Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Love Triangles of Friendship

This past weekend a very scrumptious and wonderful thing happened to me: two of my best girlfriends (Amanda & Stephanie) came to be with me. Amanda is getting married in just 1.5 months and so we were celebrating.

I needed to be with them. They took turns holding my baby; we ate good food; I went on a run with Stephanie; Amanda brought me presents; they helped me finish an art project in my baby's room. One night we stayed up late, dreaming and planning and creating, then woke up early the next morning only to pick up right where we'd left off.

We have a unique friendship. I've known each of them for 4+ years. But only over the past 1+ years did they complete the triangle and become close with each other. I can say with confidence that we all (by God's grace!) genuinely want what is best for the other two. We trust each other and always believe the best about each other. It's because of this that we can talk behind each others' backs without gossiping and confront each other out of love when appropriate. I love love triangles. Of friendship. I believe that they have the potential to be some of the healthiest kind of friendships. "A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

I'm even so blessed as to have one other love triangle of friendship in my life.

Have you ever experienced friendship like this? Did it work better or worse than a one-on-one friendship?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How to Be a Runner. For the run of it: Vol 2. Start now.

If you aren't a runner but want to be one: Start now. Stop reading this blogpost, lace up your shoes, and go for a jog. Just move those legs, even if you only jog very slowly for 3 minutes. Then come back, read the rest of the post and post a comment that says you did it so that we can all celebrate with you. Maybe I'll even give something away to everyone who does it.

I'm serious. Go. Now. Get out of here. The sun is shining nicely where I am. I'll pray it warms up wherever you are.

If you already are a runner and want parallel advice about how to stay motivated (as promised in For the run of it: Vol 1), it kind of boils down to making it a priority. The idea of priority rings especially loud and clear to me now that I'm a mom. And a four-month-old nursing mom at that; sorry if that's TMI for any male readers out there. Keep in mind that, pending serious bodily injury or 143 feet of snowfall, it could always be more difficult than it is right now for you to run.

So, in a word: prioritize. Every so often, and especially when my stage of life changes, I take care to re-evaluate my priorities and then plan my weekly schedule and day-to-day activities around them. Not the other way around, which so easily happens.

In this busy world, how do you prioritize the things that are most important to you?

Post Script (If you're not already tired of reading.)
In road-races I ran B.H. (before Howard), I would regularly get beat by moms. (I knew they were moms because they were often organized in teams wearing snazzy pink t-shirts that read things like "Moms on the Move" or "If you're reading the back of my shirt, you're getting beat by a woman who has pushed a baby out of her vagina. Beat that." OK. I've never seen that last one; I made it up.) When these amazing gals were kicking my bootie, I would always think, "How are these moms so hard-core?" And now I know. It takes a lot of planning and prioritizing even to get out the door with my running shoes and a not-too-spitty-uppy shirt on...let alone run. By the time I'm out there, no matter what the weather's like or how tired I feel or how much my stomach's growling I'm running.

Monday, March 22, 2010

How to Be a Runner. For the run of it: Vol 1. "I wish I could be a runner."

I hated running. I played track in high school but only socially, and would frequently find reasons to walk most of our longest jaunts. The burning lungs, the shortness of breath, the sore and tired muscles. What is there to like? Some people make it look so glamorous, but it feels as far from glamorous as can be.

But now... I guess I'm a runner. Aristotle said, "You are what you continually do." Other than a 2-month break four months ago when I was very pregnant with my first child, I think I've run 2-3 times per week for the past seven years. I can't believe I'm saying this, but the 1/2 marathon has become one of my favorite things.

Lately, running has seen a drastic spike in popularity. More often than not, whenever I self-disclose as a runner, people say, "I wish I could be a runner." And I always say, "You can! I believe in you!" And they say, "But it's SO hard!" I agree. It is hard. But you can do it.

As a former hater and a converted lover, I thought I'd start a blog mini-series with some ideas I have about how to be a runner if you aren't and how to stay motivated if you are. If you care, stay tuned. If you don't ever aspire to be a runner, know that there are tons of more important things to be and that I believe you still have significant things to contribute to our planet. Plenty of my nearest and dearest are non-runners.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Howard's Pennant Garland

Pennant garlands are so in right now! I see them everywhere I turn in blog-land. Howie has been relentlessly begging me for one - a monogrammed one, no less - to hang on his bedroom door. So, for his 4-month birthday, I made him one. And had so much fun; this is definitely the stuff of relaxation to me! Here are some pictures that document my process, in case you feel so compelled to join the trend.

I reinforced the monogram with cardboard via ModPodge, then attached it to the ribbon with safety pins.
I used whatever fabric I could find around the house for the pennants: leftover upholstery fabric from recovering the glider chair in his room, extra trimmings from the curtains in my living room, and scraps from an old chenille bedspread my mom gave me. I attached each of the pennants to the ribbon differently: some sewn on with embroidery thread and an over-under stitch, some threaded directly onto the ribbon because they were cut from old fabric that already had a hem, some paper-clipped on with multicolored paperclips, and some fastened with masking tape.
So, there you have it. Happy 4 months Howie! Sometimes I still look at you and wonder where you came from and how you got in my house!
I think I was going for: classic, fun, vintage-modern, and whimsical. How'd I do?
Did anyone out there have one of these growing up? I haven't seen any retro pics of any pennant garlands, but would love to if they're out there.
Oh, and pretty please post your pics if you make one, too!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Walt Whitman and Thoughts about Nature

Howard was an unusually happy baby for me today - delightfully long enough for me to read some of The Treasury of Religious Verse, compiled by D.T. Kauffman. Taking care of a 4-month-old is physically taxing and causes mental bankruptcy. I try desperately to reverse the deterioration by reading things that challenge me at a variety of levels. This was my favorite thing I read today.

"I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars,
And the pismire[1] is equally perfect, and a grain of sand,
and the egg of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d'oeuvre[2] for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels."

from Walt Whitman's[3] SONG OF MYSELF

My notes:
[1] an ant
[2] a masterpiece
[3] I couldn't help but refresh my brain about Whitman by looking him up on Wikipedia: Deeply influenced by deism, Whitman embraced all religions equally; he accepted all churches and believed in none. Though apparently I disagree with his theology, I was fascinated by how much I agreed with his thoughts in these verses.

What about you? Any thoughts about Whitman's perspective on nature?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Spring [Closet] Cleaning

My closet is one of my favorite rooms in our house. I love it for one main reason: it's huge. I can see all of my clothes in one passing glance and so I wear more of them more often.

A huge closet is just one of the wonderful home additions that resulted from the efforts of my valiant, handyman husband Jason who nearly single-handedly finished our unfinished basement over the past year; there remain only a few last trimmings left to complete. Our last closet my clothes (I blame them entirely) swiftly overtook. His clothes made a courageous effort to hold their tiny turf, but mine stood firm on the ground they had taken and advanced with stalwart fervor. Now we have ample room for both.

But lately I've noticed a fascinating phenomenon: everything inflates to fill its space. Food in a fridge; office supplies in a desk drawer; spending in one's income; and now...clothes in my closet. It's hard for me to decide to dismiss an article of clothing. Maybe I'm good at seeing potential. Or maybe it's because every style that goes around comes around again. Or maybe it's my StrengthsFinder Input Theme.

Have you noticed this phenomenon in your life? And how do you decide when a clothing item is ready to visit the Thrift Store?

Some of my favorite bloggers at Young House Love are thinking about the same things.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

An Easy and Healthy On-the-Go Snack

Coconut Cashew Granola Bars: One of my go-to favorite snacks to keep around the house to grab on-the-go. I found it in a Runners World mag several years ago and tore the page out.

1 cup shredded coconut
2 cups raw oats
1/2 cup raisins (or other dried fruit - I've tried both blueberries and cherries!)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, shelled
1 cup raw cashews
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mold into 18 bars and place on a baking sheet. Bars will not increase in size, so they can be placed close together. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes.

What's your favorite healthy on-the-go snack? Did you try mine; what did you think?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A New Beginning

I love fresh, new beginnings. The flawless and untainted canvas of a new beginning excites the perfectionist in me. I love them so much that I'm slow as molasses to make my first mark on them. Untouched snow looks so much better to me than a snowman and snow-angel. I want to know ahead of time each stroke I'll paint, each letter I'll type. I want everything to be just right.

That's how I have felt for the past few weeks about this blog. What will it be about? How will it help people? Who will even follow it or care about anything I write? What do I really have to offer anyone?

But now it's time to make the first mark. I just need to be OK with the evolution of it. And know that almost no one will even read this first post.

So hello, world! Here's to new beginnings on a nondescript day, at a nondescript time, in my nondescript living room, doing one of my particularly favorite things: listening to my husband Jason play guitar and watching my 4-month-old Howard watch him, intrigued.