unit, I feel many places are open to us.  I don’t really want to head over to Pakistan or Iran.  Russia isn’t really on my radar. What I keep thinking is that every time I have made a big move, a wonderful new friendship was waiting for me.  When I went to U of I, I met Heidi at “Math Camp”, which was horrible, but we danced with tennis rackets as “My Sharona” blared from our radio.  When I transferred to Indiana University, I met Veronica on that very first day. I helped her install a halogen light bulb and we’ve been friends every since.  I cannot imagine my life without her.  Even when I was little, when we moved from Minnesota to Illinois and I thought my heart would break, I met Rachel and then Abby, two women I still love.  They will forever hold a very special place in my heart. 
       Stereotypes threaten to get in my way when opening up to new places.  I remember thinking with utter horror about us moving to Indiana.  I imagined waves of toothless people mulling about sporting green John Deer caps and worn out overalls with no shirt underneath.  I think I would not be happy in a few countries, but overall, I’m keeping an open mind for the present time.  

 I could move to Texas if I could skate around in these!