Saturday, December 17, 2011

The definition of love

First take a man. Ask him to get in a car at 5:45 am on a Saturday with three kids. Drive 100 miles. For breakfast he gets to eat at the restaurant he hates most in the world. Then place him in a public recreation area for seven hours. Sounds like love, huh?

One of the nicest things you can do for me is to show up when I run. Thanks honey.

And with that my third goal of the year was achieved. Yahoo! I had set three goals for myself this year. I wanted to compete in my first sprint triathlon in May, set a new personal best in August at the Providence Half Marathon and finish my first 26.2 on December 10 in the Roxbury Marathon.

It was a gorgeous course with some rugged hills. I enjoyed it so much. It was a peaceful day where I could just let my mind go. I was surprised at how well my body could keep up. It was a day I won't forget.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Providence Rock and Roll Half Marathon

On August 7, I accomplished last year's New Year's Resolution. I guess good things come to those who wait. I beat my half marathon personal best by six minutes taking almost thirty seconds off of every mile.

My husband, children, father and stepmother were all there to witness it. Even in the pouring rain. And oh did it pour. I actually enjoyed the rain because I was cool at what could have been the hottest race on my calendar.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011



Over the years I have collected a growing list of ways to save money, ways to not spend money and ways to spend less money. Lately, I’ve had discussions with friends regarding couponing, environmentalism and just plain being careful with our financial resources. Yesterday, during one of these discussions the light bulb popped on that perhaps I should put a list together of some of the ways I try to accomplish as much as possible with as little money as possible, at my house. So here goes:
1. I don’t buy paper towels. I have a stack of old dishtowels, old washcloths, and microfiber cloths that get washed and re-used. At a roll used per week I estimate that this item saves me at least $52 a year on things that get thrown away.
2. Pay attention to the drugstore ads. I match up my coupons with the ads from my local Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens. If it’s on sale and I have a coupon, it might very well be free. I get all of my toiletry items this way. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, shaving cream, shampoo, soap and deodorant have all been free this past year. I wrote it all down for about six months and discovered I could save my family over $500 that isn’t coming out of my grocery budget for these items.
3. Birthday parties are great fun for the kids and can be a tremendous waster of your family’s money. Go several times a year to Wal-Mart and Target and grab several 80% off toys from the clearance aisle to put in your birthday party stash. Not only will this save you when you get the invitation the day before the party but it will also cut down on how much spending you do for these numerous gifts. My three children go to at least five parties each per year. If I went and bought even a very simple gift each time one of these parties happened it could easily cost me $15-$25 for each party. Those stockpiles of clearance items average $3 - $5 a gift (items originally $15-$25). No one at the party knows you were smart and bought it on clearance. This saves $300 a year.
4. Re-usable water bottles are an investment worth making. If you think they are too expensive you really aren’t paying attention. The Nalgene web site has a 50% day every year when you can get even the super fancy bottles for less than $5 each. One of my local discount stores, Ocean State Job Lot, also had the largest quart size bottles for $2.50 this year. If you are buying 24 disposable bottles of water a week at the grocery store even at a sale price of $3.99 then you are losing over $200 a year and putting tons of extra plastic into your local landfill. I bought 4 new Nalgene bottles this year at $2.50 a bottle. I spent $10 and saved $190.
5. Free shipping codes are everywhere. If you know you will be purchasing an item online then take five minutes to search for a free shipping code before you buy. If shipping typically costs between $5-$10 an item then it is completely worth your time to look for a code first.
6. Don’t pay for things you can do yourself. Mow your own lawn, trim your own bushes, clean your own house, do your own laundry. Don’t be lazy and you will save yourself big bucks. If you are paying $30 a week to have your lawn mowed, $200 a year for the trimming, $35 a week for cleaning and $25 a week in laundry then you just wasted $4000 last year. Wouldn’t you rather work a little harder at home and get to go on vacation and have fun? I know I would.
7. Before you buy something, ask your friends. Most of your friends will be happy to pass down clothes, toys, and children’s items just to get them out of their house. If you need size 8 pants for your ten year old then ask your friends. This recently happened to me and I was rewarded by two friends saying that they had plenty of outgrown size 8 pants to share. When you do get solid hand me downs then wash them immediately and organize them by size, season and gender so when you get to that size you know exactly what you have. Because of this strategy, I typically buy very few clothes for my children. You could easily spend $500 per child at the mall for new clothes each year. What a waste. My family has what they need (and then some) and we buy very little each year. I estimate that I spend probably $100 or less each year on each child for clothing. That’s a $1200 savings each year and all I have to do is spend a few minutes asking my friends if they have anything to share.
8. Pay attention to your bank account. Free checking still exists and there is no reason to pay atm fees or other extra charges. These items can accumulate quickly and have no value in your budget. Because I was paying attention this last year I saved my family from two sets of bank charges equaling $45 because a retailer charged me incorrectly. The error was fixed but I can’t help but wonder at the money that could be wasted if I wasn’t watching so carefully. If you go to the out of network atm and use it once a week for a year and the fee is $3 then you just wasted $156. Wouldn’t you rather use that money to have some fun with your family?
9. Gas is a necessary evil in most of our lives. Because this is a repetitive item in your budget it should be easy to develop a strategy of which station to frequent in your area. Most of us have many choices along our regular routes to work, practices, lessons and church. Pay attention to which stations have the best prices and plan a few minutes to get your gas when you are going by them anyway. Don’t go too far out of town to get your gas. You’ll waste your savings on driving there. The gas in the town I work in is typically ten cents a gallon more expensive than the town I live in. Therefore if I buy 10 gallons of gas a week every week for a year that’s $52 I’ve saved by buying my gas near home instead of near work.
10. Filing rebates on items may seem like a pain and a serious waste of time and stamps. In the last five months, I’ve taken the time to file those rebates on items we buy anyway. My reward: $125. Not only is that worth a few stamps but it helps me buy the things that I need for my household that never seem to go on sale.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Beware the Jellyfish

For nine months, I have been training to compete in my first triathlon. This race consists of 1/2 mile open water swim, 14.4 mile bike ride and a 3.1 mile run.

The first calamity happened during the swim where a jellyfish hitched a ride on the back of my neck.

The second calamity was when I jumped off my bike to pee and landed myself into a big patch of briars. Smart, indeed. Hence the blood dripping from my legs at the finish.

These annoyances aside, I thought the race went well for the first time for me competing in a race that involved more than running.

Many thanks to my husband and children who crewed for me that day. All of your efforts on my behalf surely did not go unnoticed.

Also, I'm grateful to Team Marathon Bar for believing in me! My gear is so cool.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Food Porn

I was celebrating tonight. My daughter and her softball team won first place in their league.

I poured myself a glass of wine from the bottle my husband graciously bought me tonight and went to the kitchen.

And made this...

Like this...

And oh man was it good.

I love homemade pasta. It is so wonderful.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Snickers Marathon

In an exciting twist of fate, I was recently contacted by Snickers Marathon Bars to represent their brand of protein bars.

So for this season I will be wearing their gear and have lots of their yummy bars to share.

Ethically this was a pretty easy choice since their bar is already my favorite one.

I'm pretty psyched to be promoting their brand as a Snickers Marathon Ambassador!

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Free At Last

"Thank God Almighty. I'm Free At Last." -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

The joy at which my soul shouts these words in the car today was unmistakeable. The arthritis doctor has released me from all medical restrictions and I am free to run as much as I please.

Kind woman that she is, she paid me today one of the nicest compliments I think I've ever received. She said, "I have patients who have no children, and ones who don't work and they can't find the time to exercise and improve their own health. You, on the other hand, take complete responsibility for your own care. You own it and you have from the moment you first walked into my office."

Bam. Wow! What a compliment to receive. It has been several years now since my arthritis was diagnosed. I have fought valiantly to get my weight down and my muscle tone up. Today was like frosting on the cake.

So tomorrow. It's a brand new day.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Children Are Nestled All Snug in Their Beds

The choice of sleeping arrangements is a hot topic amongst young mothers. Vicki Iovine, who writes "The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy" explains it this way. She says there are those who choose to keep their bed for themselves and their spouse. The second choice being the family bed where everyone in the house sleeps together. And the "Chef's Surprise" meaning parents accommodate whatever happens on any given night and don't fully sign up in either camp.

My husband and I tried valiantly at first to keep everyone in their own beds. Then we tried Chef's Surprise. Now we choose the family bed. The irony of this is that when we lived in a tiny two bedroom cottage we did separate spaces and now that we live in a home twice that size we sleep all together.

It is a pain to climb over bodies in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. It is lovely, however, to cuddle with children who want to held. It is also very convenient for the soothing of nightmares and for nursing (although we have passed that stage here).

I'm sure there will come a day when they go back to their own rooms and sleep by themselves. But until then I will hold them close and enjoy the quaint sounds of teeth grinding and tiny snoring. It's pretty toasty in my bed these days.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Food is Love

My handsome husband always says this phrase. I never used to really understand what he meant.

I think I finally got the hint. This is what I did for him for Valentine's Day.

True love and homemade cannolli.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

She's Going the Distance

It is with a bit of sadness that I must inform you that this past year's New Year's Resolution has not been achieved.

I'm not used to giving up. Not reaching my goals. Not going the distance.

You will recall that this past year's goal was to run the Hartford Half Marathon and beat my personal best time.

Unfortunately, after coming through a strong season of training last winter I was banned from running in April for six long months. At the time the Hartford was run this past year, I wasn't cleared for even a mile. Ugh. It was disappointing. It hurt my soul to fail.

After being cleared to run in November but limited to 3 miles, I trained for the Thanksgiving 5K Race and logged a personal best there.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this year's goals. Trying to decide where I'm headed.

Part of me thinks it would be bold to throw a new goal out there and part of me says to keep it a secret. I guess disappointment from this past year is making me shy.