Monday, October 13, 2014

It wasn't my plan to make....

(This was written in early October, but I never got the chance to publish it because I found out the news and then had to go buy packing tape & find boxes the next day.)

So, we're moving in less than a month!  Surprise!  That's pretty much how I got the news.  On Monday, we renewed our lease for another year because we didn't think we were going anywhere anytime soon and all the kinks had been worked out in this house.  On Tuesday at 3 p.m., my husband got a call that said, "Hey, you're going to be doing blah, blah, blah now in X, location so you better get packing."  Sooo, yeah.  We're only moving 100 miles away this time instead of 2,000.  Hubby then drove to our property manager's office and asked for the renewal paper back.

When people ask when we moved to where we are now, I say January, but I realize we moved in November.  However, we had to find a place once we got here, get the lease signed and get the keys, move the stuff in, wait a few days for the heat to be turned on.  Then we found out we had chunks of rust coming through all of our pipes and some pipes had no water coming through at all.  So then it was mid-December before we actually got to move in.  We had been living with my generous in-laws and commuting.  Of course, when we moved in we spend 3 nights here and left for Christmas vacation.  So really, it was January before we got to live here officially in my mind.  So we've been here for 10-11 months, and now the adventure continues.

I'm not sure how much detail I'm allowed to go into, so I'll just say that my husband is changing roles in his job, working for the same company, and moving in a direction that he is very excited about.  We are moving to the same town where my parents first started their family, where my father in-law was raised, and where my grandma in-law (cutest ever!) currently lives.  (It is also where my best friend's in-laws live so we get to go shopping together when she visits them!)  I feel like we are following in our parents' footsteps, and that is kind of neat and interesting.  Plus I get to see my (*hubby's) grandma a lot more!  That is as long as she doesn't have a heart attack when she finds out that her grandson & great grandson are moving to town.  It is the same distance to my in-law's house and about an hour closer to my parent's house.

So those are all good things, but I am a little bit torn up about it at the same time.  In CA, it took me almost the full 2 years to finally start to build relationships with other people.  It was a big culture shock initially, took us a while to realize we needed to change churches, and then to start meeting people.  After we moved here, I decided that I would just dive right in.  So once we decided on a church, I marked on my visitor card that I wanted to join a small group.  It took longer than I was hoping to find a matching group, time and for me to remember to wake up early that day, but within a few months I found a mom's Bible study to go to.  The moms in that group are amazing, and I have already learned so much.  I have started to get to know some of them better now that MOPS is going on and we've had a few socials to meet with our kids.  It felt like such a perfect fit, and I was excited to build relationships that way.  So I am very sad that this "perfect fit" is going to have to come to a close just like last year after we had finally started to meet people.  I was even feeling confident that we were in the right church and had asked Peter, "So at what point do you become members of a church?"  Well, I guess we'll never become members because we're always moving.  At least we have a baby still which makes it 100x easier to meet people even if we can't be friends for longer than a year or two at a time.

I know in my heart that the Lord has better plans for me no matter where He sends us and that He has something for me to learn from this experience just like in the past.  So I am trusting in Him.  At the same time, I am fully human and fully imperfect, so I am a little bitter that I have to pack up the whole house on short notice again, break our lease a month early (or rather pay for an extra month when we aren't here), and restart friendships again.  So I would appreciate prayers for the adjustment and accepting of God's plans for me.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

13.1 Miles! How It Went

I can't believe it's already been 2 weeks since I ran my half marathon!  By the sheer power of God, I finished the 13.1 miles in 2 hours, 7 minutes, and 35.6 seconds.  I finished 45th out of 71 people, which is pretty standard for me to be somewhere in the middle of the pack.  My average pace ended up being 9:44 miles, which was quite shocking to me (goal was 11 minute miles), especially for what I will tell you about how it went.

As I think I had mentioned in my previous post, my foot had been bothering me for the 3-4 weeks leading up to race day.  After my last long run before the race, my left foot was really hurting.  The last week of training was a taper week anyway, so I cut back quite a bit and didn't run at all for the 4 days before the race, though I did bike a little bit.  I had a feeling that I was trying to ignore that a few miles into my run it would start hurting again, but I was praying that wouldn't happen.  Unfortunately it did anyway.  So the whole time I was running, I was thinking that it was going horribly and I was going to end up finishing last.  The rest of me felt great though!  Encouraging the people who I pass has always been a way to help me through any race, so this time I was all about cheering on the person next to me, in front of me, or behind me.  It helps take the focus off of self and is probably some of the best running or racing advice that I can give you.  Just be aware that the person you are encouraging might not be able to get enough air to encourage you back or say thank you.  I also thought about and prayed for all of you--my supporters in prayer, words, and donations to the American Heart Association.  I thought about my dad and how extremely grateful I am to have him in my life still and how easily I could have lost him to heart disease.  I had a lot of time to think, pray, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.  It was along the Rock River in Rockford, Illinois.  The weather was slightly warm with bits of rain here and there, but I could not have asked for better weather in the hottest month of the year.  Aside from my foot, it was a really great run and I did manage to keep a consistent pace throughout the whole race.

After the race, I consumed large quantities of liquids and free food.  Then I went for an x-ray the next day.  (It would have been the same day, but they made a big hullabaloo about making sure I wasn't pregnant before x-raying me.  I'm not so, x-ray!)  We're pretty certain that I have a stress fracture in my foot near the 4th metatarsal (ring toe long foot bone).  Stress fractures are no different from a fracture other than the fact that there isn't one specific injury that causes them, but they are caused by repetitive force such as long distance running.  The x-ray didn't show anything, but stress fractures aren't normally found on x-rays.  They said to go back in a few days and they could do an MRI (which do normally show stress fractures), but of course, I never went back because that's just me, haha.  I haven't been running which is really sad, but I have been hitting the weights a few times a week so I'll be ripped by Christmas time, I'm positive. ;)  My foot is feeling pretty good now.  It doesn't hurt to walk on it anymore so the time off has done it well.  I walked around in heels for a wedding yesterday and then drove home (manual=clutch with left foot) so it was a little sore when I woke up today.  I figure if it's bothering me in the future when I go running again, then I'll go back to the doctor, but since I'm not in pain walking around, I'm not going to bother.

As far as donations go, with your generous support, we have raised $600 for the American Heart Association!  This is just amazing!  Now here is the catch.  The donations can keep coming in up until October 25 when I do the Heart Walk with my family.  My whole family is also working to raise money, and my sister has been having some prize pack drawings for those who make a donation so you'll have to keep an eye out on my Facebook page & I'll post if she has a drawing going on.  (She's SO creative!  Sorry I wasn't that good.)  Here is the link if you haven't had a chance to donate, you still can!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 9-11: 13.1 Training

For some reason, it won't let me type where I want, so now what the past few weeks entailed is at the end of the post instead of the beginning.  Grr.  Blogger.  [Also, I really apologize, I barely find/make time to post, so I definitely rarely spell check/proofread what I write.  I definitely can do better writing, but this isn't for a grade or for work so it's not a priority for me.]

I've certainly put in a lot of miles compared to what I was doing the first couple weeks.  I've worked up to a 12 mile long run.  My long runs I have felt pretty strong for the most part--especially the 11 mile run.  For the 11 miles, I ran across the arsenal bridge, along the Iowa bike path, all the way to a Veteran's memorial park, across a bridge that is currently closed because the foundation was crumbling so it is being reconstructed, back along the Illinois bike path all the way home.  For the 12 mile run, I ran 6 miles on the Illinois bike path and back home.  It has been hot, a little wet, & humid the past couple weeks--heavy on the humid side (90%).  I've been sweating buckets.  I'll tell you a secret, but you have to promise to still be my friend.  I don't even bother with the deodorant before I run because it's pointless.  I shower when I return home & CJ is napping.

Fun (Not so fun) story about my 12 mile long run this past weekend:  I got up at 7 a.m., checked the forecast/radar.  I figured I could make it there and back before the heavy rain hit.  Just over 3 miles to go, and I could see the dark storm clouds rolling in.  They were the kind that you are just waiting for them to burst open at any second.  There was someone leaving a construction site who yelled out his window to me, "You better hurry, the storm is going to be here in about 15 minutes!"  I had about 30 minutes to go.  :/  Not 5 minutes later, it started down pouring.  According to the radar before I left, there was a lot of green before it got to the yellow and red.  It was wrong.  I didn't see a single sprinkle.  It was torrential down pour.  I couldn't see (despite my choice to where contacts since glasses are easily fogged).  It hurt my skin. Heavy winds (gusts up to 38 MPH).  My shoes were soaked.  My shirt and shorts were soaked.  My underwear were soaked.  I mean--most of those were already pretty damp from the 94% humidity--but rain water is a lot heavier than sweat apparently.  And then the streets flooded.  Not just little puddles, but I was running through at least an inch of rain for the last 3 miles.  Lucky for me, scientists say that you don't get pneumonia from being out in the rain or from wet feet.  I didn't get pneumonia.  I just got really wet.  But I got the run in!

I have had some people ask me if my dog Lyna is still going with me.  Yes!  She doesn't do the long runs with me, but she has ran up to 5 miles multiple times with me.  That's about her max, especially on the hotter, more humid days.  She pees a lot.  Half the time she fakes it, and I believe it is because she wants a break.  Today we only ran 3 miles, and she gave up on me a half mile from home because it was just that hot & humid.  We even left at 7:30 a.m. She does get really excited when I put on my running clothes though.  I'm not sure if it's because she is excited to run, or the more likely scenario is that she is very concerned that I might leave without her.

The half marathon (13.1 miles) is THIS Saturday!  I can't believe it's already here!  I do not feel as strong as I did when it came time for my marathon, but I can definitely finish--I'm not worried about that at all.  I've been having some foot pain, so I'm hoping that taking this week easy will help that disappear along with a strong dose of prayer.  As far as goal times, I initially was hoping to be able to do a 10 minute pace, but I think that would be asking a lot.  I'm hoping more for an 11 minute pace which would be a 2 hours 24 minutes and 6 seconds finish time.  I hope P. has fun entertaining CJ while I run! hahaha!  Mommy gets a "break" running a half marathon.  The race starts at 7:30 a.m. with registration starting at 6:30 a.m. so we'll have to leave here pretty early that morning.  Exciting!

I have had a few people donating recently after I sent another round of emails to everyone in my inbox as a reminder.  So far, $450 has been raised for the American Heart Association & that is absolutely fantastic!  I'm still not giving up hope for $1000 by the time I do the Heart Walk in October though.  If you would like to donate, please follow this link.  Running by itself is great for your mind and body.  When you run for something other than yourself (through the power of God), you truly are unstoppable.  More importantly than donating to my cause, I urge you to find your own cause and work hard for it.

Here is what the past few weeks entailed: 
Wk-Mon-Tues-     Wed-        Thurs-     Fri-   Sat-          Sun
9- Rest- 3 m run- 5 m run- 3 m run- Rest- 6 m run- cross
10- Rest- 3 m run- 5 m pace- 3 m run- Rest- 11 m run- cross
11- Rest- 3 m run- 5 m run- 3 m run- Rest- 12 m run- cross     

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Weeks 6-8.5: 13.1 training

Ah, I have been so busy lately!  I can't believe how long it's been since I updated!  But I had some coffee this evening which means I can totally focus this late in the day and give some updates on how my half marathon training/fundraising is going!  By "focus" I really mean that I can ramble about my training, thoughts, progress, and other things that I think of.

My usual week goes something like this:
     Mon: Rest
     Tues: 3 miles/strength train
     Wed: 5 miles
     Thurs: 3 miles/strength train
     Fri: Rest
     Sat: Long run
     Sun: Cross Train/Stretch/Strength

My long runs have increased up to 10 miles now.  I am currently in week 9, so it is a step back week meaning my long run is [only] 6 miles.  Finding time for the long run is probably the hardest thing during the training week.  Also, waking up early enough to go running before my husband goes to work is also a challenge.  Sometimes Thursday runs get switched with Fridays and Saturdays with Sundays because Thursday mornings I have my MOPS small group.  So if I want to run on a Thursday, I'd have to run in the evening, but in order to run in the evening, my husband would have to not be working or it would have to be cool enough to take CJ in the jogging stroller.  Both of those are rare occurrences. 

Training this time around is so different than when I was training for the full marathon, and I am going to attempt to put my thoughts about it into words.  I'm a wife, baby mom, and doggy mom.  I have so many other people/things to think about before myself.  It's not that it bothers me, because I love all of those aspects of my life, it is just something I am still adjusting to and in awe of at the same time.  I was so self-centered in college, and I didn't even realize it.   My only concerns were if I'd have time to hang out with friends, create the best bulletin board for my floor, and finish my chemistry problems on time.   I never really noticed the little baby steps of being forced to be less self-centered until I started training for this race.  It's definitely been a good change though.  It started with marriage--you have to think about how your actions will affect your husband.  Then with the dog--she is more than two handfuls of trouble with her separation anxiety needs.  When I bring her with me, I can't just focus on how I am feeling, but how she is handling the run as well.  I had to shorten my run the other day because I could just tell that she wasn't feeling well based off the amount of grass she was trying to consume and her breathing was not like normal.  And when you have a baby--I still can't find the words to describe how much it changes you.  Your needs should matter, but they are very low on the list at the same time. 

Some mornings, I find myself not wanting to go run because I'd rather just spend that extra time with my husband and baby.  I have to repeat to myself over and over that in order to be the best wife and mom that I can be, I need to do this to take care of myself physically and mentally.  When I don't get the exercise, I am 100x more emotional--just as my wonderful, supportive husband.  I also am not doing my body any good in the long run.  I want CJ to grow up knowing that physical fitness is important.  When I get back from my runs, I do my strength training in front of him so he can see that his mommy takes care of herself.  One day, I hope he will join me so he can start even earlier than I did at taking care of the body that the Good Lord has blessed him with.  Heart disease is in my genes, and it is in his genes as well.  But by making changes in areas we can control like learning how to eat healthier and exercise more, we can put an end to it with this generation.  That is why this half marathon is so important to me.  It's not just about saying that I ran 13.1 miles.  It's about inspiring wellness, raising awareness, and raising money to support all of the work that the American Heart Association (AHA) does to save lives.

The other day I posted on Facebook asking for donations to the AHA and said something along the lines of, "It may very well save your life and probably will save the life of someone you know."  One in four deaths is caused by heart disease.  The AHA is working to lower that statistic.  Imagine if you or someone you know had a heart attack or stroke.  Chances are this will actually happen in your lifetime.  You or that person you know may have their life saved by CPR, an AED, or simply someone nearby recognizing the symptoms and knowing when to call 911.  The AHA trains more than 12 million people each year in CPR.  They have also created the Hands Only CPR Instructional Video which can be distributed to millions more.  It is this very work, in addition to all of their research efforts, that could very well save your life or the life of someone very close to you.  When my dad had his stroke, he didn't know what was wrong with him.  His friend who was with him at the time knew to get him to the hospital ASAP.  Words cannot express how grateful I am that he recognized the urgency of the situation.  Every day people have strokes and delay going to the hospital and getting time sensitive care because they don't know the symptoms.  It happens way more than you would think.

On an unrelated note, I wanted to post a quick story about God's provision.  I came to the realization that during my marathon training, I spent a lot more time in prayer during my runs than I had been this time around.  I'm not sure why, but I'm glad I recognized this.  I was doing an eight mile long run a few weeks ago, and I was feeling awful the last few miles.  I hadn't prayed the whole time during that run.  When my legs started aching, my sides started cramping, and my lungs felt like they were all dried up, I simply said something along the lines of, "God please help me!"  Not even a minute later, I looked up and there was a mulberry tree.  The Perfectly Placed Mulberry Tree.  God is an on time God, whether you believe it or not, He has proven it to me time and time again.  This tree had been sitting along the path that I run on along the river over and over, and I had never noticed it until then.  The best part was that it was full of ripe, ready to eat berries!  Sure it may sound a little fishy to some of you--plucking berries off a tree that I know little about--but when you ask God for help, and you look up and see a mulberry tree that you never noticed before--you'll understand.  I survived.  In fact, I more than survived.  I grabbed a handful of berries, (checked for bugs,) popped them in my mouth, and dominated the last couple miles. I later did a quick Google search on mulberries to see what their nutritional benefits are, and I was shocked at how great they are for delivering oxygen to your muscles, eliminating free radicals, and even preventing strokes!  Now every time I run past my mulberry tree, I am reminded of how God provides exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. 

When I was training for the marathon, I asked God for motivation to keep running one day when I was feeling lazy during a run, and you know what he provided me with?  An angry goose.  No joke.  I prayed for motivation, and 2 minutes later I was being chased by an angry goose.  I definitely got motivated to keep running!

I think that's about it for my ramblings.  We are 40% of the way to my $1000 goal with only 3 weeks and 2 days left to go until my race.  Yes, donations can still be made up until the October Heart Walk in D-town, but I am hoping to get as close as possible to the $1000 goal by August 30.  Why delay when we can start saving lives today?  I also wanted to restate that the funds are not going towards prizes for me because I elected to not receive the rewards so more money will be going towards the American Heart Association.  If you would like to make a donation of any size, please follow this link:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Week 5: 13.1 Training

So week 5 training isn't over yet, but I have a moment to write and I hope to be busy and focused on my family this weekend since my husband finally doesn't have to work.  I'll start with the end of week 4.

The long run of week 4 was a 7 mile run.  Now I believe I had mentioned, we've had a lot of flooding lately.  It crested last Friday, and my long run was on Saturday.  I was running on the bike trail that I do most of my running on, and the plan was to run across the Mississippi into Iowa, turn around and come back. Then I could say I'd ran to Iowa & back!  2 miles into my run, I was doing good.  The river was high, but it wasn't a problem until this one low spot.  The trail goes right underneath railroad tracks and has a low spot there.  There was a gate that I didn't know existed until that day that was closed on the trail with a sign saying it was flooded!  Of course, I just ran around the gate and kept going figuring I could find a way around.  Nope.  I would have had to swim!  So I turned around and tried reworking a new route in my mind.  Unfortunately I'm new to the area so I don't really know the mileages of many things other than the bike trail and a loop that I run.  So I figured out a pretty good mileage estimate of a route I had thought up and kept running.  About 4 miles into the run, the ENTIRE road that I was on was flooded!  There was no road.  Just a pond. Or a lake/river combined into one.  Luckily, I was able to find a way around this part.  I kept going higher and higher, but the water was everywhere I went.  I found about a foot wide pathway between the water and the woods where I could run to get to the other side and back onto the road.  When I got home, I got on and found out I'd only ran approximately 6 1/4 miles instead of 7.  You can't say I didn't try though!  That's what counts.

 This week, I still have my long run to go as well, but the water has gone down more and more so I can finally get through the bike trail again--I just have to pass the gate that says it's closed and hop over a bunch of driftwood that washed up.  Lyna is not a fan of warmer weather.  It was barely 70 degrees the other day and as we were passing a baseball field that is currently under water, she decided to lay down on the edge of the "pond."  She hates baths, but if she's hot she'll do what she can.  We also were on the bike trail running alongside each other and all of a sudden, I was being pulled back by her.  I turned around and she was laying in the shade of a tree!!  Honestly, I'm surprised this hadn't happened sooner.  The furthest she has gone running with me is 5 miles so far, and I think that is about her limit.

I'm still trucking along feeling good!  I was looking at the course for the half marathon and it is also along the Rock River in Rockford, IL on what looks like it might be a bike path as well.  So that's awesome!  You'd think it would get old looking at the same thing over and over, but it's like the ocean--you'd never get tired of looking at it even if you were forced to look at it every day for the rest of your life.  There's always a new bird, turtle, snake, etc.

I am 40% of the way to my goal of $1000 now!  My dad said they had their kick-off meeting at work and the American Heart Association people were excited to meet him.  They might do an interview on WAND (the local news station) with him, which would be pretty neat!  I truly would not be able to get out and train for this half marathon if it weren't for your donations.  The fact that there are people supporting me and believing in me & this cause is my motivation for waking up early, rearranging my schedule, and pounding the pavement.  If you haven't already, would you consider making a donation to the American Heart Association on my page?  Every dollar counts and is making a difference in my life, saving my dad's life, and maybe one day even your life.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Weeks 2-4: 13.1 Training

I knew I'd be bad about updating on my training progress.  The good news is, I feel great when I get out there & pound the pavement (or water since it's flooded).  The bad news is, it's hard to get out there.

Week 2, I did pretty good sticking to the training plan.  I think I missed a workout or shifted it around a little bit, but now it's been too long for me to remember.  I know I made it all the way past the Centennial Bridge towards the downtown area on my long run which is pretty cool in my opinion.  I love that I live so close to the river to be able to run there.  It never fails that the river is different every time I run along it.  It's even different on the way back if I'm doing an out & back run!

Last week I was in Michigan attempting to help my middle sister out while her husband was away with their youth group taking the teens to camp and I didn't get any actual running in which is a disappointment, but I also had other priorities.  She was 37 weeks pregnant and has had some serious medical issues during her pregnancy so she needed to be driven to lots of appointments in addition to needing back rubs.  My oldest sister also came to attempt to help as well.  It meant 6 kids (including 3 toddlers!) with 3 moms and no dads.  Lets just say we all got a workout in throughout the week, just not in the normal fashion that you'd imagine.  I have a huge respect for toddler parents now.

This week is week 4, and I still have my long run to do tomorrow.  It has been another week where the river has changed yet again!  We had over 5" of rain over the past weekend, and 3.5" of that all came down on Monday.  The whole area along the river has been flooded since then and has continued to rise up until today.  It is supposed to peak today and then start to go down.  This means that Lyna (the dog) and I have had a few detours along our routes, but mostly just running through large puddles.  CJ came with us in the jogging stroller yesterday.  He was awake the whole time until the last half mile.  I still feel pretty good though.  My knees are starting to get sore so I am praying they only stay mildly sore or not at all for the duration of my training.

I'm starting to do a tiny bit of weight training in combination with the running to try and put some meat on my bones as well as paying more attention to what I'm eating.  I am taking a prenatal vitamin (since I'm still breastfeeding) and a fish oil supplement, and I'm making sure to eat extra protein after I get done running/working out to help repair those muscles.  I'm probably never going to "count my calories" since it sounds like too much work, but I went on the choose my plate website to calculate how many calories I should be eating each day with running, breastfeeding, and just needing to gain a few pounds in general.  2600 calories is what it suggested.  That's a ton of food!  I'm trying to eat heart healthy foods, which naturally are low calorie, so basically I just get to eat all day, right? ;)  I do hold a special place in my heart for a bag of potato chips though.

As far as fundraising goes, I am at 20% to $1000!  That's awesome!  I did raise my goal to $1000 because $500 just seemed to simple.  I fully believe in the American Heart Association's research, education, and efforts to end heart disease and stroke.  My sister found out good news about the hole in her heart--they won't have to put a patch in it after she has her baby!  It is small enough that the cardiologist isn't worried about it at this point.

If you wish to donate to the American Heart Association, please visit my page here to make a donation of any size!  Thank you so much for supporting me!

Monday, June 09, 2014

Week 1: 13.1 Training

This week actually went pretty well despite it being an "off" week for Peter's work schedule meaning everything that had been put off had to get done.  I managed to stick to the schedule.  We had a million errands to run--eye appointment, doctor appointment, car appointment, dog appointment, A/C appointment, etc.  The only thing that didn't get done was Lyna didn't get to the vet.  But that's what Monday is for--and they said she's fine not to worry so I don't feel so bad about not making her a priority.

Lyna was my running buddy every time!  She slows me down, but I like having her there.  Monday was a rest day so I gladly took that off.  Tuesday through Thursday were 3 mile days.  I forgot to time us, but I think we averaged about a 10 minute pace.  Thursday was really exciting because I motivated Peter to go running with us so the whole family (baby included) went for a run!  I made sure our route went past some sailboats for my husband since he really enjoys sailing.

Saturday was a 4 mile day (the long run day of the week), and I had the whole course mapped out.  It was a simple out & back course on a bike trail.  I knew just after we crossed rail road tracks, I was supposed to go around a curve and turn back.  The only problem was, the curve that I saw first didn't seem big enough to be considered a curve so I kept going to the next curve.  That was my mistake because the little curve was the correct curve meaning I went an extra 1/2 mile out of my way.  At that point, Lyna was dragging me down, so I stuck her in the jogging stroller with CJ where she gladly accepted the lift for the next mile and a quarter sitting with a smile on her face panting and drooling on the baby's feet while he napped.  Then she decided she wanted to snuggle, and tried sitting on CJ's lap.  Of course, a 25 pound dog on a 20 pound baby wasn't really going to work out (even though he was still asleep) so I made her run the rest of the way.  It also had my biceps burning like crazy!  If I keep pushing those two around every time I run, the half marathon will seem like a piece of cake without them.  I have contemplated pushing CJ for part of the half though because strollers are allowed, and it would be a good nap for him.  I guess we'll see how I feel about that later.

I haven't really nailed down a goal time for the half marathon yet.  I ran my marathon in 4 hours 25 minutes.  I'd like to do better than that since it's half the distance for sure, but I also have to be realistic.  I had a lot less commitments in my life then and my schedule was pretty much set for every day of the week so finding time to run was a lot easier.  According to the Race Times Predictor on, I should expect to run a 2 hour 7 minute half marathon.  So maybe I should set my goal at 2 hours?  I'm not sure.  I think I'd need to go for a run outside without the dog & baby to see what pace I'm really able to run.

We had an exciting first week of fundraising efforts!  I am happy to say we raised $175 already!  I did go ahead and change my goal to $1,000 because $500 just seemed like I was setting a goal just to be able to reach it.  I want to have to work and worry about it.  I do want you to know that when I registered, I said I did not want to accept the prizes for reaching certain goals.  The AHA does give out prizes if you reach a certain "level" of money, but I do not want to do this for my own personal gain and I'd rather your donations be put to good use saving lives.  If you would like to make a donation, please visit my page here.  Here is a little snippet  about what the money donated is used for: 
  • You put up-to-the-minute research into doctors’ hands so they can better prevent and treat heart disease.
  • You support groundbreaking pediatric heart and stroke research to help more than 35,000 babies born with heart disease each year.
  • You help get lifesaving information to those who need it most, from how to recognize the signs of heart attack to making healthy eating choices.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Half Marathon Training Officially Begins Today!

Today is the first day of my half marathon training.  With my marathon training, I followed Hal Higdon's Novice marathon training plan and it worked out very well for me so I plan on following Hal Higdon's Novice 2 Half Marathon Training Program.  I finished 5 minutes before my goal time and felt very good throughout most of the marathon.  I thought that training was going to be difficult at that time in my life because I was a college student, working 2 jobs, along with my leadership position in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.  I also thought that I was always "tired" then because of my life.  Boy was I dumb!  I wasn't tired at all!  Being a mother is what really makes a person tired.  Luckily, he isn't a toddler yet which will be exhausting, I'm sure.

I realize that now getting out for a run means planning around my child's schedule, my husband's schedule, and everything else that always comes up.  So I'm already not going to fuss about making sure that Mondays I rest and Tuesdays-Thursdays I run, etc.  If I have to run on Monday and rest on Tuesday, that's just how it will have to be.  The important thing is making sure I get in the mileage--especially the long runs over the weekends.

As far as cross training goes, I'm loving getting workouts by hooping!  I started [hula] hooping at the beginning of the year when I made about 10 hula hoops and sold a couple.  (If you want a hoop, let me know!  $25!)  It burns about 500 calories per hour depending on what tricks and all you're doing.  I'm not very good, but that's what YouTube is for.  I also have a bike with a double bike trailer that converts into a jogging stroller as well.  And for early mornings before Peter goes to work, I have the option of going to the Y and working out in air conditioning on whatever I want including swimming.

I'm very excited to get started running & raising money!  Some people might consider waiting until closer to the date of the half marathon to donate, but having the early donations roll in really hold me accountable.  If I have people who put their money into believing I am going to run 13.1 miles, then I have even more motivation to get out there & run!  Thank you in advance for all of the love, support, prayers, and donations!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hidden Money Saving Gems in Amish Towns

Yesterday I left home with my baby and almost never came back.  It was so good getting out of the "city" and into the country.  We went to Kalona, Iowa which is a primarily Amish & Mennonite town just over an hour away.  It started out being the perfect temperature, turned into a torrential downpour that made it look like we were going through a car wash without the bubbles (I pulled over at that point), and then it got hot and humid.  But it. was. perfect.  It was just what I needed to keep me from going stay-at-home-mom-crazy.  My purpose in going to Kalona was to visit a "salvage grocery store" called Central Discount Grocery.

Salvage grocery stores are also known as bent and dent stores or discount grocery stores.  They receive new inventory frequently from other stores that consists of products that are less than perfect, past the "best by" date, or seasonal items.  So they might have dented cans or boxes, pasta noodles or candy that are a month or two past their prime, day old bread, or even toilet paper or paper towels that isn't in its packaging.  Here is a list of stores by state.  I had read about them in a blog post called "The Dark Side of Shopping at Salvage Grocery Stores."  It had my husband's name written all over it, and when you get married you start to become more like your spouse whether you like it or not.  So I found myself searching through dented cans checking expiration dates despite reading about the bad things about them.  I guess I wanted to give them a fair shot because that is just one person's experience & I remember the Duggars (19 Kids & Counting) do a lot of their shopping at those types of stores.

This is all my loot from the store!  It was so fun!  The only electricity they had in the store was the register and a small freezer which was probably powered by a generator.  They had gas lights and it was pretty stuffy, but it was pretty clean in my opinion.  No yucky bugs

$2.25 for 5 pounds
$5.50 per case of organic, unexpired baby food
2 Boxes for $1.25 each
3 for $1

10 for $1 (I just bought ONE pack at the gas station for $1.39!!)

$2 for 43 oz
$1 for my favorite scent & $2.50 each for my face wash!
$0.35 each slightly imperfect or just fine cans
$0.50 buns that are about to go stale

$2 each dog food

I found some really good deals!  It was a lot more work than just going to a regular store because you had to check the expiration date, find things that weren't so damaged it could potentially compromise the food safety, and decide if it was worth the risk or if it would go bad too quickly.  I had read not to get pasta that was just in the box without a wrapper so I was happy to find a sealed gigantic bag of spaghetti noodles at such a steal.  I still have NO idea why the baby food was there other than perhaps some store bought way too much because there were a ton of cases of baby food.  It is unexpired, unopened, and perfect.  I make most of my baby food so I didn't buy a ton, but it is nice to have jars for when I travel places so I gladly snatched up one case.  They had my FAVORITE fiber bars that were just past their best by date which we buy every week anyway.  My face wash that my derm recommended was probably my second best steal because I paid almost $10 with a coupon for a bottle the last time and I got 2 for $5 & it lasts a long time!  They were just missing the cap thing.  The giant bag of cereal is also just past the best buy date, but I had some this morning and it's not even stale.  The cans are all unexpired, but with small dents.  I put the hamburger buns in the freezer so they don't go stale.  And the dog food is a pretty good brand that we sold at my pet store that is unexpired.  Also a great price--perhaps my best.  I also got a couple bottles of spices and a pair of panty hose.

Other things they had were tons of candy with Valentines and Easter labels, dressings, sauces, mayonnaise, tortillas, donuts, cough and cold medicines, boxed cereal, juice, soda, water, unwrapped and wrapped toilet paper and paper towels, baby wipes, boxed pasta, salsas, bug spray, band aids, books, spices, detergent, soaps and shampoos, and so much more.

After going here, I had heard that there was a store that sold fresh cheese just up the road.  So I went to Stringtown Grocery which is not the cheese place, but is an Amish grocery store with lots of delicious looking foods.  They had Amish noodles, Amish breads, Amish spices, Amish oats, Amish jams and jellies, etc, etc.  I think they are Amish because they're not made by the English, but the homemade labels and all made everything look so much better.  They had spices in bulk at great prices so I got a few.

After visiting the Amish grocery store, I didn't have enough cash to buy cheese so I didn't go to the cheese place which I saw right after the grocery store.  That is something to keep in mind, these places don't take Visa, Discover, or Mastercard so bring enough cash.  I underestimated how many good deals I'd find which may be a good thing I guess. 

Overall, I had fun visiting the country life, seeing some horse and buggies, and searching for some money saving deals.  If I can keep up the frugal stuff and my husband can keep up with the extreme budgeting, we'll be debt free in no time!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I'm Running a Half Marathon!!

I have decided to run the Run, Walk, Wheel for RAMP Half Marathon (13.1 miles) on August 30, 2014.  RAMP is a local non-profit organization that provides services that assist people with disabilities to live as independently as possible.  Ever since hearing Stevie Hopkins from 3E Love come speak in college, disability awareness has been something I have tried to be an advocate for so I am happy to be doing a race for a cause I support rather than a big corporation.  I encourage others to sign up for a charity run over just any old run.  Often the registration fee for races goes towards a company.  For example, the Warrior Dash is put on by an event company called Red Frog Events.  You pay $40-60 for the actual race itself, a $10 parking fee, and a $5 fee to check your bag.  NONE of that money goes towards St. Jude.  According to the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC), direct spending on average by Warrior Dash attendees from one event is $4.5 million in hotel stays, restaurants, local stores, and gas stations.  That is a lot of stinking money that is just being spent to run a race.  They do have the option (not required) for participants to raise funds for St. Jude's, but like I said--it's an option and you will be spending at least $50 just to do the race.  Registration fees for races like the Run, Walk, Wheel for RAMP, the Race for the Cure, and others are directly being used to make a donation to a local organization.  Sure, it can be fun running through mud, but why not sign up for the Tough Mudder which supports the Wounded Warrior Project instead of the Warrior Dash if that's what you're after?

In addition to signing up for the half marathon I wanted to use this as an opportunity to raise money for an organization near and dear to my literal heart, the American Heart Association, a non-profit organization in the United States that fosters appropriate cardiac care in an effort to reduce disability and deaths caused by cardiovascular disease and stroke.  Heart Disease and Stroke might be something you think will never happen to you, but in my family, it is a reality.  I have lost two grandparents to congestive heart failure.  On September 7, 2010, my dad had triple bypass surgery at the age of 51.  On July 10, 2011, he had a stroke leaving him blind on the left side and remains this way today hoping one day there may be a cure.  My two sisters & I all have heart defects, and thanks to genetics a very high chance of developing heart disease or having a stroke in our future.  But we have all made the decision to improve our lifestyle so that we can have healthier futures and beat heart disease.  On August 30, I will be running the Run, Walk, Wheel Half Marathon for RAMP (a local non-profit organization that provides services that assist people with disabilities to live as independently as possible) in Rockford, IL.  Then on October 25, I will participate in the Heart Walk in Decatur, IL alongside my family.  I will not be able to finish the half marathon without knowing that I am doing it for a cause so I am dedicating my run to the American Heart Association to help fund research and programs that will help put an end to heart disease and stroke.  Will you please support the American Heart Association by making a donation on my fundraising page?

In October 2010, I ran a marathon and used it as an opportunity to raise over $3000 for Team World Vision which raises money for clean water projects in areas in Africa.  It is my greatest accomplishment to this day.  I was overwhelmed with the support and that support is what helped get me to the finish line every day during training and then during the marathon. I couldn't imagine doing this half marathon without having that same feeling pushing me to the end.  I simply wouldn't even start training
Heart Disease and Stroke might be something you think will never happen to you, but in my family, it is a reality. I have lost two grandparents to congestive heart failure. On September 7, 2010, my dad had triple bypass surgery at the age of 51. On July 10, 2011, he had a stroke leaving him blind on the left side and remains this way today hoping one day there may be a cure. My two sisters & I all have heart defects, and thanks to genetics a very high chance of developing heart disease or having a stroke in our future. But we have all made the decision to improve our lifestyle so that we can have healthier futures and beat heart disease. On August 30, I will be running the Run, Walk, Wheel Half Marathon for RAMP (a local non-profit organization that provides services that assist people with disabilities to live as independently as possible) in Rockford, IL. Then on October 25, I will participate in the Heart Walk in Decatur, IL alongside my family. I will not be able to finish the half marathon without knowing that I am doing it for a cause so I am dedicating my run to the American Heart Association to help fund research and programs that will help put an end to heart disease and stroke. Will you please support the American Heart Association by making a donation on my fundraising page? - See more at:
Heart Disease and Stroke might be something you think will never happen to you, but in my family, it is a reality. I have lost two grandparents to congestive heart failure. On September 7, 2010, my dad had triple bypass surgery at the age of 51. On July 10, 2011, he had a stroke leaving him blind on the left side and remains this way today hoping one day there may be a cure. My two sisters & I all have heart defects, and thanks to genetics a very high chance of developing heart disease or having a stroke in our future. But we have all made the decision to improve our lifestyle so that we can have healthier futures and beat heart disease. On August 30, I will be running the Run, Walk, Wheel Half Marathon for RAMP (a local non-profit organization that provides services that assist people with disabilities to live as independently as possible) in Rockford, IL. Then on October 25, I will participate in the Heart Walk in Decatur, IL alongside my family. I will not be able to finish the half marathon without knowing that I am doing it for a cause so I am dedicating my run to the American Heart Association to help fund research and programs that will help put an end to heart disease and stroke. Will you please support the American Heart Association by making a donation on my fundraising page? - See more at:
Heart Disease and Stroke might be something you think will never happen to you, but in my family, it is a reality. I have lost two grandparents to congestive heart failure. On September 7, 2010, my dad had triple bypass surgery at the age of 51. On July 10, 2011, he had a stroke leaving him blind on the left side and remains this way today hoping one day there may be a cure. My two sisters & I all have heart defects, and thanks to genetics a very high chance of developing heart disease or having a stroke in our future. But we have all made the decision to improve our lifestyle so that we can have healthier futures and beat heart disease. On August 30, I will be running the Run, Walk, Wheel Half Marathon for RAMP (a local non-profit organization that provides services that assist people with disabilities to live as independently as possible) in Rockford, IL. Then on October 25, I will participate in the Heart Walk in Decatur, IL alongside my family. I will not be able to finish the half marathon without knowing that I am doing it for a cause so I am dedicating my run to the American Heart Association to help fund research and programs that will help put an end to heart disease and stroke. Will you please support the American Heart Association by making a donation on my fundraising page? - See more at:
Heart Disease and Stroke might be something you think will never happen to you, but in my family, it is a reality. I have lost two grandparents to congestive heart failure. On September 7, 2010, my dad had triple bypass surgery at the age of 51. On July 10, 2011, he had a stroke leaving him blind on the left side and remains this way today hoping one day there may be a cure. My two sisters & I all have heart defects, and thanks to genetics a very high chance of developing heart disease or having a stroke in our future. But we have all made the decision to improve our lifestyle so that we can have healthier futures and beat heart disease. On August 30, I will be running the Run, Walk, Wheel Half Marathon for RAMP (a local non-profit organization that provides services that assist people with disabilities to live as independently as possible) in Rockford, IL. Then on October 25, I will participate in the Heart Walk in Decatur, IL alongside my family. I will not be able to finish the half marathon without knowing that I am doing it for a cause so I am dedicating my run to the American Heart Association to help fund research and programs that will help put an end to heart disease and stroke. Will you please support the American Heart Association by making a donation on my fundraising page? - See more at:

Monday, April 28, 2014

My Basement's Vegetarian Garbage Disposal

So I have a bunny.  His name is Dusty Bunny (haha--you're supposed to laugh)!  He lives in my basement because we have a "room" down there without carpet, just concrete that I turned into as we call "Dusty's Barber Shop."  He has free roam of the room.  I litter box trained him, so don't think he's peeing and pooping all over the place because he is not--he's really quite clean.  He is furry though--he is a lionhead breed of rabbit.

My last post was about being resourceful, and I realized I have been using him as a way to be resourceful and I am being resourceful with how I care for him.  A rabbits diet should be about 10-15% veggies.  I frequently have leftover veggies.  If my rabbit-safe lettuce* is a little brown or soon to not be fresh anymore, I give it to Dusty Bunny.  The tops of my carrots, the stems of my broccoli and cauliflower, the extras of my celery, and I'm sure so much more, I give to him and he gobbles it up all day long.

The main portion of a rabbits diet is 80% hay.  This can also be expensive depending on where you shop.  In my former employment position, I couldn't tell you this secret, but now that I'm not in my former position, I can!  Hay is rather expensive I've found at most stores.  My father in-law bales hay every year a few times a year (I think).  So he donated a bale of hay to my rabbit's cause.  But you could easily purchase a bale of hay for $5 from a farmer which would amount to a savings of at least $100 if you're buying the large sized package of timothy hay at your local pet store--way more if you're buying the smaller sized package.  Timothy hay would be your best option.  My rabbit is a young rabbit, so he's getting alfalfa hay which is recommended for rabbits 6 months and under.

Another way I am resourceful in regards to his care is by not using bedding.  To begin with, when I got him, he came with some bedding, but I realized that even if I had wanted to, it would be so annoying to pluck all of those wood shavings out of his fur every day.  I have his litter box inside of the cage he came with in a corner in his room downstairs.  This way if he misses and pees or poops outside of his litter box, it's not on the floor.  I line the cage with B&W newspaper currently, but if I run out of that, I will line it with some scrap fleece that I have which can easily be washed.  Since I cloth diaper, that's no big deal to me, but I guess it could be to the average person.  I put some wood pellets in his litter box that work really well at keeping the ammonia smell away.  I got a 40 pound bag of them for $5 at Farm & Fleet.

Finally, he creates fertilizer on a daily basis.  Our yard basically looks like the picture above, but isn't actually my yard sorry.  It has a few weeds growing here & there, but no grass.  We are renting our house so we don't want to put too much money in the house, but we also want to enjoy the yard and not get covered in mud and dirt every time we take the dog out.  So we planted some grass seed, no fertilizer.  Instead, we opted to spread rabbit poop all over.  I'll just be real with you--we're country folk living in town and we do what we want so you can judge us, but we won't care.  Rabbit pellets are actually excellent fertilizer, and I did a little research (other than my degree in animal science from the #2 agricultural college in the country).  Consider it "organic" fertilizer, because that's really what it is!  It doesn't need to be composted in order to be used because it is a "cold" manure.  If you think about it, a rabbit, as I said previously, consumes 80% of its diet in the form of hay.  Even the small portion of its diet that is pellets is mostly made of hay.  The rest is vegetables.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. You plant the seed, and it uses nutrients from the soil to grow. The rabbit eats the hay & veggies, and the rabbit puts back those nutrients that the plant used to grow in the first place by pooping as it hops.  If I were to just throw away his poop like any normal person, I'd be wasting a lot!  So spreading his poop around as fertilizer is just the natural thing to do, right?  It's even easier  to do because he is litter box trained so I just sift the poop out & throw it outside!  I can even toss the extra hay from his litter box on the yard to help keep the mud down until the grass starts growing.

Now something that I don't do, but many people do, is you can use rabbits for meat.  Obviously Dusty is a little too small and a lot too fluffy for raising for meat, but you can easily get a couple females and a male bunny and they'd gladly supply you with lots of babies to grow and consume.  Maybe one day I could do that, but right now I don't have the heart for it.  I do have the knowledge of how to go about doing it, and since I took a slaughtering class in college, I could probably figure out how to best do that as well.

So there you have it!  My vegetarian garbage disposal that makes fertilizer!

*not all lettuces are created equal.  Do your research to determine if it is good or bad for your bun bun.

$1 Chicken DinnerS

You see those delicious looking chickens rotating around at Walmart becoming a splendidly roasted, seasoned dinner all the time.  Growing up, we never got them, and quite honestly, I'm not sure why.  For just under $5, you have the hardest part of the meal complete!  It's just a little bit more than you would pay to buy the 3 lb chicken raw and cook it yourself, so to me, it is worth it just because of the fact that you don't have to use your gas/electricity all day to cook it and risk burning it (or in my case, burning yourself).  But I think I managed to about get my money back by buying one of those chickens, and I was so excited about it that I decided to share it with you today.

Go pick the best looking, 3 lb roasted chicken in whatever flavor you desire.  I can't remember what ours was, but we did notice it was quite salty--a treat for me and a couple extra glasses of water for my husband.  You can either cook your sides like mashed potatoes and carrots yourself, or buy them.  Cooking your carrots yourself will actually add to what you're going to do with the remains of your chicken.

Now we are only a 2 people eating solid food family so we had about half of the chicken left over.  If you're a bigger family, you might want to consider purchasing 2 chickens or you'll just have less leftovers.  With the left over chicken, I made chicken salad and chicken tacos.  Save it in your fridge, and shred it the next day.  For the salad, just add it to your usual salad.  The chicken tacos are just a little bit more work, but it's already cooked so it saves you so much time!  Then you can either use a package of taco seasoning or since I didn't have that in my pantry I used this recipe from, add about 1/2 cup of water and heat on the stove.  I already had corn tortillas in the fridge that I heated in the microwave for a few seconds for some low-fat soft taco shells.  It was delicious!

Don't throw away your carcass either, because this is where you make your money back (if you don't consider the labor you save buying it pre-made and using it as leftovers as savings already).  You can make delicious chicken stock with your carcass to freeze for later.  I found this really good recipe at Closet Cooking for Homemade Chicken Stock.  I was able to use some onions and carrots that needed to be used up.  I didn't have any celery, so I just left that out, but it's not like a little celery is going to ruin it.  I was able to make enough chicken stock to equate to about $4 worth of what you would have paid at the grocery store.  Which in my mind means, I only paid $1 for my chicken dinnerS for two people!  I ladled my stock into freezer bags in a mix of 1 and 2 cup portions, laid them flat in my freezer, and went on with my day.

Another thing which I can't actually recommend doing, but I did anyway is I tossed some of the leftover bones to the dog after I had made my chicken stock.  Technically, you aren't supposed to feed dogs chicken bones because they may splinter causing them to choke, but I obviously am a horrible dog-mother and chose to ignore that fact.  For those of you concerned, she lived to beg for more chicken bones.  I also gave her the leftover carrots from the stock since you were supposed to discard them anyway, and carrots are in fact good for dogs.  She was over the moon with chicken flavored carrots!  Saving money on dog treats means I had even more savings.  My chicken was free.  :)

If you just take a look at some of your leftovers, you really can go a long way with them.  Try to get creative.  Green onions that are partially leftover with the roots still can be placed in a cup of water to grow more green onions.  They produce quite a bit more and then they start to fade and that is when you take them out, chop them up and put them in your freezer.  They'll be waiting for you the next time you need them, and are just about as good as the fresh ones.  Your leftover carrot tops, onions, and celery can be used for making the chicken stock in this recipe--just put them in your freezer until you're ready for them.  Bread that is nearing its use by date can be placed in the freezer and only takes a few seconds per slice to thaw out.  You can buy discounted "day old" bread at most grocery stores and put it in the freezer for later.  There are so many ways to save if you just give it a shot.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Hot Cocoa Mix

I feel like I should not be writing about this in March, but it is still currently below freezing with more snow on the way.  While living in California, I did not drink hot cocoa at all as far as I can remember.  Now that I'm back in the Midwest, I drink it all the time.  Instead of having to heat up milk every time I make it, I came up with a way to make it in advance to where all I have to do is add hot water.  You can either turn on your hot water at your sink or do like I do and make a cup of hot water using my coffee maker.  (I don't trust the hot water from our sink, so we always have filtered water in the fridge.)  Here is the recipe:

Hot Cocoa Mix:
3 Cups Store bought Hot Cocoa (We use the Hyvee brand that normally uses 2 TBSP hot cocoa/cup of milk)
8 Cups Instant Dry Milk Powder (in the baking aisle)

Mix the two up together & store in an airtight container.  When you're ready for your cup of hot cocoa, measure 1/3 Cup Hot Cocoa Mix & 7/8 Cup Hot Water.  Stir & enjoy.  (For an extra special touch, you can add a tiny bit of Almond Extract.)

I always like to label my DIY things with the measurements so that when I run out, I don't have to search for the recipe or instructions.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Couples that Play Together

I have a card in my wallet that says "My Husband's 5 Most Basic Needs."  I got it at a "For Women Only" conference shortly before we got engaged.  I thought it was just a conference for any women since it was a college campus church, but really it was my first ever marriage conference.  It actually turned out that God had a reason for me attending that day because I didn't know that I would get engaged within the next 6 months and I learned a lot that day that I still use to this day.  Today I'm going to touch on one of these basic needs of every husband, and that is "Recreational Companionship."

Maybe you've heard the phrase before, "Couples that play together stay together."  Well, it is true.  Your husband wants and NEEDS you to do things with them that they enjoy.  For my dad, he enjoys doing things outside like hunting, fishing, cutting down trees, and calling coyotes.  For my husband, he enjoys using his muscles and playing board games.  When we were living where it was a lot warmer than here, we would go hiking whenever we got the chance.  We'd go to the beach.  And we could always play a game.

Since we recently moved and had a baby, I feel like this category requires more effort than it did before.  This is part of what those people mean when they say, "Marriage takes work."  We haven't had much opportunity to go outside, but I have asked him if he wants to cross-train with me on my off-running days.  (I'm training for a 10K race in April.)  For some reason, we also got out of playing games all the time too.  I think that came with having a kid and being exhausted by 7 p.m.  Every once in a while though I will pull out that card in my wallet and see which of the categories I am not fulfilling the most as a heart-mind-soul check.  That's why I keep it in my wallet.

I realized that I was missing the Recreational Companionship category a bit more than usual, so I have been intentionally asking my husband if he wants to play a game with me.  While I was at the Goodwill the other day, I happened to see a deck of States and Capitals cards on sale for $0.33.  My husband has always liked memorizing states and their capitals and geography, so I knew I had to get it.  I had to make a few cards since it wasn't all 50 states, but it works!  It was a fun way to show him that I was thinking of him, and a great way to let him know I wanted to practice with him.  My brother and sister in-law sent us The Scrambled States of America game when I told them about the States & Capitals cards because they knew it would be perfect for him. So we have been playing that as well

You need to understand that you can't wait for your husband to ask you to do something with him, because you might be waiting forever.  Sometimes they have too much else to think about to realize they might need to relax a little bit and just play.  The key is to know what they like and to invite them to do it with you if they don't invite you first.  If they do invite you, then you have to be willing to set aside your housework, rest time, or whatever you feel that you need to do to join them.   Sometimes it might not be your favorite activity.  Cutting down trees or calling coyotes probably doesn't top my mom's list, but I have seen her many times going with my dad to cut down trees and twigs and branches in preparation for deer season and sitting in a field with a coyote radio trying to woo the wild dogs.  Recreational companionship is a good opportunity to enjoy "us time" without having to sit down at a fancy meal with a lot of expectations and spend a lot of money.  Other things we do together as examples include playing catch, hula hooping, doing a workout from a magazine or online article, having a random push up contest, and the list could go on and on.

If you are curious what all five of the Most Basic Needs are you can see them listed below.  And yes, sexual fulfillment is listed as number one, because that is how God designed men.  They did stress in the conference that this order isn't necessarily true for all men, just most men.  It may seem a bit shallow, but you just have to change your way of thinking a bit to understand it.  God made men different from women so that when we support their needs they can support our needs.

Your Husband's 5 Most Basic Needs:
  1. Sexual Fulfillment
  2. Recreational Companionship
  3. An Attractive Spouse
  4. Domestic Support
  5. Admiration

Thursday, February 27, 2014

DIY Neti Pot Solution in Bulk

A few years ago, my mom got me a Neti pot for Christmas.  It's not your typical Christmas gift, but when you have chronic sinus infections and horrible allergies like I do, it is truly the best Christmas gift you could ever receive.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Neti pot, it is basically a genie lamp shaped plastic pitcher that holds about a cup of water.  You hold the spout up to one nostril, tilt your head forward and to the side while a saline solution pours through one nostril and out the other.  If you really want to be skeeved out, plug your sink while it pours through.  You'd be amazed at how much yuck a Neti pot can clear from your nose with just a cup of water!  It's not love at first sight, but I guarantee you will fall in love with it over time.

My husband and I have both come down with a cold.  Since I am currently breastfeeding, I am limited in the medications I can take.  While my husband is downing Mucinex super-strength nose-evacuator medicine every so many hours, I am drinking orange juice and using my Neti pot.  At
some point, you will run out of these premade packets used to make the solution that you can purchase in a box at the store.  Then (if you aren't me) you have to go back to the store and search for the little things that are always kept in the most un-obvious of locations.  If you are me, you will have read the ingredients at some point and realize what the stuff is actually made of:  sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate.  For those of you who were not a science major or just not good at science, that is salt and baking soda.  Everyone has salt and baking soda!  So I got on google and looked for the proper ratio of salt:baking soda.  Of course, I could only find the proper ratio for one cup, but I need like a thousand cups for one cold.  So I did the math for you, and the recipe follows.

DIY Neti Pot Nasal Saline Solution in Bulk:
  • 6 TBSP + 2 tsp non-iodized salt (i.e. Kosher salt, ground sea salt, cooking salt, etc)
  • 3 TBSP + 1 tsp baking soda
       Directions: Mix ingredients in clean container.  Measure 1/2 tsp of mixture and pour into Neti pot.  Add 1 cup of warm water.  (Bottled, distilled, or filtered water is recommended.)  Then use it as you would your regular Neti pot.  If your nose burns while using this solution add a little more baking soda as needed.  If you are having trouble figuring out how to use your Neti pot, you can watch this video.

I store mine in a little plastic container in my bathroom with my Neti pot.  I also keep a 1/2 tsp measuring spoon in with it so I don't have to constantly go to the kitchen looking for a measuring spoon.  This is enough for approximately 60 flushes.  Enough to last you a month if you rinse your nose twice a day.  Perfect.  I hope you are on your way to breathing easier!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How I Make a Little Extra Cash

Freebies that you sign up for are great, right?  You know, you enter your name and address in a form online & they send you shampoo and conditioner samples.  I get freebies all the time, and I am sure there are even more resources to get even more freebies.  I just liked several pages on facebook such as "Freebies 4 Mom," "," "Free Samples and Freebies," etc, etc.  Just do a little searching and you'll find them.  Then a few times a day you'll have a post show up in your news feed and you sign up if you want it.  But that's just the easy stuff and you don't get to choose what you want.

As a disclaimer, by providing the following recommendations, I am hoping that my referral will in turn earn me a little extra cash if you decide to sign up.  It's a little selfish, but I also really enjoy earning the extra cash and hope that you can also so it's not completely selfish.  I also would not recommend anything that I did not like myself.

A few years ago, while sitting in my college dorm room, I decided I would see if I could be one of those survey-takers to earn a little extra cash.  I tried out several different survey based websites, but I am only still taking surveys for one.  If you want to sign up, please let me know and I will email you a referral, because they don't have the option of posting a link.  I get a whole $1.50 for a referral, haha.  Basically you fill out a few profiles about yourself and they will have you take surveys based off the information you provide.  So if you are a 30 year old female with 2 kids, they'll tailor a lot of the surveys towards that.  Though a lot of them are about soda, grocery shopping, etc.  Sometimes they'll have you watch a short advertising clip and ask your opinion on it.  Each survey is assigned a certain amount of points usually based off the time it should take to complete it.  You then use those points to redeem for either certain rewards or gift cards.  I'm a fan of using them for Amazon gift cards.  It seems to take a decent enough time to earn a gift card, but when you're bored, you can just take a few surveys and see if you qualify.  I have never ever had issues with losing my points, not getting points, or not getting my rewards.

Another way to earn is through using Swagbucks.  Here is my referral link:  I also earn a little extra if you use my referral link.  My Swag Name is aneubert if they ask.  Swagbucks is an interesting concept.  You can search & earn using either their website or the toolbar that you download just like you do with Google to earn points (you don't earn them every time you search).  You can also earn by watching videos, doing your online shopping, playing games, and answering surveys via their website.  You can also enter "Swag Codes" which can be found on their blog, their twitter, or their facebook page for bonus points.  Occasionally they have special days where you can earn extra points.  Just yesterday they had their "6th Birthday Party" and I earned a lot of extra points by joining the challenge and entering extra codes.  The way that I earned the most points was by purchasing tires for my car from, but I used their link to earn 4% back.  I think it ended up being $20 that they paid me just because I needed tires!  This is another points based system.  So you earn points and cash those in for gift cards, etc.  Again, I always get the Amazon gift cards.  I have had issues a couple times with not getting points that I should have earned, but I just facebook them or contacted them directly and they realized the error and gave me my points so it was more of a non-issue.

Finally, I'll let you in on a secret. I am a mystery shopper.  I signed up through (and recommend)  Kern Scheduling Services (KSS) International.  I don't get any extra bonus or anything by referrals, so this is a non-paid recommendation.  Here is how it works.  I get an email about a mystery shop opportunity.  I apply for it.  I am assigned the shop.  Then I print out anything I may need and go do the shop.  I then come home, submit receipts or forms I needed signed and do a quick survey about the shop.  Then I get paid in cash via PayPal.  Signing up for PayPal is free for non-businesses, so there is no charge.  There is also no charge to be a mystery shopper, and there never should be.  Anything else is a scam if there is a charge.  I have never ever had issues with getting paid.  It does take a while, usually if I do a shop in January, I'll get paid in February.  So if I do a shop January 1, it might take a lot longer to get paid than if I do a shop on January 31.  The shops are frequently compliance shops.  So I will go to a gas station, drug store chain, etc, and try to purchase alcohol or tobacco without my driver's license.  For those, I think you have to be between 18 and 25 or 30, but I can't remember for sure.  I have also gone to get my oil changed, gone to a store to take pictures of the set up and do an audit, and I am going to go to a movie theater and watch a movie and order popcorn this week.  All of your expenses are paid.  So I'll use the movie theater as an example.  I will pay up front for 2 tickets, popcorn, and maybe a drink (depending on if they try to up-sell me or not).  KSS will then reimburse me for all of my expenses.  On top of that, they will pay me $5.  So it is over a $40 value that I am getting plus an extra $5.  Same thing with the oil change.  My oil change was paid for plus I got $5 or $10.  I have yet to have actually gotten any tobacco or alcohol, but I would get to keep that if they actually sold it to me, get paid for it, and get an extra $5 or $10 on top of that.  I like that it is real money that they pay you and not points, so I can use it for whatever I want.

So if you want to earn some extra cash, but don't want to go through the trial and error process of trying to figure out what is a legitimate way to earn the money, I've done the research for you.  Again, please use me as a referral if you decide to sign up!  I'll take it as my Christmas present if you want. 

Happy earning!

Monday, February 24, 2014

DIY "Wet" Bag Pail Liner

In my most recent post, I mentioned how I made a pail liner.  They sell "wet bag" pail liners online for $15 or more.  If it can be sewn easily for cheaper, I will at least try to find a way to do so.  This seamed easy enough.  The ones they sell online are usually made from PUL which is actually a pricey waterproof fabric unless you are buying in bulk.  The thing that doesn't make any sense to me is if you are sticking it in a trash can anyway, then why do you need it to be waterproof?  Trash cans are waterproof, too!

So I dug in my closet and pulled out a twin size sheet for a twin size bed that we don't own.  Looked good enough to me & a great way to upcycle for free!  Now I did initially measure my trash can to see how big my pail liner should be.  But then I got smart.  It's a 13 gallon trash can--why not use a 13 gallon trash bag as a pattern?

I folded my sheet in half and placed the trash bag on the fold to cut out.  I added about an inch and half to the top and an inch to the sides for seam allowance and a little wiggle room, and cut out around the trash bag.

I then turned it so the right sides of the fabric were facing each other and pinned the sides and forgot to take any more pictures after this, but you should be able to figure it out easily.  Meanwhile baby C.J. had fun looking out the window and at the sky, haha.

I then sewed up on the height and width of the fabric.  Next I turned it right side out and sewed along those same two seams on the outside for added durability.  Then along the top unfinished side, I sewed a casing to stick elastic in.  This part you might need help with, so here is a great tutorial for how to do this.  (I was lazy and did not iron anything though and just kinda winged it!)  I kept telling myself, "I am making a trash bag, I really don't care how it looks, just that it works."  You should do that too; it save you stress.

 After adding the elastic, here is the finished product:

And with my beautiful lid & sign so no trash gets mixed up in here:

As a side note, this is how I save money on those stupid refills for the Diaper Genie.  Just use a regular drawstring trash bag and wrap it around an old empty refill ring.