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So, I’ve been thinking about writing quite a bit lately but haven’t managed to put the proverbial pen to paper (or, in my case, fingers to keyboard). I’ve got half a dozen incomplete posts flitting around inside my head, begging to be set out, cut, polished and published and at some point, I promise: I will get them to you. In the meantime, today’s post is off the top of my head, inspired by the hilarious Iris of The Bearded Iris who linked to a post from Kate Takes 5.

I’ve always been interested in the ways people find OINKtales (my obsession thoughts on how to turn visitors into return visitors is a topic for another post). WordPress has a handy tool that tells me on a weekly basis what search engine phrases people have used to visit my site. What I didn’t know, until today, was that WordPress keeps an “all time” list of search engine phrases. Eureka!

OINKtales’ Top 5 Search Engine Terms:

1. “oink tales” (Really peeps? Bookmark this shit site. Do it now.)

2. “body combat” (My apologies to serious Les Mills Body Combatants as I am a group fitness poser. Note to self: Only post on group fitness has become top search engine getter. Get new post on same topic finished fast.)

3. “monster trucks” (Boys like toys.)

4. “kitchen peninsula” (Very glad the before and after pictures of my kitchen renovation have had so much screen time.)

5. “suburbia” (Sigh. But I’d like to think that I’m not living in your average suburbs. I mean, it’s not like Vermont even has a city large enough to warrant suburbs. I live in a town. With lots of trees. And poor landscaping. Oops. That last bit is just at my house.)

“Wow, Mary, that was really fascinating.” Wasn’t it? Shut up and keep reading.

OINKtales’ Top 5 Weird/Funny/Scary Search Engine Terms:

5. “blonde teen brown eye brows plays with bottle brother sister” (Say what? What search engine brought them here?)

4. “BYOB restaurants Keene NH” (I’ve never been to Keene, NH nor have I written about it. I’m sure it’s a lovely place, though. If you know of a BYOB restaurant, please tell me. I’ll share. For anyone visiting the Burlington, VT area, BYOB to Tiny Thai in the Essex Outlet Mall. No corking fees so feel free to upgrade from the screwtop varieties.)

3. “bang my neighbor” (For the record, I am not banging my neighbor. Not any of them. Not even the hot one. I think we’ve already established that I live in the suburbs and that kind of thing just doesn’t happen here. But wait! Maybe they meant “bang” as in b.b. guns or airsoft rifles! Yeah. Well. I’m not doing that either.)

2. “tanya cashier at costco in inglewood” (Dude. If you’re looking for a date by googling the first names of cashiers in your area, you’ve got bigger problems than you think you do. Get thee to a counselor. STAT.)

1. “anne hathaway tampons” (I kinda love this. It’s so sick that it’s funny. I have indeed written posts about Anne Hathaway and tampons but they were separate posts about the Oscars and the O.B. shortage. Exactly why would anyone want to read about Anne Hathaway’s tampons? Shudder. It boggles the mind.)

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You may have wondered – and rightly so – just where the hell I’ve been this past month. I mean, I haven’t oinked, in like, forever. It’s true. And I’m truly sorry. I’ve been guilt-ridden about falling down on my responsibility to you, my dear readers, so much so that I’ve gnawed my fingernails down to their quicks. My thumbs look more like mini-hotdogs wrapped in prosciutto than digits. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to post, I’ve thought about it endlessly and even composed pithy vignettes in my head – I just haven’t had time to sit down and write. The reason for this? Every spare moment has been consumed with exercising, eating, and thinking about exercising. It’s ridonkulous, I agree, and you can blame it all on my brother-in-law.

Last January, my brother-in-law (we’ll call him Corrado), asked our family to run the relay in the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon. OinkDaddy, an optimist and a member of the 26.2 club, was all for it. The other four family members whom Corrado approached were less enthusiastic, including me. 

I am not a runner. At best, I’m a shuffler. I can appreciate that lots of people get jazzed about hitting the pavement; I’m just not one of them. OinkDaddy, on the other hand, is at least conversant in fartleks, Kcals and energy goos. When he signed up to run his first marathon, Large was still rockin’ a stroller; OinkDaddy ran his third marathon six months after Medium was born. Come to think of it, when Corrado started running, his twin girls were a month shy of their one year anniversary. Hmmm. I smell a social research project: Is there something about babies that inspires men to become long-distance runners? But I digress.

The KeyBank Vermont City Marathon is a huge event in Burlington, Vt., traditionally held over the Memorial Day weekend. It’s an inspiring, uplifting, sweaty spectacle. I’ve spent quite a few mornings in May ogling exhausted-yet-determined people ascending Battery Street Hill to the rhythmic thumping of Taiko drummers. Each time, I’ve been so impressed that I’ve uttered the words, “I should do that,” only to have my motivation disappear faster than my kids’ Easter candy.

KBVCM relay teams are selected by lottery in February and are notoriously difficult to get. I never thought we’d get in, so it was quite a shock to hear that we were lottery winners. What were the odds? And more importantly, in the cosmic way of things, might this have reduced our chances of winning PowerBall?

OinkDaddy and Corrado gave me inspiring pep-talks, “You can do it!” “Stick with the training program. You’re going to be great!” “Go slow; just keep running!” The week after I received the “good” news, I hauled my butt around the track 12 times. I walked more than I ran. An old hamstring injury flared up. Ignoring it proved unsuccessful. With trepidation, I made my first-ever appointment for physical therapy. I don’t know why I waited so long. My physical therapist, Kim Ellsworth at Essex Aquatic and Rehab Center, was (and is!) awesome and had me up and running in a jiffy. I could have saved myself weeks of pain if I had seen her sooner. Therapy behind me, muscles and ligaments and tendons strengthened, I bought new Brooks running shoes and ran 3x/week for two whole weeks. And then I kinda…just…stopped running.

One reason I don’t care for running is that I’m not good at it. I never have been. I run like a duck. My knees are knocked slightly from doing w-sits as a child (Mom, you were right. If only I had sat criss-cross, apple-sauce!), thus, the lower half of my legs swing out as I run and the outside edge of my foot strikes the ground first. It’s not very efficient. Or comfortable. As far as exercise goes, I much prefer practicing Tae Kwon Do or going to a Les Mills Body Combat class (where a different Kim kicks my ass). I find running monotonous; minute after minute, mile after mile of the same forward motion. Breathe in, breathe out. It’s like being in labor all over again.

Mid-April, I got my poop together and started to train semi-seriously. Running outside helped motivate me to run farther. I ran two miles, then pushed myself to run three. I continued my cross-training workouts and a couple of times I ran with a friend who is so fit she bounds along Gazelle-like, talking continuously, while I huff and puff and nod occasionally. I welcome any distractions from my screaming quads.

Two weekends ago, I ran with Corrado. He generously let me set the pace (my pace is off his by a good three minutes), and for the first time since high school, I completed a five mile run. Huzzah! In spite of the fact that I’m not setting any speed records (11-minute miles, hello?), I trumpeted my accomplishment far and wide.

I’m now cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to complete my leg of the relay without expiring on the trail. Look for me. I’ll be the one in a red Team Deep Fried Bacon high-performance t-shirt stumbling over the finish line. Don’t be offended if I don’t stop to chat. I’ll be headed for the beer tent.

Things I’ve Learned About Running

  • Eat breakfast or be prepared to bonk
  • Run un-caffeinated or get the trots
  • Good sneakers really do make a world of difference
  • Injuries will not go away on their own; go to physical therapy
  • When doing crunches off the track at the gym, face the same direction as the runners lest they get an eyeful of sweaty underwear
  • My brother-in-law not only runs faster than I do, but he writes faster too. Check out his fitness related blog and be amazed by how many calories he can consume.

The marathon is coming. Bring it, baby.

It’s late and I’m off to bed but before I stagger upstairs, here are my top ten idle thoughts about the 83rd Oscar ceremonies:

  1. Anne Hathaway only needed James Franco so she had time to change her outfits. She was adorable and handled the pressure beautifully. He wasn’t and he didn’t. (Her sparkly eyelashes were neat, too.)
  2. The “God of Love” guy’s speech was the best of the bunch: “I should have gotten a haircut.” “…to my Mom who did craft services…” “All the nominated shorts are available on iTunes.” First runner-up to the professed “late bloomer” who won for Best Original Screenplay for “The King’s Speech.”
  3. I can’t be the only one who thought there were some pretty difficult segues from the nostalgic bits. I’m all for honoring the past, but MUST we watch a clip of Charlie Chaplin every year?
  4. Best dressed: Tie between Jennifer Hudson and Amy Adams. Oh, and Reese, I’d love to borrow that. Call me.
  5. Worst dressed: Mandy Moore. She looked like she wrapped a comforter around a corset after washing them together with a blue sharpie.
  6. Billy Crystal ought to try a new haircut. How long ago did he make “When Harry Met Sally?
  7. Oprah Winfrey has huge bazoonkas.
  8. What do you think Gwyneth Paltrow’s first thought was when she heard her song was nominated for an Oscar? My best guess is that it was: “Oh, fuck.”
  9. Celine Dion doesn’t seem to age. Or maybe she looked like that when she was young and now she’s caught up with her looks.
  10. Colin Firth deserved to win Best Actor; what an amazing performance. The King’s Speech was an incredible movie – touching, thoughtful and inspiring. Go see it.

Finally, let me leave you with this: I know he assisted with an infamous wardrobe malfunction but barring that, I wonder how Justin Timberlake would do hosting an awards show. I mean, he can sing, dance and he’s always hilarious as the surprise guest on Saturday Night Live. Think of it this way – no one could be worse than Letterman.

 

We’re less than a week away from THE award show of the season, the 83rd Academy Awards. As a movie buff, I make an effort to watch every year. I get a kick out of the unscripted moments (Adrien Brody smooching on Halle Berry after winning best actor for The Pianist) and the acceptance speeches that come from the heart (last year, Kathryn Bigelow was poised and inspiring accepting her best director win). And of course, I enjoy watching all the beautiful people and criticizing their attire.

In the spirit of the award season, I’m honored and pleased to announce that OINKtales was named by Alison over at The Other Winnie Cooper as being an Awesome Blog and Darla of She’s a Maineiac as being a Stylish Blogger. Thank you both! OINKtales is grateful to accept your awards and wants to reward your kindness by reciprocating. You are both awesome and stylish bloggers too!

And while I am truly flattered to receive these awards, my cynical side is clamoring for satisfaction. I have to make the following observation: Blog awards are the new chain letters. Do you remember being a kid and getting that hand-written note from your cousin that promised if you mailed a sheet of stickers to some unknown person on a list and then copied the note exactly and forwarded it to twelve of your friends and family, you’d end up getting reams of stickers? Did you ever get any? Do you want to guess whether I did?

In college, I did do a lingerie chain (new, not used!) and it was moderately successful (I got a whopping three pairs of undies this way) and within the last couple of years, I bought into the Facebook chain where you announce random facts about yourself (being petrified by the idea that vampires might actually exist is my #25). But overall, I have broken more chains than I have extended them, for which I understand that I have been penalized a lifetime of bad luck.

Be that as it may, I’ve decided not to break this chain. Mostly because I respect both Alison and Darla immensely and who am I kidding? No matter how you look at it, these awards are compliments. (Would you be surprised if I told you that I have a hard time accepting compliments?)

So here we go: The requirements for accepting these awards are to link back to the awarders, list seven things about yourself, and then pass the award on to other worthy bloggers. I’m supposed to list fifteen but I don’t follow directions well.

Seven Things You Don’t Know About Me:

I don’t like to talk about myself. So ironic, since I can blog about intimate things in my life (tampons of preference, hello?) but when I am in a group – and sometimes even one-on-one – I tend to downplay my accomplishments and make light of things that are important to me. Any couch psychologists out there?

I think kids are disgusting. But they’re like pets. When they’re yours, you love them even when they’re disgusting.

Every day, I consider going back to my old job. Or trying to. It’s not like they’re saving one for me (wouldn’t that be nice?).

Every day, I daydream about winning the lottery. Although I’d take less than a million, it’d be hard to accomplish the basics with less than that. Lest you think I am greedy, consider that I have three children to put through college and probably, grad school.

I am an escapist reader and my favorite genre is young adult fiction a la The Hunger Games, The Golden Compass, and anything with Potter in the title.

I have two belly buttons. At least, it looks like I do. This is what comes of keeping one’s belly button ring in when one was hugely pregnant. Not. Pretty.

And though this last bit I suspect you already know, I’m including it anyway, if only to end this list: My family means everything to me.

Now, to my list of awesome/stylish blogs. I personally know some of these people, some I met (or am just stalking) in the blogosphere. I recommend you check them all out:

Other Awesome/Stylish Blogs:

OINKdaddy. My better, happier half’s observations on our life.

Push the Envelope. Watch it Bend. A brand-new running/fitness blog authored by my uber-fit brother-in-law (an OINK to follow on this one).

She Rides, I Pay. For funny, horsey folks.

My Topography. Beautiful. Lyrical. Words and pictures.

Saying YES 2 boys and Life. Humorous, homesteading, homeschooling mom.

The Ramblings. Prolific blogger whose hilarious descriptions strike a chord with many.

Scary Mommy. Blogging maven who has never heard of me but who is laugh out loud funny and who has her own scary mommy society (it has an eight-week waiting list!).

Theta Mom. Another blogger who has never heard of me but who, like Scary Mommy, started her own blogging community and is highly supportive of other bloggers.

And of course, the aforementioned She’s a Maineiac, a new blogging friend who writes about the loopy world of a desperate Maine housewife, and The Other Winnie Cooper, one of my BFF’s who considered participating in the underwear chain and who is now the larger-than-life voice of a 12 pound shih-tzu.

Happy linking everyone! Now, to find my Roberto Cavalli knock-off for the red carpet…

There are so many things I ought to be doing now, but instead of tackling any of those MUST-DOs, I am sitting at the computer, writing, which is a decided NICE-TO-DO. Writing eases my mind; it puts order to the chaos. When I am stressed or even just busy, I make lists. I feel a ridiculously deep sense of satisfaction when I cross items off a list. Done. Done. Finis.

I am trying to get Large to embrace list-making as a way to manage his anxieties but so far, it’s not working.

He’s ten and a half years old. He is a smart, funny, socially-aware kid. He loves to read, tell stories (replete with sound-effects!), sing, dance, and do anything technology related. He is also a tougher critic of himself than anyone ever could be, including me. And I’m no picnic.

Every mother wants success and happiness for her child. But what I’ve come to realize is something I’ve known all along: Wanting isn’t enough. We can’t just want for our children to grow up and become confident, well-adjusted, compassionate adults. We have to actively help them get there. It’s what we do, as mothers – as parents – that counts, if not now, then later on.

Being a parent is often mind-numbing. The stalling. The bickering. The whining. The slammed doors and the I-hate-yous. I am far from being a perfect mother (or wife, but that’s another post) and I am embarrassed to admit how frequently I delve into my fiction cocoon or retreat onto the internet rather than engage, comment and interact with my offspring. Even so, I hold fast to the belief that good parenting is a cumulative process. Consider the little things parents do every day, even when our patience is spread as thin as peanut butter on a piece of Weight-Watchers’ toast. The gentle reminders. The sit-and-do-your-homework speeches. The pep-talks. The these-are-the-consequences dictums. The smiles and hugs and cuddles. The I’m sorrys. The I’m proud of yous.

God, I hope I’m right.

Liam, every one of us learned to walk one step at a time. The luckiest of us had someone’s hand to hold onto. Your family loves you! Don’t ever forget it.

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