Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A great children's Christmas CD

I love, love, love, the Classical Kids Collection of CDs. We only own one, Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery, but have gotten others from the library and my boys have enjoyed them all. The stories are interesting and they even weave in factual information about the composer. I use these to supplement my art/music curriculum.

Well, this past week, I went to the library and got a Classical Kids Christmas, and it does not disappoint. It is beautifully done, has some of my most favorite classical music and Christmas music, and, most importantly, my boys love it! They have listened to it every day since we picked it up from the library.

This is one CD that I think I will buy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Advent Happenings

I am very behind in posting this. Advent has been flying by. This year I tried my best to be crafty, but it has totally backfired. I had planned on making Jesse Tree Ornaments using felt, to be placed on our Christmas tree, but it did not work out at all! Next yearI think I will go back to the Jesse Tree idea I used last year.

Other than that, our Advent activities have been very simple. We have continued to pray a decade of the rosary every morning. And after the rosary, the boys each get to choose one book from our book basket. The book basket is stocked with recommended on the Serendipity blog. At night, we light the Advent wreath and pray from The Season of Light by Jay Cormier.

Now that have entered the O Antiphons, I have attempted the felt ornaments again. We will finish these for the O Antiphons and then I think I should retire my hot glue gun permanently! We are also doing some of the O Antiphon activities mentioned on Waltzing Matilda. The boys are anxiously waiting to decorate the graham cracker houses!

And, this is the first week we have made any baked goods! I am trying to eat healthy and so what mom does, the family does. But today, we were making Christmas presents. Remember the cake recipe I mentioned here? Well, I have made mini cakes using this recipe to give as Christmas gifts.

This week we also made our traditional reindeer pictures out of feet and hand prints. Of course, J and K loved mushing their feet and hands into paint. A? Not so much!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My First Half Marathon

Oh, I like typing that title! I had to look it up, but it was at the end of September that I decided to run in a half marathon before the end of 2009. And, after the Metric marathon that I registered for was cancelled, due to weather, I was not sure if I would achieve this goal or not.

The week before the race flew by. I was not sure how to approach running and exercising that week. I had tapered the week before and needed to taper again in case I ran in the half marathon, but I did not want to lose another whole week of training. So, I took it easy, but not as easy as the week before. I watched the weather for Fredericksburg, VA closely. Early in the week, the forecast said snow on Saturday and rain on Sunday. Uh,oh . . . I thought . . . another repeat of the weekend before. By mid week, the forecast changed to no snow, just rain on Sunday. I could handle rain. Thursday and Friday, it did not look hopeful. The rain had changed to freezing rain! I was sure that the race would be cancelled. At least I had not even bothered to sign up for it. But, by Friday evening, the forecasts had turned back to just rain, so it was looking hopeful.

My hubby decided that instead of me driving down the morning of the race by myself, that we would all go down the day before. We were lucky enough to find a hotel that was within an easy walking distance to the start of the race. Plus, the hotel had an indoor pool and gave us free hot breakfast! What more could we have asked for?!?!

The morning of the race, I woke up at 5 Am and ate breakfast in the bathroom! Yes, I made myself peanut butter and honey crackers in the bathroom so as not to wake up the rest of the family. I headed over to the start of the race at 6:20 AM and got there at about 6:35 AM. I registered, got my bib number and timing chip, used the port-a-potties and warmed up a bit. I was so nervous. To be honest, I had no idea how to run a race this length. I knew the basics; start slow and then pick up the pace as the race went on, but I really had no idea how to put that into practice for 13 miles. When I first decided to run the half-marathon, I set my goal finish time as 2:30:00. While training, I ran 13.2 miles in 2:26:--, so I knew I could run faster than my goal time. I just did not know how much faster.

The race started at 7:30 AM in a strip mall in front of the VA Runner. It was drizzling outside and cold, but it was not too bad. Mile 1 went by in a crowd of people. By mile 2, the group started to stretch out. Miles 2 and 3 are always the worst for me. My body has not quite gotten used to running yet and so my breathing is a bit faster (and my heart rate probably is too) during these miles. Somewhere in mile 2, we ran down a huge hill. That was my first look at the hill that they warned us about. It was BIG. I tried to enjoy running down it and not think too much about the fact that I would have to trudge up it at the end of the race. The course then travelled onto a canal tow path. At around mile 3 it started to really rain. Miles 4, 5, 6, 7, and even 8 were good. I felt good. I was hitting my target splits for the most part. Somewhere in mile 8, though I began to notice the rain. Oh, gosh, it is still raining. Steadily. I am getting cold.

During mile 8 I had decided to take a short walk break. So when I came up to the water/Gatorade station, I walked though it to make sure I could really drink all the Gatorade. I still have not figured out an efficient way to get water from a water station and drink it all and still run! At this point too, I called my husband. He wanted me to call him so that he knew around when I would finish. Plus, I wanted to tell him that it was way too cold and rainy to bring the boys to the finish line. I told him to stay at the hotel and I would call when I was done. But, he asked me to call him again, when I got closer to the finish.

Well, between the phone call and the "water break" I lost some ground that mile. The next mile was tough to get back up to speed and I did go slower. And, during mile 9, I began to realize that there was water dripping from my hat. Sweat? No, I was soaked with rain. Suddenly, I began to feel pain in my legs in places I did not even know muscles existed. Normally, when this happens, I can just pray through it and listen to my iPod, but NOTHING was working that day. I think it was because of the rain. I was having a hard time focusing on just running. By mile 11, I thought, Oh, no, that hill is coming. I started to really worry about it. The course was what they call and "out and back", so you run half way, turn around and run back. Once I got off the canal tow path again, I quickly tried to call my husband to let him know I was almost done. It took me several tries to figure out how to dial the phone . . . . it was like my brain had left my body. I had to walk again to actually call him. It was a short conversation . . I told him, "I am past mile marker 11, bye!" Then, the hill was before me. I had no choice, in my mind. I was running up it. The hill stretched out for a good 1/2 mile and it was steep! I ran up the whole hill and I actually felt fine when I got to the top. At the top, the course marshals were yelling, "Only a mile and a half to go!" I thought, OK, Katie, no time to let up now.

The rest of the course was flat and I ran hard. I slowed down once, though. As I was running, I saw someone walking. She looked like she was in pain and like she felt defeated. I had met her at the start of the race. She had said it was her first half marathon too. So, I slowed down a bit, touched her arm and told her 'You can do it! You are almost there! You have almost finished your first half marathon. You can do it!" I do not know if she started to run again . . . I looked for her at the finish line, but I did not see her.

The course turned back into the strip mall, I passed mile marker 13. I was almost at the end. Then, I heard a familiar car horn beeping. I looked over and there was my husband and my boys in our van in the parking lot waving at me. I was so happy to see them! I crossed the finish line at 2:07:19. I got my finisher's medal and my t-shirt. My boys think these are the coolest of my race shirts and medals yet . . . the race was called The Blue and Gray Half Marathon and its logo is a cannon!

Within minutes of finishing I realized that I was cold. I was soaked through. The jacket could only keep the rain off of me for so long. The "after the race party" was outside. There was a bunch of food from the local restaurants in the strip mall; pizza, Krispy Kreme donuts, chili . . . all of which would have sounded great if I had not just run 13.1 miles!! I had a piece of pizza, but I wanted REAL food. And I needed a nice hot shower. So, we headed back to the hotel so I could shower and eat breakfast. And, I ate more food at that breakfast than I thought would be humanly possible for me!

Today, two days later I am still slightly sore. Because of the rain and cold (and the 1 1/2 hr trip home), I did not stretch out as much as I needed to. But, I am so happy that I ran! And, I am looking for another half marathon to run in January. I really want to run one under 2 hours.

This was an email I got about the race later in the day of the race: Congratulations Katie you finished the VA Runner Blue & Gray 1/2 M on December 13, 2009 with a chip time of 02:07:19. You placed 328 of 557 runners, 101 of 258 Female runners and 17 of 46 in the Women's 35-39 division. You scored 800 Grand Prix points in this race. Weather on Race day was 35 degrees, rain.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Birthday Weekend

This past Saturday, was my birthday. I had such a great weekend. Saturday morning, J had CCD, so my hubby took K with him to drop off J. When they all arrived home, they brought home a dozen roses, a birthday balloon (which the boys had picked out!), Chick-fil-a breakfast (I love their Chicken biscuit sandwich) and Dunkin Donuts coffee (my favorite coffee). I only drink decaf coffee now and really wanted to have regular coffee on my birthday, so this was a treat! The roses were beautiful and I was so happy to get them especially since my birthday is on the Feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. After we had finished eating, we packed up and headed out to Fredericksburg, VA. I was planning on running a half marathon the next day there, and we decided to make it a weekend away for the whole family. After we got there, we checked into the hotel, relaxed a bit and then headed to the vigil mass. For dinner, we went to Smokey Bones . . . this was the boy's choice. I was interested in going to an Italian restaurant, so that I could get my carbs in, but the boys wanted ribs. But, if you ever go to Smokey Bones, I highly suggested trying their steak and spinach salad. Yummy! Then we went to the indoor pool at the hotel and off to bed!

I woke up at 5 AM the next morning so I could eat, get ready and head to the race. We stayed within walking distance of the start of the race, so I was able to go to the race and leave the rest of the family sleeping peacefully. Then I ran my first half marathon!! (I will write more about this at another time). My hubby and the boys met me at the finish line and then we headed back to the hotel so I could shower, warm up, and eat. When we got back to the room, there was a late birthday card on the bed. I opened it and there was another birthday present:

And, of course, before we could check out of the hotel, we needed to go to the pool again!

After we were all packed up to go, we drove around Historic Fredericksburg and the took the driving tour of the battle field. It was pretty neat because this weekend was the anniversary weekend of the Battle of Fredericksburg. There were a bunch of walking trails through the battlefield park. Unfortunately, it was rainy and cold, so we were confined to the car. Plus our littlest angel was sleeping soundly in his car seat.

After we got home and settled in, we had a simple dinner and, finally, my birthday cake. The boys went to bed and I started to get ready for bed too . . . . I was worn out! When I came out of our room, there on the kitchen table was a lit candle and a bottle of wine . . . another birthday present. It was so sweet because earlier in the day, I told my hubby that I would love to have a glass of wine before bed, but we did not have any in the house.

I have to say that this was probably the best birthday I have ever had. I had such a wonderful time with the family and running in the half marathon. Plus, I think I married the most thoughtful man! He made this birthday so special. I wonder what if my next birthday could top this one?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Small Successes

Here are my small successes for the week:

1. We have 40+ year old metal kitchen cabinets. Greasy little hand smudges show up on them perfectly! So, this week I gave them an incredible scrub down. I even took the handles off and scrubbed those down too!

2. I took the boys down to the National Archives and the Museum of American History on Tuesday. My husband's office was closed that day because it was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, but he still had a meeting downtown. So, while he was at his meeting, we enjoyed the museums. J loves American History and was so excited to see the real Declaration of Independence!

3. I finally ordered our Christmas cards!

What are your small successes? Share them at Faith and Family,Live!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Plan B

About two months ago, I wrote this post, where I proclaimed to the few people that read my blog that I was going to run a metric marathon (16.2 miles). Well, that race was this weekend.

Going into last week, I was hopeful, but nervous. I had a great 10 mile long run on Saturday, with the best time I have ever had in my training runs. I was feeling good. The thought of running the 16 miles in just a few shorts days made me gulp a few times, but overall I was optimistic. I had trained hard. Logged a lot of miles. I would be fine.

As last week progressed, I began to watch the weather reports. Snow on Saturday. Not a big deal. The race was on Sunday and Sunday was supposed to be clear and sunny. The snow from Saturday would be long gone before the race would begin (or so I thought). As we got closer to the weekend, the amount of snow expected for Saturday increased. OK, I was a little worried, but did not think it would affect the race.

Saturday came. It started raining around 8:30AM. The snow started at around 10AM. By 11AM the snow started to stick. It snowed ALL DAY. I started to check weather.com every hour. I was pretty sure the race would be cancelled, but I tried to go through Saturday as if it would still happen. We went to mass. I got my bag and clothes ready. I laid out everything for the babysitter. By Saturday night, I tried to be positive, but it was hard. The race was not called off yet, but I was already feeling deflated. All of this training, this running for nothing?

I woke up at 5 AM Sunday, started to make breakfast and turned on the computer. I checked the race website.


Several emotions ran through me:

I was disappointed
I was relieved
I was determined

I am sure most people who signed up for the race were disappointed. You train, hard and long for a race that distance. You plan, you prepare, you pay money to register. And then it does not even happen. This race was a big goal of mine. I felt deflated when it was cancelled. I felt like all of the hours I spent running were a waste. Today, as I write this, I know that is not true, but at 5:30 in the morning on race day, that is what I felt.

I was relieved because of several reasons. It was snowy and icy outside. Although I am sure most of the running surfaces were fine, I was concerned about having to dodge ice and snow while running. Plus, while I do not mind running in the cold, and even in the rain, I have a mental block to running in the cold AND snow. Having snow on the ground just makes it feel that much colder. Second, I had been battling a cold for over a week. I did not feel bad, but I was not fully healthy. And, as the week went on, I felt physically tired. I was getting a good amount of sleep so I am not sure why I was so tired. I had not felt that tired in a long time (since A was a baby and not sleeping through the night). By Thursday, I told my husband that if I continued to be this tired for the rest of the week, I was not sure I was going to be able to run in the race. So, yes, there was part of me that knew that the race being cancelled was a blessing in disguise.

I was determined. I knew that there was a half-marathon on December 13, in Fredricksburg, VA. Actually, this was the race that I had originally planned on running months ago when I decided to run in a longer race. So, I am going to run in the half-marathon this Sunday! My goal was to run a half-marathon or a metric marathon before the end of the year. I have worked too hard to let this goal slip by.

So, onto Plan B!! I will let you know how it goes!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

You know you have boys when . . .

Your Advent wreath, meant for prayer, turns into camouflage for green army men getting ready to attack an unsuspecting group of red army men!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Great Made in the USA Blog

Since I have not had much time to blog lately, the first posts to "not be written" are my made in the USA posts. I have lists of products I have used that I want to write reviews on, and those will eventually come, but at a much slower pace than I originally wanted. I really do not know how moms with review and giveaway blogs do it!

In the meantime, I want to point you all to a great Made in the USA blog, called Made in the USA. There are tons of links on the sidebar to made in the USA products and there are regular made in the USA giveaways. Go check it out!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chocolate Pudding Fudge Cake

This is the cake I made for my husband's birthday. I have made it before and just loved it. The original recipe came from All Recipes.com and the photo came from there as well. I changed the recipe slightly from the original. I do NOT add chocolate chips to the cake batter. The cake is very rich, and I think would be too rich if I added another 2 cups of chocolate chips. Also, I have halved the original recipe for the chocolate sauce for the same reason I do not add the chocolate chips to the batter. I am not a huge fan of using boxed cake mixes, so I am going to try making this cake with a recipe I have for a dry cake mix. Check out the original recipe; there are a lot of good suggestions in the comments on changing the cake a bit . . . I think I may try the Kahlua one next!

Chocolate Fudge Pudding Cake
1 Pkg (18.25 oz) devil's food cake mix
1 pkg (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding mix
1 C sour cream
1 C milk
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/2 C water
4 eggs

Chocolate sauce
3 TBS butter
1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 10 inch Bundt pan.
2. Mix all cake ingredients together. Beat for 4 min. Pour into Bundt pan and bake 60 min (this is different from the original recipe . . . both time I made this cake it too longer than the recipe stated) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from pan. Cool completely.
3. To make the sauce: Melt butter and c. chips together in a double broiler. Drizzle over cake.