Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Poster Girl for Administrative Professionals Everywhere

This is Erin Brokovich.

Yes, the Erin Brokovich. 

No, she doesn't look like Julia Roberts.

Yes, she is over 6 feet tall and Yes, she wore stilletos that made her at least 3 inches taller.

Brokovich was one of two keynote speakers for an audience of approximately 1500 career-minded administrative professionals at the IAAP International Education Forum and Annual Meeting held in Boston earlier this month.  Her speech was both entertaining and thought-provoking and one of many highlights of my five-day trip.

PS: the sign behind her says "Power of Committment" which was our theme for the year and something she has certainly demonstrated in her life and work.

Running Is In My Blood?!?!?!

So we're lying in bed the other night, reading books written by our (very diffferent) icons: I'm indulging in Home by Julie Andrews, film and stage actor, singer and author; and Alan is engrossed in On The Run From Dogs And People by Hal Higdon, writer and runner and one of the founders of the Road Runners Club of America.

Suddenly Alan asks me:

 "Do you have an ancestor who came over on the Mayflower?"

"Yes, of course." I answer "George Soule.  Remember? He signed the Mayflower Compact, I Googled him last Thanksgiving to teach the kids about him, I saw his house at the recreated Plymouth Plantation when I was little....  Why?"

So Alan reads aloud these words from our buddy, Hal:

  I casually mentioned my Mayflower ancestry to Stuart Adams when I worked out with him later that day.  Politely he inquired whom the ancestor might be.  My chest swelled with pride as I answered: "George Soule."
  "Is that right," replied Stuart. "He's one of our ancestors too."  For a second my mind relished the possibility that if George Washington were the father of our country, George Soule must be the father of American marathoners...

To use the current vernacular...  SHUT UP!!

Do you realize what this means???  It means that in some distant fashion I'm actually related to Hal Higdon who is much more deserving of the title "father of American marathoners" (and Stuart Adams, whoever he is. I'll have to read the book once Alan's done.).
This, by the way, is the guy whose training plans I have been following to turn myself into a runner.  I tell myself, "If Hal Higdon says I'm ready to do X, then it must be so."

Our Marks Family mantra this year has been "And it all comes back to running."
And now we can add the Soule Family mantra "It all goes back to George."

What do you think...any resemblance??

Friday, July 30, 2010

When Did Fifty Become Such a Small Number?

No, I'm not talking about age [yet], I'm talking about FIFTY DAYS until the MDI Half Marathon.  Yikes!!!

I don't know what happened to the last 50 (99 seems like just yesterday) and I anticipate that my freak-out level will increase exponentially over the next 7 weeks so please bear with me.  Of course, if I continue to drink iced caramel lattes, then the combination of fear and caffeine may prove to be rather productive!  [I did get a lot done at work today...but it was also my last day before vacation (woo hoo!), so I kinda had to.]

Anyway, back to the running update...

I'm doing all right with my training, but not well enough to feel particularly confident.  I'm enjoying running on a lovely trail by the Stillwater and last week I ran by the Charles in Boston (look for a separate post about the amazing conference I attended, and other fun stuff I did while in Beantown).  My runs there weren't particularly long, but I was pretty busy and it was really hot out. And I did get to visit a real runner's holy place.  Here I am attempting to look athletic at the Boston Marathon finish line:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Review of Camelbak Mini-Mule 50 oz. Hydration Packs for Kids - 2010 Model

Originally submitted at Sunny Sports

Get the next wave of mountain bikers hooked on hydration with the Mini-M.U.L.E.. Kid-brother to the popular M.U.L.E., this pack has an overflow storage area in between the main pocket and the front organizer pocket. Designed to carry Snacks, Sunscreen, Multi-Tool, Phone, Keys, Cash.

Everything I had hoped

By Nancy the newbie from Orono, ME on 7/28/2010


4out of 5

Pros: Easy To Refill, Comfortable, Good Water Flow, The right size for me

Best Uses: Running, Day Trips

Describe Yourself: Casual/ Recreational

What Is Your Gear Style: Comfort Driven

I am new to running and training for my first Half Marathon. My husband has a full-size camelbak so I knew this would be a quality product. This one is designed for kids (and would be great for mine if I was willing to pay for 3 more of them!), but I'm using it for myself. I am a short-waisted adult female and needed something with a smaller reservoir AND some room to carry a few personal items. This is perfect for me for my longer runs. I have also used it without the reservoir as a day pack doing touristy stuff. I put a city map and my wallet in the reservoir pocket and snacks and a rain jacket in the outer pockets. I highly recommend this product. The ONLY drawback is that the straps were (obviously) not designed for a woman's chest. I have been adjusting the existing sternum strap and am considering adding a second one below it.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Flamingo Four-Miler

I often lament the fact that we're not more spontaneous, but I also complain if we don't have any plans...  The result this past weekend was that I spent half of Saturday trying to prod us into action (and going to the Farmers' Market and baking cherry turnovers [see previous post]), but finally mobilized the troops for a "spontaneous" glacial speed.
I'd been thinking about doing the Flamingo Four-Miler, a quaint little race in Tremont, on the "quiet side" of Mt. Desert Island, but hadn't managed to plan far enough in advance to get any girl friends to go with me.  The run is part of Southwest Harbor's annual Flamingo Festival.  "Wearing pink is encouraged" kind of turned Alan off to the idea from the start so it seemed like a good adventure for the gals.  With no one else able to go along, though, I finally convinced Alan that we should all go.  He and the kids could watch me run and then we'd have a Family Adventure at Echo Lake, and Wonder Land.  We'd take swim suits and trail snacks and make a day of it.  And then, since the race started so early, I convinced us that we should pack it all up on Saturday ["like, NOW" was how I pitched it to Alan] and descend upon Mum and Dad at the cottage in Hancock to spend the night before zipping over to the Island in the early am. 

It all actually worked out pretty much according to plan....well...except for the weather. 
So we skipped the lake.
And the hike.
Also, we didn't get to Hancock until 9:30pm and the got up at 5am so we were all zombies. 
Oh, and I got a migraine on the way home and had terrible gastro issues that night. 
But otherwise it was exactly how I planned it.  Sort of.

The Flamingo

Having broached the subject at 4pm the previous day, I convinced Mum to enter the Flamingo as a walker so here we are ready for her first road race ever:

In the parking lot, I met Randi from Iowa who has been running one road race every month for a year. Way to go, Randi! She warned me that she was slow and would probably walk some of it, and I said "I hear you" but then I sort of lost track of her before it came time to board the bus.  Right before we got to the start (at the Seawall picnic area) I realized I was missing the rubber part of one of my ear buds so I spent a few minutes trying to find it on the bus, which was hopeless, so I called Alan and moaned about it and he said I should just put one headphone in and tuck the other one in my shirt.  So, I started toward the very back of the pack, fiddling with my tunes and not feeling very inspired by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.  Finally, I just ditched it and listened to the surf until we got a little bit inland.  I commented on it to fellow University employee, Carey, who had caught up to me quickly and next thing I knew, we had chatted our way through the first mile.  This was remarkable because I've never run socially, so holding a conversation while running is not something I "do".  Then again, have you ever known me to NOT talk?!?  Yeah, I didn't think so. 

So, there we were chatting and running along and Carrey says "just so you know, I'm planning to do about 11:30 [meaning her pace per mile, for the non-runners out there], so feel free to take off if you need to."  I told her I'd be lucky to keep up, 'cause I was looking at more like 12-something, but so far, I was feeling pretty comfortable.  We caught up to Randi before the first mile marker (an appropriately labeled pink flamingo) and I introduced my new friends to each other.  The three of us stayed together until the 2-mile flamingo and halfway point water stop (a pleasant fellow with paper cups and some jugs of water.).  After that, Carey pulled ahead and maybe I could have kept up...but I stuck with Randi and it was really fun. 

The weather during the race was great: overcast and misting most of the way. We had great conversations and marvelled at how well we were doing on the pleasantly rolling course, and how nice the mist felt and how foggy our glasses were.  Sometime after the 3-mile flamingo, a guy on a bike who was clearly the sweeper asked us--very politely--if we had happened to notice anyone behind us.  We laughed and admitted to being the tail end.  I asked if there was a flamingo for last place, and if so, were they prepared to give out two? because we were it and we were sticking together.  Randi seemed a little dubious.  Maybe she thought I was going to dust her.  I was working hard, but also feeling good, and my rough calculations (I forgot to hit my timer right at the start) told me I was keeping a good pace.  And the most amazing part? We didn't walk at all.  And did I mention, I carried on a conversation almost the whole way?  Seriously, I had no idea I could do that.

Could I have kicked it a little at the end? Yeah, but why would I, when I'd made this wonderful new friend and was already going to have a PR for the distance? We arrived at the Tremont Community Center and Alan and Nana and Gumpy and the kids were all there waving to us (and telling me about a toad they'd found), and then we realized that we still had to go into the parking lot to get to the finish, so Randi seemed to lose a little steam, but I just kept chatting inanely which I think maybe helped and we got there together and that was way cooler than busting a gut to be rude and aspire to the glory of second-to-last.

In the end, our time was 46:07, a pace of 11:32.  Woo hoo!  Carey's pace was 11:04--way to go, girl!  Randi won second place for her age group (gotta love small town races) AND won a door prize of an enlarged photo of a flamingo.  I was so happy for her because she really wanted a memento of her Maine race. 

Here's my "after" picture, but would someone explain to me how I didn't get a single picture of a plastic flamingo?!?


Sometime during the award ceremony it started to pour.  No, wait, I mean POUR.
So there we were, done with the race, but not really wanting to swim or tromp through the woods.  And even though it was only 10am I was thinking about lunch and the kids were starting to get antsy.  So we consulted our Acadia guide book and realized that Bass Harbor light was just down the road and thought maybe there'd be a museum or a nice dry tour so we caravaned to the parking lot, donned our rain gear and walked to the tiny lighthouse that is well-hidden from the land and perched on the rocky shore.  And inhabited by a Coast Guard family who thanks you for protecting their privacy by not walking on the lawn, much less touring their home. So we looked out at the choppy grey water and read about the islands we couldn't see and went back to the cars to think about our next move. 

We opted to go into Southwest Harbor and choose one of several possible lunch spots.  We ended up at the Little Notch Bakery, which was worth it all just for the blanket of fresh-baked-bread-smelling-warmth waiting in the doorway to enfold us and draw us inside.  After much contemplation, foods were ordered and seats were procured and wet raincoats were doffed and lunch was had.  We bought two giant loaves of bread to take home as well.  Here's a shot of their window.

After that, we poked around the town a little and indulged ourselves at a book sale under a tent.  Then we parted company with the Gumps and headed into Ellsworth to hit the discount stores, acquire the aforementioned migraine, and lose patience with the kids.  We eventually got home where we all collapsed into little heaps.

Oh, and just because the kids will want to see him here....Mr. Toad:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer Baking

We haven't done much baking this summer, but I did manage to make one old favorite and one new one recently with Jeremy and Madeline's help.

I don't remember why it came up, but when Jeremy said "what's a popover?" I knew I had to do some remedial baking!  Has it really been THAT long since I made popovers?  Tragedy!  My popover pan is one of my favorite I-didn't-know-I-wanted-one-until-I-got-one wedding presents.

"This" I explained to Jeremy, "is why they're called 'popovers'"

and here they are served up all proper-like with whipped butter and strawberry jam:

Mmmmmm....I already want to make them again...SOON!

For a new adventure, the kids and I went to the Farmer's Market and found a whole quart of inspiration:  fresh tart cherries!

We trundled home and I hopped online and found a new recipe and a new blog to follow: Sour Cherry Turnovers at [very appropriate considering the race I did the next day].  I used Jenn's recipe almost to the letter (crazy talk! I'm always messing with recipes, even when I first try them).  I did use margerine instead of butter (sadly, I had no stick butter in the house) and we added a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on top instead of the recommended turbinado sugar (which I assume is like sanding sugar?).  We even used her paper clip trick for pitting the cherries (although the kids got the knack of pulling them out with the stems down pretty well, too). 

The dough is wonderfully soft and pliable--it's not very flaky--and it held up well, particularly considering how wet the filling turned out.

Mmmmmm....fresh from the oven and ready for our road trip to Hancock!

Fourth of July Weekend 2010

We enjoyed a wonderful long Fourth of July weekend that included the following:

Much frantic cleaning before company arrived (shucks, no pix of that!), and the whole family pitching in for yard work.  Here's Jeremy watering the hydrangeas that he and Alan bought to fill the big empty pot on the deck.  I requested "something blue".  Nice choice, guys!

A cookout at our house on the 3rd (hence all the cleaning).  Here are a few random shots:

So much fun was had, that Adam even lost a tooth (and found it and took it home in a ziplock baggie)

What I didn't get was Anne Marie and Ben filling water balloons (please come back again, I promise not to rope you into a really horrible job next time!), and, like, ANY pictures of food.  I guess the heat got to me...

The weekend also included:

Nancy going for a 4-mile run that night despite very tired feet from all that cleaning and baking,

the pancake breakfast in Brewer on Sunday morning,

the parade (James holding a Kiwanis banner with other scouts,

and Nancy, Madeline, Jeremy, and Nana Lois escorting Gumpy and his train),


Subway for lunch and a lazy afternoon,

fireworks with Tacy and the Gumps, after which Jeremy looked like this:

and finally an ice cream outing with the Gumps and Great Aunt Betty on Monday.

The whole time it was HOT, HOT, HOT!!

Last year it was WET, WET, WET!!

I'll take either one, because with friends and family and food they both mean Summer in Maine. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"How About Summer 2010?" You May Ask

The lost blog post from Summer '09 was actually pretty timely as James has just returned from Boy Scout Camp.  Several other activities from last year will also be repeated in some form or another.

Here's a run-down of our summer plans:

July 12-16 & 19-23: James will attend the Maine Summer Transportation Institute (MSTI), a 2-week long day camp at the University of Maine where he will learn all about transportation engineering from design and materials to laws and funding.  He had to apply and we're super proud that he got in.

July 12-15: Jeremy will go to Hancock with Mum & Dad and attend a 3-day day camp.

July 19-22: Madeline will go to Hancock with Mum & Dad and attend a 3-day day camp.

July 17-22:  Nancy will go to an IAAP international conference in Boston and visit with MHC roomie, "Aunt" Kathy and family.  [I plan to go running along the Charles and have my picture taken at the Boston Marathon finish line.]

July 25-31: Madeline to Girl Scout Camp (Natarswi), this time with new best friend, Auralee. [I'm hoping Katahdin is in full view this time].

Aug 5-7: Family camping at Seawall with Aunt Helen, Uncle Rich and cousin Samantha. [This should include lots of adventures and photo opps.]

Aug 9-13: Choir school camp for all three kids. [Note to self: don't forget to make chocolate bread for Monday's snack.]

Aug 21:  Nancy and Alan to do a practice run of the carriage road portion of the MDI Half Marathon. [Sounds so simple...but we're talking 8+ miles, around a lake, with a mile-long!]

Aug 27-29: Folk Festival!

August 28: Alan and Nancy to run Northeast Harbor 5-Miler.

Somewhere in there we hope to fit in:

~an outing to Pirate's Cove with Nancy's childhood choir friend, Amy Gautschi, and family.

~excursions to the pool, a lake, the bog, etc

~much yummy food [strawberries, blueberries, corn, homemade bread...uh-oh, now I'm getting hungry!]

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lost Blog Post From Summer '09

Originally titled, "It Can't Be Fall Yet, I'm Still Blogging About Summer", I found this saved draft that never got posted:

Somewhere between June's rain and the first day of school, the Marks children enjoyed a thing called summer. Here are some pieces of evidence to remind us of that fact:

Swinging, smiling, wearing shorts and crocs:

James went to Boy Scout Camp (here he is decked out and ready to begin his week-long adventure):

Here he is at the "campfire" (held indoors on account of rain) when we picked him up.

He was a bit soggy, and his legs were so bug-bitten he looked like he had chicken pox, but he still had a great time.

Here's Jeremy's little bear with a big (Forest Hart) friend [note the people who appear to be sitting on the bear's nose]:

Ice cream!!

Madeline ready to begin her week-long adventure at Girl Scout Camp:

Kids forced to pose for pictures in front of a mountain that didn't show: