Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 running goal

Today, on this last day of 2009, I find it appropriate to reflect upon my 2009 goals. This entry will focus on my running goal, as I officially finished running for the year when the blizzard hit almost two weeks ago. A future entry will be dedicated to my 2009 reading goal (because, of course, I'm still reading up until the last moment of 2009!).

I vowed to run 720 miles this year, or an average of 60 miles per month. I am pleased to report that I achieved my goal and I ran 736.9 miles this year. Thank you, marathon training, for making this possible!

I ran 60 miles or more during five out of the twelve months. But those five months were intense (four were during marathon training and for some strange reason, I was very motivated to run this past July). I ran the most during May (107.4 miles) and the least during December (30 miles).

I need to set a 2010 goal, but I have no idea where to start. I don't anticipate running a marathon in 2010, although I do reserve the right to change my mind. And without a marathon as my carrot, I know that won't run as much as I should. I need a goal that is realistic, but also motivational. Ideas?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

holiday reading

Fellow Twihards (or Twilighters),

My husband says that I should be too embarrassed to admit this publicly, but you know that I rarely hold anything back on this blog, so I'll just get right to the point: I've been sucked in again, for the third time.

By my request, I now own my very own set of The Twilight Saga:

And even though I didn't finish my January book club book by Christmas Eve (as I had planned to), I picked up Twilight on Christmas Day and didn't look up until I realized that I was already on page 70. What am I doing?! I don't have time to read 2,500 pages of Stephenie Meyer AND finish my other book by January 6th (my next book club meeting). My friend Jenny suggested that I may need an intervention. I think that maybe she's right!

While I know that I will continue to reread these books, I really wish that Stephenie would just throw all of us fans a bone and write another book in the series, or at least finish Midnight Sun. I mean, really! Is that too much to ask? She's already written half of it!

And because I didn't want Brad to feel left out this Christmas, I surprised him with a Twilight-themed book that I know that he will enjoy:

Written by The Harvard Lampoon, Nightlight is described as a parody that "is great fun and will appeal to those who both love and loathe the series".

Brad keeps telling me (and others) that he can't wait for the next fad to come along to distract me from this Twilight "nonsense" (his word, not mine). I told him not to hold his breath; it could be a while.

Monday, December 28, 2009

until we meet again

That time of year has come again. Time to let go. Time to say goodbye. These 28 days have flown by, but alas, our relationship must end.

Farewell, dear tree. Until next year...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

playtime begins

Although my last day of work in 2009 was December 15th, I feel as though the real fun begins today because Brad is able to take December 23rd and 24th off and his office is then closed from Christmas until January 4th. We have five whole days together, just the two of us, before we will jump in a car and spend much of next week visiting Brad's family in Tennessee.

Five whole days of uninterrupted time together-I can't wait! These five days are a highlight of my holiday season. I take plenty of days off of work each year, but Brad rarely does, and when he is able to, it's normally because we're traveling or have some sort of obligation. Five days to hide away at home together is such a treat. May we ignore the endless chores and errands and just play!

We have tickets to see The Nutcracker tonight. And we're feeling healthy, so hopefully sickness will not preclude our annual performance outing like it did last year. Other traditions include: visiting the National Christmas Tree, attending our church's Christmas Eve service, fondue on Christmas Eve, my delicious beef tenderloin on Christmas Day, sleeping in, watching movies, frequenting coffee shops in our neighborhood, and the like.

These days will fly by. They do every year. But I know that we will enjoy them.

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 21, 2009

RIP beloved herbs

On Friday morning when I learned that we were in for a blizzard this weekend, I marched out to my still-flourishing herb garden to harvest an armful of fresh parsley and sage to keep in my refrigerator. I had hoped that the herb garden would live through Christmas to spoil me with fresh herbs from my own garden for Christmas dinner, but alas, it was not meant to be. The garden has fed us so well from mid-May through December 18, 2009, a much later date than I expected. Not bad at all.

On Saturday around lunchtime, I ventured out to the backyard to survey the damage. The city had accumulated a foot or more by that time, and the snow continued to fall throughout the rest of the day. I think that we ended up with between 18 and 20 inches of snow in the city. It really is beautiful!

I found my precious herb garden smothered by a thick, solemn, blanket of white. The basil fought hard, poking up through the snow until the bitter end.

I conducted a brief mourning ceremony for my beloved herbs to pay my respect. Rest in peace, herb garden! Only a few cold months to endure before your much-anticipated return!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

my saving grace

Last Saturday, as Brad and I embarked on what would turn into a marathon shopping day, I tucked my book into my purse, just in case. I often carry a book around with me, so my behavior was not unusual, although I didn't expect to read it because I knew that we would be busy all day.

This seemingly inconsequential act saved my attitude, my patience, and yes, my ENTIRE day.

Brad's main present request this year is a new set of golf clubs, an item that he needed to pick out himself. When we arrived at the golf store, I had no idea that he would take ninety minutes to practice swinging every single club in the store. Luckily, I had my book! I made a beeline for a plush sofa near the front of the store and lost myself in my book for over an hour. It was a win-win situation. Brad had all of the time that he needed to make a careful selection without my nagging him to hurry up because I was bored.

Next, we needed to exchange an item that we bought earlier that day. Brad volunteered to run this errand while I waited in the car. Again, my book entertained me while I waited.

Finally, we stopped at the post office at the end of the day to mail a package. Brad waited in the car while I went inside to find an atrocious line, but thankfully, I pulled out my book, and those forty-five minutes waiting in line at the post office were some of the fastest minutes of my life. I left the post office feeling calm and relaxed (unlike most other people I encountered in line).

As much as I love my iPhone, it would not have held my attention during all of the downtime last Saturday. Without my book, I would have turned into an impatient, crotchety person, tapping my foot and complaining into my cell phone.

The bottom line is this: to save your sanity this holiday season, carry a book with you at all times. You will feel more relaxed while waiting in long lines, and others will appreciate your positive attitude.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

reader stereotypes

My friend Lisa sent me this blog post that stereotypes readers by their favorite authors. I find the list hilarious! Here are a few of my favorites (make sure to check out the full list here):

J.D. Salinger
- Kids who don’t fit in (duh).

Stephanie Meyer - People who type like this: OMG. Mah fAvvv <3>

J.K. Rowling - Smart geeks.

Jeffrey Eugenides - Girls who didn’t get enough drama when they were younger.

Jonathan Safran Foer
- 30somethings who were cool when they were 20something.

Jodi Picoult - Your mom when she’s at her time of the month.

Jane Austen (or Bronte Sisters) - Girls who made out with other girls in college when they were going through a “phase”.

Nicholas Sparks - Women who are usually constipated.

Cormac McCarthy
- Men who don’t eat cream cheese.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

false alarm?

Brad and I were accepted through the lottery to run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler on April 11, 2010! Yippee!

And so were all of our friends who entered the lottery. Every single person I know who registered for the lottery was accepted. Is this some kind of a fluke? Was there really no competition at all?

Did I worry for nothing?

Oh well. Brad and I are thrilled to run this race again; it will be our fifth year in a row. I am already dreaming of April, warmer weather, and pink blossoms.

Monday, December 14, 2009

like clockwork

I have worked with the same student population for over nine years now. Even though I know my students well, why I am shocked every single time that one of them lobbies me to change his or her course grade from an A to an A+?

And yes, it happened again this year. Less than 24 hours after I submitted grades for my course, I received an email from a student seeking an early Christmas present. He fell five points short of the cutoff for an A+, but still felt that he deserved the higher grade. I explained to him that I assign grades that students earn, not necessarily the grades that they want.

This student may call me a Scrooge, but I was much more generous this year when grading the students' final papers than I ever have been. Santa already made one stop in my class. Isn't one gift enough?

Evidently not.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

more grammar girl love

I knew that I loved this girl.

Check out Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tip of the Day that arrived in my email inbox yesterday:

"Greeting Card Grammar: The Robertses, the Valezes, and the Fogartys

You're addressing envelopes or signing a card and suddenly you realize you don't know how to make a family name that ends in "s," "z," or "y" plural. How do you address a family of people with the last name "Roberts," "Valez," or "Fogarty"?

Add "es" to make names that end in "s" and "z" plural:

The Robertses invite you to dinner.

Season's greetings from the Valezes.

Add "s" to make names that end in "y" plural:

The Fogartys throw a great holiday party.

Never use an apostrophe to make a name plural! Apostrophes are for possessives."

May your holiday season be filled with joy. May you give thanks for your many blessings. And may you use correct grammar in all of your holiday correspondence!

Monday, December 7, 2009


Brad's been traveling more frequently for work this fall, and while he's never gone for long - only a night or two at a time - his absences have taught me that I am utterly incompetent with certain responsibilities that normally belong to him. The following is a list of tasks that I have either done incorrectly or forgotten to do during Brad's absences:
  • I forgot to lock the deadbolt on our front door. Not the smartest move, considering that our house was burglarized in September.
  • I forgot to set the security alarm, both when I leave and when I go to sleep at night. Again, a dumb mistake. See the first bullet point.
  • I can never set the alarm clock correctly. I always make a mistake on this one. So I now rely on my iPhone to wake me when Brad is gone.
  • I forgot to change and wash the towels on our designated towel changing/washing day. Doing so never even crossed my mind! If Brad wouldn't have returned when he did, I would probably still be using the same towel. Gross.
  • I almost killed our beloved Christmas tree because I forgot to water it. I felt absolutely mortified by my negligence on this one.
  • I can't figure out how to work the television when Brad is gone, so I don't even bother to turn it on.
  • I forgot to set out the garbage and recycling on their designated collection days. The one time I did remember to set out the bins, I forgot to pull them back up to our house that evening, so they sat on the street overnight and ended up with random trash in both of them.
  • I forgot to clean out the refrigerator the evening before trash collection.
Let me just say that I NEVER forget to do my own chores. I consider myself a fairly organized person, so I don't know why I can't get it together when Brad is gone. He needs to start leaving me a list.

Friday, December 4, 2009

'tis the season...

...of looking forward to collecting the mail each evening.

Holiday cards really add spice to a typically boring chore. Photo cards are my favorite!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

evergreen affair

Gentle Readers, thanks in advance for humoring me as I enthusiastically continue my annual tradition...

Oh Christmas tree, how grateful I am that you returned to me! Although our relationship each year is brief, you are such a passionate and faithful partner. While fleeting thoughts of you cross my mind throughout the year, you capture my heart each Thanksgiving weekend, and our fast, but furious affair commences. You will live with me for only 28 days this year before I kick you to the curb to meet a certain death. But I am confident that you will return like clockwork next year. You always come back for more. You can't help it.

Imagine my delight when surprising you this year with a new house and a larger space to showcase your sparkly self for the entire world neighborhood to see. I understand that you feel a bit more pressure; surrounded by windows on three sides and guests on the other, I've instituted a no-tolerance policy for holes or blemishes. Brad and I don't have a corner or a wall to hide your "bad side" any longer. We expect perfection from this year forward. Luckily, you are a vain conifer, and you primped all year for this moment: to shine in our fishbowl of admiration, and I must admit that you surpassed my expectations. You are dazzling and exquisite. I would kill for your perfectly proportioned figure.

Remind me next year to upgrade a few of your accessories. When you first came to live with Brad and me eight Christmases ago, you were such a tiny thing, probably only four or five feet tall. The angel that we donned upon your precious head fit you perfectly then, as did your petite skirt. But as space and desire have increased over the years, and you keep growing taller and wider, your outfit has become a little snug. Because the items have sentimental meaning to me, I squeezed you into them one last time at the risk of making you look like a floozy, especially with your short, silky red skirt. Hopefully no one will notice.

My darling tree, I do have one teeny, tiny confession to make. While you've captured my heart and will always be my first love, this year I am also smitten with another. You see, now that Brad and I have our own front door (that actually leads directly to the outdoors - a first for us!), my heart has strayed. And although I tried to fight it at first, I shamelessly succumbed to the temptation: I bought a fresh, evergreen wreath that not only smells delicious, but begs one to enter our home. This wreath is irresistible with branches poking in all directions and a rich cologne that drugs one after a single sniff. Rather than consider it your competition, think of the dasher as a prelude to your breathtaking elegance. The wreath will seduce guests, but once inside they will stop in astonishment to admire your beauty. You can use this newbie for your own advantage.

Even if you feel pangs of jealousy about the new addition on the front door, I implore you to please refrain from throwing a tantrum. You must have figured out by now that living in a fishbowl means that I can no longer secretly secure you to the wall with fishing line. If you pitch a fit and end up sprawled on the floor, we may just break up. Forever. Don't risk losing me, dear tree. I dare you to find a more loving or doting mistress.

Please forgive my infidelity. You still hold the prime spot in my house and heart. Passersby on the sidewalk will notice your soft gleaming in the windows before they spot the jovial gem on the door. The wreath may have the personality, but you have the beauty and the class. Always.