Saturday, August 1, 2015

Life convulsed

When Ammon and I moved into this house, one year ago today (because it's technically still August 1st as I write this), we had hoped to stay here a while.  To convince our aging, well-meaning but terrible landlord buy this rough little dilapidated house in a fantastic neighborhood, and turn it into something extra special.


We love this little crappy house so much that I spent an entire weekend ripping rotted railroad ties out of the front yard and acquiring fill dirt to re-grade the slope.  That is true love, right there.

But then, life giggled a little bit, and hiccuped.  Well, maybe not a hiccup... more like it went into straight up convulsions...

You see, in late June, Ammon came home from work, and mentioned that there was a position opening up with HP out in northern California that he was well-qualified for, and that one of his colleagues was going to check into if Ammon would be eligible to apply, since he is technically only a contracted employee right now.  As soon as he brought up this position, I had a FEELING.  That feeling that you get when you know immediately that something is going to happen.  I started researching the market in the area, and decided I needed to learn as much as I could, in the event that this feeling came true.

A few days before my 30th birthday, Ammon applied for the job.

On my 30th birthday, he had his first phone interview for the position.

By July 6th, we knew that an offer would be coming, but had to wait on the formalities of it all.  9 days later, it was done:  We were offered an incredible opportunity that will change our lives forever.  As of September 14th, Ammon will be an employee of HP in California. We will be establishing residency in my home state, just 45 minutes away from my mom's hometown.

I gave my notice at work, and I'm leaping without a safety net.  This is quite possibly the most risky move that I have ever made.  You could argue it isn't risky, because we are guaranteed Ammon's income.  But as those of you who have been around for long might remember, I've always been the primary financial provider in our relationship.  Now I'm going to be provided for, and it's almost nauseating.

What if I can't find a job?

How are we going to afford everything on his salary if I don't find work?

I think I'm good at Accounting, but will hiring managers in California feel the same?

And even more than the professional aspects, there's the personal aspects.  We're leaving behind our close friends.  His mom, and my parents and brother.  I do have some [distant] family in the area, most of whom I've never met, or only a couple of times.  We are starting practically at ground zero with everything.  
 
Where will I buy my running gear?  
 
For that matter, where do I run?  
 
Where are the grocery stores?  
 
How am I going to get used to the fact that you must use hands-free options when talking on the phone in your car?

Will we make friends right away, or will it be the long, slow, painful process that it has been over the last several years?

I feel very fortunate for this opportunity, I do.  It's unbelievable, and it's special.  We are getting so much, and I am working really hard to have a heart full of gratitude.  Except that there's all of this sadness and fear.  It happened so fast, we didn't have time to emotionally prepare to separate from our support network.  We have to find someone who will take over the lease on our crappy but cute Colorado home.  We have to sort through the things we have amassed, and make some tough decisions about what will stay, and what will go.  All of these things make it so hard for me to truly experience the full measure of the gratitude in my heart.  I should be full to overflowing right now, I know this.

I'm just not there yet.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ten Tickles

Oh wow.  It's been a hot second since I've done this thing here.  Blogging, that is; I still type every single day.  I don't even know for sure why I'm here on this ole' blogger, typing words right now, except that "that feeling" to over-share struck me, and I think Ammon misses all that time I used to spend over-sharing every though and detail that runs through my head with anybody BUT him.

Poor guy.  You should probably keep him in your thoughts.  I talk his ear off constantly these days.

So what have you all been up to?  Are you still out there in blogging land?  I know that I wasn't the only one to walk away from the madness for a while.  It became a lot of work to blog, read, comment, email, be thoughtful, sweet, witty, and occasionally send goodies to other people.  And the texting... I am so sorry guys, it was when I became friends with bloggers and started texting with them that this all got too hard for me.  I AM THE WORST at texting.  It's kryptonite for me.  If you've ever gotten a text from me, it's likely that you've encountered just how bad I am at this new communication form.  And I'm not even sorry about it.  That was a tangent.  All of that was to say, that I get why we all started to blog differently, or quit doing it altogether.  What was a fun way to connect with others became too much work.

So anyway, now that I've asked about you, let's get back to what this is really about - me.  I would be telling a great big lie if I played it off that life has been sunshine and roses.  Looking back on my last blog post, I can honestly say that this point in our lives, this last year has been pretty brutal on all of us.  There have been some good moments, like me finishing up my Associate's Degree and starting on my Bachelor's, but there has been some super tough stuff too, stuff I just can't really talk about for all of the world to read, you know?

It's made it hard to come here and write about the highlights, because if I can't tell you about the really terrible stuff, my good stuff looks kind of pathetic and lame.  Seriously.  Like, the highlight of my day today was a joke that one of my co-workers sent me.  You wanna know what it was?

Q:  How many tickles does it take to make an Octopus laugh?

A:  Ten tickles
 
I probably laughed for 5 minutes straight, and then I proceeded to tell that joke to 4 other people.  Half of whom didn't even get it.  This is what I'm reduced to, lame jokes that are appropriate to tell to a 6 year old.
 
On a high note, I did finally teach myself to crochet, and I have made some darn cute things in the process, including this bag for a coworker:
 
 She is so in love with Wonder Woman, and I felt that it was only fitting that she have a Wonder Woman bag.  Fun stuff.  I'm pretty dang proud every time I look at the picture, it was one of those few times in my life where reality ended up matching the vision that I had in my head.

Also, we are t-minus 11 days from my first ever triathlon, and I'm scared out of my mind.  I was doing fine until I went to go try open water swimming in a wetsuit for the first time, and practically drowned in chest-high water.  Not so cool.  At this point, if I survive the swim portion, I will literally feel like I'm on top of the world.  Also of note, is that wetsuits are ridiculously hard to put on, especially if they're a little too small... a co-worker is letting me borrow two of her wetsuits (she is seriously the best person ever), but it turns out that she was at least 15 pounds lighter than I am right now when she was doing triathlons.  Balls.  It's a little touch and go right now as to if I'm going to have to man up and swim without a wetsuit, or if I'm going to be able to make one of them work.  Maybe I'll be motivated enough to tell you all.  I don't know, this could be a random, one-off blog post, not to hear from me again for 8 months.  Crazier things have happened.

Speaking of crazy things, totally not pregnant.  That is definitely a crazier thing.  Alyx, who also used to blog came through here a few weeks ago with her kids, and we got to have dinner with them.  Ammon and I seriously considered taking them off of her hands permanently.  Since we're such good friends though, I decided to maintain the friendship and not commit a felony in kidnapping children that she was escorting over state lines.  It was a close thing though, believe me.

Is this totally boring?  Probably.  Whatever.  Thanks, if you read this far.  You're super duper awesome, and thanks for not giving up on me.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

doubt creeps in

Do you ever have those times in your life where you just don't know how your life has gotten so insane and out of control?

I have to say, that's exactly how my life has felt as of late, almost as if I'm a runaway train careening down a mountain at breakneck speeds.  But maybe that isn't the right metaphor... I don't know.  Things are busy.  It's hard.  I'm stressed out, and tired.  I thought being done with the marathon would help slow me own, but school and work picked that exact moment to get much, much harder.  Working out, even short, restorative workouts has become nonexistent.  I haven't gotten home at my normal time in 2 weeks.  It's a time of testing and reckoning for me, a time when I have to woman up and decide what I'm made of.

Mostly, it's a time when I'm doubting if all of these sacrifices that I have made to pursue a career in Accounting are worth it.  I see my friends who are still on the Property Management track flourishing.  They are getting ready for some continuing education, but nothing like what I have been working on for the past 3 years.  While they all enjoyed a nice bump in salary at the beginning of the year, I took a chance, and a cost of living raise to switch departments and get some real world experience in Accounting.  Most of the time, I'm really glad I made that decision.  I have had so many good opportunities since I accepted my position, and I work with some incredibly talented Accounting and Finance people.  However, I took on some really challenging things when I accepted me position as well, things like personality conflicts, and not feelings of not being valued.  Feelings of intense overwhelm, and instability in my position, as it completely morphs into something new every time I blink.  A complete lack of recognition for the fact that I attempt to take all of the changes and challenges in stride, and that most of the time, I succeed.

On top of all of that, is school, and struggles there.  This semester has been very labor-intensive for me, for classes that I really could not care less about.  They're classes that I only found out I had to take in the spring, so that I could transfer in January, and so often I'm tempted to just blow them off, put in less than average effort, but in the end I don't, because that isn't authentic to who I am becoming as a person, and what my ultimate goals are.  Accountants are diligent, detail-oriented people who look for every lost penny.  Accounting students don't blow off their Marketing class (at least, in my world the good ones don't), because they think it's stupid and a waste of time, they try to find the value in the class, and get what they can out of it, even if it's just some clarity on how departments set their pricing and sales objectives, which ultimately drive budgets, or how they are justifying costs in relation to profits.  
 
I want to squeeze all I can out of this time in my life, school and work-wise, because I have a clear picture of where I want my career to go... Internships, and then being recruited by one of the top financial firms, working there while I earn my CPA designation, and then eventually taking a post with a company that has an outstanding culture, like a running shoe manufacturer, or any company in the outdoor/sporting goods manufacturing and retailing business really.  It's the culmination of everything that I have studied in my adult life... health, wellness, exercise, and Accounting.  I know your minds are all blown right now, that I have such a clear target, but without it, I probably would have given up a long time ago.  This path that I am on is really, really challenging.  It makes me uncomfortable on a daily basis.  Yet, it seems as though that is exactly how I should know that it's the right path, isn't it?  That it's hard?  That I still somehow convince myself each day to keep trying, and to keep striving?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Some new running goals

You know how I've been talking about giving running a rest for a while?  It turns out that after putting so much time, energy, and effort into it, I now miss the heck out of it now that I'm no longer training for a big race.  It's the strangest thing, because I was so looking forward to getting to NOT run, and now the only thing holding me back is the ship time on my new shoes (aka saving grace for my legs).

Ad did I mention that I set some new running goals?  Woah Nelly, they are BIG ONES.  Like, I don't know quite what I'm thinking with these bad boys, because apparently, I want to try my hand at running fast.  Who knew?

I told Ammon that he wasn't allowed to let me register for another marathon until I had broken 2 hours in the half marathon.  I told him this right after the marathon, because I have heard that marathon running is a lot like childbirth, and women just have this nasty tendency of repeatedly torturing themselves.  I am recognizing that really building my skills in shorter distances, and working up to the longer distances could be a really beneficial thing for my running, and so I want to apply that across the board, starting with the 5k distance.  Once I hit my 5k goal time, I will take on the 10k, then the half marathon, and eventually the marathon again.  I want to be clear, these are stand-alone running race goals, not triathlon running leg goals.  That would just be crazy talk talking.  But anyway, how I set these goals:  I knew I wanted to be able to run a half marathon in under 2 hours, so I plugged that goal time into a race paces calculator, which gave me my target paces for the 800m all the way through to the marathon.  Neat.  So without further ado, I present to you my new running training targets for the next however long they last.

1 mile: 7:28 (is this real life???  OMG that's freakishly fast)
5k:       25:55
10k:     53:50
Half:    2:00:00
Full:    4:12:33

They feel totally out there and unrealistic right now.  Like I said, a 7:28 mile seems freakishly fast and impossible to me.  However, finishing a full marathon seemed freakish and impossible to me 2 years ago, so there you go.  I can hit these goals.  It's just going to take some time, energy, sweat, and devotion to do it.  I've got all of those things.  There's nothing like giving yourself the goal of dropping 6 minutes and change off of your 5k time to make you feel well and truly dedicated to a sport.

And here we all thought that Kristen the triathlete might have something more interesting to talk about than running...  I guess that's not entirely accurate.

On the bright side, speed work and 5k training is short, so there's at least a minimal chance of me having a life outside of training, school, and work...

Monday, November 3, 2014

My apple tree likes to eat people

So, I literally just opened this window with no idea what I should write about, just the notion that I need my written therapy back in my life in a real and meaningful way again.  This should be fun, right?

Last week, Michelle wrote an awesome Stream of Consciousness post that reminded me of what blogging used to be.  Back when we were all super into it, and we had lists of blogging topics, and people were sending hundreds of emails back and forth every day.  It was a darn magical time.  I look back, and I wonder how we came to the spot we are at now.  It makes me sad.  I flipping love what blogging used to be, but I'm glad that it isn't quite as labor intensive anymore, either.  Because really, it was a blast, but an exhausting, time consuming blast, and I met some of the coolest, funnest people.


Like Alyx.  Quite possibly one of my most favorite people ever, and I never would have met her without this blogging thing.  I might get to see her next week, and that is just the best to me.  I'm pretty sure we would be besties if we lived next door to each other, and I'm trying to figure out how to make that happen without actually having to move to Utah.

Speaking of Utah, that always makes me think of Mormons, and Mormons make me think of the party we went to on Friday night.  Which, if you went to the same party I went to, you wouldn't understand at all, so this is going to be interesting to explain.  Last Saturday (not 2 days ago, but 9), I was on our brand new ladder, literally being eaten by my apple tree, trying to liberate some apples from the branches when my neighbor called out to me.  She is quite possibly the cutest, sweetest person in existence.  Anyway, she wanted to give us a flier for a Halloween block party, with the admonishment that "it was time we got out and met some of our other neighbors".  Point taken, awesome, sweet neighbor with adorable children.  We will go forth and meet the block.  So, we went.  What we were not expecting was that we were actually attending a party hosted by one of the local not-quite-a-mega-church-but almost's small groups, which are apparently organized geographically?  I'm not quite sure, but that's what they all alluded to.  But anyway, they were super nice, and we had a great time drinking cocoa and cider, eating s'mores, and sitting around a fire pit.  Ammon, who is not a big fan of church, liked everyone so much, he was tempted to go see what their church was all about.  It was pretty crazy.  Then I was seeing something online about freezer meal exchanges, and now I think I should ask all of those cool ladies to do one with me, because it seems right up their alley.

My problem with crockpot meals right now, though, is that they aren't always the healthiest things, and I kind of gained some weight marathon training.  Like, 8 pounds.  It's not awful, but it's also not awesome.  So now I'm eating to lean out again.  I'm following the meal plan included with PiYo, except that I increased my daily caloric intake from what they recommended.  There is no way I want to try surviving on 1400 calories ever, that just sounds awful.  And let's be real, cleaning up your diet after you're allowed all of the donuts, and all of the carbs is already sucky... throwing in some serious calorie restriction on top of that, nope.  Hail no.


I know we saw this picture yesterday, but you need to know that it's really hard to eat healthfully when you are making french pastry that is chock full of butter and cream cheese.  Also, I took this to the party Friday night, and it was a huge hit.  I like to buy my friends with fat and sugar, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Which brings me back to internet friends.  You should come visit.  I will make goodies for you, and they will be delicious.  And I won't even make you run 13.1 miles with me, unless you want to.  I will, however, make you snuggle with Gunner and/or Beckham, because they're the best snugglers ever.


Just imagine your head where that pillow is.  Yep.  It's pretty much how things go around here all of the time.

Don't you wish we were neighbors?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

That's what I'm doing these days

2 weeks ago, I became a marathoner.  Wow.  It's still one of those things that I'm absolutely shocked I was able to finish.  I have said it before, but it bears repeating:  I am not athletically gifted, and I fought on every single training run for every iota of fitness that I gained over the last 10 months.  For me, that made my accomplishment even more sweet.  Everyone starts at a different place, and with different odds stacked against them.  But I am a firm believer that anyone can do anything they want, if they are willing to put the time in.


The running store had to special order a 26.2 sticker for me, because they only had one left, and it was light pink, and my car is cranberry red.  That just isn't a good combo ever.  And then I was so excited, I set it on my binder for microeconomics, and took a picture of it at a stoplight.  Being cool is overrated.

So what have I been doing since the marathon?

1) Not blogging.  But not really on purpose, just because life has been busy.

2) School, school, school.  I was really looking forward to life getting a little easier after the marathon, but school actually got harder.  I think it's a conspiracy.

3) PiYo.  Yeah, I broke down and bought another Beachbody program.  I started it last week, and I like that there is a lead-in to the harder stuff, with the first few weeks being easier.  My legs are super locked up right now, so I'm doing more stretching than strengthening in the workouts, but it's totally fine by me.  I'm not really feeling the pressure to get all crazy with my workouts right now, just keep my body moving.

4)  Buying new running shoes.  Yup.  I wasn't going to, but at the marathon expo, I had a barefoot running gait analysis done, which identified that I have been running in the wrong category of shoes (stability) for 2 years, and it may be causing some of my running-related aches and pains.  So last weekend, I went to the running store with the goal of getting the above-shown sticker, and ended up trying on and run-testing 10 pairs of neutral shoes.  I found a winner, one that just so happened to have the last model-year on Zulilly at a ridiculously good rate, so I came home and put in that order.  The best thing is that since it takes so stinking long for product to ship from Zulilly, the chances of me running again before my body is 100% ready are slim.  I'm really hoping that these shoes are like purple unicorns for my feet.

5)  Trying to figure out how I am going to approach triathlon training.  Y'all, it's so complicated.  Every discipline has so many approaches to training, and then you multiply that by 3 disciplines, and good gravy...  I am pretty overwhelmed right now with the choices.  I have heard though that it is safest on your body to push your cycling training hardest, then swimming, and do the least running, which is honestly what my body would prefer.  But then I also hear from other people that you should focus on your weakest discipline, because your body is likely more efficient in the other two disciplines, which would have me running more, then swimming, then cycling the least.  Or there's the beginner's approach, which is to do each equally-ish.  Or... Yeah.  There's just a lot of options, and I have no idea what's going to work, because I've never tried to balance the three before.

6) Processing and eating apples.  They just never end.  Plus, there's a house on our cul-de-sac with 2 large apple trees, and we just got permission to pick their apples, which are quite possibly the tastiest apples I have had in a long time.  Ammon is building a fruit grinder, just so we can make apple cider with all of these apples.  If we're lucky, we'll have enough to ferment... let the good times roll.  In the meantime though, I am making apple sauce, apple cinnamon bread, apple crisp, and these pretty apple galettes:


What does your life look like these days?  I think everyone could use a little french pastry in their lives, don't you?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Appletopia

When we first rented this house, we had no idea that the tree in the backyard was an apple tree.  We just thought it was a crabapple tree, because there were a profusion of small green apples all over it.  And then we moved in and got the surprise of a lifetime:  those little green apples were destined to become real apples.

I had every intention of thinning the tree heavily, so that we got a sold crop of large apples come fall, but with work, school, moving, and marathon training, my attempts at thinning out the apple tree were rather limited.  Suddenly, it was fall, and the branches on the tree were literally bent to the ground, they were so heavy with fruit.  And thus began the state of appletopia.

The apple tree is entirely organic, and so little critters have had their free reign to nibble on apples to their hearts' content.  At first, I thought this would mean that 80% of our apples would be headed directly for the compost bin.  Imagine my surprise when one day, I picked all of these apples that were fit for human consumption:


Then 2 days later, I was able to pick these as well.

We still don't have all of the apples off the tree, either.  Most of the ones left are really high up on the tree, and we don't have a ladder yet, so they are out of range.  The ones that are lower are pretty much no good at this point, and headed for the compost bin.  I'm not sad about it, though.  This is a lot of apples to find good uses for.

So far this Autumn, we have made 2 batches of apple crisp, 2 batches of applesauce, 5 loaves of apple cinnamon swirl bread, and an apple galette.  We've also been eating apples like they're going out of style, and giving them away.  It doesn't seem to make a real dent in our supply.  Hopefully tomorrow I'll be making some apple butter and more applesauce, which should (fingers crossed) dwindle our supply... just in time for us to buy a ladder and finish getting all those apples off the darn tree.

Seriously, it's like an apple orchard threw up all over my house.  I'm not sad about it.  I just wish we had an applejack press so that we could be making cider with all of this goodness.

What is your favorite way to eat an apple?  We keep hearing about the same apple recipes over and over... I need some fresh ideas!