Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 by the months

So I have a little spare time since I'm confined to the house (well, no big loss there, it's supposed to be uber-cold the rest of the week), so I figured I'd do a little recap of 2009. Even though it's ending in a completely below average way, it was still a pretty darn awesome year for me. We've had our ups and downs but I've enjoyed myself, seen some sweet new places and accomplished a ton of goals along the way.


I ran the first of my 3 half marathons in Austin and had a huge cheering section waiting for me at the finish. Thanks to all the family and friends who braved the cold-for-TX temperatures to cheer me on. It was also my first time to take Adam home to Texas and he got to meet my brother and grandparents. It, as always, was a really fun trip and we had a blast. In Chicago, it was cold. I don't really remember much about the month other than that, maybe I like to block it out? I was reading in my favorite WGN weather blog that we set a bunch of snow records last Jan so I must have been just LOVIN that :)


OMG... one of the best months of the year. My dear friend Amy and I had been planning our trip to Sydney for months and at the last minute my boyfriend and his best friend horned their way in to our girls vacay. I'll still always wonder just what it was that made Amy say yes. Methinks there was more than a little crush a'brewin on her end. Either way, we had a megablast of a trip, celebrated Adam's birthday while we were there and all rode home together in the new layflat business class seats. It was a trip that will be so hard to top but I think the four of us are going to try one of these days! Luckily, we were able to work on our sweet tans and forget about the cold seeing as how they were setting heatwave records and having horrific brush fires while we were in Australia. Loved every minute of it!


In March, I toted around the pictured above Flat Stanley for my friend Sally's class in Ft. Worth. He was a pretty sweet good luck charm because I definitely had my best ever San Francisco layover while I had him. See, I even treated the guy to Starbucks before I walked him to death (all in the name of training, of course). We also took him to a wedding in Virginia and Adam got to visit DC for the first time and we had lovely times with Amy, including one of the best stories of the year. It involves Carmax and $5. My friend Meredith and her mom also visited Chicago and we had fun showing them our very cold city!


I ran my second half of the year with Amy in St. Louis. It rained the whole race and I wanted to punch her for probably half of it. I did not do well with her attempts at motivation. Sorry, Amo! Perhaps the pasta from the night before really didn't do it for me. We had a fun weekend though, despite the rather dreary weather. We did the Budweiser brewery so that makes up for the fact that I had a totally wankster race. I think this was also right around the time that I started this blog to help document my preparation for the Chicago Marathon. My, how the time flies!


I got the swine flu, which was immediately followed by my only international trip of the year to Narita, Japan. I had to lie to the scary Outbreak quarantine people when they asked if I'd been sick recently and I lived in petrified fear for the hour that they inspected everyone on our plane. It was worth it for the sushi though! I also ran a 10 mile race at Soldier Field, which I'll have to put on the calendar for 2010, it was pretty fun. We also did 2 weddings in 2 days in May, followed immediately by Adam getting sick. We had my dad and brother up for a Cubs game and lots of fun around town.


We went to Texas for a week again, this time for my friend Tracee's wedding. My friend, Charlotte (pictured above), and I got to take our then-boyfriends to a real Texas Honky Tonk bar in Victoria and we had a blast. I also moved into Adam's condo in June and my mom and I painted the bedroom in our semi-pro way. We spent way too much money on new (but needed) furniture at IKEA and began the process of becoming settled cohabitants.


We'd been waiting months for it but it was finally time for our trip to Boston. My dad's family lives all over the area so we had fun carting Adam around and introducing him to everyone. We got to go to a Red Sox game, which was hugely awesome for both of us! The weather back home wasn't too bad also (slightly colder than we'd have liked but nice enough to ride bikes and get out on the beach). I started settling into my serious marathon training and we also had two local weddings.


I lost a boyfriend but gained a fiance. Adam proposed at the beginning of the month and I went home to San Antonio at the end of August and got a ton of wedding planning done. I remember August as being a really fun time for us, the weather was nice and we did a lot of outdoor activities. Since I was in TX for two weeks, Adam came down for the weekend in between and we got to do lots of engagement celebrating. Lots of good times were had by all!


I had my last half marathon scheduled for Labor Day weekend in Virginia Beach, which is also Amy's hometown. Kind of like the Sydney trip, Adam and Brian also decided to run with us. I really wanted to beat Adam but we ended up running together as I had a mega overheat episode toward the end of the race. We had a great time with our favorite couple in VB and I finished about 12 minutes faster than I'd ever run a half before so it was a good day. It was also Adam's longest race to date and I think he enjoyed it. At the end of the month, I went home to SA to just start the dress finding process and ended up finding my perfect dress at the third store. HUGE check off the list!


We took engagement pictures with the fabulous Steve Koo all over downtown Chicago....

oh yeah, and I ran the Chicago Marathon!! It only took me 17 million minutes but I finished and managed to only walk for a few minutes of the entire race. My family, Adam's family and several friends were out there to support me and I was so humbled and appreciative of the entire experience.


I hosted Thanksgiving in Chicago for the second year in a row, hopefully this will become an annual thing! My dad and brother flew up from San Antonio and Adam's brother drove in from the suburbs to eat with us. We had quite a spread and I gained about ten billion pounds, which in turn drove me to start Weight Watchers on the last day of the month. We were blessed with some decent weather during the month and my friend Brooke came up so we could sign up for the Avon Breast Cancer walk for next June.


I celebrated the big 2-8 and we went to finally see Jersey Boys (AWESOME SHOW, btw). We traveled (on paid tickets for the first time in some three-odd years) to San Antonio for Christmas week. And as you know, I got to spend the last week of 2009 bedridden being sicker than I've ever been in my life with double pink eyes, the regular flu (that's 2 flus for '09 if you were counting) and strep throat. Oh well, at least because I was half-dying the whole week, I had the time to write this and to relive some of my favorite memories from the year.

Here's to 2010... we're getting married and planning a rockin' honeymoon so I know it will most certainly be a year to remember.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


To add insult to my already injured body and soul, I woke up at 3:00 a.m. (again) in a lot of pain. My throat was hurting so bad and I know throataches, I had strep throat probably about 6 times between first and second grade. Anyhoo, it was the third night in a row that I woke up my saint of a fiance and we called the nurse hotline for the second time this week to schedule a doctors appointment for this morning. Basically, I was unable to be comfortable laying down because I had so much drainage in my throat. I used to think I was a healthy person but after this week, WTF, mate?

On the brightside, we went to the grocery store to fill my new prescriptions and it was so nice to be able to go through the store to pick out things I wanted to eat and drink. And to breathe some fresh air, even if it was snowy :)

I did get some sweet Vicadin so I can hopefully get a full night's rest tonight. Either way, I'll be ringing in the New Year with Digiorno pizza and a Vicadin. Good times, good times. Happy 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Like I mentioned before

I got wicked sick over the weekend. On Sunday morning, we had an early morning flight back to Chicago from San Antonio. The night before, we went to dinner with friends (and ironically one of them got sick during dinner- hope you fared better than I, Kev) and out to a bar to have one last hurrah with a bunch of old friends, which was really fun. I was mega-excited at the time because there was no smoking in the bar we were at, which is a hard commodity to come by in SA. We had to have last minute breakfast tacos at midnight because at some point during the week I kind of said suck it to my WW goals for the rest of the trip.

At some point in the middle of the night, Adam woke up and wasn't feeling all that well and he was pretty yucky when we left. I was also pretty nauseous but figured it was just due to staying up late, eating super late, and getting up so early. I don't do too well on no sleep and I wasn't sleeping much for our entire visit, really. But by the time we landed in Chicago, I was definitely the worst between the two of us. I seriously considered taking a cab all the way from O'Hare to home and if you know how insanely cheap I am about taking cabs, that should tell you right there that I was not feeling well at all. When we got to the condo, I made Lipton Noodle Soup and we both got a second wind and managed to unpack and wait for my mom to land from her delayed flight. Her birthday was Sunday and we'd planned to go to Maggianos but kind of nixed the idea because it was freezing and they had no reservations left. We watched a movie when she came in but I fell asleep during it and woke up feeling something foul. I remember saying at one point that I felt exactly the same way that I did when I had what we suspect was H1N1 in May.

Adam's mom and brother came in to the city for awhile and we ended up ordering in Chinese because I was in no position to go anywhere. I ate some rice and green beans because I really couldn't stomach any of the meats. Took Nyquil at about 8 p.m. and went right to sleep. I woke up at some point in the night and I was feeling absolutely terrible. I woke Adam and we called the nurse hotline which is the best way to get a last minute drs appointment with my HMO. I should also mention that on Christmas Eve my eye was incredibly itchy before we went to sleep but I took out my contacts and didn't give it much more thought until Sunday night when I woke up and it was all crusted over. Pink Eye! But that was nothing compared to my fever and body aches. I felt about 15 times worse than my flu in May. I couldn't even get comfortable and back to sleep. We made my drs appointment for the next morning and I continued to toss and turn for another hour or so before we woke my mom. At some point, I finally decided to bundle myself up like the kids in a Christmas Story and go to the Emergency Room. I think I've adopted a policy that if I am too sick to even sleep it's time to seek immediate help. I also was having some pretty bad nausea issues.

I have to say that our experience at the ER was pretty seamless. We got right in (into a nice little Negative Pressure Quarantine room) where I was diagnosed with Pink Eye and the flu. They hooked me up to an IV and gave me some super strong ibuprofen and I was feeling better after about 30-45 minutes.

*note, at the present time I want to kill our crappy internet provider because I was done with this post but our internet went out and this was all it had saved but it will probably end up being less long winded so that may or may not be a good thing, you decide*

Anyway, they made me feel better at the ER, which lasted for about 5 hours after I got home. Yesterday almost every bad symptom was back, only worse. I was also unable to keep any sort of liquids down. Sometime during the third quarter of the A&M bowl game, we decided to head back to the ER. Another day, another prick in the arm for an IV. At least I have matching arms now and so far, the bruising has been shockingly benign. They gave me fluids and more strong Motrin and decided to do bloodwork instead of chest xrays like the night before. All the stuff came back indicating I had the flu instead of meningitis or something more serious, phew. I was not excited hearing words like "spinal tap" being floated about. After that, they gave me the choice to go home or be admitted as observation. Obviously, I chose to go home because I have major issues getting comfortable and sleeping in hospitals. Who doesn't, right? I also have mega IV issues, both night I was feeling like they were leaking and made multiple people check them because I could have sworn I felt it dripping, on both arms.

I also managed to give myself pink eye in the other eye. I'm telling you, I was a complete (and still am a partial) disaster. Today, I'm at a normal sick person level and can function enough to type all this so I feel a vast improvement. However, I have to throw out all my eye make-up, which is SUPER annoying because I just bought some expensive mascara from Sephora 2 weeks ago. Luckily, I had already earmarked a significant bit of Christmas money towards new eyeshadow at the MAC counter, as I was completely out of my favorite color. Que sera, sera.

I am also missing the Addams Family musical tonight with Adam and Mom and a nice dinner. Plus, this also means no New Year's Eve party for me so it's looking like we'll be watching the VT bowl game and Dick Clark from home, which is probably better so I don't infect the world with my diseases. That's been basically my post-Christmas ER extravaganza of experiences. Hopefully your post-Christmas has been better!

Sick Day(s)

I have pink eye (got it in one eye and managed to pass it to my other eye myself.... lovely) and the flu. And apparently they are stingy with the TamiFlu in Chicago unless you are dying (and my two emergency room visits must not qualify as dying).

So here I sit, pretty miserable, but at least it's a major improvement from yesterday and the day before when my entire body ached so bad that I couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep.

And I think I'll be investing in the flu shot next year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our Christmas.... and I'm going off the reservation

Yesterday we left for San Antonio for almost 8 days of what will hopefully be glorious weather. Considering that it really doesn't ever snow there, it will feel glorious to us no matter what. Plus, we don't really have to walk anywhere even if it rains every single day. I'm going to soak it up because we'll have a long winter awaiting us when we return home.

Enough about all that! The past two years, I've been flying over the Christmas holidays. My first year, I was SO BLESSED to actually get my Christmas wish list trip (we were allowed to preference our top three layover locations during xmas week) and I got to go to Beijing. I was packing the night before we left and realized that I'd be arriving home late in the evening on Christmas Eve and be guaranteed a few days rest when I got in. I would have about 1 hour to wait for everyone to deplane, clear customs and race to the gate of the last flight home to San Antonio from DC. It was a pretty tall order but I figured I'd give it a try. The first thing I did when we landed was run into the lavatory and called the hotline to see the flight status. Luckily, it was delayed about an hour so I knew I'd have enough time. After a brief snafu with a cranky customs man (hey bro, it's not my fault you're working Christmas Eve), I made it to the gate and on the flight, in first class no less and seated next to one of my co-workers. Even though I was jet-lagged to the max and had hardly slept a wink over the entire 4 day trip to China, I enjoyed chatting and drinking wine almost the whole way home. I got in to SA around midnight and enjoyed a surprise Christmas Eve with my mom and brother and got to be at the big Christmas dinner at my grandmother's house. I think that will always go down as one of my favorite Christmases, partially because I got to be home as a last minute surprise but also because I think Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year and considering that my Christmas Eve began around noon the day before when I was still in China and ended up being about 36 hours long was so cool. I was buying last minute gifts at the markets (the Chinese don't really celebrate the holiday but they kept saying to all of us, "Oh, today is your special day!") when everyone back home was still sleeping. The whole thing was so exciting that I didn't have any time to think about how exhausted I was.

So... last year, I knew it was going to be pretty darn hard to top that and sure enough, all hell broke loose weather-wise so pretty much no one got their wish list trips. I spent my favorite day of the year (Christmas Eve) sitting for hours in the Denver airport waiting for a flight to Newark with a ton of extremely cranky New Yorkers. Our trip fell apart and instead of making a ton of money for flying Christmas day, I only got a little bit of holiday pay (because it's based on flight time) and ended up home in Chicago on Christmas night. I remember calling Adam and just being so upset. I told myself that I'd do whatever possible to have Christmas off in the future because it was such a bummer the way things turned out. On the lucky side, similar things ended up happening to one of my roommates and another one of our training classmates so we went and had dinner at a Chinese restaurant that was open. It was fun, don't get me wrong, but it just didn't have that Christmas feel to it. Plus, I had to work the next day and it began a string of the worst four days I had ever experienced while flying. But that's neither here nor there. :)

I'm determined to make up for last year by really taking the time to appreciate being home this year. It's been a long time since I was able to go to Christmas Eve church and do the candle-lit rendition of Silent Night. We have family friends that always have a party after church and it is definitely one of the highlights of Christmas Eve for me. I'm so excited to be able to share all of our traditions with Adam this year too. I hope that last year is the last time we ever have to be apart at Christmas because it SUCKED! We're having Italian food on Christmas day (my pick- YES!) and I'm sure there will be desserts and cookies all week.

So, I'll probably be MIA unless anything absolutely hilarious happens while on our trip. I hope everyone out there in the blogosphere has a fantastic holiday week and I can't wait to see my SA friends who happen to read!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Spotted on the Train...

Yesterday I made it my personal mission to ride the CTA Holiday Train. Basically, it's this train that is totally tricked out and only used for a few rides during the holidays. It was making a round trip run during the afternoon rush yesterday. I looked up the schedule and made sure I was in the right place.

I mention that the train was tricked out but I must explain further. Imagine if the TV show Pimp My Ride got ahold of a train with one mission and one mission only: to make it crazy with Christmas. This thing is floor to ceiling INSANE! The poles are wrapped like candy canes! The seats are not upholstered in regular CTA blah, rather in Christmas fabrics! The ceiling is lit in red and green! There is an entire car replaced by a flatbed that Santa rides on (and mind you, it was 34 degrees at the time yesterday meaning that the precipitation we were getting was a fantastic mix of rain, sleet and snow) out in the elements (on the line we were on, there are about 10 subway stops going through downtown so I guess dear Santa gets a small reprieve)! They have people coming through handing out candy canes! The thing was full of kids having a total blast!

It was pretty darn cool. Although, I must tell you that I more enjoy accidentally seeing it go by or at a stop that when I'm not prepared for it. The sight of all the lights, music and general hoopla is enough to warm my soul when I come across it unexpectedly. When I looked up the schedule and chased it down, I think I lost a little bit of that feeling. And no matter how awesome the inside of the cars looks, it's nothing compared to the sight of that beast from the outside...

Holy lights, CTA! And that is just part of one out of seven cars (and don't forget the flatbed trailer with Santa). It's like a mini-parade in the middle of the commute.

Heading away from us in the tunnel... off to make some other people smile!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tis Da Season, Indeed!

I walk by this decorated door quite frequently and I always think to myself, "Tis da season, indeed!" I adore whoever a) decided to decorate the door in the first place and b) decided to get all ghetto with the holidays. The odd thing is that it's actually a decently nice apartment building so I smile a little on the inside every time I see it and I've been meaning to take a picture of it to share with you, dear internet.

I took this outside the 7 story Macy's downtown (aka the original Marshall Field's... RIP to the best store ever). They always do it up nice for Christmas and it makes me feel really festive to walk down State Street. Plus, all the trees are lit with blue lights all up and down State and it's strikingly beautiful. I'll have to remember blue lights when I have a yard to decorate.

This was at the Hokie Holiday Party last weekend and I have to say, it's making me question my desire for pot lights for the ceiling in our future house. They're really cool and modern (especially the ones that have fading switches) but the lighting is gawdawful for pictures! I really thought I looked better when I walked out the door. Maybe the freak rain/sleet storm we got caught in on the way to the party (that resulted in a 5 block cab ride and me almost throwing down with a Lakeshore high rise jerkface that thought he was too cool to wait outside for a cab) had something to do with it?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A successful weigh in

I had my weekly WW meeting last night and it went well. I tortured myself all day because I weighed in on the Wii Fit in the morning and it didn't read what I wanted it to. Then I remembered the so-called curse of Week 2 on the Biggest Losers and started to freak out that I'd suffer the same fate and have a gain. At my real weigh in, things were right where they needed to be. In fact, I got in trouble with WW Online when I came home and put my weigh in results on the tracker. It says that I'm losing too fast but the computer can't take things into account like the fact that the first week my Thanksgiving weight literally fell off. My loss this past week was much more to standards and it's more like what I'll be expecting on a regular basis.

Part of this is hard because the people that sit in meetings that I "look up to", meaning the ones that are in control of their weight, are often lifetime members that have hit their goal and just come each week to maintain. I realize that for me, this may not be a thing to do for a few months, and more like something I will have to do at least part-time forever. I am not blessed with a high metabolism. If anything, my genes work against me. I also think that a lot of the foods that we put in our bodies now have been processed to make them more inexpensive in monetary cost but they are extremely expensive in cost of the weight they put on our bodies. I am lucky that I have an literal obsession with tracking my points on the computer everyday. I think if I can keep that up to a certain degree over time, that I'll be ultimately successful enough to not put the weight back on. I never want to feel the way I did when I went to my first weigh in and saw that awful number on the screen. For someone at my height, it was not a good number.

I am a little worried about handling everything when we go home to Texas but I set a goal for myself to not have any bean and cheese tacos while I'm there. For those of you who know me, you know that I usually set the exact opposite goal to see how many bean and cheese tacos I can have while I'm home. It's going to be a tough one but those buggers are worth almost 1/3 of my daily points value for just ONE TACO! My mom is going to take me to a meeting on Monday so I can have my regular weigh in while I'm there and I know I can stay on track if I work at it. Since I'll be missing my regular Tuesday butt-kicking at the gym, I'm thinking about bringing the 30 Day Shred home with me.

(just FYI, I am still only on Level 1 because I refuse to move on until I can do the whole thing just like the advanced girl and I still suck at the pushups)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Food, Inc.

After holing ourselves up in the condo all day yesterday (dreary weather and Adam has a cold), we finally watched a movie I'd been wanting to see for awhile last night, Food, Inc.

I'm so conflicted as to how I really feel about the movie. There were so many parts that were difficult to watch and I had to turn my head several times because some of the animal scenes were so bad! I remember in high school history discussing Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, and hearing the horrors that happened in the early 1900's meat packing plants. Unbeknownst to most of us, we have the same things going on now in our meat industry but most of the workers are undocumented, illegal immigrants so it's happening in our country and right under our noses and nobody seems to care about it.

They did a scene with a Latino family from California that bothered the hell out of me. They were at the Burger King drive thru because they were trying to make the case that they can only afford to eat off the dollar menu. Later they tell you that the father has Type 2 diabetes and needs two medicines that were upwards of $130 a month each. They show you how inexpensive it is for the entire family of four to eat off the dollar menu, rather than buying "expensive veggies" at the market. I believe this to be extremely unfortunate but only partially true. First of all, if what happens on the Biggest Loser is true, we've seen several contestants completely reverse their Type 2 diabetes and come off all of their medications. If that family had the extra $260 to spend on food, they'd be better equipped to afford what is truly nutritious. Plus, their bill at Burger King was $11 and some change, almost $4 of that was toward two Sprites and a large Dr. Pepper. Instead of drinking the sodas, they could have had water for free and bought quite a few pounds of veggies instead of the burgers and chicken sandwiches. I do see the filmmaker's point (to a point) that the food industry has figured out a way to manipulate everything so that processed foods are cheaper than buying most nutrient-high foods. Just look at bottled water for example, in most places it's more expensive than buying a coke.

As far as personal changes that I want to make, I was horrified seeing the parts about our meat supply. It's easy to see why obesity is an epidemic in this country after seeing Food, Inc. It's not always the quantity of the foods we eat, it's sometimes about the fact that almost everything we eat has been genetically or hormonally engineered to be bigger. I know that we can afford to buy organic. And in reality, Whole Foods is far and away the closest grocery store to our house. I want to start making better choices not only to make my "vote" for our food supply count but also because I feel like I'll be putting better things in my body. It's hard though because so many of the things that are great for the WW Plan are heavily processed. A case in point is the Fiber One bars that many of my fellow meeting participants are in to. Look at the ingredient list on the box of one of those bad boys... I'll stick with the Kashi bar equivalent, thank you! In order to keep the processed foods down, I try to eat lots of veggies. To go back to the Latino family I mentioned above, the mother tried to make the case that the burger filled them up better than eating an apple. I counter with it's all what your body is used to. My first week on WW, I was ravenous all day every day. The second day, we went to a restaurant and I ordered a salad to stay on points and I wanted to punch everyone else at the table for ordering things that I wanted (lasagna, french fries, etc.). I remember feeling SO CRANKY that night because all these veggies that WW considers to be "filling foods" were not filling the hole in my stomach at all. Fast forward two weeks, I can eat the apple instead of the burger and still feel satisfied. My body took some time to get used to this new regime that I forced upon it but now I'm feeling filled up by the so-called filling foods. If that family gave it some time, I know they could live a healthier lifestyle.

This post has really been all over the place but I really struggle with food and how I feel about it on a regular basis. I went all out veg for awhile after reading the vegan-Bible, Skinny Bitch (not vegan though, I love cheese and milk too much and raw food diets, uh, no). I feel off the vegetarian wagon after a trip to Argentina. I had to have the steak!! And it was the best meat I've ever tasted in my life, most likely because it wasn't all jacked up like our beef supply. Movies like Food, Inc. make me want to run away to Europe, where the food and alcohol hasn't been completely processed and tainted with preservatives! I want to buy my eggs non-refrigerated. I want to eat lots of butter and cheese and be skinny like the French. I want to be able to go to a market like this:

In my next life, can I come back as a Parisian?

I want to re-evaluate the choices that I'm making on a regular basis. There are farmer's markets even here in the city and I want to commit to going to them more. I want to start buying organic dairy products for sure and look at the meat choices I'm making. We'll see how it all works out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Just in case you were wondering...

We only made it to 9 degrees, not the 16 that the crappy weather people predicted. I walked about 6 blocks home from the gym tonight, freezing my touchie off, and wondered who chooses to be homeless in Chicago? I mean, it's a lovely place, but if I were homeless, I'd only summer here and then I'd hitchhike to Mexico or something for the winter. I know why all the old retired people get the hell out of dodge and move to the Rio Grande Valley now.

I think I almost had Adam convinced to let me get a dog after our TX Christmas trip until I realized that I'd have to do the lion's share of taking him/her outside in this type of weather. So sad day... dogs will have to wait until we get a yard, whenever that may be.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

And the high for Thursday is 16...

That's what the world looked like outside my front window yesterday morning. Cute, no? Yesterday's snow was not so bad. In fact, it was almost enjoyable (except for the time that I got a Zipcar that couldn't drive in it, I had no idea how awesome my AWD SUV was until I was driving a Mazda 3 that was skidding all over the place). But most of it melted during the day off of the sidewalks and there was just a cute little dusting around.

I woke up this morning and had a bad feeling based on the fact that it was extremely dark in the bedroom. I pulled open a shade in the living room to find more snow and non-shoveled sidewalks. Blast! The weather man just said that we should think of today as a "marathon, not a sprint", meaning snow all day long with the heaviest stuff to come overnight and into tomorrow. Craptastic. We'll do the same thing I did last year and keep a tally of how many times I slip and fall on ice. So far, we're at:

Winter, 0

Jen, 0

Last year, I never figured out how to tally points for myself but I think that I will give myself a point for every time that I start to slip and manage to hold on. We'll see what the score ends up in May when we can safely assume that the snow and ice is done. Yes, I said May, the winter never ends up here.

When I moved here in Summer '08, we had a get together with some close friends and my two roomies where we discussed things we were looking forward to about our move to Chicago. My big thing was the winter: surviving it and becoming a true Chicagoan. I'd lived in St Louis and Northern VA for winters before but this would be my true initiation into a "real" winter. That was before we had the worst winter in 39 years.

This year, I'm so over it and it hasn't even started. I just want to fast forward to the end of winter and be done with it. I'm considering registering for the half marathon in Austin in January just so I have another excuse to go home to TX. I will never understand how people can be natives of this place (well, until next summer rolls around and then my love affair with Chicago can pick up where it left off).

I'll try not to be so cranky about winter but I can't promise anything. I have a slight problem with my extremeties. Adam likes to call my hands and feet "ice talons" during the winter because they get so cold and I like to grab him on the neck to warm them. But I think I just might have the worst internal temperature regulation of any human being because I also sweat buckets when it's about 80 degrees. I just need to shut up and embrace the fact that I am a freak.

This picture is from the train station nearest our house, I'm not sure if you can see it but whomever decided that it would be cute to decorate the streetlights with SNOWFLAKES should be punched. Dude, rub it in much? Were they out of cute bells or wreaths or Christmas trees? Snowflakes would be far more appropriate in a place like San Antonio, where they don't actually have to deal with feet of snow every year.

Now, that I've sufficiently wasted a ton of your time with my winter rants, on to more postive things. I had my first big WW weigh in last night. I pretended that I was on Biggest Loser (finale tonight, go Amanda!) and went to the gym and made myself do a "last chance workout". Good times! I won't go into specifics about my loss but we can say that I lost all I gained during Thanksgiving weekend and a little bit more! WOO HOO! I have a long way to go to get to my personal goal, but when I get there I'll be in a place I never thought I could go.

I know that not every week will be as big as this first one, but not every week includes birthday cookie cake. I'm sure just cutting my alcohol portions made a huge difference. My love for drinking pints of wheat beer is not a good thing for weight loss and I'm learning to treat those types of things as treats and not daily life. Plus, the portion control issue is where I was having the most trouble. Every bar/restaurant here serves delicious tater tots and they usually serve you a portion that looks like 3 Super Sonic Sized portions and I usually eat quite a big amount of them. So, re-learning how to go out to eat has and will be my biggest battle. I'm encouraged and ready. I'm pretty sure that at my weight right now, I wouldn't be able to fit in my wedding dress and my mom would maybe kill me for that, not to mention how embarrassed I'd be. SO... gotta keep working!!

Thanksgiving Weekend

OK... Whenever I post pictures to Blogger, I manage to royally mess it up. I had a whole thing written for this post but as soon as I put in the pictures, I can't find the words and all the pictures are in opposite order. And in my previous post, Blogger likes to ignore the places where I have pressed enter and would like spacing. GRRRRRRRR! Any tips would be appreciated because I am apparently not a genius at this.

Without further adu, here is my Thanksgiving weekend in Rewind mode!

Black Friday, we decided to be on crack and go to Michigan Avenue. The weather was nice so it was PACKED! But Dad took us on a North Face shopping spree so it was totally worth it because I got an awesome new jacket. After braving the crowds we waited in a huge line to have a drink at the Signature Lounge on the 95th floor of the Hancock Tower. Lovely!

On Thanksgiving night, we walked over to the Aggie bar to watch A&M vs. t.u. Now... I'll probably take some flack for this but just hear me out people. I enjoyed the game SO MUCH because our Aggies actually gave them a good game but I had already resigned myself to the fact that we were probably going to lose and I was ok with that. Mostly because I do cheer for UT. I have reasons! My mom graduated from there and I grew up kind of assuming that I'd go there (until Mom took me and I saw maybe 3 people with blue hair running around campus, not my kind of place, sorry). But secondly, I live in Big 10 country up here and there is really no other conference in the country that gets hyped up more and for NO REASON! The Big 10 sucks! I am a huge Big 10 hater so anything that makes the Big 12 better is great in my book. I think I developed this when I was in St. Louis and they were showing a crappy game during the NCAA tournament (Big 10 Chumps vs. Some other Chumps) and I had to watch the A&M vs. Syracuse awesome game on my computer. From then on, I hold a serious grudge and LOVE all things Big 12, especially when someone from our conference plays in the National Championship. Thirdly, I have a friendly thing going with Adam where I constantly talk about how inferior the ACC is to the Big 12. Sorry... that was long but long story short is that I was glad that we gave Texas a good game but also glad to see UT marching on to the National Championship (where they will inevitably be crushed by Bama, but whatever. Big 10 sucks!).

Spotted on Belmont Avenue on the way to the Aggie game. HOW DISTURBING IS THAT!?!?!

Our Turkey day meal set up. We had to borrow a table from one of Adam's work buddies and set it up in our living room. City shoebox living at it's finest!

Me, rocking out while cooking on Thanksgiving. And yes, I ate the meal in my pajamas. Which is probably why I went back for the second plate. DANG IT! Next year, I'm wearing my tightest jeans so I have a reason to stop! :)

Beerfest, the night before Thanksgiving. Mikey and Adam. My brother makes hilarious faces in pictures but I will spare you the montage we took of all of us making crazy faces.

My dad showed up for Thanksgiving and gave me my early birthday present about 10 minutes after walking through the door. It was a new Canon Elph! And in a beautiful turquoise color. It takes way better pictures than my old and falling apart Kodak. Anyone need an old digital camera that has the faceplate taped onto the rest of it? I will ship it free of charge to anyone who needs an old digital camera!

I didn't get any pictures of us at Chicago's Kristkindl Mart which makes me sad. But I guess it was raining and I wasn't really in the mood after I saw the city Christmas Tree. It was so pathetic that I can't believe Bonnie Hunt came out for the tree lighting. I guess the City of Chicago decided they didn't have enough money for a proper tree this year (probably because of the failed Olympic bid... BLAST! and the fact that there is no one to impress anymore). A family from the Southside was kind enough to donate one but it's literally a tree from someone's yard and the city totally halfassed the decor. It looked terrible and not fitting of a world-class city. So, no pictures. Sorry! But we did enjoy the heck out of some stuffed bavarian pretzels. I LOVE Kristkindl.

But either way, I like the tradition that we've started of my family coming to see me at Thanksgiving. It's fun to plan and cook the meal and we had a blast running all over town!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Great Day!

Yesterday was wonderful. It was exactly the way that I've always dreamed of spending my birthday. I woke up and started getting phone calls and text messages from all of my family and friends. As soon as Adam woke up, he started bugging me about opening my presents (technically, he started bugging me on Friday night). He got me almost everything I wanted and truthfully, I've already received for my birthday most of the stuff I wanted for the whole "birthmas" season so Christmas is just going to be an exciting bonus! One of my presents (and I have been asking for this all year) was a mini cookie cake and OMG was it ever delicious!!!!!

We went to Subway to pick up lunch, and yes, I realize I am sort of a weirdo for wanting Subway for lunch but just go with it. We have two locations that are probably within 4 blocks from our house. Basically, there is a major L station in our neighborhood and there is one location on each side. So we go to the closest one and they don't have Honey Oat bread. I ordered the wheat but while I was waiting for someone to start loading the veggies on, I realize two things. The wheat bread is the same points as the Honey Oat only not nearly as good and gosh darn it, it's my birthday and I want Honey Oat. So I tell the sandwich artist that I no longer want the sandwich (and the guy behind us in line thought I was probably the biggest B in the universe but who cares?) and we walked to the second location, which had what I wanted. Glorious!

We were kind of lazy watching some of the college football games and didn't accomplish an outing to the gym but that was ok because I did the 30 Day Shred and let Jillian kick my butt instead. It felt nice to get a little sweat in after eating cookie cake :)

After showering and getting a little more dressed up than normal, we set out to find a craft fair that I wanted to go to. We never ended up getting there because we walked almost a mile and it was FREEZING! We did get some nice shopping time in on our way back from our long walk.

We had a fantastic dinner at PF Chang's. I felt a little silly going to a chain restaurant when we have so many fantastic smaller places here but it's been almost a year since I'd had Chang's Chinese goodness and dinner was everything I wanted it to be. I can feel my mouthwatering now just thinking about it. It was worth every last point as I ate it.

The best part of the day was going to see the musical Jersey Boys. It's the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and it was up there with Wicked as one of my very favorites of all times. I had no idea The Four Seasons had so many hits! My favorite song is "Oh What A Night (1963)!" and the cast came out and sang it one more time as an encore. It's been on an open run here in Chicago for more than two years but the final performance will be in January. I'm so sad about that! I wish I had seen it earlier because now I want to see it again before it leaves town.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Grab Bag on this Wednesday

I promise I don't really plan on talking about Weight Watchers constantly around here. I am going to try to limit the discussion to Tuesdays only, which is the day after my meetings and hopefully big losses. I wish I would be getting to see Biggest Loser type numbers but in reality, I just don't have that much to lose. I would like those five Thanksgiving weekend pounds to come off though, please!

I went to the gym for my weekly butt kicking yesterday. I wish that I could go to the upper body class on Thursdays but alas, my present scheduling does not allow for that. Maybe I can sweet talk the teacher into switching upper body to Tuesdays next session? Doubtful, considering I am just about the worst student in class. Today was the best I felt during the lower body class and I finished abs with one sock on so that's progress (we start losing shoes and socks when we suck at abs class). You gotta start somewhere, right?

Tonight I plan on catching up on Biggest Loser since we went to the Weezer concert and missed the episode last night and last week's "Where are they now" special. Let's see how many Kleenexs I need. UG. I'm a crybaby. Thanks, Mom.

It's officially cold around these parts. I don't think we're still in the November mode of being above average temps anymore. The worst part about it is that I go through these weird phases where I literally believe that I will never get warm again. It starts when I go somewhere indoors and never fully warm up while I'm inside (btw, I always take my jacket off even if I can't warm up because it's always SO MUCH colder outside). Then when I do go outside, it never fails that I'll miss a bus and end up deciding to walk and freezing my butt off. That happened to me on Monday night and I spent the rest of the evening under a million blankets and still not ever feeling warm! I end up going to sleep with the top sheet, down comforter and an extra blanket and pull everything up to my ears. The days that I feel like I'll never not be cold are when I start cursing the winter gods that bring this torture to what is otherwise a lovely city. But as Adam says, it's population control for Chicago. If it was summer all the time, we'd have a bunch of wimpy chumps taking up living space in what is already a pretty crowded place.

It's my birthday on Saturday and I'm wicked pumped because we're going to see Jersey Boys! It's finishing it's Chicago run in about a month so I am so glad we'll be able to see it before it leaves town. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day 2 of being on "The Plan"

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store and pretty much filled my basket with goodies from the produce section. I can't stand trying to navigate the place with the rolling cart so I always go the hand-held route and I have to tell you, my basket was HEAVY!

I regret jumping the gun a little bit because I went to my first WW meeting last night and the topic was all the different products that everyone has found at the grocery store that are good for snacking and low in points. If that's how every meeting goes, I like it so far! It was kind of elementary on the encouragement level with the stickers and what not but I can roll with it. It was almost exactly how I thought it would be, lots of people with different reasons to be there.

One thing I forgot was about how all the leaders are actually following the plan themselves. I stayed after the regular meeting for a getting started session and she showed us her before picture. During the meeting, I was staring at this (pardon my french) skinny bitch and thinking, "what does she know about battling weight?". Um, open mouth, insert foot.

So, I just finished figuring out what I'm going to eat today to earn my points. I went a little bit over, but I figure I need a bigger breakfast than normal because I have my mega-hard gym class today and I don't want to pass out. I feel like if I make the healthy choices that I know I should have been making all along that I can have some success with this.

I'm glad I'm making the choice to start now but OHMYGOODNESS is Christmas ever gonna be HARD HARD HARD!!! Thank goodness we are having Italian food as our main meal at my Grandmother's house on Christmas Day because I can just make a huge gigantic salad with all sorts of point free goodies and fill my plate with that and eat the pastas as sides. UG UG UG! But people, I just want you to know that right now there is an almost entire Oreo Cheesecake, 2 chocolate donuts, ample Oreo balls and other chocolate dipped goodies and an almost entire pack of Double Stuffed Oreos in my fridge and pantry. It's taking all the willpower that I have to not tear into the leftovers from Thanksgiving. But neverfear, I have all the willpower I need just by pulling up that mental picture of my muffin top from the weekend. Obviously, I remember it as being about 10 times worse than it is, so I ain't going near the junk food this week. I have to save all my extra points because I have cookie cake coming this way on Saturday!!!