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Monday, December 30, 2013

Thirty-One Giveaway

Hey everyone! Happy Monday!

This is going to be a fun and sad week all in one for me.  I'm super excited for New Year's.  We have a yearly tradition of going to a friend's house.  They have an awesome party with great beer and delicious food.  It's always a really good time.  On the downside, George starts his new job in Peoria on the 2nd.


When Stephanie from Thirty one contacted me to host a Thirty-One giveaway, I honestly didn't know much about it.  I knew that they sold purses and bags, but there is so much more.  Accessories for your dog, stationery, baskets, and more.

One of my New Year's Resolutions (besides drinking more water) is to start taking my own bags into the store.  I want to be less wasteful!  So anyways, Stephanie sent me the "Medium Utility Tote" that would be perfect for groceries!

I used it a ton during Christmas by loading it up with presents, and having something to carry all of the ones George and I got, home.  It ended up working perfectly.

Here is the bag in the print "Snow Much Fun"
 The handles and sides are super sturdy, and it keeps its shape really well.  I also like that you can fold it flat for storage.  I may just have become a Thirty-One Believer. :)

Here are a few of the other items on my wish list:

Can you tell I'm ready for Spring?
So head on over to Stephanie's Thirty-One page HERE and check out some of these fun, new products.  I also found out that you can host a party ONLINE.  You don't have to clean your house and your friends can shop in their PJ's.  If you host, you also get a ton of goodies for an unbeatable price.  If you're interested, email Stephanie at {stefwathey(at)yahoo(dot)com}.

Enter below to get yourself a $25 gift card!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hello New Followers!

Hey all!... and a special hello to those of you who are newly following me.  Since I've recently gained a ton of new readers, I thought I'd kind of recap what I've been writing about on the blog.


Maybe some of you have already read the "About Me" tab here, but if not, here is a general overview of who I am.


I am a 24 year old ER nurse, wife and pit bull mom.  More on what it is like to be an ER nurse here.



I got married in August of 2012, so I guess you could say I'm a newlywed?  More about our wedding here.


This year, I developed a passion for running.  I did the "couch to marathon plan" (does that even exist?) in 11 months.  You can read more about my coughing and snotty marathon here.

George and I announced that we will be moving to Peoria.  We started construction of our brand new house in September.  So far, I've had a blast choosing the details of our new place.  More about our new house here.


I also used to be a pretty serious ballet dancer.  It was truly a passion and was almost a career.  I wrote my ballet story in three parts.  Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Chili Recipe Ingredients
While I'm not that fantastic of a cook, I have found and concocted some pretty awesome crock pot recipes if I do say so myself. Check out my FAVORITE "Crock Pot Fajitas" here and "The Best Chili... Ever" here.


Lastly, every month Kylie from Lipgloss and Lunges and I do a "Favorite Things" post for the month.  Check out what was on my list for December here.


If you are a blogger, we would LOVE for you to link up with us this month.  We will be posting the linkup on January 3rd, and it will be open all week.


That's all I have for now.  If you are new, welcome!  I hope you enjoy reading some of my ramblings.  If you aren't new, thank you so much!  Part of the fun of blogging is sharing ideas and stories.  Knowing that someone is actually reading and maybe even enjoying what you write makes it even better.  If you're a reader, new or old, I'd love for you to say hi!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Hey all,

So like most bloggers, I've been a little MIA these past few days.  I will post again on the 26th, but for now, I'm enjoying some time with my family.  Actually, that's half a lie, while George and I have been enjoying time with family, we've been constantly on the go. <I'm sure you have been too!

I've put off every Christmas errand until after my marathon (decorating included), so I've been a busy  girl.  Between spending our days in the car, I've been frantically combing the mall for last minute deals.  So between now and Christmas, I'll be shopping, wrapping, eating peanut butter fudge, working, and driving, all while trying to enjoy the last few days of the Christmas season.

So until after Christmas, I'll leave you with this picture of my stud-puppy husband and his tired wife.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Marathon Race Recap: Throwing Myself A Pity Party

Hey all!

Can you believe Christmas is less than a week away?  I'm kind of freaking because I'm so behind on Christmas shopping.  Next year I WILL do better. (I said that last year).

Anyways...

On to my race recap. This is going to be painfully long FYI.

Wednesday:

I woke up, got my hair done, and ran some errands.  When I got home from running errands at around 4:00, I started feeling really tired and had a sore throat.  I feel asleep on the couch until around 7:30.  I woke up with a full blown sore throat, fatigue, and congestion.  Great!

Thursday:

Woke up with the same sore throat, and started to feel more and more like death.  We left for Alabama that afternoon, and I had a minor breakdown in the car.  I had been working towards this marathon for so long, and now I'm sick?  I was incredibly disappointed. This is where I started popping cold medicine.

In the car, on the way to AL

Friday:

Woke up with very little appetite, still taking Sudafed, Mucinex, Aleve, Doxycyline, Phenylephrine (worthless), and Tylenol.  I was trying to regain the ability to breathe through my nose.  I went down to the expo to pick up my packet and went straight back to my room.  Just going downstairs and walking around for 30 minutes made me want to take a nap, so I did.  After that, I got up, took a shower (which was exhausting) and went down to the pre race spaghetti dinner.


I was sitting there and thinking of how I could figure out another marathon. It was so close to Christmas, and I wouldn't be able to travel somewhere to do another one.  If I bailed on this one, it would be at least another month before I could do another one.  All the time and money spent traveling to Alabama would be wasted.

Bart speaking at the dinner.
At the dinner, Bart Yasso was speaking.  He is an AWESOME speaker.  He told stories of previous races and profiled other runners he thought to be inspiring.  So many of these people had physical disabilities and illnesses that they would overcome to run.  It made me feel like a giant weenie for not running when all I had were flu-like symptoms.  I decided I'd give it a try, and I popped some more meds.


I wrote all of the water stops and porta potty stops on my arm.  I also wrote some encouraging words. :)

I was praying that all of that rain would pass.

Saturday:

Sadly, this is probably the worst I felt.  I completely threw out my time goal and made it my goal just to finish.  This is really disappointing, but I knew that it was one of two options.  I could not run and always wonder if I could have, or I could run and just try my best.

I got to the start line feeling really tired and run down.  I just wanted to crawl back into my bed with a mound of Kleenex and cough drops.

George took this pretty pathetic picture of me.
I did take a smiling picture at the start, though. Joanie and my aunt were feeling great!
It was raining lightly but didn't really bother me because I was wearing a jacket and hat.  I started out with my 4:55 pace group.  This was a pretty conservative goal for me, and I knew that I could stay with them the entire time.  Well, since I got sick, I knew that this wasn't realistic anymore.  I had George pour my Gatorade that morning because lifting the giant jug was exhausting.  I was pathetic.

The gun went off, and I knew I was in trouble.  The first 5 miles or so were pretty rough.  I was feeling exhausted already and was secretly planning in my head when I was going to quit.  Joanie and I were running together, and she was helping to keep me motivated.  I felt bad that I wasn't much of a talker.  My chest was so congested, it was hard to catch my breath.


Around mile 8 or so, the pace group started to get more and more ahead of me.  I was trying to take my first applesauce packet, but I was feeling really queasy.  I took a tiny bit and told myself that I would go for it at the next water stop.

I was careful to take in a lot of Gatorade during the water stops because I knew that I was super dehydrated from all of the cold meds.  Around mile 9 or 10, Joanie had to stop and use the restroom.  I told her that we would catch up to each other eventually, and I would slow my roll.

Starting to feel like I was going to quit.
In the next few miles, I started looking behind me to see if she was coming up.  I saw her (I thought) and kept running.  When a figure in black tights and a purple tank ran up beside me, I screamed, "JOANIE!!!!"  It wasn't Joanie, and I definitely scared the crap out of the poor girl who came up beside me.   Oops...

At this point, George was driving the course, parking, running to where I was and cheering me on.  He was AMAZING.  He kept telling me that I looked good, I was doing fine, and offered me extra snacks.

The gloves that you see in every picture in my hands served as kleenex.  I was blowing my nose every 2-3 minutes, making my nose and upper lip really raw.  I'm SO GLAD I had those gloves.

At mile 15, I told myself that I HAD to try to get some food into my system.  I wasn't hungry, more like nauseous, but I couldn't survive this whole thing on a packet of applesauce.  I took a bite of my protein bar, and immediately puked on the side of the road.  It was disgusting, and I didn't even think of trying to take another bite.  I then designated one glove for my nose and one glove for wiping my mouth after I barfed. I started to cry for a second but realized that it was even harder to breathe while crying, so I quit.

The miles between 15 and 20 are a total blur.  At this point, I was taking walking breaks, and I was really upset.  I think at one point I was even cussing really loudly.  It was way too late to quit now, so I was just trying to finish.

I saw George around this time, and he warned me that a race photographer was up ahead, and that I should smile.  I tried my best to look like I wasn't dying. I remember smiling and feeling like my upper lip was cracking from it being so chapped.


Between 20 and 23 are pretty much non existent in my memory.  I feel like I may have started to get a little confused at this point.  I remember thinking that I was on mile 21 during miles 20, 21, 22, and 23.  When I realized that I only had a 5k left, I became a little more relaxed.

I knew that I was far from being kicked off the course, so I just kept going.  I was running as much as I could, which was very slowly.

With two miles left, I put in my headphones and listened to some music.  I picked up my pace from a slow crawl to just a regular crawl.  I saw a big giant H and got really excited that it was the Holiday Inn, which meant finish line!

Wrong!  It was some hospital.  So, I kept going... praying for it to be over.  I finally saw the finish line and ran as hard as I could.  


I crossed the finish line, and immediately started vomiting.  Not just a little "spit up," but any and all of the fluids that I had had sloshing around in my stomach...like projectile vomiting.  The poor volunteer went to give me my space blanket as I'm yacking into the grass.  I would tell him sorry, and that I was ready for it, and then he would start to give it to me, and I'd turn around and keep vomiting.  This probably happened 6-7? times.

He asked me if I needed medical, and I said, "No, I'm fine." <big mistake  I went to find George, and he had thankfully missed my barf-tastic finish.  I remember seeing him and starting to sob.  I was sobbing because I was upset with my time (5:22), I was sobbing because I had wanted to cry the entire time I was running, and I was also sobbing because my body and electrolytes were so f*cked up.

I felt like SERIOUS crap for the next 6-7 hours.

Immediately after finishing, G helped me change into dry clothes and put me to bed.
If there's one thing I regret about this race, it's not getting some IV fluids when I finished.  For the following hours, I had trouble keeping down clear fluids, super nauseous, dizzy, shaking, my hands swelled and my rings became really tight and uncomfortable.  It was not good.  Eventually, later that night, I was able to hold down some Sprite and eat some mashed potatoes, but until then I was pretty miserable.

The one thing that I CAN say about this race is that I honestly tried my hardest.  At the end of every race, I always think, "I could have run that part harder" or "I should have started out 10 sec/mile faster."  This race was honestly the best I could do considering the circumstances.

I really can't wait to do another one and be healthy.  I know that if I can do it sick, I certainly can do it healthy and meet my goal.  But, for now, I'm going to take it easy and get back running when I feel like it.  

All in all, I'm very pleased with how my running has gone so far.  In January of this year, George and I were in Hawaii.  I tried to run with him, and I couldn't even run a mile without stopping and gasping for air.  I was so sick of it, and I decided to make myself into a runner.  While the couch to marathon in one year may not sound like the best idea, I've certainly had fun... and to me, that's what it's all about.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Trader Joe's Favorites

Today, I'm going to share some of my Trader Joe's "must haves."  There are many reasons why I love with TJ's:
1.) It is actually cheaper than a normal grocery store most times, especially with produce.  
2.) They try to keep it simple and try to cut down the number of ingredients in their foods when they can.  
3.) Relaxing classical music is played throughout the store, free samples are served every day, and they hide a stuffed lemur (Lucy).  When kids find the lemur, they get a prize.  I know I'm not the only adult that gets excited when I find Lucy.

Sadly, Peoria does not have a TJ's, so I'm going to have to majorly stock up on Indianapolis visits.  

Here are just a few of my favorites:


Fresh Flowers: 

They're cheap and live a long time.  Having fresh flowers in the house always puts me in a good mood.

This __ Walks Into a Bar:

These are not only delicious cereal bars, but they come out with yummy seasonal flavors like pumpkin and cranberry.  G & I always go through them really quickly.

Pumpkin Waffles:

There is a really great pumpkin-y taste to them but not overwhelming.  I popped one of these in the toaster and put some TJ's chunky applesauce (another favorite) on it.  So. Freaking. Good.

Crushed Garlic:

My all-time favorite time saver.  George and I are total garlic fiends, but I dread mincing garlic.  Whenever a recipe calls for garlic, I use this ultra potent crushed garlic instead.  It has conversions for cloves to teaspoons.  Go get you some of this!

Cilantro Salad Dressing:

This dressing is suitable for a ranch addict that is trying to cut down on the calories.  It has such a nice, strong cilantro flavor.  I eat it on kale salad and turkey wrapped in a chia seed tortilla (another favorite).

Crunchy Cookie Butter:

Like peanut butter, but cookie.  You MUST try this.  It will change your life.  I eat it on apples.  They used to limit each customer to two jars because of its cult following.

Reduced Guilt Mac & Cheese:

It is nice to have this in the freezer as a backup for when you just want to eat something bad.  It comes in a single serve portion, so you can't eat too much.  It's also "reduced guilt," so you want feel like a blubbery monster after pigging out on this cheesy goodness.





What are your Trader Joe's favorites?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Who wants $200?

Well hey there!  I'm alive!  I made it and finished the marathon!

I'm too pooped to write a full race recap (and trust me, there's LOTS to recap), so expect one later in the week.

In the mean time, go ahead and enter to win $200.  Ashton is hosting this awesome giveaway, so make sure you check out her page too.  I just won $50 in a giveaway, so I'm passing my good luck on to you all. :)





Emily from Beauty and the Greek
Ash from A Step in The Right Direction
Elise from 9toFit


Jess from Living on Sweet Tea
Valerie from Fabulous Chick Gets Fit
Amy from Living N Learning


Nina from The Nina Show
Aubrey from ALG Uninterrupted 


Alicia from Brew Mama
Jess from The Girl Who Thought Too Much


*Giveaway will run start at 12am on Dec 16th until 11:59pm on Dec 20th.
*Winner will be chosen through Rafflecopter once the giveaway is over. 
*The winner will receive the $200 via PayPal as a gift from Ashton. 

Good luck!




Friday, December 13, 2013

My Ballet Story: Part 3

WOW....

Ok, so I did not plan on making this a three parter, but here is the third and final portion.

If you're not up to speed with what's going on, here are Part 1 and Part 2.

I'm on the right
I left off on part two getting ready for rehearsal after school when I got a phone call that would change my life forever.  The phone call went something like this.

"Hello?"-Me
"Yes, Emily, I was calling you to tell you that rehearsal is cancelled today.... and tomorrow... Ballet Internationale is closing it's doors as of today."- Board member of the company
"What?"-Me
"BI has closed."- Board member

It was UN-REAL.  But, this is where I was supposed to end up...I was going to be a professional dancer in this company.  I had planned this since I was like, six years old.  I was in a state of crisis.  BI had relied heavily on donations from corporate sponsors.  It was about the time before everything in the financial markets took a turn for the worse.  Huge corporations could no longer donate huge sums of money to the arts.

The next few months were a scramble.  I was trying desperately to audition for professional companies to maybe have a crack at getting a contract.  I had just turned 17.  I went to several auditions and just prayed that maybe out of the 1,000 dancers they saw that year, they would pick me.

My audition headshot.  I still had braces, but was trying to make myself look old enough to hire.
Somehow, I ended up getting an trainee contract with Cincinnati ballet.  I was shocked and thrilled and terrified.  I remember thinking, wait a second... this is actually happening.  I'm going to move to Cincinnati, and live by myself, and homeschool myself through my senior year?  I don't want to do this.  I don't want to be a dancer.  I'll never forget speaking to the artistic director on the phone and turning down her offer.  Thankfully, she was incredibly kind.

I still took some ballet themed senior pictures.
I was 17 years old.  I had never been to a school dance or a high school football game.  I had never had a real boyfriend or had any time to truly devote to school.  I wanted to spend my senior year being a kid, for once.  So, I quit.  I took open classes when I wanted and paid as I went, and slowly, those became more and more few and far between.  I got my first job working as a hostess at a steak house with all of my friends.  I was trying to soak up all of the high school experiences in just 10 months.

Catalog modeling right after I had quit ballet.
I remember thinking that I looked fat because I hadn't been dancing 8 hours a day. (HA!)
One night, while driving home from a party, I was telling my friend Sarah that I had no clue what I was going to do.  I had all of my eggs in the dancing basket, and that had been thrown out the window.  She told me (not suggested, TOLD) that I should go to Purdue and be a nurse with her.  We could room together, and it would be perfect.

So, I made my decision in about ten seconds.  I thought to myself, "I like health class in high school, being a nurse sounds great.  Ok, Purdue it is!"  It was the one school I applied to, and somehow, I got into their nursing program in one try.  (I have no idea how I have this kind of luck).

Add college and a few years after, and this is where I am today.



Ballet was such a huge part of my life and made me who I am.  It is a cut throat world (believe me, there's a lot I didn't get into), but I loved the beauty of it all. Everyone always asks me, "Do you miss it?"  I miss many parts of it, but I guess the answer is no.  I love to think back to all that I've done, but I wouldn't change where I am right now in my life for anything.

I think it's funny that I share these posts on the week before my marathon.  It just goes to show that you never know where you'll end up. Ballet taught me so much about hard work and pushing myself. I'm hoping that I can pull from some of the perseverance and grit that I used so often in ballet to get me through this.

Wish me luck!  I'll be posting updates on Instagram (here) throughout the weekend.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Ballet Story: Part 2

Ok, so on Monday, I wrote about my ballet life from age 4 to about 11.  From 12 to 17 is where it gets a bit more interesting.

If you missed Monday's post, you can read it here.

So anyways, at age 12, I was chosen to be Clara in the Nutcracker.  This was SUCH a big deal.  There were actually three of us chosen to do the role.  After all, we did shows in Iowa, Detroit, and Indianapolis that year.  Each cast would rotate, but when you weren't dancing "Clara," you were most likely performing another role.  Mostly, there were two shows a day. So not only was I keeping a full class load at school, I was adding even more rehearsals on top of ballet classes six days a week.  I kept this up (being Clara among other roles) for three years.

Nutcracker season was hell and the most fun I've ever had all wrapped into one.  I LOVED Nutcracker season.  The rehearsals, the music, the costumes, and now, I had the lead role.  It is extremely rare for a child to have a lead role in a professional production, but Nutcracker is an exception.


The best part about Nutcracker was theater week.  During theater week (the week before the show opens) you have technical rehearsals and dress rehearsals on the stage in the theater.  It meant that you were so close to being able to perform on stage.  When we were younger, we would play hide and seek in the unused area of the giant, old theater.  There were times that they would keep us in rehearsals until 11:00 or later on a school night.  I didn't care that I went to school dog tired and had to work on my homework backstage.  I was having the most fun of my entire life.  I was doing what I loved.  My parents were incredibly flexible during this time and did everything in their power to make sure that I was happy and succeeding in ballet AND school.


School got tricky around this point.  All of the girls in my class were homeschooled except me and one other girl.  They had more relaxed schedules to make dancing in the professional productions a little more bearable.  When I reached high school, I was able to make a deal with the administrators to let me leave two hours early every day.  I had taken enough high school classes in middle school, that I would be able to graduate on time, with academic honors with just enough credits.

Soon, my ballet days were starting at 2:30 and ending closer to 9:30.  During my freshman year, I was able to travel to Taiwan, among other cities, to tour with the company.  They needed extra dancers for one of their ballets, and a small group of us were chosen to go with them.  Touring was a definite perk of putting in all of the long hours.  I was able to see parts of the world and country that I may have never seen otherwise.


Around this time, my friend and I were asked to start training for a competition.  It is called the Youth America Grand Prix competition.  It is a competition for dancers 18 and under, and participates come from all over the world.  There was recently a documentary made about YAGP called "First Position." Watching this trailer is SUCH a good way to sum up the stress that we went through.


I HATED competing.  You worked for months, nearly a year, on about 10 minutes worth of choreography- two classical variations and on contemporary.  If you were having an off day when competing, then that was it.  Your whole year of work was down the drain. 

I used to get so stressed out and nervous.  I would come home and cry because I was freaking out under all of the pressure.  I would wake up, tired, go to school, get home, and change into my ballet stuff as quickly as possible before heading out the door to ballet.  I would go to rehearsals, class, pointe class, then other required dance classes (like modern), then rehearse one on one with a coach.  Between all of these, I would try to get homework done.  After that, my parents would pick me up, and I would eat my dinner in the car on the way home.  I think it was at this point where I started to stop enjoying ballet as much as I had.

But back to the competition...

If you make it past your preliminary competition (they host competitions from Russia, to Chicago, to Hong Kong), you were on to the finals in NYC.  Every participant in the finals was good.  There were a 100 other girls who looked just like you, but were faster, stronger, skinnier, prettier, and all wanted to win.  The Japanese were probably the most focused.  These people were life or death serious. 

I remember not even wanting to dance at some points.  There were classes that participants could take with the judges watching, and I always dreaded them.  You had to dance the hardest that you could, alongside some of the best dancers in the world, just trying to sell yourself and get noticed for a scholarship.  It was too much.

Me during my classical variation at YAGP
Right around this time, during Nutcracker season, I received a phone call that would change my life.  I was 16 years old, and I had just gotten home from school and was doing my daily, get-ready-as-fast-as-you-can before I left for ballet.  

I think that this is probably a good stopping point.  It looks like I'm going to have to turn this into a three parter. Part three on Friday. :)

*Also, I'm leaving for Alabama tomorrow to run the Rocket City Marathon.  I'll be posting updates on Instagram here. Getting excited!