Hometown Heroes Honor Run 2014

This Race is the first of three in the Run Riverside challenge. We get a medal for each one that we complete, and a special medal for running all three. Originally I had planned on doing the 5k for each race. However, some point earlier this year, I decided that this would be my 10k. To me that was huge and an impossible goal, but that’s a story for another blog post!

I had goals for each race. For this one, to finish under 35, for the 10k to run the whole thing, and for the 5k in January to keep running enough over the holidays to be able to run it! haha When we got our soul sisters team together, we all came from different spots in a running journey. Lisa had run a half marathon before, Heather had trained for one before (I believe), and Kim had never run a 5k before. As the time came to get ready for our first leg of this series, I realized that running as a team and encouraging Kim was more important than my time goal. So I threw the goal out the window, and kept to my original goal of just run the whole thing no matter how slow. Kim started off a little quick, and that actually made my pace really good. She had to take a few walk breaks, and I just kept running next to her and the other girls. During the last 1/4 mile Lisa somehow ended up way ahead, so I decided to catch up to her, and then get pics of the other two. When I caught up to Lisa, she got a cramp and slowed down. So I decided to just keep my momentum going and finish strong. As I neared the finish I saw the clock at 34:45 or something. My goal was in sight! I booked it and crossed right before it turned to 35! I was so stoked, and even more so when I got my official time of 34:37!! And I was able to turn around and get pictures of the other girls finishing.  

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This was the first time I ever earned a medal, and to say I was excited is an understatement. At first I thought it was weird to get a 5k medal, like it wouldn’t be earned. But after this race I definitely felt like I earned it!

Running

In 2013 I had a goal to run a 5k. Actually, I think I had the goal back in 2012, but actually made it a reality back in 2013. Since then, I believe I have officially become a runner. Sure, I go through phases of excitement about running and not wanting to run. But I think that’s just how it goes. I have signed up for a series of three races this fall / winter. It’s the Run Riverside Challenge and you get a special medal for completing all three runs! I think getting real running shoes, and not just picking up whatever shoes they had at Ross, made me feel like a real runner. Now the fact that I want to lace up my shoes and go for a run just because makes me really feel like a runner!

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April 21, 2013 – Run Through Redlands. This was my first race in about 9 years. That link will tell you everything you wanted to know and more.

November 2013 – Turkey Trot fun run. I actually rolled my ankle two days before this, while training (ok training = going on a run with Matt). I ran / walked it, but took it easy.

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December 2013 – Santa Hat Fun Run. I hesitate to call this a race, because it was really just a fun run with a group of friends. But since I wasn’t running regularly with the group then (I am now), I will count it!

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March 2014 – Phoenix Westin Well Being 5k fun run – this was the worst run ever. We hadn’t trained and drank a margarita before. Not to mention it was hot. We finished though. That’s what counts, right?

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April 2014 – Run Through Redlands. Heather and I ran this, and Bobbi decided to join us with Rylee that morning. It was great to have her (with the stroller) as a pacer! Plus she kept us chatting and made us forget we were in a race. lol This was the first time I had run the whole 5k!

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May 2014 – Rock N Glow 5k. Lisa and I signed up for this together and had a blast. I think we would have enjoyed it more if we had planned to stay for the glow afterparty and had more friends with us!

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June 2014 – SCE Linemans Rodeo 5k Fun Run. Heather and I definitely got on a racing kick and signed up for so many races. I think there were 50 of us in this whole race. But we chatted as we ran and had a good time.

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July 2014 – Fourth of July Fun Run. Another run with Shari’s running group, that I now consider myself to be a part of. We showed up in our patriotic gear for this one!

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 October 2014 – Hometown Heroes Honor Run 5k – Recap and pictures coming soon!

November 9, 2014 – Mission Inn 10k!! Full Recap with pictures coming soon!

And here are some random pics of us running together (and me running solo). If this was a movie, this is the point where it would be a montage with the Rocky soundtrack. Mandatory clip of me running the stairs (at the U of R) included.

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Officially in the Friday Morning Fun Run gang!

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Loss

I met Tony & Alisa at Flame Fest this summer. Their passion for marriage, Christ, and ministry is contagious. They are One Extraordinary Marriage and they release weekly blog posts and podcasts. I’ve slowly been listening to their podcasts and yesterday heard the story of Alisa’s miscarriage. I sent her an email full of my love for her and gratitude that she shared her story. It breaks my heart to know just how many of us struggle with miscarriage and infertility and yet keep it secret. She encouraged me to listen to another podcast of theirs that goes deeper into loss and grief, and how to handle it within a marriage.

It’s been one year since my last chemical pregnancy (the earliest of miscarriages, basically). Honestly, I thought it had been two. It seems like so much time has passed since then. Apparently not. The pain is still there. But there is also joy. Joy of deepened friendships. Joy of a loving husband. Joy from sharing my story. And there is hope. Hope in the future, in what God has promised me. I know my story is not over.

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I also want to commend my husband. This has been a very hard journey for him as well. Because he can only understand so much. As much as I could barely process that I was pregnant before I lost it, it was even less for him. With the second pregnancy I remember talking to Jules and explaining how I didn’t even want to tell him. Because I just knew I would lose it again. She helped me see that I needed to let him in. (Which leads to another loss, the joy of telling my husband I am pregnant. Because of the two losses, a positive test is a fearful thing for me. It’s a scary thing. It’s not something I can be excited about and carry secretly for a week before some grand plan of saying I’m pregnant). Anywho, I remember texting (or calling) Matthew and letting him know “well I am pregnant but I’m afraid I’m losing it again. I don’t know what else to say, but thought you should know.” And really, what could he say to that? It was a day or two before his birthday (the previous one was right after my birthday. Lame). and I remember the biggest heartache for me was I felt like I ruined his birthday. I remember sobbing not only for the lost baby, but also for not being able to give him the birthday gift he wanted. I know he felt helpless. As much as I couldn’t grasp my feelings or what was going on, he was even more disconnected. I remember hearing a study recently about how men experience the loss of a child differently as the pregnancy gets further and further along. For women, it’s painful at any stage. But our husbands don’t get to connect to that baby until they hear a heartbeat, see an ultrasound, or feel a kick. But Matthew stepped up to the plate. He asked his partner what to do and she said bring me chocolate. Haha So he picked up In N Out for dinner and brought me chocolate. And let me cry it out. Because that’s what I needed. I needed him to just sit with me and listen. I needed him to hold me. He did all of those. And he came with me to the doctor to get bloodwork done to confirm what I already knew (I wasn’t pregnant anymore).

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In the podcast I was listening to earlier, Tony talked about how to be there for someone experiencing grief. He put it best, be Christ. And what is Christ? Love. Love your family, love your friends, love those going through grief. It’s not about having the right words to say, its about sitting next to them. Holding their hand. Hugging them. And it’s about bringing it up. Talk about their loss. Let them know you are available to listen. As Alisa said, she will cry whenever she talks about Andrew, but she wants to know that he’s remembered.

So this is me talking. Talking about grief. Talking about miscarriage and chemical pregnancies. Talking about loss and infertility. Because it’s real. It’s there. And SO MANY of us struggle. And so many of us believe the lies. Lies that we did something wrong or our bodies aren’t good enough. Lies that if we didn’t drink alcohol or if we ate cleaner we would still be pregnant. Lies that if we didn’t have that eating disorder in the past we would be able to get pregnant. Lies that we did something wrong and for that reason God took our baby away. But you know the truth, right? (Heather know I always make her replace lies with truth). The truth is that he is more than enough. The truth is that we don’t always know what’s going on with our bodies. The truth is we may never know why. The truth is we were made for me. The truth is God loves us and that is all we need. The truth is our joy is in Him and he carries each tear that we cry. The truth is….. You fill it in.

“Bad Blogger”

Over the weekend, at Refresh Summit South, I kept referring to myself as a bad blogger. As evidenced by my 31 Days of Influence series, that contains all of two posts. (although the irony is I only started the series because I have a handwritten list of 31 people I wanted to include, maybe I’ll just release them one by one hahaha). I think that I felt that because I was not posting daily, or even weekly, as I did on NewlyWife, I was a bad blogger. But, you know what? I just remembered that I started this blog for myself. For my own time frame. For getting my thoughts out. So I’m not a bad blogger, I’m just me. Blogging once a week, once a month, or once a day.

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I do have a whole bunch of ideas (literally I have albums on my phone labeled “blog- workouts, blog – crafts”) and fun things to write, but I shall write them as they come. And as they have time. And not stress. And definitely make sure Matthew knows he is my priority.

All that being said, I do want to write about my first 10k (on Nov 9) and Refresh Summit South (Nov 14-16) while they are still fresh on my mind. They were both so amazing and wonderful in completely different ways!

31 Days of Influence: Daddy Dean & Mom Claire

I am blessed to have two amazing parents. They get to claim days 2 and 3 (belatedly, although I started this post on Oct 2. haha) for that reason.

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Senior Year Homecoming Game, U of R

They have always loved and supported me. They taught me that I can do anything and everything I put my mind to. They have always demonstrated a godly marriage to me. Sure, they are not perfect, but they have shown me God’s love amongst imperfections.

 DAD MEG WEDDINGMy dad taught me to have a sense of humor. I tend to get caught up in the details. He catches me with my serious face (which I’ve rocked since I was a toddler) and reminds me to laugh. Sure, there are serious things in life, but not that many. He showed me courage in the face of opposition. He always demonstrated the love and grace of my heavenly Father. He also showed me how to put my trust in God when others fail (although he definitely showed me the value of having strong reliable friendships too).

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My mom taught me many wonderful lessons as well. She taught me how to roll my eyes at the not so funny jokes that we heard a million times. She taught me to sing and use my voice to glorify God. She taught me the value of dear friends. She showed me courage and strength. She shared wisdom with me. My mom demonstrated what it means to be a hard working woman, to be a strong woman in a male dominated career (construction), but also to be soft and feminine. She has shared her struggles with me, in hopes that I would not fall down those same paths (ironically I didn’t, but I found others to fall down).

Visiting me for Octoberfest, a few years back.

Visiting me for Octoberfest, a few years back.

My parents loved me at the lowest of my lows. They brought me home from college because they were concerned, because their precious MegaBaby just wasn’t the same anymore. Because the joy was gone from my eyes and they did not like that. They spoke truth to me and didn’t let me get away with crap. But they also let me make my own decisions, and get a little bruised. Most importantly, they trusted God to take care of me, and they gave me back to Him. Thank Mutti & Daddio, for always being so amazing, for being such awesome role models of godly marriages and parenting. See you soon!!

31 Days of Influence: Matthew

Last year I did a series called “31 Days in my Craft Room.” It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed getting back to blogging a bit. This year I wasn’t sure if I wanted to commit to something, but realized I can do it for as long or as short as I want. This is my blog, after all. So in lieu of 31 posts about my craft room or home decor or whatnot, I decided to call this series 31 days of influence. I wanted it to be 31 days of impact, but it just sounded weird. So every day (or at least every day I remember / have time), I am going to profile someone who has had a significant impact of my life. Starting with the love of my life.

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Matthew has had one of the biggest impacts on my life. At this point, we’ve known each other almost 10 years! I know to some, that’s nothing, but that’s almost a third of my life! He has taught me so many valuable lessons. He has shown me hard work and passion. He has reminded me not to be so serious, and to laugh often. He has shown me deep love when I didn’t really deserve it. Matthew, you have taught me so much more than just these things. For that, I am grateful. I love you forever.

Hot & Sweet Spice Rub

This spice blend is a staple at our home. Matt loves it even more than I do. We put it on eggs, vegetables, meat… you name it! haha I found it back in 2008 on the Whole Foods website, and gave it away as gifts for Christmas. Whenever people come over and try it, they always request some to take home, or at least the recipe. So I’m writing it here, so I can always go back to it!

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The blend is pretty simple. but be forewarned this makes a large batch! It will last you awhile, or put some in cute containers to give to others!

Blend all of the below ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet or smoked paprika
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup kosher or coarse salt
1/4 cup freshly cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons thyme
3 tablespoons oregano
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Voila! A delicious spice rub to call your own! You can even give it a fancy name if you want!

Chocolate Chip Muffins

I originally posted this recipe over at NewlyWife, but it is time for it to come make its home here. Matthew loves these, and I want to try and figure out a way to make them gluten and dairy free. But for now, here you go!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
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Ingredients
  1. 4 ripe Bananas
  2. 1/2 cup Oil
  3. 1 cup Sugar
  4. 2 Eggs
  5. 1 tablespoon Vanilla
  6. 1/3 cup Milk
  7. 1 cup White Flour
  8. 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  9. 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  10. 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  11. 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  12. 2 tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  13. 2 cups Chocolate Chips (substitute about 1/4 pound Chocolate, chopped)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin cups if you will not be using cupcake/muffin liners.
  2. Put bananas in a stand mixer and mix for 30 seconds or so, to mash. Add oil and sugar, blending until well combined. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and milk. Add flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa and mix until everything is incorporated.
  3. At this point you can switch up the recipe as you prefer. Either mix in all, half, or none of the chocolate chips. Pour into muffin trays (I use a cookie scoop — takes two scoops) and top with remaining chocolate.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes, until toothpick comes out dry.
Fire ♥ Wifey http://www.firewifey.com/
These muffins freeze very well. You can also use two loaf plans and make banana bread with this recipe. I feel somewhat healthy when I eat these, because they have some whole wheat flour in them!

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They also look fancy when you use chopped up chocolate instead of chocolate chips! Would you like to see this recipe made gluten or dairy free?

Flame Fest 2014

Flame Fest. I am still trying to find the words to say to describe this weekend. First off, it was a marriage conference for fire families. Well technically for fire wives, connected through the group FireFighterWife, but we wouldn’t be in the group without our firemen, and they were encouraged to come to, so it’s easier to just say marriage conference for fire families. Rhett, the Fire Critic, wrote a great review of the whole weekend, it was especially great to hear a husband’s perspective (and Matthew and I greatly enjoyed getting to know him and his wife over the weekend). I was going to try and scatter the pictures throughout this post, but they’re way out of order and there are too many. So the text will be somewhat short, and then there will be a giant photo dump at the end.  You’re welcome. lol

So this weekend started a few weeks earlier for me. I volunteered to help with decorations (woohoo!) and social media (I was dubbed the #hashtagqueen and #socialmediaqueen). I made a fun little video explaining hashtags, and also setup a mobile photo booth. People loved it and we got some great pics, so that made me happy! Matthew also posted on his instagram about how much people loved the photo booth. He’s such an encourager!

We arrived at midnight on Wednesday and had an eventful cab ride to our hotel in the burbs. We stayed at the Hyatt McDonalds Lodge in Oak Brook. It was beautiful, but kinda weird to see pictures of Ronald McDonald everywhere, or rather Ronald McDonald inspired art. And a lot of things were not included in our stay, like breakfasts or the gym (which we could purchase at an additional cost). The rooms were nice though, and I was grateful for my own coffee pot! Thursday was spent greeting old friends and meeting new ones, eating Chicago hot dogs (omg I want another now), and finishing up those decorations! We had a welcome reception that night, and I told everyone how to use #flamefest14 and gave away a prize for the best pic at the photobooth that night. I stayed up way too late (about 2:30 am) chatting with my twinsie and some other new (well new in person) friends.

Friday was filled with awesome seminars and sessions. We heard from Tony & Alisa (somewhat local, San Diego based!) from One Extraordinary Marriage on how to make our marriage extraordinary. I really loved their session and felt like we gained a few tools for better communication. Lori, our chief fire wife, and her husband Dan shared their story. And a panel of couples shared how they have made their marriages work in this industry. Some great wisdom was gained from that as well. After lunch we split into men’s and women’s sessions and were able to get into some of the nitty gritty stuff. We heard from Crystal Paine (yes, the Money Saving Mom, I was kinda fangirl for a moment!) about cutting our grocery bill without clipping coupons. We also had a great conversation about intimacy with Alisa. Lastly, we presented gifts that our local groups had made (California girls made the coins)! That night was the ball. I have wanted to go to a fireman’s ball ever since Matthew made this career change. This one did not disappoint, and I was so grateful to have my husband suited up, and to be wearing a gorgeous gown (which I happened to pickup for $5 at Ross!!). I also was given a custom made bag with out last name on it for helping out. I loved it!!

Saturday was a fun day! We (overslept and got ready in 10 min and ran down to the shuttles) and took the Metra (train) into the city. It just so happened to be POURING that day, but still hot. So weird. It changed the scavenger hunt, but we still had fun wandering around downtown. And we had more hot dogs. Mmmm. You can tell I’m all about the food! That afternoon (after a delicious lunch provided by FireHouse Subs), we got to go play with fire trucks! Well, not really, but we got to get all geared out and “put out a fire.” Lori has some great pics of that Touch a Truck event over at FireFighter Wife. And those blue eyes in the mask in the last pic. Those are mine. lol It was super sweet seeing all the husband encourage their wives and take pictures of them. That night was a visit to downtown Oak Brook to a local bar for Dueling Pianos.  I expected to be completely out of my element (I’m not the biggest fan of bars these days, I prefer a wine bar where I can talk to someone), and I was out of my element at first. But then I got to singing. And I love singing (not karaoke, just along with the music and everyone else). And we had a blast. I worked the room during California Girls, the husbands took selfies on their wives phones, and a random couple donated money to our organization (it was their 30th anniversary and they wanted to honor us supporting marraiges, so their donation went to a lucky couples ticket to Flame Fest next year)! There was even slow dancing at the end. And my Matty actually asked me to dance. It may not have been 12 years, and he has danced with me before, but this post somewhat conveys the feelings. I loved my dress that I got for $8 (I’m all about the deals) and have no idea how I managed to  not fall over in the stilettos, but I stood and danced tall all night! Matthew and I drove home a bunch of our friends who prepared us for kids by asking if we were there yet every 5 minutes and whining. It was pretty comical.

Sunday morning was the end of the official event. We had a farewell bunch with a bunch of friends, and then went back downtown with a smaller group for the day. We had real Chicago Pizza (nom nom nom) and saw more of the sights. We missed the 6:40 train and had 2 hours to kill, so Matthew and I went to the top of the Sears (Willis) Tower. We got to the top right at sunset. It was perfect. We caught the train with the Beves’ and Fleitz’s and made it back to the hotel for a late dinner at the bar. It was so great slowly saying goodbye to friends. It kinda made the trip last longer, in a way.

Monday we packed up and headed out, in the midst of tornado warnings. We kept hearing the sirens, and were trying to figure out if we needed to go hide in the bathroom or something. haha We talked about what we learned this weekend and the great friendships that we made. We left excited about our marriage, and I think Matthew left even more excited about his career. He’s taking the big jump into paramedic school next year, something that had been put off for awhile, and starting his Anatomy & Physiology class this month. I’m so proud and excited. And too full of happiness to think about the craziness that will be next year’s medic school! At the very least, I know I’ll have my Fire Wives to turn to for support!

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A few airport pics in my new Refresh Attire hoodie

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Currently.

currently.  stolen from krista. and a good way to check in.

LOVING // life. my husband. my church. my family. so much goodness.

READING // the bible (in 90 days, which may be more like 120 lol). say goodbye to survival mode. love & respect. madame tussaud.

WAITING FOR // oh so many things. december 2015 is what comes to mind now, hopefully that will be matthew’s medic school graduation.

EXCITED ABOUT // my nephew and sis in love and all of matt’s side of the family being in town. yay for family fun. also that matthew got into anatomy and physiology (medic school prereq) on the first try without a waitlist. yay!!! also the changes that these new eating habits and supplements will bring about in my life.

TRYING TO // be a good wife. (part of me feels like conceive is what should come after trying to, because that’s what i sad for so long. but I’m back at the point where if it happens then yay and if not, i’m totally cool with that too.)

WORKING ON // my marriage. also, the backyard with the hubby. so excited to have grass again someday. not excited that I broke a sprinkler head. sad.

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ENJOYING // summer. dates with the hubby. coconut milk ice cream.

USING // my curling wand to curl my hair, because matty likes it that way, and, quite frankly, so do i!

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WEARING // today jeans and a tee and cute target sandals, my usual work attire. weekends are for dresses or shorts and a tank. working out (rarely) in refresh attire tanks.

PLANNING // the next 3 years of our lives. hahaha also refresh summit, and what looks like it will be a solo harry potter marathon this weekend.

NEEDING // rest. i am still learning to rest, but need to do it more often.

LEARNING // to be still. to speak up for myself. to take risks.

So life is pretty good right now, as you can see. what are you doing? learning? etc-ing?