I live in a world where...

I'm a textbook introvert, and with that comes a lot of introspection as well as observing those around me. In other words, I'm a master people-watcher. I love to see what little habits and quirks people have (probably why I love reading blogs and connecting with new people). It's just fascinating to me how different even people who live in a similar area can be, and what different people consider "normal."

So I started thinking about what my normal is, and I realized that a lot of things I do on a regular basis might drastically differ from someone else's idea of normal life. Things like:

  • Seeing a body of water every single day, whether I'm driving over it, driving under it, or running alongside it. I'm honestly unsure if I could live somewhere that this doesn't happen every day, I love it!
That's my running route along the water, and that's the river I cross every day to go to school

  • (oh yeah, seeing aircraft carriers is totally normal too.)
  • Five furry and totally adorable little creatures constantly roam around my house
  • I order groceries online and pick them up on my way home, because I think spending an hour at the grocery store is a monumental waste of my time.
  • My idea of "sleeping in" is sleeping past 7:30am. Even on weekends. I'm so used to getting up early that I can't sleep in even if I want to!
  • The concept of cable TV overwhelms me. We haven't had it in over 3 years but if I go somewhere that does, I don't even know what to do with all the channel options.
  • All of my meals are meat-free
Maybe a touchy subject, but just my personal belief...we can still be friends even if you don't agree :) 

Tell me some things that are second-nature to you but might be totally out of the ordinary to someone else!

Weekend Recap

What a great weekend! This was a big weekend for both Ben and me. It was unseasonably warm and we definitely took advantage!

This weekend Ben had a two-day event that he helped organize and participated in. For a few years now, he has been involved with an organization called Code For America. They have brigades in cities all over the US made up of volunteers who develop apps that benefit their communities. For example, are you in Norfolk and want to know when your bus is coming? Now (thanks to Ben and Code for Hampton Roads) there's an app for that! 

This weekend Code for America hosted a weekend-long event called CodeAcross, in cities all across the country.  It started Friday night and I planned to meet Ben there to help out. Then a freak storm happened in the exact time that I got out of class. By the time I made it to my car I was drenched. Yikes.

(I texted this to my husband to let him know I wasn't coming...seems self-explanatory)

I don't think I've ever been rained on that hard in my life! I was in a pretty bad mood after that, sooo it was PJ's and couch time for the rest of the night.

Saturday morning I dropped Ben off at the second day of CodeAcross and headed to the Great Dismal Swamp Canal Trail for a 20-mile run/race? (It was put on by a local running club and we had bibs and timing chips and everything, but I don't know that it was a race, per se). It's a paved trail that extends 8 miles south. I bike it a lot and run it sometimes when I do brick workouts out there, but I'd never run more than 5 miles on it. The out and back is pretty boring, I even kind of hate biking it! I knew the biggest challenge would be mental. Running with a bunch of other people there really helped, and my dad and our friend were there too so we talked to pass the time. It wasn't as insanely boring as I thought it would be to cover 20 miles out there. Somewhere along the way I started to wonder when exactly I became a person who just...runs 20 miles...for fun...but I guess that's another story for another day. 

After the run I rushed home to shower so I could help Ben at CodeAcross. I have no programming skills so I wasn't sure how I could help, but I knew he wanted me there to support him. He gave me something non-programming to work on while he worked on his own project. I'm always impressed by his programming skills, but when he demo'ed it at the end of the day and all the techy people there were super impressed, I knew he had done something really cool! So proud of him and the cool work he has done.

When CodeAcross wrapped up, a bunch of us headed over to an Irish bar across the street for beers, and after that, Ben and I went to a different restaurant for dinner. It was a big day for both of us, but a fun one!

Sunday the weather was just too gorgeous, so after some TV and homework time in the morning, we decided to go out and enjoy it! We got Five Guys for lunch and went to our city park for a picnic. I hadn't been there in years - I know Ben and I went once when we first started dating, in the summer of 2006, and I'm pretty sure that' was the last time. After we are we took Bane to  Ben's mom's boyfriend's house  to have dinner with them. Bane loves the big backyard (which we don't have at home). That boy LOVES to run! Ben and I went on a little bike ride before dinner as well. I had a lot of studying to do but it was just too nice out to not do something active!

Of course, today the temps have dropped back down. It's not super freezing and the sun is shining, so there's that, but I think I'm just about ready for spring now!

How was your weekend? Did you have any nice weather? How did you take advantage?

Runners Tell All Linkup: How And Why I Started Running

Today I'm joining in a runners link-up with The Lady Okie! It will run on the 21st of each month, and the first topic is "How and Why I started Running."
It's supposed to be 250 words or less, so I'll try to break it down the best I can! Before I actually run you through my running timeline, you should know that prior to starting this journey, I had never run in my life except around a softball field or up and down a basketball court. I was short, stocky, and had asthma - running just wasn't in the cards for me, or so I thought. Plus it always looked insanely boring, I mean really, just...run? Who does that?
Sometime around 2008ish I was away at college, and my dad started running. He'd tell me about it every now and then, but I was completely ignorant about the sport.
  • May 2010 - After moving to a neighborhood with a nice waterfront, and watching people run around it, for the first time I realized what a vast array of shapes, sizes, and ages that runners come in. Previously, the only runners I saw were fit 20-somethings running on my college campus. I was intrigued! I started thinking, "If they can do it, maybe I can do it?" To this day, I really have no idea what my motivation was other than that.
  • June 2010 - Discover Couch to 5k program, go to running store and get fitted for shoes, even get Ben to agree to try it out with me...super pumped! Except we forgot we were getting married in less than a month and had no time to commit to this running thing. We made it through 2 days of the 1st week before quitting.
  • The next 9 months were crazy - I started teaching right after we got married, and I had no time to do anything ever. I didn't even think about starting up running again during that time.
  • April 2011 - During my spring break I remembered running and thought I'd give it another go. My husband agreed to try the C25K program with me again and it went great! I definitely had some trying runs during that time, but I started to learn how to push through the bad, and it was such a good feeling! Honestly, running was the first thing ever in my life that was hard for me, but that I tackled anyway. Up to that point, I'd been successful at things, but they were things I was already good at and didn't need to work that hard for (not that I didn't work hard...just not the way I had to to run...if that makes sense?). 
  • August 2011 - Completed the Couch to 5k program with my first 30-minute run! (even though I was running so slow at that time I didn't even make it a full 5k in the 30 minutes)
  • October 2011 - Ran my first 5k with my husband by my side, without stopping once! 

I got a slow start, but things started to take off after those first 6 months or so. Five months after my first 5k, I ran my first half marathon, the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. Now I'm almost at 2 years since that race, and I've run 5 more halfs since then and a full marathon. This year I'll be tackling my second marathon at Shamrock! 
Running never ceases to amaze me. I know that last paragraph made it look like I just went from barely making it through a 5k to running a marathon, no big deal, but I promise it wasn't like that.  It took so much work. It took time, patience, dedication, and commitment. And it continues to require those things. Even know, I don't really know how to answer the question of how or why I started running. But I do know I am so thankful I chose to do so, because it opened my eyes to so many new things, so many opportunities and possibilities that are within my reach as long as I keep putting one foot in front of the other.
One of my all-time favorite running mantras...I don't think truer words have ever been said!

Hit the reset button.

Hi, I'm alive! I've just been riding a roller coaster of insanity the last few days!

Friday night was of course Valentine's Day and I have been in go, go, go mode since then! On Friday I rushed to Sephora after class to get my makeup done for my hot Valentine's Day date! My 45-minute appointment turned into almost an hour and a half, and I got a bunch of free sample goodies. Seriously love that place! After I got home and got dressed, we exchanged gifts and were off to dinner! Ben picked the place and didn't tell me where we were going until we got there I guessed right in the car on the way. He chose the restaurant where we had our wedding reception, which I thought was so sweet. It's right on the beach and has an amazing atmosphere and view (and food and drinks, to boot!). We ordered way too much food and had a lively discussion about women in STEM, and it was basically awesome. When we got home it was time for champagne and House of Cards, of course! If you haven't seen this show, get yourself to the nearest computer, TV, or other Netflix-enabled device of your choice immediately!

The only downside to our Friday night is that we discovered a rather sizable tumor on our ferret's tail. It didn't appear to hurt or bother her in any way, but we still wanted to get it checked out and made an appointment to see our vet the next morning. We had to make an emergency appointment, and there were several other emergencies that morning as well, which meant we ended up spending 3 1/2 hours there. Thankfully I had brought some homework to do, so that kept me busy for a while. The vet confirmed that it probably isn't serious but that she should have it removed, so she is scheduled for surgery next week. When we finally made it home around 3pm, I still had a bunch of homework to do and an early bedtime for my run/race the next morning. It was about as awesome of a day as it sounds.

Sunday morning I ran the Virginia is for Lovers 14k with my dad and a couple of our running buddies. My dad, one of the guys (also named Tracy, confusing I know) and I are running the Shamrock Marathon on March 16 (oh, I finally signed up on Friday!) so we needed to do a total of 15 miles. We got to the race site early and completed almost 6.5 miles before the 14k (~8.7 mile race), so we ended up with 15.25 miles total for the day. I did this race for the first time last year and pretty much hated it - I wasn't even going to sign up this year, but my dad convinced me - but this year I had a polar opposite experience. The weather was fairly nice, our pace was easy (my Garmin wasn't working, maybe a blessing in disguise?), and the miles just flew by.

My friend on the left, half of me on the right...found this on IG after the race, some random girl behind us liked his shirt so she Instagrammed it, haha

We enjoyed our celebratory beers afterward, so much that we closed down the after-party, oops. I didn't get home from the race until almost 3 (after being up since 5:30am), and had enough time to watch an ep of House of Cards before shuttling off again to Ben's mom's for dinner.

I was not fortunate enough to have off school Monday for President's Day, so it was up at 5:30 again for me and go, go, go until 9pm that night. I was exhausted. There was not enough coffee in the world to have perked me up that day!

Tuesday I took an unplanned rest day from my workouts due to some weirdness in my leg. I have had some issue slowly creeping up since last week, but I've been ignoring it. It hasn't been bothering me when I run, but after a couple speed workouts last week and 15 miles this weekend, it caught up to me. I tried to run 5 miles on it Monday before calling it quits at 2.5 when my shin in my other leg also started randomly hurting (better safe than sorry). At least my rest day gave me chance to catch up on the housework I missed last weekend, and my never-ending homework. Who says "rest" has to mean "unproductive"?

I was on the fence about running today or resting another day, but I decided to give an easy 5 miles a shot. I did a factory reset on my Garmin and it started working again, hooray! Neither of my legs felt 100% right, but my hurt leg actually felt a little better the longer I ran on it.  It was like someone pressed my reset button too. And really, I can't remember the last run I had that wasn't some combination of freezing cold, misty, rainy, snowy, icy, or cloudy. So when it looked like this today and I was able to go outside in running capris and a short-sleeve shirt? No-brainer.

And then, naturally, I came home and officially registered for the Shamrock Whale Challenge (8k Saturday/full marathon Sunday). I mean because obviously I NEED all three of these medals. Legs, don't fail me now!

Small Victories Vol. II

Happy Friday and Happy Valentine's Day, all!

First, thank you so much for all of your kind words about my sweet girl!

Second, this week I managed to check off everything from my to-do list, and then some! Some small victories this week (actually I don't know if it's fair to call them small, some were pretty big!):
  • did an AWESOME speed session on Monday! After our day Sunday and Monday being my long day and being ridiculously cold and windy, it was the absolute last thing I wanted to do, but I am so glad I did. I did intervals/half mile repeats/whatever you want to call them and ended up with a half mile PR (I don't think that's a real thing, but I'm making it one - 7:51), mile PR (8:15 - previous was 8:25), 5K PR (26:32 - previous was 27:13), and 5 mile PR (44:41 - previous was 44:50). This was only my second attempt at speed work and even though I ran more intervals than last week, had less recovery time in between, and ran them faster, it actually felt easier than last week. And bonus: an accidental tempo run on Wednesday!
  • My left leg has been giving me all kinds of weird issues this week, but spending some time with my BFF up there helped. After about 15 minutes yesterday I finally found the spot that was bothering me and wow, it hurt so good. If you are a runner and you don't own this thing, purchase IMMEDIATELY. You can thank me later. 
  • kind of a big HUGE deal! I have severe plane anxiety and HATE flying. The last time I did it was in June 2011 and I had a panic attack in the middle of the flight, good times! Thankfully these flights are under 2 hours and nonstop. I'm freaking out but hopeful that my Xanax and I will get through it just fine.
  • got a ridiculously cheap price on aforementioned plane tickets. I am someone who never seems to find deals on anything, but I was able to book our tickets at the lowest price possible and it ended up costing us more than $100 less than what we were expecting!
  • sent packages to my sisters (in-law)!!! I was in Target in August I think and saw 2 things that were perfect for each of them, so I bought them to save for Christmas. Well, I didn't end up seeing them at Christmas so the gifts have just been sitting in my house all this time. I thought I'd make their day by mailing them instead of just giving them to them the next time I see them! I mean, who doesn't love getting stuff in the mail, especially surprise stuff?! If you answered "No one," that is correct. I'm also still obsessed with my Erin Condren planner and all the goodies that came with it, like these gift tags...in case you were wondering
  • rearranging our budget to accommodate for things like vet bills and a new iPhone to replace the one I dropped and shattered the screen le sigh. We were doing SO well with our budget and I didn't want to have to totally blow it. Even though we still have to spend the money, normally once something blows the budget I'm just like, "Oh well, now we might as well buy ALL THE THINGS!" But this time I found some categories in our budget where we can sacrifice and therefore afford these unfortunate expenses without cutting into the money we want to save this month.
So excited to get today started! After class I am heading to Sephora to get my makeup done for our date tonight! I needed to go get some moisturizer anyway, and I figured it would be a nice pick-me-up for me a nice surprise for my husband.

Hope you all have a lovely and love-filled day!

Valentine's Days Past

Is it just me, or is this week draggggging on? When I woke up this morning, I was seriously confused about how it could be possible that today wasn't Friday. One reason I want this week to hurry up is because I am SO excited about my husband's and my Valentine's Day date tomorrow!

This is the 9th Valentine's Day that we've known each other, and our 8th one together (more on that in a sec). My husband and I have never been big on Valentine's Day, but I still thought it would be fun to take a look back at years past. I actually didn't even remember most of them without looking at old journals! I don't have many photos of us actually on Valentine's Day, but here are some around that timeframe.

Our first Valentine's Day date - although not with each other, haha! I was a freshman in college and still with my boyfriend of almost 5 years. Ben was a sophomore and dating his girlfriend of about 2 years. Ben, my ex, and I all went to the same college, and Ben's girlfriend went to another college a few hours away. Ben's girlfriend came to visit for the weekend and we all went to dinner together. I wish I had a photo, just for hilarity's sake, but alas, these were the days before taking cell phone photos every 5 minutes was a thing.

Our first Valentine's Day together. We went to dinner at our favorite Japanese restaurant (also the only one within ~50 miles, college towns FTW!) and then went back to his apartment to watch Lost, which he got me addicted to after we started dating. He gave me a sapphire ring, which I have not seen in years and have no idea what happened to it. I'm sentimental like that.

Skiing 3 days after V-Day

We last-minute decided to buy each other small gifts, which meant we ended up at Wal-mart on Valentine's Day together. I bought him Radiohead's In Rainbows, which had just come out, and he bought me a Starbucks hot chocolate gift set. It was about as romantic as it sounds. He also gave me a card about living together, since we had signed a lease to live together when the fall semester started later that year.
beginning on March, right after Ben got his first MacBook and we discovered Photo Booth...

I honestly have to recollection of this year, in my memory, a journal, or otherwise, but that's probably for the best. We had a lot of decisions to make and our relationship really wasn't in the best place. We were both in our final semesters of school and were crazy busy, especially me with student teaching and a 40-mile commute every morning and night. Ben had accepted a job after graduation in Tampa and we were really unsure about what that meant for us - if we were going to get engaged if we moved together, if we were going to live together or live separately, if I was going to move with him, or if we were even going to stay together at all. It was a really rough time, but obviously it all worked out!

We were engaged, living in Florida, but planning to move back to Virginia in April. We knew we needed to take advantage of being close to Disney World, so we used Valentine's Day as an excuse to spend a couple days there!

Our first married Valentine's Day...The day before we ended up going out to the beach for brunch and a walk on the beach, and later Ben took me to Sephora where I spent a bazillion dollars and we went out to eat at Texas Roadhouse. We hadn't been there in years, but it was our first place we ever went together, just the two of us, in public (we were still dating our exes so we went as friends, but obviously we were not just friends), so sometimes we go back for the sentimental value. We spent the rest of the night watching The Office on DVD.

I have NO idea what we did this year! Whatever it was, I guess it wasn't that memorable!

A few days before Valentine's Day we went to the beach to let our dog Bane run around. The restaurant where we had our wedding reception is on the oceanfront so we stopped in for drinks! We didn't do anything on Valentine's Day that I can remember. I know I spent the evening with my real love, running. For the weekend we took a short trip to Blacksburg because we were thinking about moving back for me to get my engineering degree at VT.

Sooo basically, Valentine's Day is pretty hit-or-miss for us, haha.

What are your Valentine's Day plans? 


I joke a lot about how I couldn't live without a planner, about how I'm a slave to my schedule, but it's actually the truth. I do a lot of things just because, "...that's how I do it." I rarely deviate from my routine and, if I do, it often feels like quite the ordeal. In a lot of ways, this works out to be a good thing. I'm productive and get a lot done, but recently I've started to question why I do certain things, or why they have to be done my way.

This is something that's been crossing my mind more and more lately, but I never really put words to it until last weekend. It started because I had planned to run Saturday morning with my dad and running buddy. Save for a few occasions, I always run on Saturday mornings. It's just what I do. Friday evening I got a text saying that since the weather would be better on Sunday, they wanted to run Sunday instead. To a normal person, this seems perfectly reasonable. I, on the other hand, spent the next half hour agonizing over how I could possibly rearrange the rest of my weekend schedule to make this work.

This is just one example of the visceral reaction I have to even the possibility of my plans and my routine changing. It might sound dramatic, but I'm being honest when I say that sometimes I really feel like I'm being held captive by my Type-A brain. I hate feeling that way. I hate freaking out over something as silly as running a day later than I planned. It makes me feel seriously crazy.

I talked it out with my husband and, as usual, he gave me some great advice. His biggest suggestion: "Own it." Yep, own the crazy. I agree with him that this is something to work on. It makes no sense that I have a strong enough confidence to go through with things like getting up at 5am on Saturdays, or running through 6 inches of snow, but not enough confidence in what actually motivates me to do those things. I'm not confident because I don't think I have any reason or right to be. Going off the running example, I'm an average runner at best. I feel like people will judge me for being so strict about following a training plan to the T, just for mediocre results (although my logic is that if all I get from doing everything right is mediocre, imagine what I'd be like if I didn't train right!). But my husband is right (don't tell him I said that). It's not about what my reasoning is. It's just who I am, and as long as I'm being true to myself and my passions, I should be proud and own it!

So, I want to work on owning it, but even more than that, I want to work on really being deliberate in my actions. Around the New Year I remember seeing and hearing a lot of talk about choosing a specific word to focus on for the year. I didn't think much of it at the time, but 5 1/2 weeks in, I can say that even though I hadn't found the right word yet, I now know that "deliberate" is mine. I am so good at going through the motions of my schedule, checking things off my to-do list, but I want to stop and ask myself why? Not only that, but I want to be able to give myself a good answer to that question! There have been so many times I've questioned myself briefly, only to shrug it off and carry on. I may or may not end up having a good answer. Maybe I don't need a good answer every single time. But I do need to find a balance where, instead of being controlled my neuroses, I'm the one in control.


What's your "word" for the year? If you could only pick one to describe how you want to live life, what would it be?

Our First Baby

There is no nice way to sugar-coat this. On Sunday Ben and I said goodbye to our first baby, our sweet girl Roxy Jane.

If you don't have pets, or if you do but don't treat them like your children, then I'm really sorry for you and for your animals. We have had a total of 8 pets together in our almost-8 years together, and we would do absolutely anything for any one of them. Each one is so different, with their own personalities. None of the others were, are, or ever will be quite like our Jane Bear.

Roxy has always been the #1 princess in our house because she was our first baby. It was 2006, Ben and I had been dating not even 6 months, and we were in college. I was a sophomore living in my first apartment, and I was homesick for my pets at home (especially my childhood dog, Pixie, who will forever be my heart and soul). I was a poor student, I wasn't even allowed to have pets where I was renting, and my parents were not at all on board with me getting one and having to bring it home on breaks. Yet somehow, with a lot of encouragement and help from this sweet boy I was newly in love with, I decided I would get one anyway. Before that fall I didn't even know what a ferret was, but as soon as I saw one I knew I had to have it. It would be the perfect pet to fit in with my college lifestyle - I could convince my landlord that it was cool since it wasn't going to free roam the house, it would sleep like 22 hours a day so it wouldn't miss me when I was in class, and we could play when I needed a study break. Perfect. A month after getting this all worked out, I found a woman on Craigslist looking to re-home her sweet 8 month old ferret - with her cage, food, toys, and more, all for free to a loving home.

I arranged to meet her when I was home for Thanksgiving break, and it was love at first sight. I wore a white puffy parka with a faux fur hood, and as I held Roxy she started climbing all through the sleeves of my coat and playing in the hood. She was so cute! A week later, I drove back to school with her in my back seat. I will never forget looking in my rear view mirror and seeing her little head keep popping out of a hideaway in her cage.

*dying* at how baby we all look!
Before her, I really didn't know anything about ferrets or the funny habits they have - but I quickly learned. She liked to sleep in a perfectly curled-up ball behind random pieces of furniture and, eventually, in the lining of my box spring after she tore a hole in it. I was almost late for many a class because she had gone to sleep in there and I had to bounce the fabric over and over again trying to get her to wake up and get out! She loved food like French fries and popcorn, but she rarely ate it. Instead she hid it under my dresser with various other treasures she had stolen. She loved feet and socks, or rather, playfully biting sock-clad feet. She went on road trips to North and South Carolina, she flew in an airplane, and she even moved from Virginia to Florida and back.

World's Most Proficient Feet Biter
Ferrets are related to otters so we have always referred to ours as "baby otters", so Ben and I got her a stuffed otter (named "Baby Otter," obviously) from the aquarium one year. We didn't really expect her to play with it, but it ended up being her BFF. It was the exact same size and shape as her, and we like to think of it as her first sibling. She got her first real sibling in 2007, an older ferret brother, Meeko, who she LOVED playing and cuddling with!

In 2009 she got a baby ferret brother and sister, Bandit and Lila. Since then she has also had another ferret brother, Pippin, 2 cat brothers, Octavian and Nox, and a dog brother, Bane. She loved them all, but she also knew that she was queen of the castle, and so did they.

Although we have quite the zoo at our house, Roxy has really always had a little extra something special on the rest of them because she was our first. I had never thought about it this way, but as my husband said last night, with her, the 3 of us became a family for the first time. Without her we wouldn't have built the beautiful family we have today.

I owe so much to that little 2 pound ball of spunk. I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager and, when we got her, I was in the lowest place I'd been before or have been since. Just having her around gave me so much joy and never failed to put a smile on my face. I don't think I realized what a full, happy life she had until I started looking through all the photos we have of her. I can't believe how much has happened in the last 7 1/2 years, but I am so thankful to have had her around for it.

Weekend Recap

Friday when I got home and checked the mail, I was excited to see that my W-2 had come! The joys of being an adult. I did our taxes that afternoon and we ended up getting back A LOT more than expected, which was a nice surprise!

I definitely considered immediately booking a trip to Mexico, but thought better of it and decided it would be better spent paying for tuition. Boo. Next time!

That night Ben had plans, so he left after dinner and I enjoyed my Cheerios dessert and book!

Saturday I was up before dawn, what else is new, for a 13 mile run. It was one of the worst runs I've had in a while. At 3 miles in I already wanted to quit and go home. I made it 9 miles before taking a ~5 minute break to go to the bathroom and regroup. After that I felt MUCH better but it was still a struggle to finish. By the time I was done I felt like I had run double that distance, my legs hurt so bad. Not only was it physically hard, but even more so mentally. I think it's time to face facts and admit that I am burnt. out. I have been training for one race of another since the beginning of June, with no breaks except for 3 days after the marathon, big deal. I am okay with this 95% of the time, but every now and then I start to wonder why am I doing this to myself? It does get tough sometimes, but I always find the determination to press on. The same thing happened to me this time last year - I trained hard and ran a half marathon PR in March, but then I didn't really feel like training much after that even though I had another half scheduled in April. I think the most I ran between the two races was 10k. The April race turned out to be amazing and was one of my most fun races ever! So whatever I'm going through right now...I hope I get over it (and historical evidence suggests I will)!
I felt pretty awful after my run, so the rest of the day was couch and Netflix until it was time for a dinner/movie date! My father-in-law owns a theater that also serves dinner, and it's conveniently located 2 blocks from our house. So we got to see Lone Survivor and eat dinner for free #winning.

Sunday was not a great day. For breakfast we ate cinnamon rolls and coffee while we watched the finale of American Horror Story: Coven, and things were looking pretty promising. Unfortunately, it quickly went downhill. I will elaborate later, but for now let's just say that it was a very sad, somber day in our household, filled with many tears.

Goals for this week:
-get in a speed workout
-foam roll after every run
-purchase plane and/or train tickets for our trip to Boston and NYC next month
-buy harnesses so we can take our ferrets for walks! (yes this is a real thing)
-continue reading my book
-be deliberate in my actions

Small Victories

Happy Friday! This is the first week all semester that I've actually been at school all five days. Woe is me, I know. Even though last weekend feels like a lifetime ago, I've actually had a pretty good week! We have no big plans this weekend, but that's kind of how I like it.

Some victories this week:
  • an awesome speed workout on Monday! I never do any kind of speed training (bad, bad runner!) but my running buddy pushed me during our run and I am thankful for it. We did 5 miles total with 3 half mile intervals in there at 8:13, 8:25 and 7:57...I have never seen a 7 on the front of my pace EVER!
  • deviating from my normal routine TWICE in one day, once by going to the library and then by changing my running route a little...if you knew me you'd know that's kind of a big deal
  • ordering Ben's Valentine's Day gifts (should arrive today, yay!!!)
  • reading 60 pages of my new book on the first night!
  • sticking to our budget! We were able to grocery shop, buy V-day gifts, and go on a dinner date guilt-free because everything has been budgeted for already. I feel so optimistic about this month. One week down, 3 to go!
  • getting on top of some of my schoolwork...yesterday I completed an assignment that isn't due until Monday, and today I got here 4 hours early to study with a friend for our test on Wednesday, go me!
My life planner finally arrived last Friday and I gotta say, it has been super helpful in the organization department. It's everything I dreamed it would be! The motivational quotes are a nice touch :)

I'm having a lot of anxiety about actually registering for my next marathon. It's 6 weeks away and I haven't switched over my registration from half to full yet. The half sold out about a week ago, so if something happens and I am unable to do the full, I won't be able to switch back to the half. Oh and there's the part where I really want to do the "Whale Challenge", which is the 8k on Saturday and marathon Sunday. I have a 13 mile long run tomorrow and depending on how that goes, I may just suck it up and hit the register button. I'm running a race by the same company next week, so if I don't sign up online before that, I have a feeling that the excitement from the expo will be the push I need. I don't know why I'm so stressed about this!

Have a great weekend!

The Glam Series: Eyes

Today I am linking up for another edition of The Glam Series, and this one is all about the eyes!

Jordon @ Love Always Nancy J

My eyes are my best feature (just being honest...I've been getting compliments on them since I was 2 weeks old!), and while I like to play that up, I also take a "less is more" approach. Confession time: I don't really know how to do elaborate eye makeup looks, nor do I really want to. For a while I was super obsessed with buying tons of beautiful eye shadow palettes, especially from Urban Decay - lets' face it, those gorgeous colors will just suck you in! - but I'd use them a couple times and then they'd go in my drawer for months at a time. Finally I gave in and accepted my true, neutral-colored, simple eye-makeup self. Every now and then I'll break out some pretty colors for a special occasion, but this is my go-to everyday look. Depending on how much time I have that day and how much effort I feel like putting in, I go through some or all of these steps.

Eyes by tracccy featuring Revlon
If I'm wearing eye shadow, I always prime first with Nars Smudge proof eye shadow base. I was a long-time user of the popular Urban Decay Primer Potion, and for me it was only a slight improvement over no primer at all. Then I got a sample of the Nars primer and I was in love. Something about it just works for me!

I love anything that helps my lashes/lashline, because my lashes aren't naturally very dark or thick (my husband, on the other hand, has lashes that are to DIE for...life is so cruel!). I mentioned in my last makeup post that I had a consultation at Sephora this summer, and this next step is a trick I learned from that. Maybe you already do it and I'm just way behind the curve (probably). I use a small, thin angled brush (an e.lf. brush I picked up for a few bucks at Target forever ago) to apply eyeliner to the inside of my upper lid. It's really subtle, but it helps make my lash line look fuller and my eyes pop more. The eyeliner I use is Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on eye pencil. I probably wouldn't pay $19 a pop, but I picked up a set of 6 on sale last Christmas for $24 and had to have it, that's like less than the price of drugstore eyeliner! The consistency is really nice, it's very smooth! Sometimes I also use it to line my upper lids and/or my lower lash line, but not usually.

Next step is eye shadow. I got a small sample pot of Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Cream Eyeshadow last summer but have just recently started using it, and I am in love! It's super easy to use (I apply it all over my lid), is a really pretty taupe color, and has just the right amount of shimmer. I use a couple of shades from the Urban Decay Naked Basics palette (which I actually prefer to the original Naked palette - I like the matte shades better) in my crease and to highlight (or skip the cream shadow and just use those shades alone).

If it's a special occasion or I'm feeling like looking extra nice, I'll use a liquid liner on my top lip. I am no expert when it comes to liquid liner, so the simpler to use, the better! I have a Revlon pen I use a lot, but recently I've been going for Lancome's Artliner. Rather than a pen, the applicator is a really small brush that glides on perfectly. I can never get across my whole lid without stopping with the pen, but I can with this. I probably wouldn't pay the $30 price for this, but I got the one I have in a gift set (it came with mascara and the best eye makeup remover of all time).

Next it's time for mascara! This is another thing that I seem to always have a sample tube of, so I rarely buy a full-sized tube. Through a beauty blogger I found out about Revlon Grow Luscious, decided to try it out, and loved it. I highly recommend it if you're on a budget! I prefer it to a lot of the higher end brand mascaras I've tried. On my second tube I accidentally bought the plumping version, which isn't quite as good and has been flaking on me recently, ugh. Benefit's They're Real! is another mascara favorite of mine.

Finally, eyebrow time. I just started filling in my eye brows maybe six months ago, and I can't believe I never did it before. It just makes my face look so much better and more polished, I do it whether I've got on a full face of makeup, or some simple blush and mascara. This is usually my last step when I'm putting on my makeup, and I love looking at the comparison after I've done one side and not the other. Seriously, HUGE difference! I don't use anything fancy for this. I like the Revlon Brow Fantasy because it's double-sided, with a pencil on one side and a lightly tinted gel brush on the other side. I also really like the e.l.f. studio eyebrow kit. It has a gel that you apply with a small angled brush. It actually almost feels waxy, and I like that it both fills in my brows and tames them at the same time.

And that's my eye routine! It's pretty simple and only takes about 3 minutes on average, maybe 5 if I go all out and add in the eyeliner.

February Goals

I haven't laid out specific monthly goals for myself in quite some time, but I have found myself needing some focus and direction lately! These are my goals for this month:

  • Be more budget-conscious. Okay, so the spending freeze didn't go exactly at all like I planned, but there are two really important things I took away from it. First thing, I did start to question my purchases more carefully than I ever have. For example, when ordering a new Clarisonic brush head from Sephora because mine is well over the 3-month limit, do I really also need to throw in other items from my "Loves" list? No, no I do not. Or maybe sometimes I do, but not every time. Second, I changed the way I budget and think it will help set us up for success more than the old way. I used to budget for different categories, but let's face it, not every month is the same and will have the same expenses. This month I thought ahead to all the things I knew would be coming up (a weekend trip, Valentine's day, registration for a race) and made additional lines on the spreadsheet for those special circumstances, whereas before I would have lumped the food we ate on our trip in our "Eating out" expenses, my race in the "Fitness" expenses, etc. It's only been 5 days, but our weekend away was right at the beginning of the month and I could already tell a big difference knowing what we were spending was already accounted for. 
  • Plan a great Valentine's Day date for my husband. Recently my husband and I have felt a need in our marriage to "date" each other more. That's not to say that we don't love each other, or enjoy dates and spending time together, but we have been together for almost 8 years and, frankly, it just hasn't been a priority like it should be. We have never really been the type of couple that celebrates Valentine's Day, but we're changing that this year. Due to aforementioned budget, we're not doing anything fancy or crazy, but it's the thought that counts!
  • Make more lists. Yep, while writing a list, I decided I need to make more lists. More specifically, I need to-do lists for school. I was AWESOME at this last semester. Every Monday morning, I opened up Stickies on my Macbook and made one for every day of the week, with the assignments I needed to work on that day and how long I needed to spend on them. I was always on top of my schoolwork because of this. It's now the 4th week of spring semester, and I have done this exactly zero times. I make like a billion lists a day, but for some reason, this has fallen to the wayside and it needs to change ASAP!
  • Continue to train for marathon #2 injury free. I may be crazy (let's be real, anyone who runs 26.2 miles for fun has to be at least a little nuts), but I am pressing on full steam ahead and attempting to run my second marathon in March - just under 2 months after running my first. I have no problem in the motivation department, and I am hoping with every ounce of my being that my body continues to play nice and not derail me. I was on the fence about trying to run a second one so soon, but this will be my dad's first and I really, really want to share that experience with him!
  • Read a book. This is really embarrassing to admit, but I don't really read. I think the last one I read was in October maybe? During a good reading year, I might read a handful of books. Not because I don't like to, but more because I have the attention span of my ferrets who are we kidding, that's insulting to them...their attention span is better than mine. I just get distracted really easily, and as soon as I sit down with a book it takes about five minutes before I remember something else I need to be doing, so I get up and go do it. Because of this, I have several books I've started and haven't finished, so for February this may just mean finishing one of those books! But if I can stick to it this month, maybe it can become a more regular thing.

That's it! Nothing too big or crazy, just a few things that are really important to me and really need my attention!

Link Up

Stay-in-Budget January: The Results

I love a clean slate. New year, new week, new month, even a new day...the chance to continue success or try again if you weren't previously successful. I just love it! So when January rolled around and Erin posted about a spending freeze for the month, I was on board. The last 3 months of the year are usually pretty rough for us financially, with both our birthdays in October and then of course Christmas, but January is usually a time when we are able to get back on track.

Unfortunately, I didn't factor in that this January would be pretty different from Januarys past. It started out badly and just got worse and worse.

For one, I'm not working anymore and instead I'm in school full-time. That alone makes January a super expensive month, with tuition to pay and hundreds of dollars of books to buy. We pay for this out of savings so I don't really count it in our normal spending for the month, but it's still sad watching all that money leave our savings account! Looking on the bright side...even though school is expensive, I'm fortunate to be able to pay for it without taking out loans (at least for now - this is the plan for as long as we can continue to afford it). Plus, I will make more when I'm finished than I ever would as a teacher, so it's a sound investment in the long run.

The second big thing I didn't think about ahead of time was our 3-day trip to Charleston for the marathon. We had a free place to stay so it's not like it was super expensive, but the cost of food and gas on a trip still adds up. 

And then there were the unexpected things...like our microwave breaking (luckily my husbamd is super handy and was able to fix it for 1/4 the cost of a new one), and the fact that we went through some personal issues that made several date nights necessary. I have no regrets about spending money on the date nights, but it wasn't part of the plan. 

Another unplanned expense was paying off my LASIK eye surgery from November 2012. I set up a 2 year, no interest payment plan and it has been auto-paying out of our account since the surgery. Well, for some reason I got the bright idea to check the balance on my account this month and realized the autopay has only been taking out the minimum payments. I guess I thought that meant it had divided up the payments over the 2 years, but it hadn't, and my monthly payments were severely under the amount they needed to be for it to be paid off in 2 years (November of this year). Instead of doubling my monthly payments, I decided to just go ahead and pay off my whole balance. So that was another $2500 out of savings, but now that payment is totally GONE from my spreadsheet, and that's a good feeling!

I'm gonna be honest, I stopped keeping track of our spending after a while because it got too depressing! So I don't even have a total to report, but I know it would be crazy scary if I did.

Even though January didn't go well, I learned from it and I'm planning on a great February!