Two More Days-I’m Going To Make It!

This is definitely a Thinking Out Loud kind of week so let’s jump right in, shall we?

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1.  I apologize for being MIA this week.  All you teachers out there will understand just how crazy the week leading up to Christmas break is.  Between prepping and giving finals and organizing several different clubs’ Christmas celebrations, it has been a crazy week.  Not to worry-I have some ideas for a few fun posts coming your way next week!

2.  Because this is the first time I’ve checked in this week, I haven’t had a chance to share about our adventure last weekend.

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I bought John tickets to Garth Brooks for Christmas, and last Friday night we headed to Little Rock to enjoy the concert.  He is a phenomenal performer, and it was so fun to sing along to every single song.  Let’s just say, if country music still sounded like Garth, I’d still be a fan!

3.  Christmas is just one week away!  It’s my favorite time of the year, and I’m extra happy that I’m not terribly stressed out by it this year.  I have all the Christmas shopping done so that means I can spend the first few days of my Christmas break relaxing.  I may even get in the kitchen to do a little baking!

4.  This weekend we’re headed to my sister’s to have Christmas with one set of my family members.  I’m really excited!  It will be so nice to spend some time with everyone, and I’m super ready to hang out with my sister.  She’s wrapping up her first semester as a full-fledged teacher which means she’s been very busy.  I’ve barely had a chance to chat with her lately let alone see her so I can’t wait!

Last Christmas at my sister's!

Last Christmas at my sister’s!

5.  Speaking of some much needed family time, it won’t be long now before we’re all headed for the mountains.  John, Caite, Justin, Mom, Joel, and I are headed for Steamboat for a week long ski trip, and I may be more excited about that than Christmas.

6.  It’s finally time to see Wild!!!!  My local movie theater has finally gotten with times, and the movie makes in debut tomorrow.  You better believe I’ll be there some time in the very near future.

7.  Speaking of Cheryl Strayed, did you guys know she’s started a podcast!  Before there was Wild, Cheryl wrote an online advice column called Dear Sugar.  That may sound a little nerdy, but, trust me, this is no ordinary advice column.  She collected some of her responses in a book called Tiny, Beautiful Things, and it is one of the most profoundly beautiful books I’ve ever read.  She’s now teamed up with Steve Almond (you wrote the column originally) to bring Dear Sugar to the airwaves.  The first episode was published this week, and they’ll begin doing weekly ones in January.  You guys, this is so worth adding to your list.  Check it out!

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8.  How about a goofy dog story?

He only looks this innocent when he's asleep.

He only looks this innocent when he’s asleep.

Gus (or Little Man, as we often call him) is a true bird dog.  Lately, birds have been landing in the trees in our back yard, and this drives him crazy.  He parks himself at the base of the tree, and barks up at them constantly.  If you time if just right, you can even catch up jumping straight up in there.  I think he really believes if he just tries a little harder, he’ll make it!  He’s so goofy.  Meanwhile, I swear Max looks at him, and then at me with this “Seriously, Mom?” look on his face.  Never a dull moment with these two!

9.  Alright, I’m off for the last two day push before break.  Have a great day!

Thursday Thoughts: Winter Time Stuff

Hello, friends!  I have a ton of “catch up” stuff to tell you so I’m linking up with Amanda to Think Out Loud!

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1.  Tomorrow night, John is getting one of his Christmas presents early!  We’re headed to see Garth Brooks in concert, and I’m just as excited as he is (probably more so since he isn’t one to get very excited about anything!).  Although I absolutely abhor current country music, I love the older stuff, and Garth Brooks is at the top of that list.  It should be a really great show.

2.  In two weeks, the family and I will be headed to the mountains to play in the snow.  It’s been about a year and a half since John and I have gotten to ski, and I’m ready to hit the slopes.  I always started to get antsy and anxious if I don’t leave the immediate region every few months, and I’ve been feeling a lot of that in the last few weeks.  I need a breather!

From our last ski trip!

From our last ski trip!

3.  Speaking of skiing, you guys really need to check out Heather’s post.  She’s broken down skier/boarder language, and it’s helpful as well as hilarious.  I think I found it funny because I could relate and/or picture just about every scenario these terms would be used in.  Trust me-if you’ve ever seen a “yard sale” on the slopes, you can’t help but laugh at the image!

4.  Have I mentioned that I’m obsessed with candles?  I’m not really sure when it started, but I pick up one of the $2 or $3 every time I go to the grocery store.  That’s why I jumped on board when the folks at Red Rover Naturals offered to send me some Old Factory candles to review.

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I chose their Happy Holidays which came with (3) 2 ounces candles in Christmas Tree, Gingerbread, and Candy Cane.  Despite their small size, they burn a really long time and put off a strong scent.  I was really impressed.  Plus, their is a whole bunch of packages to chose from including High As A Kite which includes Bag ‘O Cookies, Incense, and Cannabis.  Tell me your not just a little interested in that!

5.  Who still has holiday shopping to do?  To my amazement, I am 100% done.  Now I always start Christmas shopping super early (like August), but I usually have at least one or two last minute gifts or stocking stuffers to pick up.  Not so this year.  Not only are they bought, they’re wrapped!  I gotta tell you-it’s creating a very Zen like feeling for me.

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Now to decide whether I’m going to do bows.  It’s a long, tedious process, but they do look so much nicer!

6.  I should give you an update on the piano lessons.  They are going so well, and I am enjoying them so much.  This week I learned to play the F chord with my right hand, and that’s a little tricky for me (my fingers do not know how to move correctly!) but, overall, it’s a great experience.

7.  So since I’m learning the piano, I need somewhere to practice, right?  Surprisingly enough, I’ve actually owned a piano for about thirteen years.  It’s a old family heirloom that was passed down to me, and it’s always just sat in our house as a decorative piece.  Well, for my birthday, John called someone to work on it to get it up to snuff again!  It’s actually required a lot of work, but, hopefully, by this time next week I’ll be playing it.

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8.  I really need to get out for a long run this weekend.  I’ve been running a lot lately and doing well, but my mileage has been a little low.  Since it looks like I have a half marathon coming up next month, I need to get out for one or two double digit runs before then!

9.  I think I’m going to really enjoy my mom being retired.  Last weekend, we started brainstorming some ideas for a quick little trip we could take on my spring break.  We don’t want to spend a ton of money and we’d like to go somewhere we haven’t been.  Any ideas?

10.  I hope everyone has a great weekend.  I’m sure a ton of you have holiday parties and get-togethers so enjoy yourself, and eat a Christmas cookie for me!

Who would you love to see in concert?  I’m actually not big on concerts, but I’m excited about Garth.  Plus, I’ll see James Taylor every time I get an opportunity!

Do you start Christmas shopping early or wait until the last minute?  This year is unusual even for me!

This Is Going To Have To Hurt

We are on official countdown until Christmas Break.  My little darlings are just as ready as I am, and have been expressing that in, shall we say, rambunctious ways.  This girl needs a break!

Luckily, all my weekends are packed with fun stuff to do which is making the weeks a little easier to deal with.  This past weekend, Mom and Joel came into town to celebrate my birthday.  Mom even made my very favorite dessert, and carted it all the way from home!

We had intended on seeing Wild as part of my birthday shenanigans.  Not that I haven’t spent the last six months counting down the days until it opened or anything.  Unfortunately, it didn’t come to any theater within a reasonable distance.  To say I was disappointed was an understatement.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but, if it doesn’t come soon, John and I may have to make a pit stop in Denver on our way to Steamboat in a few weeks!

The weekend wasn’t all lost, however,  Mom, Joel, and I ran the Sleigh Bell 5K on Saturday.  It’s an annual race that always has a huge turn out, and Saturday was no exception with several hundred racers at the start line.

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I went into the race hoping for a slight PR, but not putting too much pressure on my self since this particular course is a beast.  It’s the same one that almost every 5K in town is run on, and I had already set a PR when I ran it just over a month ago.

As soon as I started I knew I was going too fast.  For the first mile, I was just steps away from a local woman who I know is way faster than me.  I kept glancing at my Garmin, and briefly wondering if it was messed up.  I do not pull those kinds of paces!  Of course, like an idiot, I didn’t slow down.  I figured I’d ride it out as long as I could.

About halfway through, my legs started to seriously feel it, my throat was coated with gunk, and my stomach was starting to cramp (note to self:  maybe going out for breakfast isn’t the best idea before a race.  Even if it’s only a 5K.  Even if the race is at noon.).  I felt like I had slowed way down, and I even had to stop for a brief walking break which I hate to do in a 5K.  I started thinking I was going to just have to be okay with a not so great finish.

As I made the turn for the last 3/4 of mile that led to the finish, I looked at my watch again, and realized that I was on pace for a PR and a pretty huge one at that.  At that point, I felt like an nothing left in the engine, but I told myself, “If you want it, it’s going to have to hurt a little.”.

When the clock came into view as I turned the final corner, I couldn’t believe what it said.  I crossed the finish line at 28:17 which is a full 52 seconds faster than a month ago.  I was floored (and doubled over-stupid pancakes!)!

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A quick note about my PRs:  My “official” 5K PR is 27:35.  However, that was ran last year back home in Durant which, for those of you not familiar with topography of Oklahoma, is A LOT flatter than where I currently live.  As a result, I tend to make a distinction in my mind between my “Poteau PR”, and everything else.

That being said, Mom and Joel both did great!  They are definitely flatlanders, and not use to running hills at all.  Mom came in at 30:30, and Joel came in at 35:36 which is especially impressive considering he’s been sick!

The rest of the weekend was spent catching a parade.

Complete with cute firemen ;)

Complete with cute firemen ;)

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And indulging in one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

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That is just the start of all of the fun December things that are heading our way this month.  There’s a reason why it’s my favorite month of the year!

What are favorite holiday traditions?  Are you doing any holiday fun runs?

What Do You Have To Fear?

Yay, Friday!  I’m definitely happy the weekend is here, but I actually had a pretty good week.  It helps that it was broken up by my birthday :)  I actually a great time celebrating on Wednesday, and my students at school even made me feel really special.

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These were presented to me from every student in my senior European History class along with chocolate.  They even sang Happy Birthday to me, and insisted that their daily journal question be “What is Mrs. Ford’s best attribute?” .  I haven’t read them yet, and I’m a little nervous!

This weekend Mom and Joel are coming to visit for my birthday, and we even have a 5K on the schedule for Saturday.  I love this particular 5K mostly because they give good shirts, and I’m excited to run it with the family.

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Today I thought I’d pop back in with another installment in the 10 Day You Challenge.  This one is all about my biggest fears.  Some are goofy, some are not, and I hope you learn a little something extra about me!

1.  Snakes

I hate them.  I am seriously terrified of them, and several people in my life can testify to that after being around me and snakes at the same time.  I once ran (not walked) out of a pet store because one of the workers had one out of its cage.  And I was in college.

2.  Bridges

Okay, so this isn’t a serious fear, but there have been just enough stories about bridges collapsing to make me somewhat fearful of this.  Every time I cross one in a car I have my had on the window button just in case I need to have a way to swim out.  If I’m by myself, I just go ahead and roll it down.  Yes, even in winter.

This one in particular gives me the creeps!

This one in particular gives me the creeps!

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3.  Cellars

I’m not afraid of cellars per say, but of the creepy things that live there (see snakes above).  When you throw in the mice and/or rats and the fact that they’re generally pretty disgusting, it would take a serious tornado threat to get me into one.  Unfortunately, I live in Oklahoma so that’s no outside the realm of possibility.

4.  Lightning storms in the mountains

For most of my life, storms have not bothered me.  I sleep right through the thunder, and I usually like to see the lightning put on a show.  That all changed a couple of summers ago when we were backpacking around Ouray.  John, Dad, and I rode out a particularly nasty and violent storm at about 10,000 ft. that was hands down the scariest experience of my life.  Ever since, I’ve noticed that I get really jumpy when it’s storming outside even if I’m in the relative safety of my house.

The next morning.  We're high on life!

The next morning. We’re high on life!  Excuse the fashion choice-I was freezing!

5.  Mountain Lions

Whenever we’re about to embark on a backpacking trip, we inevitably get asked about bears.  People are fascinated by the subject, and can’t believe we don’t bring anything more to protect us than bear spray.  Let me tell you-I am ten times more scared of meeting a mountain lion on the trail than a bear.  In general, bears are scared of people.  Mountains lions are not, and sometimes they actively stalk us.  Don’t get me wrong-I wouldn’t be too keen on meeting a bear in the wild, but I definitely want no part of mountain lions!

6.  Never leaving Oklahoma

It’s no secret that I’d love to move away.  There are numerous reasons for this that I won’t bore you with, but, in general, I don’t have a lot of love for my home state outside of some of the people who live here.  However, due to the responsibilities of being an adult, moving away probably isn’t in the cards for John and I until we retirement.  A part of me is really scared that, by then, we’ll be too set in our ways to strike out on a new adventure.

7.  Losing members of my family

Isn’t everyone?

8.  Losing John

This one I cannot fathom, and don’t even want to talk about.  Just know that I pray about it every single day.

 

Alright, I hope that wasn’t too much of a downer to start your weekend!  Hope you guys have a fantastic one!

What’s your biggest fear?

Deck The Halls

Hey friends!  How was your Thanksgiving?  Our’s was a whirlwind.  This year we spent it with some of my family, and, since John had to work on Wednesday and Friday, we made a 7 hour round trip to be there.  It’s always worth it to see my family, but that led to a less than productive next few days!

Apparently, John and I have been living under a rock for the last few years, and, up until recently, we had never seen Game of Thrones.  Fortunately, getting On Demand as allowed us to get with the program, and we’re now almost through with Season 3.  We watched The Red Wedding episode last night, and, afterwards, I banned any more episodes for the rest of the evening.  Let’s just say I was not happy with how that turned out!

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Because of our new obsession, John and I spent our entire Saturday binge watching Game of Thrones, and not doing the numerous items on our to-do list.  We had to make up for that on Sunday so while John got started painting cabinet doors (they’re finally here!  Hopefully, I’ll be able to show you an updated kitchen renovation picture soon!), I got all the Christmas decorations out.

December is without a doubt my favorite time of the year.  I love everything about the Christmas season (including Christmas break, am I right?), and when you throw in my birthday (tomorrow :) ), the other months of the year just can’t compare.

I don’t really decorate the house too much other than putting up the tree, but my tree is one of my  very favorite things.  A few years ago, I showed you some of the ornaments that I’ve collected over the years, and today I thought I’d share a few more.

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My mom started a tradition years ago of buying a Christmas ornament from all of the places we travel to, and Caite and I have adopted it.  I love how just about every ornament on my tree is unique to our little family, and always brings up lovely memories when we unwrap each one.

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Obviously, this one comes from Ouray, Colorado which is one of my favorite towns on the planet.  You just haven’t lived until you’ve had a burger from Maggie’s or a scratch cookie from the bakery just up the street that I can never remember the name of!  John and I got this one during our very first backpacking trip a few years ago.

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Many times when Mom, Caite, or I travel without the others, we’ll bring back an ornament to add to their collection.  Caite bought this one for me in South Dakota on a trip she took in junior high with one of her friends.  I told you this tradition goes back a long ways!

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This was from the first (non-honeymoon) trip John and I took as a married couple.  We hit Bryce Canyon, Zion, and the Grand Canyon that year.  It was an expensive ornament trip!

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Another one from Caite!  This one is from a trip she took to Mexico with my Dad to celebrate her high school graduation.

That’s just some of the many, many ornaments I’ve collected over the years.  I love sharing them with people, and telling the stories of how they came to reside on my tree.  I’ll save a few to show you next year!

One last thing since we’re talking Christmas decoration.

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How crafty is my sister-in-law?  This was waiting on our porch when we got in from our Thanksgiving trip.  No special reason-she’s just awesome like that!

What are some of your family’s Christmas traditions?  Do you put up a tree?

It May Be Possible I Like To Talk About Myself!

Hey, how’s everyone’s holiday preparations going?  I am currently blogging from bed at the luxurious time of 8:30 in the morning because every single thing I needed to do is done.  Checking off your list is a wonderful feeling!  John and I are headed to my dad’s a little later this afternoon, but for now I’m going to laze around reading and watching nonsense television.  Sounds good to me!

Now I’m sure you guys have seen the Four Things survey that’s been circulating our little world lately, and you know I couldn’t let it go without doing it to.  I love surveys because apparently I’m still a sixteen year old high school student at heart.  Or maybe I just like talking about myself ;)   Either way:  here’s my version of the Four Things survey!

Four names that people call me other than my real name:

  • Nat (pretty much everyone who’s known me for more than five minutes)
  • Coker (my maiden name-my coaches my entire life called me this, and John still does when I’m in trouble ;) )
  • Babe
  • Bear/Pooh Bear (my grandparents and aunt have called me this since I was little)

Four jobs I’ve had:

  • Burger King
  • Curves
  • Office sales at a fireworks wholesale place
  • Teacher/Coach

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:

  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Forrest Gump
  • Vacation

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Four books I’d recommend:

  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  • Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
  • The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

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Four places I’ve lived:

  • Poteau, OK
  • Calera, OK
  • Marietta, OK
  • (That’s it.  There’s only three, and I’m incredibly saddened by that.  And the fact that they’re all in Oklahoma.)
My mom's house AKA the house I grew up in!

My mom’s house AKA the house I grew up in!

Four places I’ve been:

  • New York City
  • Washington D.C.
  • Oregon
  • Glacier National Park

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Four places I’d rather be right now:

  • Backpacking in the mountains
  • Camping in the mountains
  • In a condo in front of the fireplace with snow piling up outside in the mountains
  • In the mountains.  Always in the mountains.

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Four things I don’t eat:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Wasabi
  • Fried foods (to be clear-NOT because I don’t want to!)

Four of my favorite foods:

  • Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • Quesadillas
  • Ice Cream
  • Lasagna

Four TV shows I watch:

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Scandal
  • The Blacklist
  • The Newsroom

Four things I’m looking forward to next year:

  • Building a new house
  • Our backpacking trip to Idaho
  • Our 12 races, 12 states, 12 months plan
  • Our ski trip to Steamboat (not technically next year, but I’m excited!)

Four things I’m always saying:

  • “(insert student name here), stop talking!”
  • “Easy.  Careful!”-when Max and Gus are wrestling
  • “Oh geez”
  • “I love you.  Now get off me.”-To John at bedtime.  I am NOT a cuddler!

I hope each of you have a lovely Thanksgiving tomorrow.  Eat too much, spend a lot of time with family, and let’s all remember all the reasons we have to be thankful!

Answer so of the questions!  

12 Races, 12 States, 12 Months

You know Monday is never that bad when you’re on a break.  I have the next seven days (counting the weekend) gloriously free of any work responsibilities, and that is the nicest feeling.  Today I have a date with my massage therapist, a stack of books to read, and I may even break with tradition and start putting up my Christmas decorations.  Normally, I am very firm on not putting them up until Thanksgiving is over, but, since we won’t be having Thanksgiving at our house, it doesn’t really count right?  That’s story I’m sticking with!

John and I spent the weekend hanging out with my dad who came to visit for a few days.  Saturday was rainy and dreary, but we were able to get out Sunday morning for a five mile run.

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We stuck to the track since dad has been experiencing some foot pain recently.  I don’t normally run on the track, but I actually enjoyed it.  I played a little game with myself that involved counting laps, and it was nice little distraction from the burning in my legs.  I’m really trying to push my pace, and my legs are feeling it!

Dad and I have concoted a fun plan for 2015 which we talked a lot about while he was in town.  2015 is going to be the year of the runcation!  Dad and I plan on doing 12 races, 12 states, 12 months.  That’s 12 different races in 12 different states over the course of the next year.  We’re only a little bit crazy!

We’ve mapped out the races for the first four or five months, and we’re eyeing a few more for the end of the year.  Here’s the list of the ones we’ve decided on so far:

The Louisiana Half Marathon-Baton Rouge, January 18th

The Cowtown Half Marathon-Ft. Worth, Texas March 1st (We’re counting this as our February half.  The Cowtown is always the last weekend in February, but March 1st just happens to fall on Sunday this year.)

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River Valley Endurance Run-Ft. Smith, AR March 14th (There’s a possibility that we’ll be switching this one.  Stay tuned!)

Garmin Half Marathon-Olathe, KS April 18th

Possibilities for the rest of the year

Joplin Memorial Half

Hatfield-McCoy Half Marathon

Route 66 Half Marathon

St. Jude Half Marathon

So it should be an interesting and challenging year.  I’m really excited to run in some new places, and see some sights along the way.  Any of you have any suggestions for races we should add to our list?  Let me know!

Ok, I’m off to enjoy my time off.  Have a wonderful Monday!

Liebster Round Two!

It’s Wednesday!  Only two more days, and I’m free as a bird for an entire week.  There are definite perks to being a teacher!

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The awesome Brooke of Wrecking Routine tagged me for a Liebster Award this week, and I was more than happy to play along.  Brooke came up with some interesting questions for this Liebster round, and maybe you’ll discover a few things you didn’t know about me.  Here’s we go!

  1. What are you most looking forward to in the coming year? (2015)

I’m really excited to build our new house.  I’m not necessarily looking forward to the process, but moving into a brand new place that is exactly the way we want it is going to be wonderful!

Our land!  I can't get over the view!

Our land! I can’t get over the view!

2.  Share one thing on your fitness bucket list.

The first thing that springs to mind is hiking either the entire Pacific Crest Trail or Continental Divide Trail.  However, even though that definitely requires fitness, doing one of those trails is more of life bucket list item so I’ll say running a Disney World Half.  I absolutely love Disney World, and I hear nothing but great things about their races.  I think it would provide more than enough to keep my brain, eyes, and ears occupied with during the run!

3.  If you could transport _____ to _____, what would it be and where? 

Hands down I would transport John and I to the mountains to live full-time.  Heck, as long as we’re wishing for things, I’ll go ahead and say I’d take all of our family with us!

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4.  What is one thing “all” stereotypical bloggers do that you don’t do, or haven’t yet done?

I’ve done it a little in the past, but, by and large, I don’t photograph my food.  It’s time consuming, and most of the time I find other bloggers’ food pictures boring anyway!

5.  What was your favorite childhood book? I’m talking like 0-10 years old, no tween stuff.

I was insanely obsessed with both the Babysitter’s Club and the Sweet Valley Twins.  I started reading the BSC books when I was eight, and I’ve read every single one multiple times.  I haven’t picked one up in years, but I’m thinking maybe I should.  I’m feeling nostalgic!

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6.  What is the one part of your current job that you absolutely adore doing?

The fact that I get a ton of time off?  In all seriousness, of course I love that aspect, but I truly love my seniors this year.  They’re a real joy to be around, and I’m going to miss them very much next year!

7.  If you could travel anywhere, where would it be and why?

I’m not going to give you my standard “mountains” answer.  I desperately want to see England.  I’ve shared with you guys before that I’m a huge Anglophile, and I want to see the historical castles and towns that I’ve read about for years.

8.  What is your favorite Christmas/Holiday movie?

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Christmas Vacation, of course!

9.  What is your go-to vessel to have a cocktail in? (I’m on a mug kick right now.)

I actually don’t drink cocktails too terribly often, but I am enjoying drinking anything and everything out of a mason jar right now.

10.  Describe a memory that always makes you smile.

The summer after I graduated from high school, my friends and I were seriously high on life and the idea that we had a little more freedom than we were used to.  One evening, two of my friends and I drove around for hours in the middle of the night before ending up at a lake.  We laid on the boat ramp staring up at the stars and talking about the future.  It was one of those moments that you don’t realize is special until you look back on it.

11.  When you run into the grocery store for “one thing”, what is that “one thing” most often?

Usually, I’m running in for apples or salad ingredients.  Both are huge staples in my diet, and I go through a lot of each in a week!

Now I’m suppose to nominate a few people here, but most of my blogging friends have been tagged already.  So I nominate all my readers!  Answer a few of Brooke’s questions in the comment section so I can get to know you all a little better.

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Before I go, I have to wish a happy, happy birthday to my sister-in-law, Jenna.  May your last year in your twenties be the best one yet!

My Final Thoughts On The Advocare Challenge

Monday, Monday.  If I’m being totally honest, the only thing that got me out of bed this morning is the thought that we are one week away from Thanksgiving Break.  It is needed!  This has been a crazy semester thus far.  Plus, I think there is something about this snowy, cold weather that makes me want to do nothing but lie in bed underneath the covers all day!

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So it’s been about three weeks since John and I ended our 24 Day Advocare Challenge, and I’m definitely overdue in providing you all a recap of the last phase.  You can check out my thoughts on the Cleanse Phase here.

The schedule for the Max Phase of the program is as follows:

Upon waking:  Drink your Spark along and pop the 1st color packet of MNS supplements.

Wait 30 minutes:  Eat breakfast and take the two white packets of MNS supplements

30 minutes before lunch:  Take the second color packet MNS supplements

My initial thoughts on the Max Phase?  Wow, that’s a lot of pills!  Seriously, you have to take four packets of pills everyday, and each of those packets has four to five pills in it.  I don’t have a problem with taking pills, and even I thought it was a lot.

I also want to mention that, if you choose to do the challenge, make sure you eat exactly thirty minutes after you take the supplements.  There were two different days that I took my lunch packet, and then something prevented me from eating lunch when I planned.  By the time I could get food in me, I was so nauseous it was very nearly unbearable.  I did not enjoy that feeling AT ALL, and I didn’t make the mistake again.

So let’s get to the part you guys are wondering about-the results.  Overall, I lost 6.5 pounds and 5.5 inches.  I have to admit that I was a little disappointed at first.  It seemed like the pounds were melting away during the Cleanse Phase, and then it all but stalled during the Max Phase.  However, 6.5 pounds and 5.5 inches is nothing to look down on.  Results are results!

Overall, I’d say the challenge was successful.  Obviously, I saw results, and I’m convinced that some of the supplements along with the fiber drink helped to get my digestion back on track during the Cleanse Phase.

However, I do have a few hesitations about the program.  Along with the supplements, Advocare puts a major emphasis on clean eating during the 24 days.  No salt, no sugar, no processed foods or chemicals.  I can totally get on board with that, and appreciate the focus on whole, real foods.  Here’s my problem.  It seems a little disingenuous to me to emphasize clean eating, and, yet, require you drink Spark, a product which contains sucralose.  That particular irregularity didn’t sit well with me.

Additionally, I am absolutely convinced that the supplements taken in the Cleanse Phase definitely aided in weight loss and regulated digestion.  However, I’m not convinced the Max Phase supplements did much (at least for me!).  I’m inclined to think that simple clean eating would have achieved the same thing.  Here’s an example:  John followed the clean eating regulations during the entire 24 days without taking the supplements, and he lost a total of 14 pounds and 8.5 inches!

Despite a few misgivings, I’m really glad that I gave this a try if for no other reason than it taught me a lot about my eating habits.  I just thought that I ate clean before!  When I really had to pay strict attention, I was astounded by how many staples in my life had excess chemicals and sugar and just processed junk!

Going forward, I plan on tweaking some of those habits to cut out as much of that junk as possible 80% of the time.  Let’s be real-I need ice cream in my life!  Also, I think I’m going to order more of the Fiber Drink (all natural flavors), and incorporate that into my routine two or three mornings a week.

Would I recommend this program?  Yes, with disclaimers.  I think it can teach you a lot, and be a positive jump-start towards a healthier lifestyle.  However, I would encourage everyone to do some research on your own before making any type of supplement (Advocare or not) a part of your daily routine.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special shout-out to Katie to thank her for all her help.  When I was first intrigued by Advocare, I reached out to her and she very graciously offered to send me the Cleanse Phase box.  During the entire challenge, she was on hand to answer any of my questions, and I so appreciated her help!

Now, since this post is completely devoid of pictures, enjoy this one of my beautiful baby sister.

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Today is her birthday!  Here’s one more just to embarrass her.

IMG_0383Ok, everyone, have a marvelous Monday!

Do you take regular supplements?  Any you would recommend?

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