A Look Back at the Year by the Numbers



There is no reason for me to do a retrospective of the big things in my year. My blog serves as the daily diary of big and small things that happened. Instead I decided today to enter all my data from my fit bit into a spread sheet and see how I did no my one big goal of 2014 – to walk 20,000 steps a day. Now in all honesty I did not make that my goal until the end of January, but that hardly makes a difference.


I walked t total of 6,006277 steps that were counted when I wore my fitbit, in 2014. I almost always had it one and only once or twice was it uncharged, so over six million is fairly accurate. My numbers say that I walked a total of 2627 miles.


Sounds like a lot, but it is no even close to reaching my goal. I average 16,455 steps a day so I was just over 80% of the way there. That meant I walked an average of 7.2 miles a day. Only in the month of February did I actually walk an average that was over 20,000 steps a day.


I started the year 22 pounds heavier than I got at my lowest point. If you are reading between the lines you can figure out that I gained weight at the end of the year. I tried a terrible experiment of letting myself eat whatever I wanted between Thanksgiving and Christmas and walking just as much as I wanted to see what would happen. Eight pounds is what happened and an average of only walking 10,000 steps a day.


That experiment is officially over. I started eating like a judge a couple of days ago and today will be the first day I will get my 20,000 steps in, thanks to lots of time doing spread sheets to see how badly things can go when I am not vigilant.


My new goal is to do 20,000 steps a day as an average in each month. That means that if I am going on vacation and know I will be sitting on a plane, unallowed to get up and roam the aisle I am going to have to bank steps in advance. If I am sick one day I will have to make it up in the next couple. If I have an all day meeting I will have to stay on my treadmill later into the night.


I also am going to keep my spreadsheet as I go along and not have one big data dump day. This way I can track in real time. I know that I am not a person who can eat holiday food without consequence. I also know that I need to keep moving if I am to lose even eight pounds. No fun, no fair, tough luck, that’s me.


So Happy New Year to you and yours. I hope that holiday eating and sitting around did not do to you what it did not me. I know that most of the world will be on some sort of diet come tomorrow. Welcome to my life, as I should live it. Not living clean is clearly not an option. Hopefully it won’t take me longer than it took me to put it on to get it off.

Holiday Basketball Invitational



For the last few days Russ and I have been driving to and from Cary to watch Carter’s team play in a basketball tournament. Since we have to pay $8 each to get into every game we think of this tournament as a big revenue generator for the host school. It started the day after Christmas with no break to get away for post Christmas family time, but his was the commitment we took on when Carter made Varsity.


The team is small in number and short on players with lots of years of experience, but long on heart and sticktoittiveness. The coaches are tough, but the lessons learned from just being part of this group are invaluable.


Earlier in the season I was sitting in the stands with my friend David Beischer who is a parent of a boy who plays basketball as well as a basketball playing alum of DA. While watching the girls in a very tough match against a team with a much deeper bench of seasoned players on their way to D-1 basketball scholarships he told me about an old DA Physics professor whose name I can’t remember, who created some theorem that said, once a girls team was down eleven points there was no way they were coming back to win a game.


During that particular game the girls were down by 14 points, came back to being one up and in the final seconds let their defense down and lost the game. It was a miracle that they came back by that much in the first place, but heart breaking. To me the good news was that they had proven the 30-year theorem could be broken.


The Holiday Invitational started out with DA girls winning their first match up handily. The second game was much tougher and they could not pull out the win, but during that game one of the captains of the team, junior Cha’Mia Rothwell made her 1,000th point as a DA varsity player. The amazing thing about this is basketball is not even her best sport, you should see her run track.


Today was the final game against a tough team from Fayetteville. If you have never been to Fayetteville you have no idea how tough it is. The DA girls were in a shoot out to see which team would take 3rd in the tournament.


The game started badly and quickly went sideways for our girls. In the third quarter they were down by 21 points. A fellow parent, an ex-professional football player, who I sat with during the whole tournament muttered, “Just get to down 14 and we will be happy.” It seemed like a big ask to me, but we all prayed.


The forth quarter started and all I could think of was whatshisname Physics Professor’s Theorem – down almost double his theory there was no way. But the little team with lots of heart did not know they could not win this game. Slowly they started chipping away at Fayetteville’s lead. Suddenly three’s were being hit and free throws were all being made. With seconds left, Cha’Mia, better known as Cham on the court got us tied up and them closed it down by making a free throw in the very last second. The crowd went wild. My heart was beating so hard it felt as if I had just run a marathon. Fittingly after the game was the planned cake celebration of Cham reaching her 1,000th point in the previous game.


It was heart breaking for the Fayetteville girls who were sure this was their game when they were up by 21. That old teacher might have been a great Physics Prof, but he did not know this team of girls. Congratulations to the little team with the big heart, their great coaches Krista and Robert and all the friends and family members who came out to support them at each and every game. Watching you come together as a team was worth more than double every dollar and hour spent.

Trying to End the Year Well



In an effort to alleviate any guilt I have about Holiday eating, slouching about and lack of productivity I got back on the horse today. I could have waited until January second like most people who have a resolution they want to fulfill, but I feel like waiting is just an excuse.


Back on the treadmill early in the day I knew was the only way to deal with my lost good habits. While walking I paid all my bills, sorted all my deal-with-it-later mail, entered all new Christmas card alerted addresses in my electronic address book, (boy did a lot of you move this year) and put away all the Christmas wrapping. That only accounted for about a thousand steps.


I tried, but was quite unsuccessful at hand writing my thank you notes while I walked. I figured my handwriting while still was bad enough and I don’t want anyone to think I’m coming down with Parkinson’s when they receive a long over due thank you note.


I turned to my never ending to do list… The biggest thing that has been on it the longest is completing my scrapbooks from our African trip. Now I have scrap books from years back that are not done, I am yet to even consider our past two spring break trips, but those were not actually written on the list, they just remain in my list in my brain. I decided to tackle the more than half finished double volume Africa books.


I have one great excuse why they were not finished. My computer was so full of so many photos that it was not working correctly. Russ fixed that by getting me a new computer for Christmas. No more excuses. I opened the I-photo program and tried to walk and decide which of the 8,000 photos to put where. It was clear that I cold not do this job while walking so I flipped a coin and decided that sitting and finishing the books was a better use of my time.


Amazingly it only took me about five hours to place all the photos and them go back and write all the copy. I had Russ proof read them and then very un-editor like I did not reread them, instead just pressed the “Buy Book” button and sent off one South Africa and one Zambia book. Come the middle of January I am sure to carrying around these books to show anyone who wants to look at them.


Back on the treadmill by seven PM I may still be able to get my 20,000 steps in before tomorrow comes. It feels great to get these big things checked off my list. I think I am going to like starting 2015 without much of a hangover. If only I could drop the Christmas weight I gained. I think it will take me the whole month of January and at least half of February to do that.

Beginning the Weaning Process- Salad

December has been a rich food eatapalooza. Now it’s time to pay the piper. Considering that the house is still full of normally forbidden food I need to begin retraining my mouth, brain and stomach back to non-holiday food. Russ and I started out the day with a big walk for Shay Shay. The walk helped get on the right path although I was not ready to go cold turkey back to arugula salad for lunch and dinner. I decided that a good taboubli like salad might be an easy way to wean my mouth from holiday food. I had quinoa that I used instead of bulgur wheat.


1 C. Quinoa

2 c. Vegetable stock

1-pint cherry tomatoes

1 ½ English Cucumber

2 Handfuls fresh Mint

2 Handfuls Cilantro

1/3 c. minced Red Onion

3 cloves of garlic

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

1 T. sherry Vinegar

2 T. Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper


Put the quinoa and vegetable stock in a saucepan bring to a boil and cover it and cook on simmer for fifteen minutes. Remove from heat and chill in refrigerator.


Cut the tomatoes in half and put in big mixing bowl. Cut the English Cucumbers in half and scoop out the seeds and discard. Then cut each half a cucumber into six strips and chop into ¼ inch pieces. Add the Cucumber to the big bowl.


Remove mint leaves from steps and chop. Add to bowl. Do the same with the cilantro. Add the red onion then finally mince the garlic and add that.


Add the lemon zest and juice, vinegar and olive oil. Add the cooled quinoa. Salt and Pepper to taste.


I hope this is going to help.







It’s Not too Late to Give



Today I realized that I still had a Christmas gift for someone that works at our house. I feel badly that I had not seen him in the last few weeks to give him his gift so he would have it before Christmas. I texted him as much to make sure that he knows I have not forgotten about him, but I wish I had realized this the day before Christmas and not the day after. There are some people I give gifts to who really don’t need another thing, but others for whom Christmas giving is vital. Those are the ones I hate to mess up with.


Now that Christmas is over I have just a few days to start thinking about making our year end charitable giving. Russ, as a small business owner also has to close out his yearend books and do all his yearend distributions. I wish that the government could pick a date other than December 31 to be the financial yearend. It really ruins taking time off during the holidays.


Not that we have any time off since Carter has a basketball tournament that started today and goes through Monday. I do like watching her team play and they had a great first game today. My only issue is that sitting in the bleachers is no exercise for me, not as long as cheering does not count as an aerobic activity, and I am not able to do finical work in the gym.


I make it sound like I am giving away a lot of money; sadly I am not. I wish that I had more to share. What I do have is a lot of requests. All year whenever I get a phone call from an organization asking me for a donation I tell them all the same thing, “Please send me something in the mail and I will consider you in our year end giving.” Some think it is just a ploy for me to hang up on them and they don’t bother sending me a request, but others follow through. Now I have a giant pile to sift through and decide if I can help them.


There are others in line in front of new donations, our schools, church and The Food Bank. I use Charity Navigator to help me determine if an organization is a good steward of money to begin with. The hardest part is that the Food Bank gets such a high rating with 97% of all the money it collects going right back out in food and support of feeding programs that I have a hard time giving money to another organization that only puts say 65% of the money donated into support of the programs that further their mission. Charities that have staff that are too highly paid don’t need my little bit of money.


So it takes much more time that just the moments it takes to write a check or donate online, which is my new favorite way to give because it also saves me a stamp and helps the organization keep processing costs down. Researching non-profits could be a full time job and one I should have done right when the requests came in and not waited until the last few days of the year.


Giving to non-profits makes me happier than giving money to the government so I will happily get the job done before the bell tolls midnight on the 31st. For most non-profits this last month of the year is the make it or break it time in donations. If you have anything extra this year please consider sharing it with an organization that does good work to help others in your community. I can only speak about the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC, but I tell you they work tirelessly to feed over 650,000 people all year. For those people the Food Bank is better than Santa, but the Food Bank needs lots of elves to help them out.


If you want to see how easy it is to give online to the Food Bank just click here Food BankCENC.org. It’s never too late to give, but if you wait until 2015 you will have to wait another whole year to take it off your taxes.

It’s Over



I’m shocked there is no cartoon about the sadness of Christmas night. So much build up – awaiting the birth of Jesus. The shopping and wrapping, the cooking and gathering of family from near and far. The sleepless night on Christmas Eve, no matter your age or anticipation of a filled stocking. The over indulgence, making sure you have all the gifts you bought ready to give, ripping open the paper, and then in a blink it’s over. The days of making grocery lists, buying food and cooking, then gobble, gobble it’s gone.


The baby is born, hooray. Now the real work starts. Jesus did not come into the world a grown man, ready to do great things. He came as a baby, needing to be cared for, raised and taught. Yes, the Christmas story has those wise men traveling from far off lands following the star to bring the savior gifts. But really, it took them a few months to get there and until they arrived Mary and Joseph were there with this little mouth to feed and no pampers were in sight. When those kings arrived I’m not sure how much good that gold and frankincense and myrrh really were. What about a jogging stroller?


Even if you got exactly what you were hoping for this Christmas, the excitement of waiting for it is more fun to me than owning it. Now it’s time to find a place for all the new, to put away the sparkle and get back to regular life. Granted the tree and the lights, ornaments, wreaths and bows aren’t coming down tonight, but I look at them as already spent, used and finished with for at least eleven more months.


There is no more excuse to eat the decedent holiday food, although I was quite happy that my father requested pasta and salad. He asked me today as I was serving the Cannelloni how I knew that was secretly what he was hoping for, but did not want to ask me to make since it is such a complicated dish. That was a minor Christmas miracle that I guessed the right food. Unfortunately, my parents got too worn out to wait for the dessert of Apple Pie Cake I made, at least my sisters and Sophie stayed for that treat.


Tomorrow I will start to pay for Christmas naughtiness. That makes me sad to think of all that I ate in the last few weeks and that it is over until next Christmas. No more cookies, or kringle, candy bacon or pasta. Back to clean eating and the discipline of living like a monk.


If I can keep in mind how hard those first few months of taking care of baby Jesus were for Mary I might be inspired to live a clean and restrained life. Perhaps there is a new diet fad in this, the “I’m raising the son of God with no real help” diet.


I hope you had a Merry Christmas with your loved ones around you. I hope that no fighting and bickering have broken out at your house. I hope that the let down of Christmas being over does not make the long dark days feel darker. Mostly I hope you are not alone and have love and joy in your lives. Merry Christmas.

New Traditions, Just Not so Traditional



I’ve written this blog for 960 days in a row. That means this is my third Christmas Eve. I only ever missed posting myself one day, a year ago tomorrow when I was so sick on Christmas that I slept through the whole day, missing all the celebrating. On that day my family posted for me so that I could keep up my streak of posting something everyday.


I am beginning to fear that I am repeating stories, something I am famous for doing in person. Russ has my most repeatable stories numbered by popularity. What that really means is that the low numbered stories are the ones he is most sick of hearing. To ensure I did not write that same thing this year as I did in the last two I went back in the archives and read what I wrote on Christmas Eve’s past.


Both years were poems about cooking and eating decadent holiday meals that we were going to be enjoying with our Christmas Eve dinner friends. Well, I am in no danger of being repetitive since our standard dinner was canceled because our friends were going to be serving a meal at the shelter.


Replacement for that heavy and fattening meal Carter and Russ wanted a new tradition that they started last year on Christmas day when I was sick in bed, Chinese food for Christmas. Since my family is coming for Christmas day dinner and I have been cooking up a storm for that one holiday meal I happily agreed to this new way of celebrating.


Yesterday Russ called the restaurant to ask them if he needed a reservation and was met with the expectable, “Of course you do!” gruff response. Christmas is a big time of year for Chinese restaurants. Despite needing the reservation so badly, he was able to get one right away.


Today I got a Christmas miracle call from our regular Christmas Eve dinner guests. They had made a mistake and were not serving dinner at the shelter tonight, but had to do it yesterday and were now free for dinner. Hooray! Chinese Christmas Eve for us all.


Perhaps this will be our new tradition. No one has to cook. No one even has to eat the same things. We decided that you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy Chinese food at Christmas. So God bless us everyone and pass the fortune cookies!