I love the holiday season.  I really do.  But it just wears me out.

This weekend is our big annual holiday concert series.  That has meant long rehearsals Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  I sang a concert yesterday afternoon and have another concert to sing this afternoon.  Then we’re singing different music at a different concert location tomorrow night.

Oh, and I ran a five mile race yesterday morning, which I will recap later this week.

This year, I decided to do things differently and even though I have a big race coming up, I decided that I was going to rest as much as possible and focus on proper eating and sleep. Workouts weren’t going to do my body any good if I was already exhausted and run down.

I slept about 11 hours last night, which is obviously unusual for me.  This morning, I’m allowing myself a little bit of lazy time, then I need to get working on various chores around the house.  I keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter if I leave the house looking like a disaster.  The cats won’t mind.

It doesn’t help that I’m incredibly hoarse from this week’s rehearsal schedule.  I had to mouth some of the words in yesterday’s concert because the notes wouldn’t happen.  I’m not sure tomorrow’s concert is going to be singable, but I will do what I can.  For now, tea and honey.  And cleaning.  Yuck.

Santa Paws

Holidailies Prompt: Pets and the holidays – share your stories

I think anyone who has pets will understand this statement.  When I go back to my hometown at Christmas, one of the things I most look forward to is hanging out with the dogs.  I don’t have dogs right now, due to cost and lifestyle (and the fact that the cats would then murder me in my sleep), but I love them dearly and miss having them around.  So getting to spend a week at my parents’ house with three giant fur beasts is amazing.  I’m pretty sure only one of them recognizes me, as the other two didn’t come into the family until I moved 13 hours away, but they’re all still fun to hang out with.

And of course, I get to visit with my nephew dog and my brand new niece dog.  FIVE DOGS.  It’s the best party ever.

I’m not sure what my cats think of Christmas.  They definitely like sleeping on the nice soft tree skirt underneath the tree.  I don’t think Cadu has climbed the tree yet this year – at least I haven’t noticed any fallen ornaments.  My poor tree is nearly ten years old and is being replaced after this year because one of the branches is hanging on very precariously.  One year, Cadu decided that he was going to sleep in the tree on that branch.  I don’t understand how this was comfortable for him in any way, but he seemed to enjoy it.

And to those of you who say “I can’t believe you let your cat do that,” clearly you don’t have cats.  They do pretty much what they want to do when they want to do it.  Unless I put a floor to ceiling barrier around the tree, the cats will get to it.  And honestly, they could probably figure out how to thwart the barrier too.  They’re crafty little buggers.


Family Traditions

This is my hell week.  My choir’s holiday concert series starts on Saturday, which means that this week, we rehearsed Monday and Wednesday and then we have one last rehearsal tonight before concerts tomorrow, Sunday, and Monday.  I love the concerts, but I am always so tired by the time it’s all over.  I haven’t had a chance to even think about working out.  I decided that my priority was going to be eating well and getting sleep.   For example, on Monday, I got up at 5, got to work by 6:45, worked til about 4:30, ran home, changed, ate, pet the cats, and then headed back out to rehearsals and didn’t get home til 10:45.  Up the next morning for work at 5:30.  And then, of course, Tuesday night, I was so exhausted that after work, I made dinner, did a load of laundry and went to bed.  And repeat.

Oh yes, and I have a race Saturday morning.  Is anyone surprised?

So today is a good day to do some Holidailies catchup.

Share your (or your family’s) unique holiday tradition(s).

I don’t know that we have any particularly unique traditions.  But we do have traditions, some that have fallen by the wayside (but that I expect to reappear once we have children in the next generation – and that is my brother’s responsibility, not mine, that’s for sure).

When we were little, on Christmas Eve, we all went over to my Grandparents’ house.  By all, I mean my parents and siblings, and my aunts, uncles and cousins and occasionally other family members.  We would eat dinner and then Santa would come!  But of course, we couldn’t be around when Santa came, so all of the cousins would pile in the van (there were only 5 of us), usually with my dad and my uncle, if I’m remembering correctly, and we would go out and look at all the Christmas lights.  And when we returned, presents!

After a while, we stopped doing the lights thing, probably because we all had figured out what was going on (besides, none of the presents under Grandma and Grandpa’s tree were from Santa).   And starting with last year, the event moved to my parents’ house so that my Grandma didn’t feel so overwhelmed.  But we do all still get together.  But instead of going to see lights, the cousins (now with my awesome sister-in-law included) break out the beer and wine.  Equally fun.

Pre-Race Meals

People always ask for advice on what to eat the night before a race.  I’ve been running races for a few years, and through trial and error, have discovered what works well for me on the evening before a race.  Of course, just because it works for me doesn’t mean that it will work for you.

First, I should dispel a myth – carb loading.  Carb loading is generally a good idea, but eating a big meal of pasta the night before the race isn’t going to do it.  You need to be increasing your carb intake throughout the week or so leading up to your race.

Does that mean you shouldn’t have pasta the night before a race?  Not at all!  If you like pasta and know that your stomach can handle it, then by all means, go for it!  I have actually discovered that my body really likes gnocchi before a race, but I’m careful to avoid heavy cream sauces.  But I’m lucky in that I can eat a lot of things before a race.

A friend of mine avoids the pasta and goes for something like steak and a baked potato.  Since I eat red meat so rarely, this isn’t a route I would take, but I could definitely do chicken and a baked potato.

I also really like pizza the night before a race.   But in general, I really like pizza.

What doesn’t work for me?  I can’t eat too late, that’s a given.  I like to be eating dinner around 5pm the night before a race.  I also have to be careful to not eat too much.  I’ve done that before and spent the entire race feeling very heavy.  Not sick, just heavy and sluggish.  That’s probably something everyone should be cautious about.

So it is a lot of trial and error.  But my recommendation is always to not eat something that’s not part of your normal diet.  If you normally eat low carb, don’t suddenly load up on pasta.  And simple is always better.

And practice!  The night before a long run, eat something different and see how you feel the next day.  Maybe you’ll feel great, maybe you’ll struggle, but either way, you will have learned something.

I’m Rarely a Grinch

It is 12/12/12.  CRAZY.  I wonder how many babies will be born today.  None here, thank you very much.

Today, a Holidailies Prompt:  What will bring out your inner Grinch?

Well, in general, I love Christmas.  So it’s tough for me to be a total Grinch about the holiday.  But there are a few things that tend to rub me the wrong way.

First off, the materialistic madness just gets to me.  Don’t get me wrong – I love giving gifts and spend way too much money every year buying for people.  And who doesn’t like receiving gifts?  But when you hear about people camping out for days to buy a cheap tv or getting into fist fights over the last video game, it’s clear we have lost the meaning of Christmas.  And I’m not talking the religious meaning, because not everyone is religious.  But it’s not supposed to be about stuff.

I also have an issue with people judging others for how they choose to celebrate the holiday season (I guess I’m doing that if I’m judging you for thinking only about money though, so…).   Maybe you put up a creche or a menorah and have a religious holiday.  Maybe you cover your house in lights in true Clark Griswold fashion.  Maybe you’re somewhere in between, with Santa cradling Baby Jesus.  It shouldn’t matter.  It’s a holiday of joy and peace and family (be it biological or chosen).  That’s what’s important.

So I guess what makes me lose the spirit of Christmas is when others lose the spirit of Christmas.  It doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it.  Just remember the joy and laughter and the people you spend the holidays with.  That’s what matters most.