Boot Camp Day Three – A Step In The Dark

I’m on my second week of boot camp, day three.

It’s kind of been a surreal experience because it’s so early. This is what I walk up to at 5:00 a.m.

That big ball of yellow in the upper left hand corner is a big street light….casting a weird haze over the darkness of the side street by the park where we work out.

I like it because I can barely make out the faces of those working out by me, which means they can’t really see me. And that gives me a lot of comfort. Because I’m fairly certain the sight of me working out isn’t that pretty!

Going from lunges into jumping jacks then to push-ups and crunches, basketball jumps, high knees and running sprints….I’m definitely pushing myself in ways that I haven’t in years. And except for the occasional glance up to my friend, Patti, for support or to the trainer for explanation (“you want me to do WHAT?!!)  – I don’t chit chat. It’s not a social thing for me (which is weird because I make everything social).

From 5:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday I concentrate fully on getting myself back to where I know I can be.

But it’s hard. Being there means and going through the motions is making me face the fact that I have let myself get so out of shape. When we have to run laps, I have to stop and walk to catch my breath. When we do push-ups I can’t finish them all. Even when we do jumping jacks (albeit a lot of them!) I can feel the pain in the arches of my feet.

It’s going to be a long road. I have a journey to take that I know will eventually need to include more than boot camp twice a week.

But this step in the dark is a start.

The beginning of good things to come.

Have you taken a step out of your comfort zone lately? Has it been scary? How do you feel after taking the leap? 


Boot Camp Day Two

Life List #45 – Get Healthy. 

So I got up again at 4:30 a.m. again today and went to boot camp.

Day two – check. Yay.

But I’m starting to believe that the challenge in completing this month will be less about the “getting up early” and more about “the intense workout”. Maybe it’s because it’s only five hours since I finished this morning’s 50-minute exercise and I’m having trouble walking.

And standing.

And exerting any kind of energy. It hurts to type this, for pete’s sake. And I don’t remember working out my fingertips specifically.

So I’m starting to worry a little. But I’m not giving up. I even purchased a new pair of running shoes yesterday since my previous pair were about four years old and made my arches hurt. (By the way – when did running shoes get so expensive?!) Anyways I was really happy to have them this morning when I was one of the first to fall out of the plank position and had to “run” a lap as punishment. Yes – I used quotes around “run”. Because I’m not sure you could call what I did a “run”. But I made it around a full lap. And I didn’t puke.

That was “fun”.

Day two of boot camp is also day one of summer vacation, by the way. So needless to say we haven’t had a chance to fall into our summer schedule/rhythm yet.  I’ve only had to put out three fights between my almost first-grader and almost fifth-grader.

Thankfully they don’t know that I can’t chase them yet. If they find out…I’m toast. Please don’t tell them.

How’s your summer going so far?! Moving any mountains? Making any progress towards your goals?

Day-by-day, my friends. Day-by-day.

(ouch. hand cramp)


Early Morning Boot Camp

Life List #45 – Get Healthy

There’s something about 4:30 a.m. that sounds so….early. I’m not a morning person and typically wait until the last possible second to get up – so I haven’t really seen 4:30 a.m. in many years. For the doubters out there, it does exist. I got up…on purpose …at 4:30 a.m. yesterday morning.

Wait. It gets better.

To EXERCISE. (it’s been awhile).

Ed didn’t think I could do it. So much so that he’s promised me a Vespa if I attend boot camp at 5 a.m. twice a week for a month.

Here’s how it went down.

We were at a pool party a couple days ago and my friend Patti and I had gotten a good deal on a month of unlimited boot camp attendance on Groupon. (I’m really, really out of shape and “get healthy” is on my life list. I haven’t felt good for about a year now and it’s time to do something about it. And also, I love getting a good deal on Groupon.)

So we were telling the group about our plans and Ed starting choking on his chicken.

Not because he doesn’t believe I can get in shape. I ran a marathon in 1999…it can be done! But because (and I quote) “there’s no way in hell you are going to get up that early.”

And so to sweeten the pot, one of my friends suggested I get a prize if I’m successful for a month. He said whatever I wanted. And folks, you know how bad I’ve wanted a Vespa. For like 10 years I’ve wanted a Vespa.

So I said….”how about a Vespa?”

And he said “sure, I’ll get you a Vespa.”

And I said, “you really, really don’t think I can do this, do you? (because we really, really don’t have money for a Vespa).

And he said, “no.”

And so it was done.

5 a.m. boot camp. i was there. and I sweated. and sweared.

I really want that Vespa, ya’ll.


Buddy’s Better!

Buddy with his little doggie IV

As some of you saw on facebook, my little Buddy scared us this week. He started vomiting one day then couldn’t keep food or water down and was very lethargic. Definitely not our hyper 9-month old miniature dachshund!

When he wouldn’t get out of bed the next morning I took him to the vet. He was weak and dyhadrated and they started him on IV fluids immediately. After x-rays to check for obstruction (none) and blood work that came back pretty normal, we determined that he probably had a severe infection caused by something he ate outside.

Since he likes to bite frogs and digs up just about anything he can – there’s no telling what it was. But broad spectrum antibiotics did the trick and he’s back to himself.


Buddy's X-ray, no obstruction but some possible hip problems down the road 🙁

After losing our 17-year-old mixed breed, Sadie late last year; I was scared for a bit. Buddy is part of our family and brings us so much joy and happiness. He helps us live the dream.

Resting back home. Love his tongue hanging out!!

What about you? Do you have a pet that you love? Do you consider him/her part of the family?

Back to looking after his family. Watching over Annie while she sleeps on the coach!


Living The Dream on Your Summer Vacation

My kids get out of school for summer vacation in exactly one week.

That’s seven days.

168 hours.

I always have mixed emotions about this. On one hand, I’m so ready to get a break from homework, school projects and extracurricular activities. With the break from early morning routines, carpool duty and PTO meetings comes much needed free-time.

But for a family that’s used to hitting it pretty hard…we don’t always do well with “time-off”. And I’m a work-at-home mom with a job that doesn’t stop when the school year does. So “juggling” activities for the kids with my own schedule can be challenging.

And by “juggling”, I mean:

1. holding the phone up to ear with my shoulder as I purse my lips, grit my teeth and mouth the words “Be quiet NOW!” as I try to conduct a conference call while my kids are watching Sponge Bob at level 10, fighting (because someone looked at someone else “funny”) and letting the dog loose to roam the neighborhood.

2. taking interview notes on the back of a Wal-Mart receipt with my kids running wildly with pizza in one hand and ticket and tokens flying out of the other because a source called me back while I was at Chuck E Cheese.

Plus, I always have the best intentions of doing fun things with the kids like taking them on a leisurely nature hike or a picnic…but I often forget about them or put them off for “tomorrow”.

Then before we know it we’re shopping for school supplies already.

But I’m more optimistic this year because I heard about the The Happy Family Movement and their Summer Bucket List Challenge, a “free , fun for all ages challenge based on a simple premise: time spent together as a family is time well spent.”


It’s like my life list only condensed into a three-month period of time and geared specifically towards spending time together as a family during the summer.

I’m super excited and signed up today. I heard that when you sign up, they’ll give you some resources to help you have fun together as a family including a guide with sample activities.

I can’t wait to get mine! In the mean-time, I’m going to plan a family meeting so we can brainstorm some ideas of our own and put them up in a visible place in the house so we can check them off as we go! (And I’ll be sure to share some of them here with you!)

How are you going to “live the dream” this summer with your kids?


Quick Change Artist

Life at this moment in pictures.

Swim team and Cub Scouts and Baseball. Oh. My.

There’s only 12 more days until school let’s out but as I look around my kitchen table you’d never know life is about to “slow down.”

For every activity, there’s a uniform.

And my kids are ready to roll in a moment’s notice. Because of mom, a semi-reliable washing machine and kitchen table chairs to keep things separate and organized.

What about you? Are you ready to dress the part for whatever life throws you today?


What’s for Dinner, HEB?

Things have gotten seriously out of control around here vis a vis meal times. It’s been a “I’m blessed and have a had a lot of freelance work come my way” kinda week. Which usually comes along with the game “Let’s get creative with what food we already have in the house.”

My family does NOT like this game.

In their defense, there’s not a lot you can do with a bottle of ketchup, a bottle of syrup and a jar of mayo.

So I may have cried just a little (in joy) when I got my HEB package today…filled with some of their newest Primo Picks (unique, one-of-a-kind finds that they offer their customers).

As I unpacked each item and gently put it aside, Ed asked me, tentatively (because I’ve been a little jumpy lately….too much caffeine, not enough sleep), what was wrong.

“Nothing is wrong, Ed. Everything is very, very right! Look at this stuff!”

And he said…”Let me get this straight – you are crying…over pasta?

“It’s not pasta, it’s nourishment!” I yelled.

And it isn’t just pasta. It’s the makings of an Italian dinner fit for a King – and every item is extremely affordable. It’s why I love shopping at HEB.

Then Ed saw the Sweet Potato Chips, grabbed them quickly and did some kind of a combo walk/run movement to his home office.

Is HEB psychic? Wine for $2.98 a bottle that is called Cul-De-Sac? It’s like they KNOW me. I love to save money AND have been known to drink wine in a cul-de-sac!

(Ed pointed out to me and I think it’s worth mentioning – you don’t actually have to drink something in the place the beverage is named after…which I knew – of course, but for me it was kind of a cool coincindence.)

“Ed,” I screamed from my “office” downstairs at the kitchen table to his “office” upstairs in the spare room. “This wine is really GOOD!”

“Jennifer, it’s 9:00 A.M. What the hell?!”

“I’m doing RESEARCH, Ed.”

“Fine, just leave the truffle research to me, then.”

We can’t wait to cook dinner together so that our kids can benefit from the research, too. But we kinda already agree that HEB rocks.

Disclaimer: I was given several items to try out from HEB but was not compensated in any other way nor was I asked to write a post. I feel it safe to say that HEB encourages drinking responsibly. And also – it’s 5:00 p.m. somewhere, Ed.




There’s 30 More Days of the School Year Left

When the alarm buzzed this morning the first thing that came to my mind was “Thank God it’s Chicken Nugget Day.”

Well that and “I’m going to kill that damn dove.”

Admittedly, I’m not at my best this time of the year.

I’ve never been a morning person and it’s always been a struggle to rally the troops for school in the early A.M. But with just a few weeks until summer, I’ve lost my steam. And so have the kids.

Friends say – pack their lunches and get their clothes ready the night before….but there doesn’t seem to be any time then either. After scout meetings, end-of-year gatherings, soccer and swim team practices and  baseball double-headers that get us home after 10:00 p.m. – we all kinda just drop where we stop when we get home.

Then we wipe the drool from our faces the next morning and go at it again. It’s the same drill every spring. And it ain’t pretty.

And this year Annie doesn’t seem to own a pair of pants, skirt or shorts that are “comfortable” – making it difficult to get her up to the public school dress code that is quite clear about it’s requirements for garments worn below the waist.

But today is Chicken nugget day at school so I don’t have to worry about packing lunches with food I didn’t have time to get at the grocery store the day before. That’s a good thing and I’m hanging on to it like a lifeline.

But then there’s that damn dove.

You all know how I hate doves. They infest my neighborhood every year by the millions, make poo that gets all over my vehicles and coo…




Which can be torture for a writer with writer’s block.

This particular dove has found his home right outside my bedroom window and has made it his rooster-like mission in life to get me out of bed each morning. (More about that later.)

As a work-at-home mom summer is different then the school year (for the better) because I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and get two kids out the door. Of course, once we all do get up and there’s work to be done, it’s a little hard to have kids complaining of boredom…but that’s another story.

So right now I’m chanting, (along with my kids), summer….summer….summer.

And looking forward to pizza day on Friday.



The Graduate

A friend of mine has a 5th grader who is getting ready to graduate next month from elementary school and posted on facebook a question to friends….

What do I get her?

I love Karen’s daughter because she is so like me, covering all her bases and planting the seed early enough by telling her mom recently…”I can’t wait to find out what I’m going to get for graduation!” In other words, start shopping mom because it’s gift giving time!

Seriously – we could be related.

Karen’s dilemma is that some of her daughter’s friends are getting iPads and some are getting flowers (and probably everything in between). So what does she do?

I feel her pain. I have a daughter “graduating” from kindergarten this year. I’m serious – they took cap and gown pictures today at school. Which is weird because she JUST “graduated” from pre-school last year (yup, cap and gown pictures then too). Now I’m all for a celebration. And if you know me…I’m BIG into presents. But what’s too much? When do we celebrate so much that the celebration begins to lose the meaning and we begin handing over expensive gifts because we’ve simply ended a school year?

When I was young I got a $40 suitcase and a set of bath towels for HIGH SCHOOL graduation. Of course, times were simpler then. And it was before the invention of personal computers and cell phones…so things were cheaper then, too.

But unlike kindergarten graduation (I’m sorry Annie Bananie – but no big gift this year!) I do think leaving elementary school is a big deal, a milestone that deserves to be recognized. I do remember one of the most special things I got when I was young was a piece of jewelry from my mom. It wasn’t too expensive, just something meaningful. She gave me a gold initial ring once and on another occasion, gave me a gold ring with my birthstone. I love the rings at James Avery and I think those dangle rings that were popular when I was in high school are back in style. What about one with a class of ’12 charm?

But the most significant thing that’s about to happen to my friend, (I’m sorry but it’s going to get emotional here), is that she’s going to start to see her daughter less once she gets into middle school. Friends, more classes, after-school activities….life’s going to change for them for sure (I’m getting misty eyed just typing this because I have a son who will be in fifth grade next year.)

A great present for her would be something they could do together during the summer that is special. What is that for them? I don’t know. A fancy dinner and going to see a play? A day of pampering at the spa? A week of camping in the mountains? Maybe it’s even simpler than that. Maybe it’s a once a week date to go to the bookstore together or a nightly walk.

But I’ve heard it a million times from parents who have kids older then mine – once middle school starts, high school is just around the corner – and then in a blink of an eye – BA-BAM….college. Life start to move REAL fast. So my advice, Karen…slow it down for awhile this summer. What ever gift you decide to give her in May, don’t forget to give EACH OTHER the gift of your time.





Mindy Gledhill. Love.

I saw Mindy perform Anchor in person last week in Utah at Spark. Amazing. You are going to want her new Christmas album just to get your hands (ears) on her single Winter Moon. I’m not kidding.