Riding the Struggle Bus

As you may (or may not) remember, I signed up to do the Detroit half marathon this year. It happened in a brief moment of impulsiveness when my judgement was clouded by post-race endorphins… but even then there was a small voice niggling at the back of my brain saying something about that maybe not being such a great idea. Don’t get me wrong, with three half marathons under my belt I’m starting to grow fond of the 13.1 distance and I’ve really enjoyed preparing for these races the past couple of years. But this fall is looking like it’s going to be a crazy one. My class schedule is less than ideal, my oldest is a senior in high school which means college stuff, and it’s cross country season. Did I mention my insane class schedule?

half marathon meme

It sounded like a good idea at the time.

There is not much time in my fall for training for a big race and that was before I got the middle school cross country coaching position at my kids’ school.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited about coaching. As my eleven year old pointed out, I get paid (a very little bit) to share my love of running with others. And so far it’s been a fun experience. It does cut into my own personal running time. In fact, I did not even log fifty miles in July. WTF?!?!

Part of that can be blamed on the whole dental school application/completing shadowing hours thing too (yeah, I’m totally milking that for all it’s worth) but no matter what you blame it on, here I am barely a month and a half pre-race and I haven’t run more than six miles in…months? So much for just maintaining my level of conditioning from the last half marathon. It was a nice idea while it lasted.

Really my mileage for August doesn’t look too bad, I’ll probably hit 75 and a lot of those came from doing two runs on the same day. One at practice with the kids (usually at a pace slower than my not-all-that-fast norm) and one a few hours later when I’d pound out a quick three miler in the dark just so I can say I got my miles in. So last night I decided it was time to get back on the horse and log some double digit runs.

My goal was to get up early (for me, probably late for most adults) and head to the park to run the ten mile loop. It sounded like a great plan right after cross country practice where I had run four miles in a nice, light rain and then got poured on as the team stretched and did a little core. In the morning after staying up way too late making pies and drinking beer while watching Orphan Black (my new tv obsession), ten miles did not have the same appeal. I procrastinated and whined a little before changing my plans and mapping out a ten miler around town.

Around 11am I finally headed out to run. It was terrible.

I hadn’t realized how muggy it was. My first mile was decent but then I started to feel tired, my legs felt heavy and my lungs incompetent. I slogged on but found myself really wanting to walk around the two mile mark. You know it’s going to be a bad long run when you are tempted to walk before even finishing three miles. I tried to motivate myself by thinking of all the crap  motivational things I say to the middle school runners to keep them running when they want to walk. I reminded myself that if eleven to thirteen year-olds can push themselves to run so can I. It wasn’t really working though.

Clearly this run was just going to suck. Some do.

After seven miles I decided to throw in the towel and call the game  run. It was time to head home. All total today’s long run was nine miles. Nine long, arduous miles of self-inflicted torture. And a very good reminder that it’s time to get my shit together and plan some long run times. One ride on the struggle bus was enough for me, I do not want to spend thirteen miles running in front of other people if it feels like that!

So, the new goal is to figure out when and what my training schedule is going to be so as to not embarrass myself in Detroit in October. Also, I wouldn’t mind another half marathon PR…if it’s not too much to ask for.

wtf meme.jpg

I ask myself this ALL the time!

 

The emails are coming

I’m a little less than half way through my much needed break from school. I’ve barely had a chance to enjoy it yet. After finals there was a work filled weekend and then a summer cold took me down!! It’s like my body knew I was on break and everything relaxed including my immune system. summer-vacation-chart-sick

I’ve basically recovered now and just getting ready to enjoy my time when the emails started flowing in. First from my psychiatric clinical instructor, then the nursing school itself and then my med/surg instructor. They all listed things due at random times during break! Ugh! No!

Work-vacation-bad-time

There’s paperwork for next semester’s hospitals, computerized evaluation tests to retake (yes! retake!), and textbooks to order. Don’t they all know, I’M ON VACATION. Is nothing sacred?

Even with things due I’m significantly less busy than normal. I’m trying to take this opportunity to finally finish my guest room. I  started it back in September 2015 before I started nursing school and it has been is disrepair since then. I’ve been too busy to have guests….ok, actually, I’ve just made my only guest stay in the basement. Hopefully after this week it will be complete.

Image result for home renovation meme long duration

On that note, I need to go do some sanding!

Eyes on the Prize: A 10k Recap and Some Other Stuff

This weekend was my small mid-Michigan town’s annual Melon Fest. Really the only part of Melon Fest I take part in is the Melon Run. It’s been my favorite 10k race because it’s close to home (I literally jog to the start line) and it’s an evening run so no 6am wake ups on a weekend morning. I’ve even placed in this race both the years I’ve done it but this year I was going to pass on it. Right now money is tight and time running short. The melon run was going to be one of those minor casualties of the overly busy summer I’ve been having…until I saw that they were handing out growlers from a local brewery as prizes this year AND it fell on a weekend that the kids were home. That sealed the deal. Beer and running with my kids? It’s barely even a choice, I basically had to do this run.

This time I got three of my kids in on the fun. My oldest did the 10k “with” me (he was exactly fifteen minutes faster than I was), my eleven year old did the 5k, and my little guy did the mile fun run. As an added bonus a handful of the kids on my cross country team participated in the run with us since practice had been cancelled. The other coach is out of town doing an Iron Man and I was doing the Melon Run. So instead one middle school girl (who is quite an impressive little runner) ran the 10k (and won her age division) too while four of the high school runners and six middles did the 5k. Having such a large group of runners and parents made the melon run even more fun.

elijah melon run

There’s my little guy towards the end of his mile.

As far as the actual running goes, I wasn’t feeling my best on Friday. There had been a couple days during the week that contained very little sleep and, even though I was exhausted, I had not slept very well the night before. I was dragging and feeling a bit dehydrated throughout the 6.2 miles. I stopped at almost every water station and walked a little too. I was struggling to keep myself running and even the thought of winning a growler was losing it’s motivational pull. The race finishes on a gentle up hill and  I desperately wanted to walk that last quarter of a mile but there was no freakin way I was going to do that with my kids, part of my team, and other parents watching me. While my inner voice was complaining and whining, I forced myself to pick up my feet and push up that stupid hill to finish the race. It wasn’t pleasant but I’m glad I did it; I just barely made the Under an Hour mark…which to me is anything under an hour and a minute. My official time was 1:00:39. It counts.

melon run me & C

And it was good enough for second in my age division. Obviously my big guy won his and we got growlers so I was happy. Now I’ve got a complete set of first through third in my age division from this run. Of course, two are medals and one’s a growler but still, prizes all the same and who doesn’t love a prize?

Speaking of prizes, late the night before the run I got and email from the ADEA dental school application system saying my application was processed and complete. I had submitted it just ten days prior. They tell you it takes four weeks to process and I was sweating my perceived tardiness in getting the thing completed. Shortly after that email another came through, this one from the actual dental school I’m hoping to get into (and the only one I applied to), saying that they had my application. I know it’s a tiny tiny part of this whole process but hearing that the school has my application felt like big news to me. This whole dental school thing might actually be happening. Holy Shit!

The past three months I’ve been sweating and stressing over the dental school application and getting it done and submitted. Everything else took a backseat while I struggled through June and July to get all the pieces in place. My running took a hit, there were no vacations or fun beach days, no extra work shifts, it all went on hold. But now there was email confirmation that I had gotten it done. All summer it’s been eyes on the prize and here was proof that the prize is within reach. It’s a great feeling.

growler prize

 

Slow that Roll

I woke up feeling like I had something stuck in the back of my throat. I couldn’t see or feel anything with my finger so I ignored the sensation and went about my somewhat hectic day. It was my oldest son’s family birthday celebration and I had thirty to forty people, most of them small children, coming for dinner. My family is laid back and fun; hosting a birthday dinner for them isn’t as stressful as entertaining that many other people would be. Besides, I’ve totally embraced the idea of “scruffy hospitality” (I’ve been meaning to write about that). But still, it makes for a busy day. As the dinner was winding down and people were drifting off to the backyard, front porch, or living room to relax and socialize I realized my throat hurt more than it had earlier. I went to the bathroom and AHHH-ed in the mirror to see what I could see. There, way in the back on the left side, was a white mass at least a couple centimeters across. WTF?!? So of course I tried to touch it.

Whenever I see white bumps in my throat I think strep. It’s happened before, it could happen again. I’m not very good about taking care of myself and regular medical care is something I definitely slack on but strep throat motivates me to seek medical attention asap. Plus I was scheduled to volunteer at a low-income dental clinic the next day and shadow a geriatric dentist the following. Even when I ignore my own health, I try to be conscientious about protecting other’s, especially the elderly. So, after everyone left, I trucked myself off to urgent care for a throat swab. I wish they’d just start selling those rapid strep tests over the counter already. But they don’t.

Turns out it wasn’t strep at all. I had an epitonsicullar  abscess. Basically an infectious mass was sitting on my left tonsil. Not contagious, but still requiring antibiotics. After asking about my gag reflexes and some reassurance that I would not, in fact, vomit on her, the ER doctor poked the mass and then swabbed it for a culture. She lectured me on the importance of following up in the next couple of days, saying that if the abscess didn’t go down with antibiotic treatment it may have to be lanced. That sounded simultaneously cool and dreadful. Downright cool to see on someone else, maybe not so cool to actually experience. So I followed her instructions.

The abscess did respond to the antibiotics. I was dragging for a couple days but at least I could still get my shadowing and volunteering hours in that week. I was really pushing to finish the required hundred by the end of July. I did not have time to deal with an infection! After that week the shadowing hours were done. It was a giant relief but my kids’ 4-H fair was immediately following. There was a bunch of craft projects to finish, horse show stuff to gather and prep, and parenting time logistics to haggle over. We got everything done in time but jut barely. There was a Thursday to Friday to Saturday morning that was downright insane. I may have broken my previously impressive record for Least Sleep in 48 hours. But things and people got where they needed to be and we all survived fair.

fair

Since late April and the end of the winter semester, I’ve been hustling to complete all the necessary items for my dental school application. I’ve been hurrying along to check all the boxes and get the thing submitted in as little time as possible. People would ask when the application is due, my reply was “As soon as possible.” Sure the deadline isn’t technically until October (January for some schools) but early applicants get first consideration for interviews and with a couple thousand prospects vying for a couple hundred spots you need every advantage you can get.  Those applications though, there’s a lot to them. It’s tough to get a hundred shadowing hours in when you’re in school, parenting five kids and their struggles, dealing with an ongoing change of custody hearing and you still have to work…because someone has to fund this rock n’roll lifestyle!

Originally my goal was to be ready to submit that bitch by the end of June, first week of July at latest. I quickly realized that just was not realistic. My self-imposed deadline for the shadowing hours got pushed back to the end of July with hopes of application submission very early August. It was touch and go for a while there but goals were met, the application was submitted at 1am on August 7th.

All summer my mantra has been Make it to August. Just get through to August and I’d get some summer. There would be relaxing, crocheting, reading actual books, and as many beach days (preferably at a Great Lake) as I could squeeze in. Last week was the second in August. On Monday my kids (well, three of them plus one friend and one cousin) and I went to Lake Michigan. It was awesome, relaxing and enjoyable on so many levels. But we were out pretty late and the drive home included dropping the extra kids off and collecting the dog. We got home after midnight. As the only adult and the only driver on the trip I was exhausted. Three of us had to be up early in the morning for one of the many, many appointments we’ve had this summer.

made it to the beach

Made it to the beach. Yay summer!

Seven-thirty came way too soon. I dragged my sandy, dirty self out of bed for a much needed shower, woke the two boys who had appointments that day and rushed around like the insane person I sometimes am. Part of me desperately wanted to call and cancel the appointments. Traffic was going to be terrible and we were already running late. I didn’t even have time to make real coffee and where the fuck had all my little guy’s underwear disappeared to? But those aren’t viable reasons to cancel at the last minute.

Really I blame the underwear.

We left the house late. Again. I was exhausted and felt frantic and frustrated. Again. After fifteen minutes of driving slightly above the speed limit we were at a stop. And then a crawl. And then a stop. Cars as far as the eye can see. Ugh!

Maybe if I got into the right lane I could exit and take a short cut. When does that other freeway split off? I think that’s on the left. There had to be a quicker way to get there. We were twenty minutes late two weeks ago. Once is okay, twice is embarrassing. I really don’t know this area well. Is getting off the freeway actually going to save me time? Maybe Google Maps will have the answer.

I picked up my phone and hit the “recent places” tab in the maps app. My stupid fat fingers hit the wrong thing. I glance down again to find it, look up and OH SHIT! Mother Fucker!

The Ford Taurus in front of me had stopped. Instantly I know I can’t in time but I sure do try. Foot slams on the break pedal as I hear more than feel the crunch. Crap crap crap. I knew I should have cancelled these appointments.

After asking if the kids are okay and pulling well off the freeway onto the left lane shoulder, I jump out to assess the damage. Radiator fluid is flowing out of my car in large quantities. It would almost be impressive…if it wasn’t spewing forth from my car. The new one that I just financed three months ago. Fuck me! I’m not even sure who to call or what to do here, I’ve never been in an accident before let alone caused one. The guy I hit looks petty pissed as he begins making phone calls, not saying a word to me or even making eye contact. I can’t blame him, I deserve it.

In fact, I really had this whole craptastic situation coming. I could have listened at the first or any of the many smaller signs that I was just barely holding it all together and slowed down. The infection was the warning shot, I paid it no attention. Now the Universe was taking me out at the knees. It was working. Perspective was being gained. Things look very different when you’re flat on the ground looking up.

My pace of life the past couple months has not been sustainable, eventually something had to give. While I wish it wasn’t my Volvo I’m glad the only damage done was to my car (and possibly my already tenuous finances).

In two weeks things get more than a little crazy again. I’ll be starting my last semester of undergraduate classes. My class schedule is not good but my choices here were limited. My five kids will be back in school at the same time; it’s my oldest’s senior year. The fall is also cross country season. I’ve signed on to be my kids’ school’s middle school cross country coach. I’m simultaneously excited and intimidated. Part of me is wondering what I’m thinking taking that on right now…it’s a lot. My life is always a lot and I continue to add to it. I need to simplify, to slow my roll. The question is how?

great lakes

Not the same beach or even Great Lake that we went to this time…

 

Time to Prep

As I may have mentioned, during the school year I’m a kinda a wreck around the house. When something has to give it’s usually cooking and house work. Right now I’m finally ON BREAK! It’s such a relief. The summer classes have been brutal and it’s so nice to have a little summer. I want to take this time to prep for the next school year. I have hopes of holding it together this next semester…at least for the first week.

I just tried a “No Bake Energy Bites” recipe. They turned out really well and were super easy. Just peanut butter, honey, coconut, flaxseed, chia seeds and chocolate chips. If you click the link it’ll go to the recipe and some ideas for variation. I think it’s more like a cookie than an energy bite but maybe that means the boyfriend will eat them. (Don’t tell him there’s actually some healthy ingredients in there!)

20160815_230016

I also made a few freezer meals using the foil packet idea. I’m hoping they thaw and cook ok. I’ve been using Pinterest for ideas. I’d like to get some crockpot meal prepped and frozen too.

My question is how do you guys prep for extremely busy months? Any good go to recipes?

posts_250913_meme_too_much_time_on_pinterest

 

Something Resembling Cake Pops

It all started when I forgot to tell my thirteen year old daughter that she needed to grease AND flour the cake pans. She hadn’t baked with glassware before and my only square pans are glass. I didn’t think to mention it until I was trying to flip the second layer of the cake out of the pan and it stuck. Badly.

Crap! This was quickly moving beyond the point of being salvageable.

We were making the cake for my youngest’s impromptu seventh birthday party the next day while trying to clean up and set up something resembling an obstacle course in our back yard. The little guy had grand ideas for his birthday party, ideas that included Chuck E Cheese, Sky Zone, or some other overpriced mecca of childhood entertainment. My budget had other ideas. An obstacle course in the back yard was the compromise. That and a Minecraft creeper cake. That part, at least, would be simple. Except that I forgot to tell my daughter about greasing the pans when she offered to make the cake.

creeper cake 1

Our second attempt went much more smoothly.

Based on how quickly the ice cream cake disappeared at my oldest son’s birthday dinner a couple weeks earlier, I was estimating that one cake wouldn’t quite be enough anyhow. I looked at the crumbly mess of our first cake attempt trying to figure out how to make it usable when the light bulb went on: Cakepops!

Those are just chocolate covered balls of cake crumbs…right?

Well, that’s sort of right. They’re actually crumbled cake mixed with frosting, pressed into balls, frozen and then dipped into melted chocolate.

Instead of balls (insert childish snicker here), I stuck with the Minecraft theme and made cubes. Okay, cuboid type shapes. Something akin to cubes. My thought was with the chocolate coating and some green sugar sprinkles they would resemble earth blocks.

earth blaock

The problem is that dipping things in hot, liquidized chocolate makes keeping a discernible cube shape a challenge. That and it gets pretty stinkin messy. By this time it was almost three in the morning.

cake balls 4 chocolate

This requires a beer!

I think the problem arose from crumbs and cake debris contaminating the melting chocolate. After that the chocolate was less flow-able and much more difficult to dip the cake blocks in. There’s probably a tool somewhere out there to prevent this exact thing from happening. Acquiring tools takes some level of planning ahead though. That’s just not my style.

cake balls finished

After a few fully submerged blocks I gave up and started applying the chocolate to the cubes with a knife. They do still slightly resemble earth blocks from Minecraft. At least one kid recognized them so there’s that. Even though they’re somewhat…visually questionable, these things tasted SO so good! While I was making them I thought “Never again!”, while I was eating them it changed to “I should make these again. Soon!”

They were Yum-O-licious! Making next time I’ll stick to balls though. Hehe, balls!

 

As for the actual cake it was just batter died green, square pans, and brilliantly colored frosting. I truly appreciate the easy to mimic pixel world of Minecraft.

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful…Ice Cream Cake

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, 19 days according to WordPress. I really meant to post sooner. Five drafts and a half finished Word document on my computer prove it but my life has been exceptionally crazy. It happens. However, I seemed to have survived this most recent bought of My Life is Trying to Kill Me so hopefully I’ll return to more regular posting. Not that I have ever been regular or systematic about it, but at least I’ve been more frequent int the past and I do 

One small part of the recent life chaos was my oldest son’s birthday. He just turned 17. I don’t think either of us is ready for that. Since I hadn’t seen him that morning I texted my almost-man-child on his birthday. I told him I was really not ready for him to be so stinkin old. He confirmed that he isn’t either. “Great”, I replied ,”how about you be 13 and I can be 30?” His response was that he didn’t want to endure middle school again but we could go with 15 instead. Fair enough. Unfortunately we don’t get to stagnate no matter how hard we try. (Although I did stay 25 for like three years.) Sometimes I really do think he’s trying to stay in high school. He appreciates where he is right now and doesn’t want the fun to end. I get it. Being an actual adult kind of sucks sometimes. But anyhow, ice cream cake.

My son is a little different: He doesn’t like cake.  What the actual Eff, right?!?! Okay, it’s not all that unusual but I truly enjoy cake or at least good quality frosting with a small coating of cake attached. It’s one of the best parts of birthdays. My first born does not, however, share this penchant. Instead he enjoys and requests ice cream cake. I used to buy a small, ridiculously priced ice cream cake every year and then make some other cake to feed the masses. Of course, everyone wanted a piece of the tiny ice cram cake and it got stretched pretty thin. A few years back I realized that it’s super easy to make your own ice cream cake. I may have even taken some photos of the process last year with the intention of blogging about it because I wanted to enlighten anyone who may not be aware of the ease with which one can DIY ice cream cake.

finished icc

This year I loosely copied a video I saw on Facebook, mostly just for the crust though. In the past I’ve done cookie crumb crusts or baked a thin layer of brownie for the crust but this video showed ice cream sandwiches placed around a spring form pan and cookie crumbs for the bottom. It’s a simple twist that makes homemade ice cream cake just that much cooler.

Cutting and placing the ice cream sandwiches before they all melted was a bit of a challenge but other than that it’s very straightforward.

The next step is the ice cream. Softening it helps but it was so warm that I just set it out while I put the crust together.

The chocolate could have been a little more malleable but by the time I got to the cookies and cream it was nice and pour-able.  That makes it easy to get a good smooth top layer on your ice cream cake. In the video they make this fancy top layer with whipped cream, pretzels, cookies, and syrups buuuut I forgot to get whipped cream so my topping was the larger chunks of cookies that I pulled out of the crust crumbs and what little chocolate syrup my kids hadn’t used to fuel their unreasonable chocolate milk habits.

Once your ice cream cake is all assembled just throw it back in the freezer for a while. Usually a few hours does the trick but if you want to play it safe make the thing the night before.

icc cut intoI don’t think the extra topping stuff was missed, this thing disappeared very fast.. It didn’t even have time to melt. But if you do want your ice cream cake to look a little more fancy here’s the video I copied.