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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Training log

Total miles: 28.896 (new longest ride!)
Max speed: 23.2 mph (downhill, I'm sure, but I managed a minute or so over 18 mph a couple of times)
Avg. speed: 12.1 mph
Temp: 70.2 degrees (considerably warmer than it was supposed to be, but with a cool breeze)
Calories: 1,077.2 (!!!!!!)

And I'm so grateful for my wonderful husband, who would like to spend the day with me but understands how important it is to me to be ready for this ride. So he took the boys to his dad's to work on the volleyball court while I rode. What a guy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


My school is having a Biggest Loser-style competition. I've done this in the past with varying amounts of success. The first time, I lost 18 pounds. How wonderful!! The next couple of times, my motivation was GONE. I pretty much broke even.

This time around, there's an addition to the basics of our school contest (which, in the past, has been...lose weight...however). Three days a week we have optional exercise activities: "Muscle Monday" (go work out on exercise equipment at the middle school gym), "Tone-It-Up Tuesdays" (exercise video in the school gym), "Walk-It-Off Wednesdays" (power walking outside or inside, depending on the weather).

I had intended to go yesterday to the gym, but I didn't get out of my classroom until fairly late, and I decided to just go home and bike. That was quite the fitness adventure as towing Jacob definitely added some challenge to my ride. Today, I was beat. I started the day tired, and I was exhausted by the end. The absolute last thing I wanted to do was go do some exercise video, but I knew there were others who were going to be up there, so I did.

Oh, it was awful. The video mixed dance steps and kickboxing and is sooo not for a novice to do without some studying and practice of the moves. I was pretty hopeless, but boy did I sweat! And you know what? It was fun. I ended up much more energized than when I began.

I think there are some lessons here for me that go beyond weight loss. The motivation that being in a group adds...if you're in the right group. It really reinforces for me that I need to keep in my small group at church. And how important it is for me to keep going to the services.

The other lesson is a reminder that, while following God's way isn't necessarily easy, when we push ourselves to do what He wants rather than just flop back and do what we feel like doing, we benefit. Let me keep these lessons in focus when I want to do things the "easy" way. Let me remember that, in the end, His way is the right way to have the life I truly want.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bike log

Working up to riding 225 miles this summer on the Katy Trail. Now I can keep track of my distances, times, and speeds thanks to the cool bike computer Jeff gave me for Valentine's Day!

Distance: 20.238 mi.
Time: 1:42:20
Max speed: 21.6 mph (full disclosure...going downhill!)
Avg. speed: 11.9 mph
Notes: First 9 miles were a breeze; once I turned around I was riding into the wind, and boy was it rough!!

Distance: 10.344 mi. (towing 50+ pound Jacob)
Time: 51:11
Max speed: 16.8 mph
Avg. speed: 10.8
Notes: towing Jacob was a LOT harder. Makes me wonder how much easier it would be on me to ride if I LOST 50 pounds!

The Year of Living Biblically (book review)

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible by A.J. Jacobs

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was our April book club pick. I had previously read Jacobs' book The Know-It-All, about his experience reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. I thought that book was funny, but I often found the author overthought everything. I guess I expected the same thing from Living Biblically, but it was a surprise to me.

I was really caught up in Jacobs' evolving view of religion and was really intrigued to see where his beliefs would fall at the end of the experience. His emphasis on following the entire Bible, particularly the more obscure laws led to a lot of funny things (and the revelation that his wife is a paragon of spousal tolerance!), but he never made fun of his subject(s) and occasionally came up with something profound (or quoted someone else's profound observation).

Rather than "go it alone", he had a team of Biblical experts from different traditions to help with understanding the context of the Bible passages he was exploring. I learned a lot about the Bible--or, at least, I learned a lot about different views and interpretations regarding the Bible.

The bulk of the book relates to Jacobs' exploration of the Old Testament. Towards the end he also delved into the New Testament. I thought this segment of the book was weaker, which is maybe not so surprising seeing the author's background as an agnostic Jew. It gave an interesting look at some fundamentalist Christian organizations...some of which were pretty surprising...but this section didn't have near the depth of the rest of the book.

Rereading the review, it doesn't look as positive as I feel about The Year of Living Biblically. I really enjoyed reading the book and following the author's progress, adventures, and just seeing the way that the idea played out. I definitely think it's worth reading.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Great Outdoors

Last weekend (yeah, I'm a little behind!), Jeff, the boys, and I went to Ste. Genevieve, MO, to do a little hiking. It was the first time in ages we've been able to do anything more than have a meal with the entire family because Daniel and Nathan's schedules have been crazy. We had seen an article about the area we hiked in the Post-Dispatch a couple of months ago and saved the article.

Our first stop was Hickory Canyons Natural Area. Two short hikes, one about 1/2 mile and one that was 1 mile. It was beautiful. Because the trees didn't have any leaves yet, you could see the canyon walls really well. The weather was warm, and the company was good. :D Of course, we forgot the camera, but thankfully I was able to use my cell phone camera to get some pictures.

Hickory canyons Natl Area

All my boys

Hickory canyons, Ste Genevieve


Yes, it was nearly 80 degrees out. Yes, the child is wearing snow boots, pants, AND a hooded sweatshirt. What can I say? He has a mind of his own.



The article we'd seen was about how beautiful this area is in the winter. The water continues to seep even when it's cold out, so the canyon walls end up with gigantic 50-foot icicles on them. We definitely need to go back next winter and check it out.


Nathan. No, he's not peeing. He's texting. As he and Daniel did all day long. Kind of like we got to bring the girls along with us but not have to hear them talk! :D I can't explain the shirt, but it was quite the popular look on our hike. For the boys, that is.



Don't miss the fact that Daniel and Nathan are walking across this tree. I had about 35 heart attacks this day, including the time that they jumped from a rock ledge to a tree and then shimmied about 25 feet down to the ground. They did ask my permission first, and I said yes. I figured they're pretty good climbers, and I figured Jeff would tell them yes. I'm trying really hard not to be too overprotective. Ugh.

We also went to Pickle Creek (or Springs, I don't remember which right now and don't care enough to get up and dig out the brochure to check) Natural Area. Jeff and I were there in 2005, when we camped near Ste. Genevieve for our anniversary. Some people at the campground told us about this trail, which passes some neat rock formations. It's not Arches National Park, but it's pretty neat. And a lot shorter drive!

Unfortunately, by the time we got there, Daniel had pretty much decided that he was finished hiking. Despite having approximately 27 pieces of french toast for breakfast 3 hours before, he was starving and seriously crabby. Especially when he saw that this trail would take about an hour to hike.


Ah...family togetherness at its best! In the green shirt you see Daniel, who would have been right at home leading the Bataan Death March. "Scenery...whatever!! Keep moving!


Jeff and Jacob


This was a neat formation. Daniel's take (well, my take on Daniel's take), "Yeah, arches. Whatever. Seen 'em. Keep moving. KEEP MOVING, I SAID!!".


Daniel: stalking ahead. Nathan: texting. Jacob: looking for the troll under the bridge. Jeff: wondering why the heck he married someone who already had kids!?!


This was the coolest area! A great big rock outcropping (this is just one small part) with a really steep drop off the end (yeah, where Jeff is standing. "Back a little...a little more...."). It would have been fun to explore, but we had one starving crabby 16 year old and one rambunctious fearless 5 year old. Discretion here was definitely the better part of valor. Another time...

It really was a good trip. The weather was beautiful, and it was wonderful to get to do something all together. We topped off our day with a stop at a Chinese buffet for dinner and then headed home. Glad you could come along with us!!


Last week our area was shocked to be in the middle of a tragic news story. The shooting of Pastor Fred Winters as he spoke at Maryville First Baptist Church horrified people everywhere, but it touched us as we don't live far from Maryville. My kids know people who go to the church; my niece had met and thought highly of Pastor Winters; many friends participate in community programs that the church sponsors. This wasn't a personal loss for me, except on the level of empathy, but I have followed it with sadness.

What I have seen, as has anyone who reads the news, is an amazing witness by the church family and, in particular, Cindy Winters and her daughters. Some quotes:

I hope the man who did this learns to love Jesus.

It was not 'death day' for my daddy. It was celebration day, the best day of his life.

I want you guys to remember this, because you see, on Sunday, my husband did not die, he just simply got a promotion.

I refuse to let Satan win.

Although they are hurting terribly from such a senseless action, they have been able to take comfort in God and the bigger picture. In a different article, one of the daughters was referred to as having expressed the wish that this would bring many to Jesus. And what comfort it must be to KNOW where your loved one was headed, to know that he lived his life in the service of God and others. They have a peace in the midst of their pain.

I think of the shooter's family, and how much different of a feeling they must be experiencing. To know that your child did such a terrible thing and caused pain to so many. To fear for him now as well as in eternity.

It makes me think. And wonder.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Last weekend, Jeff and I took advantage of a rare free weekend (just between the end of basketball and the beginning of volleyball/soccer) to go to Memphis. We'd never been before, but I figured it was close enough that the drive wouldn't be miserable and far enough that we'd feel like it was a real trip. Turns out I was about 1/2 right!

Daniel and Nathan spent the weekend at their dad's house, and Bonnie and Chris watched Jacob for us. Jacob was THRILLED to get to spend the weekend with them and their dogs! We were just thrilled to have a weekend away together. You know how it is when you have kids...not much chance to be a couple if you aren't careful.

I spent the week before our trip watching as the weather forecast dropped lower and lower for Memphis, ending with a prediction of snow. Um, yea. Or not. So I spent my drive home from work Friday on the phone with Southwest, looking for a cheap flight anywhere warm (that's literally what I asked the lady..."Could you find me a flight from St. Louis to somewhere warm?" She was very nice about it.) Lots of cheap flights, but they all require 2-week advance purchase. No spontenaity there! So, we stuck with the Memphis plan.

I had parent-teacher conferences until late Thursday and then half a day Friday, so we were hoping to have an early start. Jeff's boss, unfortunately, didn't cooperate and we ended up leaving close to 5. We got to Memphis and checked into the hotel after 10. We had planned to head down to Beale St. Friday night...but we're...um...old and lame, so we just hung out and relaxed in the hotel room.

Saturday morning we got to sleep in (one of my favorite things!!) and then went to Graceland.


It was smaller than I imagined it would be. And, oh, so 70's. I thought the house, overall, was pretty tacky, but the tour made me like Elvis even more.

Below is the living room...


TV room...love the paint job!


Both sides of this hall were lined with gold and platinum records (and cassette tapes!), Grammies, etc. It was a loooonnng hall.


WHY don't guys dress like this anymore? lol

100_3677 100_3692100_3689

This is another room full of awards. It was probably 2 stories high at least, and three walls were covered with awards.


The man loved his toys. Here's a snowmobile modified to run on grass. That is, drive on the grass.


We even got to tour his planes (did I mention it was COLD???)


Yeah, that's real gold on the airplane sink.


Bed on the plane. The smaller photo shows the "FAA regulation" seatbelt (with real gold buckle).


As we left Graceland, it started to snow. We got lunch in downtown Memphis, walking through the snow to get there and then walked several blocks to the Memphis Rock & Soul Museum.


Here we are at the Rock & Soul Museum. Which was closed due to the inclement weather. But the outside was pretty cool. :D



We considered walking to the National Civil Rights Museum, but as we started walking the neighborhood looked pretty sketchy, so we decided we'd just drive there. When we got back to the car and looked it up, we saw that it closed in about 40 minutes and so decided to just go on Sunday. We headed back to the hotel to relax and warm up before going to Beale Street for dinner.


Beale Street was lots of fun. There was a zydeco festival going on, and the music was great. We were still full from lunch, so we skipped dinner, but we enjoyed going to a couple of clubs and listening to the different bands.

First stop: Blues City Cafe to hear Roy Carrier and the Night Rockers. Great!!


Second stop: Rum Boogie Cafe to see Dikki Du and the Zydeco Crewe. Fantastic! We stayed for two sets.


Oh, my gosh...it was so much fun! Another cool thing about Memphis is the streetcars.


Streetcars run to and around downtown Memphis. Since our hotel was right on the streetcar line, of course we had to take the streetcar to Beale Street. The ride there was pretty uneventful, though we had a pretty chilly wait at the trolley stop.


On the way back, we caught a trolley immediately. Great! We had to switch lines once to our hotel and then we were home free. So we got to the next stop and waited. And waited. And...

Of course, it was still snowing...


So we tried to stay occupied...


But eventually we just gave in and shivered...


We ended up waiting for about 40 minutes in the cold. Yeah, it would have been easier to just take a cab, but we didn't know it would be 40 minutes at the time. What happened was that one trolley had broken down, so another trolley was pushing it to get it out of the way. The working trolley was on its way and would pick us up after getting the other one out of the way. Finally we saw the trolleys coming!! Yea!!


But we celebrated too soon. Somehow the front trolley got a little ahead of the back one. The back one then slammed into it right in front of us. All of the sudden a big fire flames up right in the driver's area. So...now we have two non-working trolleys right in front of us...and still no ride. Thankfully one MORE trolley came, stopped a careful distance from the disabled ones, and took us back to the hotel. What an ordeal...I mean, adventure!

On Sunday, we toured both the Rock & Soul Museum and the Civil Rights Museum, neither of which let you take pictures inside (I know you're heartbroken...those of you who are still with me...haha). The Civil Rights Museum is housed in the Lorriane Hotel, where Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot. It was both disturbing and very inspiring.



Once we were finished at the Civil Rights Museum, we headed home. We left about 3:30, expecting to be home by 8. Wellllll......it turns out the Arkansas isn't well equipped to deal with the snow and ice they got, and the interstate wasn't even plowed! It was treacherous going for sure. We saw SO MANY cars off the road, and it took us 3 1/2 hours to drive 80 miles. The moment we hit the Missouri state line, the roads were perfectly clear. But we didn't make it home til 11:30. It was definitely a LONG end to a great trip!.

Of course, we took WAY more pictures than just these ones. If you want to see more, you can check out this link: Memphis pictures