Friday, May 31, 2013

Take Care of Your Kidneys...

This month, I decided to give a donation to the National Kidney Foundation.  After running the Healthy Kidney 10k earlier this month, I decided this was the perfect cause to focus on for May.  Check out my recap of the race here to find out more about why this cause is so personal to me!

Hope you checked out the race recap because it really shows how much this particular cause means to me.  I just want to leave you with an astonishing fact about kidney disease as well as the top three ways to test for it from the National Kidney Foundation website.

More than 26 million Americans-one in nine adults-have kidney disease.

Millions more are at increased risk for getting it, and most don't know it. Kidney disease can be found and treated early to prevent more serious kidney disease and other complications.  The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) recommends three simple tests to check for kidney disease:

Blood pressure. High blood pressure is the second most common cause of kidney disease.

Urinalysis. A urinalysis is a test that checks a sample of your urine for the amount of protein, blood (red blood cells and white blood cells) and other things. Protein and red and white blood cells are not normally found in the urine, so having too much of any of these may mean kidney disease.

Glomerular filtration rate (GFR). GFR is estimated from results of a serum (or blood) creatinine test. The GFR tells how well your kidneys are working to remove wastes from your blood. It is the best way to check kidney function.

Ask your doctor about these three simple tests. They should be done at least once a year so that if you have early kidney disease, it can be treated right away. Early kidney disease can and should be treated to keep it from getting worse!

Andrea :)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Say Cheese :)

Life. Love.Lauren

Hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!  My little brother and his girlfriend were in town visiting so we had a jam packed, but super fun one!  I'll recap those adventures soon, but today I am linking up with Tuesday Topics to share nine pictures of me and my love!  Enjoy :)

J...E...T...S...JETS, JETS, JETS vs Who Dey!! 
We've been to a couple match ups at the Meadowlands and look forward to another one this year at Paul Brown Stadium!

On Chris' first visit to Kentucky in front of the "floral" clock at the capitol building.

One of my favorites of us from a wedding a couple years ago.

During the Super Bowl blackout in February.

Let's Go, Pitt!!
Supporting my GC Tigers :)
Hanging out at the park on a gorgeous day!

Our fun Halloween costumes last year!

My absolute favorite picture of us!
Andrea :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

30 before 30 - Month Ten Recap

 write letter to family or friend

This month I sent a letter to a friend I have know since elementary school - Michelle!!  I remember sitting with Michelle, Julia, and Lindsey at lunch all through elementary school.  Michelle and I remained good friends through middle school and high school as well.  One thing I always remember is going to school on Friday dying to talk to Michelle about *F*R*I*E*N*D*S* - we LOVE(D) that show!!  We weren't in as close contact during the right after college years, but we were fortunate enough to reconnect when she and her husband moved to Pittsburgh recently!  It just so happens that I frequent Pittsburgh due to having lots of friends there now through Chris and somehow always managing to get sent there for work.  We've had fun catching up a few times there and a couple times in NYC.  The best part about it all is that we have always been able to just pick right back up where we left off.  I love that!

3 monthly goals

1) Find a roommate for the summer.
Done.  I found one for mid-June to mid-July. Ideally, I was hoping to have someone for June-August, but as it turns out I think this will be best.

2) Layout Year 3 scrapbook.
 Not Done.  I do have all the pieces just ran out of space and time to get it all put together this month.  Maybe next month though!

3) Run at least three times a week.
Sort of Done. I started out strong with this one, but this last week I have really fallen off the wagon.  Planning to get back out there next week though!!

facetimes with Brinley

I spent a few days hanging out with little Miss Brinley in person at the beginning of this month so we only actually did one facetime, but I'm ok with that because playing and laughing in person was amazing!!  You can check out the post I did about her 1st birthday here.

During the facetime earlier this week, I got to see Brinley do something really cool - walk!!  She did that for the first time over the weekend so I was pumped to be able to watch her via facetime on Monday night.  She was so energetic and seemed much more steady on her feet already!  She also was doing these funny little spinning moves while she was sitting on the floor and was all over the places and getting into everything as usual.  She is such a precious little busy girl.

Date Night

Chris and I had date day out in Brooklyn at the end of April.  We spent the afternoon at Smorgasburg in Dumbo, Brooklyn.  

It was such a fun time! Smorgasburg is an all-food market.  Basically, we roamed booth to booth looking for different and exciting dishes to try out.  We found lots of fun stuff from pigs in a blanket to teriyaki balls - our favorite of the day!

We also enjoyed some sweet potato tots.  And who can forget dessert - a huge ice cream sandwich and made to order smores!

Girls' Night

This month we went to a fun little spot in midtown to catch up!  They even gave us free popcorn!  Yay!  It was great to catch up with everyone especially since we all have very busy summers ahead of us!!  We all have some fun trips on the horizon, too!  It was great, as always, to get together with these lovely ladies. 

I marked 1 item off the list!!

19 - give Brinley a unique 1st birthday gift (check out the post here)

There are a few others that are getting close to being done!  And I'm also resolving myself to the fact that there will be a few items that come down to the wire and a few that will end up being carried over into my 30th year, but I'm ok with all of that because I have really made some awesome strides on the list so far!  Check out the 30 before 30 tab to see my progress on the full list.

Andrea :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Life. Love.Lauren

I am so glad to be back for a new round of Tuesday Topics!!  Yay!

Ten Things That Make Me Happy

1 - Simply put, God.  He always amazes me.  He always provides for me.  Even when I get angry at Him, He finds a way to make me happy in the end.  He is truly indescribable.

2 - Christopher makes me so very happy!  Our time together is never enough.  He is such a great match for me, and we make an awesome team!  We compliment one another in such a natural way.  No matter what is going on, Chris can always find a way to brighten my day.  He has a special knack for making me smile that I can't really explain!

3 - There is no other group of people that have the ability to make me more happy than my immediate family.  I have my own special bond with each of them and love them all so very much!  I only wish I lived closer to them.  They are by far my favorite people to be around.  Even though we drive each other crazy from time to time, I laugh harder and experience more joy with them than with any other group of people I could assemble.  They are amazing!

4 - Friends, but not just any old friend.  The friends that are there for you, that you can count on in the clutch, that inspire you, that are genuine.  Only those friends really make me happy.

5 - Cupcakes are my ultimate weakness.  I find them wherever I go.  And they always make me happy!

6 - Running.  This is an odd one, but there is freedom in running.  An ability to clear your mind.  To think about what you want to think about.  To not think at all.  I'm not fast (and sometimes that makes me unhappy), but I know that at the end of the day I'm doing something positive for my body...and mind.

7 - Traveling to new and different places is a true passion for me.  I love learning, and travel is one of the best ways to learn.  I live for it!  Check out my travel page here.

8 - Football.  I am quite passionate about football - the game, the camaraderie, the fanfare, the atmosphere, the discipline, the players and coaches.  Seriously, love it!  I like other sports, but nothing compares to football.

9 - You'll never see a more pure expression of joy on my face than when I finish a scrapbook or somehow manage to capture the perfect photograph.  Both things bring extreme happiness to me.  I think it's because of my love for history.  Scrapbooking and photography are the ultimate ways to capture history in my opinion.

10 - Last, but most certainly not least, birthdays bring me happiness.  Of course, my own is great, but I honestly love celebrating with others as well.  I love picking out a gift or card.  I love surprising people.  And most recently, I loved seeing a smash cake celebration!  Why is it that we only let one year olds do that anyway?

What makes YOU happy?

Andrea :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Baseball Hall of Fame + Wedding Fun

This weekend, I had SO much fun with Christopher!  We had a jam packed weekend, but it was a great time with lots of laughs and happiness :)

On Friday night, we went to dinner at Blue Spice, a Thai restaurant, with a group of friends.  I hadn't seen several of them in a few months so it was really good to catch up over a yummy dinner!

Pineapple Fried Rice!

On Saturday, we were up bright and early to head over to Cooperstown.  We checked out the National Baseball Hall of Fame for a couple of hours.  It was really cool to see all the history, but the records section was my favorite.

After the HOF, we met up with friends at Ommegang Brewery for lunch and had the most tasty custom made ice cream I've ever tasted.

Crab Croquettes & Strawberry-Banana and Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream

Saturday night, we attended a wedding...our first of many this year!  We had a lot of fun and even got some great pictures overlooking a gorgeous lake where the ceremony took place!

On Sunday, we were up early again to head back to Albany to watch the last games of the English Premier League soccer season.  Even though Chris' team lost, we had a good time with some friends watching it all unfold.

We stopped at a bakery before our trip back to Albany!  Yum!

After the soccer match ended, we met some friends at a local Greek festival for lunch.  It was a great atmosphere with dancing and authentic foods.  Definitely something different!

Clockwise from Left to Right: Gyro, the gorgeous church, Finikia, fried dough

Before I headed back to NYC, we went to see 42 at a nearby theater.  We both really enjoyed the movie though certain parts were particularly difficult to watch.  Jackie Robinson truly is a hero.  His times of trial paved the way for so many.  He is truly a man to be respected and revered.  The movie only really delves into his rise to the Dodgers and rookie season with them, but it definitely peaked my interest into learning more about the rest of his career and life.  What a man....and what a truly moving story!

How was your weekend? 

Andrea :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Triple Crown: Leg 2 - The Preakness

The second leg of the triple crown is the Preakness.  I feel like this is the one that gets the least attention, but we had a blast!!

My friends, Amanda and Reba, met me super early to make the trek from New York City to Baltimore.  We took a bus down and then managed to pretty easily navigate our way to Pimlico via public transit.  It was a long journey, but we were all smiles once we arrived at our grandstand seats!

We had fun watching the early races and even winning a few dollars here and there, too!  We had great seats in the shade which was awesome on a hot day at the track!  Our seats were just a tad before the finish line for the Preakness race so that was really neat!  I got a great picture of the horses on the final stretch.  Yay!

After the main race, we ventured down closer to the track and soaked up a little sun before we headed back toward the train station to catch the Amtrak back to NYC.

And, of course, the day wouldn't be complete without a Black Eyed Susan!  Such a fun day full of lots of wonderful memories!!

My pick to win the race tomorrow is Mylute.  Who do you think will win?  Are you cheering for the favorite - Orb - in order for there to be a potential Triple Crown winner this year?

To check out the first leg of my Triple Crown - the Derby - go here!

Andrea :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

UAE Healthy Kidney 10k

Race: UAE Healthy Kidney 10k
When: May 11 at 9:30am
5k Split: 39:07
Official Time: 1:19:38
Official Pace per Mile: 12:50

This wasn't just a regular race for me.  It meant more than that to me.  You see, I know several individuals personally that have battled kidney issues - one of which just passed away last week.  On the way to the race, I decided I would devote the middle four miles to each of them.  I thought this would help me to focus on something other than the race as well as give me an opportunity to reflect on my relationship with each of them and pray for them and their families.

Once I arrived at the race, I knew I wanted to hit the port-o-potties before I began.  I made my way over to those just before the race started so I was close to the back of the pack heading into the course.  I actually don't mind that because it isn't too crowded there.

As I began the race, I turned on the map my run feature on my phone.  I've been running with it for the past couple of weeks and I really like that it tells me my pace at each mile.  I wasn't too stressed about time for this race, but I did want to try to be consistent especially through the hilly parts of the course.  For mile 1, I just tried to get warmed up and focused on the task ahead.  We began on the east side of Central Park right around 72nd street so the only major obstacle on mile 1 was Cat Hill.

Mile 2 was dedicated to my neighbor back in Livermore, Kentucky - Bill Lovell.  I remember their house always having such pretty Christmas wreaths and a perfectly manicured lawn. Bill and his wife, Evelyn, are both friendly people.  Bill was even the one to give me my diploma when I graduated high school.  He served on our school board then.  I know he goes to my home church now and he even sings in the choir.  Thinking about him led me to think about all the other neighbors I have had over the years keeping me occupied for almost all of the mostly flat and curvy second mile.

I knew that mile 3 would be tough trekking through the Harlem hills so I focused on "Aunt" Edna for that mile.  She is such a trip!  I talked a little about her in this post, but she is truly one of the funniest people I know.  I spent a good amount of time just thinking about all the crazy adventures we've had when she and her daughter visited me in the city the past few years.  When the hills started to become too much and I wanted to give up and walk, I pressed on because I knew Edna wouldn't want me to quit on her mile.  That mental motivation and some praying got me over the hump (literally) and on to mile 4.

Mile 4 has a set of three rolling hills in it.  Not easy on a regular day, but especially not easy after the harlem hills and a 5k already under your belt.  I began to think about Ben, my little brother's roommate.  He's been through some ups and downs over his lifetime with his kidney issues.  In fact, I think he actually has four kidneys now as a result of various failed transplants.  I've only met him a few times, but he has a great attitude and a strong will.  I channeled my thoughts of him into the energy I needed to manage the last real hilly part of the course.  I did some more praying, too.  And I made it.

On to my last dedicated mile - mile 5.  To be honest, I was worn out at this point.  I was giving it all I had, but I was tired.  This mile was dedicated to the memory of my dad's college roommate - Roger Gorham.  I've heard lots of stories about their college days over the years.  I thought about one in particular as I began the mile on a steep downhill.  Roger once ran over my dad's hand...on accident, of course...driving down what I imagine to be a similar type of hill.  I only ever met Roger a couple of times, but I could tell he loved to laugh.  Before I left my apartment this morning, I glanced through his obituary.  He left behind a wife, two children, and a handful of grandchildren.  I prayed for them during this time of loss for the next half mile or so.  I know how tough it is to lose a grandparent, but fortunately I still have both my parents...and hope to for quite some time!!  I pray Roger's family can find solace and peace in his passing though I know it will be tough for them all.

Finally, I hit mile 6...totally exhausted.  I still felt like I was keeping a consistent pace, but I was wearing down for sure.  I just remember thinking that the faster I finished, the faster I could stop running.  I tried to push myself to keep a decent pace.  Once, I hit the 6 mile marker, I knew I could finish in under 1:20 with only two-tenths of a mile left.  I tried to pick up my pace, but it wasn't until could see the clock at the finish that I began to sprint to ensure I hit the mark.  As soon as I crossed the finish line, I checked the map my run app for my final time and it was at exactly 1:20.  NYRR says I finished in 1:19:38 though.

Unfortunately, the official race time and the map my run time found a significant difference in my mileage and pace per mile.  Here is my breakdown of splits according to map my run:

Mile 1 - 11:14
Mile 2 - 11:53
Mile 3 - 12:17
Mile 4 - 12:16
Mile 5 - 12:23
Mile 6 - 12:00
Average - 12:04/mile

I did notice that the app had me clocking miles a tad bit ahead of the race course.  Not sure exactly why that was happening, but I was feeling confident hearing my splits on the app so I don't guess it really matters.  I spent a lot less effort worrying about my time because the app was letting me know that I was fairly consistant.  Ideally, right now, I'd like to be around that 12 min/mile range. According to the app, I am.  But, NYRR said I ran 12:50 minute miles.  I'm not sure who is right, but either way I felt like I had a good run so I was happy in the end.

My next NYRR race is about a month away.  It isn't exactly the same course, but many elements will remain.  I am going to do my best to hammer out an official time closer to 12 minute miles for that race.  As long as I put  my mind to it, I know I can do it!

Andrea :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Me and My Parents Meet Paris

When I left off last week, we had just spent a couple of days seeing some of the sights in London.  Check out that post here to read all about the first leg of our whirlwind adventure!!

The next morning, we walked down to the St. Pancras International station and boarded our Eurostar train for Paris.  All Aboard!!

After just a few short hours, we were in Paris and ready to go.  There was no customs process here.  We just walked off the train and right into the metro station.  We found a ticket booth and quickly bought struggled through buying some metro tickets before heading to Mary (my trusty travel companion for Dublin and Edinburgh) and Dave's apartment.  The metro stop closest to their apartment was Etienne Marcel.

We arrived to a yummy spaghetti lunch!  After we ate and settled in a bit, we headed off to the Louvre.  We saw tons of paintings and sculptures, but the most famous were the Winged Victory, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, and Venus de Milo.  The group picture was taken inside the glass pyramid before we left the museum.

After leaving the Louvre we took a stroll along the Siene River.  We could barely see the Eiffle Tower in the distance as we walked toward Notre Dame.  There was a bit of a struggle in locating it, but once we found it we enjoyed looking around both inside and outside.  It is an extraordinary place.

The detail on the outside of Notre Dame is simply incredible.  The interior is full of massive stained glass windows. We were looking around during a service which was interesting.  The picture in the bottom middle is a little blurry, but gives an idea of the structure of the building from the side as well.

Mary and Dave met us for dinner at a little crepe restaurant nearby Notre Dame.  The crepes were delicious. We all had one dinner crepe and one dessert crepe.  This was one of our favorite meals of the entire trip.

After dinner, we took an impromptu boat ride on the Siene.  We were all sitting on the uncovered top of the boat to begin, but after we passed by the lit up Eiffel Tower, Dad and I moved inside the bottom of the boat.  It wasn't as windy and chilly there, but due to a noisy school group we missed most of the commentary from the tour guide.  Mom tried to fill us in on the way back to Mary and Dave's apartment.

The next morning, we headed back to the Eiffel Tower.  After quite a long wait we were FINALLY able to go to the very tip top of the Tower.  The views were stunning!  We just couldn't take enough pictures once we made it to the top.  I think we were so excited that we were able to make it up there that we just didn't want to come down.  I took several pictures that had the shadow of the Tower in them, but the two below are my favorites!

After the Eiffel Tower adventure, we headed off to Versailles for the rest of the day.  Upon arrival, we made a stop at McDonald's.  Between the strange ordering system and the language barrier Mom and I struggled to get everything ordered, but Dad loved it! We toured the palace of Versailles for most of the afternoon.  We didn't make it outside to check out the gardens before closing time, but I included a picture of the part of them we saw looking out of a window in the palace.  One of our favorite spots was the Hall of Mirrors (middle top picture below).  We had the best time trying to get a good picture here.  At one point, we were laughing so uncontrollably that I almost peed my pants!

Before the trip, a friend recommended getting hot chocolate from Angelina's so when I saw one inside the Palace, I knew it was meant to be for me to try it.  It was like drinking a melted chocolate bar - very thick and rich.  We couldn't even finish it all between the three of us.

That evening, we met Mary and Dave at the Arc de Triomphe.  We were able to check out the evening traffic on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees and take a few pictures from across the street as well as underneath the Arc.  Mary and I were the only ones to venture to the top of the Arc.  We climbed over 280 steps to get there with much of those arranged in a spiral pattern.  The view was definitely worth it though.  We made it to the top just in time for the hourly sparkling Eiffel Tower display.  Amazing view of the city!

Mary and Dave were not only kind enough to host us for a couple of days, but also prepared us a homecooked meal on our last evening in Paris and topped it off with Laduree macaroons for dessert! YUM!!

We had a great time visiting with Mary and Dave.  So grateful for their hospitality and friendship!!  We left their apartment before the sun came up to catch our flight to Rome.  Luckily, we were able to flag down a cab to get to the airport.  More fun was just around the corner....

PS - If I should ever happen to visit Paris with Christopher, I would like to partake in the tradition of placing a lock on a bridge there.  Not entirely sure why, but I just love the whole concept of it.  Until then...

Linking up with Helene today!

Helene in Between

Andrea :)