Monthly Archives: July 2013

Grown-Up Weekend

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You may or may not be able to relate to this, but do you ever feel like just because you’re in your 20s, in professional school, working, or living independently, that you’re not quite a grown-up?

I’ll be 25 in December, I will begin the third year of my M.Ed. program in 25 days, I have my own apartment where I attend school, and I am planning a wedding… but I still do not feel like a grown-up.

Maybe it’s because I still call my mom to ask, “What do I do?!” for the simplest of queries.

Maybe it’s because I will wait until I’m on my death bed to see a doctor. (Though the way I hear it, a lot of grown-ups do the same thing!)

Maybe it’s because I conveniently seem to forget about appointments I’d rather not go to (e.g. the OB-GYN).

Maybe it’s because I have chosen to live with my parents (from the time I graduate in May) until Ian and I are married in October.

Whatever the reason, I, A.K., do not self-identify as a grown-up. Nevertheless, Ian and I decided to engage in some “grown-up” activities this weekend. For example, we hosted our first cookout at his apartment. We invited several close friends, including two of my favorite heterosexual life partners whom I have known since freshman year at Longwood, Rachel and Charlotte.

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We carefully prepared our menu: blue cheese-infused turkey burger sliders with all the accoutrements, baked beans, and curly fries. Our couple-friends, Mark and Heather, brought one of the most delicious and unique cheese balls I have ever tasted! Plus wine. It’s definitely not a grown-up cookout unless there’s wine involved 😉

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We asked our guests to arrive around 7, so we began preparations at 5:30. Ian had done the grocery shopping earlier in the day. As nervous as I was about someone who doesn’t eat tomato or avocado choosing the perfect ones, he did splendidly with the insanely detailed thorough grocery list I gave him.

He caught me a bit off-guard while I was trying to slice and dice the perfect little onion and tomato wedges and figure out the sliders:

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[Don’t worry; I usually cut vegetables with my eyes closed, so I’m a bit of a pro.]

Ian and Mark manned the grill while we ladies waited for the beans and the fries to be ready.

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The men must comment on the status of cooking meat, in addition to the size and heat of a fire, the poor gas mileage on cars, what good time they’re making on a road trip, and the score or status of any sports event imaginable, amiright?

The sliders turned out much smaller than I had anticipated and the blue cheese flavor wasn’t as prominent as I hoped, but everyone proclaimed the meal a success. I considered it a success myself afterward when everyone sat around moaning about how full they were 😉 I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I was glowing when Charlotte complimented my ability (read: luck) to have the sliders, the fries, the veggies, and the beans done simultaneously.

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A wonderful evening was had by all! I was sad to see everyone go, but it was 11:30 before I knew it and Ian and I were fading fast. We finished cleaning up and hit the hay. Asleep by 12:30 on a Friday night? One of the most grown-up bedtimes we’ve had since I met this HSC gent.

Saturday morning, we slept in and did absolutely nothing. It was positively glorious knowing we had nowhere to be and nothing to do. Ian made me a breakfast of scrambled eggs, Chobani Flip, toast with apricot jelly, and apple cinnamon oatmeal. We did a little wedding-planning business, and then we settled in for the Harry Potter marathon. My lazy butt needed a nap toward the end of the first movie, and I awoke at the beginning of the fourth thinking, How long have I been asleep?! Turns out, the movies were being played out of order. Momentary panic.

Around 3:00, we packed up and headed to my house. We ate an early dinner and then Ian and I, my parents, my sister, and her boyfriend piled into the car for the 90-minute drive to Spotsylvania. My dad and I ran in the Spotsylvania FCHC Twilight 5k at 7:30. Ian served as my gracious photographer as I stretched, got prepped, and tried to get “into the zone.”

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You probably know by now that my dad and I run races together, and we keep pace with one another. I am the watch-wearer in this relationship. Our goal for months now has been to finish together in ≤34 minutes.

We started off fairly strong with a 10:37 first mile. We lost a good bit of speed as we rounded the halfway point on the out-and-back course at 17:14. We hit mile marker two at 22:25, and I was pretty certain we weren’t going to make our PTR. To say the course was “rolling” was a gross understatement. There were some hills, man. Plus the humidity was killer.

When we rounded the last turn leaving the neighborhood and I could see the finish line in the distance, I said, “Let’s go, Dad!” and he said, “Go!” I didn’t think I had much left in me, but somehow I took off. I sprinted toward that finish line, hearing our four supporters calling my name and cheering me on.

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Dad finished strong just behind me:

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I clocked myself at 34:36. I couldn’t find the “stop button” immediately as I crossed. The chip I wore strapped to my right ankle clocked me at 34:38, finishing 118th out of about 200 runners. Dad was clocked at 34:53, finishing 119th. According to my official time, I averaged 11:09-minute miles, so we should have been right on pace to finish within our goal.

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As soon as I caught my breath — which I never thought I would between the humidity and pushing so hard at the end — Ian and I headed toward the snack tent for a banana (and the requisite post-race pics).

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After the race, we celebrated with custard from Carl’s, a Frederickburg favorite, as evidenced by the crowd snaking around the building. For a shop with only five flavors, the place sure was hoppin’ at 9:00 on a Saturday night. I was too pooped to snap pictures, but Ian and I split a chocolate sundae with chopped nuts. The custard hit the spot with my sweet tooth and wet my whistle, but it can’t hold a candle to Sweet Frog or Coldstone.

Things got a bit silly on the drive home as Rob, Caroline, Mom and I cracked up at the Instagram account @youhadonejob. If you’ve never heard of it, check it out. These ridiculous mistakes will have your sides hurting!

It was to bed early for everyone as soon as we got home at 10:45. Yet again, I felt like such a grown-up: splitting a sundae, participating in an out-of-town race, and getting to bed at a decent hour in preparation for church today.

Needless to say, it was a wonderful, fun-filled, adult-like weekend. Talk to you again soon!

What were you up to this weekend? How did you get out and move?

There’s No Good Title for This Post

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I feel like by now, I should know that when I toss around words like “normal” or “routine,” my week will be anything but.

Monday, I developed a headache midway through the workday, but I was pretty well able to ignore it… Until it turned into a full-blown migraine after dinner. I was in bed by 9:00 and I couldn’t have been more grateful to myself for having picked out my outfit, packed my gym bag, and packed my lunch in the afternoon. Being proactive (read: OCD) pays off 😉

Tuesday, my mom and Caroline and I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar at a Richmond-area church whose choir director was Caroline’s and my childhood choral conductor, and whose drama production manager is the current drama lady at my former high school. The musical (a.k.a. rock opera) was phenomenal, and it was hard to believe Jesus, Judas, and Mary Magdalene were played by high-schoolers!

Wednesday, I started to get that itchy, tickly throat I often get before a major cold, sinus infection, or allergy attack knocks me on my ass. Nothing ever really came of it, but I still felt like someone was progressively sucking the energy out of me as the day wore on. I had all but resigned myself to skipping the gym when I started to feel guilty… and I went anyway. I didn’t feel one bit like running, so I hopped on the bike and spun for about 30 minutes.

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While I was having a private pity party, a news feature popped up about Annette Fredskov, a woman who recently completed 366 (three hundred and sixty-six) full marathons in 365 days, finishing strong with a double-marathon. I thought, if this crazy bitch can run 26.2 miles every single day, how come my procrastinating butt can’t even train for 13?!

I’ve realized recently that no matter what I choose to train for, I’ll always feel like exercising differently. Training for something gives me incentive to push myself and try for harder and faster and longer and more difficult, but it also causes me to grow weary of that particular event. For example, today I “cross-trained” by swimming a mile:

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(i.e. putting off half training for one more day, but still getting good exercise and calling it race prep).

If I were training for a competitive swimming event, I would probably find excuses to run or hop on the elliptical. Swimming is just such a fantastic total-body workout, and it really melted my stress away after a long and difficult work week.

See what I mean? 😉

#FirstWorldProbs at their finest: not knowing which elective exercise to perform when.

My throat still hasn’t felt any better over the past three days, though I have been downing this stuff and as many fluids as possible…

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…while pretending I’m naive to the fact that my body will excrete whatever it can’t use. Curse you, vitamin C threshold.

Getting to sleep by 10:00-10:30 every night doesn’t hurt, either, nor does not having much on my plate for this weekend. In fact, tonight’s activity of choice is studying for the CPCE I am scheduled to take August 24. What a delightful Friday evening! Ha…

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May your throat feel less scratchy than mine; may your Friday night be more adventurous than mine; and may your weekend be just as free and relaxing as mine. Ta ta!

Gym Hiatus, Over

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I got back into the gym yesterday after having been out for more than two full weeks due to our family lake-cation and then my first week of work plus Bible School last week. I was anticipating a difficult run, but I surprised myself by not only powering through 3.2 miles in 34 minutes, but breaking my PTR for a 5k! I wish that in real life, my body kept me at the steady pace the treadmill does… But I guess that’s part of the “fun” in the challenge of competing in races.

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I am not above the post-workout sweaty selfie. I guess I'm not above not having friends, either...

I am not above the post-workout sweaty selfie. I guess I’m not above not having friends, either…

Today, I was able to get in 28 laps in the 25-meter pool before the teenage lifeguards up on their high-horses blew their whistles with all their might, acting like the British were coming over a few rumbles of thunder. Swimming is my favorite form of cross-training, and probably the only sport at which I’ve ever felt I was good.

I’m not nearly on the pace of my half-marathon training schedule that I’d like to be. However, my goal for June was to feel relatively comfortable running six miles at a pop; goal accomplished! My goal for July, then, was to feel comfortable running nine miles at a time. Not only am I nowhere near feeling comfortable with such a distance, I have never run as far! I’m hoping to get back on track with my training as soon as possible, though comfortability with nine miles in the next two weeks is probably not feasible.

Neither my half buddy, Lauren, nor I has maintained our training schedules as strictly as we would have liked to, and we’ll readily admit it. I’m glad that we’ve agreed to move our half back at least until October, which will give us more time to train, to save money, and to prepare ourselves mentally for the challenge which lies ahead. Neither of us wants to lose sight of the goal we set four months ago, but we also don’t want to pay good money to be unprepared for something that could potentially cause us injury. Kudos to all you working moms out there who train for marathons year-round; I have the ultimate respect for you and how much dedication it must take to be so disciplined!

In other news, I had a revelation recently. Pretty much up til now, I’ve blogged when I had “something to say.” I try not to post vapid,  empty material that isn’t worthy of anyone’s time. Not every post needs to be pithy or tug at your heartstrings, either. I just want to strike a balance. It occurred to me, though, that plenty of my favorite bloggers write something simple every day (or almost every day) in an attempt to give readers a window in their everyday lives. I’ve decided that as long as time allows, that’s the kind of blog I want to maintain. Here’s to making an effort at blogging as often as possible to keep you updated on what I do day-to-day! 🙂

P.S. Is there anything in particular you’d like to see on SWASOV? I’m happy to oblige!

Family, Fun, Food and Festivities

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Y’all, I am just tickled pink to tell you about my cousin’s baby shower!

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Krysta and Josh are expecting their daughter in just four weeks! My aunt Carolyn and my cousin Carla hosted Krysta’s shower this afternoon in Craigsville, VA. It’s a teeny, tiny town in the Shenandoah Valley, and it’s where my mom and her three siblings grew up. There is something so magical and so beautiful about family and friends coming together to celebrate new life.

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All of Krysta’s sisters were able to attend the shower today! From the left on the top row are Tori, Hayley, Krysta, April, and Carmen. From the left on the bottom are Brianne and Taylor (one of my EIGHT bridesmaids! Eeeek!).

Thankfully, Krysta and Josh will have lots of help when Baby arrives 😉

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It was such a joy to watch Krysta open itty bitty sweater sets, jammies, onezies, hoodies, handmade burp cloths, personally crocheted blankets, and girly goodies.

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The “Daddy’s Favorite Girl” and “I ❤ My Daddy” bibs were killin’ me! People’s generosity was overwhelming, as evidenced by the number of ladies who were able to attend the shower, and the lovely items Krysta and Josh received to welcome their new baby girl.

The food was pretty incredible, too, now that I think about it… I’m a finger-foods kinda gal. Just give me some sandwiches, a couple types of dip and fresh veggies, and I’m set! Oh, my aunt Carolyn’s homemade lemonade was to die for.

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Those little mints will get ya! They’re highly addictive.

This afternoon was truly a beautiful and special occasion that I am so glad my mom, my sister and I were able to share with our extended family. Even though we had to drive nearly 2 hours each way, I didn’t mind one bit. We’ll be welcoming the newest member of our family in just a few short weeks, and I can hardly wait!

Congratulations again, Krysta and Josh — I’m sure you’ll make wonderful, loving parents for your new little girl!

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The Week from Hell

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You guys, I’d like to be able to tell you that the reason I haven’t blogged in six days is because I’ve been having so much fun, loving life, and stopping to smell the roses. But honestly, this week was the week from hell.

This was my first official week on the job, and I am working with three full-time staff and five wet-behind-the-ears trainees. We get along really well and we have great chemistry as a group, but things were a little bit off kilter this week trying to adjust to everything. I’m not complaining, though; this is my fourth summer, and I remember exactly what it was like to be the wide-eyed new girl trying to soak everything in without mucking it up too badly. I’m grateful that I have eight easy-going colleagues who don’t seem to mind my OCD.

So, after working from 7:45 until 3:30 or 4:00 each day, I came home, packed my lunch for the following day, and poured myself into bed for a 20- or 30-minute nap. At 5:00, my mom and my sister Caroline and I were out the door for Vacation Bible School. Dinner was served at 5:30, and then we nursery workers hightailed it down to man our post. For as long as I can remember, the three of us–accompanied by various helpers over the years–have been the requisite VBS nursery volunteers. We’re not especially interested in participating in VBS for whatever reason, but we’d still like to do something in the way of helping out. Many moons ago, we found our niche! It’s actually quite relaxing to sit in a rocking chair and supervise little ones as they entertain themselves “making dinner” and playing with a Little Tikes piano.

Come 8:30, though, I was fried. I would come home, chat for a few minutes with Dad, throw some shampoo and water in the direction of my hair, and collapse. A few nights, I managed to make some decaf and sit in the swing with Mom, but most nights I was just so excited to see my inviting bed.

To say that “I didn’t have time for the gym” is just an excuse, especially since I was getting 8-9 hours of sleep per night. But, I know my own body and I know my limits, and adequate rest wins over trying to force the gym into a chaotic week. Fingers crossed, next week will be calmer and more routine. I’m beginning to forget that I ever knew what boring, same-old-same weeks used to look like. This summer has been so go-go-go that I feel like I’ve hardly taken a breath.

Again, I’m not complaining. I know that I’ve been very blessed with the opportunity to take two vacations, to get two (very, very interesting) classes out of the way to lighten my load during my third year, to volunteer for VBS, and to be rehired at my favorite job in the world for the fourth consecutive summer. Opportunity has knocked, and I have repeatedly answered. Sometimes, though, it’s just nice to have a second to yourself.

Prayer has been one of my biggest allies through all of this, though I think God and I are on different wavelengths right now. We’ll get our stride back, though. I know He has big plans for me coming up; I’m just not sure what they are yet or where they’ll take me.

Today was… better. I “slept in” until 8:40, then enjoyed (caffeinated) coffee outside with Mom. There were blueberry pancakes for brunch, then Mom and I braved the Saturday madness at our fourth bridal store. There had been talk of Capital Ale House for dinner, and I was delighted to find out that it was true. My favorite lamb burger and orange chive vinaigrette mixed greens salad almost made this week worth it. I even indulged in a raspberry Lambic before we set out for Monsters University (which, by the way, is super adorable and totally worth the outrageous theatre price).

Finally, I wanted to tell you about my first week with Simone France. First of all, the skincare regimen is super easy to get used to after just a few days. I already feel like a pro at “making the sandwich”–Simone France’s terminology for the morning regimen. Here’s my cheesy giddy selfie after five days of regular SF usage:

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My skin is by no means cleared of the little bumps that seem to hang out around my hairline, or the blackheads that have adorned my nose and chin for eons. However, I love how non-greasy and yet simultaneously moisturized my skin feels throughout the day. It feels soft and smooth without having that lovely oily sheen. I’m sad that I’m almost halfway through my official SF cleansing cloths, but I’m seriously considering investing in more of the product line with my own money. Of course, Colleen’s glowing endorsement didn’t hurt, but I am living proof that this stuff really works and that the experience of using it has been nothing but pleasurable.

Now, it’s quite time for bed. Tomorrow we are skipping church — which probably doesn’t help my cause with the Big Man — in favor of getting to my cousin’s baby shower in Staunton on time. Hopefully, I’ll have really adorable pictures to share with you.

If you’re still reading, thanks for letting me vent! I’d love to know: How was your week?

Simone France: Day Two

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When I tore into my Simone France travel kit last night,

like, literally,

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I fully intended to wait until I had used it for at least a week to see how my skin reacted to it. Well, I just can’t. Certainly, I plan to write about my experience with Simone France once I’ve really let the full effect set in. Today, I just want to share with you briefly how much I am loving my kit thus far.

Last night after my shower, I decided to give the nighttime routine a go. My face-washing enthusiasm got the best of me, and I was halfway through the “Every Morning” regimen before I realized my error. I still felt pretty much like this:

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Who knew that clean skin was such a rush?!

Well, whatever. So I went through the steps of applying moisturizer, scrub, soap, water, and moisturizer again. When I first looked at the instruction pamphlet and remembered there were numbered steps, my lazy ass was like, Uhhh… Maybe this isn’t for me. In reality, the process takes but a few minutes.

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(I may be whistling a different tune when I’m trying to put one foot in front of the other tomorrow at 6:30 a.m.)

Afterward, my skin felt truly refreshed and clean without that tight, itchy feeling of being under-moisturized, or that slick, oily feeling of being over-moisturized. And I’m not just saying that! I went through the “Every Morning” routine again this morning before church — at the appropriate hour of the day this time — and my skin felt great again. I decided not to wear makeup or apply my trusty Mary Kay moisturizer, and just to let the SF do its thang.

This is a refreshing change of pace from always feeling like my skin is either dry and flaky or so shiny you can see your reflection on my forehead. I have that odd combination of skin that is somehow simultaneously dry and oily. In the winter, I can’t keep enough moisturizer on it, and yet I still manage to look like a pale oil slick. The summer is a nightmare, between the grease of sunscreen, the natural oil-removing action of being in water, and the over-moisturizing that never fails to occur in a cumulative effect. Sigh.

My skin has never been something that’s held me back, and I’m thankful that I haven’t experienced major problems with it. But, I’ve also never found products that really treated my skin for its type and its problem areas. As a pre-teen I tried Noxzema cream, Stridex pads, Biore cleanser, bar soap and water, and a host of other popular products. As a teenager, I tried plain old soap and water, cream cleansers, acne wipes, peels, masks, homemade remedies, and moisturizers out the wazoo. Recently, I’ve used a variety of cream cleansers, micro-bead scrubs, blackhead-remover strips, and expensive moisture creams. It seems like my face can go from feeling tight, stretched, itchy, and uncomfortably dry to shiny, oily, and downright greasy within one day’s time. TMI yet?

I’ll be honest — 50% of my skin woes are due to laziness, 40% are due to constantly touching my skin, and 10% are due to my lack of education about my skin type and the right products for me. I don’t know yet whether Simone France will be my saving grace in the combination-skin department, but I’m willing to try anything at this point, and I already like the way the product regimen makes my skin feel.

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Stay tuned for updates on my experience with Simone France! Thanks again to Colleen over at The Lunchbox Diaries for her generous giveaway, and to Penny at Simone France for her assistance with selecting the right products for me!

I’m Baaa-aaack!

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Goodness gracious! I haven’t blogged in NINE days! I sure have missed the blogosphere, but to be honest, I didn’t have too much to tell you guys.

As you know, I was in class for three weeks. [Hopefully, my last summer classes ever.] Then, I got home last Friday, June 28, and we left for Smith Mountain Lake at the crack of noon on Saturday. SML has been one of my family’s favorite vacation spots since I was in elementary school. Most families are either lake people or river people or beach people; I like to think we’re all three 😉

We stayed at Covered Porches, by far the most beautiful and generously furnished vacation home we have ever rented. It doesn’t take much to impress this old gal, but Covered Porches was everything I was expecting and then some. It was even the perfect size for ten people. This is depressing for me to admit, but this vacation was possibly my last full-blown family excursion before Ian and I tie the knot. Eeeeek! Mr. and Mrs. Giles going on vacation 😉

I am so grateful that Ian was able to join us for the entire week between “bouts” of med school, and so were a few college friends. It was quite the fiesta with the Lew Crew!

The weather was actually pretty crappy all week, with either rain, storms, or gloomy skies every single day. No matter; it didn’t slow us down one bit.

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We spent the week laughing hysterically playing “Cheers, Gov’nah,”

organizing splash contests,

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lounging by the lake,

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playing Blackjack with beer bottle caps as currency,

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tubing (which is quite a workout, by the way!),

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hunting down four-leaf clovers,

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frolicking on the dock,

playing cornhole,

swimming and paddling around,

chatting around the campfire,

and simply enjoying the lake life.

I would be remiss if I glossed over how I ate while on vacay. I always like to think that my grad school lifestyle will carry over while I’m out of my routine, and it almost never does. I feel as though if it were truly one hundred percent my lifestyle, I wouldn’t have trouble maintaining it when I’m out of my norm. However, I also believe that sometimes it’s okay to indulge. That may not be the appropriate term to use to describe this week… Maybe gorge is more accurate. I ate my body weight in s’mores one night, and in tacos another. I also drank enough Seagram’s and Bud Light Lime to float a small fleet of battleships.

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It’s not that my family doesn’t eat nutritiously — quite the contrary, actually. For example, one night we planned DIY mini pizzas with whole wheat shells, low-fat cheeses, and veggies galore; one night we sautéed Polish sausages with green peppers, onions, and sauerkraut; and each morning there was Chobani, oatmeal, whole grain cereals, and “skinny” bacon available. I just seemed to be a bottomless pit this week! Next week, as I always vow post-vacation, I’ll get back into the swing of things and plan delicious, nutritious meals. I’ll also jump back onto the workout horse.

That reminds me, though…

Being on vacation and being away from the gym does not equate with being sedentary in my book. Between running back and forth from the house to the dock (uphill, both ways, in the snow), swimming, canoeing, tubing, swinging, paddling, and numerous intense games of volleyball, I certainly don’t feel that I lacked for heart-pounding, BP-elevating action!

In other, completely unrelated news, one of my favorite parts of vacation with my family is that TV is hardly a thought. Unless the weather is so bad that playing outside is not an option (or the Orioles are playing ;-)), the remote collects dust. And that’s the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it.

Well, there you have it folks. The reason for my hiatus: fun, sun, family, friends, celebration, and relaxation. After a trip to OBX, two summer classes, my sister’s 21st birthday party, a week of refresher training for my summer job, and a trip to SML, my summer may finally settle into a regular routine. Well, except for nursery duty at Vacation Bible School next week…

Also, I said I had news regarding the half-marathon my tubing buddy Lauren and I are running, and I do! Stay tuned! 🙂