Monday, December 27, 2010

PC... Mac... or Both?!

Harper and I consider and discuss the age-old debate of PC vs. Mac.

Harper concludes that he shouldn't have to make a choice!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Mima

I always tell people that I learned my best manners from my Mima. When I was a pigtailed, dark-skinned, pinukbit of a little girl, my two older brothers and I would spend the last weekend of every month with my dad. My Mima lived with him for awhile, and I will always remember meals with her. As a child, I didn't understand what it meant to be born and raised in a different time, country, or culture. Now I cherish and respect that my dad and his family came from the Philippines.

Much like myself, my dad has never been a morning person (mostly because he's usually worked late shifts as a mechanic for PG&E). Without fail, Dad would thoroughly set the table the night before: bowls, spoons, juice glasses, napkins, several cereal choices, and a banana next to each place setting.

Anthony, Greg, and I were quite used to this routine. We'd help ourselves, then watch some Saturday morning cartoons or play some sort of game before my dad woke. I'll always remember the first morning with Mima there. My brothers and I settled into our places, slicing bananas into our bowls, and pouring our juice. Anthony and I added milk to our selected cereal, but Greg preferred to eat his dry. "What do you think you're doing?!" My Mima was shocked that anyone could eat dry cereal without milk. Greg had always hated milk. Even as a baby, he'd throw his bottle across the room to protest the vile white liquid. So what did my Mima do? She made him add tap water - yes water - to his cereal. Can you imagine? To this day, Greg and I still laugh about it. She was always so old fashioned, and so stubborn.

Dinner with Mima was often a learning experience. Keep your hair pulled back and don't touch it. Sit up straight. Keep one hand in your lap at all times. No elbows on the table. Don't chew with your mouth open. Don't speak with food in your mouth. Say please, thank you, and you're welcome. Use the words "may I" instead of "can I". You must ask to be excused before leaving the table to go to the bathroom or finishing dinner altogether. Don't drink from your glass until you're finished eating (I'm told this is a weird instruction, but she was adamant about it).

I remember being so eager to please her, that once while we were chatting in the living room, I said, "Excuse me, I need to use the restroom". Her response (with her lovely Tagalog accent) "What are you going to do, take a rest?" I was so embarrassed that I ran off to the bathroom without answering.

After my Mima's first stroke, she went mostly blind. She was then living in a retirement community, but was still living independently in a small house. My Dad dropped me off to spend the day with her while he did "boyish things" with my brothers (I always felt jealous and left out). I was probably in my younger teenage or pre-teen years. My Auntie was there to dye Mima's grown-out hair roots to her usual shade of deep reddish-auburn. I don't think I was meant to witness it, but my Mima began to weep. With her scalp lathered in the sour wet goop, she hung her head and cried. She appeared so vulnerable. It was the first time I had ever seen her as anything but strong, commanding, and confident. You see, my Mima spent many years as a cosmetologist. She prided herself on her appearance, and was so dejected in knowing that she had to get help dying her hair. It was so sad, and I'll never forget how it felt to realize that her health was beginning to go downhill.

My Mima passed away on December 5th surrounded by our family. We knew this day was approaching, but of course it didn't make the event any less sorrowful. I'm so thankful that she and Harper were able to meet last year. She will always be the lovely voice in my heart that tells me to mind my manners when they're called upon. I'll always remember her as the beautiful woman she was. She loved Japanese culture, she was an artist like me (I hang her paintings in my house with pride), and appreciated fine things. She was very old-fashioned, and very particular about things. But most of all, she was my grandmother - and as that grandmother, she was perfect. I have her stubbornness, her interest in art, and of course... her Filipina nose. 

I love you, Mima. I'm glad you're finally at peace.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Whoa, Baby!

Yes, the rumors are true. There's a little peanut in this mama's belly. On Wednesday I'll be just five weeks along, putting our due date around July 27th. If anyone knows of a good VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarian) doctor in Utah (preferably Salt Lake or Davis counties), let me know because I'm on the hunt.

...and yes, we're going to let the gender be a surprise again! Hooray!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran Vitans

Like many people, I have a rich family history. For a long time, even my Dad had many unanswered questions about his family. Though there are still many unanswered questions, I've been fortunate enough for him to tell me stories the things that he does know. My dad was born in Manila, in the Philippines. It was a whole different world there when my grandparents (my Mima and Lolo) were growing up. I will preface this post by cautioning that I am by no means anything close to a historian. What I know came second- and third-hand from my dad.

My dad tells an almost unimaginable story of my Mima trying to find refuge in the Philippines during WWII. She and her sister scrambled for safety, but wanted to grab their only family valuables, their mother's jewelry. My Mima was supposed to meet her sister at a nearby church where they would hide together. My Mima ran over a hillside, literally dodging bullets as she ran. When she made it to the church, it had just been bombed, with her sister presumably in it. This picture was snatched from the blog of my talented Auntie Velma (hope you don't mind, Auntie). Isn't my Mima beautiful? She's been in ailing health for years, and despite doctors telling her that she is at the end, she keeps proving them wrong.

My Lolo served in the Philippine Commonwealth Army, fighting in both the Korean War and WWII.  I don't know the details of every event, but I do know that my Lolo was a POW for three years during WWII. He was held prisoner (in deplorable conditions) in Bataan, and then survived the subsequent Bataan Death March. All members of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, which was at the time commanded by the US Army, were granted US citizenship if they wanted it. This all happened just years before my dad and his sisters were born. It's amazing to think that if he hadn't endured those long years as a POW, that my dad never would have been born. I probably don't have to specify that consequently, I wouldn't have been here either.

My Lolo died when my dad was only 9 years old, in 1959 at the age of 39. From what I understand, he was fishing in a small boat with a friend, who went overboard. My Lolo jumped in to save him from drowning, but (as is not uncommon) the friend ended up pulling him down underwater with him. Sadly, he died trying to save the life of another. He was active in the US Army when he passed away, and was buried at the well-known Presidio in San Francisco.

I would have loved to have known my grandfather. If he was still alive today, he would have been 90 years old. I would have loved to hear him tell incredible stories in a comforting and beautiful accent not unlike my Mima's. So on this Veteran's day (as well as Memorial Day), I think of my family history, and all the difficulties that were endured for all of us to be here today. This photo was also snatched from my Auntie's blog, from a scrapbook that she handcrafted for my dad.

I also think of my Dad, who was drafted during the Vietnam War, and has a great story that he calls "Saving Private Vitan". Below you see him as a little boy, it was either taken after moving from the Philippines to Japan, or maybe after he moved from Japan to the US. The second photo is of my dad looking handsome in his uniform. Today he looks much younger than his his true age. In fact, it's difficult to believe how little he's changed since that photo in uniform, so ladies... he's single!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Case of the Coughing Writer

I've been sick for well over a week now. I don't feel as awful as I did at the start of it, but my cough and somewhat intermittent sore throat are lingering. I wonder if it's from daring to run - though I've cut back partially by an elective attempt to mend my body, but also for involuntary reasons. I haven't been sleeping well since the cough peaks in the morning and night. It's difficult to run in the morning when you only have a few hours of sleep behind you. The time change hasn't helped Harper, either. As all parents know, when the little ones doesn't sleep, neither do mommy and/or daddy.

NaNoWriMo is going well, as I find myself a few thousand words ahead of schedule (I passed the 13k mark yesterday), and I'm going strong. I would have hoped for better character development by now, but I suppose that just gives me more to write about. 

Last night Jeff and I just finished watching BBC's Sherlock series on PBS. It's brilliant! It puts a modern-day spin on an old classic, while still paying respect and homage to its original. The writing is razor-sharp, and the performances are equally flawless (I have yet to see Martin Freeman a.k.a Bilbo in something I didn't like). Season One is only three episodes long, but each episode is an hour an a half. So really, it's three feature-length episodes. I like that the long duration gives you a chance to sit down and enjoy an entire story in one sitting, instead of dragging it out over three or four episodes. They have a second season planned, and Jeff & I can't wait. I hope the US airs it as soon as the UK does. I'm such a sucker for BBC productions, especially the Masterpiece Mysteries and Classics. Check out the PBS website to watch previews and see if it's something you might like. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

My C25k Commencement Speech

I've done it. This morning I heard these guys in my head at about 6:35. (Yes, I occasionally imagine real-life people in my head as characters from The Simpsons.) And of course, they were singing their triumphant We Are The Champions. Why is Queen in my head? Well, today I am an official Couch to 5k Graduate!

I couldn't help but think about how amazing it was that week one was more challenging than week nine. Let's review, shall we? (All of my C25k posts can be seen here.) Week one had me jogging for 60 seconds then walking for 90 seconds. I did these intervals eight times, and huffed and puffed the entire way. It was late August, and it was scorching outside. Now I run in freezing temperatures for thirty minutes without stopping. Don't get me wrong, I'm still huffing and puffing while my knees continue to ache, but running is no longer foreign to my body. Besides, I don't let excuses get into my head. I just get out there and run

It's worth noting to all of you potential or current C25k'ers that I haven't lost a single bit of weight in these last two months. But I haven't let that stop me. I had originally started this program to get healthier, find an "active" hobby, and lose weight. Two out of three isn't so bad. I figure the weight will come off eventually (as I've gathered from the experience of others). I haven't let my lack of weight loss discourage me from running since I know it's more about a long-term commitment to fitness and my health overall. Because of running, I am stronger, have more energy, and find myself in better spirits on a regular basis. I think the issue is that I find myself ravenous on run-days, so I just need to manage that better.

I'm already planning the post-graduation runs, which will probably start with working on running for the 5k distance instead of just running for time. (Pace has me falling a bit short of the mark in the 30 minutes.) I'll do that for two weeks, then will start doing a "long run" (ok you marathoners can laugh) of 45 minutes at the end of the week. In the spring, it will be on to Bridge to 10k (B210k). 

I have to mention my saviors at They made running a whole heck of a lot easier because I didn't have to fidget with stop watches or juggling the timing with ipod music. I downloaded their app during week 1 and am so glad that I did. They're also really supportive via Twitter, and have lots to share on their blog. I'll be purchasing their B210k app for my iPhone when the looming snow melts.  

Also, a big thanks to my mom for helping me get my butt in gear during week one, and to my sister-in-law Emily for keeping me honest throughout the past eight weeks. Oh, and also a shout-out to pepper spray for giving me peace of mind. Watch out, creeps - I'm ready to attack!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010

What is NaNoWriMo, you may ask? I'm not sure who designated it as such, but November is National Novel Writing Month. I participated in it last year, and even won. You can find out more about NaNoWriMo here.

Have you ever had an idea for a novel but never thought you could get it down on (real or virtual) paper? NaNoWriMo is fun in a masochistic sort of way, but it is insane fun nonetheless. Yes, that's 50,000 words in 30 days, and it's surprisingly doable. Broken down that's 1,667 words per day which can be surprisingly easy when you are excited about the characters, the plot, or any specific part of the novel that floats around in your head. In the end, it's the first draft of a novel - about 175 pages. I can't begin to describe how amazing it feels to hit that 50k mark. As for my 2009 novel? It's sadly sitting in first-draft form, waiting for me to resurrect it via editing.

So I've started with my preparations, if you call it that. I have a loose plot figured out, and my characters have begun to invade my brain. I'm trying to overload with thoughts of my 2010 NaNoWriMo novel, so when it comes time to write, it just spews out all at once.

We all have different methods to writing, and mine is heavily character-based. I don't do outlines or written brainstorms of any kind, but I do like to have a document with character profiles including pictures, descriptions, and facts about each character of significance. I build that as I go, working on it when I have writer's block or am just not in the mood to fully write. It helps keep me attached to my novel when words don't really want to come. Other than that, I sort of let the novel write itself.

I know this has zero appeal to most people, but for those that are interested at all - please head over and join me! I'm trying to talk Jeff into participating this year. Any other takers?

Little Dude

Far too much time has passed since my last Harper-related post so it's time to make amends. I finally uploaded some pictures to share, including some from his second birthday party (graciously hosted by Jeff's brother Scott & his wife Des who is seriously a supermom).

Like his mama, Harper is one of the few Leos out there that does not enjoy the spotlight. His birthday party was no exception. He made a bee-line straight for the trampoline in Scott & Des' backyard.

There wasn't much we could do to tear him away from it... I'm not exaggerating. His cousins were much more interested in the presents than Harper was. We had to bring his presents to the trampoline to be opened.

This is what would happen when we would take him off the trampoline. When he wasn't hanging from the edge or bouncing happily atop the trampoline, he was screaming and crying to get back on.

As you can see from his birthday party photos and this one above, Harper was very overdue for a haircut. I generally procrastinate until I'm ready to deal with crying, screaming, squirming, and bits of hair stuck to his sucker, his mouth, and everywhere else. Neither Jeff, Harper, nor I are ready to let a stranger cut his hair, so I just do it. At this point, Jeff and I would rather deal with the tantrum at home instead of public. That's what parenthood is all about, right? Improvisation. Truly, the haircut isn't so bad with Jeff's help. By the way, this is a classic Harper face.

In September, Jeff's brother's (Ryan) wife (Julia) was in town from Georgia to see her family, so we seized the opportunity to take pictures of the trio of cousins that were all born within a short time period. We had such a good time, and it was so fun to see the three of them play together. Cooper is such a sweet little guy. (Left to right: Harper, Emma, Cooper)

   And how about this sweet face? Harper loves to play in our backyard - especially with his daddy. Sure, he's in his "terrible twos", but for the most part he's a goofy, adorable, sweet, happy boy.

Couch to 5K: Week 7 done!

It's official: I can now run for 25 minutes straight without stopping. In fact, Emily and I found that we can run for more like 40 minutes when we I missed the audio alert to turn around at the halfway mark. We're still plugging along, and I'm still really enjoying it. I worry that I'm overtraining, as my HR monitor tells me I'm spending most of my time in zones 4 & 5 (80-90% and 90-100%), which is no bueno for my fitness goals. I need to figure out how to slow my HR down. Going any slower would likely be considered a brisk walk, and I don't want to do that just yet. At least not right now. Maybe once I finish C25k, I'll try 30 minute runs accompanied by 30 minute brisk walks or something. We'll see. All I know is that I need to do something to bring my HR down. Maybe it'll just lower on its own as my heart and body get stronger.

As the temperature drops, I find it more and more difficult to get out of my warm, cozy bed in the morning. But I remind myself that I have reason to celebrate. I have not missed a single run in 7 full weeks. I have gotten my lazy butt out of bed three times a week. Most of those times have been a good deal before even the suggestion of dawn. For me, it always seemed like I'd only get out of bed early by chance of some miraculous effort. Turns out, I just needed the proper determination and inspiration.

On to week 8, where we run 28 minutes sandwiched between our 5-minute warm-ups and cool-downs. Bring it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

So This is Love... Mmmhmmm Mmhmmmmm

 I like to go for my run a bit later on Tuesdays since it's Jeff's day off & I'm not in a hurry. My alarm began its Armageddon-blaring alert at 6 this morning, to which I responded by hitting the snooze button. Immediately, my brain began to involuntarily protest.

You stayed up to late; you're too tired to run. Ugh, you can't run while you're on your period. This bed is too comfy. Let's turn off the alarm instead of pressing snooze for the third time. You don't need to go today, you can do it some other time. I finally made myself get out of bed. But it didn't stop there.

Your knee already hurts; you don't want to overdo it. Do you have a bellyache? Let's stay home. Oh, you can work on your crochet or knitting projects. Or we can go back to bed! Let's go back to bed! My brain sure has been programmed to be lazy, sheesh. Each time one of those things popped into my head, I pushed it out, replacing it with something positive. The reason for my mental protests? Week 5 Day 2 of Couch to 5k is a bit of a doozy: eight minutes of running, five minutes of walking, then another eight minutes of running, all sandwiched in between a 5-minute warm up and cool down.

The interesting thing is that it wasn't too difficult to push those thoughts away. Because... well... here's the truth: I love running. You heard that right. I love it. I love the way my lungs feel when they're wide open, sucking in the cool morning air. I love the feel of my bones and muscles working together in anatomical magic to push me forward. I love watching the sunrise against the farming landscape and mountain backdrop. I love the smells: wood burning fires, clean laundry, sticky sweet doughnuts baking, dewy grass, puffs of exhaust (oh wait, that one doesn't go on the list of pleasant smells). I love the way my music keeps me going, or my chats with my sister-in-law help the time pass. I. LOVE. RUNNING. I wanted to learn to love it, and it didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would.

So programmed excuses begone. You're no match for the way I feel about running. I've changed my brain.

How did I feel from today's run? Well... let me tell you. Once I saw the house with the crazy sprinkler (the one about a mile from home that shoots me in the face with excessive PSI), I knew I was golden. I actually had wished there wasn't a 5-minute walking session between the jogging intervals. When I finished the first interval, I couldn't help but smile like a fool. I was damn proud of myself. When the second running interval began, I felt a little slow and stiff at first. I had wished I had kept going, which is exactly what I do on Thursday's run. 20 minutes of non-stop running. I'm going to leave that crazy sprinkler in the dust... along with those ridiculous excuses.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Strong Heart, Big Feet

I'm a lucky girl. Among a few things, Jeff got me this heart rate monitor for our anniversary. I totally love it! He wanted to get me something running-related and had noticed that I had been eying this heart rate monitor. It's wireless, easy to use, keeps a continuous reading (no double buttons for a single reading), and best of all - you don't have to send it to the manufacturer for battery replacement (like quite a few other brands). Oh - and it's not so bulky that I wouldn't want to wear it like a regular watch if I wanted to. It's great to keep track of my heart rate so I can work towards staying in the "weight loss" zone... though I can't seem to keep my heart from beating like crazy. Even if I can't get it as low as I'd like, it will help me keep from getting too crazy-high.

In other news, I finally wizened up and measured my feet for size. I always knew that I had wide feet, but was so used to a bad fit, that I just bought too-big shoes so the width would be tolerable. Let's not even get into what happens to your feet after pregnancy. Now that wide width shoes are more readily available, it's all I've been buying. But there's nothing that gets you thinking about the fit of your shoes than a new running or walking program. After much thinking on the subject, I couldn't help but think that I could get an even BETTER fit. So I measured my feet. Turns out, I don't just have wide feet, but I have extra wide feet. The last few pairs of shoes I've bought were size 9 D. Turns out I'm more like an 8.5 2E. In truth, I could probably go a little wider. Good think I don't need to fit into Cinderella's shoes; I already have my own Prince Charming.

So I'll wait for my current pair of running shoes to wear out, then will buy what I think will be a proper fit. People rave about the difference that a proper shoe makes in not just their workouts, but their overall health. But I've learned it's NOT just about size. This guide was immensely helpful; everyone should identify the proper shoe for them. Turns out that I'm a supinator/overpronator with high arches AND wide feet. So not only do I need an 8.5 2E, but I need structured cushioning shoes with a performance last. This will definitely change the way I buy shoes. You better believe I'll be posting about my next pair after my current pair wears out. Who would have thought that shoes could be so complicated?

Three Years!

Three years ago yesterday, Jeff and I had our perfect day at the beach in Manchester, CA.

And of course... there was the food. A vegetarian feast loved even by the most voracious meat eaters.

It was a perfect wedding, and completely envy-worthy. It was our day, and I would never dream of changing a thing about it. I also wouldn't change a moment with you, my sweet. Thank you for a wonderful three years. Here's to many more. <3

Couch to 5k: Week 4

It's official: I've passed the half-way point in the Couch to 5k program, and it feels fantastic. I didn't intend for it to take over the blog, but it seems to have. I guess it's become a big part of me, so it's only natural.

It was a great week. I'd like to figure out how the heck to get my heart rate down so I can get into the 60-50% range. Slowing my pace doesn't really seem to do it, as I spend most of my running intervals around 80%, or even higher towards the end of the run. Does anyone have advice?

Next week is a significant one. Check out the week 5 intervals (not including the 5 minute warm-ups and cool-downs):

Day 1:

Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes
Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
Walk 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes

Day 2:
Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)
Walk 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
Jog 3/4 mile (or 8 minutes)

Day 3:
Jog two miles (or 20 minutes) with no walking

I'm feeling surprisingly optimistic about the jump, and am actually quite excited to tackle it. I felt good this week, and can't wait for next week too!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Couch to 5k: Week 3

I was so nervous about this week, but it wasn't so bad. While I still don't consider myself to be athletic by any stretch of the imagination, I am beginning to feel more like a runner. And the craziest part is that I like it. I'm not quite in love with running yet. But I'm learning to love it. So I'd say that running and I have made it to first base, and we're getting close to second. Ooh la la!

Below is what week four's intervals look like:
Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)
Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

Week three gave me a little boost of confidence, so I'm not as wary. Besides - the loom of winter snow has become my motivation to finish the program in the planned 9 weeks... so I can, will, and am doing it. I know I can get to the finish line so I'm going to keep pushing forward!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Sometimes it's not so bad to be counterproductive. I ran my first solo run this morning. I was quite proud of myself, since I've leaned on the company of others to get my sleepy butt out of bed. This time I decided that I didn't want to let myself down. So where does the counterproductivity come in?

Well, this is what I had for breakfast. I know... for shame.

I surprised Jeff with a homemade pumpkin cheesecake accompanied by homemade whipped cream & a sprinkling of pecans. The only unfortunate thing about any proper home made cheesecake (besides the gluttonous aspect of its consumption), is that it had to set overnight. So of course we couldn't wait until dinner. It made a lovely breakfast. The texture is light, and the amount of spice is just perfect. The extra steps of the springform pan, bain marie (water bath), and cooling/setting process are so worth it. I dare say it beats the Cheesecake Factory's seasonal pumpkin cheesecake.

Our third wedding anniversary is next week, so thought this would be a fun early indulgence for us. Besides, what better than a delectable pumpkin treat to put us in the mood for Autumn's approach (as if we needed any additional help with that)?

By the way - beware of the 2010 pumpkin shortage. You may want to call around and stock up for the season once you find it. I tried four stores before success at a WinCo that is ten miles away. I purchased six cans. Yes, I know I could have used fresh butternut, acorn, or another fall/winter squash. What can I say? I'm a pumpkin loyalist.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gargantuan Cranium

I'm sure none of you will be surprised to learn that I was in marching band in school. Yep, I was in band from 4th - 10th grade (I quit before my junior year because of terrible experiences with the new band instructor). And yes - I played the flute. Go ahead, I'll pause while you play the band camp joke in your head...

...Now that we've gotten that out of the way, back to the story. My high school band's uniform was made up of a stiff blue and gold polyester getup, completed with giant white q-tip hat. (No, I will not supply you with a picture. You already have enough fuel to tease me for quite some time now. I attended Benicia High School. If you feel so inclined, Google it. ) Just before the start of marching season, we would all have to get down to our skivvies for uniform fittings. The worst part of this for me was always the q-tip fitting. The "band moms" were always shocked at my enormous hat size. It was so big that they barely were able to find a hat big enough to fit me. Even then, the only one they could find was always far too tight. So embarrassing. I almost forget why I'm telling you all this.

Anyway, I have a big head. 24". That is an XL for those of you paying attention. So what will disguise a big head? An even bigger hat, of course!

Using Knit Picks Swish yarn in Coal, I knit up this enormous slouchy hat. Sure, I cast on a few too many stitches so it's super loose, but I like it anyway. After all, slouchy hats are supposed to be pretty dang big. It will fit all my hair inside, even when I have it pulled up or back. Best of all, it covers my gray spots!

I just loved turning this...

Into this...

Yes... yuck: I posted a picture of myself when I don't normally. I'll get over it so long as I don't think about it long enough to delete it. Really its to show off my knitting (just look at those little stitches!), which according to Jeff, I need to do more often.

Couch to 5k: Week 2 & Running Goodies

Week two of Couch to 5k is now just a notch on my running shoes. I began the third week today, and am now in the company of my awesome sister-in-law Emily. She's much more athletic than I am, so was able to jump right into my routine without starting from week one. I'm so grateful for her company.

I love the way I feel after a good run. While I appreciate the day off in between each session, there is something inside me feels like I should be running when I'm not. I suppose that will help my heart grow fonder for it... something that I never thought would happen (but here it is... happening).

I've always had zero problems finding nice quiet, relaxing hobbies. I'm excited that I've now found an active hobby. Running (er.. jogging) isn't easy, but it's not turning out to be difficult either. I am finding little ways to reward myself through - with what else, but - shopping. I have to remind myself that these are things that help me stick to the routine. Time to bust out with that credit card. Really, I have made some exciting purchases, but I'm trying not to go too crazy.

Petzl Headlamp: Most days, we're out the door around 5:30 in the morning. The stars, moon, sparse street lamps, and occasional blinding car headlights are the only sources of light at that hour. I was tired of fumbling through the darkness, and this thing really does the trick. It has a few different light settings, but the best feature is that it tilts to a few different angles so I can point it in just the perfect place to see where I'm going. I just have to be careful not to blind people with it when I look up to talk to them. The only thing I didn't care for was the mark it left on my forehead for a little while, but that was only a minor annoyance.

Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Plus Hand-held Bottle: I wasn't expecting to spend more than a couple bucks on a water bottle, but this is a must-have for runners, walkers, or really anyone who exercises regularly. You hardly notice that it's stuck to your hand (thanks to the handle with an adjustable elastic band), it has a zippered mesh pocket to cram in a few necessities, and a perfect little spout to make sure you get just the right amount of water to keep hydrated during your workout. Also - it doesn't leak!!  My mom had one when she was visiting, and I had to get one too. I'm so glad I did. They have a few different versions depending on what you're looking for, and this one was just right for me.

Mueller Jumper's Knee Strap: I have knee issues, but I wasn't going to let it be an excuse to not run. People have done so much more under circumstances of extreme severity, so I knew this was no big deal. I've tried Cho-Pat, McDavid, and Mueller straps, and for me, the Mueller was by far the best of the three. I'd like to see anyone try to find a better deal than at Amazon. I got my orange one (of course I'd choose orange!) for $6.49, but only after we had gotten a black one (that Jeff uses) at Walgreens for $13.99. I wish I had known sooner.

So what's next? Next I get through at least few more weeks before I buy anything crazy. Maybe after week 9 I'll splurge on some running pants/tights. Man, those things are expensive, but I've heard they're SO worth it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mama Hangover

Today my mom and I wrapped up a too-short 11-day visit with a teary airport goodbye. When Jeff, Harper, and I got home, I couldn't help but sense that she was supposed to be there with us. Now I'm left with a sad, heartsick feeling that's not unlike the heartache-y hangover of a long distance relationship. I suppose that's more or less what we have now. The absolute worst part is not knowing when our next visit will be. Sigh.

We had the best time though. We went to the zoo, cooked and devoured some incredible Filipino food (my version of comfort food), shopped, laughed so hard we cried, shared in some guilty pleasures, and enjoyed one another's company. She spent quality time with Harper (who was surprisingly comfortable with her), and even got some of those priceless toddler laughs with that edge of mania to it.

And best of all? She was my personal trainer for 11 days, helping me start my Couch to 5k program. We found a pace that works for me and she gave me quite a few tips that will stick with me while I work my way towards the 5k. It's only week 2 and I'm already covering 2 miles with a combination of walking and jogging. I'm a little nervous about my first morning without her, but I'll continue to push on, imagining her there with me - cheering me all the way.

I love my mom SO much. I've spent too many years away from my family in California. Can you believe I haven't spent a Christmas there since I was a teenager? In a few years I'll have spent more holidays away from my family than with them. Sad thought, isn't it?

I know, I'm such a downer! Well, you all should take a few moments to appreciate your mom right now with the biggest hug you have to give her. And if you can't do that right now, you should call her to tell her how great she is. And if you can't do that, just speak the words out loud so she can hear it in your heart: "I love you, mama". After all, our hearts are always connected to our mothers no matter where they are or what our circumstances may be.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Couch to 5k: Week 1

I did it. I braved the dangerous streets of Layton, UT. Extreme weather and treacherous conditions were overcome. I fought injuries and perservered. Ok - we know I'm exaggerating. But seriously, I really did complete Week One of the Couch to 5k program. I'm feeling nervous about week 2, but I'm proud of myself for tackling week one. Despite my worry, I know that I can (and will) do it.

My mom has taught me a lot about pace. I have a tendency to want to sprint at the start. She reminds me that finishing is more important than speed. I will be sad when she goes home, but I believe that she's going to be the one to thank (along with myself of course) for my getting to the 5k finish line in another 8 weeks. After all- I WILL get there in the end.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Couch to 5k: Run, Shauna, Run!

Have any of you heard of the Couch to 5k program? It helps the lazy, out of shape, or running haters go from "couch to 5k" in 2 months. I fit in the "loather of running" category. I have always despised running, and thought I always would. Even as a child, I preferred arts over athletics. I'm not a criminal on the lam, and the chances of a zombie invasion are slim... so why do I need to work up my endurance for running? It just sounds torturous. That being said, there's been something inside of me (for quite some time) that's wanted to love running. Runners will tell you about the "runner high" that they get. They'll tell you how amazing it feels during and after a good run. They'll tell you it's addictive. Doctors will detail the numerous health benefits to running. So here we go. Couch to 5k. I'm going to do it. At minimum, I have to give a chance.

With the support and company of my mom, I started the program this morning. Perhaps in my case it should be "bed to 5k", as I am infamous for my near inability to get up out of bed at an early hour. I'm proud to say I was up at 6 this morning. Once we got going out there, it wasn't bad as I thought it would be. The thing is that I KNOW I can run, I just haven't really wanted to. I'm changing my usual running mantra from "I hate it I hate it I hate it" to something like "It's good for me, I can do it, I am doing it". I'm determined to change my attitude about running. If I fail at getting up in the morning, my backup plan is to run in the evenings. So there, no excuses.

I'm so fortunate that my jogging partner (aka my mom) is an incredible athlete. Warning: I'm about to brag. As a the stroke lead for a women's competitive rowing team, she kicks some serious booty. Just see for yourself in the below video clip, or click here. She's the hot tamale in the blue boat, in front, closest to the camera at the start. I just love watching her stroke style. She's 62 years old, but so very youthful. She has monstrous muscles, and could stand in as my body guard (but not in a gross manly body-builder sort of way... she's just BUFF). She's not all brawn, either. She's the big boss at work and the Vice President of her rowing club.

Anywho, wish me luck on my running program. My mom is here through the 7th, then I'm sort of on my own. Unless I have any volunteers to come keep me honest?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Paper Flowers

I just love when the DIY stars align, don't you? We're very limited to decorating our new place since it's a (very outdated) rental house. I spent $0.00 on this project by upcycling and using things I had on hand. It was so easy that I wanted to share the how-to. Have no fear - green thumb not required. I apologize in advance for the iPhone pictures, but it's better than no pictures, right?

If you'd like to view the tutorial, click through using the below link.  Happy crafting!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Can You Keep a Secret?

Harper's second birthday is today! He just doesn't know it. We've decided to wait about a week for his birthday party so my mom can attend too. That's right, my mama is coming to visit! I'm thrilled!

So as I throw invisible confetti and whisper "Happy Birthday, sweetheart" in Harper's ear (he'll never know!!), I'll share a bit from his secret birthday.

I wanted to snap a birthday picture at breakfast time. Instead of saying "cheeeeese" like I asked, he made a goofy squinting face for the camera. He thought he was being SO FUNNY. Note the fake, forced laugh in the third picture. What a goof.

And here he is with his hair done, ready to go spend some quality cousin-time with Logan and Emma. He likes to do his hair with the pomade stick, just like dad does. Harper goes for the faux-hawk (with my assistance), though Jeff merely uses it to disguise the hackjob of a haircut I gave him the other day.

He was really interested in the bag of caramel popcorn at the store, so thought it would be a fun secret birthday treat for him since regular popcorn has zero appeal to him. Apparently, once out of the bag, caramel popcorn has zero appeal either. And of course I had purchased the largest bag. Sheesh. Jeff better help me eat it.

I'll need to remember to charge the real camera's battery for Harper's birthday party next weekend. But for now, everyone whisper a "Happy Birthday, Harper"... well I suppose you could shout it. Until he sees balloons to play with and cake to shovel into his mouth, he probably won't understand anyway.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Night Night Time

Harper has had close to the same bedtime routine for quite some time now. Back when he self-weaned, I would hold him close, cuddle, and sing to him in the rocking chair. It served as a great transition to sleepy time, and we both loved the continued closeness that it provided after he had weaned. We have kept this tradition up ever since, and we both love it.

Since then, we've added a few things to the routine. We read a couple books (right now it's Dr. Seuss' There's a Wocket in My Pocket followed by Margaret Wise Brown's timeless Goodnight Moon), then the three of us sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" as a family. You should see the sincere look on his face as he belts out "aaaahhhh ahhhhhhh". You can tell he's really feelin the music.

After we sing as a family, Jeff gives us both kisses goodnight so Harper and I can have our cuddle time (when Harper coaxes me into singing "another song" as many times as he possibly can). Harper does this great thing where he touches the side of Jeff's (or my) cheek with his little hand to "pull us in for a smooch". Well, tonight Harper did the sweetest thing that I don't ever want to forget. Harper pulled his daddy in for a smooch, then pushed Jeff's face towards mine so he could kiss me, too. He did that three times, encouraged by our giggling.

Harper then said, "bye-bye, sun" while looking up and over towards the curtained window. He's never said this before, and we could hardly believe it when he seemed to truly understand the conceptual relationship between sunset and bedtime.

He'll be two tomorrow (Friday). How is this happening so fast?!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thirty by Fourty

Yes, the rumors are true. On July 30th, I said farewell to my twenties and hello to my thirties. This kind of milestone can really get a gal thinking about her life journey. A decade is a long time, and I've decided to be more goal oriented about the things I fill my life with. I don't so much enjoy making lists as I do checking things off of them (who doesn't?!) so I've come up with the following specific things that I'd like to do by the time I turn (gulp) fourty. The list is a blend of short-term and long-term items. Below is my complete list (categorized but otherwise in no particular order).

Who else out there has a list like this? I'd love to hear if anyone else has done something like this before, and how it went/is going.

Thirty by Fourty

 1.  Knit a sweater for myself
 2.  Knit a pair of socks for myself
 3.  Refinish a piece of furniture
 4.  Complete all of my unfinished quilts
 5.  Complete another oil painting (it's been years)
 6.  Knit something for myself with luscious boutique yarn
 7.  For at least one year, only give handmade gifts & cards to extended family/friends
 8.  Knit something lace with lace weight yarn
 9.  Complete our wedding scrapbook
10. Complete Harper's scrapbook
11. Complete five upcycle projects
12. Complete 10 crochet projects (I don't normally crochet, but I enjoy it)

 13. Lose more weight & get healthier
 14. Run/jog a charity 5k (this is a feat for me. I HATE running, though I wish I loved it)
 15. Take a real vacation
 16. Get that dreaded dental work done
 17. Read 10 classic novels that I haven't read yet
 18. Do something that's totally out of my comfort zone
 19. Do another 3-day juice fast
 20. Give Harper a brother or sister (#13 must happen first!)

Miss Shauna Homemaker
 21. Start a garden
 22. Organize my crafts
 23. Reduce our clutter at home
 24. Prepare a 5-course meal entirely made from scratch with farm/garden ingredients
 25. Select a room in the house, and completely redecorate it on a small budget

 26. Complete a children's book with Jeff
 27. Attend a geekfeest (ie Comic-con, PAX, E3, Maker Faire, Stitches Expo, etc)
 28. Participate and win NaNoWriMo 3 more times
 29. Complete a final draft of one of my NaNoWriMo novels
 30. Do a HUGE donation of our old clothes, bedding, etc.

The Big Boy and the Car Seat

We've resisted the lure of the forward-facing car seat for as long as we could. Yes, we're those parents, and proud of it.  But really, there are some shocking statistics regarding rear vs. forward facing car seats. Without sounding preachy or showing anything super scary, I'll just link this video that shows the difference of the two seats during an impact (don't worry - it's just a crash-test-dummy).

When we bought our seat, we decided to get one with an extended rear-facing weight limit.  According to national averages, he should have been fine rear-facing until he was about 3 (or even possibly 4) years old. Would you believe that he's only a few pounds away from the limit? We had to turn him around, but we're proud that we kept him rear-facing for so long. Truly, he didn't mind the way things were. He may have looked a bit squished in there, but really, he was quite comfortable with his legs bent and cuddled up a bit. It gave him a little space to run his cars along the edge of the carseat, and a nice cozy place to nap on the way to Grandma Carol's.

He's not a baby anymore, that's for sure. This little guy turns two years old in about a week, can you believe it?


As I become increasingly budget-conscious, I try to think of different ways to save money with my crafting and decorating (a.k.a. money-sinks). I've decided to try my hand at plarn creations. Yes, you heard it right: plarn. Penny pinchers and green crafters gave the name "plarn" to yarn made from plastic bags. Preparing the bags takes a bit of time, and I still need to toy with needle/hook gauge, but I'm having fun so far. I plan to make a tote bag from old grocery bags once I get the hang of it. I'm also going to cut up old t-shirts in a similar way to make yarn from old t-shirts. I'll crochet a rug with those.

Upcycling is taking something useless or otherwise disposable, and turning it into something new or with a better use/purpose. Do you have any upcycling projects that you've completed, or are interested in exploring?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mr. Clean

This boy loves to clean. Whether it involves mopping messes of ketchup from his hands and face, putting toys away into the toy box, wiping the counter, sweeping up invisible dirt, playing with the vacuum, or picking up each little Cheerio as they spill from his breakfast bowl, this boy LOVES to clean. He even loves to say the word "clean" while he cleans.

Here's to hoping it lasts through his teens!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Yesterday was a big day for us. With the help of a ton of family, we finally made the move to our new rental house. We're so very appreciative to Mark, Scott, Bayler, Kelli, Colleen, and of course Emily and Ryan (especially since they let us invade their space for much longer than any of us expected). As I've said before... I have the best in-laws!

So we're in the process of get settled. Fortunately, Jeff eked a few extra vacation days from his budget so we can get things in order. Our hope is that we'll stay here in this house until we're ready buy again. Once things are less crazy, I'll see about posting some pictures.

In other news, Jeff treated me to a special birthday evening. I'll share details once we have a proper Internet connection. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Brothers and Sisters

Pinakbets: (From left to right) my cousin Karl (holding a purse!), me, my cousin Erik, Anthony, Greg, and Mario (bottom)... at my dad's house, where he still lives today

As most sibling relationships go, I didn't truly appreciate my three brothers until after I left home and transitioned into adulthood. Of course I have countless memories with each of my brothers that I hold dear to my heart. We've shared laughter, pain, and of course... mischief.

One of my favorite childhood memories of my oldest brother Anthony is when he taught me to draw a star when I was very very little. I remember him wrapping his hand around my right hand as it gripped a pencil, and showing me how to draw those five little lines over and over again until I was able to do it by myself. I can't remember if I had asked him to teach me, but I have a feeling that he just decided to do it on a whim. What I love about this memory is that it is simple, sweet, and most of all, holds such weight since the star is a symbol that I have come to cherish for many reasons.

My absolute favorite memory of my older brother Greg is one that I don't think I've ever told anyone. We were on the phone, and I had recently moved to Phoenix. He would have been 20 and I would have been 18. He himself had just come to appreciate the value of family after having spent some difficult time living in the Midwest. As a youth, all I could think about was getting away from my family, and he likely sensed that I was now missing them all. At the end of our conversation, he told me he loved me right before hanging up. We weren't an affectionate family when I was a child, so the love I felt in his words gave me an especially significant jolt of happiness. I always remember that conversation, and still feel it when he says it today - at the end of almost every one of our phone conversations.

One of my favorite memories of my younger brother Mario is also a sad one that I don't often share. I'm not sure how old we were, but I would guess that I was fourteen and he was twelve (or maybe it was thirteen and eleven... either way I'm sure he was already taller than me by then). No one could find him anywhere, so I left the house to look for him. I discovered his hiding place just a few blocks away from home. He had run away for reasons that I remember with frightening clarity, but won't detail here. I looked into his eyes, and felt an overwhelming need to take care of him; I could see that he needed me, and was desperate. We ran off together, walking many, many miles to the place that I thought would be an appropriate haven. Despite our pleas, we were eventually sent back home. I will always remember the closeness I felt to him that day. Though he's less than two years younger than me (and now more than a foot taller), I felt like a big sister that day, and will never forget the way that experience bonded us together.

All that leads me to what I suppose was the intent of this post. I always wanted a sister. Of course I have a wonderful bond with my brothers individually and as a collective family... but I always wanted someone to giggle with. I wanted someone to play dress-up with, swoon over boys with, and tell girly secrets to. (I suppose that was why I was so close to my twin cousins, but that is a story for another time.) Almost three years ago, I finally got my wish when I married Jeff... thus gaining four sisters. I love spending time with them. They've already shown me how great "sister time" is. I'm not very girly, but our sister time lets me lose myself in a way that you only can with sisters. There is a special, unique bond that sisters have, and I'm so glad to finally be able to experience a piece of it. I sure lucked out in the in-law department. My parents, sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews -in-law are good to their cores.

So I wanted to share these memories of my brothers as to not slight them when I express how grateful I am of my sister-in-laws, and how much I love them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Move Along, Little Doggies

Oh, the joys of moving. Packing has been coming along nicely. We have mounds of boxes and the to-do list is getting shorter. With a little more than a week before our move date, we're feeling much more prepared than last time. I hold onto the excuse that our last move was such a mess because it was out of state and we were juggling our first baby at the same time.

Harper has been "helping" by taking things in and out of boxes. I probably don't have to specify that most of our productive time comes during Harper's nap. We're all becoming more excited as the day approaches. We were worried that my sister-in-law's oldest would be upset about our moving out... but he seems more concerned about which toys we plan to take with us... as any almost-4-year-old should.

Dottie and Dexter seem to notice that a change is coming, too. Though we'll never be able to give them their royal days between racing retirement and Harper's birth, I can't wait to give them the space that they deserve. On the subject of the dogs... we recently learned that Noodle has finally found a new home. I think of her often, and even worry at times. I hope that the long wait was due to the rescue group finding the perfect home (without small children and with a big, fenced backyard). More than anything, I hope she found a home that loves her as much as we did, do, and always will. My heart still aches deeply when I think about how we gave her up, but I just have to remind myself of the reasons that we did. (Miss you so much, my Schnoodelie Boodelie Boo...)

Friday, July 9, 2010


I won't go into lengthy detail about our trials and tribulations in our rental home search, but I am excited to say that after a year of searching, we finally found one! We couldn't be more thrilled. Of course, now we will actually have to move. You'd think Jeff and I would be expert movers at this point, sheesh. It's a good thing that due to space constraints, we never fully unpacked from our last move.

It's only a few miles away from my sister-in-law and her family, who have graciously rented their basement to us for the last year and a half. It's hard to think about how much we'll miss her kids, and how sad it will be that Harper won't be playing with them every day anymore. They have so much fun together, so I'm sure we'll all visit often.

We'll take some pictures once we get settled. It's an older house (read: dated appliances and interior... but nothing beats the oven/stove we had in Seattle) with three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms and a fenced yard for Dottie and Dexter. It's not exactly something that we would purchase, but it meets our needs for the next couple of years until we are ready to buy again. We move at the end of the month, and I'm thrilled!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The 5th Beatle

We've had one heck of a holiday filled with family, fun, sand & waves (unfortunately not of the oceanic variety), video games (shout out to Lego Harry Potter!!) and lots of yummy food. Yesterday, Harper tried to prove that he is the true fifth Beatle. For a toddler, he sure knows how to rock the drum pads!

Amigurumi Banana

Harper loves bananas. Lately, he's less interested in eating bananas and more interested in opening it, taking a few bites, peeling it a bit more, and saying "na-na" over and over again. I thought it'd be fun if I knit a banana for him. I was so excited to use up a little of my acrylic yarn stash, so whipped up an amigurumi banana in no time.

It even comes completely out of the peel. Jeff and I were excited to give it to him the morning after it came off my size 3 double pointed needles. I wish I had taken a video of it. After breakfast, I told him, "Harper, I have a suprise for you!" I brought the amigurumi banana out from behind my back. He shouted "Na-na!!!!!" with his usual banana-induced excitement. He ran towards me, eyes fixed on the banana. He opened his mouth to take in about a quarter of the banana, biting down hard. He paused, looking down with confusion. Unsure of what to do, he finally spit it out and pushed the toy away. He threw a complete fit. Perhaps he thought we tricked him on purpose, or maybe he was just disappointed. Next time I'll put a squeaker in it. Maybe I'll embroider a happy face on it so he better understands that it's supposed to be a toy. Even now, a week later, he still wants nothing to do with the fraud of a banana.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ready for the Park

Harper loves going for walks in the warm weather we've been having. He sits back in his stroller and takes in the sights & smells at the park. Sometimes he'll point and say things like "birdie", "jet", or "doggie woof", but mostly you can tell he's just absorbing everything around him. I can hardly believe he'll be two years old in two short months.

 Excited to get going

Annoyed with his mama's obsession with taking pictures

A Knitter's Rant

The other day, my eyes caught something on TV that really bugged me. I was reminded of a major pet peeve of mine. The movie was of low production quality circa 1975, and there was some insane lady sitting in a rocking chair, who was supposed to be knitting. Yes, she was supposed to be knitting, but it looked more like she was ineffectively digging a hole in a tangle of yarn. There weren't even stitches on the needles. She was holding a pair of needles much too large for her project, and was plucking and poking like her life depended on it. Would it have been so difficult for either her or the director to do a teensiest bit of research on how to hold knitting needles?

These fake knitters pop up everywhere. I love getting craft ads in the mail (especially my Knit Picks catalog), and scan over every little detail for good deals, inspiration, and eye candy. Not too long ago, I received an ad for a craft store (who shall remain anonymous to protect the innocent), that contained a picture of a joyous mother and teenage daughter who were bonding while supposedly knitting. They couldn't have looked any more awkward. Yes folks, even the craft stores can't quite get it right.

Yes, I do understand the saying "there is no wrong way to knit". Left handed, right handed, pickers, throwers, Tunisian, Portuguese... there are many ways to to hold your needles, and many variances on how to craft stitches. But sometimes it's quite plain when the person has no idea what they are doing. No, I am far from a perfect knitter, and I pass no judgment on other knitters (regardless of their skill level). Maybe I just feel like the intelligence of me and my fellow knitters is being insulted. Or maybe this is just one of those silly, pointless pet peeves. Or maybe I'm just paying too close attention to something so trivial. Hopefully I don't come off to rant-y (yes, I just made up the word "ranty"), because I don't mean to. Well... not really. :)

Inconveniently, I was unable to find a picture of a fake knitter. Go figure. This lady however, really DID knit with these ginormous needles, making the Guinness books with these big 'uns. What are those, like size 80 needles? And rope for yarn? Amazing.

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