Monday, January 31, 2011


This week centers around FOOTBALL. It is Superbowl weekend.

It is also our anniversary weekend. Five years ago, D and I were married AND the Steelers won the Superbowl. How great would it be if we were able to celebrate our anniversary and watch the Steelers win their SEVENTH Superbowl?!?!

Also this week, I have another job interview and am patiently waiting to hear back from the people I interviewed with last week.

With all that is going on, it is going to be an emotional week. Knowing that, I have set these goals:

WIFE: celebrate our fifth anniversary --- plans are currently up in the air due to the big snowstorm that may be coming our way. I'm planning to have an A, B, and C plan in place. Be prepared!

introduce K to a new food this week.

ATHLETE: three runs, yoga at least twice, two sessions of strength training, and spinning on Wednesday (assuming I can get to the class and we are not snowed in.

HEALTH:  try two new breakfast cereals; get new glasses (broke mine on Saturday night and are currently sporting a broken and old pair of glasses); and cut back on my caffeine* (I'm limited to two cups of coffee and two coke zeroes).

STUDENT:  complete rough drafts of two papers for my dissertation.

CAREER: rock my interview on Thursday and wait patiently to hear back from the two organizations I interviewed with last week.

PERSONAL GROWTH: finish Breaking Dawn (yes, it is true I am still not finished, but only 75 pages to go).

HOME: vacuum stairs and basement; and get the mountain on laundry done.

ME: begin year-long photo challenge

* caffeine --- this past week I had coffee with my old boss. She has since left her old job and started her own consulting company, which is doing REALLY well. So proud of her. Anyways, we got to talking about being healthy and having balance in live. She has completely cut out caffeine (minus chocolate) from her diet and is feeling great. She was a serious tea drinker back in the day and loved a good mocha. But now she is caffeine-free and doing so well. It was inspiring to talk wit her about it. So I am determined to cut back on my caffeine intake. I'm starting small this week as I do not want to be plagued with withdrawl headaches week.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


We've spent much of this week being with friends (K's buddy and his family were here for a couple of days because they were without power), playing in the snow, cleaning, and doing A LOT of singing. Our Pandora Sound of Music station has been getting a lot of air time. It appears that K's "Do Re Mi" phase has been replaced by a "Favorite Things" phases.

On Tuesday morning, I caught her singing My Favorite Things while cleaning / dusting. Thankfully she indulged me and started over again so I could capture the moment on video.

on Vimeo.

We've also been singing the ABC song a lot. This video from Sesame Street featuring Tilly and the Wall has become a household favorite. D has also been spending a lot of bath time teaching K her letters. Each night they take a picture of all of the letters and numbers she is able to name. When they started this ritual a couple of weeks ago, there were five letters in the picture. Last night I captured this:

Yes, my baby knows nearly the whole alphabet. I'm so proud.

In non-singing related news, we've been able to get outside some this week and enjoy the snow / ice. K went sledding for the first time on Thursday. She was the first of her three friends to take a ride down the hill. I was so proud.

I love the look on her face in these photos. Yes, the top one is a little blurry, but we were sliding quickly along the icy hill. And I didn't have time to make a lot of camera adjustments before passing my camera off to a friend before our ride.

Much fun was had and that is what is captured in the photos.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


This week is all about job interviews and snowstorms.

We woke up to snow this morning and are expecting several more inches this afternoon. Today I'm working from home and meeting a former boss / friend to catch up. In terms of goals for this week, I'm focusing on preparing for my interviews and trying to squeeze in some cross-training.

FRIEND: Meet two friends for coffee (Monday and Wednesday).

be sure our sidewalk and steps are shoveled and salted.

ATHLETE: three runs, yoga at least twice, and two sessions of strength training.

HEALTH:  make healthy breakfast muffins

STUDENT:  Figure out how to calculate exposure-years for each farmer.

CAREER: rock two interviews and get ready for another one next week.

PERSONAL GROWTH: finish Breaking Dawn and organize schedule for reading through Seven Healthy Habits with D. I also want to watch an instruction video that goes with me camera.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Technically, we do not own a TV. We do have a 13 inch TV set in our basement. This TV was brought to our house by my father when he was here for a week when K was born.

We don't use this TV.

It is not our TV.

We are a TV-free house.

And proud of it.

There are times, however, when I would really enjoy having a TV at home. Such as when the Steelers are playing (in the AFC Championship game!!), during the summer Olympics, and when I need either 15 minutes to get something done or K needs 15 minutes to unwind/cool down.

We do allow K to watch youtube clips and short videos from Sesame Street; however, we cannot leave her alone in front of the computer in order to get something else done. The computer is just too tempting to touch with all of its buttons (the most appealing of which is the on-off one at the top right of the keyboard). So when K is watching a clip on the computer, one of us is right there with her protecting our computer from harm.

QUESTION: what do we do when K needs to calm down? Or when we need 10 minutes of time to get something done without interruption?

ANSWER: we pull a chair up to the sink and give our little girl a sponge, some soap, and a handful of items to clean.

What can I say? Our little girl loves to play in water; she loves to wash; she loves her bubbles.

She would spend the entire day on her tip-toes washing dishes, cleaning the sink and playing in a small steady stream of water from the facet if we'd let her.

We have to cut her off from this activity. The timer on our oven is my best friend. I set the number of minutes she can play at the sink and when the timer goes off, she reaches up and turns the water off. This week we've had to really limit her time at the sink (resulting in having to come up with alternate activities, which is hard) because all the water play has led to severely chapped cheeks and chin.

Yes, in addition to washing the dishes and sink, she also washes her face and arms. Hence the snowpants with no shirt on. This allows for proper arm washing space without getting a clean shirt drenched.

And, yes, she stands on her tip-toes the entire time she is at the sink even though she is tall enough to reach the water and soap on flat feet. The tip-toes are needed, however, to reach the bottom of the sink when it needs to be washed.

Our water bill is slightly higher these days as a result of K's water play; however, the extra dollar or so to that bill does not compare to paying $75-100 per month for cable or direct TV.

I'll take the water play, clean sink, and sanitized toddler any day!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Just a friendly reminder that the Steelers are playing in the AFC Championship game this weekend.

I expect you to be praying.

I expect you to watch.

I'm blessed with a friend (and Eagle's fan) who wants to watch the game with me.



It is an age-old dilemma...

  • Do I run a sloppy six miles because it's the mileage on my training schedule or do I do run four quality miles because I am sore and tired?
  • Do I eat a single piece of dark chocolate in the afternoon (quality) or munch on a baggie full of carrots sticks?
  • Do try to write / publish five papers based on my dissertation or focus on getting two really good papers out the door before the end of the semester?
The list of quality vs quantity questions in my life could go on and on...

The quality vs quantity question that I've been wrestling with the past couple weeks is this... in order to get a job post-completion of my PhD, do I just apply to every job that is remotely in my field of interest? Or do I hold out for only those jobs that meet my L-O-N-G list of criteria I am looking for in my first job in four years?

My friend, Becky, has been processing all of my job-related anxiety, questions, worries, fears, expectations with me. She has listened to me without complaint and offered some excellent (and at times) hard to listen to advice. Yesterday I called her as I was leaving school to ask her yet another question about a set of applications I was working on. After talking with her for a few minutes, I knew the answer to my about quality vs quantity question related to my job search.

Quality is definitely the answer.

I had been putting pressure on myself to submit X number of applications each week, but what I realized yesterday is that it was a HUGE waste of time (and I don't have time to waste). I have been slaving over a set of fellowship applications for positions that I would have killed for four years ago when I started my program.

But I am four years older now. Four years ago, I wasn't a mom; I wasn't faced with balancing work, parenting, and everything else. I'm not ready to transition into a full-time 40 hours a week in an office job. And until August, we only have child care a couple of days a week (and I'm not messing with our child care --- it is perfect!!).

In the past few years, I've come more interested in possibly teaching after graduation.

In the past few years, I've come to value my roles as mom, wife, friend, and homemaker more.

And with that, I am not going to apply to jobs just to apply to jobs. Quality is more important than quantity. If an "I would LOVE to have the job" advertisement comes across my desk, I will apply. But I am not going to set goals related to the quantity of applications I submit. I am going to start talking with individuals in my field about possible options post-graduation.

I am going to focus on further developing my list of what I'd like to do and then work on making that a reality. Maybe I'll even put together a multi-step program to get there.

This past week I have learned that it is a waste of my time pouring over the jobs section of the paper and applying for prestigious positions I do not want.

Good uses of my time are: hanging out with my little girl, spending time with D, getting out for a run, planning meals, getting out with friends, enjoying the free museums in the city, reading a good book, and, oh..., finishing my dissertation.

Quality vs quantity.... in this case, it is definitely quality.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Today we're celebrating D's 41st birthday. He is currently out talking with a life coach about his plans for his sabbatical. Tonight we're getting a babysitter and going out to dinner with friends. I might be looking forward to a night out more than D. Due to D's work schedule and a couple of others events we had planned, I was a single-parent for much of the weekend. And our little angel is entering (maybe fully entered into) a strong-willed, disobedient little girl. I'm exhausted from being a parent. A night out is exactly what I need.

Because of the holiday, this week officially begins tomorrow. And here are my goals:

MOM: get K's big-girl room organized/planned (we purchased her big-girl bed yesterday). I also need to get her crib listed on craigslist (yes, we're going to sell it; if we have another child, we'll buy another one of craigslist; we don't want to store a crib in our house - no room for that). We also need to select paint colors and some wall decorations.

WIFE: celebrate D's birthday in style and listen/talk with him about his sabbatical plans.

FRIEND: two coffee dates to confirm.

COMMUNITY: attend neighborhood meeting on Wednesday evening.

ATHLETE: four runs, at least two sessions of strength training, and spinning on Wednesday.

HEALTH:  try to make granola bars (again - last week's attempt was a fail)

STUDENT:  finalize my code for dissertation analysis. Specifically, figure out how to calculate exposure-years for each farmer.

CAREER:  get read for interviewS (yes, that is plural) I have in the coming weeks. Apply for at least another three jobs.

PERSONAL GROWTH: finish Breaking Dawn and organize schedule for reading through Seven Healthy Habits with D. I also want to watch an instruction video that goes with me camera.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I've set a lot of goals for the year, but the ones that scare me the most are my reading goals. As mentioned previously, I did not read a single book during 2010. I read A LOT for my dissertation and when I came at night the idea of cracking open a book made me want to throw up a little in my mouth. So I didn't read - ANYTHING.

But the list of books I wanted to read kept growing.

So I decided that not only did I need to set a serious reading goal for the new year, I needed to have a serious plan in place.

Here is the plan...

First I decided which books I wanted to read (explanation for each book below). Then I bought them (note: I borrowed The Help, Breaking Dawn and Born To Run from friends).

Here they are in all their glory.

Now that I have all of the books, I am looking for a place (in everyday eye sight) to put all of them. This is to remind me of my goal of reading all of them.  I've also set aside time at least four times each week for reading. These times do vary week-to-week depending on our activities, but I am going to sit down at least four times each week and read.

I also am aiming to read the entire Bible in a year. I'll be honest...I've tried to do this before and have failed miserably. My failure has been due to at least two things... 1) accessibility - not having the Bible and my reading plan at my fingertips when I have the time to read; and 2) timing --- waiting until minutes before I need to be asleep to read.

To deal with these failures, I've decided to go with an online reading plan. I'm using the YouVersion chronological plan. As a college history minor, I'm enjoying reading the Bible in the order in which events occurred. And as a Biblical dummy, I don't know what to expect next. Who knew that after several chapters of Genesis the chronological order of the Bible goes to Job? Seriously? The mystery and surprise of the chronological plan keeps me coming back each day. 

I'm proud to write the I am up-to-date on my Bible reading. And it has been easy to keep up --- mostly because I have a computer at my fingertips at all times during the day.

I'm hoping that having a plan in place and the books I want to read decided upon and in our house will help me achieve my reading goals for the year. Other suggestions/motivations for keeping up / on top of your reading plans? Please let me know.


Why these books?
Celebration of Discipline --- this is one of D and my mom's favorites. I've read bits and pieces of it, but never the entire thing. It is one of the books D and I planned to read together a couple of years ago, but that didn't materialize. This is one of those books I feel like I need to read. NOW.

Me, Myself, and Bob --- this is the story of the bankruptcy of Veggie Tales. It chronicles the creator's spiritual journey from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows of his career. It was the subtitle alone that made me want to read this book: a true story about God, dreams, and talking vegetables.

Anatomy of the Soul --- quite simply, I want to read this book because the author goes to our church. He attended our wedding and has been a huge support to us. I cannot wait to read all he has written!
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families --- this is the book D and I will be reading together (our reading plan begins March 1). D is a big fan of Steven Covey; I appreciate what he has to say. I think the book will provide a good framework for us to use as we start planning long-term for our family.
Run Like a Mother --- this book is all the rage among the online group of women I run/blog with. I've read bits and pieces of the book and really want to read the whole thing. I've been told to be prepared to laugh and cry.

Born To Run --- again, another recommendation from a friend. I'm about 50 pages into it and it is a great story. I've heard that it is both inspirational and motivational. I can't wait.

The Help --- this book was recommended by a good friend, my college advisor and my mother. How could I not read it? Plus it is being made into a movie - sounds like a perfect mother / daughter date in the future!

Chi Running --- D got me this book for Christmas. He's a thoughtful and well researched gift buyer. I know I need to read this one.

Breaking Dawn --- yes, this is the fourth book of the Twilight series. And, yes, I have read the other three books. I read this article in The Atlantic magazine a few years ago and decided I needed to read the first book of the series. After about 100 pages I was hooked. I must finish the series. And although I do not (highly) recommend the books, I do recommend reading the Atlantic article.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I had a draft of my goals for the year finished last week. Then came Sunday. Daryl, who married D and me, preached a sermon on humility.

It was convicting. It changed the way I think. It forced me to rethink my goals.

So I've spent the past five days thinking about my goals; reworking them.

And here they are... reworked, re-thought out, refocused.

  • Get everything in place  for K to attend preschool in the fall
  • Plan one outing with K each week
    • library
    • museum
    • pool
    • spray park
  • Read to K every day
  • Introduce one new food/recipe every two weeks
  • Plan one date night per month 
  • Plan five year wedding anniversary celebration
  • Encourage, support, and help D plan for his sabbatical
  • Train for and run at least one race together
  • Read book with D and take action accordingly
  • Plan 12 coffee dates (one per month with a freind)
  • Organize an event for K's friends and their moms quarterly
    • cookie decorating
    • backyard sprinkler party
    • picnic in RCP
  • Make and start getting out with a running buddy
  • Volunteer
    • at a local running / triathlon event
    • in one of the many neighborhood groups
  • Plan a family trip to California for Christmas 2011 
  • Run 1250 miles (that is 2011 km)
  • Achieve half fanatic status by June 2011
  • Set personal records (PRs) in half and full marathon
  • Race a 5K and a 10K
  • Run one race in my Vibrams
  • Do strength training at least twice per week
  • Cross train at least once per week
    • yoga
    • spinning
    • swimming
  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Introduce K to health behaviors --- get her outside and moving at least three times per week
    • yoga
    • swimming
    • bike riding
    • walking
  • Make / try a new healthy snack each week
  • East at least 4 fruits / veggies each day
  • Defend dissertation by July 2011
  • Complete at least three papers for publication by September 2011
  • Practice patience
  • Apply only for jobs I am excited about
  • Make a list of what I really want to do and necessary steps to get there by June 2011
  • Write out 3-, 5-, and 10- year goals
  • Explore some non-traditional part-time opportunities
  • Set aside enough money to pay for K's preschool 
  • Brainstorm ideas to make extra money
  • Paint, furnish, and decorate K's big girl room
  • Paint living room
  • Choose color and paint our bedroom
  • Plant garden with K in the spring
  • Read books on my to be read list:
    • Born To Run
    • Breaking Dawn
    • Celebration of Discipline
    • Anatomy of the Soul
    • Me, Myself, and Bob
    • Run Like a Mother
    • Chi Running
    • Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families
    • The Help
  • Read Bible (all of it before end of year)
  • Learn how to use my camera
  • Plan a me outing each month
    • spring shopping with ACE
    • afternoon at the library reading
    • walk around The Mall 
  • Pay for and get one massage
  • Complete a year long photo challenge (commence in February)
  • Save money for:
  • Get spinning instructors certification   

Thursday, January 13, 2011


In case you haven't heard or noticed, it is football playoff time. And being from Pittsburgh, I'm a Steelers fan. I proudly wear black and gold. I've also been known from time to time to have black and gold plates, napkins, cups, and even M&Ms on hand.

I've also been known to proudly wear my Steelers shirt in Baltimore after important games have been won.

This Saturday, the Steelers are playing the Baltimore Ravens (boo). It is likely to be one of the best NFL games of the year. It's going to be hard fought and cold game in Pittsburgh. I am thankful that it is a local game and I will be able to watch it on my 13 inch TV with rabbit ears.

Like all good fans in Pittsburgh and around the globe, this is the prayer I'll be saying before bed tonight:

Our Father, Who Art in Pittsburgh, 

Football be Thy Game, 
Let Mendenhall Run,
6 Superbowls Won, 
On Earth as it is in Heinz Field. 
Give Us this Day a Playoff Victory, 
and Forgive Us Our Penalties, 
as We Defeat Those Ravens Who Play Against Us. 
But Lead Us into a Victory, 
and Deliver Us to Texas. 
For Thine is the D-Line, the Polamalu, and the Harrison.....A-Ben.

Monday, January 10, 2011


At the beginning of 2010, I set the follow goals for myself, and I am happy to report that I reached/achieved many of them. 2010 had a rough start - drama with my (now ex-) dissertation advisor and FEET of snow that limited my ability to run. But as the winter snows began to melt, things started to fall into place. My accomplishments in 2010 provide me with a solid foundation to take on 2011!


1. run 1000+ miles
- accomplished 10/31 during my last long training run before the Philadelphia Marathon. In total, I ran 1105 miles last year.
2. run four races of differing lengths - 10k, 10 miler, 1/2 marathon, and marathon
- completed. I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, Pittsburgh 1/2 Marathon, Philadelphia Marathon, and MCM Mama's 40th birthday celebration 8.25 miler.
3. do strength training twice each week (includes abs)
- complete and utter FAIL.
4. run a sub-4 hour marathon; sub-2 hour 1/2; and a 10k under 50 minutes - successfully ran a sub-2 hour 1/2 marathon, but didn't run either a sub-4 hour marathon or sub-50 minute 10k (note: I didn't race a 10k in 2010).

5. lose 10 pounds
- maintained my weight, but didn't lose or gain a pound in 2010.

6. lose the tummy/pooch above my c-section line (am I the only woman who had a c-section that cannot get rid of the fat?) - this will NEVER be a goal again. I believe that the pooch is a permanent fixture; a sign that my body couldn't handle natural childbirth and that they cut me open to get her out to ensure her health and mine. I'd rather have the pooch than not have her.

-- All of my goals related to school were achieved. I am on schedule to finish my PhD before the end of the summer!
1. develop dissertation topic by end of February

2. have dissertation committee assembled by end of March

3. submit general research plan for May meeting

4. pass dissertation proposal defense by September 1st

5. schedule dissertation defense by June 2011

6. finish PhD program by September 1, 2011

7. complete my course-work by August 2010 

8. secure an external research grant for dissertation research by August 2010


1. read a book for fun each month
- complete FAIL. As noted previously, I didn't read a single book last year. In addition to not making the time to read and being a busy, working, studenting, running mama, I planned poorly for this goal. I have a new plan for this year...

2. read two books with D
- also complete fail.

3. go out for coffee with a friend or alone at least once a month
- this didn't happen once a month, but I did enjoy some great cups of coffee out as well as a milkshake reward post-proposal defense and a couple of nice dinners out with girlfriends.

4. pay for at least one massage
- fail. Shame on me.

5. go to bed before 11pm on school nights
- completed (most of the time). There were a few times when I just had to stay up to finish school work, discuss something with D, or watch the end of LOST.


1. pay myself for mommy-share days (I'm watching a friend's child one day a week and she in turn is watching K one day; this cuts down seriously on our nanny expenses)
- our mommy share ended in mid-July, but I did use the money we saved. See below...

2. with saved $, buy the new camera I've been eyeing for months and put at least $2000 into my IRA
- I did buy a new camera and have $ to put into my IRA (just need to make the electronic transfer).


My goals for the week beginning TODAY:

Mom: develop and deploy a potty training schedule and rewards program for K (little girl is doing really well, but we need a little extra structure and rewards to certify her as potty trained).

Wife: plan/celebrate D's birthday.

Athlete: attend a FREE community yoga class on Sunday afternoon (included here is a trip to the store to by a yoga mat); and get a least four runs in this week (including two in my vibrams).

Health: drink at least four bottles of water on the days I'm at home (this week: T, W, F, S, S)

Friend: confirm time and location of coffee date with friend

Career: finish three more job applications and submit them to employers; follow up with individuals writing me letters of recommendation for a fellowship position.

Student: get ready for the class I'm TAing this semester (classes begin January 24); and complete reading list, which includes: 1. chapter on toxic effects of pesticides and 2. recall bias literature.

Personal Growth: finalize and post goals for 2011; post book list for 2011.

Me: stop at Starbuck and use my coupon for a free cup of coffee.


Blog posts to come: Favorite Things parts IV and V as well as Goals for 2011.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010: Looking Back

2010: Looking Back

My friend, Jill, assembled/created the following list of questions to reflect on the past year. I so enjoyed reading her responses and was excited when she encouraged her friends to answer the same questions. I've spent the last 24 hours thinking about the past year and here is what I've come up with...

What was one goal you accomplished in 2010?

I accomplished two major goals this year. First was running more than 1,000 miles. I finished the year having logged 1105 miles. I'm grateful that I remained healthy and uninjured during the year. Second, I successfully defended my dissertation proposal and am on track to finish my PhD in 2011.

What is your favorite memory of 2010?

Staying in a swanky hotel in Taipei. D, K, and I spent our last day in Taiwan traveling from the southern part of the island to Taipei. We spent nearly 18 hours in a wonderful hotel. We swam in the hotel pool, took a dip in the hot tub, steamed in the sauna, played/read in the kids' play room, ordered room service, played with the magic glass in the bathroom, and enjoyed a wonderful night together as a family. It was a perfect and relaxing way to end our stay in Taiwan. I boarded the plane home after a wonderfully sound night of sleep.

What is your least favorite memory of 2010?

Breaking up with my advisor last February and facing the fact that I didn't have funding or a dissertation project. My stress level last January was at an all time high. I was angry, frustrated, and fearful that I would never finish my PhD.

What was the best trip you took in 2010?

The weekend D and I went to Philadelphia for the marathon. K stayed with my parents. D and I enjoyed a quiet night at the hotel, long hot UNINTERRUPTED showers after the marathon and two peaceful nights post-marathon together. We shopped, ate wonderful meals, celebrated with a bottle of wine and enjoyed Philadelphia.

What was your favorite purchase in 2010?

I have three: 1) my garmin, who has since been named Gary; 2) my camera - I purchased it "new to me" and then it was stolen when our house was broken into and through our insurance I got a brand new one; and 3) my new purse and wallet (who would have guessed that a red purse - big enough to serve as both a diaper bag and purse - would make me so very happy).

What was the best book you read in 2010?

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I did not read a single book in 2010. NOT ONE. I barely read an article in TIME. I read so very little that we canceled my TIME subscription for this year. In my defense, I did read more than 300 articles related to my dissertation.

What changed about you in 2010?

I think (you'd have to check with D to be sure) I became a better listener. I also surrendered some of my pride - I am no longer embarrassed to sing or discipline my child in public - and I've actively engaged in our church's bi-monthly community celebrations and concerns times.

What made you cry in 2010?

What didn't make me cry is probably an easier question to answer. I cried out of exhaustion, exasperation, loneliness, and feelings of inadequacy.

What is one home project you accomplished in 2010?

We (and by we I mean by dad painted) painted our kitchen, dining room, entry-way, and hallway up the steps. We also agreed on a color for our living room which we plan to paint in January. We also had repairs made to our sunroom and office following the blizzard last February. Both of these rooms were repainted, too.

Best meal of 2010?

We had the most fabulous meal at Mi Lah in Philadelphia the night before the marathon. It was hands-down the best vegetarian restaurant I have ever eaten at. During our meal we got to chat with the owner/executive chef.

At home, D cooked so many wonderful meals that I don't have the time or space to recount them all here. Of particular note were the fish tacos he made for my birthday dinner. This meal was complete with two dessert courses: 1) a chocolate tart with toffee filling; and 2) four cheese served with nuts, jam and crackers.

What made you want to scream in 2010?

My original dissertation committee chair. She made my life miserable. Also the individuals that broke into our house -- you both suck.

What was your verse of 2010?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).

Monday, January 3, 2011


During the past six months, I've followed (read: stalked) Anne Marie at Goals for the Week. She's a mom, runner, triathlete, and goal setter. Each week (usually Sunday) she writes out her goals for the week on her blog. Her weekly goals are the stepping stones needed to meet her one-, three-, five- and ten-year goals. And her goals are categorized by the different roles she plays and priorities she has (i.e., mom, friend, wife, athlete, health, etc). What can I say... she's organized, driven, and capable of dreaming/aiming for big things.

I aspire to be so organized, driven, and capable of dreaming big.

So I did something I normally don't do... I wrote Anne Marie an email and talked with her a little bit about her goal setting. I read nearly two years worth of blog posts by her. And I did a lot of thinking and organizing myself.

And I've decided to make it one of my goals for 2011 to not only set goals for this year, but to also to set goals for each week.

Later this week I will post my goals for 2011 (but not until I have reviewed by goals from 2010 and reflected a la Jill). My goals for this year will focus on 12 categories/roles: mom, wife, athlete, health, friend, career, finance, home, community, student, personal growth, and me. I'll address the specifics of each category when I outline my yearly goals. But tonight I am aiming to complete the first of 52 posts outlining my weekly goals. Now, some of these goals may look like items on a to-do list and that is just fine with me. These little goals or to-dos are the necessary steps I believe will help me to achieve my year-long goals for 2011.

And with that, my goals for the week of January 3, 2011:

Mom: take K out to story hour or some other structured activity during the week; and sort through her toys and put old ones in storage bins.

Wife: encourage D to make plans for his upcoming birthday and work sabbatical.

Athlete: commence training for National 1/2 Marathon; attend spinning class on Wednesday at lunchtime.

Health: cut out coffee creamer and sugar in coffee/tea from diet.

Career: finish three job applications and send them to potential employers.

Student: finish writing data analysis plan for specific aims 1 & 3 of my dissertation.

Personal Growth: finalize the list of books I plan to read this year and order/reserve them at library.

Me: Go to bed before 9:30 one night this week.


We are definitely a less is more type of family.

We truly enjoyed the Christmas season and take great pleasure in giving gifts, making gifts and receiving them. For K, we wanted to make Christmas special, but also wanted to keep the focus on the birth of Christ. We tried to do three gifts - just like the gifts from the three wise men. In that spirit, she received some foam letters/numbers and a storage submarine for the bathtub; new crocs, underwear and legwarmers (key items to promote potty training); and a bike.

The bike was definitely a favorite.

She also received EleFun from her friends, E & R. As you can see, it is a lot of fun!


This post isn't so much about a favorite thing, but a favorite person...

On Monday, December 20th I successfully passed my dissertation proposal defense. With my presentation and the Q&A behind me, I can honestly say it was a very positive experience. On the day of my defense, I was a mess, to say the least. Three hours before my presentation, I had a dress rehearsal in front of one of my classmates. During said rehearsal, I discovered that one section of my proposal (dealing with analysis of gene-environment interactions and a possible three-way interaction) was extremely confusing. I panicked, but my good friend helped me to simplify my thoughts and reword my slides. With less than an hour to go until my presentation I was fairly calm - I ate lunch and goofed off on my computer. I began my final preparations about 20 minutes before my presentation was scheduled to begin and I freaked out. I forgot to make copies of my slides for my committee and I started to sweat.

I watched as my committee members, faculty, and students entered the room.

I started sweating even more.

I was so glad I went with the black and white dress with a pattern on it instead of the solid black dress. I'm sure I would have had visible salty-sweat rings around the colar and under my arms had I worn the black dress.

I was visibly nervous.

That is when one of my committee members came up to me and spoke these magical words:

"You are ready for this. We wouldn't have let you come this far if we were not sure you could pass. Remember to talk slowly. Take a moment to think before answering any question. And remember to smile. You know more about your topic than anyone in the room. Be proud."

She completely put me at ease.

She smiled as I began my presentation. And she smiled throughout.

She asked me tough, but fair questions. And she always prefaced her questions with a complement. For example, she'd say something along the lines of, "you did a wonderful job explaining X, could you provide the same level of detail about Y."

Her tone and encouragement were life-giving.

She saved me from possibly losing my mind before and during my defense.

On top of that, she volunteered to be one of my official readers for my final defense. This means she will have to read, edit, and provide constructive input for my entire written dissertation within two weeks of my final defense. This is a huge and time-consuming responsibility. And she volunteered with a smile on her face.

She is definitely my favorite teacher of 2010.

She is also on her way to being my favorite teacher of 2011...

This morning I bumped into her and instead of greeting me with a customary "Happy New Year", she greeted me with, "at the end of this year, we'll be calling you doctor."
Talk about making my day.

I'm going to finish my PhD in 2011.

Three cheers for my favorite teacher and all of her words of encouragement both this year and last ---

hip-hip-hooray! hip-hip-hooray! hip-hip-hooray!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


This December ended with quite a bang. In the final 10 days of the year, I successfully passed my dissertation proposal defense, celebrated my 33rd birthday (or Candy Cane Celebration as Jill likes to call it), celebrated the birth of Christ, enjoyed friends and family, had my last supper at More's, and rang in the new year. Many stories need to be told and pictures need to be shared. To do so, I'm going to write a five-part (possibly more) series highlighting some of my favorite things that happened or I received during the last ten days of 2010.

Part I: my new favorite running gear

I ran a lot in 2010; 1105.24 miles to be exact. And I have plans to run more in 2011 (more to come on goals for the new year in the days to come). For my birthday, D got me a pair of Vibram Five Fingers running shoes. The whole barefoot running movement has really caught my attention and the five fingers look so cool. I was thrilled when I received a pair as a gift. I spent time at my parents house just walking around in them and then experimented with them on the treadmill. It took a little while, but I started to like the way they felt on my feet. Yesterday I went out for my first real run in them. And I LOVED them. I liked feeling my feet hit the pavement; feeling the cold ground beneath me; and the soreness on my bottom and in my lower calves. I'm looking forward to running in them more - including a race sometime this year!

D also got me Chi Running (the book) as a Christmas gift. 

I'm hoping to improve my running, strength, and enjoyment of running in 2011.

I've also wanted a Garmin running watch for the longest time. And over Christmas I scored on on craigslist for half price. The guy I purchased my Forerunner 305 from had only used it three times. It was still in the box and in perfect condition. HUGE SCORE! 

Yesterday I went out for a run with a new playlist, new Garmin, and new Five Fingers (for the last mile of a 4.5 mile run). It was awesome.

I love my new gear! 

My new shoes, new garmin, and new book are high on my list of FAVORITE THINGS from the last ten days of 2010.

K loves my new shoes, too. Here's my little future marathoner trying on her first pair of Five Fingers.