Thursday, March 31, 2011

Master the Met Photo Comparison...

...the professional photos came out last week from Master the Met. The photographer sits at the top step and takes a picture of you finishing. Let's compare, shall we?

This was me finishing in 2010 at age 26. Pasty and looking like I'm about to hurl:

This was me finishing Master the Met 2011 at age 28 totally cheesing it up for the camera looking like I could go another flight or two (seriously-no more than that!):
Now can you tell by the pictures that I just felt physically better? I guess working out does pay off sometimes. :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Hunger Games Book Review...

...I just finished reading "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. I started it on my day off of work last Friday. It's been sitting on my nightstand for almost a year, I knew what it was about but had no interest in reading it. Knowing I needed to start going through that pile of books, I decided I'd try to get through the book just reading a chapter or two a day. Yeah, I started the book around 2pm last Friday night and by 11pm (with breaks for dinner and chatting with Mattie), I was on chapter 17!!! I finished the book on Saturday within 24 hours. Definitely a page turner!
Here is a summary of the book from always trusty Wikipedia:

"The Hunger Games is a young-adult science fiction novel written by Suzanne Collins. It is the first book of the Hunger Games trilogy. It introduces sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem where North America once stood. This is where a powerful government working in a central city called the Capitol holds power. In the book, the Hunger Games are an annual televised event where the Capitol chooses one boy and one girl from each district to fight to the death. The Hunger Games exist to demonstrate not even children are beyond the reach of the Capitol's power."

Expanding a bit on that, Panem is made up of 12 districts. One boy and one girl between 12-18 years old is randomly selected to fight in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a fight to the death with only one child winning. The winning district gets showered with gifts and food throughout the year. In the first chapter, they hold the reaping where the names are drawn and Katniss' sister Prim was chosen for District 12. The boy from Kat's district, Peeta, is someone she's familiar with but doesn't really have a relationship with...yet.

Kat is very much a tomboy and part of the Hunger Games is winning sponsors and playing to the viewers (think Olympics). Peeta decides to declare his love for Kat to try to win her sponsors and make her more likeable. Most of the book Kat is trying to fight her feelings for Peeta, assuming he's just playing up the "love" part for the games but its obvious, he really feels that way. The whole time I wanted her to love him but at the same time, I understand why she was hesitant. Also, I wasn't really shocked by the twist they tried to throw in at the very end of the Games.

The setting is...weird. It's set in a futuristic time but some parts like the districts seem totally old school. It's also weird that these people are dying and killing each other but it's so lax, sometimes laughing. Loved, loved, LOVED this book but hated the last 2 pages-boo! It's a triology and my friend has the second book so I'll have to wait until I got to KC in June to get it. I hope I can wait that long. You can read her review here. If you're read this book, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

OXXO (Not the Store)...

...let me tell you a story, something that my momma and I do that always brings a smile to my face because it's just between us. When I was in 5th grade, my parents got divorced. My mom moved to Mexico to teach school there. During my first visit there, I was soaking it all in and learning the environment around me. Then I saw this store:

(Photo from here)
OXXO is a very popular grocery station on almost every corner in Monterrey (where my mom lived). I pointed to the sign and said, "Look Mom! Hug, kiss, kiss, hug!" meaning that it reminded me of XOXO. And after that, it was our thing. On every letter (this was pre-email era), every birthday card, everything was ended with OXXO (and not the store). Don't believe me? I'll show you.
My t-shirt quilt made by my momma:
Our wedding plate:
If you're ever in Mexico and see an OXXO, think of me and my momma. Matt thinks we're bananas but it always makes the two of us smile.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Snowy 5K...

...yesterday was the annual 5k at work. It was also Jen and Angie's first ever 5k. All Saturday afternoon it snowed....and snowed...and snowed but Jen, Angie, Maggie and I were all hardcore and showed up despite the snow.

The race started and Jen and I stayed together and Maggie and Angie stayed together. The first .25-.5 mile part was icy because it was underneath trees and the sun hadn't gotten to it yet. Other than that, the course wasn't too bad. Oh and it was totally flat which is always a bonus!

Jen and I did a good job alternating between walking and running. Her goal was to finish in under 45 minutes. We crossed at 46.08, which in my opinion, is pretty great because that's still under 15 minute miles. So she's right on course for the Hospital Hill Half.

After we finished, I jogged back to find Maggie and Angie. They were almost finished and we all walked in together. I am so proud of these ladies! They weren't scared off by the snow and totally rocked their first 5k!

A (dark) picture of the four of us and the snowy background:

Awesome job ladies!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Half Training Week 2...

...update on Week 2 of Half Marathon Training:

Friday, March 18-I finished my workout from last Wednesday that I cut out early on. I'm so glad I did because I had some good eats at my MIL's that night and needed all the extra calories I had earned.

Saturday, March 19-Plan called for 2 miles. I ran 1 mile to meet my ride to Master the Met ride, went and climbed 40 flights of stairs, then I ran a mile home. DONE!

Sunday, March 20-Plan called for a 5 mile run. Mattie joined me!!! Well, kind of...I started out 5 minutes before him and he didn't catch up with me until 33 minutes in! We ran for a bit then he kept going. Total run was 4.8 miles in 1:04 which put me at a 13 minute pace. Slower than what I wanted but it was a hilly course and I DID climb 40 flights of stairs the day before. After the run, we took the dogs to the park for a fast 45 minute walk. Dude, I slept good that night!

Monday, March 21-Plan called for 4 miles. It kicked my butt but I did all 4.

Tuesday, March 22-Today was supposed to be a cross train day. However, nature took its course and it ended up being a semi-rest day. Ran 1 mile to meet my bestie for dinner at El Mag, mainly to burn calories so I could enjoy the chips and salsa!

Wednesday, March 23-Plan called for a hill workout. I jogged for 15 minutes then I ran at incline 2 for 1 minute then incline 1 for 1 minute. I did this for 8 minutes then jogged it out for 15 minutes increasing my speed.

Thursday, March 24-Plan called for 4 miles. It seemed pretty easy. Jen met me around mile 2 so that last 2 miles went by very fast, which is always nice.

And that my friends is the conclusion of week 2 of half training! Six weeks until Indy Mini Marathon and 10 weeks until Hospital Hill.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What I Eat...

...I posted the other day about where I am so I figured I'd post about what I'm eating. Originally, I was going to do the Slimfast diet but a shake for breakfast and a shake for lunch...well, this lady needed some substance so I mixed it up some.

I know, I know...some people think Slimfast isn't healthy but it actually has a really good idea behind it. I took the general idea of Slimfast 3-2-1, three snacks a day, 2 shakes a day and 1 sensible dinner and modified it. Here's my general Monday-Friday food and times:

8:30am-oatmeal for breakfast (160 calories)
10:30am-piece of fruit, typically either an apple, banana or orange (about 100 calories)
11-noon-Slimfast Shake (190 calories)
1:30ish-Unsweetened applesauce (50 calories)

According to MyFitnessPal, I'm supposed to eat 1510 calories a day. So after my breakfast, lunch and snacks, I still have about 1,000 calories for dinner. No, I'm not hungry because I try to space it out and I drink LOTS of water throughout the day. Depending on my workout, sometimes I am pretty hungry when I get home around 4ish but I try to stay busy around the house doing chores or taking the dogs for a walk so that I don't snack before dinner or making sweet signs for my fellow runners for the GO! Half-marathon. ;) Our dinners are anywhere between 500-700 calories and typically consist of a protein and a veggie. Then I usually have a 100-200 calorie snack after dinner i.e. Slimfast bar, one serving of Girl Scout cookies, Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich. If I'm not hungry though then I don't have a snack.

Since I'm only on week 2 of half marathon training, I'm still adjusting some because I'm burning a ton of calories and my 50 calorie applesauce isn't really cutting it after my runs. I do plan on purchasing some Luna bars in bulk for me to eat for breakfast on the weekends before my runs. Easy, filling and I can eat it as I'm out the door! I had one before my half last year and before Master the Met and I did great at both.

I tend to not eat as....I don't want to say well, but not as steady on the weekends or days that I'm off. I don't do shakes on the weekends and breakfast really depends on what time I wake up-I forgot how well and much I sleep when I workout hard!

I also give myself a "no-count" day. This is typically on days that I eat out. I still don't eat crazy, I try to order something somewhat "healthy." Most places I order soup and salad, or lately giant salads because I've given up potatoes for Lent and a lot of places just have potato soup or potato based soups.

I really don't feel like I've deprived myself of anything I REALLY want. I love Mexican food and we've had taco salad for dinner a few nights-I just count out an exact serving of everything and add it all up. If I want a sweet/dessert, I factor it into my calories for the day. I try to plan what I'm going to eat for the next day, the night before. So far it seems to be working out for me. I just have to remember when I burn 1,000+ calories running that I can't go have an Elvis Pretzely...however, one from time to time is okay!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Fountain & a Tweet-Up!!!

...this past Sunday, we had our second STL Ladies Tweet Up at my most favorite place in STL: The Fountain on Locust:
Typically I ordered the Mixed Salad on a toasted bagette with homemade potato chips BUT since I gave up potatoes for Lent, I just got a good 'ole St. Louis Salad. But for dessert, I had the World's Smallest Ice Cream Sundae with After Dinner Mint. Want to see how small it is? Here it is compared to a salt shaker:
And here it is compared to Cece's regular sundae:
The Fountain was voted Best Bathroom in America. None of us were impressed because it was teeny tiny but I still snapped a pic:And the beautiful ladies that attended, left to right: Cece, me, Jenn, Megan and Angie.
We missed all you ladies who couldn't make it so hopefully we'll see you next month!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Where I Am...

...I wanted to write this post for me. For the last year, I've been pretty down about myself...looks, weight, infertility. In my mind, I was a fat, ugly girl who couldn't do ANYTHING RIGHT. Lately, I've noticed some changes in me and I wanted to call them out.

I've lost weight. I don't know how much. I had a rough idea when I started but I don't weigh every week, I weigh when I want to. I'm not obsessing about stepping on the scale. I have noticed that quite a few of my pants are baggy and that makes me FEEL GREAT! I still have a VERY long ways to go but I can tell I've made progress and I'm happy with that.

I'm watching what I put in my mouth and counting every calorie. I'm just hoping this doesn't becoming an obsession but instead a tool for a healthier life style. I've also noticed that my face has cleared up probably because I'm not drinking as much soda or eating as much sugary crap. I am VERY happy with that.

This might be TMI, so stop reading this paragraph if you don't want to read about being nude. I've noticed lately that I'm okay with being naked. Now don't think I go standing around naked in front of the mirror-ew! But I used to take a shower, get out, do a quick towel dry and put on my pjs. Now, I'm not so quick to do that and if my pants are drying in dryer downstairs, I'll walk down there pantless to get them (whereas before I'd have on my pj bottoms). This is major headway for me.

I actually don't mind getting my picture taken, case and point:

LOL-I'm such a nerd! For the past year, I can probably count how many pictures where taken of me on my two hands. I've even tagged myself in a few photos on Facebook! I really love taking pictures, I feel like it's making memories so its nice to have some memories made of myself too. Now don't go take my picture every 5 minutes though!

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not 100% happy with where I am and I'm not done getting to where I want to be. Hopefully this is just a starting point of a healthy lifestyle that will STICK. While I've lost weight and feel good about it, I know my BMI is still high and I would like for it to be in a healthier range for personal and health reasons. I haven't gone shopping so the whole feeling cute thing, well, it's eh-I make due but I feel better about myself because my face is clearer and my hips are thinner.

So anyways, that's where I am now but hopefully I'll be going somewhere even better. Beating my time from the Met and feeling better physically after it was a GREAT confidence booster to keep on doing what I'm doing.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Master the Met 2011...

Master the Met Year 2-I survived!!! Master the Met is a 42 flight stairclimb inside the Metropolitian Building in downtown St. Louis. All funds raised for this event go to the American Lung Association. You can read about last year's event here.

My half training called for an easy 2 miles today so I debated whether to run this before or after the climb. I was wanting to beat last year's time so I didn't want to run BEFORE and be all tired but I knew after climbing 42 flights of stairs, I doubted I'd want to go run another two miles. I decided to split the difference: I ran 1.31 miles to meet my ride, climbed the stairs then ran back home. I was THRILLED with my pace for the run there-faster than normal. (OH! Sidenote: I got a wristwatch with a timer for my birthday on Friday so I can actually time my runs now!!!) So half training for Saturday-DONE!

We got to the Metropolitian Building and found everyone on our team. I decided to meander over to the registration table to chat with the awesome race director, Jamie (she seriously rocks!). Long story short, due to communication errors, we would only be climbing 40 flights! We went back and reported the news to our team and everyone was relieved. Me? Well, me being the crazy let's inflict as much pain on this oversized body of mine was honestly bummed! Last year, I did all these races to push myself and see if I could do it. This year, I was on a mission to beat my time from last year.

If you'd run the stairs before, then you got a "Met Vet" sticker to put on your bib. I put one on Terrance's oxygen tank (he was the only one on our team that competed in the firefighter with full gear AND oxygen!). Here's me showing off my guns picking up his tank for him, "GRRR!!! Being strong is hard work!!!"

And here's our Met Vet pic, left to right: Terrance, me, Holly, Stacey and April. Last year's team we only had 11, 8 "regular" people and 3 firefighters. Due to jobs, schedules and moves, we lost a few teammates .

BUT!!! We gained a lot more teammates this year and all of our old teammates supported us too. This year we had 15 on our team and everyone REALLY rocked it, I was SOOO proud of everyone. Okay, back to the story at hand. We took a bunch of team pictures, stood in line forever then FINALLY it was time to line up and I started getting nervous. I don't know why, it's not like I was in it to "beat" anyone other than myself. I messed with my MP3 player finding the perfect "pump me up" song. Finally I got to the front of the line and I jogged down the hallway to "the stairs." I started at a quick speed but still walk heading up them, ignoring all the volunteers cheering and just focusing on the floor in front of me. Around floor 3, I realized I was WAY too fast and said to myself, "Now Alyssa, you did this last year and screwed yourself." So I slowed down, after all slow and steady wins the race!

At "Floor 7" I finally decided to finally look to see what floor I was on: P7. Sweet! I'm booking it, I glance up at the next flight, Floor 7. LAME! P7 was the parking level 7!!! Floor 9, I got some water but then I held it for like 3 flights and didn't drink any. So I passed the second water station but I could've gone for some on the last floor but the volunteers weren't handing them out, they were telling you to go in the hallway....umm, no thanks-I'm on a mission here!

Somewhere before the halfway point, two of my teammates and I were all together. I looked up and saw a lady climbing the 40 flights of stairs in HEELS!!! I hit Maggie on the arm because I couldn't talk so I just pointed. That was BANANAS!!! Here's the lady after the race and this is EXACTLY the same shoes she climbed in-no joke!
No idea what floor but towards the end, there was some barfaroni I had to dodge-ew, ew, ew! I finally reached the top and my teammates were all there cheering me on!!! I got a bottle of water and waited for the rest of the team to cheer them on too. Terrance, who did the firefighter portion about 20 minutes before us in all his gear even waited at the top for all of us too! I definitely felt like this year was MUCH easier than last year but no way was it EASY at all.

Once everyone finished, we headed back downstairs to the after party. Hello beer and bananas!!! We *patiently* waited for the results. When they came out, I was pretty stoked: 40 flights of stairs in 11 minutes and 22 seconds. Last year, my times was 13 minutes and 36 seconds for 42 flights of stairs. 2010 average: 19.4 seconds/flight 2011 average: 17.05 seconds/flight I WIN!!! I BEAT MY TIME FROM LAST YEAR!!! Not to mention, I also just FELT better physically, too so that's a bonus.
What's up!?! We MASTERED THE MET!!!
OH! And our team, Stairway to Heaving, was the 4th highest fundraising team with $5,178.25. There were over 140+ teams. They also take the 3 fastest team members and add up their time to see which team is the fastest. Our team was 37th out of 140+. Way to go Stairway to Heaving!!!
Then we drove back across the bridge to head home and I ran my mile back to my house, coughing the whole way home but I'm happy to say, I Mastered the Met, I beat my time from last year AND I completed my half training for the day.
OH! I keep finishing this post and then coming back to it. Want to know something very weird? Last year when I did the Met, I was 26. This year when I did it, I was 28. Last year it was before my birthday, this year it was after my birthday, so I never got to climb the Met at 27. Weird, huh?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Half Training Week 1... finishes up (kinda) week 1 of Half Marathon Training! I've decided since I don't get many hits on Fridays on my blog, I will use it for the next 12 weeks to be my recap of my training. Of course, my training ACTUALLY goes from Monday-Sunday so it might seem a little weird but oh well!

Monday, March 14-Plan called for a 4 mile run. I rocked it! I really did!!! I walked 1 minute then ran until minute 39 where I realized I was running WAY too fast so I walked for a minute then finished out running. My time was 46:02 which I was VERY pleased about. I popped my knee (old high school injury) last week and its been nagging a bit but running on it was fine so I just iced it and rested on Monday night.

Tuesday, March 15-Today was a cross train day. I used it to swim my weekly mile although I'm questioning the pool's calculations of a mile and am afraid it might not be that far. They're looking into it. I wasn't able to time myself on this one because the clock I was using was apparently broken OR I swam a mile in 0 minutes and 0 seconds.

Wednesday, March 16-I was introduced to speed training. In all of my half and full training, I have never done hill or speed training but this program includes it. I'm pretty excited about that because it's not just "go run X number of miles." I had to jog for 15 minutes (I did this at 5.0 mph), then run a mile at push it speed, 8 out of 10 intensity (I did it at 5.4). I was a sweaty, hot mess after that and TIRED. So then I just walked it out to 30 minutes for a total of 2.5 miles. I was supposed to repeat a mile as fast as I could then jog another 15 minutes but I was exhausted.

Thursday, March 17-Today was another cross-train day. Jen met me at the gym and we did 30 minutes of elliptical and some circuit training. I would have to say this was our best workout to date. It was awesome and once again, I was sweating. Yes, I judge my workouts by how much I sweat.

Friday, March 18-This was supposed to be a rest day. I felt bad for not finishing my speed workout on Wednesday so I plan on jogging 15 minutes, sprinting a mile and then walking it out to 30 minutes.

And tomorrow is Master the Met, a 42 flight stairclimb then I have to come home and run 2 miles!!! Wish me luck.

And to end this post, a fun video from Brooks Running. I loved it and the music kind of reminded me of Juno!

Happy Friday ya'll!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Cherish You...

...last week at conference, the keynote speaker was Jeff Havens. He uses comedy and tells you how to do everything WRONG and sums up his speech by saying, don't listen to me. One part of his speech really caught my attention. Hopefully I can convey the same message to you, here goes a try...

Do you remember the first time you told your spouse that you loved them? You agonized over it for days, weeks, months! Too afraid to say it to him/her for fear of rejection. Then you finally just blurted it out at probably, the weirdest, most awkward moment because you just couldn't keep it in any more.

Over the next few months, you would giggle and smile any time either of you said, "I love you." You were in LOVE! It was fabulous, it was great, it was fantastic and no way in the world was that feeling ever going to go away when you heard those words.

Then you got married, you fell into a routine, I love you turned to love ya. To get off the phone, "love ya," to leave the house "love ya," at the request of a chore "love ya." Suddenly the phrase "I love you" which gave you that deep, warm fuzzy feeling had turned into a way to end a conversation, to start off someone's day or to request a favor. "I love you" no longer had the same meaning.

His advice was to mix it up. To look into your lover's eyes and say from the bottom of your heart, "I cherish you" or "I adore you." Get rid of that meaningless "love ya" and let your spouse know how much you truly care and LOVE them.

That night was Ash Wednesday. I got to church late and snuck in a pew beside my Mattie. I watched him and rubbed his back as he leaned over to pray then I whispered in his ear, "I cherish you." And know what? That warm, fuzzy feeling came over me.

So to my Pretty, my words may not always show it but I cherish and adore you more than words can express.
Tonight at dinner or after you tuck the kids in, tell your special person how much you adore them.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Arch...

...remember last week I said I was at conference downtown all week? Well, during one of our breaks, my co-workers and I took a walk to the St. Louis Arch. It's really a fascinating place and amazing to look at it. I love heading downtown and seeing the Arch, it just gives me this warm, fuzzy feeling like I'm so close to American history.

I had Matt (from work) and Paula make a human arch. It was too cold and wet to lay down on the ground but that would have been a really cool picture.
This picture is taken from right underneath the Arch looking straight up.
Another fun view of the Arch:
This picture is zoomed in. These are the windows at the top of the Arch. I was sure to wave in case anyone was looking down at me. So wave to the people inside the Arch everyone!
So there you have it, just some pictures of my part of the US. The St. Louis Arch! Fun stuff. OH random fact: My husband has lived less than an hour from the Arch his ENTIRE life and he's NEVER been inside. I've offered many times but he says that it's "his" thing and he refuses. I don't blame him though, the older you are, the scarier the carts are that you ride in to go to the top.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Highway 61 Roadhouse & Kitchen...

...After all the morning activities, Mattie and I headed to Highway 61 Roadhouse & Kitchen. Their menu was HUGE and they had LOTS of non-potato options. To get there though was like a wild goose chase. My directions were from Interstate 70 but Matt wanted to take Hwy 40. It was quite the adventure and then when we were almost there, the directions said "Take a slight right." but Matt thought it was a regular right when we go there and we missed it. LOL-surprised we didn't kill each other but we did realize we could never go on Amazing Race together. We FINALLY found it and it wasn't busy at all but then again it was like 3 in the afternoon.

I have to be honest, I wasn't in love with this place. I'm not a huge Cajun fan. I knew it was Cajun but sometimes things like that don't click. Matt thought it was great. We both agreed we'd go back again if we were in the area but we wouldn't make a special trip to go back.

I apologize for no pictures of food. Matt thinks its weird to take pictures of that so I'm not allowed to take them. :( Anyways, we started off with Gator Toes (which were really just chicken) and we got the honey bourbon sauce. Um...yeah, the sauce was just liquid and tasted like bourbon-GROSS!!! I asked for BBQ and it was a little too spicky for my liking, so I had my Gator Toes plain.

They have "B-Side" on their menus which are HUGE portions of sides. I ordered 2 B-sides: BBQ spagetti and Mac-n-Cheese. The BBQ spaghetti, not that great. Way too much of that spicy BBQ sauce. In the back of my mind, I had a feeling I wouldn't like this but I also had my mind set on ordering it. Oh well...I can say I've tried it. The Mac-n-Cheese was pretty fab with the bread crumbs on top, a bit burnt in spots but I was licking the bottom of the bowl.

Now for my husband...he ordered the 24 ounce porksteak and B-Sides of Mac-n-Cheese and mashed taters. The mashed taters were a HUGE serving and looked so good but I didn't have any although I REALLY wanted some. Now his porksteak, this thing was HUGE and I had a few bites. It was so moist and juicy and just melted in your mouth. Definitely 4 thumbs up on that (Matt and I both!). Then Matt showed me how he'd rotate his steak if he was in a steak eating contest.

I finished this post then two hours later, I realized I forgot the dessert! How in the world could a dessert-lover like me forget that?! Matt had a slice of the Mississippi Mud Pie and it was served with mocha ice cream. The mocha is what made me not order this and I'm glad I didn't although him, as a coffee lover, loved it! I did taste the pie and it was OMG-melt in your mouth goodness. It tasted like warm brownie batter-delish! I got the Banana Muffin Bread Pudding. It was a HUGE serving that I shared with Mattie and pure deliciousness. We both LOVED the desserts.

The place was kind of bare with people but really cool decorated. We decided it would be a good place to hang out with friends. I would have expected more Cajun music instead we got Christmas music! As we were eating dinner, a song came on with no words. I looked at hubs and said, "I think this is Silent Night." He was like nah...then in the next second he laughed and agreed. Before too long, the song was cut short. Then later, right before we left, on came "Oh Christmas Tree!" It was kind of funny and odd at the same time. Here's my hubs and I both happy and stuffed after dinner.

On the way home, all these songs came on the radio that reminded me of middle school and I'm sure Mattie enjoyed my serenade of Alanis Morrisette and TLC. I got home and laid down for a nap, when I woke up I realized it was 7pm! OYE! It'll take awhile to get used to the time change.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Birthday Bike Ride... I'm 28 years old and one day. Yesterday was pretty awesome. Saturday night we went to the annual Fair Dinner Auction. We carpooled with friends and by the time we got dropped off at the car, it was after midnight. So my birthday started with a midnight serenade by friends. Then I woke up Sunday morning to breakfast in bed! After that, Mattie decided it was time for our bike ride. It was really the only thing I wanted to do all day.

We got out our bikes and had to hit up the gas station for air. We saw a college guy there hitchhiking. He asked us for a ride and said he was heading to Vail to sky with a friend. I watched him while Matt filled up the tires and he finally got a ride. It was very intriguing to me. Anyways, off topic, here's Mattie airing up the tires and yelling at me to stop taking pictures-go figure! LOL
Then we headed to Creve Coeur Lake which is 3.7 miles around the lake. I wanted to go around 2-3 times. I had on workout capris, a long sleeve shirt, a tshirt and a sweatshirt and I was so COLD!!! My legs that were showing and my hands were BRIGHT red. I was a baby and we only did one loop. Brr!!! I do want to go back though because it was a great trail.
My Mattie and I beside the lake.
After our bike ride, we headed home to get cleaned up. On the ride home, I got a little worried because my mom hadn't called me yet. She's usually ALWAYS the first person to call me. So I broke down and called her. All was well but apparently I told her last year not to call me so early! LOL
Then we went to Big River Running where I picked out my birthday gift (a water belt and I'm super excited about it). Then to dinner at Highway 61 which I'll post about tomorrow. I got so much love on my blogs and FB, it was just a pretty great day!!! So far, so good with 28!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Happy Birthday to ME!!!

...yeppers, today's my big 2-8!!! I wanted to do a post to see what the year of 27 had in store for me:

*We bought a new truck and didn't kill each other.
*I started training two days after my birthday for a half marathon.
*I lost weight...and then gained it back.
*I ran.
*I found out IVF would be the only way to have a child naturally.
*I ran.
*I ran in my first ever 10k.
*I ran.
*I played in my first ever golf tournament and didn't suck too bad.
*I ran.
*I ran in the Delta Gamma 5k for the second year and beat my previous year's time.
*I ran.
*I broke up with my girl doctor.
*I ran.
*I watched a friend's son be honored at the STL Zoo.
*I ran.
*I ran and completed my first ever Half Marathon!!!
*I expanded my friendships with my Bloggie Friends and Tweeps.
*I ran the Macklind Mile on Fourth of July with Sarah.
*We got to go on our annual float trip again!!!
*Matt volunteered and camped at the fair again and I was okay with not going EVERY night.
*I was part of a triathlon team and we did pretty awesome!
*I rode my bike more this year than the last 5 year's of my life!
*My dad and I walked his first ever 5k together.
*I got over my fear and donated blood.
*I finished a marathon!!!
*Mattie and I celebrated 2 years of marriage.
*I went to FL with some high school friends for one of their weddings.
*I went through the entire IVF process and got a BFN.
*I ran a very successful Trivia Night for the American Lung Association.

Whew-I was BUSY!!! Looking back, it seems like I spent most of my 27th year running. If you can't tell, it was also a VERY roller coaster year. Reading all of that though, I'm SO PROUD of myself. I set three major goals last year: run a half marathon, complete a marathon and go through IVF. I can say that I've successfully completed all of them! Each of my goals were mentally and physically exhausting but I marked them all off my list. Yes, we got a BFN but surviving an entire cycle of IVF is a feat in it's own.

My 27th year, I also met so many new friends and dare I say that I have a social life now! I branched out, found new friends and I love each and every one of them. I can definitely say 27 has blessed me with so many new friendships that I'm grateful for.

One thing I'm especially proud of, is that during my 27th year of life, I feel like I officially became an adult. Matt and I had so many decisions, options, choices to make this year and together we did it. We survived the biggest disappointment of our lives, something only the two of us could experience together. We made decisions about our finances, our health, and our future on our own. We consulted no one except each other. I feel like I am finally an adult now because I've done these things. I don't know if that makes sense, in my head it does but I'm not sure I'm typing it as I truly can express it.

So 27, you tried to rock me, knock me down but you didn't. I stood up for myself and I'm stronger for it. I'm working on becoming a better person. I can say I'm happy with me, maybe not every day, and I know I have a long ways to go before I'm the person I want to be but 27 definitely pushed me to get to where I want to be going.

So in conclusion, happy birthday to me!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wings in the City...

...this week I've been in downtown STL for our annual state conference. On Wednesday, we had a nice long almost three hour break between the morning and afternoon sessions. My co-workers and I took a walk around downtown (another post for next week). That morning when we arrived, we noticed these butterflies being unloaded:
I didn't think too much of it since we were close to the Sculpture Park. Then Angie found this article about Wings in the City. Local artists made these 5 feet tall fiberglass butterflies. They are all around STL. They're going to auction them off and all proceeds will go to BJC’s Pediatric Hospice and Palliative Care.
What a great program and NOW something fun to do in the city-I'll be on a hunt for all 54!!!
OH! FYI-my birthday is Sunday and I have NO idea what we're doing. I told Matt if it was remotely warm, I just wanted to go on a bike ride. So cross your fingers for warm weather!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Grocery Thursday Part IV...

...this will be the last of this part until we start a different cycle of meals. I hope I gave you guys some new ideas.

Monday-Chicken w/ Seasoned Salt & Green beans
Tuesday-Bacon & yogurt Baked potato
Wednesday-Chili with deer burger
Thursday-Turkey/Beef Burgers & Tater Tots
Friday-Pork Chops w/ bbq sauce Mashed Cauli
Saturday-Shepard's Pie
Sunday-Fish & Corn

Grocery bill this week $47.11 at Wal-Mart! I'm pretty pleased. My goal is to try to spend about $50/week on groceries. There's only two of us and that would include our breakfast, lunches and dinners so $25/person or $3.60/day...that seems reasonable, right?

Let's see, well, we didn't eat at home on Sunday because my dad and Sally took me to Blue Owl
for my birthday. Thank goodness-no more fish!!! I think I may have to eliminate that from the meal plan because I just can't seem to cook it right-AT ALL!!!

This week our schedule was all weird but we didn't eat out (except for with my dad). Instead, we made a double batch of chili so that we had it for two nights in a row since I wasn't able to cook one night. LOVED the mashed cauliflower. I followed the Kraft recipe which is just boil cauliflower, mash and add 1/4 cup ranch. They say for 1/2 cup, it's only 50 calories. I thought it was pretty good (as did Matt would gobbled it all down), perhaps a little too ranchy for me so we'll cut back on it next time.

This is the last post about my groceries and meal plans. I hope it gave you some ideas and maybe even helped your budget some!

P.S.-Three days until my birthday!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday... is Ash Wednesday, ya'll! It's a crazy busy day but I'm going to try my bestest to meet Matt and his family at church tonight at 7. Between Easter and Christmas, I really find the Easter story the most interesting and inspiring. It might be because when I was in middle school I attended a conference that walked through the last few days of Christ's life. Anyways, I think it's an inspiring time and I always enjoy church services during this time of year.

Every year, I give something up for Lent and no, I'm not Catholic. I found this website that explains why some people give up things for Lent, here's an excerpt:

Giving Something Up For Lent
In Lent, it's traditional to give up (or 'fast from') something(s) that we do a lot of and that we find pleasure in. This giving up or fasting is done:

*as a discipline for learning self-control, to free our minds from the chase after material things, to tell ourselves 'no' and make it stick;
*to identify with Christ's sufferings, and remember what the true pleasures are for followers of Christ;
*as an act of sorrow over our wrongdoings and our state of sin.

I do it for me as a challenge for God, to see that with God, I'm strong enough to do without one of my favorite things in life in addition to the reasons listed above. At church this past Sunday, the pastor made some comment along the lines of if you want to give something up and it makes you feel better then go ahead. Phew! I was a little offended but he also said that instead of GIVING something up, we should also ADD something to our lives. So here's my game plan for Lent:
*Fasting from potatoes (Thanks Mrs. D for this idea!).
*Lent has 7 Sundays, my goal is go to church 7 times. Our church adds a Wednesday service during Lent so we have 5 opportunities to make it each week.
*Compliment my husband every day for 40 days.
*Start a prayer journal.
So that may not be exactly what the pastor was talking about but I feel that by adding a compliment every day about my hubby, it'll help our communication. I love potatoes, Matt frequently tells me I can't have meat and potatoes for dinner every night so I figure that'll be a tough one for me. Attending church, we've done a pretty good job attending regularly this year but I want to keep it up and as I stated above, I love the story of Easter so what better time of year than to try to attend every week. And for the prayer journal, well, my prayer list is getting pretty long and I want to be sure to remember everyone and take note of all the answered prayers. So this is just me being totally OCD!

There you have it, my game plan for Lent. So tell me...what are you giving up or adding to your life for Lent this year?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Blue Owl...

...this past Sunday, Matt and I drove down to Kimmswick and met up with my dad, grandma, sis and H for a pre-birthday celebration. Usually we just celebrate mine, Matt's, my sis' and stepsis' birthday at Easter but since it's so late this year, we decided to meet halfway. We ended up going to The Blue Owl.

Here's the H and me:

Sunday was my no-count day for last week meaning I didn't count calories. Good thing because I think I ate ALL my calories for the week in that one setting. My plate is on the left, I had chicken-n-dumplings (they were eh, not fabulous but decent, we had them for leftovers that night and Monday night), spinach and artichoke casserole (like the dip but by the spoonful!) and delicious rolls! H's plate is on the right, she just had chicken fingers and "dinosaur eggs." What a fun name! The waitress said they were like tater tots but I had one and it was almost like it was mashed potatoes inside.

The Blue Owl is known for their bakery. I was so overwhelmed and didn't know what to order then I saw, "chocolate peanut butter pie." Oh be still my heart!!! I had taken a couple bites already before I remembered to snag a picture:

My sis and Matt. He's so good at this fake "I'm having a great time" face, lol:

My dad, me and H. I realized I didn't get a pic of grandma but she had snuck off to the bathroom.

Overall, it was pretty good. Definitely a lot of calories, not sure I'd make a special trip back down there just for the food but if I was in the area, I'd stop back by. Next time though, I'd get the white chicken chili. Thanks for lunch daddy and for my birthday gift! Thanks to Grandma too for the cashola, we all know I love that!!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Got Cracked, Yo!!!

...last Thursday, Jen, Jenn, Cece and I headed to GO! Spa in Des Peres. It was a Tweet/Blogger meet up. When we arrived, we had to put on nametags and silly me just wrote, "Alyssa." Once we started walking around, I noticed everyone put their twitter name and blog-oops! Oh well, none of them will find me...luckily.

Jen-come on in girlfriend!
Cece was already there getting beautified when we arrived.
Jenn and Jen getting some pedicures.
Okay, so let's talk about "Crackle." Jenn told me about it. You put on a base coat in whatever color then you put on some Katy Perry "Crackle" on top. EVERYONE wanted to do it! It was the in thing. Here's my pedicure lady, Sharon, showing off the Crackle.
Now Sharon's "cracking" me. See what it does? It looked kind of like clumpy masscara.
Tada! After I got "cracked!" Oh and shaved my toes before I came and oops! Of course, I cut my toe...see?
It was an...interesting night, to say the least. We all got "cracked" (which was the word of the night if you can't tell) then headed to the Elephant Bar for some drinks and apps (or just water for me!). It was a good night out with the ladies filled with getting "cracked," counting points and laughing a lot!
Have any of you heard of the"Crackle" or this style of nail polish? Happy Monday all!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mardi Gras Pet Parade!!!

...last Sunday I took Shadow to the Mardi Gras Dog Parade. It was CRAZY! Tons of people, tons of dogs but amazing, most all the dogs got along!!! Like most of the time tons of people get together, some people were rude and pushy but we still had a GREAT time!!! There were mainly dogs but I did see a cat, a bunny and a couple miniature horses. I took TONS of pictures, so sit back and enjoy.

While I was waiting for the girls, I got there early because I didn't know what parking would be like, I met some interesting new friends. One offered me a beer, I politely declined and they all LOVED Shadow. We parked at the END of the parade route and walked to the front so I'm glad he was worn out so he wasn't jumping! Over all, we walked half a mile to the start of the parade and a half a mile back.

First off, if you were parked on the street then you got TOWED! They meant business. The two cars we saw towed were a Hummer and the other had new tags on it so that MAJORLY stinks for them.

Here's our attempt at a pic of the three of us with our dogs, um...can you say FAIL? LOL This is me and Shad, Maggie and her foster Midnight and Angie and Ginger.
Angie and Nick joined us too!
The parade must have been sponsored by Beggin' Strips. They were throwing out FULL SIZE bags! Shad got one and was VERY happy.

Most of the dogs in the parade were all dressed up, this was one of my faves. It was difficult to take pics while handling a 100 lb black lab who DESPERATELY wanted a hamburger or brat, the whole parade area smelled of grilling!

Look a dog from the 80s decked out in leg warmers!

Randall and Nick were in the parade with Winnie, can't make out Winnie very well but here's Randall and Nick!
A Spuds McKenzie dog with spots!
Shad got tired halfway through the parade and laid down, head in my lap. He was so sweet and generally pretty good. He did a couple "bad dog" things but considering the environment, he was a DOLL!
Me and my Shad dog before the parade got started
I'm SHOCKED that we all were able to find each other! L to R: Angie, Jen, Maggie, Angie and me. I was all up in Angie's business because I thought we were smooshing together so we'd all fit...obviously we all did and I just look silly!

And that my friends was the Mardi Gras Dog Parade 2011! It was a good time, not too hot, not too cold, great friends, cute doggies-what more could you ask for? Happy Friday!