A Very Beth Thanksgiving

As I reflect on the Thanksgivings I’ve had since getting married in 2008, I’ve realized that we’ve had exactly one tradition: no tradition. And I kind of like it.

Thanksgiving 2008: I honestly don’t remember what we did, but I know we (my husband and I) spent it with our families. This was pre-layoff, pre-Army, pre-moving. Little did we know how much life would change….

Thanksgiving 2009: Aaron was in training in Arizona, and I flew out to Phoenix to spend the weekend with him. We stayed at this resort Thanksgiving night and had the dinner the hotel offered. It was awesome. We spent the rest of the weekend at a cheaper place, haha. One night at that place was enough for our bank account!

Thanksgiving 2010: Aaron was in Korea, and it was the first set of holidays we spent apart. I spent the day with my family and his, and I remember Skyping with him in my in-laws’ living room.

Thanksgiving 2011: This was our first Thanksgiving just he and I, and it was our first here in Texas. We had signed up for the Turkey Trot, but we decided to skip it to make a huge meal with all the fixins, including my first turkey. We had leftovers for dayyyzzzz.

Thanksgiving 2012: Aaron had just returned from an exercise overseas, so we were so happy to be together. We did the Turkey Trot in the morning (now one of my absolutely favorite things to do every year), and then stayed downtown for the parade. Later we spent the day with dear friends Alvin and Lacey and Lacey’s family just a few miles from our house. It was nice.

Thanksgiving 2013: This is what I have dubbed A Very Beth Thanksgiving. Even before Aaron deployed in the spring, I knew who I’d spend Thanksgiving with, my “adopted” family here in Texas. It was 24 hours of crazy fun. Wednesday night I went to a friend’s house and had a delicious ham dinner with friends from our college/20-somethings small group. Then, early Thursday morning Leah Beth, her oldest son, and I went downtown to run the YMCA Turkey Trot.

race2013

I had my sights set on running a new 5K PR this year, but after I took a little over a week off because I was sick last week, I wasn’t sure how I’d do. I was shooting for 26:30, but I’ll take this! My previous official 5K time was 27:33. I’ve taken nearly 6 minutes off my 5K time since my first 5K in 2010 where I had a time of 32:17. I really think though that if I’m consistent with speed and hill work I can improve even more. I also was hoping to see Farrah of Fairy Healthy Life and we ran into each other!

I PR'd! 26:49 official time!!
I PR’d! 26:49 official time!!

After the race, Leah Beth, Nolan and I were freeeezing from being sweaty. We headed back to their house, destinkified (yes, it’s a word) and finished up dinner. We did not cook our own turkey; instead, we ordered a smoked turkey breast from Rudy’s Texas BBQ. We had a slightly unconventional menu, including fruit salad, cranberry walnut salad, Texas potatoes, corn casserole, Hawaiian rolls (um, duh), apple pie, and Mississippi Mud. I have to say, this is the first holiday where I have not overindulged!

So, we had Leah Beth and her family; me, Elizabeth; and my “Mexican twin,” also Elizabeth, for dinner. We call each other “twin” because even though we have different cultures and first languages, it is freaky how many things we have in common. Seriously freaky. I just love having wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ! We truly are a family away from family.

Elizabeth, Leah Beth, Elizabeth (me)
me, Carson, Elizabeth
me, Carson, Elizabeth

Do not be deceived; our day wasn’t over after dinner. We watched Elf, which I am ashamed to admit that I had never seen. Elizabeth left and Leah Beth and I left to work a shift as “friends and family” at Old Navy. We worked together at a table giving cards to people who had received wristbands as they walked in for a chance to win a million. Most people were really nice and even offered to share a portion of their winnings with us, and we also of course had a couple interesting characters. After our shift was over, we shopped at Old Navy (50% off!) and then went to Target expecting it to be pretty busy. However, since the sales had started so early, at 1 AM it wasn’t busy at all. It was probably the calmest Target experience I’d had here.

photo_1
Working at Old Navy

We got home roughly at about 2 AM and we crashed. Hard. I’d been up for almost 24 hours because silly me, I had caffeine late Wednesday night and couldn’t stay asleep. The Very Beth Thanksgiving was undoubtedly a Thanksgiving to remember!

As you can imagine, it’s difficult to be half a world away from your spouse anyway, let alone during the holidays. But I’m thankful for a family who’s adopted me as their own (I’m Aunt Biff in that house ;)). Not every military wife with a deployed spouse has that. Several times this week when I thought about how many people I know here who love me and would help me out at any time, I became teary-eyed and felt overwhelmed with gratefulness.

Now the countdown is on for the end of the semester. Monday begins the last week of classes, and then we have finals and then I’m DONE until the third week in January. My favorite aunt comes to visit soon, and then we spend the weekend together here before flying back to Illinois together. Both of my sisters have come to visit me this year at different times, but my family hasn’t been together in one place since last Christmas. A year is a long time to go between visits!

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving!

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The year of big girl panties: a recap.

My presence on my blog has been scant recently. I come to my laptop tonight from my sewing table. I always seem to think better when I’m sewing… my mind is free and it wanders while my hands are still busy. I’m so fidgety, just like my grandpa.

I doubt I’ll be posting much over the next few weeks; I finish up the semester this coming week, in a little over a week we fly to Illinois to spend Christmas with family, then we come back to Texas to go to the World Missions Summit in Fort Worth. I hope the last few weeks of 2012 go slowly and we’re able to enjoy them as much as possible.

So, the title. In the military-spouse world, when we talk about getting through “grown-up” things by gritting our teeth and putting our whiny ways aside, we call that “putting our big girl panties on”. A silly metaphor, maybe, but you can’t wear Disney Princess underwear forever. At least, I haven’t found any in my size…

This was a year of gritting my teeth and getting through things. It wasn’t a horrible year; I wouldn’t even say it was a bad year. But there were a lot of tough situations that have forced me to mature (we all need that, right??) and trust God more. That’s a generalization though, for sure.

Two-thousand twelve started out with me working a job that I severely disliked. Severely. Life is short, and in my 26 years I like to say that I’ve learned how to make sound decisions, so I decided to quit. I barely had another “job” lined up… nannying. It was enjoyable enough, but definitely something I wouldn’t want to do long term. I love kids. I love other people’s kids, for the most part. But I don’t have kids yet, so it’s safe to say that taking care of other people’s kids when I haven’t yet decided to go down that road just isn’t fun sometimes. However, on a farm in southern New Mexico, I finally learned what was important in life and became content in my situation.

I experienced a couple more firsts this year, namely the death of a close loved one, and the absence of my husband during this time. Actually, the absence of my family during the few days before I flew to Illinois. I would not relive those days or wish them on anyone. Never in my life had I been so anxious and desperate that I couldn’t even muster an appetite, and if you’ve been around me for even a day you know that I love food! It was awful. I am very lucky that I was able to go home and say a proper goodbye.

This year was also the first that my husband and I have gone on separate trips out of the country. While I would have loved to have him with me in Honduras, and I would have loved to go with him (sorry, still have to be vague about where!), it was a good experience to travel on my own. It only feeds my desire to travel somewhere every few months!

And as an ongoing event of 2012, I’ve finally become happy(ier) with my body and also with my fitness and eating habits. I haven’t been tracking my calories or paces for awhile now, and it’s freeing. Having no expectations of my paces makes good races and paces that much sweeter. I was just getting so bogged down with looking at my watch constantly and figuratively beating myself up over it, and then getting on the scale and beating myself up about those numbers. Damn numbers. Done. Done done done.

One of the most freeing aspects of 2012 was that I’ve finally, finallyFINALLY surrendered my baby fever. We, my husband and I, came to the conclusion that we are not ready for children yet, despite what people say. What do people really know anyway? They just want to oogle and stalk pictures of your family on Facebook; they’re not thinking of the sleepless nights, poopy diapers, and expenses that come with having children. We want to be a little selfish for awhile still. We want to finish degrees and fly on planes to cool places and just be us for awhile longer. Our family is complete the way it is now. It’s taken me awhile to be okay with that, but now I am. This pretty much sums it up:

my dog
Thanks, Jess!

…but really. My dog is awesome.

2012 was absolutely 100% essential for my development as an adult. I wouldn’t do it again, but I wouldn’t change it either, at least the things that weren’t outside of my control. 2013 will see a subsequently 27-year-old Elizabeth with her big girl panties on, guns a-blazin’. Strange picture…. but whatever. 😉

Tour of Central Illinois, and the end of the Run Streak

I’m back in Texas after a 10-day stay in Illinois. The last time I posted was the day before the visitation. I’ve rehashed the details of the following two days so many times in my mind that I honestly don’t want to talk about it here. There are some things better left unsaid.

I still can’t believe Grandpa’s gone. I get this question a lot, “Was he sick?” I know people are just trying to make conversation or show concern, but he was actually supposed to come home a couple days later. He was only 84. That’s young in our family. The man had been through bypass surgery among other things.

I stayed with Grammie for a couple days. I expected him to walk in the door after going to get mail, or walk up the basement stairs after getting some needlework that he needed to show me. His place at the table was vacant, and no one was fidgeting with a napkin or piece of paper. We still sat out on the patio after supper and visited, but it just wasn’t the same. So many things, even in my house in Texas, are a constant reminder.

I was able to go see my Nana (my great-grandmother will be 96 this month!) and my Mimi (other grandmother), and my in-laws took me out for dinner on Thursday night, and then we headed to Farmington to visit with Aaron’s grandparents.

I had a good time with Amelia last Friday. She took me on a “scavenger hunt” as a late birthday present…. we went to the tea room in Mackinaw, to Hollands in Washington to get candy by the pound, painted pottery in Eureka, went geocaching (for the first time!) by the lake there, ate at Lou’s Drive In in Peoria, and then to Les Miserables in East Peoria. I have never seen such an amazing show by a community cast! It was fantastic. Leave it to besties for planning a perfect day!

Saturday I got to see my nieces and nephew, and then went to my aunt’s house for the afternoon. She made my favorite, tuna and noodles, for lunch, and we drank tea out on the patio and then watched some Judge Judy. Sunday I spent mostly at home except for Tim and Leah taking me to the so-classy establishment of Steak n Shake. It just sounded good. Frisco melt, cheese fries, and a milkshake.

I managed to run every day that I was home. I used it as an opportunity to reflect and get some alone time. There were two days I didn’t run in the Run Streak: one day when Amelia was here, and yesterday. It’s hard to tell whether the run streak aided in my 5K PR or not, since I haven’t run a 5K in over a year.

This morning for the Up and Running 4th of July 5K, it was perfect weather… cooler, cloudy and with some humidity. It was a hilly course, being on the other side of town, and my official time was 27:33 (Garmin time 27:08). That’s a 23-second PR from last year, where the course had a gradual incline for the first mile and then it was downhill into the finish line. I am content with my time this year; I ran at 4,000 feet, up and down hills, and I had a 10-day trip sandwiched in there.

Stats for the Runner’s World Run Streak:

TOTAL DAYS RUN: 36 out of 38

TOTAL MILES: 83

LONGEST RUN: 7

What’s next?

October 14 :: Transmountain Challenge (13.1 miles up and over the mountain)

March 17 :: Bataan Memorial Death March 26.2 (Still haven’t decided if I’m going to try to run this or walk and carry a 35+ lb pack. Either way I’m doing it in honor of Grandpa.)

Summer nostalgia

I know it’s not *technically* summer  yet, but it’s in the 90’s in El Paso, so it feel like summer. Crazy to think we have over a month until the actual solstice! Anyway, I digress.

Summer has great memories. I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about this before. Here’s a list of things I love about summer (which lasts for 6-7 months here. Haha.)

  • Having more daylight, especially in the evenings. I love taking the puppy for walks right after the sun goes behind the mountains. Kids are playing in the street and people are outside. It’s nice. (P.S. She’s not really a puppy, but who cares?)
  • Having more daylight in the morning, which forces me to get out of bed
  • Tomatoes!!!! Can’t wait to get some of these from the farmer’s market, and hopefully my back yard. Tomatoes + cottage cheese + cracked black pepper = heaven.
  • Iced tea. Fresh brewed, unsweetened, with lemon. Yes.
  • Lazy days where you stay inside, watch movies and enjoy the A/C. We have a swamp cooler, but it still gets nice and cool in here!
  • Birds chirping
  • Green grass. Don’t get much of that around here, but when I do see it, it makes me really really happy.
  • Staying up really late and reading in bed with a cool breeze coming from the window. Okay, this is mainly something I’d do when I lived at home. I really should read more…..
  • Summer foods that don’t need to be hot… pasta salad, BLT’s, potato salad, Jell-O, fruit.
  • Burgers/steaks/chicken on the grill. We have a charcoal grill and it makes things taste so yummy
  • Asparagus!!!
  • Shorts, t-shirts, maxi skirts, SANDALS (Ughhh I hate socks and shoes), flippy-floppies, tank tops
  • Getting a tan. I haven’t been trying to, because this sun is hella strong down here, but I do wear SPF 15 lotion daily and some sun gets through. WEAR SUNSCREEN!
  • Thunderstorms. Ahhhhh. I miss these so badly!!
  • Running in the rain. Again, can’t really do this… I mean, it’s a big deal if we have a 10% chance of rain.
  • The fact that I’m not cold 24-freaking-7. I’m still that crazy person who takes a sweater into BDubs or Chili’s in the middle of SUMMER.
  • Hanging clothes outside. Again, another memory from living at home, but sheets always smelled soooo good.
  • Bath and Body Works’ Berry Vanilla body spray from last season. It’s summer in a plastic container.

So, friends, there’s my list of reasons I love summer. I really love all the seasons for their own reasons. I just have to say something to the people who give the desert crap for being hot: IT’S A DESERT. Of course it’s hot. But youuuuu also live in Georgia/Tennessee/Illinois/MIssouri, where it’s ridiculously humid and therefore makes it feel like 147 degrees Fahrenheit. At least our relative humidity is 6-8%. I’ll take that over 85 degrees in Illinois. Seriously. And by the way, we have some kickbutt tumbleweeds out here. You win some, you lose some.

Getting rid of my potty mouth

If you’re thinking that I don’t have the best language sometimes, well, you’re probably right. I think I let a few words slide out of my mouth last night coming home on I-10. Seriously. I almost had at least three panic attacks.

Anyway, what I want to get rid of even more than my dirty language, is my dirty eating. I had a revelation at the gym yesterday when I was kicking the crap out of the treadmill. (4-mile AWESOME progression run!) Last week, I ate very “clean”, meaning cutting out processed foods, refined carbs (white flour, boxed cereal, etc) and refined sugars (popsicles, soda, etc). I ate like this about 80% of the time.

I worked out 4 days this week…

Monday: 2 mile walk in the canyon in the AM, 2 mile run around the neighborhood in the PM

Tuesday: 4 mile interval run at the gym… 400’s and 800’s, 2.6 mile walk to and from Jess’s house

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: 30 min elliptical workout, 30 minute supine (seated) bike workout

Friday: 4 mile progression run in 41:20, starting at a walk and speeding up to 8:00 pace at the very end. FOR SURE I felt the running high! LOVE IT.

TOTAL MILES (running/walking): 15!!!

…and I felt GREAT!

And I realized, beyond just having a good attitude towards running and working out, I’ve been conscious of what I’ve been eating. I love fruits and veggies, so it’s easy for me to include them in my diet. I’ve also been drinking more water. So many times I just forget about it, which means I will feel lousy by the end of the day. It’s dry here, like 7-10% relative humidity on a regular basis. I could drink water literally all day long and probably not get enough.

Like I said, I tried to eat clean 80% of the time. The other 20%? Well, on my list I had some pineapple/coconut popsicles, white chocolate mocha creamer (flavored creamer is a non-negotiable…), a blended strawberry lemonade at Starbucks (BUT it’s a better choice than a latte/frappuccino with all the fat/calories!), Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce (duh!), and pizza last night at the bowling alley.

Ugghhh. Pizza. It did NOT agree with me. I should have eaten dinner before I went, but I met Jess for some gym and Starbucks time (there’s a Starbucks across the street from the gym on post) and didn’t have time to eat. I did eat a pear on my way. I realized I need to have more mobile healthy options like fruits, carrot and celery sticks, and healthy trail mix.

Really, the clean eating is not a foreign concept to me. It’s basically how I lost the first 35 lbs a couple years ago. However, I want to slim down and tone up, and I think even with running and doing POP Pilates I need to change my diet.

I hate saying I’m going on a “diet”. I like to call it an “eating plan”, and I love that there’s still 10-20% of time when I can eat not clean. That’s for the nights when I just don’t feel like cooking, so I eat the can of Spaghettio’s that’s been hanging out in my cabinet, or for when I’m craving Dairy Queen.

I’ve been doing some reading on different blogs and websites, and I’ve consistently found that our physiques are determined 80% by our diet, 10% by genetics, and 10% by exercise. So, the excuse that “some women in my family are just curvy, so I’ll always be comfortable in a double-digit size” is completely invalid. Who says I can’t still be curvy even if I’m 10-15 lbs lighter?

I mean, what woman doesn’t want to look smokin’ hot in a bikini?? I like the confidence that comes with being able to wear whatever I like and not feeling self-conscious, or going to a get-together and feeling like I actually have control over my eating rather than feeling guilted into eating whatever is there.

I’m thinking cleaning up my mouth (language and food) is a win/win.

April 25

This is my first post as a 26-year-old! Somehow the birthdays lost their ring after 21…. However, my 26th birthday brought me this lovely piece from Aaron…

And a totally awesome hair day… This won’t happen again until maybe Christmas or something.

I’ve logged 11 miles this week so far! I took Missy to McKelligon Canyon on Monday morning and we walked about 2 miles. She did better than walking around our neighborhood because there were less distractions. The car ride, however, was not so great. After dinner I went out and ran 2 miles in the neighborhood. So many people were out walking their dogs and playing outside. After 7, the sun’s behind the mountain and therefore not burning my flesh off. The temp goes down and it’s perfect “summer evening” weather. In April.

Yesterday I met Jess at the gym and did 4 miles of intervals, all uphill. Man, I kicked that treadmill in the butt. Later yesterday instead of driving to her house for dinner (it’s only 1.3 miles), I walked.

Today I rested. I’ve been watching my carb and sugar intake. I am trying to eat less refined sugars and carbs and more protein. It’s kind of my own version of “eating clean”. On my way home from “work” I stopped at the gas station to get gas and totally resisted the urge to get DQ. Go me. Even after just a week of watching my refined sugars and carbs, I want it less.

This whole waiting-to-have-kids thing is making me be waaay more accountable to getting and staying fit. One of the big reasons I lost weight in the first place was to get healthy before we had kids. Well, now that we’re waiting longer than we expected, I need to keep up a healthy lifestyle for longer. I want to run and workout when I’m pregnant, have a healthy delivery, and bounce back as soon as possible after giving birth. Anyway, I try not to think about it too much as it’s in the future, but it’s definitely a motivator for staying healthy.

This is kind of random, but… I’M GOING TO HONDURAS!!! I went to the meeting at church the other night. We’re going at the end of August to help with an orphanage and school we support as a church. I’ve had the itch to travel internationally for.. well.. since my last trip (Honduras in 2008), so I’m really excited. (I never got the chance to visit Aaron in Korea….silly Army… and $1700 plane tickets.)

Anyway. Life is good. I can’t imagine going back to such a stressful job… ever. Unless it were absolutely necessary. Missy and I only have a week left to party like there’s no tomorrow before Husband Man comes home… we might even do some yoga or POP Pilates.

The menu according to Mom and Pinterest

It’s sad in Texas lately, and by sad, I mean cloudy. Seriously. How do people live without the sun? Granted, we have over 300 sunny days per year, but still. Usually if it’s cloudy it’ll be sunny in a few hours. Lately, it’s just been cloudy. All. Day. Long. A little melodramatic? Maybe.

And to top it off, I just don’t feel like running. Sitting on my couch, sipping coffee and looking at pretty pictures of food is sufficient for me. However, we have a half marathon to run in just a month, so yeah. Better get my bootylicious self out the door.

As I wait for my breakfast to digest so I can go run it off (I’m thinking 7-9 miles?? Maybe?) I’m making my grocery list for the next couple weeks.

Prepare. To. DROOL:

In the crockpot:

Jambalaya. Smoked turkey sausage, chicken, rice, spices… yum. I might do shrimp instead of chicken… this pic is from the almighty Pinterest. Aaron will love me forever times two with this meal.

Corn chowder.

I don’t have a picture of this. But I use parts of my mom’s recipe. To cook it in the crockpot, I use evaporated milk. FYI: fat free just doesn’t do it. It’s too soupy. You want a chowder. I cook hot Italian sausage on the stove, drain and rinse it, and put it in the crockpot with a couple cans of evaporated milk, an onion, some potatoes, canned or frozen corn (creamed works too).

Pulled pork.

Okay, so no picture of this either. I get a shoulder pork roast, put it in the crockpot with some BBQ sauce, onion, and spices and let it cook all day on low. Then, I pull it off the bone, shred it, and put it back in the crockpot with more BBQ sauce. I love it served on whole wheat sandwich thins with cheese. Deeeelicious.

Honey chicken. This sounds delicious and easy. I love honey, and I love chicken. So there ya go. Again, Pinterest to the rescue. I get the big box of 1-minute brown rice and use it for all kinds of things. (Even the peas in this picture look good!)

Pinned Image

 

In the oven:

Enchiladas. Darn it, no picture yet again. My Hispanic friends here laugh when I tell them how I make my enchiladas… but they’re still so good. I cook up some ground beef, simmer it with black beans, tomatoes, peppers, onion, and taco seasoning and sauce. I heat up some corn tortillas and roll the mixture into about eight tortillas and put them seam side down in a glass pan. I put the rest of the mixture over the top with some cheese and bake them covered with foil. The last few minutes I take the foil off so the cheese can melt all the way. This is how my mom’s always made them (well, mostly… we Little women kind of do our own thing). I have Ortega taco sauce (the BEST, in my opinion) and sour cream on hand.

For Christmas Day:

This is our first Christmas, just the two of us, so I actually have to prepare an entire dinner. Oh darn. 😉 So far I know I want to make ham… what else do you cook for your traditional (or not so traditional) Christmas dinner? Christmas Eve growing up we always had chili and then my grandma brought a shrimp ring. Sounds funny, right? Totally normal for us. Hahaha.

Anyway. I’m going a little traditional with some sticky caramel rolls and wassail (a traditional English holiday drink made with apple juice or cider, oranges, cinnamon sticks and spices). Picture from Betty Crocker.

Overnight Pecan Rolls

I might also make this breakfast braid. It has jalapeños, so hubby will be happy! Image from myrecipes.com.

Jalapeño, Sausage, Jack, and Egg Breakfast Braid Recipe

When meal planning, I’m all about making things that are easy to throw into the crockpot, do well as leftovers, and have almost every food group in the dish. I rarely make side dishes, just because of time’s sake. We’ll have a piece of fruit or bread & butter.

I also will be making some chocolate crinkles, some more peanut butter kiss cookies, and sugar cookies. I usually buy whole wheat or white whole wheat flour, but I think this time around I’ll just get white flour. I think it has a better consistency for Christmas cookies. I’m going to bake these next week when I have more time during the day.

I usually spend about $100 every two weeks, and we rarely have to run to the store to pick things up during the two weeks until we shop again.

Happy baking and cooking for the holidays!