Monday, May 31

Marathon Monday and Other Miscellaneous Musings

So, hmmm, what to say about the 1/2 marathon...

I did it...I 'm proud of quads hurt like crazy today...I want to run another!

Truly, it was an incredible experience. I know some of you are wondering how in the world running 13.1 miles can be "incredible"...all I can say is you have to try it!

The race was at 7 a.m yesterday morning. On Saturday I went to the gym and did 1.5 miles on the treadmill and 1/2 a mile on the elliptical, just to keep everything loose. My sister hosted an little pasta dinner the night before for a bunch of us who were running and mentally we were all excited and nervous and really looking forward to putting all of our weeks and weeks of training to the test.

Saturday night, the night before the race, was a little nutty with the girls and in retrospect I can laugh because it so aptly portrays life with children-- the VAST differences between how we hope our days will go and how they actually go.

Here is what I had planned in my head to happen, in an ideal world of course: I would lay all of my running clothes out, be well hydrated, have the house picked up, sit and relax and read a book, maybe even take a short bath and be in bed by like 9:30, all ready for a good 8 hours of sleep before I woke at 5:30 the next morning to get ready for the race.

Here is what actually happened: I took Ella to my sister's for dinner, then we met up with Scott at my father in-laws 60th birthday party. By the time I got the girls together and ready to head for home from the party it was shortly after 9:00 and Ella was SCREAMING. She continued to scream the ENTIRE.WAY.HOME. Ava thought she should join in on the 'i'm tired and feel like screaming action' so she threw a few screams in herself. By the time I arrived home at 9:20 I was ready to pull every hair out of my head and was feeling frustrated which I took out in a phone call to my husband (who was still at the party, with my blessing at first, but by now my regret) in which I related how frustrated I was that I was putting the girls to bed by myself when all I wanted to do was get ready for the race the next morning...I know it was maybe a little selfish of me...but parenting brings out the best, doesn't it...

Ella screamed and writhed while I changed her diaper and put her pj's on...all the way until I stuck a pacifier in her mouth and laid her in her bed. Then I washed Ava up, brushed her teeth, found her pj's, read her a book, and finally turned her light out at 9:45.

I found my race number in my bag on a very messy kitchen table, laid it out with my sneakers and water for the next morning...tripped over 1/2 a dozen toys to get upstairs...took a short bath and crawled into a bed, the entire foot of which was COVERED in clothing that needed to have been put away and turned the lights out at 10:30...Ava cried...Ella cried...Ava cried...fortunately I didn't have to get out of bed...I think maybe I fell asleep sometime after 11.

So...while my pre-race evening was not ideal, race day was. I have absolutely no complaints.

It was a beautiful morning- clear blue skies and warm but given that we started at 7 there was a lot of nice shade from the buildings in downtown Buffalo and from the trees along the rest of the route.

There were close to 2,500 1/2 marathoners, 900 full marathoners, and quite a few relay teams. There was a lot of enthusiastic energy and I feel like the adrenaline and the people carried me quite easily through the first six miles. By mile 7 I was really wishing I had peed before the race had started but due to the long lines opted to hope I would be o.k. without going. I won't recount the hmmm...the side of a building...but I did finally pee and felt so much better for it!

Miles 9-12 were the hardest. I was legs were tired...there were a few hills...but my determination and weeks of training pushed me through...I kept telling myself that I could walk if I really, really wanted to, but that I would get to the finish line faster if I kept I kept putting one foot in front of the other because I wanted it to be over sooner rather than later.

Mile 11 was the longest mile EVER!

And by mile 12 you have no choice but to give the remainder of what you have.

My final time was 2 hours and 3 minutes! Yay!

And I'm SO determined to run another and break 2 hours next time!

It was an incredible feeling to finish something I had worked so hard for. I had an ear to ear grin for hours afterwards...those endorphins had definitely kicked in.

Scott and the girls met me at the finish line, which was SUCH a gift...Doing this for yourself is one thing, but having your little girl say "Good job mommy" when you finish just melts your heart. I love doing things in my life that I hope are a positive influence on her...things that will give her the power to someday say, "I've seen my mom do X, so I know I can do X, Y or Z." Ya know? It was a really cool feeling.

Here is a picture of me and the girls...I'm the second one in from the left...and while we're onto the picture for a minute...can I just ask why in the world my boobs are the biggest of the group when 3 of the other girls are STILL nursing and I stopped 9 months ago!!! Ugh...those things drive me crazy...but that's another story!

And here is a running picture...I forget which mile....

So, in closing, if my sharing any of this has inspired an inkling in any of you to consider a 1/2 marathon, or even a 5k or 10k if you've never been a big runner...Do IT! Find a couple of friends to sign up with you for a specific race and get it on the calendar. I'll tell you, having that date on the calendar and knowing other people were doing the training with me (especially other moms who were juggling the same challenges) meant EVERYTHING to helping me be committed.

If you're in the Buffalo area I'm planning on running a 5K on June 18th in Williamsville, a 10K on the 4th of July in Lancaster, and am going to do another 1/2 marathon in October in Canada (near the Falls)...unless I can find one I'm interested in sooner than that...

Let me know if you want to join me!



Tuesday, May 25

Book and Movie Review: The Soloist and Lit

Movie Review: The Soloist
Just saw this movie over the weekend and it was definitely worth renting. Jaime Foxx plays Nathaniel Ayers, a gifted musician who is schizophrenic and whose mental illness has led to his homelessness on the the streets of L.A. Robert Downy Jr. plays Steve Lopez, an award winning L.A. Times journalist who is looking for a story and seems to wander right into the path of Ayers...the two become friends and the movie is about the articles Lopez writes about Ayers and the relationship that develops between them.

The movie is a bit slow at times and I find the mental illness a bit hard to watch as it unfolds, but it is a good story. There were some really interesting "extras" on the DVD as well-- a short clip on homelessness in L.A. and how big of a problem it is, and some interviews with the real Ayers and Lopez.

Here is a link to one of Lopez' actual columns about Ayers- he is a very good writer and I am grateful to have discovered him through the movie.

Book Review: Lit, By Mary Karr

Just finished this book last week and I was sad to be done with it. Mary Karr is an exceptional memoirist. Her stories seem to transcend the "reality t.v." feel of some memoirs. At times I felt like I was reading a novel instead of an actual non-fiction account of one woman's life. I'm pretty sure this is her third memoir. Her first, The Liars Club, is about her very difficult childhood. Her second, Cherry, is about her teenage years and this third is about her college years, an unsuccessful marriage and her journey into becoming a mother which forced her to deal with issues connected to her own mother. She turns into an alcoholic along the way and eventually turns to God for answers..."Jesus with skin" as one of her AA mentors refers to the new supports systems in her life-- the people who help her battle her alcoholism and walk alongside her during some tough times. I love that phrasing, "Jesus with skin" and think we all need that type of help in our lives! A good read, especially if you like memoirs.

Monday, May 24

1/2 Marathon Monday, Part 10: Race Week!

I made it to race week!

I remember my sister telling me, back in February, that she was going to run a 1/ 2 Marathon in May and I told her she was nuts and that if I was going to do one it was going to be later in the year...I'm glad I didn't stick with my initial response.

The entire process has been really rewarding. I'd say, overall, the majority of my runs have been good and mostly I just love knowing that I committed to preparing for something and that we're almost there.

I had a great 10 mile run on Saturday. It was slightly overcast, not too warm, not too windy- just a nice running morning.

There were a ton of people out on the bike path running as well-- some just on their own, some a part of training groups who are also training for the Buffalo marathon and 1/2 marathon. What I love about this, and about running races in general, is the sense of unity present when you get a bunch of runners together. Running is a sport that can be hard, sure, but when you are out there, with all of these people of varying ages and stages and differing fitness levels you sense the shared determination to commit your body to this act of discipline and to finish what you began.

For all of us, discipline is a hard thing-- we often feel life unraveling and see goals go unmet, we start projects we are unable to finish, we wish we could do things better, stronger, faster-- you sense that in people when they are training and in a race--they are determined to finish this one thing because it will then become a moment of proof to finish other things in their lives as well. The training, and the working up to longer mileage provides this sense of building confidence that you can do more than you thought you could.

For some people, like the group on the bike path from Team in Training (who are running for the cancer and lymphoma society) they may be running in someone's memory or because they have beat an awful disease in their own lives. Their determination is one to overcome odds, or to successfully push through something hard because life, frankly, is often hard.

But, whatever the reasons, I love that sense of determination to push yourself past being tired, or hungry or thirsty or frustrated and make it to the end!

When I was out running on Saturday I had this crazy cool moment too where I just felt totally connected to God as my creator; the creator of the beautiful display of nature that surrounded me, and the creator that had created this miracle of a body that is strong and healthy and able to do this race. I felt so grateful for my health and for the strength to be able to run.

I started thinking, at one point when I was a bit tired, the same God who created me created marathon runners and triathletes and olympians-- I told myself, at that moment, there is strength within me greater than I know because God has created some pretty amazing bodies capable of pretty amazing things-- that simple fact gave me energy and determination to finish my run.

Training for this week includes some short runs-- a 4 mile, 3 mile and 2 mile-- then a bunch of us are getting together at my sister's on Saturday night to eat lots of pasta and then the race is 7 a.m. Sunday morning!!

Looking forward to letting you know how it goes. My ideal would be to finish in under 2 hours, but more realistically I'm thinking I'll be right around 2 hrs and 10 minutes.



Thursday, May 20

Random Acts of Chaos

My life is FULL of random acts of chaos.

Anyone else in the same boat?

I'm also in a crabby mothering rut lately. Maybe the two are related- the chaos and the crabbiness.  Whatever it is, I don't like it, but I haven't seemed to be able to shake it off.

Here is a little sneak peak into the afternoon to explain what I mean. I decided to take the girls to a park earlier this afternoon. It is a beautiful day and I thought they would enjoy running around and then we would stop and grab a couple of sandwiches from Tim Hortons on the way home for lunch.

The thing is, it is NOT easy to take Ava and Ella anywhere together lately. Ava still needs a lot of attention and when I'm paying attention to Ava, Ella seems to find herself in a lot of trouble. She climbs things she shouldn't be climbing and runs away towards places she shouldn't be running. Back and forth, back and forth I go. All...Day...Long.

There were no major incidents at the park, it's just that Ava is getting more creative in climbing things and wanted my help a couple of times and at one point Ella climbed all the way up to the top of this slide, slid down and then fell face forward into a big mound of wood chips.

Two minutes later she was up the stairs again, I was going to help her down, but was playing with Ava momentarily and she threw herself forward and slid down on her stomach, which she did not like either.

Over to help her again.

We did find a nice happy groove on a set of swings for a while. I pushed the girls (secretly not wanting Ava to grow up too fast, but also wishing she could swing herself!) and tickled them, which they thought was very funny.

Then it was time to go...I told the Ava she could go down the slide one more time, not anticipating she was going to hit her head on the bar at the top of the slide just before she went down sending her into a trail of tears.

I got both girls in the car, Ava had settled down from the bump on the head but was now whining that she needed to pee and did not feel well. Ella was whining because she was hungry.


I have decided that parents of small children should also be allowed two distinct privledges, 1.) they should be allowed a handicap parking sticker that allows them to park in one of the 400 handicap spaces at Wal-Mart (and other stores) instead of having to hunt around and then drag your kids through a parking lot from a far away parking spot and 2.) (this is the one we needed today!) We should all be given a siren we can put on the top of our cars (like volunteer fire fighters use) for emergency situations like when little ones have to pee and they are whining about it from the back seat.

I found myself wanting to stick my head out the side of my window and scream like a crazy lady, "Don't you slow drivers all realize I have a 3 year old in the back seat of this car who needs to PEEEEEE! MOVE OUT OF MY WAY!"

So, by the time we got home, my aptitude for patience was shot...again...Ugh.

Scott got one of those phone calls.

"Hey, where are you?" I asked.

"Sitting in a parking lot going through some mail and paperwork."

"Must be nice to sit in a quiet car BY YOURSELF and go through paperwork."

"Yeah, Lis, it's part of my job."

"Well I don't like my job right now. I feel like I'm spinning in chaotic circles all day long putting out fires! Are everyone's kids like this? I feel like I was not created to manage this."

(and then I started going into a random tirade about all of the miscellaneous stuff that seems to find itself strewn about our house....)

"And why is there so much crap everywhere? Why is there a random napkin, and a bottle and a toothbrush on the floor? Why is there one shoe by the staircase and memory cards dumped all over the living room? Why is Ava's jacket laying in the backyard and one sock laying in the mudroom? Why? Why? Why? I bend over 7,200 times a day picking up random crap!"

(Yes. It was another shining moment on my behalf. I sometimes fear that by sharing all of this some of you may want to bow out of friendship with me!)

I went on.

"Ella is driving me nuts. If she is not climbing on something she is pulling something out of a cabinet or drawer. She doesn't eat anything and she throws her food all over the place when she does."

The guilt started to creep in at this point and calmed me down a bit. Anytime I get really crabby and start to complain about the girls I have a guttural guilt response that reminds me that life could be MUCH more difficult. Things I don't even want to name: disabilities, illnesses, job losses, a husband who doesn't care, or who is required to spend months at a time on duty overseas.

I apologized to Scott twenty minutes later while we were both sitting at the hand me down Little Tikes picnic table in the backyard eating sandwiches.

"Sorry honey. I'm done. I don't know why I do that. It's like I have these little mini temper tantrums."


A safe response on his behalf.

He helped out by putting Ella down for her nap 1/2 an hour later and I put Ava down and then took a nap myself.

The only thing I can pinpoint my impatience on lately is a dwindling amount of quiet and free time on my part. The girls have been waking up earlier in the morning because it is so bright. At least one of them is up by 7 lately (they were sleeping to 7:30 and sometimes later and I was praying and reading in the morning) and because it's so light at night it seems that our evening activities have been leading to a later bedtime, like sometimes after 9.

This leaves little time for a mommy or daddy to do things they like to do, need to do or even spend time together for that matter.

I asked Scott this morning why it seemed like some women make this all seem so easy. They seem to be managing and not so frustrated and even enjoying the process much more than I do.

"Come on Lis, that's not totally true," he said. "Think about your friends--which one's seem to be managing better than you all the time? I think you are part of the reality...that woman you're talking about doesn't exist."

I'm not completely convinced he is right. In my head, every day, I feel like there are women out there whose children behave better, who are more patient, who are making their children healthy meals three times a day and cleaning the kitchen and keeping their house picked up and finding time to volunteer for ministries and read books and garden and shop and that they are balancing and managing it all gracefully and well.

I'd like to be that woman. Does she exist?

Well, anyway...I managed to take a few pictures of what I'm calling the physical manifestations of the random acts of chaos around our house...the stuff that all day long just seems to appear, out of nowhere on floors and other places...mostly not by my doing! This was a quick run around the house before naptime...

My favorite, by far, is this plunger I found on our bedroom floor! 

Would love to hear about the random acts of chaos in your house...and I would love to be jealous if you are the woman who is balancing motherhood quite well...really, please, please, PLEASE leave tips if you could! 

Wednesday, May 19

Wardrobe Defiance

Isn't this a cute shirt?

Ava WILL NOT wear it.

It's the funniest thing. I picked it up at Target a couple of weeks ago and decided to put it on her one sunny day about a week ago.

She looked at the sleeves. She looked at me. She said,

"Mom, are these ruffles?"

"Yes  honey, they are. Aren't they cute."

"No. I don't like the ruffles. People will look at me and say that girl has ruffles on her shirt."

Now, usually I can figure out from our shared experience where some of her quirky ideas come from. This one though...completely from LEFT FIELD.

"Ava" I said, "It's a really cute shirt."

"No. I don't like it take it off."

Alright. She doesn't usually argue about the clothes I put on her, so I wasn't going to battle her on this. I took it off and we put something else on.

I queued Scott into what had happened and the other night while they were hanging some of the clothes in her bedroom on hangers he pulls it out of the closet.

"OOOOHHH Ava. I LOVE this shirt."

She looked at him with a defiant grin.

"It has ruffles on it."

"Don't you like it honey?"


So anyway...nothing deep to the story here. It's just been a funny thing. My child, who will put a princess dress on any day of the week and dance around the living room, who has worn ruffled skirts and loves a pink tutu, refuses to wear this shirt with the ruffles for sleeves!

It is an ongoing inside joke in our house. Scott and I pull the shirt out when we think about it and taunt her a little bit.

"Oh Ava, this is the prettiest shirt I have ever seen!" We'll say.

"I don't like it," she'll respond.

It's the ONLY item in her closet that she says this about. I don't get it...except that I'm also female which means that on some level I DO get it, which is why I'm not fighting her on it.

Oh, the life of girls!

Monday, May 17

1/2 Marathon Monday, Part 9: Two Weeks to Go!

I ran 11 miles on Saturday!

I know for those of you who read this and have run a full or even half marathon before that probably doesn't seem like a great big deal anymore, but it was my first time and it's a pretty cool thing to be able say. Even my husband was impressed!

It really wasn't that bad either. Really.

I've come to enjoy my Saturday morning long runs immensely. They are actually my favorite of the week for several reasons. I think, partially, that I enjoy doing them because there is no pressure to get back to the girls. Scott is taking care of them and that stress is completely off my shoulders. I also enjoy the drive to where ever it is we are running. I usually eat a Luna bar on the way over and I listen to some music...sometimes I pray. It seems like a less painful start then running right out of my house and starting from my's like swimming in a warm water pool instead of jumping into cold water and then needing to get used to it!

Also, and I never thought I'd say this, but I LOVE the commrodery. I've always been a solo runner... other people's paces distracted me, I like my music, I liked to be in charge...that has changed with these long runs. I ran 11 miles without my i-pod! I enjoy meeting other women and chatting while we run. It has been fun to discover all of that!

So, aside from being surprised that I can actually run 11 miles and can run with people and without music here are a few other things that have surprised me along the way:

1. Gear Matters! This morning I went for a 4.5 mile run and it stunk! Want to know why? I had a bad sports bra on, I forgot to grab a baseball cap (which I like to run with) and I grabbed my old sneakers because my new ones were momentarily missing!

Truly, it is evident by my wearing of my old sneakers how much I needed new ones. It felt like I was pounding barefoot on the ground!

I HATE spending oodles of money on good bras...good sports bras are like $40...but after this morning...I may need to lay down the money. Sorry to be crass, but I don't want to be thinking about my boobs bouncing up and down while I'm trying to get a good run in!

I love hats. They block wind and sun. I don't like the sun shining in my face making me feel like I have to squint.

For all of these reasons, and probably others, I had a crappy run this morning. ONe thing is for sure...if you can at least get some of those things out of the way by using the right gear you are starting on surer ground for a better run.

2. Just because you can run 11 miles doesn't mean anything less will always be easy. My long runs, as I said, have been some of my best. Perhaps it is the mental preparation I do before hand. I know I need to stretch, drink a lot of water, not eat too much and prepare myself to be dedicated to the distance. The shorter runs I can tend to not treat as importantly and they end up being harder sometimes- like this morning. It is just like life- you have good days and bad days...

3. You don't lose oodles of weight just because you are running 20+ miles a week. This has been by far my most disappointing discovery! I was hoping my remaining 15 lbs. of remaining baby weight would just melt away! Not so much. I have dropped a few lbs. and am slowly seeing changed in my body shape, but it has not been dramatic. I find myself being frustrated when I try my smaller jeans on and saying, "Lisa, you're running your butt off, why is it still there?"

Oh well.

I think I need to address my diet more specifically. I LOVE to eat and was hoping that all this running would mean I didn't need to watch my portions and late night eating, but that is NOT the case.

So, that's it for today. Those are the things I have found to be most surprising on this new endeavor.

Oh yeah, and that those sports beans I talked about last time are really great! I pop a few before my run, eat a few during and then sometimes a few afterwards. They really seem to help keep my energy up. They sell them at most sporting good stores...they are made by Jelly Belly. We were joking on Saturday that they're probably just normal jelly beans with fancy packaging...but I do think they're a little better than that!

Training for this week will be as follows:

Monday: 4.5 miles
Tuesday:  weights + 3 mile run or elliptical
Wednesday: 4 mile run
Thursday: 6 mile run
Friday: rest
Saturday: 9 miles
Sunday: stretch and weights

Friday, May 14

The Sun is Brighter After the Rain

Ahhhh....That's the exhale I'm letting out this morning after a CRAZY day yesterday. It might be right up there as one of my craziest mom days. If you are my friend on facebook you know some of this already because you saw my S.O.S's go up...but for those who are not, here is a little re-cap of the day:

- At 6 a.m. Scott left for Salt Lake City, Utah to go rock climbing with a good friend. I prayed that God would get me through the day.

-Ella was MISERABLE all day. Stuff coming out of her nose like crazy, a horrible cough, not eating or drinking, throwing herself on the ground. She was not feeling well. I tried my best to feed her, hold her, give her juice in bottles, sippy cups, paper cups, through straws, anything I could think of. She took a little here and there-- the container didn't seem to matter much.

-I tried my best to take care of her and Ava all day. It was not easy.

-At 5 I called the Doctors office again: "I know my husband just brought my daughter in on Tuesday and the Doctor said she just had a cold and was teething, but is there a point at which perhaps I should be on the look out for an infection?" I mean there was blood coming out of the poor kids nose.

"Bring her in," they said.

-Fortunately my mom only lives a couple of minutes away. She came over to watch Ava while I took Ella to the doctor. It's a relatively big practice with quite a few doctors and I was hoping to see someone other than who Scott has seen on Tuesday. We did. Guess what Ella's prognosis was? DOUBLE EAR INFECTION, 102 TEMPERATURE AND POSSIBLE BRONCHIAL ISSUES.

Are you serious? that other doctor should be fired!!! Come to find out, he never even looked in her ears or took her temperature!!!! I'm planning on getting my co-pay back, but that is a whole other story!

-We went straight to Target to buy a new humidifier and paid $18 for a digital ear thermometer. I was DONE messing around with those cheap under the tongue matter what the cost!

I also bought 2 bottles of pedialyte, 2 tubes of antibiotic ointment and two bottles of children's tylenol. I now have first- aid kits stashed ALL over my house. I had reached my mommy medical frustration limit and was not going to be caught without something I needed for a LONG time.

$80 later we wandered over to the grocery store where I picked up Ella's antibiotics and $9 worth of magazines for myself, including the current issue of People (which I never buy because I usually feel so guilty about spending the $4.50 on trashy gossip, but the nice picture of Sandra Bullock and her new baby boy gave me the warm fuzzies so I gave in). I'm not always a big t.v. person, but I'm a sucker for light magazine reading when the going gets tough.

-I finally get Ella home, give her her antibiotics, get the humidifier set up, put new sheets on both girls beds (Ava had peed hers the night before and Ella's had yucky, slimy, gook all over them), feed Ella a bit of food and get her to bed.

Just when I'm starting to think about sitting on the couch to read my magazines and eat some food I walk Ava upstairs and hear the slightest thunder....

Crap. I thought. Ava HATES thunder. She screams like crazy no matter what I say.

"Mommy, was that thunder?"

"Oh, honey, no I think that was a loud airplane."

She buys it. Perfect. We're upstairs reading books, happily, when BOOOOM.

Yup. No hiding that one.

"Mooooommmmmyyyyyy! The THUNDEEERRRRRR!"

I try to tickle her arm, get her back to sleep. She buys it for a few minutes, but the next 45-minutes are up and down the stairs. Me hoping against all odds Ava will buy my story about the clouds just clapping because they like to make noise sometimes, just like she and her sister do.

It works for a minute or two and then another BOOM and she's screaming again.

I even tried to bribe her with Tinker Bell fruit chews. "If you're brave, like Tinker Bell, and there is no more crying, you can have fruit chews in the morning."

"Does Tinker Bell wear her dress to bed?" She wants to know.

What in the world does THAT have to do with thunder.

"Yes honey."

"Ok," she says.

I'm in the clear I think.

Not so much.

At one point, against all mothering instincts, I went upstairs, and yelled:

"Ava. You HAVE to go to sleep. We're in the house. The thunder is NOT going to hurt you. And mommy is very, very, VERY tired. Stop the crying or I'm going to close your door."

Yup. She'll be seeing a therapist for that one in 20 years. The poor girl is whimpering in her bed because she is scared and I'm yelling at her.

Finally, at 10:15 I bring her downstairs and put her on the couch to watch Madeline because I know it will buy my 20 minutes to be able to sit on the couch and read.

She finally goes to bed at 10:45. I crawl in and read my People magazine and finally fall asleep at 11:45.

She crawls into my bed at 6:50 this morning.

"Good morning mommy. I'm WIDE awake."

"Yes, you are. Come here and sleep with me for a few minutes."

And so, today, day 2 without daddy begins.

Fortunately, my babysitter is here this morning giving me a much needed time-out.

I'm going to finish this blog and then get the heck out of the house. I'm going to sit and read a book somewhere and eat some lunch by myself.

Today feels like a MUCH better day than yesterday. Ella is smiling again. YEAH! I love when she smiles for SO many reasons.

Truly, as awful as yesterday was, it is making today seem like a breeze, which is probably exactly what I needed...perspective....A really crappy day makes a not so bad day seem really good.

Off to read a book....and eat some myself...

Being with kids all the time also makes reading a book by yourself the ultimate luxury.

Oh, the things we took for granted before becoming parents!



Wednesday, May 12

If You Don't Have Something Nice to Say...

I'm sure you can all finish that's one I heard often growing up...not even from my parents, just teachers, uncles, Sunday school folk, you know-- all the other adults in your life that help keep you in line.

So, for old time sake, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say it at all."

That's my excuse for not blogging very much lately!

I don't mean to sound like such a crabcake (that's what we call Ava when she is irritable), but between the busyness of life leading to a bit of crabbiness on my part I haven't felt very inspired to try to sow any words of wisdom into anyone else's life lately. I haven't really felt I have much to say.

Perhaps all bloggers come to a point, several months after they begin, when they begin to wonder "What am I really trying to say after all?" Maybe not. Maybe it's just the me that can get introspective and moody sometimes.

In the past I've done my fair share of complaining about the struggles of motherhood, but one can only say so much about that. After a while it gets, well, a little tedious. For me and for you.

So, what, you all likely want to know, has been keeping me busy and crabby and non-bloggy?

All the usual suspects; a very, VERY, constantly messy house, trying to manage the needs of a sometimes very needy 3-year old and a increasingly  needy 15 mo. old, a struggle to try to manage and organize my household (pantries, and the basement and closets and cabinets that seem to keep erupting with STUFF!), writing assignments that I enjoy doing, but which I'm mostly doing for free and which are sometimes very time consuming, training for the 1/2 marathon, and a lot of spousal harping and button pushing that seems to be bouncing back and forth between Scott and I like a flat tennis ball.

On top of it, Ella is sick this week-- she has molars coming in and a head cold, which has translated to a lot of coughing, mucus and non-sleeping and eating on her part. Poor thing.

So...hmm...that's about all I've got...

You know what I've realized though? Life is an ebb and flow. It goes in stages. Sometimes the stages are short-lived and sometimes they require more endurance. Sometimes we get in funks for a couple of days or a couple of weeks and then the sun starts to shine, figuratively and sometimes literally, again.

Sometimes our kiddos are crabby or sick, we're unmotivated to do anymore housework and we're getting on our husband's nerves while they're getting on ours...but, for me anyway, the beauty of my Christian walk is the reminder that each day is a new day. "His mercies are new every morning!" I SO need that sometimes.

So, here's to crabby days and sunny days all being a part of the total package, of a blessed life-- because, despite anything I'm feeling glum about, it's usually so small compared to hardships so many others are facing...

As soon as we get our camera back I promise to take a picture of the recent t-shirt I bought Ava that has ruffled cap sleeves that she REFUSES to wear! It's her first act of wardrobe defiance and it's actually been pretty funny...Scott was taunting her about it the other day, which was the funniest part~ more on that to come!



Wednesday, May 5

Almost Wordless Wednesday: A few photos of my Crazy Girls!

Truly, I love that my daughter's personalities are starting to emerge, and personality do they both have! These girls are both spirited, energetic, emotional, creative, funny, charming, sensitive and loving, but both with a different make-up of all of those things so that they are each quite unique in their vibrant personalities. 

I think one of my favorite parts about being a mother is watching their personalities unfold. As we move forward, I believe, it also becomes a great responsibility. A responsibility to pay attention and to nurture their God given gifts and also to parent appropriately to their sensitivities and needs. 

For now, here are a few pictures that I felt capture the spirit of my girls....

...And, also explain why I'm so tired at the end of the day! 

(Ella is a climber through and through. She climbs EVERYTHING...often while I've run to tend to her sister for something. Like this...No, I don't typically allow her to climb in my dishwasher...I ran into the living room to help Ava for about 2 minutes, leaving the dishwasher open and there she was!)

(As if the climbing weren't enough for her curious little brain!)

(The facial expression on these two say it all!)

(Climbing yet again...we've been working on the kitchen, which explains the step stool and the open cabinets below!)

(Ava loves a princess dress and dancing!)

(And, she also LOVES to get dirty. This was at a country club Easter brunch if you can believe it. Skirt on and all, she found her eggs and plopped right down in the nearest pile of dirt to check them out. That's my girl!)

(This is how Ava usually approaches her's a new take on "tough" love I think"

(When I found Ella she was actually pulling her legs out of this drawer opening...she had put the entire bottom part of her body in there!)

(Since my sister has been nursing her new baby, Ava has taken a new interest. She said, "Mommy, kitty is hungry and I have to feed her right now." She plopped right now in her chair and put the towel over the top of kitty!)

(As our infamous McDonalds trip last week!)

(This picture completely captures Ava! Princess dress, printed jacket and pink crocs climbing up the "rock wall" holds on her swingset! Good form if I do say so myself. Her father is proud!)

Hope you enjoyed! 

Tuesday, May 4

1/2 Marathon Monday, Part 8; Re-Shoeing and Re-Fueling

Yes, yes, I am posting my "1/2 Marathon Monday" post on Tuesday. Such is the life of a mommy blogger and runner and housekeeper and wife and...well, you all know what I mean.

So this past week was an interesting week for me as far as training went; I feel like I crossed over into a new realm of training...a realm in which new sneakers, and power gels and diligent hydration have become necessary components.

I'll share with you, briefly, my training for the week and then what I learned from my training (from last Monday-Today):

Monday: 4.5 miles
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 3.5 miles
Friday: rest
Saturday: 9 miles (This was the biggie so far-- and the run that pushed me into new running territory!)
Sunday: weights/stretching
Monday: 4.5 miles
Tuesday: REST! REST! REST!

Most of the week was quite good. I was feeling good about running again and about my training. As I mentioned above, it was the Saturday 9 miler that pushed me over the edge...

I met up with my sister and 4 other mommas who are also training for the 1/2 Marathon at a really nice bike path in our area. The path goes out 5 miles and then you have to come back-- the scenery is really pretty though, so while I don't usually like repetitive runs this one was really nice.

The group split into two pairs-- I ran with both for brief periods and then on my own with my music for the rest of the time (I am a solitary runner sometimes-- I like to get into my own groove and pace and just listen to music-- I hope no one takes it personally!).

Boy, at about mile 7, which is as far as I had ever gone before, my energy just started going down, down, down hill. By the time I finished the run I felt as if I literally had nothing left to give and began wondering how I will complete 13.1 miles in just about 4 weeks! This has NEVER happened to me before. I ALWAYS have a little left to give a final slow sprint at the end of a run.

The experience prompted me to do a little research on refueling this week, and how important it is. So here is what I learned about re-shoeing and re-fueling...

1. Re-Shoeing:  If you are running regularly the suggested amount of time to run in one pair of sneakers is 300-400 miles. I went to a specialty running store (Fleet Feet in Buffalo) and while I paid a little bit more for the sneakers than I would have at Dick's Sporting Goods, I really wanted the expert advice and one on one attention to fitting a shoe the right way.

Ironically, they put me back in the same shoe I was already wearing, just a newer version, but I was grateful for the affirmation that this was indeed a good shoe for the shape of my foot and arch. It's the Asics Cumulus, if anyone cares. I LOVE Asics, but apparently I have a neutral foot that doesn't need a ton of stability (whatever that means!), so they work for me, but not for everyone.

The mileage guidelines above depend on your weight and where you are running. If you are a smaller, relatively light person running on a treadmill much of the time, you'll get more mileage out of your shoes. However, if you're doing more road training you'll get less mileage.

The important thing is to listen to your body-- if you start to get shin splints, new foot pain, or your legs are feeling increasingly tired/sore after your runs, it could be partially that your shoes are nearing the end of their life.

I still have a little mileage life in my old shoes and will keep them for elliptical workouts and shorter runs, but wanted to get a new, more supportive pair now so that I can break them in for the race.

2. Re-Fueling: Re-feuling is a bit of trial and error. Prior to my long run this weekend I had always tried to eat something relatively light with a bit of protein and carbs before my run (a Luna Bar (chocolate peppermint stick is my favorite), a banana and a little bit of milk have worked well for me, even as close as 45 minutes prior to my run), and then I would do either greek yogurt and granola, a muscle milk shake (1 scoop and a cup of milk) or this past week some Ultra Fuel, which is supposed to be really great for replenishing carbs, after my runs.

This week, however, when I hit that wall where I felt like I could go no further I realized I needed something during my run.

The lovely girl at Fleet Feet recommended Sports Beans-- jelly beans (yes, I said jelly beans), made by none other than Jelly Belly, that replenish your electrolytes and give you a quick hit of energy. I read some great reviews online and while I haven't tried them yet (I"m waiting for my run this weekend) I'm excited about the idea. I was always a little weirded out by those goo packs and I've read that these beans work just as well. Kember, the girl at Fleet Feet said that she eats a couple before, during and after her long runs.

I did also buy a chocolate Clif Shots. It is a gel, but as I said, this is all trial and error and before I can say I don't like it, I need to try it. Another customer said that her good friend did a Clif Shot every 3 miles during his last 1/2 marathon and that it worked really well for him.

3. Re-Hydrating: The general rule of thumb is to re-hydrate by your one hour mark and then every 45-minutes afterwards. A lot of runners swear by sports drinks (like Poweraid), but if you are taking something like a Gel Shot or Sports Beans just water should be o.k. I haven't tried one of those crazy water belts, but am pretty confident I would not like it. Katie, my sister, stored some water at the 3 mi. point on our run-- that worked for us.

Hope all of you other runners are having a good week-- would love to hear what works for you!!

Happy Training!