I hate breaking in new shoes. It feels like I’m breaking in my feet.

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What DID work – exercise

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(trying to take a picture of yourself on a treadmill is hard)

Since I am trying to get in better shape, I made a promise to myself that I would get down to the fitness center in my hotel (with FOUR treadmills) every morning and start the day with an hour of walking.

Okay, so I never did an hour.

And I even skipped a day.

But I was walking all over downtown and all through the Convention Center and all over my hotel and all over 3 different airports, and ended up doing over 60,000 steps during the course of my trip.  I DID go to the fitness center every day except one (I forgot my alarm doesn’t go off on weekends and barely got ready in time for the business session) and did a minimum of 30 minutes every morning.

Then I realized how spoiled I am by my treadmill at home.  Because I am so large, we had to get a very fancy model with a motor that could take my weight.  It also has some serious fans.  Even the ancient treadmills at my gym have little fans built in.  These dinky Precor models at the hotel did not, though, and I think that was what contributed to my shorter workouts more than anything else.  I did love going outside after my walk into 45 degree weather to stretch out, though. 🙂

But one of the things that made me happiest during my trip was my feeling of capability.  When I was asked to take another spin around the Hall of Exhibits, I said sure – I can do that.  When asked if I wanted to go to various parks and squares around downtown, I said sure – I can do that.  Letterboxing?  Climbing up and down stairs?  Pulling a suitcase full of swag back to the hotel?  BRING IT.

I didn’t go to the party – Saturday was very long, and I was pleasantly and mentally exhausted by the end of it.

Unfortunately, all the walking and activity really just kept pace with all the rich splurging I did at meal times.  I tried not to go overboard, but I did have pasta, a burger, beer, desserts, and mexican food.  Overall I didn’t lose, but I didn’t really gain either – which I count as a win.

So from now on, unless the adventure is hiking, backpacking, camping, or some other kind of activity – I am definitely going to be hitting the gym at every hotel I stay at.  Even if it’s just for 30 minutes because their stupid treadmills don’t have fans.  Especially on our next road trip.  Sitting for 7-11 hours with snacks at hand is gonna suck.

The Next Adventure

The nice thing about looking at everything as an adventure is that the next adventure is right around the corner.  At the end of the year, my family is going to be driving halfway across the country (again) to go to Phoenix for my grandmother’s memorial.  We were going to fly because, frankly, that is one heck of a drive and 6 people in a minivan for 18 hours is gonna suck.

But not for $3000.

The gas, the food, the hotel rooms for 6 people is gonna cost a heck of a lot less than $3000.  So that is what we are gonna do.

Although this particular drive has been featured in my family’s history for generations, this time will be different.  It has been a LONG time since I have been to Arizona in winter.  Or rather, “winter”.  They have winter like we do.  Which is why it becomes so expensive to go there in the wintertime – all the snowbirds.  And we will be squeezing all six of us (my parents, my kids, my husband and I) into one minivan.

I think that I will definitely be taking advantage of hotel laundry facilities, because I will have to pack even lighter than for my flight to Utah.  At least I won’t have to pack real winter clothes and jackets.

So, the plan:

  • Day one: drive from Houston to El Paso.  O.M.G. 11 hours on the road is going to suck, but we will have 4 drivers. Stay at a nicer hotel in El Paso than the last time.  That rathole was awful.  No coffee maker in the room.
  • Day two: drive from El Paso to Phoenix.  Only 7 hours on the road.  The biggest issue is going to be the kids’ electronic devices, and how long they can hold a charge.  Because they will drive me crazy if they get bored.
  • Day three: Memorial.  Hmmm, maybe I will wear my navy blue again.
  • Days four through six: visiting family, especially the cousin who currently is gong to school in Germany and ask him what is up with all the stuff he is tagged with on Facebook.  Also visiting Phoenix, and showing off the local family landmarks to my kids – who haven’t seen them before.
  • Day seven: drive from Phoenix to Las Cruces, NM.  Pretty little town a little north of El Paso.  I like the towns in New Mexico, they have the familiarity of Arizona, with a touch of “different”.  West Texas has some of the same feel, but those towns feel very thrown together in a rush, rather than something that grew organically out of the desert.  I want to go back to New Mexico when I start getting into real hiking shape, and climb down into kivas and up into cavern homes.
  • Day eight: drive from Las Cruces to Kerrville, TX.  Another little 7 hour drive.  We decided to break up the drive home into three segments to make it a little easier on all of us.  I highly recommend this.  Especially if you have kids.  But DON’T stop in Fort Stockton.  Seriously.
  • Day nine: drive from Kerrville to home.  A nice short 4 hour drive and a whole nother day to get ready for work/school after this.

Where did I run off to?

July, huh? Dang. It’s been a while. Sorry.

Partly what I have been doing all by myself is just having “summer brain” . With my kids home, it makes it so much harder for me to get anything not kid related done. And, not being a professional blogger making any money off this site, it definitely falls to the bottom of my priority list.

The two other things that have been sucking all my time away from me, though, is Girl Scouts and my health.

Last year I was one of two people on our Community Leadership Team (used to be Service Unit Managers, or Steering Committee). This year I am again, the beginning of a two year term. This eats quite a bit of time,but the real problem is that our Registrar retired at the end of last year. And nobody stepped up to fill the position. Or the Recruitment Specialist position. Or the Placement Specialist position. Which were all three what this woman did. We have nearly 900 girls in our Community, and our Council has given us a membership goal of nearly 1000 for this year. We can’t do that without a Registrar/Recruiter/Placement person. So I stepped up to share the job with one of my fellow CLT members. So July and August was a haze of trainings and paperwork and trying to get a handle on the new processes we were now in charge of.

Just trying to find out which troops want new girls this year is like pulling teeth.

Health is a little easier to explain. On June 25, I started a big adventure: to lose 200 pounds. I have been a solid size 28 for some time now, but I haven’t really had any health issues from my weight. I’m not diabetic, not pre-diabetic, have low blood pressure, and can out-hike my troop. I am a very good cook, and cook from scratch as much as possible. When I visited the nutritionist, she actually was asking me for recipes and only had concern about how much I ate, not what I ate.

But other than hiking and camping, which I don’t do every week unfortunately, my life is very sedentary. Or was. Everything I enjoy doing , is something you sit for: computer, sewing, jewelry making, etc. etc. So the nutritionist advised me to continue doing water aerobics, or some other low impact gym class 3 times a week, pushing myself but not straining myself; as well as walking 5-7 minutes after every meal.

Now I have a treadmill.

*grins*

I hate working out, but I love my treadmill, because it is getting me where I need to be. My husband and I looked for one that could hold my weight, and could help him with his triathlon training. It also has the ability to do a range of incline from 15 degrees to -3, and it has programs that take you along an actual trail, include visuals. Which also makes it perfect for helping me get in shape for hiking and eventually backpacking.

In the past two and a half months, I have lost 37 pounds. I figure it will take me about 2 years to get where I want to be size wise. And I hope to be in better shape than I have ever been. I’m going to be setting up a consultation with a trainer friend of mine in the next couple of weeks to help me with that goal.

But I don’t plan on putting my adventuring on hold until I get there.

In exactly 5 weeks, I will be sitting in the Salt Palace, listening to questions and discussion about the three voting topics at the National Council Session. I will have gotten up at 5:30 am to do an hour on one of the 4 treadmills in the fitness center at the hotel I am staying at, and still have time to shower and get nice looking before the Council Session starts. I will probably have lost another 10-15 pounds in that time, which might have dropped me another dress size. I will already have taken in some of the shirts I bought at the beginning of the summer that don’t fit me now. I will still have been squished on the plane ride to Salt Lake City, but maybe I didn’t need to ask for a seatbelt extender (which I totally recommend for any of you plus size ladies out there, I got one for my trip to Florida two years ago, and I am so glad I did!). I plan on being at the Adult Party and shaking my big butt, cuz it’s a good workout. 🙂 And fun. I hope to see you there.

Hotel Cooking, the Reality and Resources

Usually, my plans work out great.  Not this time.

The shopping trip got postponed, and then we decided to stay at Sea World all day (which makes the ALL Day Dining Plan a good deal), and basically we ended up splurging on the most expensive (food wise) vacation we’ve ever taken.  I should point out our son is only 8 at this point, so I am looking forward to even more expensive vacations once he’s a teenager.

And the one splurge we were planning on? Dine with Shamu?  It got rained out. >.<

I still think the plan would have worked, which is why I am sharing it, but sometimes you have to realize that “All the plans of mice and men . . .” You tell ’em, Robbie Burns.  The kids were excited, we don’t eat out that often at home, so this felt very vacation-y to them. And it gave us the opportunity to sample the local eats, which is something we love doing at home.  Barbecue at a place so good, it was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (we thought the brisket that Guy raved about was okay, but the RIBS were AMAZEBALLS).  Tex-Mex from a restaurant owned by a family well known in San Antonio for their South of the Border fare (tacos with nothing but shredded chicken and guacamole? SIGN ME UP).

See what I did there?  I released my plan, and looked at the bright side of it’s failure.  My family didn’t hear me moan about how much money we were “wasting” going out to eat all day.  They didn’t hear me complain about how unhealthy all the food was (it did help that we were walking miles and miles at the park).  They just heard about the adventure.

I did good this trip.

Here’s some resources for you in case you want to try the adventure of hotel cooking for yourself:

  • Cooking With Your Coffeemaker – seriously, go read this site.  Read the story, marvel at the ingenuity.
  • Even NPR is talking about it
  • From the Kitchn
  • Really great post from The Traveling Praters, which got me thinking about packing a travel kitchen of my own – kind of a “duh” moment worth pinning 🙂
  • Freezer Bag Cooking info – If you have a ziptop freezer bag and access to hot water (not boiling), this site will show you how to make awesome meals that taste great, meals that fit any diet restrictions, and meals that are much less expensive than eating out or buying standard cook in the bag  camping fare.

Show off your pedicure!

School is out (I hate flip flops)!  Summer is here (I hate my fat feet)! Time to hit the pool (my toenails are actually cute, but no one gets to see them)!

Okay, so yeah, I have a love/hate relationship going on with summer.  I love not having to wear real shoes, or socks.  I’m a barefoot kind of gal – but that’s not allowed in stores, and kind of dangerous at pools.  So every year I start The Search.  The Search For Shoes That Will Fit.  I have extremely wide feet (WW if I can get it), fairly tall feet, but actually normal length feet (size 9ish).    Because of this, I have worn a lot of size 10s, a lot of men’s shoes, and a lot of whatever-will-fit-me instead of what-I-want.  My go-to shoe in the summer has been cheap Birkenstock knock-offs ($10 or less), which last a year, look like crap, but I can wear them long enough for the sole to wear down to fit my feet.

This year, I found AMAZING shoes, which I love – TOMS knockoffs (because women with fat feet aren’t allowed to wear TOMS).  I tried some from Avenue last year, was amazed at how comfortable they were, and nearly broke down in tears when they were falling apart after less than a week of wearing.  The Woman Within ones have been worn almost daily for the past 5 months, and are just now starting to get some holes.  But amazing as these shoes are – they don’t show off the cute pedicure I splurged on.

And what is the point of having a cute pedicure that only your family gets to see???

After several unproductive shopping trips (including one to Avenue, where the sweet saleswoman was personally mortified that she couldn’t get my feet into anything that would show off my toes), I sighed deeply and began searching the internet.  And I found THIS.  Kristen is RIGHT, these are Outrageously Comfortable AND Ridiculously Simple!    I grabbed a  pair of cheap flip flops from Joanns, a quarter of a yard of swimsuit fabric, and went to town with my mom’s help (I wanted to get the fit right, and my plus sized legs don’t fold as neatly and easily as Kristen’s do). TAH-DAH!!!

20140602-132933-48573166.jpgMy super cute new flip flops that fit!  Of course, they’re blue.  You have been here before, right?  Blue is my color. 🙂

20140602-132935-48575082.jpgLook – cute pedicure!  I know, fat feet, but cute toenails. 🙂  Look, no shoe is ever going to make my feet look like they should be in a shoe ad, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask that I can have sandals that don’t look like orthopedics.

I did make a couple of changes to Kristen’s original tutorial (watch the video, btw, makes it super clear to understand what she is doing).

  1. The swimsuit material is fairly thick and . . . um, not squishable (if that makes sense), so the knot in the front of the shoes (between the toes, and through the hole) would be too big to walk on comfortably.  Solution: taper the ends of the two sections of fabric until they are half the width, and the knot will easily slip up into the hole in the bottom of the sole.
  2. Also, my mom is a bit of a worrier, so she suggested I fill the holes with glue to add a layer of security .  But be careful what glue you use!  There is no point in filling the holes with a water soluble glue (presumably, you will wear flip slops around water – like at a pool).  Most of the shoe making resources online say that if you can’t get your hands on Shoe Goo, then Gorilla Glue will work.  Again, be careful though – Gorilla glue expands 3x, so do a sample first.  You won’t need to fill the hole with liquid Gorilla Glue!

Now I am ready for my next big adventure – our family’s summer vacation in San Antonio.  We’ll be getting the final bang out of our Annual Pass buck at Sea World and staying at a resort, where I am already booked for a new pedicure (I’m thinking blue nails this time, what d’you think?? *grins*).  And these are WAY better than the disposable foam flip flops spas give you so you don’t mess up your polish.

Easter on the Road

7:00 am, Easter Sunday.

The kids are still asleep after a long exhausting fun day at Seas World.  My husband and I are checking email on phones and iPads and quietly discussing who would be getting dressed enough to go downstairs for the good coffee creamer (it was him).

I get a text from my mother, “OMG”.

Yes, my mother texts.

“WUT?” I text back.  No coffee = extra snark.

“Come see.  Bring the kids.”  My mom texts, but she’s not fast, so her messages are usually short and to the point.  Oh, did I mention that my mom went with us on our road trip?  Yep, she’s a trooper (literally, she’s my Troop Co-Leader).  She had a separate room, which made Easter on the road doable.

After we woke them up and padded across the hall, we were met by an excited Grandma, who couldn’t really explain what happened.  The kids quickly decided that the Easter Bunny is a crazy stalker dude, who followed us from Houston, spied on the kids to discover that they slept in Grandma’s room the night before, and left their Easter baskets and hid eggs there.  The eggs were hidden all over the room: on light fixtures, under pillows, in the mini fridge, with the free shampoo, and the hardest one was the one I posted a pic of: behind the ice bucket.

Mom also brought crafty stuff to do, just in case.  Decorating plastic eggs using ideas from here.  Duct tape wallets.   But nothing too over the top, because we had to hide it in the car from the kids.  The funniest thing to me was when we found some “bunny poop” on the floor:

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I hope your Easter was as filled with fun and surprise as ours was.