Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Training Tuesday [12.31.13]

Hey friends! Stopping in again today for a quick Training Tuesday, as promised.
Kind of funny in graph form! I'll probably play with the format for next time. :) I've been very lucky this week that the weather has been WONDERFUL and I've been able to run outside. In December. In southwest Missouri. Hallelujah.

Wednesday, 25th -- Rest day. Christmas!
Thursday, 26th -- These 3 miles are a trick. It was actually 2.61 miles in intervals. Which I always love.
Friday, 27th -- Three miles. I was fast! Felt great.
Saturday, 28th -- Six miles. I was not feeling prepared, but mistakenly thought it was only 5 weeks out to my next half -- really it was 6 weeks. But still, it was the motivation I needed to get out there and I did great!
Sunday, 29th -- Rest day
Monday, 30th -- Took a second rest day. Had a weird headache-y gross feeling
Tuesday, 31st -- Three miles. Got really hard near the end -- I had to stop when my hair fell out of its braid and then it was hard to restart, but it was really nice outside, so totally worth it in the end!

Overall, it's been a good week of training! Getting my confidence back after that accidental two weeks I took off. Amazing how quickly I get nervous again.

Also, it's about this time last year that I was training to run a 10k and ran 6 miles for the first time. Apparently, I'm just a winter runner.

Hope you all are having a fantastic New Year's Eve! As I write this (around 3 pm...) we're still trying to figure out plans. I'm sure I'll keep you posted!

A new year's tradition

My family has a New Year's Day tradition (of not so great origins, but that is a story for another time). The legend is that whatever you do on New Year's Day, you'll spend that year doing.

So, plan your tomorrow accordingly.

I don't know about you, but as for me, I hope to
Spend time with my family 
so that I'll be sure to see them lots this year.
Run a bit. 
because, you know, I'm training for a marathon and all.
Figure out my goals
so I have some direction in 2014.
Do some work 
because I really hope to have a job for most of the year, post-graduation.
...but not too much work, because, balance.
Eat healthy.
...but also eat some good-tasting, not-so-good-for-me food, because hey, you gotta live a little.
Talk to my boyfrand 
and hope this is the last New Year's Day we spend apart for at least a little while.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's Eve and start 2014 off right! Happy new beginnings to you all!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

This Christmas

I LOVE Christmas. I do. But this Christmas, I'm having all the feelings and all the emotions, because I know that Christmas can be a really difficult, really sad time for people, and for a lot of people I love.

So if you're having a rough time this Christmas, I'm thinking of you. I don't have anything to say to make it better, because sometimes things are just hard. And you don't have to be happy right now. It's ok. But if you need someone to talk to, I'm here. Feeling lots of feelings.

I hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas. Loving all of you from Missouri. <3

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Training Tuesday [12.24.13]

Hello friends!

And merry Christmas, if you're the celebrating type. :)

Just stopping in real quick to tell you... I might be crazy. I registered for a half marathon (the Chocolate Rush Half) in February.

Which means I've got to train all winter. Which is the crazy part. Sunday, I ran 60 laps inside to get my run done.

But here's the other crazy part... as soon as I get the money, I'm registering for a FULL marathon (the Garmin Marathon).

So I think I'm going to bring back Training Tuesday. I don't plan on it being a link up again, and I can't promise that it'll have a topic or be any more than a list of the runs I went on -- honestly, it was just too much pressure, but I really like tracking my training. It helps me be accountable and keep track of what I've done.

So here we go!

PS - I know this is not everyone's cup of tea -- I appreciate the patience of those of you who could care less about my training/running routine!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book review: Wild

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads!

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Thoughts on Wild, list style:

ONE. Wild is super honest -- sometimes almost too honest? From her crazy grief over her mother's death, to her brief fling with heroin, to her sexual encounters and failed marriage, Cheryl Strayed doesn't seem to hold much back. But I'm not sure it could be done any other way. Knowing what she was thinking at each point gives understanding into why she's doing what she's doing, and helps you feel connected to her.

TWO. You can read this even if you're not a hiker. As I just mentioned, it talks on a lot of broad themes: grief, believing in yourself, accomplishing something you'd never thought possible, getting over the damage you've caused to yourself and others. There's probably something in here for everyone.

THREE. Buuut she does go into a lot of detail about her daily challenges with hiking. Sometimes it seemed repetitive, but that is the basis of this story -- her hike on the PCT. So know that you are going to read a lot about the actual hike.

FOUR. It's being made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon! I'm excited about that, but also scared because the audio version is so well done and the voice is so different from Reese Witherspoon that my brain might explode if I watch the movie.

It got a little long -- I think mostly because I got tired of the hiking parts and because there isn't a super strong plot line to keep you going -- and there were some parts that made me pretty uncomfortable (for the love of Jim, just SKIP the WHOLE CHAPTER about putting down her mom's horse!!!!). But all in all, I liked it. 

Have any of you read Wild? What did you think?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Scenes from this fall

Hey friends!

I got to see my lovely friend Layne this weekend (woo!).

She made an unfortunately accurate comment when she called me "Miss Never-going-to-post-on-her-blog-except-about-books."


So I thought I'd share some of the things that have happened in my life since I was a real blogger who posted things other than pre-scheduled book reviews. :)

This year, campus was just BEAUTIFUL for fall. I mean, it always is, but look at these pictures! I was lucky that the week that the trees really decided to turn colors, I had to walk this path 4-6 times a day and got to bask in the glow of the gorgeous colors and crunchy leaves. Heaven.

I played on our student group's rec volleyball team again. Don't let my classmate's #1 fool you -- I don't think we even won one set of one game. It was fun though!! (I'm to the right of the girl in the tie dye :)

For Thanksgiving, Pat and I went home to my parents' house and I got to spend time with that little fluff face up there. Pat also had his traditional bonding with all of the pets, but he of course likes the kitty the best. They're basically besties.

We also had a fire over Thanksgiving! That fire was on the struggle bus the whole time though. For the first forty minutes or so I was just waiting for it to fizzle out and die. But Pat is king of the lab when it comes to building fires, and he eventually got a pretty good fire going despite lack of supplies and some pretty damp wood.

My sisters and I also spent some time over Thanksgiving visiting my grandma. She used to live with us but moved into assisted living after a rough fall in October. She was So. Happy. to see us. It breaks your heart and makes you feel awesome at the same time. It was really good to spend some time visiting her.

Justin, the really cool guy behind Texas in a Box and Oklahoma in a box, sent me this box of goodies to review! Full review coming soon, but since I've been super slow, I figured I'd go ahead and plug it/preview it now -- plus get a discount on your box by using this link! (I believe it's for a whopping $10 off!)

Pat and I went to two KU Volleyball matches in early December. The team made it to the Sweet 16 in the tournament -- the farthest KU Volleyball has gone in program history! Rock Chalk!

Finally, I have been LOVING all the Christmas lights around my little city -- That first one is Mass Street, our downtown area, and the second one is my string of lights in my room :) Twinkling Christmas lights just make my heart so freaking happy. I love Christmas!!

So there's an update on what I've been up to lately. Plus a few papers here and there (finished a 15-page one last night!!), but no one wants to see those pictures!

I've missed you all :)

How is your week going? Can you believe we're a week out from Christmas Eve??? Crazy.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dance Marathon 2013

Getting ready 

The Marathon

By the numbers:

21/30 hours spent at the Kansas Union
100 pizzas eaten (!!)
12 hours of required standing
12+ hours of actual standing, dancing, zumbaing, yogaing, eating, carnivaling and more dancing

$61,500.65 raised 

for KU Pediatrics and Children's Miracle Network.

Thank you, again, to all who donated. You helped make this event, you helped so many families. You put some good in this world.

PS - More pictures on Dance Marathon's Facebook page.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I'm still mostly here.

Hello friends.

I had a big, "I'm still here" post planned for the beginning of this week, but then I landed on the struggle bus and have been trying to hold things together -- final papers and projects and everyday work tasks have grown infinitely more difficult in the midst of the tragic loss of a friend.
Anthony, Brenna, Gianfranco and me -- part of a photo scavenger hunt in RA training in 2009
Gianfranco and I have known each other for about four years. This picture was taken when we'd known each other maybe a week. He was a genuine, kind, warm and funny friend -- the type who always thought of others before himself. He has most certainly been there as I cried and any time I needed him and was there for so many of my best memories of college. He has touched many lives. He'll be so very missed, and I will be very sad to never yell "Gianfranco!" again as I always did when he walked into a room.

I know, though, that this space is a huge source of comfort and stress relief and friendship, so I'm looking forward to posting more regularly again.

So, with little ado, I'll be returning in full force tomorrow with a post about Dance Marathon I wrote before anything happened with Gianfranco. I hope you'll forgive my long absence, and hope you'll join me again as I attempt to balance all things and manage to post on this blog.

Hug your loved ones, friends. Life is too short.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Book review: Rebel Heart

Rebel Heart by Moira Young

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads! Because this book is a sequel, it will naturally contain some spoilers for the first book (reviewed here!). Reader beware!

Saba thought her world would return to normal after they defeated the Tonton and rescued her kidnapped brother Lugh. The family head west for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But a formidable enemy is on the rise. What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants?

I loooved Blood Red Road, the first book in this series. I loved it in a can't stop listening, play it even when I only have two minutes kind of way. But I didn't quite love Dust Lands that much.

Rebel Heart, the second installment of the Dust Land series, takes us back to the awesome world Saba, Lugh, Emmy and Jack. But, like many second books in a trilogy, it seemed to mostly be an in-between book, a book just to get the characters where they need to be.

One thing I really appreciated was that the beginning of the book does not shy away from the damage done to the heroes from the events in the first book. You can tell that all they've gone through has taken a toll -- something I think many authors shy away from. Although Lugh turns out to be kind of a jerk and I wondered why she worked so hard to rescue him in the first place.

Saba starts making a lot of kind of sucky decisions and goes into a bit of a self destruction spiral that was frustrating to read.

But still, you get to return to this place. You get to spend more time with the characters, who I fell in love with in the first book -- and meet a few new, really great characters. So that part is still good.

All in all, it wasn't great, but I love the world and the characters enough to eagerly anticipate the final installment of the trilogy.

Have any of you read this series? What did you think?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Book review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Description from Amazon (below, because the Goodreads description sucked) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads!

Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.

I heard of this book from the best of sources -- all the Young Adult (YA) authors I follow on twitter were tweeting about this book. Then, I started my master's program with a woman who went to a tribal college and learned more about Native Americans, who recommended the book. Plus, I knew it had won a billion awards (approximately). So, all good things.

The story starts when Junior realizes that his school, which is on a Native American reservation (the res), is still using science books from when his mother went through school. Through a series of events, he ends up leaving the res to go to a suburban school -- a primarily white suburban school -- a primarily white suburban school in the wealthiest part of town whose mascot is an Indian.

Obviously, life gets a little rough for Junior. He's the Other in his new school (as in, us against them), and folks back at the res don't take too kindly to him leaving the res for a white school. The book follows Junior as he tries to make a better life for himself than the one he had always expected.

All in all, this was an eye-opening, entertaining, hopeful and sad book. I highly recommend it.

Have any of you read this one? What did you think?

PS - I've heard that the physical book is illustrated, but I listened on audio, which was narrated by Sherman Alexie, and it was wonderful.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Book review: Emilie and the Hollow World

Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads!

While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure.

Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father.

With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.

Emilie and the Hollow World starts straight into the action, with Emilie trying to sneak aboard a ship, being accused of pirating, and saving a man's life in a fight. And after that dramatic, action-packed start, the book doesn't really slow down. The ship Emilie ends up sneaking on takes off for a journey to the center of the world -- or, more specifically, to the world that exists at the center of our world.

Emilie is smart, curious and adventurous. She asks the question you as a reader want answered and noses her way into situations where she really has no business. She's really fun to follow along, and she's just one of an interesting cast of characters, including many non-human inhabitants of the Hollow World. You end up caring quite a bit about the characters and rooting for them, which is always a mark of a good book.

Speaking of the Hollow World -- so cool. The descriptions of the people/creatures Emilie meets there are wonderful and creepy and spot on. The book gives us a vague understanding of how it exists, but it's also a book where magic is very real, so it's not too specific or realistic -- just enough to satisfy your desire for details and to give a sense of mystery and magic to the whole story.

I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway, so it maybe wasn't one I'd normally pick up. But I ended up liking it a whole lot, so I'm glad I won it! It was a little bit younger than I would typically read, which sometimes ruins the enjoyment of a story, but I thought this one was charming and fun.

Have any of you read this one before, or heard of Martha Wells? I never had, but she seems to have quite the following!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It is her birthday.

When I hear stories about high school these days (gosh I sound old already), I almost always think about how much harder it sounds than when I went through.

Girls were mean when I was in high school, but now they're even meaner. There's more pressure on teenagers -- to look a certain way, to act a certain way, to wear the right brands and be friends with the right people and on and on and on.

All this is to say that it's rough out there for a teenage girl. Every force, it seems, is to pull you apart and reshape you into whatever it thinks you should be.

So to be who you are in the midst of all that challenge?

That's a pretty big deal.

I am so, so proud of my little sister. Because she is who she is.

She's an amazing dancer. She's got an incredible sense of humor and wit beyond her years.

She's a thinker -- she doesn't jump into things that could have a huge impact on her life or on others. She thinks her choices through.

And in the end, she does what's right, what's good.

Anna is 15 today. Holy cow. After school, she'll be going to get her driver's permit! And (not to sound old again) I just can't believe how she's turned into such a real PERSON. That'll sound weird to anyone who hasn't watched someone grow up, but they go from this little thing into a human with real personality, interests, opinions. It's crazy how OLD she's gotten and it's been so cool to watch her become who she is.

She has a lot ahead of her though -- driving, voting, graduating, maybe college. So many great things. 

I can't wait.

Happy birthday, Anna. You're the best!!!!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

We love fall :)

and pumpkins and pumpkin patches.

and the Avengers and Harry Potter.

*Happy Halloween, friends!*

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

For the Kids, part two



Remember a little while ago when I posted about the fundraiser I'm participating in? No?

Well. It's a twelve-hour, dancing-or-standing-or-zumbaing-or-shuffling-but-not-sitting-marathon that raises money for Children's Miracle Network.

I got involved this year as an adviser and have been blown away by the amazing students working to give children and families the emotional and financial support they need. I started raising money so that the kids who receive help from the Children's Miracle Network get a chance to grow up and be college kids and turn into inspiring, passionate adults like the ones who have impressed me so much working for KU Dance Marathon.

Know what else blew me away??

Your amazing support. When I registered, I set a goal of $175, thinking it would be difficult. Because life is tough and the economy isn't great and it's hard to send money to a charity when you're wondering how you're going to get gas for your car (I know that's not just me).

But you guys. You guys got me to my goal a full two and a half weeks early.

It has been so humbling. It has been so incredible. Seeing the people I love give to this cause reminded me why I love them and why they're so awesome and reminded me why I'm so lucky to have you in my lives. (Cheesy? Yes. True? Absolutely.)

Earlier this week, I raised my goal to $225. Again, I realize this might not happen. But I didn't want to stop there. If we can find another $5 for the kids and their families, that will be a success. If you're able, please consider donating here.

Thank you to all who donated. I'm so, so fortunate to know you all.

For the Kids,


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