Random Thoughts Thursday 107

By , August 25, 2016 8:05 am
  • Today is my snister’s birthday! I wish I could celebrate with her, in person! Happy Birthday, snis!

Gosh, I think this is the last picture (from Nick and Alyssa’s wedding in June) I have of the two of us! I should have taken one when I saw her on my birthday in July!

  • My magnets came! And now that they are here I thought of a few more I’d like to make. Ha.


  • We have a sensor installed on a tree midway through our driveway that alerts us when cars (and deer, ha) are coming or going down the driveway, by playing a song in the house (and by alerting Steven on his phone). Of course, this tends to go off whenever I am on a conference call! One time someone asked if that was our doorbell. Ha, no. We just have a knocker on our door – add that to the list of house “to do” items – install doorbell.


  • When we were leaving the house Tuesday night, Steven slowed down the car and pointed in to the woods – a calico cat was sitting on a log in our yard! We’ve never seen him before. I hope he comes back!


Can you find him?

  • We were leaving on Tuesday to GET GROCERIES!!! Which we hadn’t been able to do since mid July! We haven’t had time to shop or cook much since we started our second floor ceiling project on August 3, so we’ve been getting take out and eating very basic meals. And, as you can probably guess, I feel like crap from all this crappy eating. Here’s to hoping we can eat better and cook a bit more now!


Link to Random Thoughts Thursday 106

The Only Pirate at the Party Book Review

By , August 24, 2016 6:21 am

Well, that was a quick, easy and FUN read!


I like to browse the iTunes “Top Songs” lists to get music ideas. I can’t remember if it was the “Dance” or “Electronic” list I was browsing when I first came across Lindsey Stirling but I was hooked. She’s a violinist with a high energy electronic (not classical) style. Her music is upbeat and addictive – I find myself playing many of her songs on repeat, especially during runs. I downloaded her entire second album and a few songs off her first album after I first “discovered” her, and listened to her music only, on many of my long training runs last summer and fall. I also had all of her songs on my Dallas Marathon playlist.

When I saw she was coming out with a third album I pre-ordered it on iTunes and was delighted with each of the three single releases (and especially excited when the entire album was released last Friday  – what a great surprise to wake up to*).  I felt like I didn’t know much about her as an artist, other than she was on America’s Got Talent, so I decided to read her wikipedia page,And that’s where I saw she published a memoir, The Only Pirate at the Party, in January. Why read wikipedia when I can read that?! Oh yeah, here’s where I mention I bought this book myself and all that. No one is sponsoring this post or paying me to write this. 

Stirling split the book in to three sections – childhood, working to become an artist, and stories about the entertainment industry. All of the chapters were short and themed (meaning they had a specific point) – which I appreciated! It was so nice to just breeze through this book!

So, I had no idea she’s Mormon. Or has two adopted (although they don’t want to be called that) siblings (along with two sisters). Or that she got her “big break” on YouTube. Or struggled with an eating disorder. Or is a bit of a control freak who had a hard time letting go of doing ALL the work after she was able to afford assistance. The book was full of information and fun stories and I LOVED it.

A lot of the book ends up being about being true to yourself – even if you are “the only pirate at the party.” Besides discussing finding her place as a unique performer – an electronic, dancing violinist! – she also talks about being true to her values (modesty, no drinking/drugs, etc.) in the performance industry. And how to continue to believe in yourself when people are unnecessarily cruel.

The book makes her sound like someone who would be a lot of fun to hang out with – a fun-loving (and really hard-working) goofball. And the fact that she’s made a Star Wars tribute video (not mentioned in the book, but I’ve watched it) makes me like her even more. Now, to go to a concert and see her in person! Sigh, the next one in Chicagoland is during a busy time for me and I can’t make the Milwaukee show. Maybe I can make the Chicagoland one work!

*I am not digging the singing collaborations much on this album though. I guess I just want to hear her play! I bet those songs will grow on me as I listen to them more.

Just need to finish the catwalk!

By , August 23, 2016 5:24 am

Last weekend was our last (gawd, I hope) big working weekend and we ALMOST got everything done. Almost. Not quite. Cry.

But we did get enough done that the contractors could start yesterday, so, yay! We just have a few things to finish in the attic space this week. And we did get A LOT done this weekend:


We installed and tested all the lighting/electrical. This included (finishing) mounting the lights and securing previously mounted ones, cutting conduit (old and new), installing conduit, installing a lot of new wiring, and running up and down the stairs a zillion times to the breaker box to turn the power on and off. Ha. I had done some lighting wiring with Steven before in our other attic space (above the garage), but he taught me some new stuff – how to cut and ream conduit. I liked that I was learning something. I’m sure Steven loved that I slowed us down so much at first. Eek.


Reusing old conduit (after we cut it). It’s white because we painted all the old conduit with Kilz.



New, never been peed/pooped on conduit!


Let there be light!

Ductwork Taping

I taped up all the ductwork insulation (and installed one piece we missed) on Saturday. I now hate all tape. I wrapped a present Monday morning and was super frustrated. I need a tape break!


This tape is actually neat, everything’s just a pita to do in the attic. And as suspected, taping the supply vent ducts was a TOTAL PITA.

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But it’s done, yay!

Subfloor Blocking

The contractors will be putting new subfloor in the attic space above the dining room (our roof slopes down, hence there being an attic there), and we put in blocking so they have something to attach the floor to.


This is where Data went to go skydiving

We’ve actually done A LOT of work in this room and I’ve barely mentioned it. The rafters going down to this space had a TON of insulation, nests, and animal droppings in between them that we took out. I vacuumed it about four times. We sprayed it with Kilz. We had to re-route our internet cables through here. And we removed the ceiling below it (over the dining room) due to animal damage.



And, the big project, which is what we didn’t finish – a catwalk above the attic. The attic was a pain to get in to before, and a pain to get around in. So we added a big opening to get in, and are installing a platform (“catwalk”) to crawl around on when we need to do work up there. We hope that will make future attic work less of a pain. I also hope never to be in our attic again… ha ha, I kid, I kid.


Opening to the attic


Platform when you get in

We laid down the supporting 2x4s on Saturday, then started prepping the 2x4s that go vertically next to those. The vertical 2x4s all varied in length to go around conduit.


We did as much as we could Saturday, while still leaving a space open to get the huge platform boards in to the attic space. We finished putting all the 2x4s in Sunday, and installed the platform in the guest bedroom area.


Data observing catwalk work

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The guest bedroom side had a lot of special pieces since that is where the access panel to the attic is located, and we wanted there to be a little platform to use to get up and down.


View toward the south (over guest bedroom). There are sides on the platform because insulation is going to be blown in to the attic.

We also installed the platform over the rest of the attic on Sunday, but didn’t finish the sides.


View looking north toward master bedroom


View looking south back toward the guest bedroom and bathroom

We called it quits with the catwalk early (around 11:00 pm, ha) so we could clean up the second floor and garage. Our contractors came on Monday and we wanted them to have room to work. And we wanted the huge pile of sawdust off of our garage floor.

So, still left to do this week – finish the catwalk and install attic lighting. But probably install the lighting first so we can see what we are doing while we finish it!

Skydiving Data

By , August 22, 2016 1:22 pm

Two Data posts in one day! Winning!

Part of our dining room ceiling is currently demolished, and we have plastic separating that part of the dining room from the kitchen, but you can still see in to the space. Contractors are here today, and one of the first things they did was put insulation between the floor joists over the dining room. Yay, progress… that someone else did!

So I am in the kitchen making our sandwiches for lunch, and happen to look over at the dining room plastic, and see a huge piece of insulation come down… with Data riding on top of it! What the what?!

He lands on the floor, making only a small thud noise, and calmly walks away.*


View from the kitchen


View from the living room

Meanwhile, I am in the kitchen with my mouth hanging open, saying to Steven, “Did you see that?! Data just floated down from the second floor on a piece of insulation!!!”

Steven’s like “So he went skydiving?”

Ha ha, I guess so. And I guess R38 insulation is thick enough for a 12-pound cat to fall 8’6″ and be okay.

And apparently, skydiving makes you VERY hungry:


And look at this!!!! CEILINGS! IN MY BEDROOM!!!!


*How did he get up there? Well, you access that part of the attic through a door in our bedroom that he pried open. Little sh*t. He’s been sneaking in there this whole project!


By , August 22, 2016 6:57 am


Us too, Data. Us, too.

Training Week 357

By , August 21, 2016 11:39 pm

Highlight of the Week: Getting to do a “long” run!


Monday | August 15, 2016: 6 m run + teaching strength class
Loc: hood, Temp: 77°/78, Time: 57:51, Pace: 9:38 avg, Difficulty: easy/medium, Felt: good! grateful it was overcast
Strength: plates and cards, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good

Tuesday | August 16, 2016: 5 m run + attic work
Loc: hood, Temp: 78°/80°, Time: 49:32, Pace: 9:54 avg, Difficulty: easy/medium, Felt: tired, tender knees, hot
Wednesday | August 17, 2016: 4 m run + attic work
Loc: Chicago Lakefront Trail, Temp: 80°/85°, Time: 39:16, Pace: 9:49 avg, Difficulty: easy/medium, Felt: okay, hot
Thursday | August 18, 2016: 6 m run (incl. 1,2,3,4,5 ladder) + attic work
Loc: hood, Temp: 79°/83°, Time: 58:49, Pace: 9:48 avg, Difficulty: hard, Felt: good then completely spent
Friday | August 19, 2016: teaching strength class + 850 m swim (breaststroke) + attic work
Strength: step, 1 DB and boxing, Difficulty: easy, Felt: great
Loc: Grayslake Pool, Temp (air): 70°, Time: 22:57, Pace: 2:42 min/100m Difficulty: easy, Felt: good, energetic!

Saturday | August 20, 2016: 7 m ride + attic work
Indoor Ride Time: 28;19, Pace: 14.8 mph avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good
Sunday | August 21, 2016: 10 m run + attic work
Loc: DPRT to Kilbourne loop, Temp: 58°/63°, Time: 1:41:17, Pace: 10:07 avg, Difficulty: easy, Felt: good


  • Someone new tried my Monday night class. Awesome! I later saw she posted the class picture on Facebook and someone commented about her trying “CrossFit.” Ha. Ha ha. My class is not CrossFit, but I can see how people think CrossFit and Bootcamp, etc., are synonymous for what we do!
  • Another instructor attended my class Friday morning, which was awesome, because it gave me some energy I didn’t know I had!
  • I felt really good at my swim this week, and didn’t need any breaks! That is probably because I didn’t go right after class (I had a meeting then went) and because I didn’t box in class, ha.
  • Yay, I did a “long” run this week! And the weather was decent – a glimpse of fall with temps in the low 60s!  I can’t wait to get back to running more. I feel so off and blah and generally miserable.
  • The new shorts worked well for the long run. They seem thicker than my old shorts though, and feel a bit hotter.

Link to Training Week 356

Run the World Book Review

By , August 20, 2016 6:28 am

For my birthday, Gina gave me a copy* of Run the World, the recently published memoir documenting elite athlete Becky Wade’s one-year post-college grant-funded journey across the world she took in 2012/2013 to study different running cultures.

How’s that for a mouthful? Ha.


After graduating from Rice University in 2012, and wanting some adventure before pursuing a professional running career, Becky Wade traveled to many different countries to experience their running culture. Her travels were funded by the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which is awarded each year to forty graduating college seniors to travel the world to do research in their field of interest.

Wade’s travels included:

  • England (during the 2012 Summer Olympics)
  • Ireland
  • Switzerland
  • Ethiopia
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Japan
  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • and more!

In each location, she housed with locals (some being local expats), sometimes staying for a long weekend, and sometimes staying for weeks. Overall, she stayed in seventy-two different beds! And, ran over 3,500 miles during her year of travels!

Her goal during the trip was to study the nuances of the training styles of the area she was in, and overall, to compare them all to one another (and ultimately, it seems, see what works best for her). For example, she learned that the Ethiopians (and some Kenyans she ran with in England) tend to do a very long warmup before their workout, rarely wear a watch, run on technical trails as much as possible, and have no idea how many miles they’ve run. The Japanese, in contrast, are very focused on running high mileage all of the time (and tracking it), but also take their recovery and relaxation process very seriously (with public baths and acupuncture).

Wade also focuses on food and shares a local recipe at the end of each chapter. She is surprised to learn that Ethiopians fare so well on a very high carb diet, when Americans are still in a “carbs are bad!!!” phase. One of her great pleasures during her travels is trying all of the local foods, which was interesting to read about.

Those are just small examples (that you were probably already aware of, ha), but the book really does give insight to the state of running where she is traveling, which I enjoyed. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to run in these places, so it was fun to imagine what it was like, as I was reading (and to look up the places she was talking about on google maps, and later, look at photos on her blog).

I did find some of the writing hard to focus on – her writing style didn’t always click for me, and I felt a bit distracted while reading this – but it got better as I got further in to it.

And man, she mentions the 2016 Summer Olympics a TON, which was awkward, knowing that she didn’t get to participate in them! But the book ends on a uplifting note – her marathon debut, and win, at the 2013 California International Marathon.

I love memoirs (because I am so nosy?) so I enjoyed reading this, and recommend it! Traveling the world for the year to explore running cultures sounds like a major treat, and reading about it was a treat, as well.

*This is my way of telling you that this is not a sponsored post

Final work week

By , August 19, 2016 4:09 am

It’s our final work week before the drywall ceilings start to go up on Monday (August 22) and we still have quite the to do list:


List as of Monday, August 15 – it gets added on to each day (luckily, things are checked off, too!)

We started the week with new can light installation – we took the old ones down because they aren’t sealed or insulation contact rated. In some instances, we’re putting the can lights very close to where they were before. So you’d think I would have taken photos of that before demo. Nope. Oops. At least we can kind of tell by the conduit we left up, and by searching through some photos. (Ha, while proof-reading this, Steven told me he marked where everything was but then painted over it! Oops!)

In other instances, like our master bedroom, we’re not putting things exactly where they were before. It made me crazy how the ugly circular vents were randomly placed in the room, and didn’t align at all with the lights. So Steven fixed that, and has been discussing the placement of everything that will be visibly exposed in the ceiling with me.


We’ll have normal vents, now, yay!

160815installingmasterbedroomlight 160816masterbedroomnorthlightsandvents

When things align <3 <3 <3 (the vents and lights align, and the fan box is centered on them)

And of course, while Steven was installing lights, he found ANOTHER smelly spot to demolish (that we left for another day). Ha, at this point, I wonder if we should have just demolished all of the interior drywall?! Just kidding. Kind of.

On Tuesday, we put insulation around the ductwork, to make it a bit more efficient and help prevent condensation. We ordered big rolls of fiberglass insulation (which actually have a teeny R value, but it’s a vapor barrier),


Sadly, that is not a giant burrito

that had to be cut to size (and then trimmed, so we have a flap to fold over on itself) to fit around the ducts.


Where there was not a supply duct, or anything else in the way, wrapping the ductwork around, then screwing it in (AHHHHH, we’re putting holes in our brand new ducts) wasn’t too bad. It got tricky around the obstructions though.




Insulated ductwork over guest bedroom


Insulated ductwork over master bedroom and bathroom

I think I will be itching for a few more days. Ugh. We didn’t finish the insulation on Tuesday, and took a break from it for a day.

On Wednesday Steven demolished the drywall (and put in a new support piece around the conduit) in the newest stinky spot so I could paint it. I painted it, as well as our linen closet (which we had painted part of on Saturday) because it had a funky wood smell (not to be confused with the funky animal smells which are the reason for this whole project).


I didn’t paint that one piece of wood because Steven had just put it in


Steven installed the hallway lights,


View looking north


View looking south

and had to get creative with the light that goes in our ALL tile shower. The six-inch diameter can wasn’t fitting (too big), so he got a five-inch diameter can… which was too small. So he did some handy work with the pliers for awhile until the six-inch one fit.


Steven is sitting in the attic above the shower, picking off pieces of tile with the pliers, to make the opening bigger. It’s a dark and confusing photo, but it was 9:30 pm, so it’s the best I could do!

On Thursday, we got back to work on the duct insulation. We were hoping to finish insulating the supply ducts, then begin taping… but that was a no go. Cutting all the special pieces for the supply ducts took too long.

160818mrwhaley 160818stevenputtinginsulationup

And besides cutting them to special shapes, I also had to trim the insulation so the flaps overlap each other blah blah blah blah blah. Blah.


But now all the insulation is up and I can go to town taping it this weekend! CAN’T WAIT! This stuff is gonna be so awesome to tape!


Steven got a bit of electrical work done between putting the insulation up – he put conduit and wire to one can light in our bedroom and can now daisy-chain the other three to it. He also ran conduit from a new fan switch to our new fan box. Our master bedroom fan wiring previously wasn’t in conduit, and the wiring was all chewed up (and installed wrong, anyway) so it’s never worked since we moved in. Sorry, Data, it’s gonna work now.

So… yeah. Now it’s Friday and we have three days to get stuff done. I am not even going to scroll to the top of the post and see what we have left! The next post you see about all this should be me saying the space is ready for new ceilings!

Random Thoughts Thursday 106

By , August 18, 2016 6:27 am
  • I hit a 700 day streak practicing Spanish on DuoLingo! I am practicing stuff I’ve already learned though, since I went through the entire Spanish course late 2014/early 2015. It would be awesome if they added more vocabulary and lessons. And if I practiced with a Spanish speaker!


  • My running uniform might be changing! I needed to replace the Champion’s Women’s Absolute Bike Shorts that I use to run in, but couldn’t find my size, so I ordered the Champion Women’s Absolute Fusion Shorts with SmoothTec™ Waistband to try. They’re the same inseam length as the other pair (7 inches), but a little bit different material (these are 87% Polyester/13% spandex vs. the old ones being 87% Spandex/13% Nylon), and they have a bit thicker waist band (the inside of it leaves funny marks on my skin, ha). The new shorts have been working for short runs and I am anxious to try them on a longer one! This is not sponsored, I bought these with my own money.

160816HanesAbsoluteFusion1 160816HanesAbsoluteFusion2

  • The ducks have stopped visiting. Wah! I haven’t seen them in a week. The pond must be too low for their interest. Sadness. But that’s okay because we have a new friend, Burt (see first picture, below). My mom found Burt when she was out cutting hosta leaves to put in these pretty flowers she picked up for us when she went to run errands. Steven does NOT like spiders. When I showed Burt to him, he jumped back and said “it’s time to get a shot gun.” Ha ha.  (Well, I am laughing – he may be serious.)

160814anewfriend 160814flowers

  • Besides helping with house projects, cooking for us, and surprising us with flowers, my mom also helped me out by wrapping some gifts for me. I am horrible at wrapping gifts, which is funny, because that is kind of what our Tuesday night house project was (more on that tomorrow).


Link to Random Thoughts Thursday 105

A bit out of it

By , August 17, 2016 7:45 am

Working all day and night (and trying to fit in short workouts) is getting to me. I’m exhausted by the end of the day, every emotion is 10x more intense than it should be, and I’m incoherent and out of it.

So all that being said, I’m super impressed that I realized my shirt was on inside out on the train ride in to the office, and not on the way home. Ha!


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