A Different Type of Thanksgiving

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A gorgeous sunset on Hilton Head Island by the lighthouse

I had the opportunity to do something different this Thanksgiving which was a relief but at the same time, a little stressful.  For many years my family would travel to my husband’s family as a Thanksgiving tradition.  The past couple of years I’ve spend it in Keystone, CO with my parents, my children (or some of them at least), and my fur boys. This year my parents were driving to Hilton Head Island, SC to visit my brother and his family and had invited my eldest son and to fly in later and join them.  Well, my son didn’t want to lose out on work money (I don’t blame him! As a server in an incredibly busy restaurant, it would make sense to earn beaucoup $!) and, unbeknownst to me, his father had asked him over for the holiday since he already had his brother and sister . He had accepted, not knowing that I hadn’t made any plans as I refused to leave him alone on Thanksgiving Day. Hmm, communication problems?! Yep, I believe so! Argh. ..  Well, now that these other plans were in place, that now meant that I’d be alone on Thanksgiving.

Parents to the rescue! I still managed to book a flight and although my heart hurt being away from my children and things that they had to deal with by being with their dad, I got to visit with my brother and his family in a state they’ve called their home for four years that I’d never seen before, run in a 10K race with a new PR, run on the beach, see some humongous alligators, and make some new memories. I was certainly blessed to have had this opportunity!

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Thanksgiving Day Race – 5K and 10K participants!

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Mandatory beach run selfie! If I hadn’t have been on a time crunch, I’d have been out there for HOURS!

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Group shot on the beach following our Thanksgiving meal. It was a beautiful day!

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My brother and I – we’re only a year and 17 days apart and were very close growing up. Not so much now 😦

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Easily 12-14 feet long. Gulp! Glad they were on the other side of the water!

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My new beau (ha!ha!) – and my Dad photobombing in the background (he was actually keeping the nutcracker’s mouth closed!). I love Christmas lights. . .

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Isn’t this a beautiful walkway to the beach? 

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My Dad and I – one last look at the beach before I headed home. 

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Turkey Trottin’ 2016

Last year when I ran this race I called it The Longest 10 Mile Race EVER and swore I’d never run it again. It wasn’t even an option this summer either, when I was comparing races with my new running buddies until I heard that they had changed the location and the route and since it was during yet another one of my training cycles, I thought, “Why not?” And if I was one of the first 2,000 runners registered, I’d get a free turkey. And who couldn’t use a turkey? (Okay, so maybe that’s not the best reason since my daughter is a vegetarian! Oh, and I still have last year’s in the freezer.) I’m glad I did.

So, prefacing the race was more family/teenage drama. I woke up the morning of the race sick to my stomach, with a thought racing through my head that I hadn’t in the slightest entertained.  I mean, I TRUSTED my daughter, yet why would this thought not go away? Something wasn’t right. Hmm, before the race I confirmed what I knew to already be true.  After the race, I double-confirmed it. Great thoughts to run on, trust me. Grrrr. . . .

We were all lined up in the chute for a good 20 minutes before they told us that we could go back inside due to a delay. Well, I’ll tell you that the real feel temperature was 25 degrees that morning, and standing around waiting for the horn to go off for that long wasn’t the most pleasant. It took a while for my toes to thaw out for I’m sure those guys in tank tops and shorts were feeling it much worse than I was!  Turned out there was a high risk situation somewhere in the area that may  have impeded our safety. Thanks to the race directors for keeping us all safe!

Going into a race there’s always many variables that you usually don’t have any control over.  Weather is one of them, particularly the Kansas wind.  Fortunately, even though the past few days had been gale force winds, it had died down significantly for the race. Yes, it was cold, but at least the sun was supposed to come out. I had a goal for this race knowing that my past two races were 1:32 and 1:31 so I was hoping for around 1:30.  I’d been training well and as long as my IT band didn’t act up again, I felt confident that I would meet it. Due to shuffling back inside and out to the starting line, I lost my fellow runner buddies but I figured I’d meet them on the course somewhere (I only saw them in passing in the last mile:(). All the waiting and the cold even made my MP3 player die before I hit the first mile.  I don’t always run with music, though, so I knew I would overcome yet another challenge this morning. One of these days I should record all of the thoughts that go through my head when I’m running a race.  It’s actually quite comical!

It was a beautiful course with nicely placed water stations that I took of advantage of. I managed to maintain a fairly consistent pace and crossed the finish line with a time of 1:27:18, nearly a 4 minute PR! Yep, I was a happy camper!

Now I’ll need a new goal if I run it again next year.  I haven’t signed up for any other races yet, either, so I’ll need to figure out what’s next! I find having a race on the calendar definitely holds me accountable, as well as running with my group.  I’m going to have to up my mileage a little, too, if I’m wanting to finish 2016 with my goal of 1,000 miles!

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Why do all of my race pictures make me look like I’m dying?  Maybe the photographer should hold up a sign saying “Smile!” as I wasn’t expecting pictures!

The Lake Was Calling

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What was once the mountains calling have since been replaced by the lake. When my parents sold their place in Keystone, CO, I’ll admit that I was disappointed. But the 9+ hour drive was a pain and not easy and they wanted something closer to home. I don’t blame them. As much as I loved going, the drive was a nuisance and basically 2 days of traveling nixed any short trips away. This past summer I went with them to Rogers, Arkansas where they ultimately bought a place in Bella Vista, right on the lake.  Since I was recovering from IT issues from my marathon, it was the perfect time to get out of town. I even took a vacation day from work so I could stay a little longer.  Oh, and this was the ultimate craft weekend, too!

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Breakfast on the screened in porch every morning. Heavenly!

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Morning Bible study/reading on the dock watching the sun rise. I do studies through felicitybee where she has monthly themes and readings/writings. I love them! If you have a chance to check them out, please do! 

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Mandatory selfie before hitting the lake with my Dad in the kayak

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A beautiful, still lake

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My Dad and I

It was a lovely weekend and I can see why my parents love it here so much. I’m looking forward to another weekend away soon where next time I can bring my fur babies!

 

A Long Day and Failure

It had been a long 12 hour day of teaching restless students with an early release day due to parent/teacher conferences on top of emotional conversations with parents. When I finally walked through my door, my fur babies greeted me enthusiastically, yet my first gaze fell upon the dirty dishes all over the counters and the ½ full gallon of milk – now warm – left out. *sigh* Really? And what was that smell?

My daughter was at work. My oldest son was MIA. Apparently telling your mother where you are when you’re 19 is optional. I only knew that he didn’t work that day. My youngest son was laying on his bed with bloodshot eyes playing Xbox.

I exhaled and tried to convince myself that it’s okay. But it sure didn’t feel that way. I felt like a failure again.

I probably should have gone for a run or done some yoga. Mistake #1. Instead I looked up grades on my phone and about had a heart attack when I saw that not only did my daughter have 4 D’s, she had 2 of them that were less than 1% from F’s. (We’re working through some issues at the moment and she’s working hard at getting them better.) Mistake #2. Refer back to Mistake #1. So I started working on upcoming paperwork for my attorney because due to budget cuts within the school district it’s affected my health insurance and, therefore, my paycheck. My ex is ignoring my emails. Panic mode set in filling in the numbers and realized that there wasn’t anything on vision listed on the plan. Now I had to hold off and look for more information. Mistake #3. And on and on it went. I went to bed in an attempt to relax but couldn’t stop the tears. Refer back to Mistake #1.

LOL!!!:

Needless to say, it was a rough night. My first thought when I awoke was “Oh, no, here we go again”. A song popped into my head, “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.

Yes, God is constantly giving me reminders that He is with me and that I don’t have to do this thing called LIFE alone. On my drive to work this morning, another long day of conferences, I not only heard “Eye of the Storm” again, but “Fix My Eyes” by King and Country and “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. One thing I miss about being married is physical touch. After a long day of work it’s nice to be listened to, someone to brew a cup of tea for me, and hold me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that affection. I think last night would have gone much smoother if God could have physically held me. I don’t need a man, though, just God. Even as I’m typing this post WAY-FM is playing “In My Arms” by Plumb. Just what I needed. Thank you, WAY-FM and thank you, God.

God is big enough to handle our disappointments, even when we feel like it is Him who disappointed us.:

God is good.:

Only God can fill an empty heart. Psalm 4:

Prairie Fire 2016 – My 2nd Full Marathon!

Wow, have I been excited about this upcoming race! I trained hard this summer with a Fleet Feet running group that took my running to an entirely new level.  I looked forward to TNT (Tuesday Night Track) and even made it to a few of the Joggers & Lagers on Thursdays!

One weekend on a 19-mile long run, my knee started giving me issues at 17 1/2 miles. Really? I’d already done 17 1/2 miles and now I’m having issues?! I hadn’t done anything weird, just running on a gradual incline with other runners toward the next traffic light. Hmmm. A slight discomfort on my outer right knee and before long, it had gotten to the point that I couldn’t even walk on it. I limped/walked/jogged back to the store and spent the rest of the afternoon icing it and taking it very easy. That Monday, I headed to a recommended sports Dr. who confirmed it was my IT band. Thinking I had caught it early enough, I was good to go and didn’t have any issues, even after a subsequent 21+ mile run! Whew! I still had a few weeks until race day so . . . .

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Some of the M2 group after our course preview day of 21+ miles. It was foggy that morning and we were drenched!

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Here we go! At the Expo the day before the race. Super excited!

Prairie Fire Race morning brought fabulous temperatures with clouds and little wind. I couldn’t wait! I lined up with my some of my regular running buddies, targeting a 4:12 goal (my PR was 4:42 but I know I had trained much better this time around!).  We were doing great and I was keeping pace until about mile 12 and the knee twinges came back. By mile 13 I was back in the same boat I had been several weeks earlier. ARE YOU KIDDING ME????? I seriously could have just curled up into a fetal position at the side of the road and CRIED, I was that upset! But, a quitter I am not, so I plodded on, alternately walking/jogging/running.  I still had over 13 miles to go!

Running is most definitely a mental sport.  When the rest of my group had continued on without me and then another one of my friends had passed me by, my mind was spiraling out of control. I had to be my own cheerleader to continue on so I put in my earbuds, focused on each step, and vehemently told myself that I had no choice but to finish this race.  And by doing so, hopefully I didn’t do any permanent damage to my body (cross fingers). With my Garmin as my guide to keeping my time in check (I did NOT want to be any slower than 4:42, God willing!), I crossed the finish line with a time of 4:40:17. A PR! I headed for my parents, whom I had spotted on the bridge awaiting my arrival. I was also lucky to find my Dr. who had a tent set up so he could work wonders on my dumb IT band.

My official stats from the website: 

Place Bib# Name City/state S Ag Pace Div/Tot Time
===== =====
301 624 Deb                            44    10:42 15/36 4:40:17

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Even though by this point my knee was in agony, I made sure I semi smiled for a somewhat decent race picture. I must have known that the next ones wouldn’t good!

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My running pal, Brittany, and I. We trained well together. She had an awesome race, finishing at 4:12 and tying for first place in her age group!

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My not-so-pretty finish picture. The exhaustion and agony was REAL, people!

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My 2 medals and my Finisher tech shirt

I took a week and a half off from running, which was brutal. When you’re so used to this as your stress release and you’re unable to do it, you can go crazy. The leaves were starting to change and the temperatures were perfect, which was a tease. Then again, I had to put a brace on my knee to help control the pain and I couldn’t even walk properly, never mind run! 

What now?  Well, I’m a 2nd time marathoner, which is a pretty cool thing.  I have since signed up for the winter training session to help with accountability to enjoy more time with the people I’ve met who enjoy running as much as I do. I have signed up for a 1/4 Half Marathon race next weekend (6.55 miles – a 1st for me – and didn’t want to overdo it) and the Turkey Trot 10-miler in November.  The goal for the winter training session is a 1/2 marathon on New Year’s Day, one I’ve run in the past, although at this point I’m not yet sure if I’ll actually be running that race or not.

And what about another marathon? Well, I’ll be honest and admit that I’m not sure if my body is meant to run those lengths of distances. That being said, though, if I can run 1/2 that distance with such an awesome time, and with the proper training, of course, then why not?

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My 2016-17 Classroom: AKA Home Away From Home

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Dogs. Ladybugs. Camping. Sports. Owls. Space. Sports heroes. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So many teachers do an entire theme in their classroom, some to the point of being ridiculous. Me? I like to keep things streamlined and simple, primarily because I don’t want it too busy for the students. After all, the focus of my classroom should be the learning that is taking place, not the cutesie pictures on the wall!  I also add posters and anchor charts as we learn different concepts, so some walls look a little bare at the beginning of the year.

This year was no different, although I did find some new borders and tags at Target that I really liked, so I thought I would combine that with the black fabric that I’ve been using for years. (It’s so much easier to put up and doesn’t waste paper every year!) Even better, I got it when it was Buy One, Get One 50% off! I did, however, neglect to buy enough so one weekend I went to 3 different Targets looking for more. Luckily, the last one I went to had what I needed, but, alas, it was no longer on sale. 😦

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Isn’t this a cool border? Came with gold to go with it, too!

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Pinterest door on the left that I pinned — My door on the right. Need to add another name for the new student I’ll be getting on Monday! I used black construction paper and metallic markers that I already had to make these. I loved the way that it turned out and was very different from years past when I put a pencil on the door with the child’s name!

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The view from the back corner of my classroom. I use my Smartboard all. of. the.time.

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I’m using a pocket folder that I earned from turning in Highlights  interest forms (FREE!) this year to avoid more file folders on my counter. 

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A blurry picture of a portion of my library. The shelves on the left house more fiction and nonfiction books, all categorized by either reading level or topic. I redid the labels to match the colors of the border shown above. My calendar and Today is: poster is also new and matches the border.

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Calendar and job chart info (jobs were added yesterday for the new week). I do Class Dojo for a reward system in my room and the prizes will be added to this board.  My classroom houses the Xerox Color Qube printer that is shared for our 2nd/3rd grade hallway. I’m lucky to have it since I’m the Assessment Coordinator and have to print reports in color for testing. Yay me! Multiplication anchor chart was from that day’s math lesson and will be moved to my “Math” wall for our next lesson.

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This is my desk area. My desk is not normally this messy but I decided to take these pictures in the middle of my plan time (hmm, a little distracted, perhaps?!), hence all of the papers on my desk (I spread out , A LOT!).  I love the bookshelf with my teacher manuals!  My homey touch this year – an old lamp and clock since I can’t see the other one very clearly!

So, the only wall you don’t see is the one with all of my glorious windows overlooking the courtyard.  I showed a picture of them HERE if you want to see them again. I love my classroom as I spend A LOT of time in here.  I really like the color choices I used this year and didn’t spend a lot of money to update a few things here and there. It truly is my home away from home.