marathon monday

10 28 2014.

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Happy Marathon Monday! I figured that I’d give a little bit of a weekend recap with emphasis on how my half marathon “training” is going – since it’s now 5 days away!

On Monday of last week, I squeezed in a 4.23 mile run before the sun set. I was aiming for “easy miles” which is exactly what I did. I know I could’ve pushed for more miles, but I was a bit exhausted after Sunday’s long run. Also, runger.

I took Tuesday off from running to do some core work. I did 20 minutes of pilates following a 10-minute cardio warmup. It was a fast workout in the scheme of my typical 40+ minute runs.

Wednesday was my rest day. I took advantage of the down time (and it was pouring out!) and snuggled up on the couch with my book.

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Thursday, I went on my first after-dark run in the rain for 4.46 miles and loved every bit of it! When I got back, I was feeling ambitious so I made broccoli and sweet potato curry on carrot, parsnip and butternut squash “pasta.” I love my mandoline almost as much as I love curry!

Friday I ended the work-week with a nice easy 3.73 after-dark run with Darren.

I woke up early feeling motivated on Saturday morning. I wasted no time at all, brewing a pot of (pumpkin spice!) coffee and I poured myself a rather large bowl of granola. I don’t usually allow myself to eat cereal – the amount of sugar, even in the “healthy” cereals, astonishes me – but I sometimes make exceptions on the weekends. Afterwards, I set out for a 6.6 mile run.

To be completely honest, this run was hard. I was cramping up for most of it, despite waiting over an hour after my breakfast to digest before running. I was also really warm. I had made the mistake of checking the temperature online when I woke up, and took that to be the high of the day – when in fact it had warmed up about 10 degrees between waking up and ending my run. (A 2.5-hour window of time.)

I stopped dead in my tracks almost immediately after hitting 6 miles because my cramp suddenly felt like a pulled muscle. It was so painful, I could feel it just by breathing! I had experienced it once before on my right side and could actually feel the pain of the muscle for a few days after. I walked for 2-minutes or so before getting fed up and started running again. The pain was gone! (Thank goodness.)

I stopped by Rosemont on my way back and bought some blueberries for my dad’s birthday pie! (Since I love to bake, I make all of my friends and family a dessert of their choice on their birthday. So far I’ve done carrot cupcakes with cardamom cream cheese frosting, chocolate baklava, vanilla bean cheesecake, pumpkin spice cake, banana cream pie and now blueberry pie!)

Darren and I have this weekly tradition where we walk up to The Crooked Mile Cafe (4 blocks away) on Saturday mornings for breakfast. Darren was waiting patiently for me to return from my run and when I walked in the door, we agreed to go. Since I had already eaten breakfast, I decided to get an iced coconut coffee – cream only! Ohhhhhhh man. I got a 24 oz. so it lasted me a couple of hours! I sipped on it slowly as I made the pie, showered and cleaned up a bit. After making the pie, I zipped up to my parent’s house to begin the birthday celebration!

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(Photo from my sister, Ally.)

My dad cooked a trashcan chicken and it was delicious! I love the smoky taste that charcoal creates. I definitely ate too much and overindulged a bit on wine, but I allowed myself the free pass, vowing to get back on track on Sunday.

Sunday was the best. I woke up at 8:00, blogged a bit then ate some more granola and drank some coffee. This time I allowed almost two hours to digest because I had 10 miles planned and I did not want a repeat of yesterday’s run. At 11:00, I decided that it was time to get moving!

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Pictured: New Balance 550v3 ($39.99, TJMaxx), Bondi Band Headband ($5), Saucony Socks ($5, TJMaxx), New Balance: All Over Heather Capri ($19.99), Mesh Top in Carbon 2 ($14), C9/Champion 1/4 Zip (gift).

I changed into my running clothes, allowed my watch to connect and set out. I’m really excited to say that my run was phenomenal – I held a great pace, stayed in a really positive mental place for the entire time and didn’t experience a single cramp! It was the kind of run that sets a perfect tone for the remainder of the day. My route included running along the bay, running through a cemetery and even a mile of trail running.

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When I got back, it was 12:40 and Darren looked like he was about to leave. He wanted to walk to Rosemont to get a sandwich and asked if I’d like to join. I agreed, not really in the mood for a sandwich, but just liked the idea of a short “shake out” walk. As I put my running shoes back on, I realized that my big toe hurt (again)! My left big toe has been injured since my 10-miler with my mom two weeks ago. I thought that it had healed fully, but since it’s been bothering me again, I suppose not! (How on earth did I manage to injure my big toe when it’s so securely stable in my shoe?)

Anyways. I ended up getting some cottage cheese because that’s my newest snack obsession and I just crave it all the time now. I also walked past a bin of cranberries and couldn’t resist. I saw them and immediately thought of cranberry bread. Before I checked out, I perused the baked goods and decided that I had to have a yeast roll. (Can you tell that my body was thinking carbs?)

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Darren and I sat down to watch an episode of The Walking Dead while we ate: me with my cottage cheese/salsa combo and a yeast roll. Him with his sandwich. Then I made the cranberry bread. While it baked, I showered, put on some comfortable clothes and read on the porch. I had finished Going Somewhere and decided to start my next book – Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr David. I breezed through the first 50 pages yesterday and am loving it so far! I’ll write a bit more on it when I finish.

Also, check out my reindeer socks! I’m so proud of those. I know it’s way too soon but I’ll be running the Santa Hustle Half Marathon at the end of November so when I saw those at Reny’s for $1, I had to have them.

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The cranberry bread smelled so delicious when it was done so I couldn’t resist having a slice with some peach white tea. My afternoon was so relaxing.

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So now I get to taper. My half marathon is on Saturday – I’ve got two 3-milers scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday, a rest day on Wednesday and Friday and then I get to run 13.1 miles!

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It’s most definitely, unarguably fall. It’s sunset at 5:30, cooler days and rainy weeks fall. While I love autumn (it’s my favorite season!), this is also the time that many of my fitness goals tend to drop off. With the shorter days, it’s much harder to get in a long run.

Thing is, there’s no reason to let the shorter days prevent me from running. Darkness isn’t really an issue – it can be overcome by running in areas lit by streetlights…or by making a small investment in a headlamp (which, if we’re being honest, will come in handy for more than just running – like hiking and camping).

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I was really psyched about my headlamp arriving in the mail on Thursday so I decided to take it out for a test drive. Now, we’ve got a nor’easter going on here. We’ve been getting rain constantly (save for a few hour-long breaks) since Tuesday. When I arrived home that night, we were experiencing one of those breaks. I donned my gear – as I’ll outline below – and head out.

What I Learned (Tips from a Beginner):

  • Things look very different at night. I decided to run a route that I was very familiar with because I didn’t want to get lost in the dark. There were times where I felt like I had been on a road for a long time and wondered if I had missed my turn off – only to come upon it minutes later. There were times where I no longer recognized my surroundings – yet I was still on a road that I had run down 20+ times before. In part, this was nerve-wracking, but that’s also what made it exciting. It was a whole new way to experience these familiar places.
  • Headlamps take practice. This was kind of an odd discovery. I’ve gone for countless walks holding a flashlight, but a headlamp is just different. It can mess with your depth perception (shine it on a puddle and the puddle disappears!) and make you feel like you’re wearing blinders. Anything outside of the sphere of light just falls away from your focus. It takes a good deal of practice to get used to paying attention to everything, even if it’s not illuminated.
  • You stop caring about your pace. Though my Garmin has a light button that will illuminate the screen, it’s not worth the effort to keep pulling your watch out of your sleeve and turn the light on to check. It was actually really refreshing to run without knowing my pace or distance. I couldn’t even hear my watch beep at every mile! I had no clue how far I went until I got inside and stripped myself of my wet clothing.
  • Speaking of wet clothing… it started to rain again about 15 minutes into my 40-minute run. I wasn’t wearing the most appropriate attire (though, I wasn’t necessarily underprepared) so I did get wet. Once you stop worrying about being wet…well, you’re no longer worried about being wet! I know I probably looked like a fool out there running around in the dark and rain, but I really enjoyed it!

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Pictured: Flipbelt in Carbon ($28.99), Trailblazer 4-LED Headlamp ($23.96), New Balance 550v3 ($39.99, TJMaxx), Boston Red Sox Baseball Cap ($18.21), Avalanche Shell Layer ($39.99, TJMaxx), Danskin Dri-More Leggings ($8.96), MPG long-sleeve wicking shirt (TJMaxx).

The Gear:

  • A reflective jacket or vest. My Avalanche jacket was $40 from TJMaxx. It’s both warm and breathable. Not the best in the rain due to the small holes in the body of the coat, but I’ve worn this on four runs so far and have been glad that I’ve had it!
  • Headlamp. I got mine from L.L.Bean for less than $25. I was worried that it wouldn’t hold up in the rain, so I talked to an L.L.Bean representative who informed me that the headlamp is water-resistant, not water-proof. So I wore…
  • A baseball cap. This was probably the best decision I made last night in terms of gear that I don’t normally wear. It poured on me but my face and my headlamp remained dry. It also didn’t budge! I figured wearing a hat would be an annoyance, but I easily forgot that I was wearing it.
  • Flashing safety lights. Repeat that after me. You can never be too visible. Your headlamp isn’t visible from behind. Cars, bikers and others on the road need to be able to see you, most especially when your back is turned and you can’t see them! Clip some flashing red lights (less than $4 from amazon) to the back of your jacket and you’re all that much safer.
  • Pepper spray. This isn’t necessary but it’s one of those things that I’d rather have and not use than to leave it behind and need it. Pepper spray is effective against both humans and animals. If you’re running alone, who knows what you may encounter. Runner’s mace is recommended over carrying a knife or other weapon as you’re less likely to cause more harm by wielding it. I often run alone: the mace just gives me a peace of mind.

I’m definitely a beginner when it comes to running in the dark. There are those who have been doing it for years and I’ve done it, well, twice. I’m actually excited to keep up with it, excited that the dark evenings aren’t going to deter me from staying active outdoors. I know that I’ll pick up some more tips as I gain more experience, and I’m likely to post them here!

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First I want to say that I’m overwhelmed by the amount of positive blog feedback I’ve received from family members and friends. I was nervous to share it because I’ve written a lot of personal things on here that I never intended to share with those that I know anyways. I liked the anonymity that this blog provided me. I liked that I could write for myself, with no audience in mind. That being said, I’m glad that my mom urged me to share it. I shouldn’t be ashamed or nervous about anything that I write here. If people enjoy reading it – that’s wonderful! I’m glad that I could provide that entertainment.

I’m psyched! A few days ago, I received my first email from a reader of this blog and today, I get to answer it! The question was, to recap, what does a typical training week look like for me?

Well – I don’t know if I can say that I train so much as just run for fun. I’m about to run my first official half marathon in a week and I wasn’t necessarily nervous until I realized that…I haven’t trained!

Okay that’s not exactly true. I have trained, I just haven’t been using a training plan. I’ve just been running by feel. I feel like running 5 miles today. I feel like taking a rest day. I feel like running 11 miles! While I think that this method of training is great for keeping me motivated, I totally recognize that it doesn’t work for improving speed or distance necessarily. For those who don’t have a big race coming up, I encourage this kind of running, even if for just a short while.

I know it helps to see numbers, so I’m going to try to articulate as best as I can what my “training” looks like.

Sunday: (8-12 miles) Sunday is my “long run” day. This number can vary drastically from week to week. Last week I did 11, the week before I did 10. Most weeks I do less.

Monday: (4-6 miles) I almost always feel inspired to run on a Monday. It’s the beginning of the work week, I’m feeling refreshed and re-energized from the weekend.

Tuesday: (3-5 miles) I like to sustain Monday’s momentum by running on Tuesday as well. I don’t usually go as far on Tuesday and treat this run as a “recover” run from Sunday and Monday’s distances.

Wednesday: (core work) I try to fit a core day in. I don’t have a gym membership (yet) but I do have a yoga mat and youtube. I try to do at least 30 minutes of pilates mixed with some spinning.

Thursday: (rest day) My rest day varies throughout the week. I don’t usually like to take more than one rest day, but some weeks are busier than others! Thursdays are usually my rest day, but I often find Wednesdays or Saturdays great for resting if I don’t rest on Thursday.

Friday: (6-8 miles) Friday is the best day to run, especially if I don’t have plans! I love getting out of work on a Friday and just running until I’m ready to be done. I’m okay with eating a bit later on Friday nights too, so I allow my runs to take up more time. I don’t practice speed work, but I do slow down for Friday runs.

Saturday: (3-5 miles) Saturday is another recovery run day. I don’t run as far in anticipation for my Sunday run.

This past week, for instance went as such:
Sunday 10/19 – 11.2 miles
Monday 10/20 – 4.32 miles
Tuesday 10/21 – core workout
Wednesday 10/22 – rest
Thursday 10/23 – 4.46 miles
Friday 10/24 – 3.73 miles
Saturday 10/25 – 6.6 miles

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I strongly believe in switching things up. I don’t like to get too comfortable with routines like this so I allow for some flexibility and don’t get too worked up if I miss a run or have to move them around. During the summer, I’d even split my runs in half and do a 5:30am run paired with a 5:30pm run!

I hope this is helpful and sheds some insight on my “training.” Please remember that I’m not a certified running coach (or certified in anything, actually) which means that this plan is not guaranteed to improve your running.

Thank you for being curious enough about me to ask me a question! I loved having the opportunity to answer it. If anyone has any questions at all, feel free to comment or send me some mail!

new miles

10 21 2014.

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Do you ever have those days/weeks/months where you just feel awful about the food you ate? I had popcorn for dinner twice, a large bowl of coconut ice cream one night, possibly too many beers and donuts upon donuts upon donuts. Work lunches and snacks were made up of a combination of chocolate heart-attack granola bars, heaps of pasta and oatmeal…with syrup.

The worst part is that I justified the foodcrap that I ate because I ran X number of miles! 4 miles = 400 calories = 2 beers, right? Not so fast. A few family members of mine have mentioned that they’re beginning to watch their sugar intake. I’ve never been particularly cautious about the nutrients in my food – in fact, I don’t actually have much of a sweet tooth. But I do love to bake. I love to bring in cakes and pies and cookies to my coworkers and friends. I have to sample my baked goods before I give them away!

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Last week was so stressful. I was working long hours, showing up to work at 7am. I was the lead on a video project (and I had zero experience with After Effects and Premiere!) and had to juggle that with a website deadline. It was the roughest week to date at my job. I have no doubt that the stress affected my eating habits.

It also took every bit of willpower that I had to get myself to go out for a run after work. I just had no motivation. All I wanted to do was eat and watch Netflix. Not that there’s anything wrong with that at all – some days warrant a bit of R&R – but I was feeling awful about myself. Lazy, gluttonous, greasy, gross.

After the tailgating fun on Saturday, I rededicated myself to proper nutrition and exercise. I made a mental checklist of all of the things that I wanted to do or to avoid. Avoid: added sugar, alcoholic drinks, large portions. Allow: find the “love of the run” again, end each day feeling positive about myself. These points are especially important now that the sun is going down earlier. My body is going to be seeing way less daylight and a healthy diet and positive attitude is going to go a long way for this coming winter.

Sunday I really turned things around. I got up early and wrote for a bit with a cup of coconut coffee. Around 11, I decided that I was ready to go for a “long run.” I mapped out a 7-mile route and was actually excited about it. (Excited mostly because I wasn’t going to be racing the sunset. I could run for 7 hours if I wanted to without having to worry about losing light!)

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I donned my new highlighter-yellow Avalanche jacket that I got from TJMaxx, slightly worried that I would be too hot.

(Side note: has anyone used the Runner’s World What To Wear calculator? I tried it out, putting in the weather conditions and time of day and was told to wear a tank top. On a 55 degree day?)

So I put my jacket on, despite the advice from Runner’s World. This jacket though. The sleeves are super soft and warm (with thumb holes!) and the core area has small holes for air flow. Then I set out on my run. It was pretty chilly, but I warmed up in no time at all. I never really felt hot though. There were times when the wind died down and the sun was beating on me, but just as I started to feel warm, the wind would pick up again and I was glad that I had the coat on.

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Now, I rarely ever have a bad run. 95% of my runs could be classified as “good” – positive experiences. This run was on a level of its own, though. I completely lost track of my mileage around mile 4 and though I had a route planned, I strayed. I added on a few miles by running through Evergreen Cemetery and decided to explore the trails behind it.

After emerging from the trails, I glanced at my watch and saw that I had run 8.5 miles! Well that’s sure more than 7: and I was a mile away from home. In that moment, I decided to try for 10 miles. As I approached the intersection near my apartment, I saw 9.5 miles on my watch. I crossed the street but ran in the opposite direction. Now I wanted 11 miles.

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I have this weird way of motivating myself to go further by purposely taking “the long way” everywhere. When I see “7.3 miles” on my watch, I think to myself “might as well run 7.5!” So I do another loop. By that point, I’m at 7.6 and I figure, “might as well make it an even 8!” By the time I reach 8, I really like the sound of 10 miles. It’s a constant cycle. I love that it motivates me to run farther, but I wasn’t carrying any water or fuel with me, so I struck a deal with myself. At 11 miles, I’m done. As much as I would love to run a half marathon today, it’s dangerous for me to keep running without drinking anything! So I stopped. I didn’t want to. But I stopped. That was the kind of run I was looking to have for the past two weeks.

Usually my knees start to feel a bit weak around mile 5. I had been running a lot of 10ks as my standard run distance after work (I could fit roughly 50 minutes of running between getting out of work and sunset: the perfect amount of time for ~6 miles.) I was very familiar with the 5-mile knee tightness.

I ran 11 miles without a single bit of knee pain!

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Having run off my entire breakfast and half of my dinner from the night before, I knew I could eat anything that I wanted for lunch. But wait, that’s the exact rationale that I had been using before – the one that had me feeling like absolute crud about myself. Partially out of laziness and extreme hunger (I need food now!) and also in an honest effort to eat healthy foods, I made myself a parfait. Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, oats, raisins and a banana. It was delicious: I’m glad I made that choice.

In other news, I feel compelled to mention another tidbit from Sunday. After my run, as I was eating this wonderful parfait, I happened to scroll through my facebook news feed. My favorite consignment shop in Brunswick, Estilo, posted some photos of new clothing arrivals: LULULEMON – smalls and x-smalls! I immediately called my mom up and asked her if she could do me the favor of buzzing by and buying all of the smalls for me. She did!

For those who know me, it’s no secret that I’ve always wanted to own some Lululemon activewear, but have been completely unwilling to pay the ridiculously outrageous prices for their pieces. I read tons and tons of runners’ blogs and they all say that Lululemon’s speed shorts are the shorts to run in.

I owe my mom a huge thanks because I’m now the proud owner of some speed shorts and four racerbacks – all for $59! I’ll pick them up from her later on in the week and will see how they fit! If they’re as amazing as everyone says they are, maybe the $50+ items are worth the price.

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the rich family

10 19 2014.

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I love my family. Since I moved out a little more than a year ago, I’ve been regularly looking for excuses to go visit. Usually it’s to go for a run with my mom or to see my sisters while they’re home from college. Other times it’s a special occasion like a birthday or holiday. Regardless, these visits always end the same way: everyone sitting around the dinner table holding their stomachs, laughing.

That’s seriously what we do, and we do it after every meal for hours. I finally understand the togetherness that families have over something as simple as a conversation. No one is interrupted by their phones, no one’s glancing elsewhere or looking to leave. We’ve all committed ourselves to live in that moment, to joke around and tell stories with the rest of us.

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I consider myself lucky. As a family, we do (and have done!) many things together. Vacations to Disney World and Universal, hiking Mt. Katahdin, visiting Virginia Beach, miniature golfing, picking out the Christmas tree together, camping every summer (sometimes 3 times!), white water rafting, family Easters/Christmases/Thanksgivings, apple picking. My parents have been the most supportive of the lot. Though I didn’t participate in school sports, they’ve attended nearly all of my sisters’ sporting events and even came to my first triathlon to cheer me on! My mom has always indulged my dreams; most recently to run a half marathon and she has signed up to do two right beside me! My dad has always had a children first policy, which may sound like a model every parent has, but he doesn’t just believe this, his lives it.

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My sisters weren’t always my best friends. Growing up, Ally was both my strongest ally or my worst enemy. We fought like no other, often breaking down in tears and requiring my mom to act as mediator. If we weren’t fighting, we were teaming up against Carly – who had the amazing ability to play well by herself. Carly, being the youngest and six years my junior, wasn’t always the easiest to relate to, though we got along on more occasions than not – especially compared to how much I fought with Ally! Two of us were always getting along at any one time. Just two though – hardly ever all three.

Boy how things have changed. I can’t remember the last time I fought with either of them. I love both of my sisters and have so much pride in knowing that they’re part of my family. They’ve grown up to be absolutely beautiful, extremely talented and wildly self-sufficient. They’re both entering the adult world head first: determined not to fail and destined to succeed.

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When it all comes down to it, I have a totally normal family. And I’m thankful for that every single day.

And that leads me into the real reason for this post: tailgating this past weekend. Saturday was UMO’s Homecoming. No, I didn’t attend UMO, but Ally is currently a senior there. In the four years that she’s attended UMO, I’ve never once visited her there! I feel guilty saying that, but I also feel that it’s necessary to admit in order to get the point across that this past weekend was a big deal.

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Tailgating was a blast! I brought my homemade apple cider donuts to share and there was a ton of food! My dad is a master at these things. Having come from a background of backyard barbecues, lobster bakes and tailgates, this time was no exception. He had two portable grills going. One for ribs and chili, the other for wings and kielbasa.

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There were so many family friends and even new friends there. Ally met us there from her apartment and brought along a few of her roommates and classmates for us to meet. Her runner friend, Carolyn, was a blast to talk to! She had so much insight to share on running, food, environmental science, agriculture. And she convinced me to sign up for the Pineland 25k!

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(How cool is it that UMO gets custom-branded Saucony sneakers?)

I left UMO feeling both excited about the experience but also emotionally drained. Though I don’t regret my college choice at all and feel like it was the right choice for me at the time, I also feel like I missed out on the whole “school spirit” side of things. If I could go back, I would join the track team. I would participate in extra-curriculars. I’d spectate at football games and hockey games. MECA had no sports team. There was nothing there that interested anyone else in my family but me. Sure, I gained an incredible education that taught me far more about art and design than I could have learned elsewhere – and in a style that was right for me – but there wasn’t much beyond that. (Yes, I realize that I wasn’t interested in sports back in college!)

Mom and I jet up to Enfield to visit with Kim and Mark. Mark is recovering from a triple-bypass surgery that he had a week before and it was also his birthday! It was the perfect opportunity to visit. Their house is roughly 30 minutes from UMO so it was a quick trip up and when we arrived around 1:15, we could see Mark walking down the street – away from the house. It was great to see him up and feeling well!

We sat around the kitchen table for a while, mostly discussing family. Something really unique happened this time though. Mark really opened up. He talked about his parents and his grandparents. I never knew much about Mark’s side of the family! I loved getting to know Kim and Mark more intimately through these details, and I hadn’t realized just how little I knew until the stories were told.

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Grammie and Papa arrived shortly afterward, so we went outside to walk around and take some photos. Kim and Mark have a beautiful property. It’s huge and private! I always loved spending time there because it never felt crowded, no matter how many people we packed into that yard to play games and barbecue. I’m guilty of always bringing my camera with me, like a security blanket, but never taking it out! Let me tell you, once you learn to lug an SLR up a mountain in a backpack and take it out repeatedly to take photo, taking a camera out at a family gathering is no big deal.

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Kim and Mark tap maples in their yard (they have over 100 maples on their property!) and make syrup from it. It’s the most delicious syrup I’ve ever had! I have to hide it from Darren because he’d use it all! I’m going to go up in April when they boil the sap down and will get to see the whole process.

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Kim also has a beautiful garden – all raised beds! The last of the crops for this year included celery and kale. The celery was eat-off-the-stalk delicious. It was crisp and sweet with a bit of a cilantro-esque bitterness. She let us take some of her vegetables home with us – I’m going to throw some of my celery into an enchilada soup! I also left with some moose meat. My Papa shot a moose while out hunting a few weeks ago and has over 300 pounds of meat! I’ve never had moose meat so I’m a bit nervous to try it – but I’ll try anything once!

As we were walking around from garden to garden, I realized that I don’t have a single photo of my grandparents together! I asked them if I could get their picture and they happily agreed.

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After I snapped the photo of them, Grammie and Papa walked over to me and we engaged in a “group hug.” Grammie said to me, “You’ve become so domestic, haven’t you?” While I don’t think domestic was the word she was looking for, I understand what she was trying to say. And she’s completely right. These past two years have been significant to me and my growing up. I know that everyone has a different face that they wear (unintentionally) around family than they do around friends. Around friends, I was always extroverted, funny and social. Around family – especially those extended beyond my parents and sisters, I was more introverted and felt like I could come off as grumpy or as someone who didn’t want to participate in the day’s events.

I probably came off that way because it was probably true. I now really appreciate the time that I get to spend with my family. I’m no longer living at home so I don’t get to see family by default. I’m also much more of a busy girl, so I often miss out on family activities. The few times I do get to see family are precious. I grasp on to them and family holidays become my benchmarks. That being said, maybe I am more “domestic.”

Maybe that’s the change that’s been happening for a while.

I love my family. My sisters, my parents, my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. I know we’re blessed to have as much as we do. My mom and her sisters like to retell a particular story about their childhood where they were convinced that their family was rich. They thought this because they were always able to take vacations in their family van (vans were rare in Lincoln!) and were always well-fed. They later came to learn that the true definition of rich didn’t really apply to their family, but they called themselves the Rich Family, regardless. I love that story, because even though the traditional meaning of “rich” usually signifies an abundance of monetary wealth, they’ve held on to that word throughout the years. A few Christmases ago, they brought this story up again. Looking back, they recognize that they were rich. Rich on love. We all are.