Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Memorial Day/Birthday/Wedding weekend recap

Last week I wrote about my tendency to scratch my corneas when taking my contact lenses out. This week I have an eye infection that requires $70 eye drops. Apparently anything I write about comes to fruition.

So I'd like to find $10,000.


Bacterial eye infections aside, it was a BUSY 3-day weekend.

Saturday happened to be my beloved's 29th birthday (he's finally as decrepit as me!) and it also happened to be his cousin's wedding day. So we more or less spent Clayton's birthday in the car driving 3+ hours to Valparaiso and back in one day.

But it was totally worth it because the wedding was absolutely gorgeous and his cousin Danielle was an exquisite bride. It was one of the prettiest weddings that I've ever attended and an open bar doesn't hurt anybody.

I love Danielle. She's probably one of the sweetest people on the planet and her and Ed deserve all of the happiness in the world!

I tried to make Clay's unconventional birthday as special as possible, so before waking him up bright and early for our wedding road trip, I put out his presents and a plate of special doughnuts from Rainbow Bakery.

Then we hopped in the car with Mitch and Molly and hit the road!

We drove North and went through Lafayette, a mid-sized Indiana town that has thousands of acres of giant windmills that conserve an insane amount of energy. The sight of hundreds of giant wind turbines is both fascinating and creepy.

During the hours between the wedding ceremony and reception, we did some light shopping and stopped at a restaurant in Valparaiso called the Industrial Revolution that had extremely patriotic decor as well as the most amazing pulled pork nachos ever. We tasted some local brew and took our time getting to know a new city.

We crammed a lot into one day and it was absolutely exhausting, but we always have a great time with Mitch and Molly. I feel very blessed to be close to them.

I wish this picture was better quality because it's amazing. Plus, Molly and I wore the exact same colors in our dresses because good taste obviously runs in our family. 

Sunday and Monday was more or less Clayton's birthday celebration and on Sunday afternoon we hosted his parents, Mitch and Molly, two grandmothers and an aunt for cake and ice cream. Clayton requested my chocolate cake with cookie dough icing once again, so you've all more or less seen this same cake before. It doesn't make it any less yummy, but Clayton is a creature of habit.

We spent Memorial Day with Dan and Emily and headed North once again, this time on a much shorter road trip to Indianapolis. We spent the rainy, windy day at the Indianapolis Zoo and weather conditions were perfect for active animals. I finally had the opportunity to see the orangutan exhibit, but I was so enrapt by what I was seeing, I plumb forgot to take any pics. I was face-to-face with a rather sleepy orangutan, but still couldn't be bothered to reach for my cell phone (I guess you could say I was too busy living in the moment for once). I could have stayed and watched them for hours!

But I did snap plenty of pics of other creatures. I know I posted pics of this zoo's tigers and elephants in the last year or so, but who doesn't love looking at animals you don't get to see every day? We also toured the butterfly garden which was beautiful and serene ... so long as the butterflies didn't land on you. Because then you'll get in trouble for touching the butterflies even though the butterflies were technically touching you and there's nothing you can do about it because you aren't allowed to touch them. It's all very confusing.

Guess what my favorite part of the day was?

Fact: Flamingos are actually drama queens. 

 This little guy tried to lean against the rocks to avoid the rain and he blends in quite well!

 This shark repeatedly made his rounds in the tank and loved being touched so much, 
he'd spring out of the water in an attempt to be closer to you. I did not like this. 

Clayton's arm right before he got scolded for touching a butterfly that landed on him.

And I discovered that the meerkat is my spirit animal ...

... because wait for it ...

... there.

We capped off our day in Indy with dinner at Giordano's. Clayton has been obsessed with the idea of going to this place since it opened in February and his wish finally came true! Stuffed pizza takes about 60 minutes to cook, but when you have good beer and great friends, the time flies. And the pizza? No words. Eating more than one slice of this massive beast of a pizza pie is so unnecessary, but soooooo unbelievably good.

We ordered half some kind of Meat Lovers and half Extreme Veggie. Between the four of us, we only had two pieces of pizza left and the take-home box easily weighed 5 pounds. For just two pieces!

I feel like I've rambled on forever, but that's my long weekend in a nutshell. I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day, too!


Thursday, May 21, 2015


As lame as it is for me to admit, I think I will always long for MySpace ... and FreeOpenDiary.com and ICQ and MSN Messenger. Gosh, the internet was so much better when I was in my late teens. It hadn't yet become oversaturated with people's stupid opinions and cat videos; we were all just there to chat with the cute boys from school until our moms needed to use the phone line. And trust me, there was a science behind finding the perfect away message to post on your AIM account so that your peers would think we were brooding and deep. 

Nostalgia, party of 1.

Every now and then it's fun to relive the days of yore, and one of my FAVORITE things about MySpace was posting those fun little surveys that let your friends get to know you better (because it's not like you saw them all day, every day at school or anything).

And believe it or not, I found an archaic online survey that I'm now going to fill out for your reading pleasure ... or displeasure depending on how much you hated the early 2000s. 

A) What does the last text you sent say? And to whom?

To my husband: "I just saw a bird straight-up murder a worm on the sidewalk."

B) What does the last text you recieved say? And from whom?

From one of my best girlfriends: "Ooo! Tell me all about it over wine."

C) What time do you wake up most mornings?

A morning person I am not ... at least not during the week. I tend to wake up earlier on the weekends for some reason. But during the week? I wake up around 7:30 to be in the office at 9. 

D) Are you afraid of walking alone at night?

Honestly, yes because people be crazy. I do okay walking in our neighborhood with the dog, but I try to stay on well-lit streets. 

E) What do you do to relax at the end of a stressful day?

Go for a run. I don't feel like I can fully relax until I've worked out. And if I'm being perfectly honest, a glass of wine helps, too. 

F) Where did your last kiss take place and with whom?

A few moments ago! Joey came bursting into the bedroom to lick my face and prove he just had his teeth brushed by Clayton. Then Clayton kissed me goodnight. I love my boys.

G) Do/did you get into trouble a lot at school?

I didn't. I was a pretty good kid. I only got the occasional scolding for talking to my friends too much during class. But there was this one time a group of us got sent to the principal's office because someone at our lunch table put butter on the wall ... 

H) Do you enjoy your job? If unemployed, are you content being so?

I love my job. It's 40 hours of creativeness every week. Plus, I work downtown and am within walking distance of everything I love about Bloomington. 

I) Do you often pick up on double entendres and innuendos?

That's what she said. 

J) Have you ever been offered drugs but declined?

I was offered cocaine once at a party a looooooooong time ago. 

K) Have you ever met someone who has completely altered your way of thinking?

Yes and no. I feel like people who become regular fixtures in my life undoubtedly rub off on me in some ways, but no one has ever come into my life and made me do a total 180. If someone can completely alter my way of thinking at the age of 29, then clearly I never had a sturdy belief system to begin with. 

L) Have you ever been offered drugs and accepted?

This survey is clearly for a 14 year-old. And no, I've never done any drugs of any kind. Unless you count Sour Patch Kids, in which case I am an addict. 

M) Tell us something weird that turns you on.

A sturdy handshake. Don't your dare limp-wrist me. 

N) When did someone last admit romantic feelings for you? Was the feeling mutual?

I've been with the same man for 12 years. So I'm going to say that it was 12 years ago and yes, the feeling was mutual. Otherwise the last decade was a total waste of time. 

O) What is something you have given a lot of thought to lately?

I think about the future a lot ... and the past because sometimes I think I am completely incapable of living in the moment. 

P) When did you last swallow your beliefs to avoid an argument or confrontation?

Every time I log into Facebook. 

Q) Do you usually initiate hugs?

Strangely, yes. I'm not a touchy-feely person, but I am competitive and I will make sure I touch you before you touch me.

R) Are you a very affectionate person?

To my husband and dog, yes. Absolutely. To my chinchilla and everyone else on the planet? Not so much. 

S) Can you roll your own cigarettes?

T) What are you looking forward to?

Well, learning how to roll my own cigarettes now ... 

U) Do you have any tattoos. Do you want any/more?

As most of you know, I have a tattoo on my right foot and I've considered getting another, but I'm mostly undecided and most likely will not because I can't think of anything else I'd be happy with for the rest of my life. 

V) Are you mentally strong?

I like to think so. I need to develop thicker skin in certain aspects of my life for sure, but a lot of the crap I went through growing up kind of gave me an edge. 

W) Are you physically strong?

Yes, because I can do like, 10 girl push-ups. 

And yes because fitness and physical strength are important to me and I work at it every day. 

X) Do you think you’re a good person?

This is a stupid question. First of all, no one is going to come right out and say that they think they're a bad person and secondly, it sounds totally self-indulgent to say that you think you're a good person. I will say that I try to be in a good person and that I try to do what's right and what is helpful and what is compassionate. But I can also be a total a$$hole because I'm a human being and sometimes I have PMS. 

Y) Name one thing you wish you could change about your life right now.

I want to have 100% confidence that I am fine and wonderful and amazing just the way I am and to stop worrying (and caring) about whether someone "gets" me or likes me because I like me and I'm almost 30 and it's time to get my s**t together. 

Z) What do you usually eat for breakfast?

Wow, way to end on a totally flat note.

I eat cereal most mornings because I'm always way too hungry to ever skip breakfast and cereal is amazing. 


Monday, May 18, 2015

Life and stuff

I've been wearing contacts since I was 13 years old, but I still manage to scratch my corneas at least once a month when trying to pry them off my eyeballs. You'd think that I had my life together by now.

So how are you?

I'll be the first one to admit that I haven't been updating this blog nearly as much as I should and quite honestly, I don't really have a good reason for my long absences. Things are going well. Steady and well ... and that doesn't always make for the best blog material.

(I feel like that's God's cue to throw some curve balls my way. Please don't.)

Yes, we did have to purchase a new refrigerator last week and no, I was not happy about it. The only silver lining in the whole ordeal is that we now have a fridge that makes crushed ice, and I guess that means we're finally moving up in the world. Clayton was getting me a glass of water the other night and inquired, "Would you like crushed or cubed ice?" and I felt like he was asking me if I preferred champagne or caviar. We're finally that fancy.

But now we have a minor ant infestation in the kitchen and a weird black stain suddenly developed on our carpet. Why? Because it's always something with homeownership.

In other news, this weekend I participated in the Mag7k, the annual fundraiser of the Mag7 Road Race Series. I haven't done this particular race in a few years, but I was itching for some redemption after the Indy Mini.

About a mile into this weekend's 7k, I suddenly remembered why I haven't done this race for awhile: It sucks.

The race is only about 4.3 miles, but the race director does a really good job of making sure most of those 4.3 miles are uphill. Holy geeze! These thighs haven't run on a steady incline in forever and when you pair that with unbearable mugginess and humidity? No thanks.

It definitely wasn't my fastest race, but the odds were ever in my favor and I still managed to squeak out a first place win in my age group.

I  received a t-shirt for my efforts and well, I was pretty jazzed about that.

Then I went home and ran another 2.7 miles to round out my mileage for the day because in the words of my good friend Michael Jackson, don't stop til' you get enough. 

And according to my aching quads, 7 miles is enough. 

My reward?

Ice cold brew. 

I think I might be every coach or personal trainer's worst nightmare because I believe that any physical exertion should be immediately rewarded with beer or sugar.

*Folds laundry* "I have cookie now?"

It rained off and on all weekend but believe it or not, we got all of our garden boxes tilled and ready for the plants I'm inevitably going to kill in a few weeks. My loving in-laws brought over their heavy-duty garden tiller and in a matter of minutes, we had soil free of weeds and ready for gardening. 

To pay them back for their generosity, we gave them a 6-pack of beer because I believe that any kind gesture should be immediately rewarded with beer or sugar.

Since it was so gross and wet, we're going to wait to buy our seedlings until later this week. Plus, I'm still trying to decide what to plant. I know I'd like to do tomatoes and green peppers again this year, but I'm not sure what else. Where does one purchase the seeds for a money tree?

Hope everyone's week is off to a good start! I'm going to retire to my boudoir (that's French for "bedroom". You're welcome.) to read for a bit before I hit the hay. I've slept like garbage the past few nights but instead of taking some Nyquil and calling it a day, I feel compelled to get through a few more chapters of Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed. I can't put it down because once again, Mr. Lamb is proving himself to be a master storyteller (he's the author of my all-time favorite book She's Come Undone).


Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day weekend recap

Happy Monday.

I wish I could express that with slightly more enthusiasm, but our refrigerator broke and today a repairman confirmed it would cost just as much to fix it as it would to just buy a new one. Plus, fixing our current fridge wouldn't come with a guarantee. The repair could last a month ... it could last a week ... it could last a day. So we decided to scrap our current Frigidaire and replace it.

I am not pleased about this.

Adulting is annoying sometimes. (I kind of love that "adulting" is working its way into America's vernacular. Being an adult is now a verb: "Look at me! I'm adulting!")

But regardless, we still had a lovely weekend and all broken kitchen appliances aside, I'm quite blessed and quite happy.

Clayton and I spent Friday evening strolling through IU's campus with frozen yogurt, reminiscing about our college days and giddily watching as college students finished moving out of the dorms. Bloomington residents LOVE the summer months when the students are gone because the town is so peaceful and quiet.

We walked to some of our favorite campus spots and since students we're still getting things out of their dormitories, I was able to walk right into one of the buildings and saw my Freshman dorm room!

Saturday morning was an early morning for me. I got up around 8:00 a.m. to get in a 5-mile run before I went to the salon to get my hair done (my roots were getting out of control!). The morning was chilly and threatened rain, so my workout was quite enjoyable. It was my first long run (even though 5 miles doesn't even feel long anymore) after the Indy mini and it was awesome. I ran the perfect negative split and finished my last mile right in 8 minutes flat.

We ran errands for the rest of the day and dropped by my in-law's to spend some time with Teresa since I'd be up north with my mom for Mother's Day. They had just finished tilling their garden and I brought her a strawberry plant. It's one of those gifts that's actually for me, too, because you can bet that I'll be running over there with a spoon for some strawberry shortcake later this summer!

That night I baked up a storm in the kitchen and tried my first ever tiramisu. Tiramisu is my mother's all-time favorite dessert and I wanted to surprise her. After I figured out how to make my own double boiler with a steamer pan, it really wasn't that difficult. Actually, the hardest part of the whole process was trying to find mascarpone cheese at the grocery store.

The tiramisu was FANTASTIC. I'm seriously not trying to toot my own horn, but it was just good. So good! My mom loved it and that made me so happy!

I didn't remember to snap a picture of the tiramisu until after we devoured more than half of it. Again, SO good!

I spent all of Sunday with my mom and sister for the perfect Mother's Day. We helped my mom pick out some plants for her own garden and landscaping, cruised around the mall, and then finished our day with a nice dinner. My mom and sister have always been my favorite shopping buddies and that fact still remains!


I hope everyone else had an awesome weekend celebrating their mommas, too!

I've got some good stuff coming up this week and I plan to check back in with you all soon!


Monday, May 4, 2015

2015 Indy Mini recap

One America Festival 500 Mini: 2
Courtney: 1

My 9th half marathon did not go well. My 9th half marathon was not a PR. My 9th half marathon was not fun. My 9th half marathon was a massive disappointment.

And I know exactly what went wrong. I was ill. I tried all week to force myself to feel better and to perform at my highest level, but you just can't rush your body out of an illness.

I tossed and turned all of Friday night and this time it wasn’t just because of race nerves. It was because I could feel fluid moving in one of my ears, my throat was on fire, and my nostrils took turns clogging every time I rolled over. I tried to will myself to fall asleep, but it was no use.

I thought I was miraculously healed the next morning when my alarm finally went off. The thing is, I have so much adrenaline on race morning, I could probably lift a car off of a trapped toddler. I was so anxious and excited, I truly thought I was feeling better and that the crap I was feeling only a few hours before magically disappeared and left me 100% healthy and ready to race.

I blew my nose the entire drive to Indy. I almost popped a blood vessel trying to clear my nostrils so I could breathe comfortably.

I babbled excitedly to Clayton about the race, but I was also feeling a slight panic in my belly because my body still felt so, so tired. I used mindless chatter to mask my dread.

When I was finally at the start line, my congestion seemed to be behaving itself, but my tongue felt dry and like sandpaper. I’d been drinking so much water all week; I didn’t understand why my mouth felt so parched.

But I didn’t have time to think long because before I knew it, the race was underway and I was working my way through mile 1. Mile 1 actually felt pretty good and was right on target with my goal pace for the first half of the race, but I knew something was wrong around the end of mile 2.

I was just so tired. I felt like I had a literal weight on my shoulders and my legs were like lead. I knew I was in trouble.

I stumbled along for about 6 miles and then I just couldn’t do it anymore. In a fit of tears, I slowed to a fast walk and watched as my Garmin ticked further and further away from my goal pace and any hope of a PR.

I’m not kind to myself, especially when I’m frustrated, so I walked along the Speedway track and mentally berated myself for being such a huge failure and a total loser. Trust me, I know this is not healthy mindset, but it’s the truth. (Being hard on yourself is not a cute or endearing personality trait. It sucks.)

Getting angrier and angrier with myself, I forced my legs to start running and I huffed along until my vision blurred and my stomach lurched and I had to walk again.

This went on for about 2 more miles: Alternating between a half-run/half-power walk and chastising myself the entire way. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me again. I couldn’t believe I was letting this mini get the best of me again.

Around mile 8, I recognized a figure running past me. It was my friend, Maria. In a race with almost 40,000 participants, you can’t say it was a mere coincidence that she suddenly appeared right next to me.

She looked like she was moving along well and I didn’t want to throw off her groove. So I hustled in her direction to quickly pat her shoulder and wish her well. I mean, when you run into one of your closest friends during the country’s largest half marathon, you totally have to say hello.

Her face lit up when she saw me and I don’t know what it was about her excitement, but I immediately burst into tears (for the 100th time that morning). I’m not sure what I said, but I’m sure it was something along the lines of, “I’m having a really hard time” or “Please God, just kill me now”.

Without missing a beat she said, “Don’t worry. You’re going to finish. I’m going to make sure you finish. We’ll do this together.” Her sweetness and confidence made me continue to snot and cry a little more, but I gratefully jogged alongside her.

Turns out Maria wasn’t having such a great race either. She’s been battling her own set of injuries and pain, so I think she was just as relieved to find me as I was to find her.

We ran the remaining 5 or so miles together, taking an occasional walk break (to keep me from passing out and to keep her cramps at bay). We talked about the race and how flippin’ crowded it is, and I divulged that I feel constant, debilitating anxiety from the pressure I put on myself. I shared that my attitude about running is so different than it was the first time I ran the Indy Mini back in 2011 because back then I was filled with so much joy and enthusiasm for just being capable of running that far. Now I approach half marathons with nothing but a focus on the finish time and only consider myself a success if I run faster than the time before. That mindset is narrowing, limiting and damaging.

It was probably the sweatiest come-to-Jesus talk I’ve ever had.

We powered through our discomfort and Maria and I finished the One America 500 Festival Mini marathon together, our hands locked and our arms raised over our heads in victory.

Running can be such an isolating activity, so sharing this race with Maria was oddly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. 

I still feel twinges of bitter disappointment that I didn’t run the race I wanted to, but finishing with Maria also gave me a sense of satisfaction that I’ve never felt before. I was grateful. And I was proud.

It’s not my fault that I was sick. I tried to force my body to do something it wasn’t well enough to do and I just have to accept. I’ll be stronger and healthier for the next one. This race doesn’t define me as a runner anymore than a PR does. We’re the sum of the parts, the good and the bad. What defines us is how graciously we accept the victories and how we persevere through the setbacks. It’s our attitude, tenacity and resilience that make us who we are.

The only way I would have failed at this half marathon is if I walked off the course and didn’t finish at all. Or if I let it deter me when I start training for this fall's half marathon. 

And I just love this too much to ever give up. 

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