Thursday, December 29, 2011

Still Working Over Here

My major decluttering and rearranging of rooms and furniture is still continuing.  In fact, I was unable to work on any of it yesterday!  So far we have completely emptied out the former sewing room and have moved all of its contents into my basement storage room in my new crafting area.  But it is just sitting there in baskets and bags, waiting to be organized and neatly put away.  We did purge the contents before we moved them down there (two flights of stairs, by the way).

That was step 1.  Step 2 is to move Clay's furniture and belongings from his former room which he shares with Sam into his new room.  I plan to do that today.  Sam is a little bit sad that Clay is leaving.  He is only going next door, and they have a bathroom in between them!  But, Sam has never had a room to himself, and he is concerned about sleeping in there alone.  I am moving a couch into Sam's room (it was in the sewing room), so I told him that Clay could sleep on that couch sometimes, or he could make a pallet on the floor of Clay's room.

Step 3 will be to then clean out Sam's room.  I need to help him really clean out under his bed and behind furniture (places Sam likes to stick things).  We will then straighten his closet and put all of the games and puzzles in there---they were formerly in the sewing room on shelves.

Step 4 is to help Leah clean up her room.  She likes to place things in little piles in the corners of her room.  The middle of her floor is clean, and she can walk around with no trouble, but those little piles of items in her corners have to be dealt with!  Also, I need to get her a trash can for her room.  Maybe that would eliminate some of her piles!  She needs some help putting away her Christmas gifts and generally tidying her room.

Step 5 will be my favorite of all!  Organize my new crafting area!  I have to remove all of my school books and supplies (ones not currently using, but items that I will be using in the future) from the entertainment center in the basement.  Then I want to take all of my scrapbooking supplies out of the wall of cabinets in my schoolroom and put them back in the storage/crafting room.  I will put the school stuff back in the schoolroom cabinets.  Hopefully along the way I can get rid of some stuff!

I had wanted to get all of this done this week, but I am not sure if that is going to happen.  Yesterday I didn't get to work on this project at all because it took my entire day to exercise (Day 15 of Insanity!), go to Walmart to pick up last minute items for Olivia to take to camp, and go to the AT&T store to buy a Go Phone with 5 days of service for Olivia to take to camp (last year we had no way to communicate with her and I was so worried about her!  It was her first time to go away like that!).  I instructed her to call or text us twice a day so we would know that she was ok. Then we had to actually take her to camp, about a 3 hour round trip.  By the time we got home it was time for me to cook supper, get everyone ready for church, and then attend our Wednesday night church service.  When I got home at 9:00 last night, I was just too tired to tackle any decluttering!

I hope you are having a productive holiday break!

One more thing.....I am starting to consider what my focus word will be for 2012.  For 2011 it was persevere.  Have you started thinking about what you want your focus word to be?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Continuing With the Declutter

Yesterday was a success!  We pleaned all day!  (clean 30 minutes, play 30 minutes, repeat until the work is done).  Before suppertime we had taken down every single Christmas decoration and neatly stored them away.  Our live tree has now taken its traditional spot on our back will be knocked down by the wind almost daily, and the children will stand it back up.  We usually leave the tree out there for a while for us to continue to enjoy looking at it.  Plus the younger children to not like the idea of our precious tree being disposed of each year.  We have to ease into getting rid of it.

I packed away all of the Christmas dishes, and we enjoyed our supper of leftovers on our regular blue dishes.  I also rearranged our den!  I think I am going to leave it this way.  It seems more open and roomier.

I had also planned to wash clothes all day since I had taken a break from laundry for two days.  Guess what?  My washer broke during the first load!  The appliance repair shop was closed yesterday for the holiday, but my repairman is coming this morning to check it out.  If he cannot fix it today, I will be making a trip to the laundromat this afternoon.  Olivia leaves for Winter Camp tomorrow, and she has to have her clothes washed before leaving.

I have another full day of cleaning out and organizing today--it may take me several days to do what I have planned.  My Christmas gift from Jimmy (and Clay, who helped him a good bit) was a fabulous crafting table.  It is the most wonderful thing!  They spent many hours constructing it in secret, and they presented it to me on December 22.  I love that new table!  It is a 6ft x 6ft square table, built at the perfect "counter height" for me.  No more bending over to cut out fabric, scrapbook, or wrap presents.  It is the most perfect gift!  And all the more special because it was made especially for me by the people I love the most!

I will share pictures at some point!

Today, I plan to begin the big move/reorganization project.  The new table is in my newly cleaned out storage room in our basement, right off of my schoolroom (now I know why Jimmy and I spent 2 days cleaning out the storage room last week!).  Currently, our sewing room is located in an upstairs bedroom--it is completely full of sewing materials, closet and all! I plan to relocate the sewing room into the storage room.  I have 2 chest of drawers and a large entertainment center in the storage room that I will clean out in order to store my sewing, crafting, and scrapbooking supplies.  

Next, after the former sewing room is completely cleaned out and cleaned, I am going to move Clay into this bedroom.  This will be a big job too!  Lastly, I will finish by cleaning out and reorganizing Sam's room after Clay has moved out and some additional furniture other stuff has been added to Sam's room.  Our sewing room also stored many games and puzzles, and I will move those to Sam's closet.  Thankfully, Sam has a huge closet, so storing some extra things will not be a problem, especially after Clay moves his things out.

Wow!  What a task in front of me!  But I am so looking forward to having it all done so I can enjoy my new table and creative area!

Pictures of the entire process will follow.  I hope.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Just Do The Next Thing

That is my motto for today!  After a week (really 3 weeks) of fun and preparation--cooking, baking, cleaning, wrapping, visiting, celebrating, crafting, decorating, etc., today is all about cleaning up and organizing.  I am not even sure that I am going to make a list.  I am just going to start in my den, and do the next thing.  Again and again until all of the Christmas decorations are taken down and neatly put up, and the floors are all vacuumed--or until bedtime comes, whichever comes first!

We had a fabulous Christmas!  It really was wonderful.  I enjoy the whole busyness of December and all that it entails.  I love creating memories for my family when we do our traditions each December.  I enjoy the work and serving my family, and even though there were times that I was truly exhausted, and I texted that sentiment to my dear friend Lynn and my sister-in-law Megan, I was not complaining!  I was just stating the fact that sometimes doing what you love can exhaust you.  And that is a good thing!  My friend Emily wrote a post all about questioning why she exhausted herself in December, and concluded with the idea that it isn't all about her (or me).  It's her gift to her family.  Reading that gave me a jolt and reminded me that service really is uplifting.  Doing things for others leads to happiness for yourself!  I briefly considered simplifying my December activities for next year, but after reading Emily's post, and also after hearing all five of my children and my husband thank me repeatedly for all of our Christmas traditions, I changed my mind.  I am not going to change a single thing next December.  I have 11 months to rest up!

Jimmy was off all last week, and that really was enjoyable.  We had such a nice week!  He took the children to visit his parents for two days (and unknown to me they were all working on Christmas gifts for me!).  I spent that time wrapping and cleaning, cooking and etc., and it was nice to be able to work uninterrupted.  That was a gift in itself.  We all went to see Authur Christmas one night at the 7:45 PM showing.  I haven't been to a movie that started that late since college!  The movie was hilarious!

My handmade gifts from my family were fantastic, and I plan to blog about them with pictures soon.  Right now I better get started on the big Pleaning Day.  Pleaning is a word my children made up years ago.  On the day or days after Christmas they help me get the house back in order by pleaning----play for 30 minutes and then work for 30 minutes.  I set a timer and we alternate working and playing all day.  That way they get to enjoy their new gifts and willingly help me out too!  Cleaning and organizing is play for me, so I will work, work, work until it's all done!

Two more things:
1.  I have done 12 days of Insanity!  Today will be Day 13.  I have completed two weeks of six days of workouts followed by one day off (Sundays).  So far, no injuries!
2.  I joined Pinterest!  What an addiction!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cleaning and Baking!

pretty sugar cookies

We have certainly been enjoying our Christmas Break!  Jimmy is off from work this entire week, so our whole family has been busy, busy, busy.

The girls and I have baked sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies (both of which they are decorating right this very minute), rice krispie goodies, reindeer food, seasoned oyster crackers, millionaires, and chocolate peppermint bonbons.  Also, we have wrapped presents, tried to keep up with the laundry, and Jimmy and I have cleaned out our entire storage room.  That took the better part of two days!  There were boxes in there that we had not unpacked since we moved from Jackson over 11 years ago!  But now we have gone through every single box, purged and reorganized.

Tomorrow's plan is to clean our entire house in preparation for the Johnson Christmas Party.  We will be joined by all of Jimmy's aunts, uncles, and cousins for a fun night of food and fellowship.  Fun!

more pretty cookies

my sweet daughters

Also this week Olivia finally finished this 1000 piece puzzle.  Our whole family has worked on it from time to time--for over a month!  
She has already started on another one.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Monday:  potato soup, salad, homemade bread

Tuesday:  baked fish (tilapia and orange roughy), roasted sweet and white potatoes, corn on the cob, salad

Wednesday:  meatloaf (from my freezer), mashed potatoes, peas

Thursday:  Johnson Christmas Party--I am ordering Subway sandwich trays and everyone will bring an appetizer or dessert

Friday:  baked chicken, roasted sweet and white potatoes, salad, black eyed peas

Saturday:  Lunch at Granmomma's--I am taking a ham, spinach dip, and chocolate bread pudding

Sunday:  Breakfast--breakfast casserole, Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls, mocha punch; Lunch/Dinner--steak, steamed shrimp, hash brown casserole, salad

Please visit for more menu inspiration.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Our Simmons Family Christmas

Yesterday we all gathered at my youngest brother's house in Southaven to celebrate Christmas with my side of the family.  My parents came with both of my grandmothers and one of my grandmother's baby sister--she is 80!  The youngest of 12 children!  My grandmother, Momo, is somewhere in the middle of all of those children.

Anyway, I don't have any pictures!  I am not sure why I failed to take any!  Jimmy took a few with his phone, so I may figure out how to get those over here to my computer.  We had a wonderful visit, and the children thoroughly enjoyed exchanging presents.  We also enjoyed a delicious meal (cooked mostly by my sister-in-law, Amanda), but Mary Margaret and I each brought a couple of things too.  They weather was nice enough for the younger children to spend a good portion of the day outside on the trampoline, and they also played inside with legos and trains! Leah is the only girl among several younger boy cousins, but she plays happily with them all.

We stopped by Target on the way home (remember, the closest Target to us is 1 hour, 25 minutes away--the one we visited yesterday).  Then we enjoyed a nice quiet evening at home watching Christmas specials on TV while the children played with some of their new gifts.  The girls were all furiously crocheting or knitting with their new yarn, Clay tried to figure out the correct path in his Perplexus maze ball, and Sam spent hours building his new lego set.  This is the first time he has been able to read multi-step directions (in pictures) and construct the legos all by himself.  He was so proud.  And I can't believe that he is old enough to build little legos alone!

Yesterday was also my parents' 44th wedding anniversary!  What a fun way for them to celebrate--with a houseful of their three children and ten grandchildren.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Baking

We have begun our holiday baking!  So far, we have made three things:  Wreath Cookies, Bumpy Cookies, and Rice Krispie Goodies.  This was our first year to make the wreath cookies, and I am pretty sure that we will not make them again.  They were not a family favorite, although they did turn out looking pretty!

Wreath Cookies

1 package vanilla candy coating
green paste food coloring
2 1/2 cups crushed shredded wheat cereal
mini M&Ms

Microwave candy coating until melting following package instructions.  Add green food coloring until desired color is achieved.  Add cereal, stirring gently to coat.  Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper, shape into a wreath shape, and quickly press in M&Ms for decorations.  I had to reheat the cereal/candy mixture for a few seconds before dropping out the last of the cookies.   Let cookies dry for about 30 minutes before storing.

Letting the cookies dry

A wreath that Leah made

A plateful of wreath cookies
 Bumpy Cookies
(my mother-in-law's recipe)

1 package vanilla candy coating
3 cups mini marshmallows
2 cups crunchy peanut butter
1 jar roasted peanuts
4 cups rice krispies

Melt candy coating in microwave following package directions.  Stir in peanut butter.  Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour candy/peanut butter mixture over and mix thoroughly.  Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper.  Allow to dry for about 30 minutes.  This made 103 cookies yesterday!

Letting the bumpy cookies dry

Rice Krispie Goodies
(This recipe came from a friend I met while Jimmy was in medical school, 20 years ago! The wives of the med students had a cookie swap, and we shared recipes too.)

1 cup light Karo syrup
1 cup sugar
Stir and heat until melted.
Add 1 cup peanut butter.
Stir until blended and melted.
Pour over 6 cups rice krispies.
Press mixture into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.  Press down with your hands.
Melt 1 bag chocolate chips and 1 bag butterscotch chips in microwave.  Stir to blend completely.
Spread melted chips over the rice krispies.
Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before cutting into small squares.

We made 3 pans of rice krispie goodies yesterday, but I failed to take any pictures of them! I packaged the rice krispie goodies and bumpy cookies (saving a portion for our family to snack on!) into little pails.  We shared these with about half of the families at church last night.  I plan to make the seasoned oyster crackers and reindeer food to take to the rest of the families on Sunday.  We have 39 families in our congregation,  and I just couldn't get the goodies ready for all 39 families at one time!  I printed out labels with each family's name on them so I could keep up with which families I have given gifts to. 

All packaged and almost ready to deliver....I added a bow to each pail before giving these.
For the next two days I plan to clean house, grocery shop, put bows on presents, cook for my upcoming family Christmas party, and make the remaining food gifts for Sunday.

Happy Holiday Baking!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Enjoying Our Break

Our entire family has been enjoying our break from schoolwork!  Friday night we attended two birthday parties (Jimmy went to one for an elderly friend of ours while the children and I attended a 6 year old's party).  Saturday morning Jimmy ran the Rudolph Run 10K (Patrick House, winner of the Biggest Loser ran it too!).  Jimmy got an autographed picture of Patrick for Julie.  While Jimmy was running, Olivia took the ACT for the first time!  She is very relieved to have that over with.  Saturday afternoon I attended our ladies from church annual ornament swap.  My friend Karen hosted it, and it was a delightful afternoon.  A couple of the ladies and I lingered and enjoyed coffee after all of the other ladies left.  I really enjoyed the visiting!

Sunday night Jimmy took the children to spend the night with his parents, and they left me behind to wrap Christmas presents.  Fun!  I stayed up till 2 AM!  I had drunk a cup of coffee at 9 PM, and I was not sleepy!

Last night we joined several other families from our Keepers At Home and Contenders For the Faith clubs to sing Christmas carols at the local retirement home.  We sang several songs, shared small gifts with the residents, and then stayed for about an hour visiting with them.  I know that I was blessed more than they were with the visit.  My children all want to go back on a somewhat regular basis to visit these residents.  They were so appreciative of our company, and my children enjoyed it so much.  It really is rewarding to make someone else happy!

I began the Insanity workouts yesterday.  It is as tough as I remembered!  Maybe worse!  I have now completed two days, and I am reminded of how weak I can get when I am not doing any strength training.  I have done days one and two, and I am already extremely sore!

Today I plan to make wreath cookies and maybe one more cookie with Leah and Sam (and the other kids if they want to help).

Here is the recipe for Reindeer Food.  I don't know why this is called reindeer food, because it is for people, not reindeer!  It is delicious though!

Reindeer Food
1 bag milk chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
1 box rice chex (13 oz.)
3 cups powdered sugar

Melt chips, peanut butter, and butter in the microwave.  Stir to combine.  Pour over cereal, stirring gently.  Pour powdered sugar over and toss gently.  Spread out on waxed paper to cool.  After completely dry, put in small containers to share!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Meeting Patrick House!

Me, Patrick, and Julie

I am a Biggest Loser fan!  I never watch television unless I am running on the treadmill, and The Biggest Loser is one show that I record every single Tuesday night and run 8-9 miles on Wednesday mornings (I fast forward through the commercials) while watching it.  This show is very inspiring to me!

Last week while visiting with Jimmy's cousin Sam and his wife Emily at the restaurant the night before St. Jude, Emily told me all about Patrick's (Biggest Loser winner from last December!) weekend visit to Tupelo and Pontotoc. Emily arranged the entire weekend!  She is also race director for the Rudolph Run 5K and 10K (which Jimmy is actually running right now as I type this).  I knew that I would not be attending or running the race this morning, for two reasons--1:  I am resting from running right now, and 2:  I had to take Olivia to the ACT test this morning.  Anyway, Emily shared Patrick's schedule with me, and I realized that I could meet him when he came to Tupelo's Wellness Center yesterday.

I took Julie with me because she also watches this show while running on the treadmill.  We only got to attend the "meet and greet" event for 30 minutes, because I had to rush back home to take the children to a birthday party.  Julie and I met Patrick, and we had a few pictures made with him.  He was very nice!  Always smiling and very easy to talk to.  I wish I would have asked him all about the show!  I want to know how long the process actually is--from the time they first arrive on the ranch until the finale.  But I just made a little bit of small talk and let the next person meet him.  As Julie and I were leaving, Patrick was leading the group in a 15 minute exercise session.  I would have liked to do that!

So now I have met three celebrities!  Patrick, Pat, and Vanna!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Hint #6

We have begun our Christmas Break!  Hooray!  Now the holiday happenings begin!

Today's hint is to finalize your holiday gathering/party/family traditions/food to share with others menu.  I plan to do that right now.  I had rough draft of what I was going to cook for all of those occasions, and I have been picking up a few ingredients as they have been on sale, but I am going to make the final plan today.  Then I will make the master grocery list and break it down by which store I will purchase each item from.  I will be shopping at Kroger and Sam's.  I will put the ingredients in categories based on when I will need to buy them.

  • non-perishables--things that I can buy today and will last all the way to Christmas Day
  • perishables I need each week--for instance I have a party to attend tomorrow, but I will also be needing fresh food for Christmas Day.  I will be making 3 or maybe 4 trips to Kroger between now and December 25th.  I am going to plan my lists for each trip, assigning the necessary perishable items for each trip--based on what I am cooking for. 
Also today I am going to look at my calendar and plan at least three baking days.  I learned long ago that conducting a marathon session in the kitchen, trying to complete all of my holiday baking in one day, is no fun!  After a couple of hours, we are no longer making pleasant memories!  So I break the cooking into three or even four sessions.  For instance, making and decorating sugar cookies with the children will be all that we cook on that day!

Here is a tentative look at my holiday cooking plans:
  • sugar cookies with the children
  • special cookies/baked goods that we only make in December--some of these we will eat, and some we will package to share with others
  • oysters crackers and Reindeer food--we ALWAYS make these to package to share, and we also save some for us to nibble on.
  • my extended family's party (I am taking pound cake, crunchy romaine salad, and something else--I haven't decided yet)
  • Jimmy's extended family's party (I am taking ham and I have to plan the rest today!)
  • Christmas Eve supper--soup 
  • Christmas Day--mocha punch, Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls, breakfast casserole, grilled steak, steamed shrimp, hash brown potato casserole, salad
I am going to get started on all of these lists right now!  How is your holiday cooking coming along?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's Thursday

I thought that I would share some updates on various areas in my life right now.  December is always such a busy month, and this year it is flying by!  I can't believe that it is December 8th already!

  • Bible Study:  I finished my study of the book of Mark, and on Monday, I began a study of the book of Philippians.  I am currently reading the entire book each morning using a different translation each time.  After four or five readings, I will then begin outlining each chapter and taking notes on specific verses.  I am tentatively planning to read the entire Bible in 90 days again, beginning January 1st.  If I do it again, this time I plan to read the Bible chronologically.  I am not sure which version I will read this time.  For my first two readings I used the English Standard Version, and then the New American Standard Bible.
  • Exercise:  I have completely rested from exercise since my marathon last Saturday.  Until Tuesday, I had difficulty going down the stairs and squatting down.  Well, I had difficulty walking Saturday and Sunday!  I plan to rest until next Monday, and I am going to do the Insanity workouts again.  Only this time I am going to do Insanity only, and not try to continue running as well.  Insanity is a 60 day program, and I want to do the program exactly as prescribed.  We'll see if my knees hold out.  After the 60 days, I plan to start running again, and I will probably mix running with either Insanity workouts or CrossFit workouts.  I am not sure yet.
  • School:  Today is our last day of school until January 2!  The children and I are both excited!  All of our brains need a break!  I will need to do a little bit of planning during our break to prepare for the next semester.  Actually, our 2nd semester will not begin until the end of January, but I still need to get things ready.  I have to plan Julie's Mississippi History course, review her American Literature course, and prepare copywork for Leah.  Olivia is taking the ACT for the first time this Saturday.  She is very nervous!  
  • Holiday Hints:  As usual, I work very hard to prepare for the holidays in October and November, and then from Thanksgiving until we finish our schoolwork for the semester, I kind of slack off.  I will begin this afternoon in full force!  I need to update my master gift list with my purchases over the last month.  I also need to make one more final shopping list (I have a few gifts left to get).  I want to plan my holiday menus, finalize our baking lists, choose a couple of art projects for my younger children, and wrap, wrap, wrap presents!
I think that's all, and now I better get busy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What Leah Said

Completely out of the blue, Leah came up to me and said:

"Mama, I know why your hair is gray!"


"It's because you are so stressed by the cats!" (She is right, those cats do cause me a lot of stress--they shed every where and they break things and their litter box smells up my storage room!)

"Well, what do you think I should do about it?"

She thought for a moment and then she said,

"I guess you'll just have to have gray hair!"


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Trimming the Tree: Part 2

Well, we had a DISASTER last night!

Our ten foot live Christmas tree with a 1 gallon reservoir full of water came crashing down. All the way down to the floor.  With me almost underneath.

Ornaments shattered.  Water spilled.  Presents were soaked.  

Since Jimmy was on call the day the we bought our tree, he was not here to check to make sure it was properly put in the stand.  Clay and I did that!  (But apparently we did not know what exactly to check.)  The tree began leaning to one side a few days ago.  Last night, I got underneath the tree to try to straighten it.  I failed.  The tree crashed!  Thankfully, Jimmy was home last night, and it took all seven of us over an hour to do damage control.

We unplugged the lights, stood the tree back up, and took off every single ornament.  We picked up millions of pieces of broken glass, filler from a snow globe, tree needles, etc.  Jimmy secured the tree, and set up fans to dry out the floor, the rugs (one on either side of the tree), and the tree branches.  We vacuumed.  We went to bed!

This morning at 7:00 AM I began cleaning up again.  I carefully sorted the ornaments and packed away all of the breakable, very heavy, and fragile ones.  Jimmy says the tree's stability has been compromised, and in case it falls again, I don't want to lose any more ornaments.

We saved some of the broken ones to be glued back together.  Since my children know the origin of every ornament on our tree, it is important to us to save all of them we can.

 I woke the children up shortly after 7:00 this morning, turned on the Christmas music, and we decorated the tree.  AGAIN.
This time we used about half of our ornaments.  Even the some of the ones that were sturdy or light, we chose not to put back on this year.  I don't want the tree to be too weighted down.  When we had finished redecorating the tree, I sent the older three children to get started on their school.  Then I carefully repacked the unused ornaments, sorting them and discarding broken pieces.  Then I vacuumed again.  I put the tree skirt back around the tree, and put the now dried out presents back under the tree (one of the gifts had to be unwrapped last night and aired out).  I vacuumed again.

And now it is all done.  And now it is 11:00!  Time for me to begin school with the children, only 3 hours late!

Monday, December 5, 2011

St. Jude Marathon 2011

I Did It!
I finished the marathon in under 5 hours!
My official time was 4 hours, 39 minutes!!

We had so much fun during the St. Jude Marathon weekend!  Our entire family left for Memphis around 1:00 Friday afternoon.  We met lots and lots of our friends and fellow runners at the Expo.  That was fun as usual!  This was Leah's and Sam's first time to attend the Expo.  I am not sure that it was as exciting for them as it was for us, but they did seem to have fun.  They both enjoyed samples of chocolate milk, Gu Chomps, and various pens and magnets.  Fun stuff for little children!

After picking up our race numbers and milling around the Expo visiting with everyone, we joined several friends for dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse.  This has become a pre-race tradition for us.  

 The young people's table
Olivia, Leah, Parker, Julie, Sam, Carson, and Clay

A little while later we were joined by more friends (Yonea, Mary, Margaret, and Martha; Julie, Kirsten, and Alec; and Scott, Amy, Anna Beth, Ben, Claire, John and Catherine).  Then my girls moved to an all girls table.

Our full of fun table!
Scott, John, Me, Barbara, Louis, Kelly, and Lynn

We carb loaded with lots of pasta and delicious bread, all the while laughing, laughing, and laughing even more!

Jimmy and Me

After supper, we all went to our hotel in downtown Memphis.  Uncle Russ and Aunt Megan arrived to pick up Leah and Sam.  They spent the night with them, and then the next morning, Megan took them to Aunt Amanda's and Uncle Rhett's house to stay for the day.  Leah and Sam had so much fun with their aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I am very grateful that my family was able to help me out this way!  Thank you!

Leah and Sam leaving with Russ and Megan

Next, the Mims and Doles family hung out with us in the hotel lobby.  Jimmy took everyone's Starbucks order, and he and Clay walked to the nearest Starbucks and brought coffee to all of us.  Yummy!  We spent the next hour or so visiting and laughing some more. The night before the St. Jude race is always so much fun for us!  Jimmy also walked with Lynn's boys and Clay to see the Christmas decorations at the Peabody.  

Parker, Carson, and Clay playing cards in the hotel lobby

Lynn and Kelly, enjoying their Starbucks

The next morning we arose bright and early and met a huge group of people in the hotel lobby at 7:00 AM.  Everyone was excited and nervous.  This was the first half-marathon for some of the younger runners in our party, and this was also Heather's first full marathon!  Heather has been training some with Jimmy and Esther, and they all ran the marathon together.

Ok, now the race!  I had a fantastic race experience!  Much, much better than my first terrible marathon back in April!  Lynn, Kelly, and I all started out together, and we did just as we planned....nice and slow.  Our corral began the race 18 minutes after the official starting time (we were in corral 10).  We just ran and chatted, and thankfully, the miles just passed fairly quickly.  I was a little nervous that the bad part was coming, but it never did!  

After a few miles we noticed that the 4:40 finish time pace group was just in front of us.  At that point we decided that 4:40 would be our goal!  We were keeping up with the pacer just fine.  In fact, we would get ahead of the pace group between each water stop (water/gatorade at every mile), because we were walking for 30 seconds or so at each water stop, and they were running straight through.  So, we would pull ahead, and then they would catch us when we walked.  This continued through mile 19.  We were still feeling good!  We were surprised that we were still feeling good!  My legs were aching, but I never felt like I was going to throw up or die, and I did not fall down!

Sometime during mile 19, the 4:40 pace group pulled further and further ahead.  I did not want to lose them, but Lynn was getting a little bit tireder than me.....she agreed that I should go on ahead.  I did!  It took me .6 miles of running around a 9 minute pace or less, but I finally caught them at the 20 mile marker.  I settled in running with the pace group, chatting with them and getting to know them.  (Talking while running distracts me!)  They were still not walking at the water stops, so I would walk a tiny bit while drinking and then catch right up to them.  At mile 24, I didn't walk at all---I tried to drink while running, but it was a mess!  I was still chatting away with all the runners in my pace group, when the pace leader told me that since I felt so good, (and was so chatty!), that I should just go on ahead.  I did!  I never stopped again.  Just after mile 24, Jimmy found me!  I think he was surprised to find me so soon, but I was so happy to see him.  We ran the last 2 miles together!  It is a very big comfort and encouragement to me for him to come finish every race with me.  (So he ended up running about 30 miles in all after coming back for me!).

I was thrilled with my finish time of 4:39!  I never hit the wall!  I only walked at the water stations, and I did not even walk at every one of them.  Lynn finished just 3-4 minutes behind me, and she felt strong for the duration of the run too.  All of those many, many miles of training finally paid off!  

Mission accomplished!

All of my family members who ran this race did FANTASTIC!
Jimmy set a personal record (PR) of 3 hours, 36 minutes!  I was so proud of him!  Heather, the running machine, ran her very first marathon in 3 hours, 34 minutes.  I am honored that I ran some training miles with those two fast runners!  Esther finished not far behind them, and I think she set a PR too!

Clay, Julie, and Olivia finished strong, and our friend Scott took pictures for us!  Clay ran a PR as well:  1 hour, 52 minutes!

Clay is to the left of the umbrella, right beside a yellow cone.  He has on a gray shirt.  This is as he approached the finish line.

Clay, right after his finish

Julie after her finish
1 hour, 54 minutes

Olivia, catching her breath after finishing
1 hour, 57 minutes

Julie, Olivia, and many friends--all waiting for us to finish the marathon.

When we all had finished the race, some of us met at Huey's for a big juicy hamburger!  It was delicious.  We were stiff and sore, and I am sure we looked odd, hobbling around the restaurant!

Jimmy and Me at Huey's after the race
Do we look tired?

After finishing our meal, we picked up Leah and Sam and headed home!  

An exhausting two days, but so, so worth it!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

In Case You Need a Laugh Today

I posted this video last spring when I was training for my first marathon.  I still laugh every time I watch it!

My second marathon is just 2 days away.  2 days!  I am not nearly as nervous this time.  I have run 480 training miles in 13.5 weeks to prepare.  However, I have only run farther than 22 miles one time, and that was my first marathon.  Lynn and I ran two 18s, one 19, two 20s, and one 22 miler during our training this time.  We should be ok!  The weather forecast is looking promising, with the low Friday night predicted to be 38 degrees and the high Saturday, 60.  60 is a little warm for a marathon, but that is way, way cooler than my first marathon, where the finishing temperature was 89!

My goal is still under five hours.  Lynn and I completed our first marathon in 5 hours, 15 minutes.  I really, really hope we can beat that time.  I really, really want a 4 in the hours part of my time.

We have a fun weekend planned with friends before, during, and after the race.  We have several St. Jude Marathon race weekend traditions that we have established, and I am looking forward to the entire experience.

Enjoy the video!