Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Plans

I guess one good thing about this long distance relationship thing is when he comes home or I visit, I feel like we make it a point to do all the fun things! Though I would enjoy even just sitting on the couch with Peter these days, it's nice to plan fun activities to look forward to! Back in October, I was already listing our Thanksgiving plans so I thought I would do a Christmas list too! He will be home Saturday afternoon and I can't wait!

+ Christmas x2.
I'm doing Christmas with my entire family on Saturday night. It's easy to hang out with his family because 1. I live with his sister and BIL and 2. we live within 10 minutes of his parents house, where Peter and his little sister live. My family however is all spread out - my mom and step-dad are an hour away from me, my twin lives 45 minutes away in the opposite direction, my older brother is in Chicago and my SIL + niece + nephew are 5 hours away. We coordinated our schedules so we could do Christmas together - who cares if it's a few days early. I'll take two christmases any day! If Peter's plane doesn't get delayed, he'll be coming with me too! 

+ Wine.
Simple and self-explanatory if you've been reading my blog for at least 2 posts. We've been saving a few bottles just for Christmas and I can't wait. I've missed my wine nights with my favorite guy.

+ A Christmas Lights Walk. 
Big warm jackets, hats, gloves, scarves and glittery Christmas lights around you. Sounds cozy to me!

+ Our Restaurants
Going to our favorite places to eat and getting the same things we always do. Sometimes I love a good routine :)

+ Christmas Cookies
Peter's dad makes the best Christmas cookies ever. Three different kinds and about 3 dozen of each. I could eat them all myself! But I suppose since it's the season of giving, I can make sure that his family and friends get some too :P

+ Christmas Morning
I don't think Christmas morning will ever feel less magical, no matter how old I get. It's not the pending presents either. It's the family time, the laughter, the kindness, the well-wishes from friends. I have many things to be thankful for and being able to celebrate a holiday with the ones you love, near and far, is a gift and an amazing thing in life.

What are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Honoring Our Veterans

Over the weekend, I spent Saturday morning at Arlington National Cemetery. Growing up outside of DC, sometimes I think I take for granted the amount of historic landmarks that are near me. Each one of them represents or reminds us of an important time in American history. I don't go into DC often but it's always fun to play tourist in my own city when I do. 

I was at Arlington National Cemetery for Wreaths Across America Day. I encourage you to read more about it here. Basically, one man who owns a wreath company in Maine had a surplus of wreaths during the holiday season in 1992. He decided to send the wreaths to Arlington to be placed at one of the older sections that doesn't get many visitors. This went on quietly for years until 2005 when a photo of the wreaths on the stones made its way around the internet. Support and donations started to pour in from people who wanted to help. In 2007, the non-profit organization Wreaths Across America established itself and each year it continues to grow. The wreaths get placed at cemeteries all over the country but their big event is at Arlington. Truckers donate their truck and time to drive down the thousands of wreaths from Maine to Virginia. What started as a simple idea from a wreath maker in Maine has grown into a national event that truly honors our nation's heroes. 

My division at work has coordinated volunteers for the past few years and I did attend last year. I had a great time and was happy to participate again this year. Though this time, I got to coordinate the volunteers. It was pretty simple - send out an email, put all their names and the number of people they were coming with on a spreadsheet and answer any questions they had. But it was also more than that. A lot of people had stories and reasons for wanting to attend - fathers, mothers, grandfathers, brothers, husband, wives, friends - were buried there. My email then got forwarded to my entire company that was in the Washington Metro area and more volunteers started to email me. A few days before the event, we had 165 volunteers signed up!

On the day of the event, I went with Peter's mom and little sister. They actually both did it with me last year as well. Because of the number of volunteers, traffic on the roads started quick and the metro got extremely crowded. I was about 10 minutes late showing up to the meeting place. I had a giant flag with our company name so people could find me. I only knew a handful of people coming so it was fun to meet more co-workers. We have people all over the place and it's rare that we have an event like this to be together at. 

They have an opening ceremony and it's one of the best parts of the morning. You listen to the board members of Arlington National Cemetery talk about the event, the members of Wreaths Across America and the wreath maker from Maine. This year was the 150th anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery and they made it their goal to get enough wreaths donated for each eligible stone (wreaths do not get placed at Jewish stones). In the previous years, a few tens of thousands of stones would not get covered simply because they didn't have enough wreaths donated. That is a father, mother, son, daughter, friend who's stone doesn't get the remembrance. But this year, they all got one - about 280,000! When one of the Wreaths Across America head members told the crowd they met their goal, I don't think the cheering could have been louder. You would have thought everyone there had just heard they won the lottery. The speaker was actually very emotional when he said it. To think about all the hard work that went into this event and they were able to meet their goal, who wouldn't be emotional! 

The first lady from Maine was there and my favorite part of her speech was when she said "This event right here, this is what is going right in America right now." And to think I got to be a part of that! It really didn't stink in until that moment what my choice to attend had really meant. 

After the ceremony, you walk to one of the trucks to get wreaths. They ask you go to an empty stone, read it and take the time to remember and honor that veteran. It's a very humbling experience. 


If you are ever in DC around the second week of December I highly encourage you to participate!  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Invisalign Final Report

I completed my Invisalign treatment on November 1st and am finally getting around to giving you guys a final report! First, the before and after!

As I mentioned in all the posts I wrote about Invisalign, I'm so glad I decided to do it. My teeth weren't terrible but the crowding was only getting worse and I didn't want to be self-conscious of my smile anymore. I did a lot of research, saved money to put towards it and then finally made the commitment. The orthodontist I went to made a big difference too because I trusted what he was doing and he always let me know where I was in the process. If you're thinking about doing Invisalign, I would definitely ask around and get good recommendation if you can!

I was excited to be done, obviously to have a great end product finally, and so I could start snacking again :). I just have to wear my aligners when I sleep at night for forever now. Since I was wearing my aligners 22 hours a day though I wanted to slowly decrease the time I was wearing my aligners during the day because I didn't want my teeth to change. I usually have them out for about 8 hours a day now instead of 2. Eventually I'll probably only wear them when I sleep my 7-8 hours a night.

Now that it's done, treatment went by pretty quick! My mom is still doing it but is seeing some great progress. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask, I'd be happy to answer them! 

You can find all my previous posts about Invisalign here: 
Invisalign Week 1
Invisalign Week 6
Invisalign Week 25
Invisalign Week 43

Monday, December 8, 2014

I Know Good People

This post is going to recap my 5th half marathon. The title will soon become very obvious.

I'll start with the Saturday before. The race was 45 minutes away from my mom's house so I stayed the night there. It also helped that they needed a dog babysitter that night as they went into DC. From my house Saturday morning, I drove down to my race and picked up my packet, some fuel, and new ear warmers because everything was 20% off.

I stopped by Chipotle for lunch because I like filling up earlier in the day, giving myself time to digest and then having a simple dinner. I don't have a standard pre race dinner but I  do know what foods I'm usually good with. I decided to have pasta and a baked potato for dinner and it filled me up just enough. I spent a majority of the day just watching Christmas movies on Hallmark and Lifetime with the pups and was in bed by 10. I've got resting/being completely lazy the day before down pat :)

my fluffy couch companion :)
Sunday morning I woke up at 5AM to let the dogs out and get ready. I was out the door by 5:45AM and it took me about an hour to get to my race. I stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom and get gatorade and twizzlers - post race reward. A running store was putting on the race so the starting line was in front of it. It was in a giant shopping center. As I pulled through my parking space, I see a familiar Jeep, a blue coat and black hair in the parking row in front of me. I gather my stuff, get out and walk over to the Jeep to confirm its identity. I called Julie and asked where she was…SHE WAS AT MY RACE WITH MY FRIEND ELLIE! While driving to the race I was bumming out that I was going to be at it alone so you can imagine how excited I was to have two of my very best friends there! Last week Kayla wrote this post about qualitative friendships and I couldn't agree more. I don't have a million friends but the friends I do have are worth a million dollars. I love them so so much and they do amazing things like drive an hour and half to stand in the cold for 2 hours to cheer me on while I run by them for 10 seconds. Seriously, my friends are the best!
Forgot to get a picture with them so here's one from Julie's wedding!
There was a Krispy Kreme right next door so I used the bathroom while they had some donuts. It was nice to be a warm place for a few minutes. The race started at 7:30AM and the sun came up as we started. It was in the 40s but windy. Gusts were around 15-20MPH. Minus the wind, it was pretty perfect race weather. The course was an out and back with a loop in the middle. We ran along a river for a while and through neighborhoods. It was fun to see Christmas decorations up while running. My only compliant of the course is the GIANT hill at mile 11. It went from 50ft to 250ft! Luckily Julie and Ellie ran down it and then ran/walked up it with me. Julie was trying to convince me that hills were our friends, made our butts look better and I told the hill it was a bitch :)

Once I got up it, they hopped in Julie's car to meet me by the finish. They had been at every aid station cheering for me. It was SO nice to have familiar faces to look forward to all along the course. My ankle had been bothering me so around mile 5 when I saw them I asked if they could get me ibuprofen and they did! Once that kicked in, my ankle felt a lot better. They found me again with about 0.5 mile to go to the finish and ran with me. As we got 0.05 from the finish, I heard "GOOO BECKY!" My boss and her family, my co-worker Sue and her family and my co-worker Robin were all there cheering for me!!! I couldn't believe it. I started crying but then couldn't breathe since I was already breathing heavily so I had to reign in the tears haha. 

I sprinted to the finish as best I could and was happy to cross the mat. My official time was 2:07 which is a 5 minute PR! Sub-2 is in my future - just didn't happen this race... I blame the hill of death! I met up with my group and gave them all sweaty hugs. I still couldn't believe it. My boss and Sue live an hour and a half away and they got their kiddos up just to come watch me race and be my cheering squad. My co-worker Robin was the one that was going to go to Cracker Barrel with me. Well there was one last surprise. Robin had a hot brunch waiting for all of us at her house!! Cold from the wind, we all hopped into our cars and drove about 5 miles to her house. She had delicious brunch food prepared, a hot drinks bar and a candy bar. She is also Mrs. Christmas and her house looked so cozy! We ate then sat around talking about an hour and a half. It was so so so so nice. See, I know GOOD PEOPLE. I'm still humbled by their kindness and so thankful they wanted to come support me!
Yummy food!
My cheering squad!
The sign my boss' sons made me then everyone signed!
I also had many fans who couldn't be there but sent texts and well wishes! A special shout out to Erin, Tracy, my mom & step-dad, Peter, Kelly, Sarah & Ryan and Peter's mom! It was a truly great morning and race experience. Half marathon #5 is in the books and it was an amazing one! Of course half marathon #6 is already booked and I begin training again in 3 weeks. I know that race will also be great and I can't wait for March!!


Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Happies

After taking the whole week off from work last week, I definitely paid for it this week. I felt like I had 30 things to finish all at once which made for some very busy days but it also made the week go by quickly. I know this month will fly by and I really just need December 20th to get here (reason below). In times of crazy and busy, I like to remind myself of all the good things, big and small, that are going on!

+ Peter booked his flight home for Christmas this week and he will be home for 13 days! He gets a certain amount of unpaid leave days and with company holidays on Christmas and New Years, he only has to use 8 days. During the past 5 years, we had always been right down the road from each other and now I realize how lucky we were. But as un-fun as long distance is, I know he's where he needs to be right now and it'll just make his coming home for good even sweeter!

+ As I mentioned last time, I'll be solo for my race this weekend. I had been talking to a co-worker a few weeks ago about my race because she lives in the area. I had mentioned that I have a tradition of always going to Cracker Barrel afterwards but since no one will be there with me this time, I won't be able to go. Well yesterday she emailed me asking if I wanted to meet up there after my race to keep the tradition going! I've got some really nice co-workers :D

+ Speaking of co-workers, remember that christmas gift drive I'm coordinating? The gifts are due on Monday so some were brought in early this week. I just love how giving some people are this time of year. One co-worker got a gift request for a basketball or football and he got him both. Another one asked for sheets or a comforter and she got her a whole set. Some people even took at least 7 or 8 gift requests. With all the stuff we're seeing in the news these days, it's been nice to see people being kind and thoughtful towards others!

+ If you don't have TimeHop by now, I'm not sure what you're waiting for…I check it every morning and it's been fun to remember the memories. Two years ago I was in my senior year of college and my tweets from back then just make me smile. Kelly, Julie and I tweeted a lot of inside jokes and randomness and it just reminds me of how much fun it was to live with them! I miss coming home and telling each other about our days, going on late night runs to Kroger and even when they put their mattresses in the living room (for days on end). Those two helped make my college experience happier, more fun and very, very memorable. I love my boomies!

+ These past few nights I've been watching Christmas movies with just the Christmas tree lights on and I love it. It's cozy and just puts me in the holiday spirit. I love this time of year! So far on Netflix my favorite movies have been Christmas Cupid and 12 Dates of Christmas. I've been watching a lot of Hallmark ones and my favorite is Let It Snow with DJ Tanner. The Grinch with Jim Carrey is also one of my all-time favorites! 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and thank you for putting up with my sporadic blog posts! Next week I really hope to have at least 3 or 4 posts up, one including a race recap and another one about my Invisalign ending! Happy Friday!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving(s) in Pictures

This year I got to celebrate Thanksgiving multiple times which meant multiple meals and lots of family time. It was so so good to have Peter home. I'm currently wallowing in self-pity that he is back in Chicago already but luckily Christmas is only a few weeks away! 

Since I'm writing this on Sunday night while watching Gilmore Girls on the couch, here's a recap of all the fun in picture collage form.

Left: First order of business when Peter got home was to play his electric guitar. 
Top Right: First order of business that night was to open a bottle of wine.
Bottom Right: Winery at 11AM on a Monday…don't mind if we do.


Top Left: It snowed a few inches on Wednesday and Zoey takes playing in the snow very seriously.
Top Right: Peter and I enjoyed Starbucks and our favorite bagel place one morning. If only every day could start like that!
Bottom Left: Wine and cheese night with Peter. Everything that I needed in one place!
Bottom Right: Have I mentioned how much I loved having my handsome man home? :)


Left: Thanksgiving Day picture!
Top Right: Peter was proud of his Thanksgiving plate and wanted me to document it.
Bottom Right: Peter's dad makes the most amazing Italian stuffing every year. We fight over it every year too.



Sarah and Ryan spent Thanksgiving with his parents in Florida so Friday we had Thanksgiving Round 2!



Peter had an early flight on Saturday. His mom and I took him to the airport and were both sad to see him go :( But afterwards I drove down with mom, step-dad and Kiefer to see my older brother and his family. This was the first time Uncle Kiefer got to meet Baby Sophia. She's now 2 months old and it was so fun to see her more alert and awake. I laid her on my lap and we had a nice chat for about 20 minutes. I also took a million pictures of that adorable face. Bah so much cuteness!!!!


I did my final long run on Sunday. I had a few aches but I think an easy week and lots of yoga will help this week. The weather says it's going to rain but it'll at least be 50 degrees. Not ideal but the weather always makes it more of an adventure!

Sarah and Ryan decorated for Christmas over the weekend and the house looks so happy and cozy! I can't believe December is already here. Christmas is my favorite season and I'm looking forward to all the fun activities!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Training for Tuesday - 12 Days Left!

I wasn't sure if I would get to blogging this week but I have some time on my hands this morning while Peter is out Christmas shopping with his mom! Plus I didn't want to miss one of my favorite link-ups!
tracytris

I have 12 days until my half marathon. My longest long run has been done and I have about 24 miles left to do during my training runs. It's been an interesting season to train in with super hot days, daylight savings, cold and windy days. I'm already stalking the weather for next weekend and I'm hoping for at least 30-40 degrees and sunny. 
3 layers on Saturday...
1 layer on Tuesday…and delicious steel oats!
Everything has gone pretty well so far. The only thing recently is still some right ankle pain and tight hamstrings. I'm focusing on getting in good stretches and yoga in these remaining days so hopefully I won't have any problems on race day. I'm a bit bummed because it looks like it'll just me on my race day. My mom got her dates mixed up so her and my step-dad won't be able to come cheer me on. I've been lucky that I've either run with friends or had fans at the start and finish line. I'll be running with my phone so I told my mom she can just call and distract me during some miles. I'm not sure if I'll be able to break 2 hours... I think it'll just depend on how the day goes. Right now my PR is 2:12 so I'll be happy with anything under that! 

And finally, as most runners do, I already have my next race planned. I'll have about 3 weeks off before my next training cycle. I'm interested in starting a new plan so send any recommendations my way!

In other non-running news, the past few days having Peter home has been amazingly awesome. I'm trying to not think about how he has to leave again and just enjoy all the time we have together now. We've been hanging out with his family, drinking wine, going to wineries, getting starbucks and watching our favorite TV shows and movies. I just love being able to make plans with him and looking forward to them every day! Only 8 months until he is home for good!



Friday, November 21, 2014

Happiest of Fridays!

I get to see Peter TOMORROW. Only 24 hours to go. After 3 months apart, I'm more than ready to spend the next week together, hanging out, drinking wine and enjoying him being home. Long distance is no a party but the reunions sure are sweet. 
Any Arrested Development fans? Source
This week has been long but also seemed to go by quickly. On Tuesday, I had an all-hands meeting, a thanksgiving potluck and then our building's power went out. They had to kick us after they heard it wouldn't be coming back until 6 or 7pm so it was nice to get home early and run while the sun was still out. 

Wednesday I had an online training class and my boss let me do it from home. That meant PJs and no bra all day. Glorious it was. 

Thursday at work I started to organize one of our community initiatives. Each holiday season my division sponsors A Giving Tree where we are given ornaments with gift requests from a local child in need. I create a spreadsheet with the 150 ornaments we got so that I can track which ones were taken and any that we will need to go buy. I'm always humbled to see the simple things these kids would like. 
Tennis Shoes, Winter Coat and Sheets and/or Comforter!
Thursday night I signed up for my 6th half marathon! And what's more exciting than that? Erin & Jared, Tracy, Alyssa, Julie and Erin (convinced her last night!!!) are ALL doing it as well! I think that's the most friends I've ever had in a race before. It's in March and I'm already SO excited!!!!

I also watched this video on ESPN. Kayla has MS and is one of the best young distance runners in the country. You must watch it. It is amazingly inspiring. It shows that the only one who can stop you from doing something is yourself. It really makes me want to stop being afraid of doing a marathon and DO IT. I have no reason not to. 

Well that's about all the ramblings I have. I hope you all have a great weekend and even better Thanksgiving next week! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Kindness

I know it's not very intriguing to start a paper off with a definition but this is my blog post so here I go anyways…one definition of the word Kind is having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence. I think most of us would agree that the world could use more kindness. I know where I live I run into a lot of selfishness and rudeness whether it's in traffic on my way to or from work, at a busy store or restaurant…it seems like these people think their time is the most important thing in the world and everyone needs to get to steppin' if they are slowing them down. It's sad that it surprises me sometimes when people are nice... when a car actually lets me cross the road in front of them when I'm running, the cashier making friendly conversation at the check-out instead of staring into blank space while bagging, or a total stranger complimenting my dress. 

I had made it a goal this year to be more kind. More random acts of kindness and Hey I'm thinking of you and thanks for being great! It's not always easy but I just think the world could use more of it and the whole "be the change you want to see in the world" got me thinking. 

Now because everything is more fun with someone…my challenge for you this week  is to do one random act of kindness. Maybe it will inspire someone else to do something and that wonderful chain of paying it forward will continue. Nothing is too big or too small. And then let me know about it! I even spent 3 minutes coming up with a fancy hashtag! Share your act with me on twitter or instagram with this: #beckyiwaskindwhen .

To start it off, I'll share two of acts of kindness from yesterday…

+ When I wake up I usually lay around in bed for a few minutes checking my email/facebook/instagram. One email I got was from Groupon for a Starbucks deal. It was $5 for a $10 gift card. I immediately thought of my friend Kelly because she loves her Starbucks. She is currently finishing up her first semester of Optometry school and in the midst of taking finals. Over the weekend we were talking about how easy it is to convince yourself you need that red cup of goodness and she mentioned she likes getting coffee/caffeine before she goes to the library to study. Once I saw that deal, I opened it up, wrote a little note, entered in my payment information and then sent it off to Kelly! It took me all of 5 minutes and $5. I was smiling from ear to ear when she texted me later on in the morning to say thank you. It made my day that it made her day! Now if only we weren't 3 hours apart and could get our caramel macchiatos together!!

+ I was walking around my building putting up flyers for one of our events. A lot of copiers are in our kitchens which is where I put most of the flyers. When I walked into one, I noticed the copier was loudly beeping and being all mad. The copier on my floor does this a lot so it was easy to recognize the problem. However I just hung up the poster thinking someone would come in and figure it out. Well someone did come in but he had no idea what the copier was mad about. I could have easily walked out and continued to do what I "needed" to do. But knowing that I would want someone who knew how to fix the problem to help me, I started showing him what was wrong. Simple paper jam. I pulled out the drawers/lever thingys and started pulling crinkled papers out. I got some ink on my hands, then on my shirt, without realizing it. After about 5 minutes, we finally got everything out and it started working again. He thanked me for my help and I continued on my way feeling good for being able to help. I would have missed that if I had just walked away.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Weekend Highlights

+ Friday night Sarah, Ryan and I met Peter's mom and little sister at Target. Sarah & Ryan wanted to buy some new Christmas decorations so we made a night of it. Listened to Christmas music and walked up and down the aisles of Christmas stuff. They got a lot of good stuff!

+ Saturday morning I woke up early to get my long run in. It was pretty cold and windy but at least sunny. I got a new running jacket at Target the night before and it was great to run in. My training plan said to do 13.5 miles but I started having some ankle pain and knew 12 would be enough for me. Once I got back home and stretched, I went to Starbucks to get my now usual hot drink. I had a gift card though so it was free and totally worth it.
Early morning bagel in bed...

+ That afternoon, I was the third wheel on Sarah and Ryan's double date with their friends Steph and Gerald. We went to a winery and then out to dinner. Peter called me once we were home and it was really nice to hear his voice. It was even better to think that that time next week I'll be hearing it AND seeing him!! Then I was in bed by 8:30. Pretty great day!



+ Sunday I slept in, cleaned and lounged on the couch for a very long time. I watched part of the Eagles game until it got pretty bad. Luckily I had bagel bites, fried chicken and beer to cheer me up.

I've got a lot of things to do at work Tuesday and Wednesday so I'm hoping it'll make the week fly by. Just 5 more days until Peter!