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Monday, January 28, 2008

Boot Camp?

I've tried a few exercise boot camps for women. They're good, if you can wake up that early and drive yourself to the boot camp place, and afford to pay a bunch of money. I always think I should be able to do it on my own, but I can't seem to stick with it for much more than a week.

Today, I woke up an hour early today, since my teenager's alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. It usually goes off at 6:30 a.m. I jumped up, like usual, and began my day. Brush the teeth, go potty. Step on the scale.


Too much free beer and waffles at the super fun Polartec and New Balance trade show booths, apparently. Time to get serious. Again

I went upstairs to wake up the big girl, but she informed me it was only 5:30 a.m., and besides she was sick. She was, actually, so I let her go back to sleep without whining about how she woke me up and why the heck didn't she check her alarm and all that.

Huh. A whole extra hour. What to do?

I have an exercise bike in my office room. And some free weights. And a rug, that's perfect for yoga and sit ups. I haven't used it this room for these activities in a while. But jeez, a whole hour, and a super heavy, probably broken scale? The time was right.

So I got my ipod, told the dog it was "night time" (she knows that means go back up and get in a warm bed with a kid) and peddled through 25 minutes of level 5 on the hill program on the bike.

The sad thing is, level 5 on hills only takes me 7.3 miles and only burns 120 calories, according to the bike. Still, better than nothing. Then I did some sit ups. Then I lay on my back and tried to keep my legs up off the ground as long as I could. That was ridiculous. Way harder than it looks.

Then I did a few yoga poses, but since I'm a yoga dropout (too smelly and embarrassing!) I couldn't remember all my poses. So I lifted some weights for a while, like I learned to do at real boot camp.

Then I made coffee, woke up my husband so he could take the dog out (she finally realized it was actually morning after all--she's not as dumb as I pretend she is) and made some egg beaters and green beans (we're totally out of groceries, and I needed protein and veggies, for my new regime.) I think I consumed 180 calories. Damn.

Maybe I don't need boot camp after all. Maybe I can get in a habit to do my own boot camp on my own?

I predict this routine will last about 4 days.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

OR Trade Show

OR stands for the "Outdoor Retailer" trade show I attended last week in Salt Lake City. I always thought OR stood for "Oregon," since I grew up here and learned how to write my return address on the top of envelopes in 3rd grade. But now that I work at Ruff Wear, who sells dog gear at REI and other outdoor shops, I get to go to the OR Trade Show.

Here's what I learned about the outdoor industry this week:
  1. There are a lot of fit, attractive people who work in the outdoor industry. Oh. My. There are a lots of "regular" people there too, but it only takes a few dozen hundred drop-dead gorgeous men out of 10,000 to appreciate what good, clean air and fitness can accomplish to brighten up a long week of standing around selling product.
  2. I should probably get in better shape. I do admit to feeling a teensy bit more out of shape than I felt last week, due to seeing all the beautiful people, but not enough to feel ashamed or down on myself, or anything. Just enough to maybe start doing a sit up now and then.
  3. These people seem happy and calm compared to other industry trade shows I've been to, where there seems to be quite a lot of hardcore selling and competitiveness. Most of these people are glad to see old friends and talk about their latest ski run or marathon, or whatever. All that exercise can cause a bit of Zen/Yoga peace and such, I suppose.
  4. Beer starts flowing at 4:00 p.m. every day. Free beer. I mean, you walk around and all the cute girls at Polar Tech and other places start handing you beer. They hand it to you as you walk by.
  5. I love Polartec. It is my favorite booth. They give you super cool schwag prizes, like Polartec fleece scarves, and they are happy to show you pictures of their dogs, if you ask. The prize givers, Katie and Kate, have super cute dogs, I tell you!
  6. I also love New Balance. I've always liked New Balance shoes. My mom gave me some new New Balance shoes for my high school graduation, to take off to college so I could keep up with my "jogging" (it was jogging back in the 80's, not running) so I've always appreciated them. But at OR, New Balance served free fresh waffles and fresh fruit and whipped cream every morning for breakfast. One girl has a crazy huge black lab, and one guy has a big lovable mutt (I saw pictures.) I love those people.

Dogs, sporting goods, wild nights out with our Korean friends who "forced" us to drink Sohji, (which is like Japanese Saki, but smoother, so you can drink more) meeting all kinds of lovely, fit people who were thrilled to meet the Ruff Wear crew, since they love our was a pretty good week.

But I'm glad to get back to the original "OR"-Oregon, to see my own dog and eat the most delicious French Toast that my husband makes on Sunday mornings. And to "think" about running in my new shoes, as soon as it stops snowing.

It's good to be home.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Orange Shoes

I did go to the FootZone in downtown Bend, and I did buy my all time favorite running shoes that fit my foot like a custom made glove. Or sock.

And the best news of all? They are orange. My shoes are orange, orange, orange.

And even better news? They were on sale. They were only $40.

But really, the very best news that trumps all the other news?

They were actually free.

One of my friends read my blog post way back when I was unemployed, about how I wanted to buy my favorite running shoes but I went for the cheap ones since I was trying to be a responsible, bill paying citizen. So, for my birthday, she gave me a gift card to the FootZone, since she knew they have all the best shoes I covet, the shoes that "real" runners wear.

I know "real" runners wear these because all the people in that store look like "real" runners. They are nice there, they don't say "you don't look like a runner..." they say things like "these shoes run a little small, you may want to try a size up." They don't even question the fact that I may actually run.

The "these run small" phrase is a super good sales tactic. It is much better to think the shoes run small than your foot runs big. Who wants to hear "fat foot?" from some nymph-like cheery "real" runner in a running store? Never in a million years would they say "well, these shoes fit my feet, but I'm super thin and you're not, so maybe you need a bigger, chubbier size." They are not stupid at FootZone. They are smart.

When I say "real" runners, I really mean it. What I mean is, they look the part because they do the work. If I really ran as much as these people do, I'd probably look more like they do. I'm a hobbyist, I guess. I run when the mood strikes me, or when it's sunny and warm. Or when I need something to write about for my blog.

I usually don't get "Trail Runner" shoes. I usually get regular, old-fashioned running shoes. But the orange caught my eye. Those product development people know what they're doing. I mean, I acutally told the salesman "these shoes are so cool, I might even just wear them with jeans."

Whoa. That's a big one for me. I have always kept my running shoes seperate from my wardrobe shoes. It keeps the running shoes more sacred. It's another clever trick I use to encourage myself to run.

"I know you don't want to go running," I tell myself, "but if you do, you'll get to wear those super-cool running shoes..." I need all the clever tricks I can get to convince myself to run.

What really sold me on these Asics Gel-Trail Attack II's was the tread. I flipped the shoe over, and I caught a glimpse of how Pony-Tail Lady must run in the snow and ice. There is some serious traction on the bottom of these shoes. I will do whatever I can to be more like her, after all.

Plus, I got some of those "Trax" traction devise things to put on the bottom of my shoes, too. I'll try to walk to work in them tomorrow and see how it goes. I won't run in the slippery weather until I fully test these things.

I'm not stupid either. I know I'm too old to take many more flat out falls on the ice. But I'm hoping this all works out, or I'll just have to wait until spring to start the "real" running.

Even orange shoes have their limits.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

3rd Grade Boy's Basketball

Ah, the first game of the first basketball season, of the beginning of an era, maybe.

Let me explain: Our Boy comes from an amazing basketball gene pool. It's recessive, I think. My husband is 6'6", but he grew too fast in high school, and his limbs weren't able to keep up with himself at the right time for basketball greatness. But his dad was a fantastic, all-star player in high school, at 6'5", who was written up in the newspapers for his amazing athletic feats regularly.

I'm only 5'6" and a mediocre athlete, as I've mentioned. I'm fairly coordinated, and will try anything, but I'm far from star quality. I'm more middle earth, I think. But my dad was a star athlete, too, measuring in at about 6'3" in high school. He was written up in his hometown newspaper too, for several sports. My grandma saved all the front page sports pictures of him doing layups in his fabulous black Chuck Taylor Converse tennis shoes and making touchdowns with those funky leather footballs from the 1950's.

So, we think the basketball gene may have skipped a generation, and maybe our Boy, who is tall and strong and coordinated, might enjoy it.

He could run down hills when he was 15 months old without falling. He could throw things into garbage cans without missing when he was 3. We don't pressure him (this is the first year he's expressed interest in playing a sport despite my nagging "are you sure you don't want to try soccer? Or T-ball? Or..anything?") but we can see that he clearly is a bit more athletic than we are. Just a bit.

The Boy is 8, and he played his first basketball game today. He was quite worried all week, since he's never played a real game on a real team, and he wasn't sure if he was good enough yet. We explained over and over that this was the first game for all the other boys too, and they were all in the same boat. That didn't help.

Still, he was excited this morning and had his uniform on several hours in advance. We got there on time, a half an hour before tip off, so the team could warm up and practice. We all hiked up to the top of the bleachers for a bird's eye view.

The big sisters were in charge of the video camera. I put myself in charge of not micro-managing all the little toddlers and assorted little children who were climbing up and down the bleachers.

This is tricky for me. I have to concentrate on being neutral with cute kids. I can't help but smile at them, but I can't offer too much encouragement to them, lest they try hard to impress me, and freak me out with toddely threats of falling smack down on their cute little faces. I speak from experience.

My husband promptly pulled out his "Java Pro" programming book. I glared.

"We've got a half an hour before the game starts!" he said. He's got a bug in his code, I think. He can't help it. When he's stuck on code that won't work, he just can't help but figure it out. He assured me he'd put the book away when the game started. He did.

I guess I shouldn't complain too much. At least he wasn't down on the floor "dad-coaching"his boy like some of the other dads. "Dad-coaching" is my nice way of describing the dads who apparently don't think their child's real coach is doing enough to instill the reality of the athletic situation to their kid. Even though the real coach is out there on the floor running drills and giving high-fives and little shouts of direction to his players, the dad-coaches think their kid needs extra coaching, from them, to really succeed.

My husband is not a dad-coach, he's more of an explainer. If a child needs help figuring out how to do something, my husband will explain, usually in a quiet, private moment.

When The Boy was putting together a very complicated roller coaster out of a million plastic connector thingys, my husband asked the Boy if he needed any help. The Boy said "Let me try it on my own first, and if I get stuck, I'll come ask you for help."

This is how they do things, these two. I think it is good trainning for figuring bugs in code, probably. But I wouldn't know. I ask for help at the first sign of trouble. I don't want to waste a bunch of time figuring something out if someone else can help me.

I'm more of an encourager with my kids, I think. I'll say "Good job!" and "Tell me about this wonderful picture!" and "I'm so proud of how you passed the ball to the guy who made the basket!" I learned all these little phrases in my Adolescent Psychology class in college.

My kids see through the hype, of course. They say "thanks for trying to make me feel better, mom, but I totally screwed up, and we both know it...I was trying to draw a house on a mountain, can't you tell?" Whatever. At least I try.

So anyway, the game went well. I was quite impressed that our coach managed to help them figure out how the game actually works after only three practices. They definitely got the general idea, and the high school boys who reff-ed the game did a great job. They only called traveling when a kid went 10 or 12 steps without dribbling...just to remind them they needed to, not to embarrass them. They did a nice job of keeping the game flowing.

Thank goodness they don't keep score in 3rd grade basketball. I know some people think it's stupid not too. But I swear that 90% of those kids think their team won. And some nice parents brought Snicker's bars for after the game. Those boys were flying high, I tell you.

Yum. I haven't had a Snicker's bar for about five years, I think. I'm going to have to get one of those things.

Of course our team won. I'm sure of it, even though I didn't keep score. My boy was on the team, after all, and he played great defense and made great passes, so of course they won.

I wish I could get him to wear some black Chuck Taylors. But his Nike high-tops from Fred Meyer are so cool, he has to wear them instead. Oh well, they'll look good in the newspaper...

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Ah...that time of year again. The time when I shamelessly admit that I watch American Idol, and love it. Love, love, love it.

Love #1: it's fun to see those super talented young people who can really, 100% sing. You know the ones...they start singing and you get a little chill down your spine and you say "Jeeze, that girl can sing." Makes me feel happy to be human; happy to be reminded that I have a soul that can be stirred by amazing feats of sheer human talent.

Love #2: it's good to know that even when the producers try to stage the show so that all the weirdo goofballs get on there, we see through our meanness and still feel empathy. The other reality shows try that, but it doesn't work as well as it does on Idol. I think it's a numbers game. When you get 20,000 people showing up, there's room for all kinds of people, which means the odds of finding people that inspire true empathy are higher.

Love #3: it's fun to watch this show with my kids, and know that other friends and family will share the experience. It's unifying, in a way. It's way easier to talk about American Idol than to talk about politics. It's all about shared experience, really. These kids are the future of the next few months of tv, not the future leaders of the free world.

Rock on Randy, Paula and Simon. I will watch.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Horrid Voices

About a week ago, I noticed I was saying the word "horrid" quite a lot. I'm not sure why. Whenever I pick up a new word, it's usually on purpose. But when I meet a new friend, I tend to pick up their mannerisms and their vocal inflections on accident.

What I mean is, I'm not trying to mimic them, but I do. My family and my other friends notice this. They can tell who I'm talking to just by how my voice instantly changes when I answer the phone.

Lots of people think I'm funny and clever. But really, I'm only as funny as my friends, since I pick up their funniest things and adopt them as my own. This is why I only hang out with funny, clever people.

The thing is, for the life of me, I can't figure out where I picked up the word "horrid." It's a great word. It tells my listeners exactly what I mean, all on it's own. It's concise. It doesn't need extra filler adjectives to help it convey what you're saying.

I get some of my best phrases from my friend Darcy. I met her 15 years ago when she was dating my boyfriend's best friend. Darcy and I both married those boyfriends, and they are now our husbands. I definitely use the "Darcy Voice" when she calls. If I pick up the phone and start talking to Darcy, my kids start hovering around the phone, begging for play dates with her children. I don't even have to say it's her, they just know.

Darcy has great words and phrases I've adopted over the years. My favorite one is "That hurts my head!" She says this when something is just too much, or too funny.

I've known my friend Marcia for 30 years. We met in junior high. We have some funny voices and phrases that have stuck with us since adolescence. We knew we were mimicking our mothers back then, and now we know we actually sound like them. My mom says "Good Lord!" Marcia's mom says "Oh for heaven's sakes..." When we say these phrases, in our mother's tones, we crack each other up, knowing we're actually saying "What would your mother think of that, young lady?"

I'm pretty good at doing my mom's voice now that I'm in my 40s. I can even fake out my dog, and make her think her grandma's here by saying "Hi! Hi! Hi! How's my girl?" in my mom's voice. The dog will barrel down the stairs barking her best welcome bark for that one. She runs for the door, looks for grandma, wiggles around in her 13 year old puppy way. She sniffs around and whines, trying to figure out where grandma is.

It's kinda mean of me to mess with the dog this way, actually, but it makes my kids laugh. The dog forgets what she was looking for as soon as I pet her and say a few kind words about what a good dog she is. So I don't feel too bad about tricking her.

Maybe my children will play funny little voice recognition tricks on me when I'm old. They'll fake me out with some of these friend voices they've been listening to me pick up over the years and trick me into thinking I have visitors.

Good Lord, that would be horrid.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Footprints in the Snow

I've been walking to work. It's so close, and the weather's been too ridiculous to drive in lately (6 inches of snow in the past two days!) Plus, in my own way I feel I'm doing my bit for the environment.

The real reason might be that I heard my office has a "Commute Options" competition with the American Licorice company. Whichever company has the least car drives to work wins, and there's candy involved. I love competition that involves candy prizes.

Plus, lately I've been thinking "What would Pony Tail Lady do?" when it comes to getting up and getting active. I think it's a good phrase.

Maybe I should put it on a T-shirt. I'd put "Chubby Mommy Running Club" on the front though. Let me know if you want one, I have a friend who can get me some shirts. We could be a real club if we start wearing shirts, I think.

Anyway, here are the good things about walking to work in the snow:

  1. Baby it's cold outside. I hate being cold, so I actually run for the first three blocks or so. I wear my snow boots, so I don't worry about tripping.
  2. Wake up call: running in the cold wakes me up. The caffeine gets spread out in my veins more quickly this way. I think it's a physics thing.
  3. Footprints: there's something sweet about seeing the little hippity-hop prints of the bunnies who live in the woods along the path I walk along. So nature-y. And of course, there are my own footprints, left over from the morning walk. I feel so powerful, knowing I've made a lasting impression along my path to and from work.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Village Igloo

My 8 year old boy spent half of yesterday working on a little walled snow fort at the park close to our house. For the past few months, he's had big dreams of building an igloo, and Friday night's snow was a good one.

I helped some, by shoveling some big piles of snow in his direction, so he could pat it into shape, like a sandcastle wall. After a few hours, he had a six foot circle of snow about foot high. He was quite proud, and jumped out of bed this morning to see how his wall had weathered the night.

Someone trampled it. And someone peed on it too, we could see yellow spots.

He cried.

"Why would anyone do this?" He yelled. So mean. So unfair. He'd worked so hard on his wall.

I said it looked like a dog had caused the damage, and we can't really blame a dog for that kind of thing, that's just what dogs do. But that didn't make him feel any better.

His sisters and I tried to cheer him up. We invited him to sled down the little hill, but it wasn't slick enough. I pushed and pushed, but nothing, they all just sat there, unmoving, on the sled. The girls and I laughed, but he failed to see the humor in it.

I suggested making a snow angel, like we did yesterday, and he just glared at me. I tried to engage him in a friendly snow ball fight, but a clump of snow went down his back, and he wasn't amused.

My husband went home and got the snow shovel and started mounding the snow up again. He's smart that way. He understands that little boys don't always want Mommy Words of Cheer, they want action.

So I grabbed the neighbor's snow shovel and between the two of us, we made an impressive start to the base of the "igloo" that our boy had envisioned.

Some neighborhood walkers strolled by and admired our efforts. They mentioned they'd seen someone else fill up a cooler to use as a mold for the blocks of their igloo. Great idea. We brought down a large Rubbermaid container and the real work began.

When the circle got to three feet high, we were concerned about the stability of the base. I made several trips from home carrying plastic pitchers full of water to carefully pour over the blocks. It was so cold that it didn't take long for the bottom layer to harden enough to hold more blocks on top.

My husband and son were driven. They worked for hours on the igloo wall, packing snow between the cracks of the blocks. I made my son come home and eat hot soup and let his cheeks warm up and change into dry clothes.

He ran out again to join his dad. Methodically, they built the wall to about five feet high, with an entry way path. The igloo was starting to look impressive.

People in cars smiled as the drove by and saw our igloo. Some stopped, rolled down their windows and asked us how we were getting the walls so high. Some wanted to help and said they'd be by later.

Our igloo was spreading good neighborhood cheer.

My son made a sign that said "do not destroy! we can build a whole village." Underneath his words, I wrote "We are using a Rubbermaid container as the mold for the blocks. Thanks for your help!" We put the sign in a plastic bag and stuck it in a snow wall with a bamboo skewer.

I hope the dogs can read.

It was snowing heavily most of the day, and it was cold and wet. I made the boy come home again to change clothes with promises of fresh, warm chocolate chip scones.

"What if some little kid destroys it while we're gone?" he said.

"They won't," I said. "It's so high now, they'll want to play in it and help build it. But if it does get knocked down accidentally, we'll try hard not to get too mad. We'll know we've had fun building it."

We walked back down in the late afternoon to a nice a surprise. There were several families out there working on the igloo with our Rubbermaid container. I hadn't met any of these people before. One family lives right behind us. The other family moved in across the park a couple of months ago. The "little Dutch girls" (as we call them) were there too. They moved here from Belgium this summer.

It's dark now. No more building for tonight, I insisted. The kids are hoping for a snow day tomorrow, since the sky dumped about 6 inches on the ground, just today. It would be nice to see what the neighborhood can do with the igloo after one more day of building.

But even if a big, bad bear knocks down our igloo (I don't think a dog could budge it, but we still might see some yellow "decorations" on the walls) it has served it's purpose.

Our boy is happy again, and we're starting to build a village.

Stay tuned for the photo!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Exploding Makeup

My mascara exploded. It didn't make a sound, it just sort of quietly"gloobed." When I took the cap off, the black oozed out of the top of the tube. Like a gentle, gooey volcano might.

I hadn't used it in a while, since I've been sitting around in my pajamas for the past few weeks. But now that I'm working in a real office again, I dug it out.

It's the weirdest thing. If I were a bit more scientific, maybe I could figure out what happened. I've been using mascara for about...29 years, and this is the first time I've had a gloobey explosion.

Good thing I bought it at Costco, in a double pack. I just threw the bad one away and opened the new one.

No gloobes so far.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

First Day of Work at Ruff Wear

First Word: Fabulous.

Second Word: Impressed.

Third Word: Lucky.

1. Great people. I've always known people who care this much about dogs are good to the core. Plus, being an extrovert and all, I'm thrilled to be back in an office, not stuck at home.

2. Amazingly well thought out product development ("You need that much extra fabric behind the zipper so the long-haired dogs don't get their hair caught. They hate that! We repositioned the ring to a 90' angle so when the dog walks beside you the leash doesn't twist.")

I think these people could probably work for NASA, that's how smart they are. But only if the space dogs came back down to earth after the test flights. Poor Laika.

3. Uh...there's even a view of Bachelor out the windows.

And, to answer all your questions, yes, my dear, sweet doggie will get to test some Ruff Wear product. After I told the "cold dog" sob story to product development team (I took her for a walk in the woods in the snow this weekend, and her feet got so cold, she limped home, and shivered from lack of body heat) they insisted I pick out some boots and a coat for her.

[I've got some "instant equity" property on Aubrey Butte I'm going to sell them, too. Just kidding. I wasn't lying to get free stuff. My dog really did get too cold! She's a short haired house dog, after all...]

For the record, Ruff Wear sells dog BOOTS, not dog BOOTIES. Booties are for babies, apparently. I stand corrected. Twice.

Happy happy, joy joy, I got a new job, and it's a good one!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

This year, I resolve to be happy.


Already am.