Advocare 10 Day Cleanse Phase Recap

Hello, friends!  How’s your week going?  Mine is off to a good, but sluggish start.  After enjoying my four day Fall Break weekend complete with a visit from my grandparents it was hard to hear that alarm go off yesterday morning.

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We had our annual Balloon Festival, and, despite my slight annoyance that it supersedes our anniversary every year, watching all the balloons in the sky is very cool!

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This week we’re back to our regular routine with the exception of a night 5K run on Thursday.  That is if I manage to remember it which is not a given since I’ve forgotten about it everyday for the last week.  Maybe you guys should tweet me on Thursday afternoon just in case ;)

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Now, you guys know I’ve been doing the Advocare 24 Day Challenge, and I promised a recap after the first 10 Day Cleanse Phase.  Here’s the schedule for those 10 Days:

Days 1-3:

  • Upon Waking:  Spark mixed in water+ 2 Catalyst wait 20 minutes
  • Fiber Drink mixed with 8 oz water followed immediately by 2 glasses of water, wait 30 minutes
  • Breakfast
  • Before Bed: Herbal Cleanse tablets

Days 4-7:

  • Upon Waking: Spark mixed in water + Probiotic Restore + 2 Catalyst, wait 30 minutes
  • Breakfast
  • Before Bed: Herbal Cleanse tablets

Days 8-10:

  • Upon Waking: Fiber Drink mixed with water followed by 2 glasses of water, wait 30 minutes
  • Spark mixed in 20 oz water + Probiotic Restore+ 2 Catalyst, wait 30 minutes
  • Breakfast

My thoughts so far?

1.  Weekends are tough.

I knew going in that weekdays were not going to be that difficult.  I tend to eat pretty clean during the week on a regular basis.  Weekends are a different story.  By the time I’ve gotten to Sunday evening both weeks, all I wanted was to eat ALL THE BAD THINGS!

2.  The fiber drink is not as bad as advertised.

In almost every single Advocare Challenge post that I read beforehand, someone would mention the awful fiber drink.  Katie said that the Peaches and Cream flavor is much more palatable than the Citrus, and it must be because I honestly didn’t mind it at all.  In fact, I’d take it over the gobs of pills I’m having to take currently in the Max Phase.

3.  It is entirely possible that I have a dairy intolerance.

The Cleanse Phase requires you to cut out dairy, and I have done so faithfully.  I have suspected for a while that I may have a slight intolerance, and this makes me lean even more in that direction.  My digestion has been so much better, and I’m interested to see what will happen when I add it back in post-challenge while I’m not on the supplements.

4.  Something is working

At the end of the Cleanse Phase last week, I had lost 5lbs.  I’ve since lost another 1.5lbs.  I’m not sure if it’s the supplements or if it is simply the extreme clean up of my diet, but you can’t argue with results.  I’m not sure how many inches I’ve lost.  Since John was so busy at the Balloon Fest all weekend, I didn’t have a chance to have him measure me.  However, I’m definitely noticing a difference in the way my clothes fit so that’s something!  FYI:  John did the Cleanse Phase with me, and he’s lost ten pounds!

There’s about a week and a half left, and it has honestly gone by faster than I thought.  I’ll definitely have a lot to say at the end, and I may even get brave and share my before/after (no promises).  In the mean time, I’ll just dream about all the Halloween candy coming my way soon.  And, now, since there haven’t been many pictures in this post, here’s another one of a balloon!

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Have a great day!

Five Years

On this day five years ago, John and I became stuck with each other for life.  I knew then that it was the best decision I would ever make, but I didn’t have any concept of how much better life was about to get or how much I would love being married.

Yes, I will post this picture every year because it remains my favorite one we've ever taken!

Yes, I will post this picture every year because it remains my favorite one we’ve ever taken!

Neither of us got hit with the romance gene, and I get all kinds of uncomfortable with public displays of emotion and affection, but I today, in honor of our fifth anniversary, I thought I’d share my top five reason why life after October 17, 2009 as been infinitely better than life before.

1.  There’s no shortage of adventures.

Both of us love to travel, and we’ve taken some pretty incredible trips in the last five years.  Whether it’s skiing down a mountain or climbing up it, you can bet that about 85% of our time is spent dreaming about the next adventure.  I’ve heard stories about couples who don’t travel together because one or both people don’t like it, and I just can’t fathom that!

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2.  He makes me smarter.

I like to think I’m intelligent person, but I cannot hold a candle to John.  Not only is he inherently smart, he is incredibly curious and passionate about so many things.  That means that sometimes I have to endure long-winded explanations about economics or a random New York Times article that I honestly don’t care too much about, but, more often than not, a good percentage of that stuff sticks with me.

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3.  I don’t have to worry.

Don’t get me wrong-I’m a worry wart by nature so I do it anyway, but I don’t really have to.  John is so good about taking care of our lives.  I trust his decisions, and I never have to worry that he’s going to make the right ones for our future.  I don’t tell him enough how much I appreciate this.

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4.  There’s always someone who gets it.

Here’s the thing-John and I are both anomalies.  There aren’t a whole thought of people (at least that we know) who think like we do or enjoy the things we’re passionate about.  Sometimes these things are inconsequential and sometimes it can be a bit isolating, but I can always count on John backing me up and feeling the same way.  We don’t agree on everything, but those instances are so minor and few that I can’t even think of any!

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5.  85% of the time he goes along with my crazy ideas.

Not always, but, as long as the fall out won’t be too bad, he’ll go along even when he knows better.  Part of me suspects this is because he really enjoys being able to say “I told you so”, but, nevertheless, he usually happy to jump on my crazy train.

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This list could easily be more than five items long.  Bottom line-I think I’ll keep him.  Happy Anniversary, babe.  I kinda like you ;)

Thursday Thoughts Or Life Lately

Hey guys!  It’s been quite a week which accounts for my MIA status.  I thought I’d pop in with a Thursday Thoughts post to fill you in!

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1.  Last weekend Mom, Joel, and Caite came to spend the weekend with John and I.  I hadn’t seen them since August so it was really good to hang out.  We had our hearts set on hiking, but Mother Nature had other plans.  Instead we dodged the rain, and went to see The Judge.  It was excellent!  It was a really touching story, and I don’t think Robert Downey Jr. gets enough credit for his work.  He really is an incredible actor.  Mom, Caite, and I also went to see Gone Girl Sunday night.  Just as twisted as the book, and very well done.  It’s been over a year since I’ve read the book so I didn’t get too caught up in noticing book/movie differences and just enjoyed the film.  Rosamund Pike deserves many, many awards for her performance.  Incredibly creepy!

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2.  It’s Fall Break week at school which means I have today and tomorrow off.  That is a beautiful little feature of the Oklahoma school calendar.  I plan on getting all of my to-do’s done this morning so I can spend the afternoon hanging out in the sunshine with these two.

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3.  Tuesday night was our Fall Carnival, and it was my turn to be on the committee this year.  As we were decorating in the gym, I dropped my phone and it’s now a shattered mess.  I feel like a student walking around with a phone that looks like this!  It’s pitiful.  I need to fix this situation ASAP.

4.  Speaking of school, I work with the best people.  Look what I got this week.

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Aren’t they beautiful?  I know I get bogged down in the day to day of teaching and I’m certainly guilty of having times where I want to walk out the door and never look back, but I’m so lucky to work with and for a group of truly wonderful people.  They make my job ten times easier!

5.  I miss reading.  Between all our remodeling projects and school being so busy, I can’t tell you the last time I sat down to devote more than five minutes at a time to a book.  The librarian and lifetime voracious reader in me cringes, and that is definitely something I’m going to make time for during this little break.

6.  Yes, we’re still living in remodeling purgatory.  At this point, it’s a waiting game.  Waiting on the cabinet door people, waiting on the counter top people…..I’m all about paying someone else to do these projects, but the waiting is very frustrating!

7.  I haven’t had a chance to mention my Advocare Challenge lately, but I’m still going strong!  John is even in it with me, and he’s been doing great sticking with the meal plan.  We just finished up the Cleanse Phase, and I’ll be doing a recap on it next week.

8.  So I have some really exciting news.  I’m going to start taking piano lessons on Monday (Corrie, are you excited?)  I took lessons briefly as a child, and I’ve always regretted giving it up.  I’m a big believer in “it’s never too late” so I’m jumping back in.  It just so happens that the music teacher at school decided to start giving lessons so it works out perfectly!

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9.  Tomorrow John and I celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary.  He’ll be busy with the Balloon Fest all weekend, and it’s really hard to go to eat on our challenge so we probably won’t truly celebrate for a couple weeks.  I am planning to cook something a little more fancy on Sunday night, and, of course, there’s presents!

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10.  That’s all for today!  I’m going to jump right into that to-do list so I can get to the fun part of Fall Break.  Have a great day!

What’s one hobby you’d like to take up?  Married people-when’s your anniversary?  How long have you been married?

10 Day You Challenge

Every once in a while I discover a “new to me” blog that just immediately becomes part of my regular rotation.  Usually, it’s because the writer is a truly genuine soul who I just know I would love to be friends with in real life.  Lately, that stroke of luck has happened twice when I found Cassie at Rural Running Redhead and Kristen over at Sweat Courage.  I just love both of these girls, and I may or may not have gone back to binge read both of their blogs.  Not only do they share my passion for the outdoors, but Kristen just finished at Ironman and Cassie can run an insanely fast marathon!  Talk about total badasses :)

Kristen and Cassie have been doing the neatest feature on their blogs, and today I thought it would be fun to participate.  Here’s how it breaks down:

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Each of these will be a separate blog post that I’ll pop in with occasionally. Today it’s all about ten secrets.  I’m not sure these count as secrets, but I’ll try to dig up ten little known facts about myself!

1.  I just started backpacking four years ago.

I’ve discussed this before on the blog, but since it is such a big part of my life and I talk about it so much, I’m not sure that people realize it.  Sometimes I even forget!  It’s hard for me to imagine this not being a part of my identity, and crazy to think that I actually use to complain about hiking when I was a kid!

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2.  I don’t want children.

If you’re reaction was “Why?!?”, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.  Most of the people in my life can’t figure this one out, but it’s just not something I’ve ever really wanted.  I’m not the nurturing type AT ALL, and I can’t handle small children for long periods of time (just keepin’ it real).  I love being an aunt though, and I have serious plans to morph into SUPER AUNT when my sister has kids!

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3. I am so socially awkward it’s embarrassing.

It’s true.  I spill my guts to the Internet, but it’s extremely hard for me to hold a conversation with random strangers or even acquaintances without coming off like a complete moron.  Small talk is the bane of my existence, and I beg my students for their parents’ email addresses so I don’t actually have to conference over the phone.

4. I absolutely hate to DIY and remodel.

Obviously, this is on the brain right now.  We’ve been deep in it for the past several weeks, and I can say unequivocally that I am not a person who loves to remodel.  In fact, if I’m being honest, I seriously hate it.  I would much rather pay professionals to do it all.  If I only I had the money!

5.  I’d love to be a writer full-time someday.

My dream is to work from home in some capacity, and I would love for that capacity to be writing.  My dream job would involve freelancing for some outdoor publication.  A girl can dream!

6.  I never thought I’d live away from my family.

Ask anybody-I was going to be the girl who stayed.  I actually really like all five of my parents (long story), and my sister is my best friend in the world not counting John.  I would be perfectly happy living next door to any of them (and all of them, preferably), but life didn’t work out that way and that’s okay.  Granted, I only live about three hours away, but someday it just might be much further than that and I think I’d survive.

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7.  I’ve always had a secret desire to be a ballerina.

I loved ballet lessons when I was really little, and I often say it’s one of the greatest disappoints of my life that I did not end up with a ballerina body type.  I’m only kind of joking.

8.  I am not a picky eater, and the only two things I seriously can’t stand to eat is wasabi and horseradish.

We’re going to label this one a #funfact!  I tried wasabi for the first time when John and I were on our honeymoon.  I did NOT have a pleasant reaction.

9.  I was in Honor & Show Choir for most of my middle school and high school years.  

Yes!  Someone, somewhere, once upon a time, thought I could sing.  I have no idea what happened….

10.  This week it got a little bit easier to live in my home state.

Can you tell me one of your secrets?  What’s an awesome blog you’ve found recently?

Day One

Monday, again?  I guess that’s what happens when you spend all weekend on remodeling projects.  John and I devoted the whole of Saturday and Sunday (although I did get a long run in!) to working on the kitchen.  The house is still an unmitigated disaster, but so much progress has been made.

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I’m not sure you guys can tell the difference, but, trust me, A LOT has been done!  We plan on spending several evenings this week working so, hopefully, it won’t be too much longer before my dishes live in the cabinets again.  What will that be like?

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As you can imagine, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to food prep for the Advocare Challenge which started TODAY!  Food prep hasn’t ever really been my thing, though, so I’m not too worried about it.  Generally, my evenings are low-key enough that I don’t have a problem staying on a healthy dinner plan, and I always pack my lunches anyway so that won’t be a problem.  Honestly, the eating part of this program won’t be too different from the way I eat already.  So, what will be different the next 24 days?  Here’s a look:

1.  No more yogurt bowls

The challenge requires you to step away from the sugar.  My beloved Chobani has quite a bit of sugar in the fruit flavors so I’ll be laying off those for the whole 24 days.  Advocare only has a no dairy requirement for the first ten days so in the Max Phase I’ll probably add in some plain Greek yogurt.

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2.  Salad dressing

Despite telling myself I will, I’ve never jumped on the “make my own salad dressing” bandwagon.  I pin recipes for it all the time, but I have yet to follow through.  Since store-bought salad dressing is heavily processed, I’ve had to come up with a different solution.  I plan on keeping it simple.  Just a little EVOO, vinegar, and lemon juice to add a little punch to my lunch salads, and I should be good to go.

3.  No splurging on the weekends

Weekends are my down fall, and I know that’s not anything unusual.  Most of us seem to struggle with them!  John and I have a weekly Saturday breakfast date at a local cafe, and I look forward to the pancakes all week long.  That will have to wait until November!  Likewise, my Saturday ice cream treat……

4.  NO MORE DIET DR. PEPPER

Man, I struggle with this.  In the last year or so, my once a week Diet Dr. Pepper has turned into a three or four time a week occurrence.  I know that soda is toxic junk that I should probably stop drinking altogether, but I still go for it.  I’m hoping this challenge will help break the habit for good.

I’m hoping that all of this together with the supplements will be the jump I need to take off the ten to fifteen pounds I’d like to say goodbye to.  I’m cautiously optimistic, and really excited that it’s finally time to get started.  I plan on checking in with you guys after the Clean Phase to let you know how it’s going.  Remember, if you’d like to join in, check out Katie’s Advocare site!  She’s been super helpful in getting me started, and I’m very glad she’s doing the challenge at the same time.  Never underestimate the power of support.  Have a great Monday!

What did you do this weekend?  Anybody else starting some kind of October challenge?

Thru-Hiking The Continental Divide Trail

Hi! I hope your week is going so well so far.  My schedule is finally getting back to normal, and I feel like I’m starting to get my head above water.  Plus, it appears as though cool fall temperatures are heading our way in the next few days, and you know that always makes me happy!

A few months ago, I started a series discussing the pros and cons of thru-hiking each of the long distance trails in America.  Honestly, if I had my way, I would do all three of them!  However, if you’re like me and thru-hiking a long distance trail probably won’t happen until retirement, you may find yourself having to pick between the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, or the Continental Divide Trail.

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I’ve already given you my reasons for and against both the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and I’ve saved the very best for last.  It’s no secret that my heart lies in the Rocky Mountains so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Continental Divide Trail is the one I dream about.  This particular trail runs from the Mexican border up through the Rocky Mountains all the way to the Canadian border for a total of 3,100 miles, and crosses some of the most rugged terrain this country has to offer.  While the CDT has my heart, it’s not without some drawbacks to consider before making your choice.

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Pros

1.  Intense, awe-inspiring beauty

Perhaps I’m a little biased, but I can’t imagine anything more beautiful.  To be fair I’ve never been to the Alps or even seen the mountains of the West Coast, but I would bet that these views at the very least give those places some serious competition.

Justin and Caite on top of the Continental Divide Trail during our summer trip!

Justin and Caite on top of the Continental Divide Trail during our summer trip!

2.  Isolation

I realize that this would not be a pro for everybody, but isolation from the problems of the world (and, yes, people in general!) remains one of the reasons why I love getting into the backcountry so much.  There is an abundance of this on the CDT.  Because of the extreme terrain and underdeveloped trail, significantly fewer people attempt the CDT every year than the other two long distance trails.  I can only imagine that this would create a “last person on earth” kind of feeling which I think would be kind of cool.

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3.  Physically Challenging

This is not a trail for the faint of heart.  While embarking on any long-distance thru-hike is daunting, the CDT presents a whole host of challenges to overcome.  Between extreme weather, rugged terrain, high altitude, and the higher number of miles, it’s no wonder that so few people finish this trail each season.

Cons

1.  Water

The CDT will provide water challenges for the first several hundred miles of your trip.  Like the Pacific Crest, the CDT passes through desert and very dry conditions which means you’ll have to carry quite a bit more weight so that you can pack in the water that you’ll need.  More weight=no bueno. At certain points, you’ll be able to cache (set out ahead of time) water, but, at the very least, logistics will become a bit of a headache.

2.  Unmarked Trail

According to the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, only 76% of the trail is permanently fixed as of this point.  This will required more planning as you prep for your trip, and not a small amount of bushwhacking once you’re out.  You will definitely have to know your way around a map, and it wouldn’t hurt to be familiar with a compass either.  If you’d rather just jump on a trail and start walking, the AT would probably be a much better option.

3.  Extreme Isolation

Yep, this is one is both a pro and a con.  For me, isolation is a great thing for all the reasons I listed above, but it’s not without its challenges.  The CDT is very, very remote.  It passes through or close to very few hamlets, and, of the ones it does, they tend to be what you might call a “one horse town”.  Resupply will be an interesting logistical problem to overcome.  Also, remember how I thought it would be a pro to run into very few people?  Well, really consider that.  If you’re a people person, you might prefer more camaraderie!

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Despite a few cons, there’s no question for me which one I’d like to attempt.  The CDT is not without its problems, but the physical and mental challenges will lead to so many benefits at the end.  I, for one, think it’s more than a fair trade-off!

Let’s Give It A Try: The Advocare Challenge

Hi guys!  I was a little MIA last week, huh?  Work has been absolutely nuts!  We have a teacher at school that has been out for an extended period of time due to some health issues, and last week my principal asked if I wouldn’t mind taking over her classes for a few days.  So, for most of last week, I was teaching two other classes in addition to the two I already have plus my library duties.  I very much felt like I was running around like a crazy person, and everything was only getting halfway done including the blog!  Hopefully, this week I’ll have a little more time to chat with you guys.

I definitely wanted to pop in today to tell you guys about something really exciting that I’m going to try starting next week.  I’m sure you’ve all heard of Advocare, right?  It seems like its been all over the blog world recently, and, despite the fact that I’m usually skeptical of such things, I’ve been swayed by some of the awesome results I’ve seen from people who’s opinion I trust.

I’ve mentioned before that I’d like to lose a few pounds.  I don’t feel like I have a ton to lose, but dropping ten to fifteen and leaning out a little bit would be very beneficial.  I’m having a hard time doing it on my own though.  I don’t have the kind of magical metabolism that makes dropping weight easy, and turning thirty has not helped that situation at all!

Losing weight isn’t the only thing I’m looking to accomplish in the next few months.  I’ve decided that I’m going to go for a sub-2:00 hour half at the Cowtown Half Marathon in February, and I’ve already started training with that goal in mind.  One of the positive things I keep hearing about Advocare is how it’s helped athletic performance in almost everyone who’s tried it.

I guess you know what I’m building to, right?  I’ve decided to take 24-Day Advocare Challenge!  From the Advocare website:

The 24-Day Challenge™ is a comprehensive supplementation and nutrition program. Give your body the jumpstart it needs to help you reach your goals. There’s something for everyone: weight management, energy, overall body composition or overall wellness.

For twenty-four days, I’ll be eating completely clean.  Basically that means no processed food and lots of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and complex carbs.  I’ll also be taking the required supplements which break down into two phases:  The Cleanse Phase and The Max Phase.

Day 1-10 is the Cleanse Phase, and the supplements are designed to get rid of all the crud in your body to prepare it for Max Phase.

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Max Phase is Day 11-24, and this round of supplements work to provide energy, appetite control, and a boost to your metabolism.

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Through both phases, I’ll be using the Spark drink for an energy boost.  I’ve actually already tried the Pomegranate and Green Apple flavors of Spark, and they’re not too bad!

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I’ll start this challenge next Monday, October 6th, along with a ton of other bloggers and readers.  I’m really excited that I’ll be doing this along with other people so I’ll have community support.

Would you like to join us too?  You can check it out on the Advocare website or, I would highly recommend, reading more about it on Katie’s blog.  She actually did her first challenge several months ago, and loved it so much that she became an Advocare distributor!  She’s super knowledgeable about all things Advocare, and would love the opportunity to guide you through it!

I’m not sure that I’m brave enough to share before photos, but I’ll definitely share numbers with you guys and check in with an update post after the first ten days.  Wish me luck!

Full disclosure:  Katie provided me with the Cleanse Phase box, but only after I reached out to her asking questions about the challenge.  I truly wanted to try this!

Must See (For Me!)

How was everyone’s weekend?  I’m currently nursing a slightly hoarse voice because I screamed my head off during our incredible Saturday.  Actually, from start to finish, it was just one heck of a great time.

We headed to Oklahoma City Friday night to be the “support crew” for our friend, Jedd’s, first Ironman distance triathlon at the OKC Redman.  I’m not going to go into great detail or talk too much about it because he doesn’t like a lot of Internet or social media attention, but I do have to take a minute to brag on him just little.  After six months of making training his second full-time job and weeks of battling different injuries, he crossed the finish line with a time of 12:59:20.  He worked so hard and did a phenomenal job, and we are all so incredibly proud of him!

John, Jedd’s wife, Whitney, and I had an awesome time on Saturday being the cheering section.  John had a little too much fun.

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This was far and away the most popular sign of the day.  It got quite a few smiles from some very tired athletes!

John and I ended the weekend by catching breakfast with my OKC friends, Hayley and Erica, before heading home.  For the second time in a row, I forgot to snap a picture of all of us so next time I’ll be sure to get their smiling faces up on the blog!

It’s always hard to start a new week after such a great weekend, and this weekend in particular felt like a mini vacation that I didn’t want to end.  Luckily, this week is one of my favorites of the entire year.  Premerie week!  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I seriously love TV.  I always tell people that I’m still a very well-rounded person so my intense love of TV never makes me feel guilty.  As a result of that love affair, I get truly excited by the return of all my favorite shows every fall.  With all the old shows comes a whole new crop of shows that do their best to win the hearts of the public and become a regular part of everyone’s lineup.  I’m always slightly hesitant to give my heart to any new show because I’ve been burnt more times than I care to think about, but I still can’t resist trying out a few of them.  Today I thought I’d share a list of all the new shows that have caught my eye.

1.  Madam Secretary

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I bit of a political junkie so I have a natural inclination toward political dramas.  Not to mention, I love Tea Leoni!

2.  NCIS:  New Orleans

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I’m a fan of both of the other members of this procedural drama family so I can’t imagine I won’t love those one as well.

3.  A to Z

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Purely because I have developed a little girl crush on Cristin Milioti.

4.  Forever

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I think this concept is incredibly intriguing, and the idea is just a little bit different from anything else on TV.

5.  How To Get A Way With Murder

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Yes, I am one of Shonda Rimes’ many, many fans.  There was never any question that this one was going in the lineup.

I’m sure there are a few more that I’ll have to check out.  In a few weeks, I’ll definitely do a follow-up post to let you know how these are panning out!

Are you TV obsessed?  What shows are you looking forward to?

One Of Those Weeks!

Hello, friends!  It’s one of those kind of weeks so I’m popping in for a Thursday Thoughts!

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1.  I apologize for my absence this week.  It’s been one thing after another at school, and I have had something going on every evening.  Weeks like this are fun every once in awhile, but I’m exhausted!

2.  One of my engagements was making race signs.  My friend, Jedd’s, Ironman is this weekend so his wife, Whitney, came over Monday night to make some “motivational” posters.

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We decided we wanted to make some that will have him busting up with laughter when he sees them.  I think we’ve succeeded!

3.  Speaking of how awesome all my friends are, did you guys see this girl finished her first ever 100 mile race last weekend?  She rocked it, and I am so proud of her!

From that time we road tripped together!

From that time we road tripped together!

4.  The weather is aggravating me.  Every day I think I’m going to wake up to fall, and, instead, I wake up to 85 degrees and 110% humidity.  Needless to say, my hair has been in a ponytail for weeks.

5.  So I started a new training plan last week.  I’ve decided that instead of signing up for a fall half-marathon, I’m going to put in the work and shoot for a sub-2 at the Cowtown Half in February.  I’ll have to take thirteen minutes off my time to do it, but I have five months to prepare so here’s hoping!

6.  It is Book Fair week.  I know you hear it from me every time, but Book Fair is the bane of my existence.

7.  Tonight we’re having Parent/Teacher Conference which means we’re off tomorrow!  Yay!  I have a mile long to-do list to take care of, and then it’s off to the City to be a spectator at the Ironman.  I can’t tell you how badly I need the weekend.

8.  Do you know what next week is?  Premier week!  It’s that special time of year in which TV junkies like me rejoice and start making spread sheets to keep up with how many shows we’re watching.  You better believe I’ll be doing an entire post dedicated to my love of TV next week :)

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What shows are you excited about?

9.  Just so you don’t write me off as a mindless TV drone, here’s a look at what I’m reading.

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The new Philippa Gregory book came out last week, and I dove into it last night.  As anyone who knows me will attest, I have this little thing for English History so devour anything on the subject-even fiction!

10.  Speaking of reading, does anyone do Goodreads?  I’m not as active as I’d like to be, but every time I check it out I think I need to utilize it more.  Maybe I just need some more friends on there.  Follow me!

What are you reading right now?

11.  I’m off to tackle the long day ahead.  Have a wonderful day and a great weekend!

Never Forget

I know it’s not news to any of you that today marks the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11.  This particular day always sneaks up on me.  I get so busy with the beginning of school and getting back into a routine that before I know it special documentaries are playing on the TV and survivor stories are being featured on the Internet.  I’m glad that we still put so much significance on the anniversary instead of letting it fade away to annals of history like so many major events do.  I know as the years go by that will start to happen, but for those of us who lived it, albeit from a safe distance, acknowledging our country’s tragedy is way to pay tribute to the men and women we lost.

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(source)

This year I was fortunate enough to witness a tribute to the brave men and women of the New York City Fire Department that lost their lives on September 11th.  Most of you know that John is a Hot Fireman on the side.

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He tried out and was hired for the local fire department (it’s a part-time department) about two years ago largely because he thought it would be a really great experience.  Thus far, he’s really enjoyed it.  Of course, he may be feeling differently today since he was out until 1:30 on a call last night, but I digress!

A few months ago, some of the guys at his station started talking about the third annual Oklahoma City Stair Climb.  This is an event in which firemen and women from all over the state (and others!) come to Oklahoma City to climb 110 flights of stairs, the number of flights in the Twin Towers, in full bunker gear.  Some of the local guys participated last year, and they talked John into coming along this time.  It didn’t take much for him to jump on board, and he spent a few months really training for it.

Fast forward to this last weekend.  We made the three-hour trip to OKC on Friday night, checked into our hotel, and tried to get some sleep before the alarm went off.  John had to be there to register by 7:00 so I dropped him off in front of the First National Center, and tried to find a parking spot downtown.  It was raining like crazy which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  The temperature was right around 65 degrees which was heaven in that stairwell for everyone participating.

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The building they were climbing has 29 floors which worked out to about three trips up.  They only open registration to 343 people who represent the number of fire personnel that were killed.  Most everyone participating chooses to do so in all of their bunker gear including their air tank.  It is a lot of weight, but the main problem is the suits hold in ALL THE HEAT so the lower temperatures were wonderful.  Trust me-Oklahoma in September can be very, very different!

They deployed the 343 climbers in groups, and the first group started up at exactly 8:46, the time the first tower was struck.  The lobby of the building was crowded with families and various spectators who would give a rousing round of applause for each group entering the stairwell.  There was a definite feeling of camaraderie.

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I was able to get a few pictures of John as he passed on his first and second trips up.  After that last time, I moved across the room to get a good spot to take a picture of him finishing which was truly the most touching part.

Each person was given the name of a fireman that died on 9/11, and they carried that person’s picture and name tag during the climb.  When they finished all three sets, each climber would ring a bell set up in the middle of the room,  and then move to a board to place the name tag of their fallen fireman.

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At that moment, you could see on every person’s face the gravity of what they were doing.  Many knelt to pray, and all seemed to be taking a quite moment of reflection.  I was surprised how emotional it made me feel.

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I am so proud of John for participating, and very thankful that I was able to be a small part of it.  I know every person there felt honored to pay tribute to the fallen, and every time days like this happen, their memory is kept alive.  It’s a small way to make sure we never forget.

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