03.13 I remember

Yesterday was the anniversary of my parents’ deaths; they died on the same day four years apart. One was expected, the other was not, but both hurt just the same.

When my last parent died, we hadn’t been on good terms due to some choices I’d made and how he reacted to them and also the influence of my stepmother. We hadn’t seen each other in three years or spoken to each other except for maybe two emails. When he died, I was a junior in college and sort of just fell apart so much so that I took a leave of absence from my Corps of Cadets, didn’t go to my Army ROTC Spring FTX. This was kind of a big deal because your entire junior year is spent prepping for an evaluation camp held between your junior and senior year which evaluates your potential and is a huge portion of determining your branch and future assignment. It’s like the Army ROTC equivalent of a thesis defense, screw it up and you’ll pay for it for years.

Everything Army was particularly difficult for me to get through because every class, every PT session reminded me of him. I was painfully haunted that he’d never see me graduate or commission, get married, and that he’d never even get the chance for us to have a better relationship. Every mile I ran hurt. Every time I put on my uniform I ached inside. I also wasn’t a particularly nice person to be around, either. I remember one day another student was complaining that the salad bar was out of something and I ripped her a new one because how could anyone be so stupid to complain about that when there were so many worse things she could be missing? To all who knew me then, I’m still really sorry for how I lashed out at the people around me who only wanted to help. As painful as it was, running was my self-imposed treatment for my grief. My dad was a runner which made it worse, but also helped me feel like I was still connected.

It’s been ten years since he died and fourteen since my mother died. In a few years, I’ll have lived as long without a mother as I did with her. That loss was a lot more painful while pregnant as I tried to envision how on earth I was going to be a mother when I didn’t have one and was pretty sure I had no maternal instincts (I still maintain I don’t, but I took every class offered by the hospital and the post).

As I mentioned before, I was kind of an emotional wreck that whole spring. I was offered the opportunity to not go to the Army evaluation camp that summer. I probably should have taken it but my main motivation was that I didn’t want to repeat my MSIII year. Unsurprisingly, I did poorly because I just didn’t care about any of it still. It all seemed like a enormous waste of time and effort when there were so many other things, real things, that Actually Mattered instead of exercising Vietnam-era tactics and being evaluated on them.

I’m glad I did go, though. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have met my husband, I don’t know what I would have commissioned as, but I know my path would have been different. I don’t think I’d be here now, in this house with my dogs and cat and sleeping baby snuggled against me. I used to be so angry but now I’m just sad that my daughter won’t know them, and I’m sad for my dad that we never got the chance to have a better relationship before he died. I am thankful that he got me into running and that my mother, who had skills that Martha Stewart would envy, left me with an appreciation for crafts, cooking, and a deep love for dogs.

One Month Postpartum

A month ago I was super pregnant and mentally prepared to still be pregnant halfway into March. Instead, little girl is a whole month old and my life is completely different now.

Although she isn’t sleeping through the night I like to think that my years of Army training have prepared me to function on little or poor quality of sleep. I did lose 30 pounds in the week after delivery which was pretty cool and I’ve lost another five since then. I haven’t been cleared for strenuous physical activity but I have been doing walks around the neighborhood with the dogs and stroller. I also joined a postpartum yoga class on post which of been a lot of fun even though I seem to spend a lot of the time either breast-feeding or trying to call me fussy baby. In a few weeks she’ll be old enough that I can leave her in childcare at the YMCA and then it will be a little bit easier to get my workout in.

She’s grown a whole pound and some change in a month and is a little taller than the height/weight ratio but she’s gaining both pretty evenly so I wonder if she got the tall genes that I didn’t get. It’s also a little humbling to think that had she cooked longer this is how big she might have been full term.

I’m still holding off signing up for races until I’ve been cleared and have a base again, but I DID sign up for the 2018 Peachtree Road Race again. This year I was quick enough to get an Atlanta Track Club membership and a guaranteed entry.

2018 Goals

I love setting goals and also making lists just so I can check things off of them. It’s so satisfying. Resolution goals are really my jam. Over the years I’ve gotten better at goal-setting and making things intentional and realistic as opposed to just saying I’ll do more of something or less of something else.

For 2018, my goals are a little different than in years past.

ONE // I want to try to make it to breastfeeding for six months

A year would be better, but I’m not even remotely in control of my work schedule and there’s a chance I might be on a long work trip this time next year, so I’m trying to make flexible goals as well. I really would like to meet this one, if only because breastmilk is free and formula is so expensive.

TWO // Pass my postpartum APFT

I have six months after giving birth to take the Army Physical Fitness Test which I’ve never had an issue passing before, but I’ve also never given birth before and never weighed as much as I do now. I already feel slightly stressed and panicky at the thought of trying to drop all this baby weight and get back into shape in six short months.

THREE // Study for and pass the CompTIA CISSP exam

Every year I try to do something to professionally improve myself. I almost failed in 2017 because I got busy with a major training exercise at the beginning of the year and then moving and learning an entire new job, bur fortunately my job enrolled me in a two-week course so I got some professional training I otherwise would not have gotten. I’ve been respectful of the CISSP test for years and a little intimidated by the breadth of knowledge it tests which also makes it difficult to study for.

FOUR // Finish the Augusta Ironman 70.3

This is a rollover from 2017 because I wasn’t comfortable cycling while pregnant. Looking back, I feel like I was overly concerned and probably would have been just fine, but it’s my first rodeo so I’m trying to be forgiving of myself as well. I’m also hoping this will give me some motivation for passing the APFT as well.

FIVE // Get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight

I don’t actually know if I can do this in a year, but I want to put this down because it is still a goal. I was at a healthy weight before I got pregnant but my body really loves being pregnant and was more than happy to pack on the pounds, so much so that we thought I might actually have gestational diabetes (I didn’t, which was both a relief and a discouragement because then at least I’d have a reason for why I blew up so much). This is also probably my vainest goal of the bunch so I won’t be too hard on myself if I don’t achieve it by the end of 2018 as long as I’ve made some progress in dropping the weight.

Pregnancy Exercises

I completed a “Confidence in Childbirth” class through my hospital recently and while it was a definite commitment, 2.5 hours a class and five classes spread over six weeks, I learned so much. One of the things the instructor really emphasized was doing your exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor and make space by doing kegels and also squats. Lots and lots of squats.

She recommended two an hour. Well, I work full time and I already feel a bit like a balloon with two legs and feel even sillier trying to do squats at work, so I’ve really been neglecting those even though I know I’ll pay for it later with interest.

We had our first doula prenatal meeting last week and one of the things she went over was also exercises including, you guessed it, squats. Lots and lots of squats. But also pelvic hip thrusts, standing lunges, and exercise ball hip openers. I don’t know if it’s because I’m paying for a doula and the birth class was free, or if just hearing it again from another person, but I’ve been doing a lot better with my exercises.


Awkward pelvic thrusts made more awkward by the near-constant dog presence

I’m supposed to do three sets a day so I do one set when I wake up and before I eat, one around lunchtime, and one before I leave for work. I broke my squats down into two big sets so I get those done before I leave for work as well. This also doesn’t excuse me from my normal exercise so I still need to get in some light weight lifting (light only because my strength seems to have taken a hiatus) and low-impact cardio. Running officially sucks too much to try anymore so I’ve switched to an elliptical-like running machine at my gym that hurts less but still makes me feel tired.

I’m also supposed to spend some time sitting on the floor in different positions. I’m not really sure how these help prepare me for labor, but it’s not too uncomfortable and my dogs think it’s fun when I’m down on their level.


I’ve got about two months to go so I’m ready to put in the work and see how it benefits the labor process and also recovery.

On my mind

I’m in a class for the next couple of weeks which has been nice because I have a “normal” schedule instead of my rotating shifts and got to spend Halloween handing out candy to kids (and dog treats to Zane because we’re working on positive associations with strangers and kids especially) but has also been a pain because now I have to drive in traffic and parking has been much harder to find.

Staying awake.

You’d also think that a normal schedule would help me stay awake more easily. Nope. Instead, now I’m suckered into the post-lunch coma every afternoon and since I’m also pregnant, I can’t suck down coffee like I would otherwise. Instead, I’ve been using a blend of essential oils this week called En-R-Gee to keep me awake when the briefer starts to drone. I have it in a roller bottle so I can just dab it on my wrists and my neck for a quick pick-me-up. I don’t love the smell like I do some other oils, but I’m also a lot more sensitive to smells due to pregnancy.


I know I said I was limited on coffee, and that’s true, so it also means that the coffee I do get to have is extra valuable to me and I don’t want to waste it on a crappy cup that I won’t enjoy. Back in Alaska, some friends moved out and gifted us the remainder of the food in their pantry that they couldn’t eat or take with them. One of the things was a half-empty bag of ground coffee from the Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. You guys. This is seriously the most amazing coffee in the entire world. Embarrassingly, Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. is maybe half a mile from where I lived in Alaska and walkable in both seasons (deep winter and preparing for winter) and I didn’t visit it until my last year there and discovered that not only is their coffee amazing, but their food and pastries are also delicious.

When I left Alaska I took a bag of beans with me and with my manual grinder, French press, and JetBoil, I had hot, delicious coffee every day of my trip. They also ship (thank goodness) so everyone can try their wonderful blends. My favorite is the Milan San Remo blend and what I’ve been treating myself to every morning.


Next week I also get to go to the first of my five birthing classes offered by my hospital. I’m looking forward to it because it also has a tour of the labor and delivery section and it will be nice to meet other to-be-parents who are due around the same time. I’ve been having a lot of Braxton-Hicks contractions and it’s really neat that even though I don’t have a clue as to what I’m doing, my body is already working on preparing itself.


I really, really like podcasts. I like them in the car and also while lifting. Apparently that second one is a little unusual. I got hooked on The Longest Shortest Time on my cross-continent move and it’s still one of my favorites because the episodes are always so varied but always interesting. Last week I listened to one about the importance, or whether it was important, of afro-centric schooling for kids and how identity with their ethnicity affects their future. The podcast is about parenthood, but really interesting no matter what stage of life you’re in. I definitely wasn’t planning on being pregnant when I first started listening and found the podcast captivating even then.

The Army’s most attractive uniform.

I know I wrote about my feeling on the Army’s maternity uniform a little while ago, but another thing that bothered me, among all the rest of the things that bother me about the uniform, is that while the front is button-up to allow for ease of pumping and/or breastfeeding (like, zippers aren’t faster?) the undershirt is just a regular t-shirt. So imagine this with me – I can unbeaten my shirt to pump BUT I still have to either lift my t-shirt to fit the pump in there or else try to wrangle it under my shirt like some sort of breastmilk snake. Yeah.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. Miss Military Mom created a regulation shirt that also has a flap that can be used for nursing or pumping. They even made a long-sleeve version. Thank goodness, because I was going to attempt to make something and I am not good at sewing or anything like that.

The first pregnancy.

I found this video a few weeks ago and showed it to P and while it was pretty funny,  I really identify more with the second-time mom than the first and I’ve also noticed that in our classes and at our appointments. I’ve barely taken any pictures, the baby room is mostly a bunch of boxes stacked in a way that doesn’t make me feel crazy when I walk by but the closet is holding all my Army gear, pictures, and overflow winter jackets – nothing like what I’ve seen other people have in their baby rooms. I don’t even remember to take my prenatal vitamin every day. I think a big part of it is that I’m working a pretty involved full time job and when I’m not I have a lot of other things on my to-do list so I haven’t really had much time to sit around like the first-time mom in the video and document the journey. Also, sushi, lunch meat, and coffee are all still part of my life. We’ll see how long this lasts.

November Project

Have you heard of the November Project? It was created in Boston as a way to encourage people to stay active during the cold, dreary winter months (and through the holiday season when a lot of us, okay, me, slack off on workouts). It’s expanded worldwide to different locations now. Sadly, there’s no location near me but I was inspired by its message to make my own November Project challenge for myself.

For November, I’m committing to doing yoga every day. Why yoga? Because I always feel good after doing it, I’m really bad about stretching and mobility, and also because it’s easy to do no matter the weather. I’m not stretching myself to committing to X amount of time each day, just to do it every day for the month of November. Some days might be as simple as just going through a few asanas and others I might feel more up to following a video or going to a class. I like open-ended challenges.

On my mind

I read something last week about Rick Rescorla and looked him up  and wow. He served in the Northern Rhodesia Police before coming to America and commissioning as a second lieutenant, serving as a platoon leader under LTC Hal Moore (his face is actually on the cover of We Were Soldiers) and if that wasn’t an incredible enough life, he’s also credited with saving nearly 2,600 people by running evacuation drills and then leading everyone out of the South Tower on September 11, 2001. I told P about him and was surprised that he already knew who he was – the FOB he’d been on in Iraq was named for him.

That also spawned my memory of one of my favorite movies – Zulu. In particular, the pinnacle scene where they are standing to defend against a much larger Zulu force and sing to keep their bravery up against the Zulu chanting.

I can’t believe I just now learned about this video, but it’s so funny watching others’ faces as they realize what he’s singing.

Embracing Fall When its Still 90 Degrees Out

We’re supposed to get cooler weather this weekend (thank goodness) but just because it’s still summer outside and I’m still wearing shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops doesn’t mean I don’t also want all the fall things in my life, too. 

For me, part of embracing fall is making everything pumpkin-flavored. I tried out this recipe this week and P even was a big fan (he is not a pumpkin lover like I am). I think it worked because it’s still flavorful and you can taste the pumpkin, but it’s not overwhelmingly PUMPKIN. Plus, it lends itself really well to the addition of your favorite hot sauce (which I put on almost everything).

Sneaky begging dog in the background

Recipe was modified from here though I added probably four times as much garlic and chili powder and red pepper flakes because I like my food spicy. 

* 1 pound ground beef
* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste 

* 3 cloves minced garlic 

* 1 large onion, diced 

* 1 green bell pepper, chopped 

* 1 red bell pepper, chopped 

* 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained 

* 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained 

* 1 (15 ounce) can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed 

* 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

* 2 (14.5 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes 

* 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes 

* 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree 

* 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 

* 2 teaspoons chili powder (or more of you like spicy)

* 1 teaspoon ground cumin 

* 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste 


* Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook and stir the beef in the skillet until crumbly and no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes, garlic, and onion; continue cooking until the beef has browned and the onion has softened and turned translucent. Add the green and red bell pepper and cook 5 minutes more.

* Once the beef is cooked, add the kidney beans, black beans, Great Northern beans, tomato sauce, tomato sauce with garlic and onions, petite diced tomatoes, fire roasted diced tomatoes, and pumpkin puree in a large slow cooker. Season with pumpkin pie spice, chili powder, cumin, and salt. 

* Cook on Low until the chili is hot, 1 to 2 hours.

House Projects

I took advantage of Labor Day weekend by catching up on a number of house projects that have been sitting on my to-do list since I moved in. I had a master plan to get everything done before the movers showed up but I had to cut a few less-essentials and push those off. And then I kept pushing them off so finally that weekend I decided to get some of them done.

  1. Refinish the bathroom countertops. I used another kit from Giani Granite since I loved the kitchen results so much. I wanted a white counter in the bathrooms so I chose their White Diamond kit. I’m not as artistic as I wish I was, and I didn’t think it was as forgiving or intuitive as the Black Bombay kit, but overall I like it a lot better than the previous color. Also, P wholeheartedly likes it a lot better, so that’s a total win in my books.

2. Convert the spare bedroom’s closet bifold doors to French doors. I tried to see if I could just buy closet French doors, but you can’t. You can buy regular doors, bifold doors, or barn doors, but not French doors. I wasn’t interested in cutting down regular doors, or losing the entire wall to make a barn door happen, so I followed this tutorial (or rather, P did all the work and I sat there and scrolled through Instagram and helpfully held down the sides of the door while he screwed in the brackets) and am much happier with how they look and function now. I’m going to move the handles to the front of the door and paint them, but I’m debating caulking/spackling the center line where the hinges used to be. P says they’ll split but I’m hopeful they won’t.

3. I haven’t really loved the Recycled Glass color I painted the spare bedroom and what is going to be the nursery ever since we moved furniture in there. They get less light than the master bedroom and the green just looked sort of murky and sad. I had almost a full gallon leftover of Sea Salt so I repainted the nursery that and Lowe’s was having a rebate on paint so I picked up another gallon of Comfort Gray to redo the spare bedroom. I also put together the guest pop-up trundle bed so now we can actually have people over without making them choose between a camping cot or the couch.

4. Still working on the kitchen table. P is doing the sanding and staining since he’s convinced it will give me a miscarriage or something, but once that’s done we’re going to paint the bottom of it the same Dixie Belle chalk paint in Buttercream that we did six of the eight chairs already. If I have any leftover I may re-prime and redo a couple of the chairs that have tannin bleed-through. Right now I’ve relegated those to the desk and spare bedroom as additional furniture.

Maybe not the most exciting weekend, but it’s been great getting some of the longstanding projects finally done.

Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale

Today is the last day of Lilly Pulitzer’s semi-annual After Party Sale, famous for its deep discounts on a brand that never has a sale section online.

I was fortunate that Disney Springs has a brand spankin new Lilly store and this year they let the stores open their doors for the sale a day early, meaning I got to get some shopping in before we left Disney to head home. There was still a line to get in and then a line for the fitting rooms and a line for the checkout, but I appreciated being able to try things on.

I also stopped by my home store in Georgia and did some shopping online. Each experience had different things available. The items available in the Florida store were different than what they had in stock in Georgia and online so Im glad I was able to try all three.

The last day of the sale ends today and there are still tons of great options available. Since I’m pregnant, I tried to buy things that I could still wear for a bit and hopefully camouflage my growing belly.

Lilly Pulitzer APS
First of all, I loved the Bohdi skirt when I tried it on. It’s lovely and flow and plenty of stretch and I should be able to wear this the entire time I’m pregnant.
The popovers are perfect for fall and I love the extra UPF protection built in, which makes them extra perfect for fall fishing trips or anytime I’m worried about sun exposure.
I saw this Kimora Kimono dress and thought it looked so different, unique, and beautiful. It had great reviews from all different sized women so I’m really looking forward to it arriving in the mail.
Lastly, I admit to loving leggings far more than I have reason to. The luxletic leggings are so soft and snuggly. Unlike this picture, the ones I bought go down to my ankles and I think will be perfect for working out or even tucking into some tall boots for fall.
I bought several other things; I have a definite weakness for their t-shirt dresses, but these were some of my very favorites.