Tag Archives: warm & fuzzies

Turkey Gobble 5k

After the half marathon from hell, I registered for a Thanksgiving 5k for me and Clayton. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to hit my sub 30:00 goal, but after the disaster of St. Augustine, I tried to keep expectations to a minimum. Temperatures dipped Wednesday night and I figured there was no hope of hitting my goal pace while freezing. I told Clayton when we went to bed Wednesday that sleeping in was sounding better and better; I decided I would be a game time decision when my alarm buzzed at 5:30 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.

gobble 5k

Without much struggle getting out of bed, I figured I could at least keep Clayton company for the ride and burn a few calories before feasting.

We missed approximately 17 turns to find the right parking lot. We pinned bibs, shed our extra layers and put on Chapstick in the car, knowing we were cutting it very close. Clayton grabbed a spot along the street and, thinking I had time for a port-a-potty stop, I started jogging to the start while he fed the meter. Everyone was lined up and there wasn’t a p-a-p in sight, so I hopped in the middle of the pack and waited for Clayton. The race started, and he still hadn’t shown up. Wife of the Year over here decided to hang back and wait for him…but not without shouting down the sidewalk for him to RUN! Why he was taking his sweet time to begin with, I have no idea.

All's well that ends with a PR

All’s well that ends with a PR

We crossed the start line with only a couple of strollers and dog walkers behind us. Actually pretty standard race procedures for me. But we took off, and I felt good. Really good. I was aggravated by the crowds, so I wanted to get into some space. And you know what’s fun? Passing people. Foreign to me, but I highly support it now.

“Why are you going so fast?” Clayton asked.

Now, I have never, ever, ever been asked that question except when I have to pee and am on the hunt for a public bathroom. So all of a sudden this became THE race. I wanted that PR and I decided I’d ride that “so fast” pace as long as I could, expecting to peter out around mile 2. Maybe if I banked enough time, I could still have a slow last mile and come in under 30 minutes.

Except I didn’t peter out. And I even had a little kick at the end when I heard a group of girls point out a sign about 0.1 mile before the finish, saying they were going to sprint when they got to it. I had not been passed up to this point because I was like the last person to start (fail proof strategy to avoid being passed). Frankly, I didn’t want to get passed at that point. So I started my sprint a tad before the sign.

Maybe I crossed the finish line and had to cool down a ways from the crowd so no one would notice the, uh, sweat dripping from my tear glands.

I know it was a silly, stinkin’ not chip timed 5k. But it was a big moment for this novice runner. A runner who desperately needed a good race to help put a terrible one to rest. A never-imagined finishing time to remember that goals don’t just loom over our heads to make us feel disappointed and incapable but help us push ourselves to be and to do more.

And to leave me wondering what else may be possible from this rickety, nearing 30 body.

I was not even trying to be fun or cutesy with those socks. They were the only option to cover all the exposed skin below my capris.

I was not even trying to be fun or cutesy with those socks. They were the only option to cover all the exposed skin below my capris.

26:13. A new 5k PR by over four freaking minutes! (Ignore that the race was 0.05 mile short.)

garmin 5k

Then I came home to some sweet snuggles that were possibly more satisfying than a PR. Or a close second at least. A snug

I hope you also had a Thanksgiving full of simple surprises that made you sweat a little out of your eyes.

Charlotte, Days 1 and 2


After running the 19 errands we saved for the day of our departure, Clayton and I (sans Mr. Bryson) left for Charlotte Wednesday afternoon. We made the difficult decision to pass on picking up poop for 20% of our vacation. We both agreed that, for some reason, the drive there and the drive home were the longest five and a half hours ever. Trips to Florida have felt shorter. Weird. But the view was fantastic the whole way, with bright pops of fall color itching to burst into a full fiery blaze.

After checking into our hotel, we changed and headed to the North Davidson district, or NoDa if you are in the know. We aren’t. It’s a funky arts district with lots of male skinny jeans and Converse. Sure, I wanted to see some dudes in jeans tighter than mine, but the real ulterior motive was Amelie’s, a 24-hour French bakery and café. I woofed down pizza like an appetizer and cleansed my palate with beer at our dinner restaurant.


For the first time in our entire marriage, Clayton made a better culinary decision than I did. While my coffee something-something was delish, his chocolate blah-blah-blah with chocolate mousse and chocolate cake topped with chocolate was superb.



Good thing he’s a dessert lightweight and I saved my spoon after finishing my piece in 11 seconds. And then we fell into a sugar coma and barely made it back to the hotel.


My initial vision for this seasonal jaunt to Charlotte–admittedly not a huge tourist destination–was to see how many different types of Oktoberfest it would take to outgrow my pants. The activities I trained for were lifting, gulping, repeating. And maybe shopping for new pants.

Our first full day in Charlotte completely turned that plan on its head and set a whole new adventure-themed tone for the trip. I only agreed because the new agenda included naps. Lots and lots of naps. After not grabbing a $9 cup of oatmeal at our hotel (“we serve breakfast” and “we offer complimentary breakfast” are two very different things), we picked up some fuel and headed to Crowder’s Mountain, a little over 30 miles outside the city. I was starting to feel a cold coming on, so I actually made one serious immunity-boosting decision this trip.


The woman stationed at the visitor center had it much worse than I did. I think she was hung over, had the flu and had just broken up with her boyfriend and he was claiming custody of the pick-up truck. Girlfriend was rough. So because she was a little short with us, my husband decided to turn on the charm and make her earn her $5.75 an hour. He asked useless question after question that I could have answered with one glance at the informational pamphlet. Clayton doesn’t really believe in senseless tasks on vacation, like reading signs or spending money. It’s okay, though, because I don’t believe in showering.

After his badgering and the woman’s quitting her job in tears, we set out on our two-mile hike along the Pinnacle Trail, marked with a cute orange circle. This will be important later. The brochure estimated that this hike would take about 40 minutes. If you stop to take 328 pictures, I’d suggest allowing a bit more time.



Unsurprisingly, my husband blew right past the “Trail Ends Here, Death Ahead” sign and scurried up the boulders probably meant to discourage scurrying. Verdict? Good call, husband. The view on top of those rocks was stunning, and I could have stood there until it was time to go home on Sunday. The weather was cool and breezy and crystal clear atop acres of fall-ready foliage.  



It sounds so hokey to talk about being rejuvenated by nature. But my goodness nature is so rejuvenating. Standing on top of a mountain drinking in fall air is near medicinal in its heartwarming healing of the mind and soul.


We finally decided to scramble on down to normal life. On our hike back, Clayton and I started discussing some pretty intense topics. Like The Future. The Noa’s horizon is both charged with excitement and steeped with stress. There are lots of question marks looming over a lot of areas of our life. All that to say, I finally looked up from my focused, fast walking to notice the marker on the tree in front of us was a white triangle. We did not want the white triangle. We are hard core orange circle people. So around we turned to find our precious orange circle, bucking that 40 minute timeframe again and ensuring that no, I would not be able to hold my pee until making it back to the visitor center. There was a squatting behind a tree situation because I have a bladder the size of a honey roasted peanut. That is one way to lighten the mood of any heavy conversation, trust me.    

We made a pit stop on the way back at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. It was early, so the place was empty, which we sort of like in our crotchety old age. Plus, we were in mountain hikin’ clothes with quite the accompanying stench. We enjoyed our samplers and, shock of the century, I went with their Oktoberfest. It was a nice cool down from the strenuous hiking, serious convo’ing and public peeing.

OM brew


Then we went back to the hotel and slept for two hours. We should write a how-to book for partying this hard.

In our half-asleep stupor, we ended up at a restaurant for dinner that was terrible and whose fish tacos made me dry heave by smell alone. It’s such a shame considering the three million great eateries in Charlotte, but whaddayagonnado? With no froyo shops open at 11, sleep some more, that’s what.

Three’s Company

It was sayonara to the southernmost non-Southern state yesterday, and I returned to Virginia last night.

How else would we commemorate something?

Sunday night, we celebrated/mourned addict-style and introduced my curious mother and father to the world of pay-by-weight frozen yogurt shops. I was slightly disappointed with my $5.89 performance and realized I really thrive on the competition element involved when Clayton accompanies me. If my bucket of yogurt does not cost at least 40% more than his, I’ve utterly failed. Without the comparison, the motivation for topping delirium just wasn’t there.

But I still gave it a pretty good whirl. And, after a little pep talk, the folks got the hang of it. I wondered aloud what the heck my mom was waiting for with the Land O’ Chocolate laid out before her and she looked at me sheepishly and responded, “I’m trying to be healthy.” Ha, I say to that. And then I remember something like physically placing my mom’s hand on the spoon stuck in the Snickers bowl. I genuinely believe opting for fro-yo over ice cream builds up a credit of 1500 healthy points to begin with. Then it’s a virtual free-for-all just to break even. You seem confused. Maybe I’ll explain it all in a pamphlet or something.

The drive. Oh, the drive.

Sucks. That’s what that drive does. Thankfully, when I have clear skies I can stay on the “happy-to-be-scootin’ along” side of the spectrum, which is far, far away from the “OMG-I’m-just-going-to-pull-over-at-this-truck-stop-and-see-if-they’ll-give-me-a-room-for-the-night-and-how-much-they-charge-for-dogs” end of the spectrum. Trust me, those showers are not for the faint of heart.

The only notable incident involved a chicken sandwich and honey mustard situation. Good thing I decided to sit alone in Zaxby’s and eat lunch safely stationary and within arm’s reach of an endless supply of napkins. Or, I was driving with my pinky nail at 70 mph trying to dislodge dripping honey mustard from in between my wedding band and engagement ring. Yeah, it was definitely one of those two scenarios. Still, it didn’t impress the passengers very much.

bryson car sleep

“We’re back. In Newport News. Again.”

“At least we’re out of the car.”

If you can name where I borrowed the major themes of that quote, we should be BFFsies if we’re not already.

You should also know that my husband is more thoughtful than yours and he crafted a welcome home sign for me out of expertly selected printer paper, ink pens and highlighters. There were also flowers, in addition to a feast for dinner and brownies for dessert. So, for serious, your husband probably needs to take a class or something.

P8222135It was extremely helpful in reminding me that we are here. In this moment, we exist in this space, in this city. We can dream and plan and connive and search, but today we live here. I don’t have to call it home, but I must submit to feeling at home with my husband, wherever that might be. The future waits, but I have to see what is in front of me today. And if I’m honest with myself, I’ve got a pretty sweet view.



I’ll just say it: I’m an anxious mom. There is a list of Brysonified situations that make me incredibly nervous, and many of them involve other dogs. It seem like classic parental worry—I envision the absolute worst possible scenario and convince myself that is what is about to happen.

But, most of the time, my big galumph proves me so irrationally wrong and Clayton has yet another reason to roll his eyes at me and casually leave a prescription for more Valium taped to the refrigerator. It’s a delicate balance, our marriage.

I have a standing appointment on my trips to Tampa with my triathlete gazelle of a friend. I thought moving 800 miles away would diminish just a portion of my runner’s envy towards her, but no such luck. Anyway, her and her athletic domination got a puppy a few months ago, and she invited Bryson to join us on our lunch date this week. Enter maternal terror. I had nightmares of Bryson pinning this poor lab puppy to the ground and going for the jugular. And then I’d owe my friend whatever six-digit figure they’re charging for lab puppies these days.

But that made no sense. Bryson isn’t perfect, but he’s also never targeted a puppy’s jugular.

After a few days of internal battling, I just couldn’t stand to think of Bryson missing out on such a fun (i.e. energy-draining) afternoon, provided it didn’t turn into a bloodbath, nor could I deal with Clayton’s likely paternal response to his boy turning down out a sweet piece of girlpuppy tail.

Off we went to either seal the deal of this prearranged canine friendship or thoroughly destroy a perfectly good human relationship with doggy slaughter. In my head, it was a toss up.

In real life? Straight up, hard core puppy love. With beating hearts and chirping birds and slobbery pink tongue kisses in floppy ears. Hands down, one of the most adorable moments of my weird dog’s life. And, yet again, people got to look at me like, “And you thought what was going to happen, crazy lady?” And then I’m all, “Oh-my-gosh-look-at-those-wittle-puppy-faces-with-all-those-sweet-wittle-kisses-you’re-so-silly-huh-what-a-good-baby-yes-you-are-oh-such-a-wittle-doll-puppy,” etc., etc., etc.

bryson nava

bryson nava2

brsyon nava3

Yes, they are holding hands as she kisses his ear. Heavenly doggy romance – 1. Absurd fears – 0.

I wonder if she’d feel the same way about him if she watched him step in that giant pile of crap and then track it through my parents’ kitchen, down the hallway and into the bathtub. I know my feelings have changed slightly.

The Doctor Finds a Fiancée

The calm before the storm has arrived. It could be my imagination, but the leaves swirling around the backyard are whispering “Don’t break Thanksgiving. Don’t break Thanksgiving.” I’m a little more than nervous about the menu I’ve planned; could have been too ambitious. But we’ll find out in about 36 hours.

On a less panic attack-inducing note, my dear friend Matthew got engaged Monday night. I wish I could have been there to celebrate with him and his soon-to-be Mrs. Robinson. Matthew is the person who is always working to make others’ lives better–he is a phenomenal cook, host, leader, teacher, pastor and mentor. And he does it all without whining. I’ve always known that the person that comes alongside him on the journey must be equally selfless and unwaveringly supportive of his passions. He has found this partner, and I can say that after meeting her just one time. They are a superb match and balance silliness with seriousness in perfect proportions. Not to mention, they are the world’s cutest couple. Congratulations, Matt and Rachel!

Don't know what's weirder--stealing a picture of Matt and Rachel from Facebook to put on my blog or a picture of me and Matthew on a blog about Matthew and Rachel. This is what you're getting.

Weekend Teaser

Besides bringing home the swine and being witness to one of the most horrid displays of football inadequacy ever, this weekend was a raging success. Ok, I didn’t bring home Matt‘s actual swine flu, just a boring old cold, but I keep crossing my fingers to catch that elusive sickness one of these days. You know, for the story.

I don’t have time to go into all the haps now, but for a split second I thought that living in Tallahassee as a non-college student might not be so unthinkable.

A Quarter of a Century

There hasn’t been a whole lot of free time to blog in my schedule these days. The new puppy has completely ransacked my former routine (not to mention one rug and a few socks) and requires attention almost every minute that I’m home. I knew he was going to be a lot of work, but this has been a whirlwind, to say the least. Clayton has been so busy with his new clinical rotation that he hasn’t been able to help out very much. This means the 3am potty break is all up to me, along with the majority of the other 47 potty breaks and 12 carpet clean-ups throughout the day. I’m also having to schedule an hour during work to run home and let him out. This has probably been the most stressful part of all. One hour is barely enough time to take care of everything I have to do for him and me and then make it back to work on time. If there was any possible way I could downgrade to part time for the next several weeks, I would do it without hesitation. I am so scared of screwing something up in these crucial first weeks and ending up with a psycho dog that scares people away from hanging out with us.

Here’s a more detailed summary of the last three weeks with Bryson Noa:
Rugs destroyed: 1
Pants peed on: 2 (Luckily they were on the floor, not on my person.)
Pieces of poop mistakenly picked up with bare hand when I thought said hand was safely behind plastic bag: 2
Numer of times hands have been washed: 372
Number of times I’ve stolen some lotion from the physical therapy rooms at work to cover dry skin from insane hand washing: 5
Number of days I arrived late to work during the first week of parenthood: 5
Number of days I arrived late to work since the first week: 5
Number of times I cried on the way back to work after my hour break: 2
Number of times I cried at work because I wasn’t able to get home within Bryson’s scheduled lunch time and was afraid I was throwing off his fragile routine: 1
Number of times I arrived home to find Bryson outside of his crate standing in a puddle of his own pee: 2
Number of toys Bryson has gotten bored with: 7
Number of “toys” Bryson has not gotten bored with: 10 (my fingers)
Number of times I have shaken his skin folds and told him he was the cutest puppy ever and all the other puppies were jealous of him: 35
Number of times I’ve melted when he wakes up and yawns with that high-pitched squeaking noise: 63
Number of times I’ve stared at him asleep and forced Clayton to come stare at him with me: 3
Number of times Clayton has asked me if we were about to be hit by a car, would I save him or Bryson: 1
Number of times I hesitated to answer: 1

I really do love him so so much.

On top of the puppy madness, Clayton’s birthday is today! He is a whopping 25 years old (but can still pass for 18 when he is clean shaven). We are celebrating tonight at P.F. Chang’s with a possible surprise after-party with a few friends and a chocolate peanut butter cake. I hope he is able to relax, if only for a few hours. Last night I brought home a pre-birthday surprise of York Peppermint Patties and a 6-pack of Newcastle. Sorry boys, I’m taken.

I really do love him so so so much. And just for his birthday, of course I would save him from that car. But he would owe me three more puppies in return.

Christmas is all around us, and so the feeling grows

Our very first Christmas tree is up and decorated and looking gorgeous. I can’t stop looking at it. I don’t know why this feeling lasts from year to year, in a struggling world, with seemingly worsening situations for so many people, but I really really love Christmas. Maybe it is because of all these things that my anticipation for these weeks seems to grow each season. Lights in sparkling colors make even ugly things bright and festive; making lists of presents to buy for people you love and imagining their faces as they open them has to make you all fuzzy inside; and there is something so beautifully innocent about the idea of being rewarded with gifts for simply being nice instead of naughty. Maybe it’s the youthful part of me hanging on that just doesn’t understand people who dread this time of year. But I’m ok with that. I hope I never understand it, and I hope it’s never me who’s complaining about having to buy so many gifts or go to too many parties or drink too much hot chocolate. This year is no different — I am completely enamored with everything having to do with Christmas, even in hot, muggy Florida. So if you don’t want your cup of hot chocolate, please pass it on to me because I just can’t get enough mini marshmallows right now!