9-28-14

Fort Ticonderoga

I won’t give a history lesson here, but if you are interested in the Revolutionary War time period or have children who are studying it and you don’t live too far I would highly recommend visiting Fort Ticonderoga. It was immensely interesting and very engaging for all ages.

Before I get to the fort let me rewind to the early morning. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to run in a new place so I set off on foot to discover a little bit more of Hague, NY. I was expecting a crisp cool fall morning, but the temperature was warming up quickly. The area is very hilly, but beautiful in every direction. I ran back past the Hague Market, along a wooded trail and then up a huge hill where I came across an old cemetery. I stopped at the cemetery and walked around a bit before heading back to the resort. The foliage was so rich and colorful. My run was slow with lots of photo breaks.

After my run I grabbed Carlos to go kayaking. We each had our own kayak and we rowed out away from the dock in silence, Carlos leading the way. Carlos went to a kayak camp this summer for a week. I watched him in awe as he maneuvered the kayak effortlessly over the calm water. He was confident and strong. We didn’t talk much and just enjoyed the peacefulness of the lake and the gorgeous scenery.

I could have stayed out there all day, but we really had to get back to the cabin and get a move on if we wanted to make it to Fort Ticonderoga. After checking out of the resort we returned to Libby’s for breakfast. Then it was time for the main attraction. From the parking lot it doesn’t look like much, but once we passed through the welcome center which houses the gift shop and restaurant you go through a door to be greeted with a spectacular views all around.

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We wandered around for about 20 minutes awaiting the next tour. There was a wall with chronological information. You could peruse the cannons on display. The fort was strategically built overlooking the outlet of the La Chute River which connects Lake George to Lake Champlain. This was an important area because it essentially linked New France to New York.

Fort Ticonderoga was built by the French beginning in 1755 and originally called Carillon. The fort changed hands a number of times. In 1759 the British defeated the French there and took control of the fort for the next 16 years. In what is considered the first American victory of the Revolutionary War, Fort Ticonderoga was captured on May 10, 1775 by Benedict Arnold, Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys.

The tour began with a lengthy history by our very intelligent and sarcastically witty tour guide.

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Once inside the fort you could roam around checking out the various rooms like the shoe workshop, the tailor’s shop and a bunk room. There was also a museum on the top floor of the building with historical artifacts, weaponry, clothing and paintings.

We were invited to return back outside of the fort to watch a demonstration of muskets being fired.

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From there we took a tour of the King’s Garden.

The corn maze adventure was next on our list. It was actually quite easy which worked out great since it was beginning to get very warm out and we were all hungry for lunch. We ate lunch on site and enjoyed the gorgeous views. On our way out we were given directions to Mount Defiance. For a small fee you also received a ticket to drive up Mount Defiance just across the river from Fort Ticonderoga. During colonial times the mountain was deemed too steep to fortify with troops and weaponry despite the major vantage point from the top until finally in July 1977, British General Burgoyne ignored past skepticism and brought his cannons up the mountain forcing the Americans to abandon the forts below.

Once at the base of the mountain I did my best to convince Carlos and Orlando to hike up the mountain. It’s only about a mile up. They reluctantly agreed and complained the entire way up! Wimps!! However, once at the top we were treated to amazing views all around.

We decided to take the nearby ferry across Lake Champlain into Vermont on our way home. The small ferry crosses in only 6 minutes on cables to a dock directly across the lake. You can even buy Vermont maple syrup and a few other goodies on board.

Whew! That’s it for our weekend getaway. I would highly recommend checking out north western Lake George and the Ticonderoga area.

9-19-14 to 9-21-14

Friday, 9-19-14

I brought Carlos to school in the morning and went straight to the dentist. I’ve had Invisalign “clear” braces for almost a year now and this was to be my final set of trays. The problem area, my two front bottom teeth, has resolved quite nicely, but I had to report to my dentist that my bite is still very uneven. We decided I would proceed with three more trays to see if that helps. As anxious as I am to be done with this process, I’m also very grateful to be able to address the issues with my teeth. With no intervention my bottom teeth would have turned inward so much the gums would have been negatively affected and the teeth would have likely come loose.

After the dentist I went to one of my favorite noon Vinyasa classes. Sandra is a newer yoga teacher. She is so sweet and patient. I also love her teaching style. I learn something new each time I attend her class. She loves arm balances and really encourages us to try even if we are unable to get all the way into the pose. I’m convinced I just have too much body to hold up! I keep trying though. Typically the next day I feel like I’ve done a heavy weight lifting session because my arms are so sore.

After school there was a school pizza party. Carlos and I went for a little while, but had to leave early to go to soccer practice. I love his new school and all of the activities designed for the families to become more familiar with one another, but somedays I’m just not all that chatty or interested in pursuing small talk. This happened to be one of those days. I tried striking up a couple of conversations, but they fell flat and eventually I just took to sitting on a bench facing the playground where the kids were playing. People are friendly and nice, but most already know each other. Do you ever feel like you don’t know what to say?

Typically this would be my weekend off, but I took the following weekend off to run the Vermont 50. Although I am no longer running we decided to go away for the weekend anyway. So after soccer practice and dinner I took a little rest before work.

Saturday 9-20-14

I rarely talk about work and I’m not going to drone on about it now, but suffice it to say I had a really crappy night. Each night that passes lately has me wondering why I stay. My resume is done and I’ve put some feelers out. In January the hospital is implementing a time clock system to punch in and out. At that time the 11pm to 7am shift will be required to work 11pm to 7:30am and we will be required to take a 30 minute “lunch” break. When I was hired I was told night shift works until 7am. This has been my saving grace in being able to get Carlos to school. I cannot leave work at 7:30am and get him to school on time. I am so frustrated by this. I mentioned to my boss that I was concerned about it and would probably be forced to quit. She just shrugged! I arrive to work 10 minutes before my shift starts. I never call out (it’s been exactly three years since my rib fracture and that was the last time I called out). I am a hard worker and go above and beyond my job description. But the bottom line is, we are all replaceable. This is probably just the kick in the ass I need to move on.

After work Carlos and I hurried out for an impromptu hike so I could shake off the night. We went to a new place I’ve been dying to try called Lithia Springs. It’s only a few miles from our house and I can’t believe we’ve never been. It was awesome and there’s still so much to explore. We hiked about 3.30 miles in 2 hours. We walked and talked, laughed and goofed around. It was kind of overcast and cool, but it was such a fun morning.

 

After the hike we picked up our CSA. I got loads of kale, purple potatoes, a big zucchini, tomatoes and a big cabbage. I am going to miss big bundles of organic kale!

Carlos had a soccer game in the afternoon. He plays in-town soccer. No pressure, no crazy parents and no traveling to other towns. Carlos has had a lot of soccer training, but it became clear that he just really doesn’t care for anything too intense so this is perfect for him. He enjoys it and loves being with his friends. I think they won, but honestly I don’t care because it’s supposed to be instructional with the focus on team work.

We chilled out in the afternoon. I went to bed when Orlando came home to get ready for another night of madness.

Sunday, 9-21-14

I left work and went straight to the gym for some strength training. I really could have used a punching bag though. When I got home I asked Carlos to come out for a short run one mile run with me. After all our hiking and his soccer playing the day before he was whining about his legs bothering him. I said we could walk and within about 10 minutes his legs were fine! We ended up doing a walk/run in the rain for a total of 2.16 miles. We even did a sprint to the driveway. He declared himself the winner, but I explained that I was the real winner because instead of one mile he did double.

We got home, relaxed, ate and then it was time for skating. Carlos did a fabulous job. I absolutely love this program he’s in. This was his third week back on the ice after being off for months and the progress is already noticeable. He is starting to skate backwards very smoothly and much more quickly. I’m so impressed with him. Skating backwards is difficult in my opinion. I have a very hard time with it.

It has become somewhat of a ritual for Carlos to go over my mom’s after skating. This gave me time to go grocery shopping, prepare minestrone soup for dinner, prep vegetables for the week, juice some fruits and vegetables and make a pot of quinoa and sprouted lentils to have on hand for the week. I couldn’t believe how much I accomplished in a few hours. Before I knew it I had to leave to pick up Carlos.

We chatted a bit and then played with Photo Booth until Orlando came home and I went to bed. In the spirit of Halloween we had fun with the X-ray setting on Photo Booth:

Spooky
Spooky

9-10-14 to 9-14-14

Where do the days go?

Wednesday 9-10-14

I’m starting to get my running mojo back. I decided to run up Mt. Holyoke and then hike my way back down. I ran up the access road to the top rather than the trail because I am still being over cautious about injury. It was an awesome feeling making it to the top. It’s not a huge climb and only about 1.65 miles to the top, but it really gets the heart pumping. I took in the view from the top and then strolled down the trails for a total of 3.15 miles.

Panoramic from the top of Mt. Holyoke
Panoramic from the top of Mt. Holyoke

I practiced a little trail running on flat stretches of trail. It was a leisurely hike down. As I was getting close to my car I greeted an older man who was walking his little furry white dog. The dog was bounding along quite happily. We said hello and then the man informed me that 6 months ago the dog was paralyzed! I said well she’s made a remarkable recovery and now I can tell you all about the dog, the man’s daughter who lives in Maine, his workout schedule, etc. People love to share their stories with me! This summer at our favorite little local lake, Carlos ran into a friend from school. When I walked down the small beach to get him to go home I met his friend’s grandmother and her friend. The grandmother’s friend suddenly began explaining that she was wearing a big floppy beach hat because she was in menopause and taking hormones and didn’t want to get a sunburn. I learned all about her daughter who was a new Chemistry teacher and more about menopause. It’s amazing what people will share!

Later in the afternoon I had a phone call to make and I was doing some computer work at a coffee shop near the bike trail. It was a gorgeous day out so I decided to walk and talk. I was surprised that I ended up walking 4.35 miles. I moved for a total of 7.5 miles.

Thursday 9-11-14

I have been itching to do a long run, something more than 5 miles. I had plans to run with my friend Kate, the one I will be running with in the Baystate Half Marathon next month. However, things didn’t work out quite as planned. I left the house and decided to run in her direction. I ran 4.47 miles before meeting up with her as she got delayed by a couple of unplanned issues. We then did some hill work and a mini boot camp of lunges, squats and tricep dips. The weather was really undecided, it was grey and gloomy, but a bit muggy and breezy. Rain was imminent and of course as we headed back to do more hill work it began raining. We decided to just get back on the road and run to my house. Luckily the rain fizzled out.  I ran another 4.04 miles for a total of 8.51 miles!

Back at my house we indulged in a little homemade facial. I made a face scrub out of almond oil and coconut sugar which smells divine! We cleansed our faces with my new Beauty Counter cleanser and then did the scrub. My skin felt so nice and smooth!

Little known fact…I really wanted to be an esthetician when I was in high school. I used to practice doing facials on my friends and family. I was so interested in it my mom took me to the Elizabeth Grady School in Boston for a tour and informational session. Of course once my friends started looking into colleges I wanted to do the same. I am still interested in skin care, but these days I am more interested in how to care for the skin as naturally as possible by eliminating chemically laden products in exchange for more natural organic remedies. Something tells me at some point my career path might come full circle.

Friday 9-12-14

I have been itching to get back into strength training. I hit the gym after bringing Carlos to school. I didn’t have much time, but managed to fit in a good 45 minute session including a quick warm up on the bike. I am aiming for one day a week at the gym.

Later I met my oldest and dearest childhood friend for lunch. It was a belated birthday lunch for me. It’s always nice to catch up with her as we don’t see each other too often. She is a busy nurse practitioner with 4 sons! She had 3 of her boys long before I had Carlos. As kids we used to talk about how we would live next door to each other in California and have children at the same time. Well by the time I got pregnant with Carlos I figured that dream was long gone. Ironically she got pregnant a few months later with her fourth son. Carlos and Domenic are great friends and although they don’t see each other often they act as though no time has passed when they do get together just like their moms. Now I just have to figure out how we are going to live next door to each other in California!

Saturday 9-13-14

I brought Carlos to soccer practice in the morning and went for a run while he was there. It was a really enjoyable 4.36 mile run. After practice we went home so I could shower. We picked up our farm share, went to Barnes & Noble to pick up a gift card for a birthday party that afternoon and back home for lunch.

The birthday party was for one of Carlos’ new school friends. He loves to dance and takes dance lessons. His mom said he really wanted a dance birthday party so the studio let him have the party there. The two dance instructors spent about a half hour teaching the group of kids a short dance to one of the songs in the most recent Muppets movie. Then the kids performed the dance for us. They had cake and ice cream in the lobby area before going back into the dance room for another performance. The dance instructors put other music on and led the kids in a little freestyle dance party. It was nice to see the boys participating too and having so much fun. My husband is a great dancer and Carlos has inherited the natural rhythm that every Mozambican boy seems to be born with thankfully!

Sunday 9-14-14

I ran 4.40 miles at my happy place, Ashley Reservoir, for a much needed run after work. At home I whipped up my favorite black bean and corn salad for an afternoon barbecue. Carlos had skating at 11:30. At 1:30 all went to the barbecue at the house of one of his class mates later in the afternoon. This new school is very small. There is a strong sense of community. This family invited the entire class over to get to know the families. The teacher and one teaching assistant also came. It was a beautiful afternoon. There was tons of homemade food. The company was enjoyable. It was so nice to chat with everyone, get to know the parents and kids a little better and make ourselves more visible. Carlos is settling in very nicely and we are beyond thrilled with the transformation we have seen in him in the short time he’s been back at school.

We love Montessori and what it is doing for Carlos, but we are quickly becoming aware that not everyone shares our enthusiasm. At soccer practice a boy from Carlos’ old school told him that his mom won’t let him go to Montessori because they let you learn whatever you want to and that’s not right. There have also been a few quips made to me by parents about the lack of structure in a Montessori classroom. I don’t say too much other than to encourage people to visit a Montessori school before criticizing. I tend to preface any discussion about Carlos’ new school with, “Montessori school is not appropriate for all children, but it is a great fit for Carlos.”

So how was your week/weekend?

 

9/2/14

I’m off to a great start today. I dropped Carlos off at school. I vacuumed my car and cleaned the inside. There is just something refreshing about a clean car. Then I ran to Trader Joe’s for a few things to complete my grocery list for the week. I planned my route accordingly so I could run on a bike trail near Trader Joe’s. It was almost 9 o’clock by the time I got there and it was already hot and humid. I’m waiting for you fall!

I hit the trail for a 4 mile run and I felt amazing. My legs were finally acting they knew what to do. My breathing felt great. I ran along at what felt like a slightly speedier pace than what I’ve been running and smiled the entire way. It was an awesome run. After that I browsed around Bed Bath and Beyond for some toiletry organizers. Boy is it easy to lose track of time in there! I found a few things, drove home and immediately threw two pots of water on the stove, one for quinoa, the other for brown rice. I just zipped off a couple of emails and now I’m writing this post.

Today is Carlos’ first full day of school. He had two half days last week to get acclimated which was helpful as he transferred to a new school for 2nd grade. Last winter it became apparent that Carlos needed a different learning environment. I had decided that if we were unable to find another school to meet his needs then I would home school. Prior to becoming a nurse I was a teacher. I was confident that I could learn the ropes of home schooling and reignite Carlos’ love of learning.

Carlos is inquisitive. He loves to explore a variety of subjects. He learns quickly and retains an astonishing amount of information. He is imaginative and creative. He reads at an advanced level. He is bright, not brilliant or a genius, but clearly intelligent. Education is very important in our home. As first grade progressed he was coming home increasingly more frustrated. He finally said what I had suspected, “I’m bored.” I think I’m to blame in part. Whenever Carlos gets interested in something we allow him to explore it in depth. For example he had fascination with Benedict Arnold last fall. We found documentary type videos, stories geared toward children and historical facts. He soaked it up and that led to more questions about the Revolutionary War, George Washington, etc. We found answers to his questions if we didn’t know the answers.

His boredom was compounded by the fact that his school had limited facilities for indoor gym and recess which only led to more aggravation during the long cold winter. The outdoor playground was a parking lot and by the year’s end kids were so restricted that they could simply walk around and talk to each other. Kids need to run and play during the day. The kids were discouraged from taking books out of the school library. Spanish class was little more than coloring and watching movies in English (yes that’s right!). Despite a small class of only 13 students the teacher told me personally that they were a difficult group to manage. Carlos began coming home with headaches because of the constant yelling his teacher was doing to discipline the class. I’ve known these kids for the last four years and I find it very hard to believe that an experienced first grade teacher would have any trouble laying down the law from day one. Her major complaint was that the kids talked too much. I’m sure Carlos did his share of talking, but he was not a behavioral problem. Carlos’ teacher abruptly retired at the end of the school year prompting thoughts that perhaps she had some personal issues going on which made it difficult for her at school.

By February I began exploring other options and after visiting a Montessori school I knew immediately that Carlos would be a perfect fit for the school. Carlos spent the day at the school back in June and loved it. He was beaming when I picked him up and wanted to go back the next day. The feedback we received about his visit was so encouraging and made it an easy decision. Carlos acknowledged that although he would miss his friends he really wanted to attend Montessori in the fall. This was a positive sign that we were making the right decision.

Last Thursday he was quiet on the way to school. He was excited, but appropriately nervous. I walked him to the play area where they spend the first 15 minutes before heading into the building and I waited until he found another boy his age. He turned and said goodbye, gave me a quick hug and off he went.

I couldn’t wait to pick him up that day. I saw the director of admissions when I got to the school and she told me that she had seen Carlos midday and he told her it was the best school day ever!! Carlos got in the car shortly after and was a bundle of excited energy. He talked nonstop on the way home about his day. This, in and of itself, was a miracle because most days over the last year he would simply grunt “fine” in reply to my question “how was your day?”

Carlos couldn’t wait to go to school on Friday. It was another great day. Carlos even said to me this weekend, “I wish there were no weekends now so I could go to school everyday!”

So what is so magical about this new school. Well these are the things Carlos loves the most:

  • When you are finished with your assignment you move on to something else.
  • If you have to go to the bathroom you are allowed to go without asking the teacher.
  • Snack is provided by the school and children are able to eat it when they are hungry rather than all together at a designated time.
  • The playground is amazing!
  • No assigned seating, no desks and the freedom to move around the classroom.
  • Mali, the school dog.

Things I love the most:

  • The huge smile on Carlos’ face when he talks about school.
  • The environment. The school is newly built and looks like a large home. It’s calm, bright, clean and inviting.
  • The school’s commitment to giving back to the community.
  • That independence is valued and children learn to problem solve.

Prior to this experience I knew very little about Montessori, but I’ve since read a bit about Dr. Maria Montessori. Her story alone is fascinating. What drew me towards a Montessori school for Carlos is that it encompasses the whole person. Montessori is much more a way of life than an educational philosophy. Dr. Montessori developed her program through observation of young children. Though the children operate with a certain sense of independence it is within an environment specially designed for them and prepared to meet them where they are at individually.

Some think of Montessori and think disorder, but actually it is quite the opposite. Children learn that everything has a place and they are taught to respect and care for their environment. In my brief time at the school I witnessed a rhythmic flow of activity where the children seemed to know what they needed to do without being told. There was peace, quiet and calm. Carlos’ teacher, known as a guide, is genuinely kind, caring and clearly enjoys what she is doing. She is soft spoken yet in a very understated manner she is in control of her classroom. There is a mutual respect throughout the school.

A Montessori school may not serve well for every child though I am inclined to believe that some of the principles might just be worth giving a try in mainstream classrooms.

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” Dr. Maria Montessori

9/1/14

New month. Carlos is officially back to school. Time to get back on track. No back pedaling. No looking in the rear views mirror of life. No regrets. What’s done is done. I’m future focused and excited for the month ahead.

Three things I’m thankful for:

  • My good health
  • A healed Achilles
  • My son’s renewed enthusiasm for school

Thought of the day:

“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass… get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.” Steve Maraboli (click on Steve’s name to read a fitting post if you are determined to move forward starting now)

What’s making me happy today:

An early run after work at my happy place.

Looking forward to spending this Labor Day with my husband and son.

Getting organized for the week ahead

Carlos and I bagged snacks and filled containers with applesauce and yogurt for school lunch.

I wrote out a weekly meal plan for dinners and a grocery list.

I have a workout plan for the week that includes some running, strength and yoga.

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With that said I think it’s time to mention running again. Without going backwards I will just say that my Achilles took almost 3 months to heal. When I finally started running again in mid-July my runs were slow and short. My busy summer schedule made it challenging to find time to run long enough to train for the Vermont 50 Ultramarathon I had signed up to run at the end of September. Still I clung to the hope that somehow I might be able to muddle through. Deep down I knew the timing was wrong. The Vermont City marathon at the end of May was intended to be the halfway point of my ultra marathon training.  Then from there I was to build up my mileage, endurance and tweak my nutrition for the course.  As August began to fly by with little increase in my mileage I finally accepted that running an ultra marathon post injury with incomplete training was not only dangerous, but also very unwise. I would never advise a fellow runner to go through with it so why did I think I should attempt it? Pride. Fear of feeling like a failure. Frustration.

The exact moment I made the decision to drop out of the Vermont 50, I felt an enormous sense of relief. The next day I went for a run. No headphones, no Garmin, no Map My Run, no watch. It was freeing. I ran slowly and comfortably. I focused on keeping my breathing even and unlabored. I ran only as long as I wanted to and stopped when I didn’t feel like running anymore with no concern about pace, time or mileage.

I’ve been going along like this for a couple of weeks and it’s just what I need to get myself back into running. It is the first time since I began running that I have run simply because I love to run and not because I’m training for something. However, I miss training. I miss the schedule, preparing for a race off in the distance and having a goal, but I’m not quite ready to set my sights on anything to daunting.

My next running goal is actually not about me at all. It’s about my friend Kate. On October 19, 2014 I will be running the Baystate Half Marathon alongside Kate as she completes her first half marathon. I am going to train with her over the next 6 weeks. On top of running we have also been meeting once a week for a boot camp style workout where we do a variety of strength training and core strengthening exercises.

Kate has an awesome story to tell and I’m hoping she’ll let me share it here. I’m super excited for her. I think this is going to be an unforgettable experience for us both. The truth is, I am starting all over again only this time with the knowledge I’ve gained from all the miles I’ve run over the last 5 years. There’s no looking back…

 

The road ahead
My eyes are on the road ahead

 

 

In Flight

I’m on a plane right now flying home from Fort Lauderdale.

I love to travel. I actually love flying and would probably go anywhere if given the opportunity. This past year has been full of road trips mostly for races aside from our trip to Arizona in February. We had planned to return to Mozambique for the 2013 holidays, but after a rash of kidnappings in and around the Capitol of Maputo, including that of a young boy who was subsequently murdered and a former Peace Corps staff person’s wife who thankfully was returned unharmed, we decided to postpone our trip. We were also keeping watch on the increasingly unstable political situation in Mozambique.

Briefly, Mozambique is set to have its third presidential election this year. All eyes are on the current president, Armando Guebuza, from the Frelimo party who will finish his second and last term as president. Some are worried that he will try to find a way to stay in power thereby defeating the democratic process and creating the pathway to dictatorship like its neighbor Zimbabwe. The opposing political party, Renamo, has been stirring up old wounds since the fall. There have been some fatalities as a result of Renamo led uprisings in the north. It’s very sad and frightening to watch from afar, hoping and praying for some resolve, but as of yet nothing has been done to stop Renamo’s actions. So for now our plans to return to Mozambique are pushed back to possibly February 2015.

In the meantime I’m just dying to get the heck out of dodge. I miss international travel, but like I said, I’ll go just about anywhere especially if air travel is involved. This little trip to Florida was spontaneously schemed up by yours truly on a hot, humid run last Friday. Carlos hasn’t seen his grandpa in a while. I had this Tuesday and Wednesday night off. My mom was also vacationing in Fort Lauderdale with her husband and my aunt and uncle. So Carlos will fly back with them on Saturday since I have to work all weekend. Hmmm how could I possibly coordinate this trip on such short notice?!  Within two hours after my run we were booked! I left work at 6a.m. Tuesday morning, took a quick shower, got dressed, threw a carry on in the car, and Carlos and I were at the airport by 7:15 a.m. Carlos is an awesome traveler and that’s how we roll!

Ok I don’t love Florida, never have, but this trip was about family and I at least got two plane rides out of it! I enjoyed a day at the beach with my dad and Carlos. I finally met my cousin’s baby. I stumbled upon an amazing organic farmers market with so many wonderful vegan treats. I convinced my dad to try a gluten free, mostly vegan organic restaurant for lunch yesterday. The Coke guzzling, meat eater actually seemed to enjoy it. I loved it!! So for such a quick trip it was quite enjoyable, but I still daydream of travels to faraway places.

My sister is a jet setting executive for a tech company. She just started this job last year late fall and she’s been traveling nonstop. I’m less jealous now than I would have been pre-Carlos because as much as I yearn to travel I don’t wish to be away from my family for more than a day or two every now and then. My sister mentioned recently that she would be going to Australia in July for work. Cue the seething green eyed monster!!

Visiting Australia has been a dream since I was 10. I had a soft fuzzy stuffed koala pencil hugger and that song Down Under by Men at Work was popular. Suddenly Australia was on my radar. I looked at world maps, dreamed about what it would be like to visit and read everything I could about the faraway nation. There was something so exotic about a place that distant.  A couple of years later, INXS became my favorite band and the fascination with the land down under intensified. It was the distance, the accent, the beaches and the mystique of the outback that sparked my interest. Oh right and I was also hopelessly infatuated with Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of INXS (don’t judge!).

My junior year of college I walked into the study abroad office at UMass Amherst hell bent on finally getting to Australia via their study abroad program. However, somehow I ended up in a short Spanish immersion program in Cuernavaca, Mexico which led to a full semester in Taxco, Mexico a year later. No regrets though. I developed a passion for Mexican culture, history and art and because it was relatively inexpensive to study and live in Mexico I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel around almost all of central and southern Mexico. I loved my experience there and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Fast forward to today…I have yet to travel to Australia, but I still dream of it. Later this month my dream will finally become a reality. Carlos and I will accompany my sister on her trip down under. I am still in disbelief that this is happening. The whole thing transpired very quickly. If it wasn’t amazing enough to be going to Australia, we will also be spending a full day and night in Fiji!!

When my sister casually mentioned that we should come along the old Aimee would have let jealousy consume her. In the past my side of the conversation would have sounded a lot like this:

“That’s ridiculous. I have to work. Not everyone can just take off for two weeks. Lucky you.”

Instead of playing the martyr like I used to do so often I found a way to make it happen. I never take time off from work. I fill in whenever I can for my coworkers when they need time off. I always find coverage for my shifts. So I decided to just ask for the time off and despite the short notice my boss was supportive and is really excited for me. I don’t spend my money irresponsibly. I’m a great saver. I always pick up extra shifts if I can to make up for time I miss. Sure I’m working the next 12 out of 14 nights, but at the end of 2 weeks I will live out a long time dream. This quick trip to Florida helped me to set a plan of action down on paper to organize life for the next couple of weeks. I am looking forward to sharing this experience with two very special people, my son and my sister. My sister and I have her wedding plans to discuss and I am thrilled to be able to spend quality time with Carlos on a new adventure.

Wait, what about my husband? Unfortunately he won’t be joining us. Orlando is a mason and this past winter he was laid off for months. He’s back to work and fortunately he’s incredibly busy. He can’t take time off when the work is abundant because you never know what the winter will bring. We will miss him, but he understands and fully supports our travels. He is a little envious of our trip to Australia though!

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” Napoleon Hill

Fast Times 2013

Happy New Year! Where does the time go? I had high hopes and obviously grandiose expectations for an end of the year wrap up post, a year of races post, recaps of two late fall races and another Skin Deep post. The posts are all written…in my head. If only there was a way to synch my mind with my computer I would be a prolific blogger.

I love this blogging thing and wish I could devote more time to honing my writing and photography skills. I love the therapeutic aspect of writing my thoughts and feelings. It’s been beneficial simply to get it out, but even more helpful to hear feedback from others who graciously take the time to comment here.

I have felt very welcomed by the community of bloggers I have joined. I am reading even if you don’t see a comment from me. Technical issues took up a great deal of time in the last few months. For some reason my phone does not allow me to comment on certain blogs. I enjoy tech troubleshooting so it annoys me that I can’t figure out the problem. My 2008 MacBook has given me a run for my money this year. After countless trips to the Genius Bar at my local Apple Store I installed new RAM and a new hard drive on my own. Prior to these interventions the computer ran so slowly it was impossible to do anything without being locked out by the swirling ball of frustration. It’s a running much better now thankfully so maybe I can get blog posts done more frequently.

From November through the New Year life rolled along at breakneck speed. Here are some highlights:

  • I am now the proud wearer of Invisalign braces! Long story short although I had braces at the very early age of 10 my bottom teeth have turned inward and I need to straighten them so I can finish an unresolved issue on my top teeth. I don’t believe they are invisible and though I am grateful to have the good fortune to fix this issue they are an uncomfortable nuisance.
  • I ran the Monson Memorial Classic Half Marathon (cute pics of Carlos if you click the link!) again in November. I ran it for the first time in 2011 less than two months after breaking a rib during my training for the Disney Marathon. It was my slowest half marathon time. This time I ran an unbelievable race and enjoyed a truly unexpected PR. I will eventually write about it because it’s a race I would like to remember.
  • My husband, son and I ran the Northampton Hot Chocolate 5K in early December. I first ran this race in 2010. This time Orlando and Carlos ran together with my friend Mary’s daughter. Carlos did amazing. He ran the entire race and finished in just over 32 minutes. I stayed back with Mary who hasn’t run in years and suffers from tremendous knee pain at times. This was an interesting experience for me and one I would really like to elaborate on in a future post.
  • I helped run the Secret Santa Gift Shop at my son’s school which is a three day event where the kids get to shop for their families.
  • I adopted a whole foods plant based diet aka vegan after being vegetarian for three years.
  • Carlos and I enjoyed an impromptu two days in New York City with my sister. We went to the top of the Empire State Building, walked a bit of Central Park, saw Rockefeller Center, went to the Lego Store, the Apple Store and F.A.O. Schwartz.
  • Thanks to my sister I had the good fortune of dining at the organic vegan Candle Cafe in NYC. It was incredibly delicious.
  • My baby boy turned 7. I really wish time would slow down. Legos are all the rage in his life right now. Our guest room has been turned into Lego City.

    Legos have taken over my home!
    A new Lego truck
  • Christmas came and went with little fanfare. Orlando and I got iPads for each other. I got the mini and he got the new iPad Air.
  • I worked a lot of overtime in December. My husband got laid off on December 16th which always causes a bit of distress initially. Fortunately he started back at work the week after Christmas. This has been a very unpredictable year for him. I have been lucky to pick up overtime often, but more work means less blogging, reading and other nonessential “fun” activities.
  • Carlos got old school Battleship for Christmas and we have been having so much fun playing it together, such a great game!
  • We spent New Year’s Eve at my friend’s home in upstate New York. It was a fitting way to close the year. She is one of my dearest friends and I have been honored to be welcomed into her trusted circle of friends this year as she bravely battled breast cancer. This, in and of itself is challenging, but she did it while pregnant with her second child. She is a warrior! My friend and her husband now have a gorgeous baby girl who is healthy and so very happy. I couldn’t wait to hold her. She just sat there blissfully in my arms. As I watched my friend and her beautiful family my heart filled with so many emotions just thinking of all she has been through this year. It was an important reminder for me to not take the goodness of life for granted.

I learned a lot about myself this year. I ran a lot this year.  I shattered my fitness goals. I have taken up yoga pretty seriously and hope to continue to improve and grow in my practice.

Despite all of these milestones I have found myself in the throes of emotional eating on and off since October. Just as things improved the holidays triggered the behavior once again. I realize that my journey with weight, food issues and body image distortion are far from over. I have more tools now to cope with emotional eating so that I don’t incur a weight gain, but the fact that I’m still struggling with certain behaviors is frustrating and a bit frightening.

It’s a new year and as with the past 7 new years I intend to continue to grow, change and improve myself and my life. Having Carlos 7 years ago sparked a fire inside of me that has encouraged me to be the best person I can be. I can always be better. Improvement requires change. Change is difficult. It means facing fears, looking inside of yourself and digging up hidden truths, trying new things and most importantly it means failing.

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” C.S. Lewis