Friday, April 18, 2014

Open Letter to The University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dear University of Wisconsin-Madison,

Congratulations on your outstanding incoming class of 2018!  Some of my very favorite graduating seniors are heading to your campus in the fall, not least of which is my daughter, Emily.  As a proud Big Ten alumna, I couldn't be happier with her choice.  I already know that Emily will make you proud.  She's going to bring her smarts and talents and light up your campus--just you wait and see!

Emily is completely ready to head to college.  Like most parents, I am both excited and nervous for her.  I desperately want her undergraduate experience to be wonderful.  I know I can't make that happen for her.  I know she will have to do that for herself.  I'm hoping that you'll help her, though.  To that end, I've put together a few requests:

Challenge her daily.  Help her to find success in the classroom, but also a few failures.  Help her to learn that all good things are worth fighting for, especially a college degree.  Help her to learn how to ask for help. Surround her with opportunities to learn from people who are nothing like her.  Help her to find peers who feel familiar.  Force her to try new things.   Help her to see things in new ways.  Challenge her beliefs. Remind her not to squander the opportunity you have given her to receive a degree from an outstanding university. Help her grow into adulthood.  Provide enough fun moments that she will look back at her four years in Madison with a warm-fuzzy feeling.  Force her take some classes that are out of her comfort zone, specifically: Ballroom Dance.   Send her far away to learn new things in a different culture.  Make sure she knows she has a home on your campus.  Instill in her a pride for her Big Ten education.  Teach her how to Dougie.  Provide enough bitter days that she will truly appreciate the beauty of a spring by Lake Mendota. Build in successes.  Put her in classes with people who are smarter than her.  Give her a few classes that just feel easy.  Offer her experiences that help her know she has picked the right career path.  Keep her busy. Give her enough time to just sit on the quad and take it all in. Allow her to make mistakes.  Teach her that there are consequences for mistakes.  Help her find places where she can be a leader.  Help her find places where she can follow other great leaders.  Teach her that a college education is a privilege, not a right, and remind her that thousands of people would do anything to trade places with her.  Make her feel like she is part of something special.  Remind her that she is just one of many.  Remind her to stay true to who she is.  Force her to stay up all night every now and then.  Remind her that she doesn't know it all.  Remind her that she knows a lot.  Let her know that from the moment she steps on campus the clock is ticking, and her four years will go by in the blink of an eye.  Let her experience moments of complete joy and bitter disappointment.  Teach her that life is filled with both.  Let her know it's okay to change her mind.  Let her get away with one, but not too many. Reinforce the idea that hard work is the only way she's going to succeed.

University of Wisconsin, I hope you will be so awesome that Emily will want to put a Bucky Badger sticker on the back of every car she owns for the rest of her life.  Be awesome, University of Wisconsin, and be there for her. She's something special.  With your help, I know she can make magic.


Vicki Terlap

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Big Honkin' List of Happy Things

1.  I had the best, and I mean the best weekend up north with my friend, Tricia.  We laughed and talked and talked and scrapped and talked and scrapped.  It was exactly what I needed. I'm kinda-sorta in love with Fort Wilderness.  The setting is perfection, and the staff is top-notch.
2.  John's parents are back in Wisconsin!  We won't get to see them until next weekend, but it's always great knowing they are near once again.
3.  I spent two hours working in my strawberry bed yesterday.  It felt unbelievably wonderful to be outside in the sunshine.
4.  It's opening night!  Emily's last show as sound crew manager opens tonight.  It's also Maddie's first show as stage manager.  I am so thankful that both girls found such a special place to call their "home away from home."
5.  My parents are coming up for the weekend!  I have packed the weekend full of fun activities (including going to the girl's show tomorrow night).
6.  The lady in front of me paid for my chai latte this morning because I let her go in front of me in line.  Kindness for the win!
7.  The very last of our snow disappeared on Tuesday afternoon.  Hooray for spring!
8.  I have a meeting with next year's captains this afternoon.  It's time to start planning for the fall!
9.  I have a waiting list for my summer swim team.  What?!?
10.  I found my favorite laundry detergent at the store the other day.  I hadn't been able to find it anywhere for the last four months or so--I thought it was gone forever.

What's making you happy today?


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Words to Live By

I'm off to be creative for an entire weekend.
Life is good!


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

From the Archives {Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies}

Hi Friends,

Happy April Fool's Day!  I didn't plan any April Fool's Day pranks, but Maddie sure did--she went off to school today with a pack of Oreos stuffed with toothpaste.  Yuck and yuck.  In honor of Maddie's prank, I dug out a much better way to use Oreos from my blog archives.  I used to bake cookies to send overseas to a friend serving in Afganistan.  They all loved these Oreo-stuffed Chocolate Chip cookies.  Enjoy!

Hi Friends!
Feel like baking today?  Well, have I got a recipe for you!  Last week I spent a whole bunch of time in the kitchen being a baking goddess.  Whenever I bake for the troops, I try to take into consideration what will travel well and taste good once it arrives (it usually takes around 2 weeks for packages to arrive).  Things like lemon bars and other gooey/soft things don’t ship as well as cookies and chocolate covered pretzels.  I always send a big batch of my *famous* chocolate chip cookies (because everybody likes good old American chocolate chip cookies, right?!?), but this time I decided to make some stuffed chocolate chip cookies, too.  I’m not sure who came up with the idea of wrapping two chocolate chip cookies around an Oreo cookie, but I’m pretty sure whoever it was is pretty much a baking goddess, too.  : )  These cookies are not for the faint of heart–they’re literally a triple-decker cookie wrapped into one.  On the other hand, if you’re serving our country in the middle of a desert in Afghanistan, you probably deserve a big treat every now and again, right?  : )
Here’s a peak at the inside:
I pulled three of these big boys aside and put them in the cookie jar for my kids.  I didn’t tell them about the Oreo hidden inside.  Of course, they were kind of stunned (and delighted) at the sheer size of the cookie, and then they were a little puzzled about why there was an Oreo in the  middle.  The stuffed cookies got a bunch of thumbs up, and now everyone is requesting all kinds of other things to be stuffed inside.  John wants me to try a clump of peanut butter next.  I’m not sure how that will hold up, but I’m willing to give it a try. 
Want to make your own?  Here’s my *famous* chocolate chip recipe, which you can just make on its own if you’d like.
Vicki’s Super-Good Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat oven to 375
In your mixer bowl, combine:
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C. packed brown sugar
1 C. butter flavored Crisco
Beat on high for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. 
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Beat for 2 more minutes.
In a separate bowl,  combine:
2 1/4 C flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
Add flour mixture slowly to sugar mixture.  Once all the flour is in, beat the whole mixture for about a minute.
Stir in  1/2 bag of chocolate chips and 1/2 bag of mini chocolate chips.
Drop by scoopfuls (I use my Pampered Chef medium scoop) onto greased cookie sheets.
Bake 9-11 minutes until golden brown.  Let cookies sit on sheet for 2 minutes after you take them out of the oven.  Remove to cooling racks.
Now, if you want to make the stuffed version, you make the dough, scoop out two balls and gently mold them around an Oreo cookie.  I kind of pinched the ends together until they were sealed.  It took a few extra minutes to bake the stuffed cookies.  Plan on 11-13 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Enjoy the yummy goodness, friends!
Happy Baking!

Monday, March 31, 2014

One Little Word {Commit}

"Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do 
long after the mood you said it in has left you."  --Trent Shelton

Hi Friends,

Month three of "commit" is done.  Overall, I think March went better than February.  I'm still finding "commit" to be an extremely challenging word.  The hardest part is the fact that it's so black & white (or maybe that's the easiest part?).  The best part about March was all the dedicated and deliberate one-on-one John time.  He frequently reminded me that it was "John month."  : )

Here's how I did in March:

1.  This month I want to focus on John.  I'd like to find some intentional one-on-one time with him each week in March.  Yes!!  We had several dates this month and it was awesome!  John loved "John Month".  I'm sure he will be sorry to see it go.  : )
2.  Two full-family game nights in March.  Nope.  :(  I will try this again in April.
3.  Call my parents once a week.  I called and even visited in March.  I need to sneak in a call today to get credit for the last week of March.  : )

1.  Stay strict on the nutrition plan.  Yes.  Except while I was in Chicago and one random Tuesday that it all went out the window for the day.
2.  CrossFit four times a week.  Yes.  Except while I was in Chicago.

1.  Record all expenditures.  Yes
2. Come in under budget.  No

1.  Spend time working on Script School at least an hour each week.  Practice makes better.  No.  Script School went by the wayside this month.  I will get it all back out in April.
2.  Stay current on Project Life.  Yes

Here are my April goals:

1.  After dinner family walks.  It finally (!) looks like spring has arrived in Wisconsin (although we still have a lot of snow in our yard).  We took our first after dinner family walk last night, and it was awesome.  Buster is completely worn out today, but he loved ever minute of yesterday's walk. 
2.  Two family game nights.  I really want to make this happen this month.

1.  CrossFit four times per week.
2.  Eat clean.
3.  Sign up for a yoga class with John.

1.  Record all expenditures.
2.  Come in on budget.

1.  Make big progress on Mom and Dad's photo albums.
2. Host two creative get-togethers.

Every time I write out my monthly goals I feel positive that they are completely attainable.  I'm shooting for 100% in April. Wish me luck!


Friday, March 28, 2014

Feeling Grateful {Thoughts on 14.5}

Hi Friends,

Real conversation with the Starbucks barista* this morning:

Him:  How's your day going so far?
Me:  Awesome!  I've already got my workout in, so the day is off to a great start!
Him:  Oh, that's great!  Where do you workout, across the street?  
Me:  No, I workout at CrossFit over on the west side of Appleton.
Him:  Huh. I've heard that's pretty intense.
Me:  It sure is, but I love it.
Him:  I don't know much about CrossFit, but I do know that people who do it tend to get really into it.
Me:  That's because it's awesome!

I don't write about CrossFit too much, because I am afraid of being one of those people who writes about CrossFit too much.  The truth is, though, that the reason that CrossFitters talk about CrossFit so much is because it is more than just a place to workout.  It really is awesome.   Believe me, I have tried it all.  I have worked out in expensive private gyms and at the local YMCA.  I've taken spin classes and step aerobics, yoga and body sculpt.  I've worked out one-on-one with a private trainer and in huge groups.  In all of those years of working out, I have never, ever, worked out in a more supportive environment than CrossFit Appleton.  Is it scary?  Heck, yeah.  Has it made me cry? You better believe it.  Are there people who are more fit than me?  Yup, most of them are. But you know what?  Every single one of those super-fit people wants me to succeed.  Every single one of those people knows my name, and they all know when I've accomplished a new goal.  Even on the days where the WOD (workout of the day) beats me up, or is filled with things I can't do yet, I still leave the box feeling proud.  It's like nothing I've ever experienced before.

Today, every single CrossFit athlete around the world did the same WOD, 14.5:


MEN - includes Masters Men up to 54 years old
21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of:
95-lb. thrusters
WOMEN - includes Masters Women up to 54 years old
21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of:
65-lb. thrusters

Want to see what that looks like?  You can check out a demonstration here.  

This morning when I looked at 14.5, my heart sank.  I knew it was going to be tough:  138 burpees is the stuff my nightmares are made of.  Seriously.  Burpees are my nemesis.  The first time I ever cried at CrossFit involved not being able to complete 50 burpees.  My lower back hurts for days after I do burpees.   I looked at that workout and considered just going back to bed. I was still in my jammies when I got this text from my friend, Autumn:

"Girlfriend r u ready for this one?!!!  Boom!  Bring it on!!"

I'm not going to lie--I seriously considered lying to her and telling her I was sick, but her enthusiasm and belief in me helped get me to the box.  After warm up and lifting, it was time to start 14.5.  By this point, I was pretty much freaking out about those 138 burpees.  I talked it over with my coach, Marie, and we decided I would do ab mat sit ups instead.  I would still be working my core, but my lower back would be protected.  Here's what I have to say about 14.5:  even with the modification, it was hard.  138 thrusters is a whole lot of thrusters.  One hundred and thirty eight sit ups is a lot too, but not nearly as hard as 138 burpees. Once I finished getting through the whole set (sit ups are much faster than burpees), I had time to watch and cheer on those who were still working.  My friend, Autumn, got through the whole WOD (burpees and all) perfectly.  It was incredibly inspiring.  Once she was done, I cheered on Kyle and then Nick.  Each and every person in the box got through 14.5 and all those burpees.  It was awesome.

Even without all those burpees, I left today's workout proud of what I had accomplished.  I left feeling inspired and confident that I would be able to do 138 burpees--someday.  I feel so grateful for what I have already learned how to do.  I am stronger, and I love working out again.  The beauty of CrossFit is that it's never going to be easy, but I will see progress, and every step along the way, I will have a whole bunch of awesome people cheering me on.  CrossFit Appleton is a pretty magical place.  

Three years ago, I had major foot surgery.  I had a plate and a screw put into my left foot. I had part of a bone removed.  I had pins sticking out of two different areas of my foot.   I was on crutches for 8 weeks, and it was months before the swelling and pain went away.  

Today I did a modified 14.5.  

I am so grateful to be where I am today.  I am so grateful for CrossFit Appleton.



PS  Here is a post I wrote 3 years ago tomorrow.  For those of you who aren't aware, Buster and I had surgery in the same week of March 2011.   Buster tore the dog equivalent of his ACL in his back left leg and had to have a plate put in.  (Yes--we were both pretty much total messes in March of 2011).

On Jumping and Showers//Buster Update

MARCH 29, 2011
Buster jumped over Jack’s red beanbag chair this morning.
He just sailed right on over it, no problem.
Is it wrong that I’m jealous of the fact that Buster can already jump?
Not that he’s supposed to be jumping yet.
He didn’t ask or anything, he just did it.
In general, he’s been very good during his recovery period.
Taking it easy and all.
Since we removed his cone, he’s left his incision completely alone (thank goodness!).
And he’s not even limping anymore (yahoo!).
These are good things.
But watching him clear that beanbag chair this morning really got to me.
It’s just that it doesn't seem fair that he can already take long daily walks and jump over beanbag chairs,
and I’m still using my crutches.
I want to jump, too.
(Okay, that’s a total lie.  I haven’t missed jumping at all).
But I have missed walking–especially up and down stairs.
We have a lot of stairs in our house.
It seems like every single thing I need is either upstairs or downstairs.
But back to Buster, our super dog.
As in:  super-stinky.
We’re waiting until Buster’s final x-rays are taken in two weeks before we give him a bath.
And let me tell you;  he definitely needs a bath.
Hey!  Did I tell you that I can now take a shower thanks to my new removable Aircast?
I tell you what:  showering is one of life’s most taken-for-granted pleasures.
Showering ROCKS!
I will gladly crawl up and down the stairs to take a shower.
Which is something Buster can’t do.
I’ll take a good shower over a jump over a beanbag chair any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
The truth is, someone could probably take Buster to the doggie wash and give him a bath,
but it’s kind of my job and it’s definitely something I can’t manage on one leg.
The good news is we’re both closing in on week #6,
which means it won’t be long until I can take my favorite dog over to the doggie wash for a big, ‘ole bath.
Just two more weeks until I get the go-ahead to ditch the crutches!
And once I do, you better believe I’ll be jumping up and down for JOY
(just probably not over Jack’s red beanbag chair).  : )