Tuesday, April 30, 2013

And so it begins...

Yesterday was the kick off to my work walking challenge.

I was feeling over it before it even began. Which is so not a good sign of what's to come over the next six weeks.

I am usually pretty, well, not really excited for them, but at least feeling up to the challenge. Motivated by competition and a sense of responsibility to my teammates.

This time I'm more.... meh.

I'm going to chalk it up to yesterday's weather as one factor. It was raining all day so I packed a lunch and didn't walk up to get coffee in the morning. Then when I left work it was still raining a bit, and I could have walked outside but again, ugh.

So I went to the mall instead, I figured shopping might help me with the mood and get some steps in. It worked for a bit, but I still just didn't really want to be there.

I ended day one with 6053 steps. Not awful considering I've been a lazy bum for the most part lately, but still, only half what I usually do in a day during these walking challenges.

And now it's day two. I'm hoping to feel more motivated. I need to do better today.

We weren't given daily or weekly goals this time for the challenge - it's just the top three teams with the most steps win. So my personal goal is 70k steps this week and then to increase my total each week after that.

I think that's a good combination of reasonable and a stretch goal.

And now, to get moving on it...

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Early Morning with Abe

Back in January I posted a DC 'to do' list for the year.

This morning I had a very DC experience that wasn't on my list, but was a must do for one of my friends. She's moving back to Philly next weekend and one of the things on her bucket list was sunrise from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Now it's well established that I'm NOT a morning person, but, I am always willing to help a friend in need and, going hand in hand here, not willing to send a friend out to sit out on the National Mall in the middle of the night alone.

(Yes, sunrise is my equivalent of the middle of the night. Especially since the published sunrise time, the one they tell you on the news or when you look at the weather report is very, very misleading. You see, that's the time you actually see the sun break the horizon, but by that point it's already been light out for easily 30 minutes!)

I digress. So my friend really wanted to do this and I agreed to tag along on the early morning adventure. We did some research on weather, timing, parking and decided that today was our day.

This morning when we arrived at the Lincoln Memorial at 5:40 am it looked like this:

That's the moon over to the right. Sigh...

But, it didn't look like that for long, as we timed things just right. Soon the sky started to turn shades of pink and orange, slowly changing to blue, lighting up the sky.

Abe gets his first view of the sun, at 6:25 am

So pretty.

Of course now, at 7 pm I'm so struggling to keep my eyes open, but really, the early morning views, on a gorgeous spring day, in the company of a good friend was more than worth the missed sleep!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A 'Rom Com' for your Reading Pleasure

My blog seems to be turning into more of a book blog, than a... um, place where I post random things, but oh well, themes can be a good thing. 

Not that I'm abandoning the randomness altogether, but I'm reading A LOT these days and love to share when I find a book I love. And... I was asked to participate in a blog tour for a new book and today's my day to post. :-) 

The book is Code Red, by Amy Noelle. It's her first novel, but not my first time reading her work. I've been a fan of her short stories online for ages (as well as a fan of talking NFL with her via twitter!). When I learned her novel was being published I had high hopes for it, and Code Red certainly lived up to those expectations. 

Amy's signature style is lots of humor and witty banter, woven into a budding relationship. Her characters are funny and believable - quirks, flaws and all. They draw you in and make you cheer for their successes and feel for them during their cringeworthy embarrassing moments. I've never thought to label a book a romantic comedy before, the term is usually restricted to movies in my vocabulary, but Code Red is the perfect romantic comedy. 

The story centers around Nicole and Josh, twentysomethings who meet at work and have an instant attraction. Nicole is interested in Josh, it appears Josh is interested in Nicole, but of course, things just aren't that simple. 

The story is quick and engaging and an absolutely perfect to add to your list of 'beach reads' as summer approaches!

Thanks to the awesome service Net Galley and Code Red's Publisher The Writers Coffee Shop I got to read an advance copy of the book back in January in exchange for an honest review. I also bought a copy once it came out a few weeks back, so I could have it for the inevitable re-reads, which really, tells you my opinion of the book more clearly than any review ever could!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Beloved World

A few months back I saw Justice Sonia Sotomayor on The Daily Show of all places, talking about her new book. I was intrigued, so I added it to my reserve list at the library and waited patiently.

It finally came in and I have to say, I'm really glad I reserved it.

I don't know much about the Supreme Court Justices, or their back stories. I can name them all, I think. (Now I have to try: Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Kagen, Sotomayor, Kennedy, Ginsberg... Breyer...and... Alito. Ok, so I forgot Alito and Google saved me. But recall of 8 out of 9 isn't bad.)

So, I don't know much about the others, and I imagine they are all pretty impressive, but after having read My Beloved World I know for sure that Justice Sotomayor is.

She grew up in public housing in the Bronx, the daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants. She had the support of her mother for sure, but it was self motivation that really drove her to succeed. And her naivete allowed her to pursue things she otherwise wouldn't have had the confidence to pursue. Like the Ivy League. Though, that same naivete almost let her miss out on great opportunities - like when she threw away a letter inviting her to join a club that you had to pay to join, and then pay more money to get a trinket with the initials on it. What she thought was a scam, a friend pointed out was actually quite a prestigious honor. The "club" was Phi Beta Kappa.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the book, and it was filled with a lot of interesting messages, but the one passage that really struck me was the following:

When a young person, even a gifted one, grows up without proximate living examples of what she may aspire to become - whether lawyer, scientist, artist or leader in any realm - her goal remains abstract. Such models as appear in books or on the news, however inspiring or revered, are ultimately too remote to be real, let alone influential. But a role model in the flesh provides more than an inspiration, his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying "Yes, someone like me can do this."
Sotomayor has achieved so much, and her story is really inspiring. She comes across as really down to earth, at the same time aware of just how much she has achieved. And she continually thanks and credits those in her life that got her there, the role models she had, all while chronicling her pretty amazing story that makes her a role model for so many others.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sleep Tracking

A few weeks after I got my iPhone I was looking through the app store at their list of most popular apps and saw one called Sleep Cycle. I was intrigued, so I forked over $.99 and downloaded it.

The basic premise is that setting your alarm clock to wake you up at a specific time means you are likely to wake up in midst of a deep sleep and be groggy. The app has you set a 30 minute window for when the alarm should go off and "during this phase Sleep Cycle will monitor signals from your body to wake you softly, when you are in the lighest possible sleep state."

Yes, she's cute, but not helpful
when it comes to sleep tracking!
Kinda mumbo jumbo, especially since nine times out of 10 I wake up before the alarm goes off, but I like the fact that keeping track of how much sleep I'm getting a night.

It also thinks it's telling me my sleep quality, based on how much I'm moving around during sleep I guess, but I'm guessing that number isn't the most accurate because of, well, her --->

At least I hope the fact that my darling cat spends the night wandering between her spot curled up at the foot of the bed, tucked in to the small of my back and or generally some of it attempting to share my pillow is the reason that my sleep quality at home is atrocious compared to my sleep quality when I'm either in a hotel or staying at a friend's house.

According to these my best nights of sleep have been at a Spring Hill Suites in Savannah, GA and the guest room at my friend's house on the Eastern Shore. Probably true, but unfortunately not feasibly replicated on a nightly basis. 

So while quality isn't really a fair judge of the app, it's making me think about my sleep patterns more, and I've definitely been trying to move bed time up to a more reasonable hour... which, means I better wrap this post up and get some sleep!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Introvert Power!

I just read the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

It's all about introverts, extroverts and how they interact with each other and the world we live in. Cain covers all kinds of topics, from the workplace to relationships, to school kids. While it largely reads like an academic book, it was filled with really interesting facts and tidbits of information.

For example:
  • American and Europeans are genetically more prone to be extroverts than Asians and Africans. Why is that you ask? Because Europeans and Americans are descended from the "migrants of the world." To go off and be a world traveler takes a sense of adventure found much more commonly in extroverts. The Americans and Europeans of today are descendants of those early travelers, who passed along those traits.
  • I love the idea that Cain introduces of "rubber band theory," saying that we are basically like rubber bands at rest. An natural introvert can stretch himself to be an extrovert when needed, a born extrovert can stretch to be an introvert at times. "We are elastic and can stretch ourselves, but only so much."
  • This one was less a important message and more a quote I just liked: "When you go to a football game and someone offers you a beer, says the personality psychologist Brian Little, 'they're really saying hi, have a glass of extroversion.'"
  • Pretty much everything in life falls on a spectrum, and introverts and extroverts are no different. This next takeaway from the book is the one that 'spoke' to me the most. 
 Introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly... Our lives are dramatically enhanced when we're involved in core personal projects that we consider meaningful, manageable, and not unduly stressful, and that are supported by others. 
I think that right there explains how I can be more classically extroverted at times, but my natural state is much more that of an introvert. I am perfectly happy spending time on my own, being in big groups or having to be 'on' all day exhausts me. But at the same time, quiet has never really been a word used to describe me. When it comes to my job or volunteer work in my community I'm perfectly comfortable leading a group, speaking up and being heard. Just don't ask me to do that all day, then go to a happy hour or out to dinner that evening.

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, Quiet really is an interesting read. I'll say again that it's pretty academic. It reads more like a text book at times than anything else, so give yourself some time to get through it, but the insights you'll gain from it are worth the effort. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Obligatory Cherry Blossom Post

I got up bright and early and headed down to the Tidal Basin to try and catch the last of the Cherry Blossoms before they blew away and before the tourists descended en masse.

I arrived on Ohio Drive, alongside the Potomac, at 7:32 am and got one of the last available parking spots.

Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought that an early arrival was important.

While there were definitely still some pretty amazing looking trees out there, the peak bloom was mid-week and then storms on Thursday night/Friday morning left more of the blossoms *in* the Tidal Basin, than around it. But, it was still a beautiful morning for a walk around the water and I still took the obligatory bazillion pictures of virtually the same tree.

And now I'm going to share them with you. Ok, not all of them, just a fraction of my favorites.

Happy Spring!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Little Man

While he's been mentioned or pictured on the blog several times (exhibits A, B, C & D), one of my favorite kiddos has never been formally introduced, mostly because I didn't have a good nickname for him. 

But yesterday, as I headed out to spend the night with his family in advance of our date this morning, I decided Little Man would be it. It turns out it was quite a good pick as I heard his dad call him that on several occasions last night and this morning.

Anyway, here he is:

Hi Aunt Stacy!

He turned two last month, and I did get to go to his birthday party before the crazy month of travel, but I decided that he and I needed our own outing once the craziness ended, so I asked to borrow him for the morning. While big sister Bug wasn't thrilled with a date that didn't include her, their parents were agreeable to the idea so Little Man and I set out bright and early for their local kids gym.

At first I wasn't so sure it was the best idea. We walked in and saw all of this:

Looks fun, huh?

But he only wanted to play with this: 

What 2 year old boy can resist a train table?

I was eventually able to woo him away, and then we had lots of fun swinging like a monkey, jumping, jumping, jumping, playing with balls, rolling down mats and, oh, did I mention jumping?

It was awesome! 

We capped off the morning with lunch at Chick-Fil-A, where Bug and their mommy joined us as well. 

I am feeling pretty lucky today - to have these two kiddos in my life, and that I got to return to my quiet apartment as one was having an overtired meltdown while the other insisted she was not tired and most certainly did not need a nap. 

Being Aunt Stacy is the best. 


Thursday, April 4, 2013


Last week was vacation with my mom and we went to Charleston and Savannah and lovely is really the best way to describe them, and the week.

We wandered each city's historic streets, took carriage rides, toured old houses, visited beautiful gardens and ate yummy food. Lots of yummy food.

Here are a few photos from our trip:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Last month I spent three out of four weekends on a plane, leaving me lots of time to think about what makes a good airport.

Over the past few years, since my job requires a decent amount of travel and my friends and family have scattered a bit, I've been through 20 airports around the country, give or take a few. From coast (LAX, SFO, SJC, SAN) to coast ( BOS, BWI, CLT, DCA, JAX) and a bunch in between (AUS, IAH, CMH, BOI, DEN, TUS). From good, to so-so to bad. Very bad.

So among all of my airport experiences which do I like the most?


For those of you who spend most of your time on the ground, that's Nashville.


Well, here are my reasons:

1. As soon as you leave security you are greeted by live music. I mean, what better way to feel welcomed to Music City than by a little stage right there, with a guy and his guitar just playing some tunes. When I was leaving a few days later I noticed several other stages around the airport, one in a food court area and another in a sit down restaurant. Love it!

2. They have Starbucks. I told one of my coworkers this and she commented that she knew I liked Starbucks, but didn't realize I was a "Starbucks Snob." I'll admit it, I guess I am. I'm generally not opposed to local coffee shops, but with Starbucks you always know what you are going to get. And when I'm paying $5 for a drink, I like knowing that I'm going to like it.

3. It's a good, sized, not too big, but not to small airport. I think there are three concourses, all accessible by a central security station and hallway. There's enough to see if you have time to kill, but overall it's a pretty reasonable size making it easy to get around without monorails and shuttle buses or marathon walks from your plane to the exit.

4. You can get a pretty good massage there. That's right, there are two (at least) Massage Bars in the airport. I learned that when I was last there four years ago and stopped in again this March for a 15 minute chair massage before my flight. Ahhhh.

5. From there I can fly home, direct, in about 2 hours. That's right, location, location, location. No matter how nice your airport may be Boise or Tucson or San Francisco, you have zero chance of being my favorite because you are too far away and likely require a connection. Yuck. Proximity certainly isn't enough to get you a good vote (I'm looking at you Dayton), but when you've got a lot going for you, it can certainly put you over the top.

So there you have it, my favorite airport. Thus far. I'm back on the ground for a few months (YAY!) but will likely hit 2 or 3 new airports for me before the year is out so we'll see if another can top good old Nashville in the coming months. At this point I can't imagine what it would take for me to love it more, but I'm certainly going to keep an open mind as I travel the friendly skies!