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Expecting You, Nora

2 Mar

Dear Nora,

That’s your name, at least, what we think is going to be your name. We found out you were a girl an at elective ultrasound place. Surprisingly, it wasn’t cheesy, and I had managed to get your dad onboard. (You’ll learn soon that he isn’t big on this kind of sentimental stuff…) Your Grandma Patty was there, as well as Becky. Tears were shed by them when you popped up on the screen, resting peacefully. They already love you.

Before we knew which parts you had, I took a poll. Everyone, except for your dad and Grandpa Al, thought you were going to be a boy. I think it’s because the first born cousins that you do have (M & A) are both girls. With only one boy cousin, I’m sure everyone was thinking hot wheels and mud pies.

… not saying that you couldn’t be into that. I’m a fan of hot wheels myself. And while I’m not a fan of mud or dirt, I’ll still let you get by with jumping in puddles and playing in sandboxes…

But there you were, lady bits and all. Your dad was overjoyed. I was totally shocked. Grandma P and Becky were just amazed that you were a real, living creature residing in that tiny bump of mine. We spent the drive home and the next few days talking of nothing else except what we were going to name you.

At first, you were going to be a Saoirse. I still love how it is pronounced (seer-sha) and its Irish meaning of “liberty.” But do you really want to go through your life spelling that out for anyone that asks? Hell, I’m not even sure how I’d teach you to spell that name when the time came.

We also had Caroline, but as someone named after a song, I certainly couldn’t let you be subjected the undoubtedly drunk boys at bars who will croon “Sweet Caroline” to you in hopes of getting your attention. Oh Lord no. If I am going to name you after a song, it’s going to be romantic and beautiful, something some guy with a guitar in a dorm room will play for you when you need cheering up…

Charlotte was on that list as well. But your dad refused to let me call you Lottie so I protested. What can I say? I like old lady names that ring of charm and hard work.

So, there we were, with no name to call you. I mean, I am sure there are a million mothers who have nothing to call their children until they arrive. Look at your cousin Amelia who we weren’t sure was going to be a boy or a girl until she entered this world! But I wanted to call you something. I wanted you to be real, to be living, to have a personality. A name was the best way to get you one.

Dad and I each made a list of 30 of our top names. We oddly had a ton of similar or the same names. Then we circled the names on the other person’s lists that we liked and crossed off those we refused. (Believe me, I was crossing like mad. Your dad has horrible naming tastes.) We then cut it down to our top 10, top 5, and top 3. We ranked the top three, and both of us picked Nora.

So Nora Frances you will be. It’s stuck for several months now, so I am pretty sure we’re keeping it. Plus, no one has told us that your name sounded like a dog’s or asked us how to spell it… so there’s that. Wins all around!

And with about three months to go, I am dying to meet you Nora. I am dying to hold your hand and sing you songs. I mean, I do that now. I cradle you in my arms in the shower and sing you songs from Disney movies until I can’t think of the lyrics. I sometimes yell at you when you misbehave, like when you cut off my circulation and sent me to the hospital for three days (thanks for the vacation…).

But every morning, I greet you as I wake up. When I go to grab my lunch, I ask you what you want to eat. At night, I talk to you in my head, because, for some reason, I feel like you can hear me even when I don’t say the words out loud. You’re probably hearing me say all of this in my head at this very moment if that’s true…

Dad talks to you too. He tries to remember to say goodnight and goodbye to you daily, but he sometimes forgets. But when you get here, you will be his little diamond. You’re going to fill that void in his heart I know that he is missing. You’re that little piece of him that is going to complete his life. He cannot wait to meet you, to hear your voice, to teach you all of the cool things like politics and music trivia. I think he even has a concert schedule planned out for you.

We’re all expecting you, Nora. We’re all praying you will arrive safe and happy. And while it is still about 17 weeks away, we are counting down the days patiently.

All our love,



5 Minutes

19 Mar

That’s how long I ran today.

5 minutes. 

It was easy. 

I was too busy glancing up at ESPN and people watching groggy commuters to care that it was:

  • 5:30am
  • Tuesday
  • Compression sock-less (seriously, where in the hell did my $20 sock go!?)

And then I walked. Only for two minutes. It could have been much more. In fact, I had planned for a 5 minute break. But I only needed two minutes.

Then I was running again. 

Another. 5. Minutes. 

I hoped that one of the trainers noticed. He always teased me for being a “slow sprinter.” I was the queen of 1 minute on/1 minute off running intervals. I would run that minute for as fast as I could, walk at a brisk pace, and then do it all over again for 30+ minutes. I did that for an entire half marathon. And I loved it.

But today, I ran 5 minutes for a second time. 

I almost stopped at four and justified it as a “run-down,” which have become my new favorite running workouts as of late. 

But I wanted it. 

So I walked my two minutes. And I did it again. Another 5 minutes.

I listened to my ultimate dance mix. It’s the playlist that keeps me positive and inspired while keeping me on my toes. I listened to: 

  • “Complicated” by Poi Dog Pondering
  • “Beautiful” by Apples in Stereo
  • “Calamity Song” by The Decemberists
  • “Kids” by Sleigh Bells (TWICE)
  • “Don’t Slow Down” by Matt and Kim

After my third five minutes of running, I thought I was done. Class was starting soon. I had already burned 200 calories, according to my Polar. I could quit. 

But I didn’t. 

I still had 6 minutes to spare. 

6-5=1 minute cool down. 

So I ran. 

I ran through my coughing.

I ran through my emails interrupting my music.

I ran through the gym crowding up with people getting ready for classes and leaving their sessions.

I ran through my fears and doubts that I would never be as fast or as strong as I was two years ago.

I ran through my run-down-out-of-the-game state of mind. 

I ran through 5 minutes.

And then I was done. 

It was easy.

I could have done more if I didn’t already sign up for a class that started in 30 seconds. 

I quickly wiped down my super sweaty treadmill, dried off my arms and face, and got myself the main spot in the room for kettle bells. And I punished it. 

All because I ran 5 minutes. 

Mrs. Featherbottom

14 Mar

(Title inspiration)

Man. I am suffering through the worst case of writer’s block. All my energy and creativity is being efficiently sucked and drained via work and volunteer work. Nah, I take that back. I give my creativity and energy to the volunteer stuff. Work forces it out and then bludgeons it with an ice pick while I watch.

Hence why I am applying for new positions.

Hence, hence why I am even more run-down than usual.

Oh, and I am still taking the stats class from hell. Math and I do not get along. I am a terribly illogical person. I do not do well with certainties or problems with one answer. You cant create anything with numbers that hasn’t already be created.

(This is when I expect some random mathlete will bomb my site with videos of someone doing something original with numbers or math. My answer to you, nerd, is that “You just showed it to me, so now I cant do it. No longer original. BAM.”)

Either way, I’m tired.

I was at a job interview last week where I was casually trying to sell myself. Since I wasn’t sure if I wanted the job or not, I kept it casual and focused on my volunteer work with the animal rescue. To be fair, it is almost a full time job some weeks. But I figure that lots of people volunteer, especially when they want to work exclusively in non-profits or start-ups. But I was pretty thrown when the interviewer called me “Mary Poppins” for balancing home, work, school, and philanthropy.

Frankly, I view myself more like Sherry Bobbins. Nah, more like Mrs. Featherbottom:

Maybe I should give myself more credit? Unlikely to happen. Let’s just be honest here. I don’t do well with self esteem. I do well with being an under-estimator who tirelessly plugs along like everyone else does.

So, sorry world. My contributions are limited until end of April rolls around. You’ll just have to suffer with a cranky and tired Michelle.

Fig Tree

6 Mar

Wow. It’s good to have one second to finally come back here and post. I’ve been busy working on other projects, mainly through the rescue I volunteer with, as well as keeping up with the daily grind.

Some quick updates:

  • My current Dietbet is going well. I am down about 2.6lbs from last week’s initial weigh-in, which puts me at around 37% to goal. Feeling strong! I am integrating a lot of interval running with weight training where I alternate cardio with strength for 5-30 minutes at a time. 
  • Vanna is dealing with the snowy weather in usual Vanna fashion. Other words, snow is not her thing. I’ve never had a dog so vehemently dislike snow on the ground. I have to admit, it makes me jealous to see a ton of pictures of dogs prancing around in snow banks. Vanna just stands there with a face the clearly reads, “Bitch, please.”
  • Interviewed for a job this week. I know. It’s been forever since I’ve even had a call. It went well. One of the guys who interviewed me called me “Mary Poppins.” I’ll take that to mean that I am AWESOME. 
  • Finally, we ordered and received our wedding invitations this week. I’m seriously not the type to get all caught up in it, but having it in writing does make it seem a bit more real. 

I guess the big thing that’s going on in my life right now (since it is in a standstill) is that fiance and I are attempting to get back in to religion.

Religion is a hot topic in our apartment. both of us would be described as secular or agnostic humanists. We believe in, first and foremost, science, learned morality, and reason. I have been set in my ways for years. But I question it from time to time.

In undergrad, I took a philosophy of religions class where I was introduced to Aristotle’s “Unmovable Mover.” Basically, I believe that the world was created through explainable forces found in nature and through evidence. HOWEVER, everything has a beginning and a creation. Skip the idea of how the earth was created or when the Sun became what it is now. Forget the milky way and then other galaxies out there. There had to be something that created the first atom. And after that first atom was created, something had to move them. What was that unmoved mover? Was it God? Maybe. It was obviously something bigger than we could imagine. 

Now, does that Unmoved Mover have an immediate effect in my life? I tend to believe that it does not. At least, not in the way that most religions would want me to think. The second question then is if I should worship this Mover. And again, my answer is no.

So, why religion now when I clearly do not harbor any beliefs in a Christian or major religion Gods or Goddesses?

Why not?

After many years of on-and-off yoga practicing (it being “on” now), I have taken away much from my practice. Mainly that I have the power to change my life, to send powerful thoughts out in to this universe, and to be at peace and harmony with myself and with others. I’ve always loved the ending to yoga where many teachers recite the “May the light inside of me recognize the light inside you.” This Namaste greeting is Hindu, but it could very well be Christian. I remember, in high school, hearing the “God created man in his own image.” Wouldn’t Namaste be the same as this Genesis passage? We recognize the divine, the soul, the power, the light? Even if we do not believe it to be holy, there is a bit of something special in each of us that made us worthy of evolving from that one atom to the extraordinary creature we are today.  

With that though in mind, I have been practicing religion for years, albeit, a warped version. So, when the fiance wanted to go back to church, I agreed with reservations. I do not want to let go of my humanist viewpoints. And I certainly don’t want to be pressured in to traditions or idolization that jeopardizes my views on the Unitarian Mover.

I tried Catholic first. Actually, to be honest, I wanted to go shopping right afterwards, so I agreed to go to church with my fiance. I know that many Catholic churches provide stimulating, engaging conversations about God and man, but the sermon we heard was maybe the worst poster child for a dying religion. No wonder that the majority of the pew-sitters were between 50 and 90 years old.

Our second stop was Episcopalian, or Diet Catholic. It was a good compromise for the two of us. Fiance wanted something similar to the Catholic religion that would have the tradition, the rituals, and the power. I wanted a religion that embraced the social justice versions of my beliefs. And I felt like, at least with the church we visited, we got it pretty right. You have to love a sermon that praises Illinois for getting one step closer to gay marriage while also promoting a march downtown against gun violence. The liberal in me sang some high notes. 

But the sermon is what really got to me. The guest celebrant spoke on the idea of Jesus and the Fig Tree in which Jesus curses the fig tree because it has no fruit. I’ve heard that before. In fact, I remember a joke in a bible study class I took in high school where the leader mentioned that “God hates fig newtons.”

What I missed was the second part of this passage. Basically, a vineyard owner comes and asks Jesus to delay his curse for a year so that he could cultivate the tree. Obviously, this was a call for Jesus’s people to go forth and procreate… but it’s a pretty good metaphor for living.

And the celebrant at this Episcopalian church gave a great lecture on how God (or, in my case, forces unknown to me) grant each of us time. While we may see our purpose as done, it often is not. We have time to make changes in our life. To see the world, make amends, be the difference, etc. Unlike the tree, we do not have a due date, but we all live with the knowledge that our time will come to an end through our hands or others. 

Pretty awesome. 

i think that fiance and I will go back to that church this weekend to give it another go. Hopefully it also provide fresh and enlightening thoughts for the week. 

I’m Sorry My Dog is an Asshole

27 Feb

Dearest Neighbors,

As a Chicago resident of three years, I have quickly learned what is and isn’t acceptable as a dog owner. Through the vast amount of learning experiences (including how to properly tie a poop bag) with our past 8 fosters and 1 forever dog, I am confident that, for the most part, I live up to the nominal standards you have come to expect.

But my dog… well, she’s just an asshole.

Look, I was never one for those “princess” dogs. I’m not a fan of putting bows in her hair, and I certainly didn’t dye her fur pink like a certain other dog owner in our building. Frankly, how we ended up with a chihuahua with blonde, flowing locks is beyond me. We started off with this awesome pittie mix, but here we are with the stereotypical, Paris Hilton dog. And for the most part, she lives up to the reputation her breed has instilled.

Maybe it’s because she’s Latina and she has yet to climate to the colder weather. Maybe it’s because we kept her name Vanna White (shelter volunteer gave her that because of her chirping and model-like shaking of her hair). Maybe it’s because her father coddles her. Whatever it is, we have turned Vanna, the chi, in to a real prissy monster.

So, here’s a blanket apology. We’re the damn dog and owner who continually leaves little pee ice patches on your sidewalks. And we are the unfortunate makers of the poop marks on the sidewalk. We’re also the dog and owner that have to take the elevator up two floors. We are that dog.

See, I feel shame. Every. Single. Time. Vanna refuses to touch her precious puppy paws on the snowy ground and instead finds a warmer spot on the sidewalk, I play it cool by pretending that I am not the one holding on to her leash. You’ve seen me out there. I’m the girl trying to hurry her up so we’re not spotted by other, better dog owners in our neighborhood. Yet, Vanna takes her precious time and then looks up at me with PRIDE. I have no clue why. She just loves to pee on the sidewalk.

As for poop, she’s a traveler. Not content to get it done in one spot, she’ll travel over 100 feet if she has to. No, she isn’t constipated. She just likes to make sure that every block of cement has been touched by her “gifts.” I trail behind her, head lowered, cursing under my breath, with a plastic bag and a broken ego.

I wish I could say that it will get better when Spring comes. But it wont. She equally hates the mud. And if it isn’t the mud, she’ll still proclaim herself too good for the grassy park and pop her squats on the public sidewalk. Even better, she’ll do it near the bus stop. She really hates those f-ing peasants who take the bus to work.

I cant blame it all on her. Of course, I know that I could force her pansy-ass on to the grassy patches or carry her to a designated spot. But have you seen a small dog just stand there in snow, shaking? No? Well, it’s the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen. And Vanna knows how to play it. It’s the same look she gives me when we try to force her to walk up or down our apartment stairs. It’s the “WTF do you want me to do!” or the “You’re the meanest people ever!” stare that gets teenagers out of jail.

I cant promise that we will do better or try harder to humble or shame her. It’s just not going to happen. That girl will piss all over the yellow brick road of the rainbow bridge if given a chance. I dont know why she would eventually think that the grass of Uptown would be much better.

For now, I’ll just pretend to be as equally disgusted as you are while she shamelessly defiles walkways after walkways. My dog is just that asshole. I’m sorry.


An Ode to the Dog Who Peed on My Shoe

11 Feb

Side note: Is it sad that I had to legitimately look up “what words shouldn’t be capitalized in a title?” Google and my cookies are ashamed. But seriously, I never know. Feel free to correct this title if something is miss-capitalized.

And now, a poem:

“An Ode to the Dog Who Peed on My Shoe” 
Oh dearest foster dog,
Animal child without a home,
You endear us to your plight.

You remind us of our humanity.
You shower us in canine joy. 
All the while, you spring forth
The fruit of your recent surgery,
The essence of much contrite. 
Suddenly, without warning.
It comes without request.
It flows without cessation.
It seeks the grass of pastures past.
The sprinkles of the puddles.
The golden shower of the carpet.
The anger of my depths.
It appears in the midst of night’s veil,
A serpent forming in the dark.
To be greeted upon in morning,
By unexpected, owner’s foot.
Smelling not of human origin
But familiar just all the same.
 A message to the master:
No more water after 8pm. 

Potty training: it’s a bitch. But, meet our foster dog: Francisco.


He’s number 8 in our long line of New Leash on Life Chicago fosters. He’s actually our first untrained dog and our first true puppy. We’re doing our best to stay patient and firm with him, but it’s super hard when your apartment’s carpet will most likely be polka-dotted with yellow stains for the rest of our stay. 

And poor Vanna White. She ain’t digging a super, hungry, snugly puppy being around. But she’s been pretty firm and assertive when he gets near her stuff (or my lap).

*Are you interested in adopting Francisco? Do you live within an hour of Chicago? Learn more about him and his brothers and sisters at or send me an email! I’m also his adoption counselor and would love to get him in to a forever home ASAP.

And dont let his lack of potty training scare you, this 10lb chi-weenie dog is the BEST. Very loyal, loving, and cuddly. He could lay in your arms forever. He is also picking up on basic obedience very quickly and is doing great in his crate!  

DietBet and Weekly Update

26 Jan

As you may remember, last week was the official start to my #fitfluential dietbet challenge. In a little over a week, the pot has grown to almost $14K! That’s HUGE.

I weighed in on Saturday morning to start off with and was significantly higher than I had been in weeks at xx5.6. I didn’t plan it that way. I didn’t try to cheat. My weight was just up. I weighed in again on Monday morning and my weight was down about 2.8lbs. All water weight, I know. But I recorded it anyways.

(Of course, this is when people who do not understand weight loss or think that everything is a competition began to jump on the dietbet boards calling those who had lost weight on the first official day cheaters…)

Anyways, my goal of the week was to maintain that 2lb water weight loss. Here’s what I did:

  • Sunday: 2 mile treadmill interval run
  • Monday: Treadmill walk and Elliptical
  • Tuesday: 5am Boot camp
  • Wednesday: 2 mile treadmill interval run
  • Thursday:Free weight sculpt class, elliptical, and yoga
  • Friday: 2 mile treadmill interval run and 25 minute incline interval walk

My goal was to burn around 300-400 calories daily, which I did. I also planked every day for the #plankaday challenge. You can see my plank times by visiting my twitter.

As for eating, I did fairly well. My streak of not buying anything at the work cafeteria is now at almost a month. I did eat pasta twice this week (which is allowed). But one of those times was Kraft mac and cheese. I will give myself credit for only eating half of the box though! 🙂

So, how did my week 1 weigh in go this morning? Did I maintain a 2lb+ weight loss from Monday?


… (the suspense…)

This morning, I weighed in at xx3.4. Which means, I am down -2.2lbs! That’s 28% to goal. I need to lose about 1.95lbs / week, so I am right on track. However, my weight has been stalled at this xx3-xx2 for awhile, so I am hoping that I can pull myself out of the slump and weigh in at xx1.9 next week.