Thursday, June 30, 2011

think.

a loss. 
this week my grandmother's ashes were spread among the blue waters of the atlantic. she passed away after being sick for a long time. the news didn't come as a surprise, but death is always a shock.

the last time i saw "nana", piper was about a year old. my hair was brown and she would have said, "you've lost weight!" as she always did, whether you had or not. i remember thinking she looked different. she still had her bleached blonde hair, large presence and nasal-y boston accent; but her eyes seemed older. i don't remember what made her come visit iowa at that time. i can't even remember anything we did while she was here. but i remember taking the last picture i have with her; four generations of women: my grandmother, my mother and my daughter.

for my entire life, nana lived in florida. when we were kids, she always lived in a house with a pool. i clearly remember one pool had comedy and tragedy masks painted on the bottom that always scared me to swim over. i remember catching newts in her yard (which was mostly taken up by the pool). when we visited, we usually went to disney world because my uncle worked there. i remember going to restaurants, which was a big deal because our family hardly ever ate out. (stops at mcdonalds for our family would include one plain hamburger each, a shared order of french fries, and cups of water.) but with nana, we often did. i'm certain my love of seafood derives from those trips to florida to visit nana.

nana spoiled us. i remember one trip when she took my older sister and i to get new bathing suits. we were able to pick anything we wanted. i chose a neon pink and green number with black & white checked suspenders. my sister chose metallic leopard print. up until then, most of my suits were solid-colored, basic tank suits that were practical for swim lessons at the ymca. on another trip, she bought us high-top sneakers. they were l.a. gear. they had little bows on the back, diamond studs and came with three different types of laces. they were as hideous as they sound. but i loved them. i'm sure our mom was horrified, coming from the south where we wore white keds or saddle oxfords year-round, but she didn't say a word, allowing us to enjoy the special treatment we received on those rare visits with nana. i remember making the long drive to florida for christmases from wherever we were living at the time (georgia or canada or illinois). as a kid, it seemed like we would wake up on christmas morning to a room so filled with presents, you couldn't walk through it.

when i was thirteen, the rest of my family went on a mission trip to arizona, but i wasn't old enough to go. a difficult, hormonal junior higher; i just wanted to stay home with my friends. but, my parents sent me to stay with nana for the week and a half. eventually i got excited about the trip. i felt mature getting to fly by myself and i can still picture what i wore on the plane ride (olive green pants, a paul frank t-shirt, doc marten sandals). when i arrived nana and papa were waiting for me at the gate. we found my bag (which was terribly over packed) and i remember feeling guilty as i watched papa struggle to retrieve it from the steel conveyor. it was late when i arrived. maybe 9 or 10. i remember being tired. we made our way to the parking garage but neither nana or papa could remember where they parked the car. we walked around and around until finally papa remembered he had written down the section. 1L. or was I1? or L1? we couldn't decipher the combination of letter and number. we searched all over for their car until finally we gave up and asked an employee for help. he drove us around in his van until we finally found their car. it was comical. over the next several days, i learned a lot about my nana. i remember every time we went somewhere (the beach, a restaurant or a theme park, etc.) it took us forever to get there. she never looked up directions until we were completely lost. it's a lot funnier in memory than it was at the time. i'm so glad i had that time with her. i cherish those memories now.

that trip was the last time i went to visit her in florida. we met her in georgia once for thanksgiving and she made a few trips to iowa, including our wedding in 2005. when quinn was born, i knew i wanted to honor nana by using her name. margaret (margie) ruggiero, never got to meet her namesake, quinn margaret. although my girls never knew her, i will tell them of her loud laugh, her bold personality and her great sense of humor. and i hope to raise them with the same generosity and spontaneous spirit that she lived her life with.

over the past week or so since her death, i've noticed that loss brings out such a wide range of feelings, regret being one of them. i regret not spending more time with her in recent years. i regret not writing more letters and sending more pictures. i regret not making sure her great-grandchildren knew her. and i really regret not being there as she was memorialized on tuesday among a small group of family and friends.

i cried several times as i wrote this post and it took me a couple of days to even find the time and quiet to put these words down. but since i couldn't be at her funeral, i think writing about my grandmother was important for me. a way to have my own memorial. my own time to remember, to grieve and, hopefully, find closure. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

see.

a lazy post.

we're finally getting to the end of this deployment, but it seems like time has completely slowed down, making it feel as though the end of july will never come. to combat this stand-still, i've been trying to keep every day jam-packed with activity. healthy, right? ha. either way, it keeps us distracted and it's nice to have even little things to look forward to each day.

my friend joseph has been helping piper conquer her fear of water. i'm so proud of her! this is the kid who used to throw epic tantrums just to avoid getting in the bathtub! so it's pretty cool to see her swimming all around in her little pink floaties.  



i know you've heard me gripe about my crazy weeds. well, here's evidence.
the tall ones were literally up to my waist.  
 

one afternoon i was feeling motivated and spent well over an hour clearing out a single bed. i had major callouses and a sore back for a week afterward!

i have yet to attempt the rest of the yard. 
 
and for your viewing pleasure, here are my post-weeding feet...

this coming weekend is the 80/35 music festival and i'm so excited! two days full of semi-famous bands, overpriced beer, and crowds of hipsters.
it's gonna be great.


after a busy day, i love spending the evening lounging in the hammock
while the girls run around the yard.  


this past week we had family dinner at my in-laws.
they live on a beautiful acreage where the girls can run wild and roam free.
 

a few days ago i took the girls to pick out a couple of beta fish. apparently two females can live peacefully together so we got one for each girl. after quite an interesting brainstorming session on what to name them (options included zoe, beta the fish, walmart--no lie, and quinn's contribution: bubblegum.) we settled on charlie and cece. sadly, after just a few days with us, cece went on to the great porcelain fishbowl. we're pretty sure they got into a fight because charlie (who survived) is looking a little mangy and when we discovered cece, she had a slight issue with her guts spilling out her side. (gross.) anyway, we'll see if we can keep charlie around for a while. but i'm not very pleased with her murderous temperament.


we've had a lot of rain around here lately,
which leads to some long afternoons for poor quinn...

my best friend came to town...

we made sure to take her to the classiest place in des moines;
the good ol' locust tap.

our friends joseph & joey just moved back from san diego. joseph doesn't have a job yet so he's always up for anything.

we went to the des moines art festival on saturday and had a great time. the weather was cool and overcast, a nice change from the scorching heat that usually falls on this weekend. it was also the first time in years i didn't have to weave a stroller in & out of the crowds and booths. it was so nice.
(thanks in-laws!)

we ended the weekend with a backyard bonfire. it was the perfect night with friends. we were all just missing one very important person.  
but i know if we keep keepin' busy, he'll be back before we know it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

wear.

mvp.

so, this outfit isn't anything ground-breaking,
but i wanted to show you my latest favorite thing...
 

i ordered this little arrow necklace at a stella & dot show and i've probably worn it almost every day since it arrived. i just love how dainty and minimalistic it is. (a huge change from my normal taste in jewelry.) as much as i love a statement necklace, it's nice having something a little understated. especially when it's hot. 
 i love wearing my arrow with this funny little mushroom necklace...

and my other usual suspects...

anyway, i've been quite pleased with this little arrow. i can definitely see him earning the mvp award this summer.

t-shirt: j.crew
jeans: paige via gilt
sandals: sam edelman
 mushroom necklace & bracelets: j.crew
arrow necklace: stell & dot

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

do.

plan b.
about a month ago, some of our best friends planned a night at the ballpark. we were going to start off at mullet's for beer & pizza, and then hit the i-cubs game. mullet's is this great place, just south of the ball field that is known for their pizza and great views of downtown. we'd all been looking forward to it for weeks.
but then...it started raining.
 
we were so disappointed, but we still went to mullet's, and figured we'd head to the game once it cleared off.
 
the pizza was fantastic. the worst part was trying to narrow down our choices! it was surprising because the place looks like they'd serve your average junky bar food. but the pizza combinations they offered were really unique and the whole menu looked delicious!
 
the rain never cleared up, so we had to come up with a back-up plan.
someone (i think it was probably me. ha!) had the genius idea of going to blue moon piano bar. have you ever seen dueling pianos? it's so fun and entertaining. these people are so talented. they took requests throughout the night and played everything from oasis to billy joel to lady gaga. plus, they're funny. they make fun of each other and the crowd. it's a great place for bachelorette parties or birthdays 'cause they'll bring people up on stage and well, embarass them. (all in good fun.) 

we had such a great time singing and dancing and laughing.
i think plan b turned out to be even better than plan a!
 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

wear.

when in doubt. 
the other night i was meeting up with some friends and, for some reason, could not figure out what to wear. it may have something to do with the mountain of dirty laundry in my room, but let's not go there...
i think what trips me up in those situations, is that i start wondering what everyone else will be wearing. i don't want to be over-dressed or under-dressed, i don't want to be the only one wearing heels, or whatever...
but without fail, i feel the best when i dress for myself, not anyone else. and, honestly? i think it shows when you feel comfortable and confident in your clothes.
that night, i wasn't dressed like everyone else, but i still felt like me.
and that felt pretty good.    

top: vintage (also worn here)
jeans: talbot's
shoes: seychelles (also worn here)
bracelets: miscellaneous

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

do.

on running.
lately i've received some questions about running so i thought i'd tell you a little about my experience in becoming a "runner" over the past several months. feel free to skim or not read this at all. if anything, i just wanted to write this out for myself because i still can't believe i can actually run. but i can!



in the beginning.
it all started in january. my friend (mustard) signed up for the remembrance run in september. it's a 5k run in honor of fallen iowa soldiers. anyway, after some arm-twisting from mustard, i signed up too! even though i am so not a runner, i thought i could probably be ready to run 3 miles by september.
when i told my dad about it, he teased me a little ("9 months to train for a 5k?!") and said that i needed to sign up for the dam to dam (a 20k in june). he said he would do it with me if i signed up. so, not wanting to look like a wimp (and having always envied runners' bodies) i decided to do it.
when i first started "training" i literally couldn't run a single mile without stopping. after a few weeks of hitting the treadmill, i could run/walk about three miles at a time, but would usually stop there. around that time, my dad sent me an e-mail kindly saying that i either needed to amp up my training or i wouldn't be prepared come june. (it was written with the best of intentions. he just didn't want me to feel like i had to do it and didn't want me to be in over my head.) i knew i had to either commit 100% or bail. so that afternoon i went to the Y and ran 5.5 miles without stopping. i ran slowly (11 minute mile), but i never stopped! that proved to me that i was capable of doing this.

learning to run. 
i found a beginner's training schedule for a half-marathon (which is a bit longer than a 20k) and followed it closely. i had to make certain sacrifices (including blog time) in order to get all my runs in, but each week i slowly gained confidence. this may sound dumb, but at first i was really nervous to try running outside. i guess because i'd never run outside by myself before and i didn't really know where i'd go, where i'd stop, if i'd look dumb, etc. (is that just me? anyone relate?) i started running on an indoor track which i found way more enjoyable than the treadmill and eventually made my way outside.
i learned to work through boredom, tiredness and even pain. i learned to play mind tricks to keep myself distracted and i did a lot of self-talk to stay motivated on longer runs. ("you're doing freaking awesome!" "you're gonna rock this!" yeah. my inner voice is a nerd.) i also bought some new music to stock up my ipod. (favorites include: m.i.a., kesha, mgmt and robyn's new album, body talk is the. perfect. running music. love it.) i learned to stretch right, eat well, and hydrate properly for each run. i bought a new pair of shoes (i'm a die-hard mizuno girl now), a few shirts, some shorts and a pair of capris that i love. i've learned it's definitely worth it to spend a bit more to get quality gear. especially on longer runs--staying cool and dry can make a huge difference. plus, you don't need a lot of clothing, you can literally wear the same pair of shorts over and over and if they're decent quality, it won't matter.


just doin' it.
my dad and i generally ran on our own throughout the week and ran together on saturday or sunday. it really helped to have that accountability in each other. i remember the first time we ran six miles. it was a huge accomplishment for me. i also remember the weekend we were supposed to run eight miles. i was out of town and didn't run over the weekend so i was really nervous about getting it done. i thought my dad had already done his 8-miler, so on monday i went to the Y to get it over with. i literally had butterflies in my stomach as i drove there. about four miles in i thought, there's no way i can do this. i shouldn't have tried to do it by myself. i shouldn't have taken the weekend off. but, while i was trying to talk myself into quitting, i kept running. and all of a sudden i had another mile under my belt. i was over halfway finished, so i figured i might as well get it over with. and i did! when that 8 miles was over i literally wanted to cheer out loud. but...i held back. another big triumph i had during training was running "the Big Block." i live on a fairly busy street that makes one side of a 6-mile rectangular route. ever since we moved here i've wanted to be able to run that block. so one sunday afternoon--we did it! i felt awesome. so excited to have accomplished that mini goal.
at some point, it started to get easier. i still got nervous before longer runs, but going out to run 3 miles became no big deal. and then going out to run 6 miles no longer intimidated me at all. on one of our last weekends of training before the dam to dam, we decided to run the Big Block. twice. that's just over twelve miles. we took it pretty slow and took a few pit stops, but we did it! i couldn't believe it. it was four miles further than i had ever run before. that's when i really began to feel confident about the dam to dam. i finally believed i could really do it.  

race day.
the friday night before the race, my dad and i went downtown to pick up our race packets. it was fun seeing a huge crowd of people who would all be hoofin' it the next morning. it was also cool for me to see all types of people there. in my mind i had this picture of what a "runner" looked like, and it was cool for me to see that anyone can run. it was sort of a final confidence-booster for me. that, even though i don't necessarily look like a runner, i can still run.
that night, the girls and i spent the night at my parents' house so my mom could drop us off at the race site. we did not go to bed early enough, which made it rough to wake up at 5:30 a.m. but, once i got up and moving, the adrenaline started kicking in and i felt pretty good; excited to finally get this show on the road!
once we got to the starting point, i was in awe of all the people. 7,000 people! it was incredible. i'm a people-watchin' fool, so it was like a dream come true. ha! we peed in the woods (rather than wait 25 minutes for a porta-potty) and slowly made our way to the starting point. we stretched a bit and, before i knew it, we were running! the weather was perfect--overcast and not too hot. it was pretty humid, but it was great to not have the sun beating down on us. in the beginning i was so distracted by all the people--it was great. so many times i said, i wish i had my camera! it was incredible to look down the road to this sea of people. i've never had an experience like that. except, maybe at the iowa state fair. but...that's not quite the same.
we kept a steady pace and never needed to stop and walk. we only separated once when my dad made a pit stop. i kept going thinking he'd catch up in a minute, but the line ended up being fairly long so we were apart for about a mile until i took my own potty break. luckily i spotted him again shortly thereafter and we continued on together. i remember seeing the six-mile marker and realizing i was halfway done. i felt really good! i couldn't believe i wasn't tired yet so we picked up the pace a little. i overheard someone call out to another bethany near me, so i started chatting with her. she pointed out that every mile-marker had a homemade sign on it saying, "go B!" or "run B run!" after that i started noticing them everywhere and, even though i knew they weren't for me, it was really encouraging. i also saw a friend on the sidelines a couple times and that was a great little energy-booster. (thanks, michelle!) when we got into des moines i had a false sense that we were almost done. i guess technically we were, but around mile ten i started to finally get tired. two miles out of twelve doesn't seem like much, but for some reason i started to hit the wall. the sun came out and it started to get hot. there were great bands every quarter mile or so, which was fun. but i started to slow down quite a bit. my dad pulled ahead for a while, but i always had my eye on his bright yellow shirt. i wished i had my ipod. it's amazing how upbeat music can really give you an energy boost. those last two miles seemed to take longer than the entire previous ten. but halfway through mile eleven, i had another cheerleader encourage me to keep going. i never felt like i needed to stop, but i knew i wasn't going to make the time goal that i had set for myself. my dad & i found each other in the crowd again and he pointed out the bright green finish line banner. i remember there was a really tall guy in front of me, so i couldn't even see it yet. but just knowing it was there...wow. as we got closer i heard loud music (maybe rihanna?) and a drumline, there was a dance troupe which was a great distraction for a few steps. on the last few hundred yards, my dad grabbed my hand and we ran each step together. i started to feel stronger and knew we were almost done! i heard my name called and my dear friend alana was there, cheering us on. it's amazing how those little things can really help your feet take those next steps.


the rest is history.
we crossed the finish line and i almost couldn't believe it was over.  even among 7,ooo finishers, i felt so proud and...amazing! we finished at 2 hours and 12 minutes. i was hoping to get in under 2 hours; but looking back, i know i did my best. here were my stats:

place: 1474 (out of 7,031)
class place: 333 (out of 789 female finishers, age 25-29)
10k time: 1:01
20k time: 2:05
final pace: 10:08

 i took a few days off to recover, but have already gone back to regular runs throughout the week. my dad and i ran in a 5k fundraising race on saturday night and i ran faster than i ever have! it felt really good. (despite the glaring sun and uphill course.) i now turn to running as a stress reliever. when something comes up or goes wrong, the first thing i think is, i want to go run this out. and i have to say, it feels a lot better than a glass of wine. ha! i'm toying with the idea of the des moines marathon in october, but just the word marathon makes my stomach flip-flop! we'll see...

anyway, if anyone's actually still reading, i just wanted to write this to show that you can be a runner! it's okay to start slow. it's okay to be nervous. it's okay to walk when you need to! just remember: every step counts.

Friday, June 10, 2011

wear.

a jungle out there.
my yard is totally out of control. there's only so much this girl can manage and, apparently, my yard does not fall under that category. my poor outfit "spot" is completely overgrown with massive jungle-like weeds. by july i'll have to bust out the machete just to get a decent picture. but, even if i had the time to do some yardwork, i wouldn't have a clue where to begin as my thumbs are anything but green. what makes it worse is that 80% of the population of my neighborhood is sweet little retired folks who love their yardwork. making my yard stand out like a sore (non-green) thumb.
what does this have to do with my outfit? well...there's a neon elephant on my shirt. and elephants live in the jungle.* and....well...apparently so do i.
t-shirt: j.crew, $10 (old)
boyfriend shorts: j.crew, $24 (last year, clearance)
wrap bracelets: j.crew, $8/$12
wrap watch: la mer, $25 (today show steal)
sandals: sam edelman, dsw, $30

*after i wrote that, i realized...elephants don't even live in the jungle. right? i think they live in like, the sahara or something. oh well... i never said this blog was a beacon of truth.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

do.

chi-town shenanigans: day two.
on saturday we woke up slowly and got ready for the game.

we took a cab down to wrigleyville and made our way to the bleachers. before long we'd made friends with pretty much everyone within a five person radius. what can i say? we're a fun group of girls.
the one person we didn't make friends with (but certainly ogled) was the one and only bill murray!
yes. bill murray. we were sitting about four rows back and a bleacher length away from bill murray. we saw a bunch of people standing up and taking pictures, so we asked around and found out it was him. i was freaking out a little bit. bill murray is literally mr. a's all-time favorite actor and he's certainly one of my favorites. so it was pretty dang cool to be sitting that close to him. we proceeded to lead the crowd in obnoxious chants ("who ya gonna call? BILL MURRARY?") and quote our favorite films. (mine being zombieland.)
i pretty much bailed on the cleanse as soon as we stepped foot inside. there was no way i could go to a baseball game and not have a chicago hot-dog. and...it was amazing.
poor emily also had a hot-dog, and ended up with a packet of mustard all over herself. pants, shirt, purse. we have no idea how a grown woman gets that much mustard on herself, but...she ended up with a lifelong nickname because of it. we love you, mustard! (yeah i know, real clever.)
even though the cubs played terribly, we had so much fun. the seventh inning stretch was great. singing "take me out to the ballgame" with thousands of people is pretty sweet!
 
video

after the game, we hung out in wrigleyville for a while. it was a blast. just a sea of rowdy fans, all decked out in blue & red.
mustard found a kevin james look-alike...
at some point, we made our way back to the hotel to get ready for the evening.
we ended up going to this russian dance club where we were completely out of our league, but had a blast. this place was unlike anywhere i've ever been; a long line at the door with people getting turned away left & right, bouncers wearing mink collars on their three-piece suits, an ice bar area where you could put on a fur coat & hang out, half-nekkid dancers on a glass catwalk--i'm tellin' ya, this place was crazy. but a super fun experience for us small-town gals.
   
apparently i didn't get the "stop-dancing we're taking a picture" memo.
after a few hours of shakin' our tail feathers (do people still say that? obviously i'm old and completely un-hip), we crammed into a cab for the last time that weekend.
back at the hotel we ate chips & salsa in bed and stayed up talking about who knows what. (oh yeah, sara's ex-boyfriends. ha! love you hayes!)

the next morning we sadly packed our bags and headed for home. we stopped at the amazing outlet mall in aurora for a couple hours of shopping, and spent the rest of the drive looking through all our pictures from the weekend, re-telling the same stories and cracking the same inside jokes. obviously i can't do the trip justice with a few pictures and paragraphs, but we had so. much. fun. it was exactly what we needed and we're already planning next year's trip!