Monday, January 30, 2012

iGeek - Part II

I am that person who tries to buck a trend when it comes to technology.  I never got an iPod, opting instead for the cheaper version of an mp3 players (which now explains why I'm an iTunes idiot).  I thought that having a Garmin unnecessary since there are sites like Google Maps and Mapquest (which explains how I get lost while driving quite frequently).  And as cell phones got fancier, I was always pretty content with my simple phone with a small screen and keypad.

Oh boy how things have changed... 

This chick just got an iPhone... and I LOVE it... as much as a person can love an inatimate object.

I used to give Josh a hard time about always being on his phone, but now I have to restrain myself from looking at it constantly.  And for the first time in my cell phone having days, that bad boy is on me at all times, which makes my husband happy since I am finally answering his calls!  But the best part? Yep, you guessed it... the apps of course!  Here are some of my favorite (all free!) discoveries so far:

Words With Friends:
Ok, so I already knew the joys of this one as I'd play on Josh's phone or iPad every now and again, but now that I can have my own ongoing Scrabble games, I like it even more.  I can already tell that many of my opponents have way more practice than I have had though!
I had downloaded this on my computer, but to have it with me at all times has been awesome.  It's an online Bible, so you basically have that big, heavy book with you all of the time, in every different version.  I like reading from the New Living Translation (NLT) since it's the most understandable for me, but I can reference other versions as well if I need something worded differently.  My favorite, feature, however are the reading plans, and there are many to choose from such as 30 days of encouragement for busy women, the Bible in a year, the New Testament in 30 days, etc.  And the app will even read the Bible to you, which has been great for me, since I'm not a great reader and often fall asleep!  I tend to read a whole page while my mind wanders to other things and I get to the end of the page with no clue as to what I had read!  Yesterday I was able to get 35 minutes on the eliptical machine while listening to a few chapters and it was perfect for the busy season of life we're in.  I give it five stars.  :)

Lose It:
My whole family is using this one right now (which is a lot like myFitnessPal I'm told) since we're competing in a 10-week Biggest Loser competition.  It's so simple to use... you enter in your current weight and age, your goal weight, and how many pounds a week you'd like to lose.  Then it takes all of that and gives you a daily calorie budget.  I thought it would be a pain to log in all of my food and exercise, but it's surprisingly kind of fun!  It has tons of food already in there to search and it has a barcode scanner, which makes looking up any meal a breeze.  More than anything, however, it has been incredibly eye opening in terms of what I've been putting in my body!  Many foods have a whole lot more calories than I would have ever imagined and so it's motivating me to eat healthier and exercise more so I can still work in some goodies from time to time!

As much as I love taking photos, this one is a must!  It's like having a mini (and very easy) version of Photoshop right in your pocket and you can upload your pictures straight to Facebook, Twitter, or wherever!

If you don't believe me, I'll just have to point out that our favorite photo from Christmas is an Instagram picture and we added the border, "antique" look to it, and the black bars on the top and bottom:

And for the little guy, the PBS Kids app is pretty great.  Granted, Jacob can use an iPhone like nobody's business, unlocking it and scrolling through the pages until he finds exactly what he wants.  He even somehow manages to search YouTube videos for Thomas the Train, Elmo, and Signing Time, although we occassoinally find him watching something like a squirrel dancing in a tutu.  Since I downloaded this app, however, he spends more time on here and less time on YouTube, and this app ensures that the videos he is watching are age appropriate!  They have several of their show segments on there, so he doesn't get bored.  We try not to let him use it too much, but it's nice to have when we're out to dinner and he starts to get squirmy.  Kudos to those of you who raised children without this nice distraction!

He also recently discovered that my camera flips around so you can take self-photos.  He cracks up when he sees myself and I cracked up when I scrolled through my camera roll the other day:

Now I guess I just need to teach him how to get his whole face in the frame!  What a silly boy.

Yes, I am a bit obsessed... it really is as good as people say it is and I am officially a phone snob now and will perhaps start being a bit more likely to jump on technology bandwagons in the future... maybe.  I'm married to a man who has to have the next big thing right now, so maybe we just balance each other out.  Either way, the one thing I am sure of is how much I love this thing.  So now I have to ask all of you "trendier" folks than me... what are some of your favorite apps?  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy Birthday To...


On Tuesday I turned the ripe old age of 31...

I have a husband who loves me unconditionally, accepts me for who I am, and encourages me to be a better version of myself everyday.

I am helping said husband accomplish his dream of planting a church... and though it's been trying at times, God has truly been moving and I cannot wait to see who he sends us when we open our doors on February 12th... less than a month away!

I have a great job in a not-so-great economy that allows me to work from home, which also allows me to spend more time with my kiddos.

Speaking of kiddos, I have two of the most amazing, beautiful, kissable, wonderful babies that God has entrusted me to care for in this life.  Jake and Lil are my world.

I have a a mom and a dad who are still married and am super-close with both of my sisters and their husbands and children.  We're a fun bunch to be around (in my opinion).

When I married Josh, I gained another family, and I love them all to pieces.  They are also a very fun bunch, and about ten times louder (which explains a lot about Josh's personality)!

I have come to a place where I firmly know who I am, what I will and will not stand for, what I believe, and what is truly important.  I definitely could not say that about myself 10, or even 5, years ago.

I am a child of God, no matter what the numbers of my age say.

I am... BLESSED.  Next time you ever hear me complain, please direct me to this post.  Oh, and make me watch this video:

Yes... I think I'm going to like my thirties JUST fine.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Body, Mind, and Spirit

So it's official... race season has officially begun and I have no excuses this time around.  I am not pregnant, and although I'm nursing, I'm far enough through the process that if my milk supply depletes due to training I'm okay with it.  My husband has signed up for a few big races and now my girlfriends from Florida (who I miss dearly!) are all planning a girls' race weekend in May.  Pressing the "sign me up" button is proving more difficult than I would have anticipated.

You see, I have this problem.  The last race that I ran was Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge a few months before Josh and I got married.  For those of you who don't understand how crazy I am in the head, that's a half marathon (13.1 miles) on a Saturday and then a full marathon (26.2 miles) the very next day.  I was smart about it and decided to walk most of the half in order to be able to run the full, since that would use some different muscles, and even though I did fall apart from about mile 16-20 in the full, I finished both in a decent time.  The point is, I knew I could do it.  I wanted to do it, to prove to myself that I could.  And if you've ever been with me during a race, you will see a stubborn determined attitude that I don't really display at any other time in my life.

So what's the problem?  I realized the other day that my body is not quite connecting to my mind.  In my mind I am still that girl.  In my mind, I could set my alarm this coming Saturday and go out to run 9 or 10 miles, and even enjoy it!  It's something that I was good at the last time I tried, and I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that my body and my brain are disconnected.  Since that time in my life I have spent the majority of my time pregnant.  As much as it pains me to admit, I'm about ten pounds heavier than I was on that race day.  And quite frankly, there is not even a small part of me that has the motivation to get out there again.  Because I know in my heart of hearts that it will hurt.  And it will not be fun.  And I won't be great at it right away.  Like I said, failure is not an option, and I have found myself in a place where I am afraid to try because I might fail.

I look back on these past 6 months and realize that this is the only area of my life that I have allowed this attitude to creep in.  It's almost comical that I will fret about something as minor as fitness,  yet when Josh wanted to move our family three states over to start a church I didn't hesitate.  In fact, I proposed that we do it sooner because I felt it was the right time.  I was pregnant with our second child knowing full well that there would be three months of very little pay mixed in there.  And this was on top of about six months (minimum) of no pay for Josh!  We had a house to sell in a market that wasn't moving and yet, the idea of it did not scare me one bit.  For the first time in a long time I was nothing but excited.

It's my goal to find that excitement about racing again.  I know that it will be hard, as there have been times in these past months that have been challenging.  I know it won't be fun, just as being home alone with two babies while Josh works 70 hours isn't always fun.  But I know in the end that there will be joy and pride, just as there will be an abundance of that when we launch on February 12th.  For all things that are worth it in life, work is involved.

So this morning I got up earlier than I normally would, laced up the (new!) running shoes, and hit the pavement.  I started out at what I thought would be a slow pace for me.  At about a mile in, I told myself that I only had to make it two.  And then I walked the second mile.  I tried to remind myself that I'm carrying extra weight, have not really worked out hard for over two years, and am not used to running in the cold, but again, my brain and my body were not connecting.  Plus, I was sweating profusely since I have no concept of what to wear in 44 degree weather... I was dressed as if I was heading out to the arctic tundra, which makes sense considering my last real run was in northern Illinois in the winter... so basically the arctic tundra.  Everything hurt- my lungs, my throat, my ears, and I kid you not, even my ponytail.  But as I rounded the corner into our driveway I was satisfied that I had done it.  I put the effort out there, and that's half the battle.

Even through the frustration of it all, I felt at peace.  Kids weren't pawing at me, chores couldn't be done, and my Blackberry was still turned off since my workday had not yet started.  Nobody needed me and I could just think wonderful, lovely thoughts of my own.  I listened to worship music and praised God that I had the ability to do this and (eventually) do it well.  And I asked him for a little bit of motivation.  And that's when I realized that even when my mind and my body are disconnected, the spirit of that runner is still within me.  That spirit is what pulls me through.

I can honestly say that these same struggles apply to my Christian life.  My brain tells me that I should go to to church, read my Bible, pray more, and volunteer.  But on some Sunday mornings after a long weekend, my body decides to rebel.  Or sometimes before bed, I fall asleep while praying because my body is exhausted.  Just like everything else, calling yourself a Christian takes work.  I don't think people like to hear that, but it's true.  For a long time I felt like I was a "bad" Christian because I didn't spring out of bed on a Sunday morning to make sure I had the front row seat.  I would read a chapter of my Bible before giving up because I did not understand what it was saying.  And probably my worst offense is my inability to sit still long enough to pray to to the God who created me.  It sounds silly, but even keeping my eyes closed for three minutes during a prayer seems like work... and that's because it is.  But I've come to realize that it's okay, as long as you're doing the work.  And God, knowing that we humans have this disconnect, was wise enough (I mean, He is God... of course He thought of everything!) to send down his Holy Spirit- that spirit that lives inside us.  And that spirit is always willing... we just need to get our minds and our bodies to stop battling each other and actually listen to it!

Following Jesus is a lot like running (stay with me here).  Or working out for that matter.  In order to make it a habit, you have to stick with it.  You have to train, which takes time and dedication.  Eventually your body will function better and you'll be healthier over all  because you're taking care of it.  The spirit is no different.  You have to dust off that Bible and read it, which takes time and dedication.  Eventually your spirit will function better and be healthier over all because you're taking care of it.  Maybe to be a better runner you have to rid yourself of things that get in the way- junk food, long spells in front of the TV, etc.  Well to get your spirit "in shape" you may have to rid yourself of bad influences, addiction, "friends" that pull you down with them.  It won't be easy.  In fact, at times, it will be downright no fun at all and you'll wonder if it's worth it.  But at the end of this run, when we turn the corner and pull into the driveway, there will be a deep satisfaction because you put the effort out there... and that's half the battle.  And maybe, just maybe, if we keep up the effort and let the Spirit guide us, this journey will end with this:

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:21)

So be encouraged and be blessed in this new year.  Pick a goal and stick with it.  But most importantly, feed the Spirit, and you will be abundantly blessed in return.

And in 15 weeks when I run that first half-marathon in a very long time, remind me to read my own words, okay?  Because a lot of the time, I'm writing them for me, because I need to hear them.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Good Year

2011 was so good to us...

We rang in the new year with one of our favorite families

We played in more snow than we knew what to do with!

And Jake mastered the art of walking running 

We visited good friends and saw PawPaw on a trip to Colorado

And had our first "real" haircut

 Jake made an announcement for us, even though we had known since January

 and we set eyes on our sweet peanut for the first time

Jake accompanied me on a business trip to Florida where he got plenty of playtime with his cousin, Adam (check out the hammocks on our boy!)

And came home just in time to celebrate his first birthday

We had a great Easter with great friends... and an epic Easter egg hunt

And found out that we were having a GIRL!

 Josh was officially ordained... such a proud day for me

We decided to make Josh's dream a reality and move to Kentucky, so we had to say goodbye to so many people we love in Small Town, Illinois.

 We took a trip to New York to say goodbye to my sweet Nana

And spent an awesome day visiting West Point (my birthplace)

We even had time to squeeze in a pit stop to see these crazy kids again on our drive to Kentucky.

Jake ran his first race... epic fail... but so very funny.  Don't worry, buddy, you'll get 'em next year!

And I just kept growing... and growing... and growing...

But it was worth it when we welcomed 8 lbs, 6 oz. of pure sweetness

 Welcome to the world, Lillian Joy!

We took some much needed time off to get to know our sweet pea

 And Jake experienced the joys of trick-or-treating for the first time

Cousin Skye came to visit so the girls could meet for the first time

And then we got to see her again when we visited the whole clan for Thanksgiving

We picked out another perfect Christmas tree

And had some extra help decorating this year

And had one terrific Christmas in Mauneyland

Just looking back on these pictures and posts makes me realize that I have no reason to ever complain.  I have a family that loves me and get to spend every day with my three favorite people.  I turned 30 in 2011 and I must say, so far, the thirties are awesome, and with so much to look forward to in 2012, I think I'll be able to say that again at the end of 2012.

So here's to the upcoming year - new milestones for both babies, the launch of TurningPoint Church in February, being around family more, running races again, and tons of happiness.  It's going to be a good one... I just know it.