I’m free! I’ve technically been free from school since last Wednesday, but have had a lot going on – so today is the first day I’ve woken up with ZERO on my calendar.

Early last week was kinda hellish, but it’s over and grades have been posted and I successfully completed the semester and live to endure another. I am taking a complete break from all things school-related until the new semester starts. I just need it.

Jon has been traveling across Canada since the Sunday before last (so he’s been gone 10 days so far). While I’m NOT a fan of this sort of thing, it afforded me the opportunity to take a trip to see some new (to me) places!

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I hosted the baby shower on Monday night, wrapped things up here school-wise on Tuesday, met with some work-related friends on Wednesday night for a work group thing and then headed to Montreal super early on Thursday morning. Jon arrived at about the same time (from a different part of Canada), so we found our hotel, picked up a map and headed out to explore.

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Here’s what we found:

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Lots of snow!

It was cold, but I really just didn’t care. I was happy to be with Jon and happy to be free. He’s been to Montreal a few times and wanted to take me to a restaurant he’s tried in the past, so we tromped through the snow until we found it. Definitely worth the hassle (Barroco – no pictures because it was tiny and dark, but it was awesome!).

We spent Friday morning and afternoon just wandering around doing touristy stuff.

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(Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal)

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We have a knack for finding Mexican restaurants wherever we might be, so that’s what we did for lunch.

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This one gave us spicy carrot soup, which I thought was odd and is not something I would have ordered given a choice – but I am definitely going to pester Jon to make it for us at home. SO GOOD. I have a mental aversion to creamy vegetable soups, but I think I’m growing out of it?

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We drove to Quebec City after lunch.

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Jon’s been there before, too, and wanted to take me to an Irish pub – so that’s what we did for dinner once we arrived. I totally failed to take many pictures, but I have one:

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We stayed for a long time eating (mostly junk like the nachos) and drinking (Jon) because it was cozy and warm.

A HUGE holiday party happened at our hotel that night, so that was fun to observe. I have never seen so many people in one place so dressed up toting cases of beer around (to their rooms?). There were groups standing around drinking in the parking garage when we arrived earlier in the evening! I guess having a pre-party shindig? It was crazy.

We went exploring on Saturday.

We walked to a cute indoor Christmas market.

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Wandered around looking at stuff …

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Went to a cute outdoor Christmas market.

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Ate lunch nearby and tried maple syrup pie (which I’d never heard of).

Maple Syrup Pie. 👍

We went back to our hotel and watched (iPad) TV and took a nap before dinner just because we could. After dinner (at Portofino Italian Bistro), we walked to a pub and listened to some music and people watched. Fun Saturday.

We had a lazy morning before driving back to Montreal on Sunday and just hung out at the hotel for dinner (ordered delivery, anyway). I had a 7AM flight home Monday morning, so here I am. Back at home. Jon’s still there, unfortunately.

I think we stayed in Old Quebec – or maybe downtown – in Quebec City? I’m pretty sure we stayed downtown in Montreal, too. We were within walking distance of lots of stuff both places, anyway. I’m not sure what the areas are called, which is probably rude of me – but I honestly didn’t even know what time my flight was leaving until the night before. I just got on a plane and went and did whatever Jon had planned for us because I had no brain space for thinking about the trip prior to actually getting on the plane.

(The view from the Quebec City Convention Center, next door to our hotel.)

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(Parliament Building in Quebec City)

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Anyway, it was a fantastic trip. We had excellent meals in both Montreal and Quebec City (favorite part of all trips) and everything was snowy and Christmasy and festive.

What a fantastic trip. ❤️❤️❤️

I didn’t take my laptop and Jon didn’t work and we just had fun together wandering around.

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I miss him. I’m really glad we had such a fun long weekend together.

I’ve just been puttering around the house today. I cleaned and bathed the dogs and did laundry and did some grocery shopping. Caught up on kissing this cute chunk:

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Also? Gingerbread cookies! I look for super spicy and super soft gingerbread cookies every year and never find them. Took matters into my own hands. Now I just have to refrain from EATING EVERY ONE.

Every year I go on a quest for the perfect super spicy & super soft gingerbread. Took matters into my own hands this year and am never looking back. 🙌 🎄🎅

All papers are in and I have one final exam left to take before I will have officially survived the first semester of the PhD program. I almost can’t believe it.

I’ve been pretty stressed this semester – more than I think I’ve really realized. I noticed on Monday (during hour 4 or 5 of studying for a comprehensive statistics final) that I was biting my fingernails, which is super uncommon. I haven’t bitten my nails in YEARS. Like, 10+. I just steadily ripped every one off, though.

I’ve been hyper-focused since we returned from Thanksgiving. I feel like I woke up this morning, though, and looked around and am ready to get my shit together. The house is a mess, bills haven’t been paid, I haven’t seen or talked to friends in ages, I haven’t made time for exercise, I’m having to wear the stretchiest pants I own, etc. I’m ready for a mental break. I want my life back for a little bit so I can regroup.

The first semester is supposedly the hardest. That’s the story, anyway. It’s been a pretty significant transition and it’s almost been like learning a completely new language (how to be a researcher). I love it, though. Really, really love it. It’s absolutely what I’m supposed to be doing. All of my prior training has been clinical (master’s program focus was interpersonal practice/mental health) and I’m SO glad I took a few years off to practice under a fantastic clinical supervisor vs. plowing straight through programs like some people choose to do. I just feel … grounded … or focused or something. Like this is the right time and place.

Anyway. The point: I’m almost done for the semester. I’m ready for a break. I love it and feel like I’ve made some really good career choices.

I’ve really pretty much had my head down for the past week, but Jon or his child #3 have been feeding me.

One night she made a stuffed eggplant thing. I don’t love eggplant, but it was good:

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We were supposed to have a baby shower last night (Thursday), but the couple unexpectedly had the baby on Monday – so we’ve slightly postponed it. We had a bunch of stuff to make chili for the party (it’s not really going to be an overly traditional shower, I don’t guess), so we made it one night, anyway.

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(This little guy is getting a high chair for Christmas. The days of sitting in his seat at the table with us are just about over. He wants OUT.)

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We went out to dinner to celebrate the night I passed the stats final and had our typical Mexican and margarita night. This is the only picture I have, though. I was brain dead and exhausted. The test was hard – took 2 solid hours of thinking to walk out feeling just ok.

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Nothing else has really been going on.

I did our tree and all of the Christmas decorating before Thanksgiving because I knew the week after we returned would be bad with the papers due and the finals.

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Oh! MC is 5 months old now.

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He is such sweet boy. Super active lately. Wants to stand and move and DO something nearly constantly. He also “talks” a lot, which is the most adorable thing ever.

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He LOVES both dogs, but is especially fond of Molly. He just lights up when he sees her.

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He’s also gotten really good at reaching and grabbing.

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Jon has joked since well before he was born that he wants him to be a “paleo baby” experiment (i.e., grow up completely paleo to see what happens health-wise). He’s not overly serious, of course, but we joke about it a lot and there are definitely ongoing super casual discussions about nutrition. I saw this posted the other day when I was at school and realized that maybe our joking has paid off a little:

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Jon’s child #3 is doing (what I consider to be) a fantastic job with MC. She has breastfed for the past 5 months and has no plans to stop anytime soon, has been making and freezing food lately for him and has been very receptive to things we suggest (ie, baby food making sites). I swear we’ve done nothing but casually joke, try our best to lead a healthy lifestyle and supply her with healthy food. No pressure, no judgment.

I just don’t know that I would have been on board with all of this at 21.

I’m not sure how easy it would have been to keep my mouth shut if she’d chosen to do things like put kool aid in bottles – so I’m SUPER glad to not have to cross that bridge.

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So – anyway – I’m starting to free up some brain space and am excited about the upcoming weeks. I SWEAR I’m going to start running again. For real.

Thanksgiving was fabulous.

We packed and headed out about an hour after Jon got home from work on Wednesday, which put us arriving at my mom’s house around 11P since it’s generally a 6 hour drive across the state.

Molly kept figuring out how to get out of her harness and we stopped to grab dinner – so I guess we actually made it there around midnight. Long night.

Her ability to wriggle out of her seatbelt/harness was cute for about the first hour. 😕

I’m glad I didn’t sign us up for a Turkey Trot. I almost did it since we had so much fun last year in GA, but my mom lives in the middle of nowhere (suburb of Memphis) and it would have taken 40 minutes to an hour to make it to one – which would have taken a chunk of the morning since the only one I found didn’t start until 9A. Good thing since the dogs were wound up and kept us up half the night and our internal clocks had us up at 5A – meaning we slept like 4 hours Wednesday night (a FAR cry from my typical 8-9 hours). (Also I haven’t really trotted in something like 5 months … so there’s that.)

We bundled up and took Molly for a walk in our pajamas, though, since we could.

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We spent Thanksgiving morning and afternoon hanging out with my mom and brothers preparing for dinner.

Breakfast (plus eggs and bacon):

Every day should start this way. Happy thanksgiving, everyone!

We snacked a little throughout the day (and skipped lunch) and took a short nap at some point, but we mostly just helped her finish up last minute stuff.

Also took pics:

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My mom invited a bunch of people, which was super convenient for me since I was able to see everyone in one place – all of her siblings, several of my cousins, my brothers (and all partners, of course) and my dad and his wife came.

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My aunt has cancer and has been in the midst of treatment for several months, so I was glad to see her.

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Fun night.

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Good food.

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We hung around on Friday and ate leftovers, talked, played with the dogs, etc.

We were finally brave enough to let Molly play with my mom’s 6 pound puppy, which turned out to be fine. We knew she would never intentionally hurt the puppy, but she’s big and clumsy and we worried she’d accidentally step on him or something. It was fine, though. She’s super gentle and very much knows how to tailor her playful ways.

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The puppy loved it.

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He wasn’t afraid of her in any way.

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It was nice to spend a quiet day hanging out with everyone.

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I saw this picture after my mom took it and instantly remembered another.

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Dec 2006:

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It’s almost unbelievable.

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It’s also unbelievable that I was still about a year away from changing everything (started Jan 2008).

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I really just can’t even imagine being that person anymore – except I am.

I haven’t had 100% success at shaking the body thoughts this year (my 2014 goal), but I’m still working on it.

Gaining 10 pounds has actually been kind of helpful in this regard because I’ve solidly realized that I feel just as “fat” at 170 as I did at 160 – and have felt the same at every.single.weight. I’m honestly not sure that I feel any differently now (in this regard) than I did at 270 or 280. Changing my body weight isn’t going to stop the thoughts. Changing the thoughts will change the thoughts. Seems so simple, huh?

I’m ready to let it all go. I’m not constantly obsessing or anything (actually pretty far from that) – I just want to be the healthiest I can be. Mind AND body. It’s kind of amazing to me that it seems so easy to lose the physical weight, yet so hard to drop the emotional.

Anyway.

We woke up at 4A yesterday (Saturday) morning and started the long drive home. I have two final exams and a paper due and a baby shower to co-host within the next 5 days, so we couldn’t stay all weekend.

Heading home.

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Super fun time. Now back to the real world.

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So here I am again posting from bed.

Up since 5 again. Got some solid work done before my 9am class and even turned a paper in today (a week early!). I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

I stayed at school and worked until about 3. I was brain dead, so I went shopping at target on my way home to unwind.

Jon’s child #4 came home from college for the holiday today and brought a friend (from Scotland) with her, so we had a “fun” dinner.

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I put Fritos AND cornbread in my chili.

They’re watching a movie in the LR so I came and got in bed and am barely able to stay awake.

I’ve been STARVING for some reason today. I ate a banana and Larabar for breakfast, but didn’t pack lunch, so I ate a kinda crappy lunch I picked up on campus.

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I could.not.wait. for dinner.

Timehop was fun today.

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No exercise yet, but I emailed to inquire about some stuff regarding the running group session starting in January. So that’s a step?

I’m already in bed and am totally exhausted. Woke up at 5 this morning to start working and have been busy all day – so I’m ready to be done.

Pictures from the day:

Breakfast on the way to a meeting:

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Sample of some kind of bread a Panera employee offered while I tried to get some work done:

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(This was around 10a and was cup #5 or 6 of coffee and coffee place #2 of the morning. This is the problem with getting up so early. Also with needing places to meet with people and to work away from the distractions at home. I have to buy something. I’ve been feeling like I should cut back, but that’s really only about a cup an hour given I started at 5. I guess that’s not so bad?)

Lunch (ham, cheese, spinach, yogurt, salsa rolled up):

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Shared my (“simply salted” or whatever the plainish version is) popcorn with this one, as always:

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Snack (plain yogurt w/raspberries, blueberries and a few craisins):

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Dinner (chicken thighs baked with sundried tomatoes and roasted asparagus and rice):

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Tonight was fudge making night:

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And ornament making night:

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Time for sleep.

I feel like I’m always saying this, but here I am again feeling like the weekend was a blur.

I worked all day on Friday. We had plans to have pizza and go to the baby store to “look” at stuff for Christmas on Friday night, so that’s what we did.

I somehow skipped lunch (mostly because I was very busy and hadn’t packed anything and it was too inconvenient to leave work to get something) – so I was super hungry by the time we got to dinner. We wound up ordering some wings, too, so I ate a few of those and a couple pieces of pizza. For some reason, I felt REALLY bad afterward. Like, up during the night with actual stomach pain (not nausea). No idea. Probably too much junk lately. I just really need to learn my lesson. Not sure what it’s going to take.

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It’s actually kind of amazing we left with just one thing. Well, one thing and some books.

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In our defense, he LOVED it. He was interested in it from the moment we tried it out.

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I had a goal to do some sort of exercise on Saturday and I feel like I accomplished it despite not going to the gym to do it. I totally count yard work as exercise because our yard is full of trees that produce millions of leaves. I’ve been putting off dealing with it until the trees are mostly empty, so I raked for a couple hours before Jon took over for a couple more hours. I cleaned out flower beds. Swept sidewalks. Etc. My arms are sore. We have a blower, but I chose not to use it.

I don’t recall what else happened on Saturday, but I know I cleaned the house and cleaned out and reorganized our storage closet and worked on some school stuff here and there. Jon cooked a sweet potato and mashed it up to see how MC would respond.

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That’s about it. Busy day.

Sunday (yesterday), we did the typical prepping for the week (laundry, grocery shopping, etc.). I also pulled out all of the xmas decorations and started that process. The tree is up and the lights are on! We have plans to decorate with ornaments, etc. tonight with Jon’s child #3 and MC. We’re celebrating the holiday early this year, so I feel totally justified in starting the decorating early. I love this time of year.

Busy couple of weeks ahead with exams and papers due and a baby shower to co-host (at my house next week). I started feeling some stress last night and was very conscious of the desire to eat. I wasn’t hungry – just kept feeling distracted by it, though. I’m going to try to exercise or do SOMETHING active each day in an attempt to better manage the stress.

Jon bought something like 12 POUNDS of sugar yesterday to make a bunch of fudge, so yeah. That will probably help, too, unfortunately (or not). Tis the season.

Well, I read a little about vit D deficiency and learned that it can cause joint and muscle pain, so I’m going to go with that as the reason I feel so decrepit these days. Yeah. Sounds good.

Today has been baby day. I don’t know how to do much other than sit around hugging and taking pics, so that’s what we did again this week.

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I know I’m not cut out to be a FT parent, but that smile and his sweet giggle gets me every now and then.

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Jon’s home this week, so I had to share.

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I don’t know what’s been up with me this week, but I just haven’t been super hungry for breakfast (maybe my body is compensating for all the ice cream/sugar?). I ate a banana on my way to my class this morning and ate a Larabar mid-morning when I felt shaky.

I went to Panera for lunch with the people from my cohort and had a salad.

I wasn’t hungry again until dinner, which Jon threw together pretty quickly with some ground beef we had on hand, an onion, a green pepper, bunch of spices, spinach, cheese and an avocado:

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He wanted to order a pizza but I felt like that would be a bad idea since the weekend is coming. (I prefer for meals like that to be a fun weekend thing or special treat – not a regular weeknight thing.)

Having some pressure to keep a record of what I’m consuming has been extremely helpful the past few weeks. Myfitnesspal is annoying – especially since I’m not super focused on calories, but more on behavior – but this has always worked.

I need to up my pressure on the exercise front. I am working tomorrow (at my job – a week early since next Friday is a holiday), so I doubt I will do anything substantial. But Saturday! I will do something on Saturday. Really!

Typical day. Worked on a paper all morning since my typical Wednesday class ended last week (alleviating some stress, of course). Had a stats class this afternoon that totally freaked me out with all the stuff I need to have in my brain in a couple of weeks for a final exam.

I didn’t feel like eating this morning, so I just ate a banana for breakfast.

Had yogurt for lunch as I drove to school:

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Had a snack on my drive home:

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Ate another snack when I got home since I was starving (leftovers):

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None of us felt like cooking dinner, so we plopped a bunch of stuff on (microwaved) potatoes:

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I don’t know how these things end up happening, but we discovered peppermint ice cream is available now – so we bundled MC up and took him for a ride:

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We are clearly ready for the holidays.

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My doctor called today to follow up on the blood-work done last week. Apparently I’m perfectly fine except for a Vit D deficiency. He called in a prescription that I picked up earlier, but I haven’t had a chance to look at it. I think I take it once a week, which seems odd – but whatever. He told me to get some OTC B-12, too.

Still no exercise. I am GOING to get back on track. I swear.

I woke up today and was like, “Man I feel good … so much energy … I’m going to get so much DONE today.” Took a few minutes of evaluation about this weird state to remember that I’m on day 4 of my antibiotic and am likely just not SICK. I think I’ve had some kind of sinus infection issue off and on for weeks.

You would think that I would have channeled some of that energy into exercise, but I didn’t. I thought about running – but I just never got around to it. I HAVE to get into some kind of routine and start making it a priority.

I channeled the energy into banging out a 17 page start to a rough draft of a research proposal – and preparing for a stats quiz tomorrow.

I also spent time here and there hugging on and taking selfies with a baby.

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We had miniscule amount of snow this morning, which was totally exciting for Molly. She was super impatient on her morning walk, so I let her run laps around the backyard for a while when we got home.

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Little bit of snow and this one is in heaven zooming around the yard. ❄️⛄️☁️

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She is definitely designed for the cold weather, but she never complains about coming in.

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Breakfast:

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Lunch:

(Turkey, cheese, spinach, sour cream and salsa. I eat these like a taco.)

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I’m not sure if I’ve ever posted this before, but Jon’s child #3 makes this raw cheesecake quite a bit:

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My trainer gave me the recipe and I think we’ve probably made it a dozen or so times now for various occasions (uhhh … including for just having on a random weekday): http://www.therawtarian.com/raw-cheesecake-recipe

It is really very fantastic. We’ve made it for a bunch of people – some of whom were determined to hate it – and everyone has always loved it.

Dinner:

(Some sort of butter chicken situation that Jon makes a lot. Whole stick of butter, lots of onion, curry powder, chicken plus rice plus roasted asparagus.)

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Somehow we got on the subject of peppermint milkshakes and the next thing I knew this was happening:

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So anyway. Good day.

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My body is hurting, though. My knees hurt and my back hurts and my joints ache. It’s clearly a lack of exercise. I just can’t seem to get my shit together. My typical routine is off right now (M and W strength training and cardio a couple times a week). I skipped last W and this M night, too. I don’t know what my problem is, but I just can’t get myself on track. I think I’ve got the stress eating under control – and I’m otherwise mostly treating myself well with the sleep and the getting dressed in actual clothes each day and all that.

I’ll get it together. These things happen.

OMG, the weekend was a whirlwind.

I had a doctor appointment early Friday morning (and was prescribed an antibiotic for a sinus infection that’s been driving me crazy). Worked all day (at my job, not school stuff) and planned to leave a little early (meaning 3:30-4P), but had some client crisis stuff going on (combined with talking with co-workers) and didn’t wind up leaving until a little after 6. We had a friend over for dinner, so I got home at the same time she showed up. Fortunately Jon had gotten home from his work trip around noon and had been able to cook dinner.

Fun night, but I was completely exhausted by the time I went to bed. I felt like I hadn’t even really had a chance to connect with Jon.

(His back-to-back travel lately is AWFUL, especially when he’s out of the country and time differences and the huge expense mean we don’t have much chance to talk or text. He plans his own travel but things have just been coming up. Too many things.)

We spent Saturday at home being lazy and hanging out with MC so his mom could have a break and do something fun.

❤️❤️❤️

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Jon’s child # 4 came into town Saturday afternoon (from college), so we ordered Chinese take-out for dinner and then spent a couple more hours with MC.

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I worked on a paper off and on all day and finally got it in decent shape by about midnight.

I have been on the couch all day working, but at least I've had company.

My goal was to spend Sunday with Jon (vs. distracted by the paper) – so that’s what I did.

We had a breakfast date and then went shopping and stocked up on everything (super fun and exciting, I know).

I don’t think I’ve ever made it out of Target without buying something for the baby.

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Jon and I caught up on tv and had a super lazy day. I think I even took a nap.

Today, I had an earlyish morning meeting with my mentor and then spent the day at home hanging out. Jon’s child #3 potentially has mastitis and has had a fever since last night and has felt pretty awful, so I’ve tried to help with MC as much as possible.

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Lunch:

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Dinner (made by Jon’s child #3 when she started feeling a little better) (cauliflower crust, sausage, pesto):

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I am going to make a real effort to run tomorrow. The weather is shitty, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I miss it. A lot. Even though I hate it and am really not very good at it. It’s hard to explain.

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So, yeah. Whirlwind. But I finished one big paper! One to go.

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