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The Boy In Science Class

11 Jan

Caution: This post is sappy, cheesy, and totally gag-inducing for those who don’t enjoy hearing about the love lives of other people. You have been warned!

One day in Ms. Czajkiewicz’s (I will never forget how to spell her name) seventh grade science class, a friend of mine pointed out a boy she thought was cute. He was sitting two rows in front of us, on the other side of the classroom. I knew his name and the back of his head, but that was about all – he was shy and didn’t talk much in class.

Two years later, it was freshman year of high school and everybody was in a tizzy over who was going homecoming with whom. Boys were  buying flowers, leaving notes in girls’ classrooms and girls were strategically planning their dresses, dates, and dinner reservations. Two different friends were discussing which one of them would go to homecoming with the shy, blonde boy. One of them eventually mustered the courage and asked him to go. We all went in a group of twenty-something and had a massive pasta dinner at Buca di Beppo’s before the dance.

After freshman year, I got to know the boy a little better. We had the same friends and were always at somebody’s house together. He ran cross-country the same seasons I played volleyball so we would hang out by the locker rooms before practices. As a young idealist who wanted to save the world, I convinced him and some of our other friends to join a school group called Creating a World of Difference. We would go on retreats and strategize how we were going to eliminate racism, sexism, and all the other ‘ism’s.

stefsaracwdSophomore year flew by and before I knew it, I was a junior in high school, an upperclassman with the stress of college applications looming near. Sharing AP classes, the boy and I spent many a late night with our friend Stephen reviewing US History flash cards. And by that, I mean I spent many a late night reviewing US History flash cards, while they played soccer in the downstairs playroom.

juniorspiritAt this point, my relationship with this blonde boy had developed from a mere curiosity, to friendship, to a full-blown crush. As passive-aggressive high school girls do, I kept it a secret. I helped him ask other girls to homecoming and played the part of the best friend.  It wasn’t until a snow day (remember those?) our junior year after he finally caught on that he told me the feeling was mutual and made it official.

rbpark

Shortly after said snow day. Seattle weather, at its finest!

I would say from that point on we were inseparable, but the truth is that we had been inseparable long before January 11, 2007.

richmondbeachparkAnd so junior year passed. Senior year came…

prompand went.

boutenniereBefore college, we sat down and talked about whether we should stay together or see other people. I cried, he panicked, but we decided  to stick with it and see what college at the University of Washington would bring.

Freshman year and dorm life…

This picture about sums up the dorms.

This picture about sums up the dorms.

…fast forwarded to the day our senior year when I decided to leave for Italy. He said we would make it work. And we did. We Skyped, he came to visit me halfway through my stay in Rome, and we enjoyed every single minute of it.

vaticantree

When it came time for college graduation, I surprised him by flying out to Seattle.

graduationIt was hard to get on the plane back to Rome, but I knew it would only be a short time until we started a new adventure together.

whitehouseSince arriving in Washington, it has been one adventure:

IMG_1337[1]After another.

IMG_1091[1]After another.

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And there’s nobody else in the world with whom I would rather be adventuring. Happy sixth anniversary, Stef!

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Half My Size

14 Dec

Good morning and happy Friday! One week from today I’ll be packing to head to Seattle for Christmas! I get more and more excited with each passing day.

Instead of my usual gym workout on Thursday nights, I went to George Washington University to play volleyball at an open gym. You may remember these open gyms from when I talked about them over the summer. It’s a great drop-in at the GWU gym and costs only $5 for two hours of play. I had a good time until I noticed sharp pains at the backs of my ankles whenever I landed after a hit or block. I monitored it, but became increasingly concerned as the night went on. Just turned 23 and I’m already falling apart!

Yesterday, my office sent a huge poinsettia to my house. I swear, it is half my size.

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I will try to get a picture standing next to it so there’s some size comparison, but it is seriously massive. My office is also completely decorated with smaller poinsettias – it’s like a red forest!

This weekend, I am planning on meeting my friend Ellen to go to Zoo Lights at Woodley Park Zoo here in the city. I have never been and I hear the zoo looks beautiful at night – especially when lit up with over 500,000 lights! I’m really looking forward to it and hope Stefano and I can go together, too before we head to Seattle. He is flying to California this weekend to attend the memorial for his grandpa, so this weekend is going to be all about getting my Christmas shopping done and hanging out with my girls.

ZooLightsTigers

We are having a Secret Santa gift exchange at work today and I am looking forward to seeing all the fun things people receive! Maybe I’ll get some ideas for Christmas presents because I have been seriously procrastinating in the gift department this season.

Food for Thought: Have you done Christmas shopping yet? If you celebrate Hanukkah, is it difficult to think of eight days worth of gifts?

My Jewish friends tell me that they usually to several little gifts and then one large present. I kind of like the idea of celebrating a holiday for more than a week! I usually try to find every excuse to celebrate Christmas all month long 🙂

HAPPY WEEKEND!

Melancholy Monday

10 Dec

Stefano’s grandfather passed away yesterday morning.

It has been upsetting for him and for me, too. Not feeling particularly wordy this morning so instead I’d like for everybody to take a moment of reflection in honor of somebody they love. It doesn’t have to be somebody who has passed away (though it could be), but I think it would be nice to think about those special people in your lives, if only for a moment, this morning.

Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

26 Nov

Hello!!!! How I have missed all of you! Like many, I took Thanksgiving and the subsequent weekend off of blogging and blog reading so I could spend time with my loved ones. As you know, Stef and I didn’t go home for the holiday, but managed to create a wonderful Thanksgiving of our own with a friend who was also staying in town.

To recap, I’ve created a fun little collage of some of the weekend highlights.

Do you see that gorgeous turkey in the middle? It was made by yours truly! I am so, so happy it turned out well! It was an 11.5-pounder and all remains of it had disappeared by Saturday at lunch. We went hard on the leftovers, as evidence by my pictures. It is safe to stay that I am Thanksgiving food-ed out for awhile – until next year, at least! We had a wonderful meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes,  and cranberry sauce. We kept it very traditional, but didn’t want to make too much food, since there were only going to be three of us. We managed to fit in an apple and a pumpkin pie, though.

After eating ourselves silly on Thursday, Stef, my roommate, and I spent most of Friday up in the forests of Rock Creek Park, where we fit in a good 4-hour hike. It was a brisk day, but the sun was out and I thoroughly enjoyed getting my body moving after being sedentary for most of the week. I had a great time hiking through the woods and leaping from rock to rock across creeks – it brought out my inner Pocahontas!

It was so nice to spend a long, long weekend with Stefano, after only getting two days out of every week together. It never ceases to amaze me that we still have so much fun together after this many years. We spent a lot of time watching Scrubs, taking walks around the neighborhood, and we each bought a pair of new running shoes! Neither of us are huge shoppers and we definitely didn’t get in on the Black Friday madness, but we did manage to take advantage of some sales that were going on through the weekend.

It has been six (YES, six) years since I have had new running shoes and I would say that I was looooonnng overdue. I’m not a huge runner, so I didn’t ever put that many miles on the shoes, but they have been around a long, long time. After accidentally stepping into Rock Creek during my rock leaping (okay, so my Pocahontas could use a little work), I decided that it was finally time to retire them. It is the end of an era.

Speaking of running shoes, I am so looking forward to getting back into my regular gym routine this week. Last week, I hit Body Pump on Monday and yoga on Tuesday. Aside from our long hike on Friday, I stayed away from exercise because a) I was worried about some knee pain I was experiencing and b) I was busy prepping for Thanksgiving. I haven’t spent this much time away from the gym since I moved to the city at the beginning of July. It certainly felt strange, though I constantly amaze myself at how easily I can fall into a routine of sitting around the house, doing nothing. 

Today it is back to the Pump and I am excited! I’m hoping my knee pain doesn’t flare up again. If it does, I think a doctor’s appointment is definitely going to be on the books.

Wishing you all a VERY happy start to the week!

Food For Thought: What is longest amount of time you have gone without exercise recently? On an unrelated note, did you participate in Black Friday? Any good finds?

 

 

80-20

7 Nov

Good morning! I apologize in advance for any glaring spelling or grammar errors in this post, as my eyes are pretty bleary after staying up way past my bedtime to watch election coverage. I have a feeling it’s going to be a long day, especially since I skipped my usual Tuesday Zumba workout and will be doubling up on workouts this evening. Send me energizing thoughts!

I had an extra special treat yesterday when Stefano came down to my office to visit during lunch! He didn’t have work yesterday because his school was being used as a polling station, so we made our way to Roti, a Mediterranean restaurant with a similar feel to Chipotle. I had packed my lunch (of  course), but he picked up a steak roti plate with cucumber and tomato salad and a side of falafel.

In my lunchbox was a spinach tuna salad, sweet potato medallions, some baby carrots, and an apple. I also snuck a few bites of Stef’s lunch.

Here he is with his ‘why are you constantly taking pictures of me while I’m eating?’-face.  Sorry, honey. Oh, to date a healthy living blogger.

The healthy living of which I speak went pretty far downhill after lunch. I ended up skipping my Zumba workout because I needed to grocery shop and get the house together for some people who were coming to watch the election. Strike one. Then, my dinner consisted of pizza, chips and salsa, hummus and pita, and bagel bites while watching the election. Strike two. THEN, guess what I ate for breakfast this morning?

Yep, leftover pizza. Strike three, Sara’s out. Please don’t revoke my healthy living badge, I promise I’m usually a good eater/exerciser! I’ve been trying not to beat myself up about it, but I could SWEAR that my stomach was looking a little pudgier this morning. Isn’t it crazy what gets into your head, even when your rational side is telling you what is actually happening?

On that subject, I want to talk about the “80-20 rule” that many  clean – eaters  abide by. Tina had a really good blog post that broke down what eating clean 80% of the time looked like. Let me first start by saying that I define eating clean as partaking in whole foods that are minimally processed or not processed at all, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables. One of the big proponents of eating clean for me is avoiding artificial or added sugar because I have a huge sweet tooth.

There are a couple of ways to break it down: either by percentage of calories consumed or by number of meals per week or days per week. I have never had success with counting calories, despite having tried numerous times in food journals or using apps on my phone. I am just not good of keeping track of what I eat in a way that is accurate enough to estimate calorie counts.

Another way to do it is to take one or two days per week as “splurge” or “cheat” days. Now, I’m not a huge fan of the term “cheating”, as I think it implies that you’re doing something you’re not supposed to be doing and I firmly believe that indulging in treats in moderation is a doHowever, I find that if I spend a whole day eating foods that are not good for me, I tend to feel pretty crappy by the end of the day, which leads me to my favorite method of calculating 80-20.

I think breaking it down by meals per week is a much more balanced way for me to approach indulgence. Assuming one eats three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner), seven days a week, 20% comes out to be a little over 4 meals per week for indulging. That seems absolutely reasonable to me and I have been able to do that with relative ease for awhile now. I think it’s sustainable and gives you the flexibility to account for real life. Birthday dinner for a friend? No problem. Date night with a special someone? Go for it.

With that in mind, I always want to stress that indulgence should be in moderation. Eating a whole pizza does not count as only one meal. Be smart when you splurge.

There will be weeks when I eat clean 95% of the time and there will be weeks when I eat clean 65% of the time. Especially with the holidays rolling in, it is difficult to make the healthy choice when there are so many tasty options available that may not be the best for you. I say: don’t stress – this is a special time of year and, while I think we should be aware of the food decisions we are making, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over a few over-indulgences when we’ve got the rest of the year.

In short, be aware of what you’re eating, but let yourself enjoy the meals that give you pleasure as well. Make smart decisions about your health that will make you feel good now and in the future, but don’t beat yourself up if your spoon magically finds its way into the ice cream container.

Food is a necessity of life and its primary role is to nourish and sustain us, we should enjoy it! Societies all over the world use food as a way to gather friends, families, and strangers and that is something I don’t want to lose.

Food for Thought: Do you have a “magic ratio” for healthy eating? How do you gauge how well you’ve been eating for the week?

 

 

 

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