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Friday, January 30, 2015

Excuse me doctor? But you have a little placenta on your face.

I learned very early on as a parent that having children was going to create some awkward and embarrassing situations, so I shouldn't have thought twice about it recently at the grocery store when my 4-year-old daughter loudly noted that the man in line ahead of us had a 'fake' arm. And that she wanted one when she grew up.This continued on for several minutes, with her asking him various questions ranging from Where did you buy it? to, Can you eat with it? This all finally ending with her marching around the checkout aisle, mimicking a robot, stiff arms and all. I could have died.

No, thinking back upon the near daily embarrassing events that occur in my life, this shouldn't have phased me. Or surprised me really. My kids oftentimes say and do the exact opposite of what I want or expect them to do. Most times probably. But I like to think I'm not alone. 

This particular joy of parenting started minutes really after I gave birth to my first child. Fifty-two hours of labor, including three hours of pushing later, my first baby finally arrived in this world. I held him immediately and snuggled him and then exhaustingly passed him off to a nurse. He was being weighed and getting cleaned off while I delivered his placenta. 

Afterward, my doctor was sewing me up, happily chatting away about how he couldn't believe I didn't end up needing a Cesarean section to deliver and how proud he was of me; it really could have been an amazing moment. But all I could think about was the tiny piece of afterbirth that was hanging from my doctor's beard. 

G R O S S. 

Honestly, what are you supposed to say? Um. Excuse me doctor? But you have a little placenta on your face. 

Yes early on I learned that having kids would embarrass me. From my oldest son loudly farting in the middle of Mass during church, to my youngest innocently yanking down the collar of my shirt and exposing my (thankfully) bra covered breast to a fellow grocery store shopper. It just doesn't get easier to predict. But I suppose it does get easier to handle.

It helps that kids are generally cute and are miniature versions of people, so they at least appear adorable on the outside. I guess that's why when they throw a tantrum in the middle of Walmart a mom can at least hope that although their behavior is repulsive and humiliating, a passerbyer might think, "Although obnoxious, that little girl really does have pretty eyes."

Whatever the case, kids create embarrassing societal moments for parents. I have noticed though that lately I am starting to care less and less about what others think when these moments occur. I tell myself that all parents must endure this particular emotion at some point, so I'm not alone. 

I hope.

I will also say that although I have had, and will likely continue to have, countless child-induced embarrassing events happen, I wouldn't change it for the world. I feel so much love, joy and happiness from parenting that it makes the occasional child picking-a-huge-green-booger-out-of-their-nose-and-eating-it-in-front-of-your-boss moment something that can be endured.

Yes, I'm one lucky mommy. As I lay here and watch my beautiful little daughter nap beside me, I'm reminded of just how lucky I truly am.

And I will never take that for granted.

But... I am on guard, anxiously awaiting whatever embarrassing moment my kids have in store for me next. 

My little lady bug, snuggling at nap time.

*A version of this article originally posted on my family blog, in 2013.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Guest Post: Team 2015 Miles Member Brandi Jones

As you know from my previous posts this month, there are three of us crazy ladies on team 2015 Miles in 2015. Here is a post from team member Brandi Jones, giving some perspective on her experience with our challenge this month:
Brandi, getting her sweaty selfie on.
January was a trying month for me as I battled a troubled hip. I was at about ¾  running and a ¼ walking this month. I don’t know if it is my IT band or hip flexor, probably both. I have been doing a lot of stretching and strengthening  exercises and have had improvement. YouTube and Pinterest have been my saviors! Also, I have come to find out the treadmill aided in the troubles. When I run I usually have my lower belly touching the front bar, this way I have knowledge of where I am at on the treadmill, as I usually have my mind in lala land and I’m always worried about falling off the back πŸ˜„. I would get about 1 mile in and I would get sharp quick nerve pain from my groin to knee and hip pain, just my left side (my left leg is shorter than the other so if I get injured it usually that side). Sunday when I ran it started happening again, so I backed off the front bar. I instantly felt relief. It’s like my body was moving more freely. I think I was putting more forward pressure on the bar than I thought I was.  I still have some pain but what runner isn’t running with some kind of issue?
I was able to meet my January goal: 42.72/672. The weather has been great for outside running but I usually try and run around 5 am and it’s still slick out, but on the brighter side, I’ve come to “somewhat” enjoy my treadmill time. It helped to put some new music on my iPod. Plus I have a friend that also gets up early with me and braves the “dreadmill” J Thanks Jerri! For me it’s more enjoyable to workout with other people vs yourself. It takes your mind off what your body is accomplishing. Plus you can have some interesting conversations and it holds you accountable to go. I will admit some mornings it is hard getting up at 4:30 am but knowing someone is going to be there makes you not press that snooze button.
January’s motto “Whether it is running our walking – Just move!”
 February Goal – 50 miles.
Thanks Brandi! It is so great to read about your progress this month. This month you've had some injury challenges, you've learned new things about your how your running body works, you've figured a way to (somehow!) appreciate the dreadmill, and you've found support in the accountability of a friend. These are all important in order to progress as an athlete. Thanks for sharing! I can't wait to read more about your experience with this challenge in future posts!

Two Words All Runners Never Want to Hear

Bad News: Injury
Well, it was bound to happen. Last spring I dealt with runners knee for about a month as I started training for my first marathon. With patience and a brief two week break from running, I battled through it and healed just fine. I haven't had any knee issues since.

My luck this year seems to be a bit worse. Unfortunately, the injury is not as simple as runners knee, but instead a stress fracture, two words all runners never want to hear.

Last week I noticed some pain in my right shin when I ran on Friday and Saturday, so I stopped running. Each day since then, the pain has been worse so I hadn't run at all for four days. Normal daily activities seemed to increase the pain, so I finally went in yesterday.

I have a right tibial stress fracture. It's very small and with rest should heal quickly. I'm wearing an air cast for a week and then going back in for an evaluation to see how it is healing and make a continued treatment plan. I'm going to be away from running for awhile and I literally cried at the doctor's office yesterday when she told me. Running has become such a huge part of my life these last few years that it is hard to tell myself not to do it. The more I take it easy though, the sooner I will be back on the pavement. My doctor, who runs marathons too, said that there is a small chance that I may be able to still run my registered half the end of April, but my hopes for a PR as my training goal are gone. But that's okay, I'll just be happy to be able to run in it if I am able. Ironically, she is registered for the same half, the Garmin: In the Land of Oz race.

My beautiful new accessory.

Good News: Team 2015 Miles in 2015
I'll post our individual January miles early next week, but my 2015 miles in 2015 team is working hard! With my injury, my January miles are complete, but my teammates have a few more days to tally up a couple more workouts. My goal was 50 miles this month, and even with this last week off, I did reach it with 59.77 miles. My New Years Resolution was 15 miles per week though, which would have meant I needed 60 miles in January, so even with my brief hiatus this month, I came within less than one mile of reaching it.

I'll post her miles in a few days, but team member Kate even got to enjoy some of her miles in sunny L.A.!

So jealous! Can you imagine Kate's walk- 
right by Fox Studios? 

Sweaty Selfie! You Go Girl!

Team member Brandi will have a blog post for you on her experience this month in a few days. It is a good read, so be sure to come back this weekend and check it out. She has had some challenges this month too but is working through them beautifully!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

God's Bigger, Much Better Plan

Sitting on the closed toilet lid, I held my head in my hands and started quietly sobbing. Obviously, I knew how it had happened, but I was devastated.

Right away, two bright pink stripes had shown down the center of the test.

I was pregnant.


I had just put my 1-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son down for their naps when I decided that this was as perfect a time as any to take a pregnancy test. I knew that I was a few days late and that being pregnant was a possibility. 

I remember that when the results screamed + at me I panicked a little. I wasn't sure what to do. It wasn't one of those happy moments where I would immediately grab my phone and call everyone that I knew to share with them the good news.

I didn't even call my husband. 

I sat there and stared straight ahead. My eyes blurred, my heart beat raced, and my tears fell heavily. I'm not sure how long I sat in the bathroom in that state, but it wasn't until I heard a child waking that my pity was interrupted.

All I could think about was the tiny townhouse that we lived in, how we could barely afford the over a grand each month we were already paying for two babies in childcare, and how our crappy health insurance had cost us about $7000 out of pocket PER child (in fact we were still paying off baby number two at that point). And to make things even worse, I was still only technically a part-time instructor; I was working part-time at three colleges trying to make a "full-time" gig of it, but it didn't provide the job security or benefits that a true full-time job would have afforded.

I remember the exact moment when my husband came home from work later that day. The babies were playing on the living room floor in front of me and I was sitting on the bottom step of the stair case. I had been holding it together pretty good in front the little ones so far, but when my husband walked through the front door, I lost it. 

Completely lost it.

He ran to me, dropped his work bag, and begged for me to tell him what had happened. Red-eyed, I looked up at him between sobs and reluctantly told him that I was pregnant again. He hugged me, smiled and said it was okay, obviously masking very well the rush of similar practical thoughts that I am sure were immediately clouding his mind too.

It was completely selfish of me to react this way, I knew that. Some of my friends had been unable to get pregnant or carry babies to term, and they would have given their own lives to receive the news that I had just received. But at that point in my life, this news was really difficult to hear.

Every person's story is very real, and can hurt a lot, and for me, both of these facts were true.

As it usually does, time passing eased the panic some and gave us time to prepare for our third child. We had always wanted three children, but we had definitely not planned to have three kids in less than four years. Fortunately it takes a near 10 months to grow a baby, so we did have time to plan.

We decided to sell our house and rent a smaller one instead so that we could save some money to pay off the cost of having another baby. Luckily it sold right away, preventing more worry that I am not sure I could have handled at that point. We were able to find a small, quaint house to rent for a year that would cut our monthly payments down significantly.

Once the baby was due, I had planned to cut back to teaching just three classes versus my normal 7-9 classes per semester, making sure all sections were at night or online so that I could stay home with our children during the day. Although reducing my income, this would eliminate childcare expenses. This decision was going to be challenging because I was due a few weeks into a new semester and I had no maternity leave, but we'd figure it out. I had gone back to teaching just a week or two after delivering my other two children, so I could do it again.

Mentally I had a really hard time accepting my situation. I didn't post the news on Facebook as early as I had with the other kids, and eventually only did because people had started finding out through the grapevine (and I also looked about 6 months pregnant just a few months in, so the proof of pregnancy was in every picture I posted). I didn't tell many people at work until they became brave enough to ask why my belling was swelling. Again. 

And I hated shopping. Not only did my back ache, my feet hurt, and my patience run thin dragging around my two other babies, but the bigger I got, the more people commented. Oh my, your third, so close together... Are you excited? or if I was alone, Is this your first? I remember not knowing how to respond. It's like if someone causally asks you, How are you? and you want to say that you are feeling awful, hating the world, tired and fed up with life right now, but you politely say, I'm fine. 

At that point I wasn't ready to tell these strangers, who were just trying to be kind, the truth. And it probably wouldn't have been appropriate either. Usually I would just try to smile and shrug, and say something generic in response. But inside I was worried and felt very sad.

Feeling sad was actually pretty normal for me then. Looking back, my doctor had to have been really concerned. I literally cried at every single appointment until I hit about 32 weeks pregnant. I was in some kind of denial of reality. I knew the baby was happening, we were drastically adjusting our lives in preparation for that, but it was like my mind just couldn't comprehend how I was supposed to get through this.

Then something wonderful happened.

My baby boy was born.

The moment, and I mean the moment, I laid my eyes on him, everything changed. Obviously God had a bigger, much better, plan for my life than I had. My worries did not disappear, but I remember feeling this overwhelming emotion of calmness as I looked into his brown (finally a kid with brown!) eyes.

My amazing, wonderful, beautiful baby boy was the miracle I needed to understand just how much love I have in my heart for all my children, and my husband. He was what I needed to realize that life is out of my control and that no matter how stressful it may seem, God provides us only with what he knows we can handle.

Although gifted to me at a time I would have not chosen for myself, my youngest son has been an absolute joy to raise. I cannot imagine my life without him now. He is the silliest, most caring, happiest little boy I've ever seen. He truly was our blessing in disguise, my blessing that turned three years old this week.

And you know what? My life has come together just fine these last three years. I have my children, now a 3-year-old son, a 4-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. My husband and I both have different, better jobs that we enjoy, we own a nice home, and we are figuring out our lives together as a young family.

We have struggles, like all people trying to make it through life, and it isn't easy. Our children aren't perfect. We argue sometimes. Raising a family is expensive. Work gets busy. Balancing our five lives together is a difficult struggle some days.

But there is something that I find immense comfort and hope in. I've learned that God has a bigger, much better, plan for my life. And if my baby boy isn't the biggest testament to that, I am not sure what it is.

My surprise gift from God, 
who turned three years old this week.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Awesome Midwest Running Weather

We have had some really great weather this week in the Midwest! No more complaining about single digits, snow or warm running clothes. Nope- this week has been great!

Yep, this really happened. No sleeves! A beautiful afternoon for a run outside this past weekend. 

It was sunny and gorgeous. I could actually feel the rays of sunshine on my shoulders. It felt amazing to get out there and enjoy some time outside in the mild weather.

This awesome weather helped me knock my 15 miles per week goal out of the ball park. I hit almost 23 miles this week. It felt great to run so much this week, but of course my right leg, shin area, is bothering me now. I am pretty sure it is a case of mild shin splints, so I am going to start treating it as such with more running breaks, less strenuous running, ice and wrapping my leg when I do run.  I've been trying to take a day off every few days of running to give it some healing time, and that helps. But then once I get back out there and run again it gets sore after a few miles. I'm trying to push through it for a few more days as cold weather will be back by the weekend. 

The increased miles are helping my pace increase a little, which I had been struggling with. My last two runs have averaged in the mid 8 minute miles, and I'm thrilled with that.

Go outside this week and enjoy this awesome weather; get out there and do something! It's January, so know the cold weather will be back again...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why You Can't Throw Your Brother in the Trash

The other morning my oldest son and I walked downstairs onto the main floor of the house to a very sad sight. Two of our three fish were dead, floating in the fish tank. We were in a hurry and I needed to get my son in the car to take him to school, but we made enough time for a fast fishy funeral, ending with a quick flush down the toilet. On our way to school we had a brief discussion about mortality (isn't that the reason we buy our kids pets anyway?) but no tears were shed. My son actually seemed more interested in when we could buy more fish than the fact that two of his pets had died.

In his defense, I wasn't completely surprised that the fish had died either.

You see the night before, my 2-year old had proudly dumped half the canister of fish food into the tank. He was trying to be a good helper, but overestimated the appetite of three small fish. I scooped out as many of the flakes as I could and thought I had gotten enough of it out. Apparently I hadn't, as overnight the tank filtration system became overworked, clogged and died along with two of the more glutenous fish.

After I had taken my son to school, I came back home and the younger two kids and I thoroughly cleaned out the tank, replaced the water, and went to the pet store to buy a new filtration system and a few replacement fish.

During nap time I got the new filter set up and introduced our three new pets to their tank. I quickly noticed that one of the fish did not have a back tail. At first I was a little mad at the store, wondering why they would give me a fish with no tail. Then I was mad at myself for not paying better attention; I was too busy pulling the kids away from the parakeets and puppies to notice which of the million fish from the tank were put into my plastic baggie.

Our new fish, creatively named "Taily" by the kids.

In the end I am not sure if the fish came to our home this way, or if he got stuck in our new filter (think Finding Nemo) but he does not have a back tail at all. I went online and checked to see if it will grow back, and from what I found, it should. He seems to be moving around okay, but he mostly swims vertically rather than horizontally. It looks very different, but he gets to where he needs to go just fine.

When my daughter got up from her nap and checked out the fish tank, she noticed our new tailless friend right away. She looked at the fish funny and asked if we could bring him back to the store. I thought about what she said. 

I hadn't really thought about bringing him back to the store (he was literally on sale for $1) but in her mind, if he was broken, he needed discarded. Then I thought about how a good lesson could be learned here.

"Honey, should be bring him back or try to keep him?"

"Hmmmm," she pondered for a moment. "We should bring him back to the store."

"But can't we try to take care of him here at home?" I asked.

"No let's bring him back and get a new one," she said definitively. 

"But fish are alive. Just because it needs a little help, doesn't mean we shouldn't try to take care of him."

"Okay....?" she said, obviously not really understanding.

"Well let's think about your big brother. His eyes don't work very well, but instead of throwing him away, we bought him glasses that helped him see better," I said.

"Well, actually mom, he wouldn't fit in the trash," she said. (That was a good point, I guess).

"I think we should try to take care of him," I said.

"Okay," she said, shrugging. "He can be our new fish."

Hopefully the little fish will live long enough for his tail to grow back, because I truly do believe a good lesson in life can be learned from this. My daughter is only four, but taking care of and supporting others is a lesson that one is never to young to learn.

What I found most interesting about this story is that my oldest son, when he got home from school, ran to the fish tank and said, "Which one is mine?"

We had our old faithful catfish that survived the overfeeding, we added a new beautiful zebra looking fish, we added a colorful neon orange tetra, and then we of course added our poor little tailless blue fish. 

Before I could answer my son (my son who wears glasses), he looked at the one with no tail and said, "Oh I want the little blue one without a tail! He is so cute, he can be my fish. He is so special."

Tears came to my eyes and I smiled. I am so happy we didn't return our new fish.

Friday, January 23, 2015

What stops you?

There are so many reasons not to get out there and get active. My personal stop signs are having an inconsistent daily schedule, daycare obstacles and recent cold weather. 

But I still get out there and run. And it's always worth it. Lately I notice more and more the beauty in the world around me as I run. You will too; you won't regret it, I promise.

Don't let life be your stop sign.

What stops you? Get out there and overcome it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Beating Outdoor Winter Runs

If you live in the Midwest you know that weather can be very volatile. This isn't ideal for most runners, unless you love unpredictable weather or have an uncanny ability to mentally block out the cold. I have been grappling with beating the cold of winter runs but have not let them get the best of me yet. In fact, I am learning more about running in cold weather than I ever have before.

Although we have had slightly warmer
weather lately, this morning when I ran it felt pretty cold out there.

The first part of January was bitterly cold, barely peaking above the single digits. This made the mere thought of running outside undesirable and the act of actually doing it borderline miserable. I have come to expect a few things from running outdoors in cold weather though and a better understanding my body's needs in this type of weather has made getting out there easier.

First of all my runs are slower. Especially the first mile. I am not sure why this is and I have been reading articles to help me figure this out. I've learned that we do tend to run slower in the cold, with an average runners pace slowing by 5-15% in most cases, pending on how cold it actually is outside. 

My run this morning was at a slower
pace even though I was not
intending it to be.

Motivation for running outside also wanes some. Whether it be in the mornings (that is usually when I prefer to run) or in the evenings, when you know it is going to be cold out there it takes more gumption and self-talk to actually get your butt out there. I know that when my alarm went off at 5 AM this morning and I looked at my weather application on my phone and when I saw it read only 30 degrees, it took some serious conversation with myself to get my bones out of bed. Once I reminded myself that this would be my only chance to get outside to run today, I was able to find the strength to do it.

Figuring out what clothing to wear for colder runs is challenging too. I find that running in the 30's is the hardest to dress for. Gloves are needed at first and so is a stocking cap, but very quickly you warm up enough to not need those on anymore. Layering shirts is difficult for the same reason, you want several layers on when you start, but after a few miles you get too warm for anything more than a few layers.

Traction on the ground is also a concern, with possible snow and ice covering the streets and sidewalks. It is usually easy to see piles of snow or large patches of thick ice, but it is the deceiving thin layers that can trick you. I haven't had a major spill yet, but I am very cautious and constantly looking at the ground. 

While researching I have read that hydration becomes particularly important in the winter too because runners are still sweating and need rehydrated, however they aren't always aware that they are sweating because the beads of sweat run into their stocking caps and not into their eyes. I personally have not noticed this as much because I haven't run more than 7-8 miles in a single run this winter; personally it isn't until more than eight miles that I start to notice that I need to actually carry water with me. Articles have said though that by bringing a half Gatorade, half water mixture with you, your drink won't freeze as quickly as if you carry just water alone. If I feel the need to bring water with me I will definitely try that and let you know how it goes.

What challenges have you noticed during your winter runs this year? 

How do you motivate yourself to get out there in spite of the cold?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why My House Is a Mess

I recently overheard someone I know commenting to another person on the noticeable change in my housekeeping skills since I've had kids. It honestly wasn't really criticism, I suppose, but it did make me think.

Although this friend meant nothing hurtful at all, if you know me, I take everything very personally. And I let all criticism, even if it's constructive, simmer a little longer than I should.

After I heard this comment I was at first a little sad. Not sad that she had said it, I know very well that what she said has some serious merit, but I was forced to start to accept that I have let some things slide the last few years. My housekeeping is one of those things.

I think I have been in denial a little.

I used to be that person that had a weekly schedule of which rooms would get cleaned on each day of the week. And it wasn't really until the third kid was added to the family that I strayed from this schedule.

But folks, I have strayed.

My house is most certainly messy. And if you come over unannounced, you better be ready for the possibility of seeing last night's pjs from all three kids thrown on the living room floor, dishes from lunch (yesterday) sitting by the sink anxiously awaiting a rinse, and several unflushed toilets. And before you judge, that last one is not my fault; some days I feel like all I do is walk zombie-like, from bathroom to bathroom, flushing toilets.

Cleaning the bathroom floor now means toweling up the bath water that the kids poured out at bath time. So I guess if you are using that as the standard, my bathroom floor gets cleaned every night, wink wink.

Doing the dishes happens less and less often and likely you will be offered a paper plate if you have a meal with my messy family.

Laundry is my nemesis. I do not understand how five people go through so much laundry, but we do. It is unbelievable really. My kids change their clothes 3-4 times on a normal day and of course get chocolate milk, peanut better and jelly, and/or boogers on everything that they put on so nothing can be reworn without a wash.

Toys are endlessly out of place, and I work seriously hard on this one. Our basement is our pseudo-organized play area and the kids keep almost every toy they own down there. When I am not looking though my kids slowly sneak, little by little, various toys into different rooms around the house. This, by the end of the day, creating a copious amount of toys that has to be picked up and carried back down to the basement. Every. Single. Day. (And yes I know my kids should be picking up their own toys but let's be honest it is just easier and quicker for us parents to do it.)

Dusting is a luxury form of cleaning that I don't indulge in often, like going to get a pedicure or a massage. It sure would be nice to get it done, but who has the time?

Scrubbing the hardwood floors. Next.

Our dining room table is more like an office, usually hosting a laptop, printer, a few empty soda cans and stacks of papers. Rarely does it host a meal for my family.

For me, letting go of meticulously cleaning my house has been a coping strategy. I have anxiety issues and I have learned that sometimes I have to let something important to me go. Lately it has been the housework (remind me again why I thought buying a four bedroom, four bathroom, three level house was a good idea?).

I see other parents that seem to be able to cope with this cleaning delima just fine. In fact, they don't just cope, they thrive. For example my sister's house is always spotless, organized and beautifully decorated every single time I come over. I tell myself it is because I have younger, and more, children than her but I'm not convinced that's the case. She might actually have super powers.

Or she has secretly hired a cleaning service.

I do think people can change, and in this area; I have. Maybe not overnight, but we do change in our priorities as experiences happen and time passes. And that actually could be a really good thing. If I cleaned my house to the extent I think it truly needs to honestly be cleaned, I literally would get no sleep.

I do long for the days when I will pick up the living room and it will actually stay that way: picked up. I can't imagine what it will be like to only have to clean up after my own messes again.

But that would also mean that my kids aren't little kids anymore. So I'm torn because I am definitely not ready for that.

I kind of like that my house looks "lived in" by a crazy family of five. My kids love making messes with the paint and Play Doh that now stain my kitchen table. They love when I hang up their many many many drawings and pictures on the cluttered mess of my walls. They love when we let the city built of wooden blocks sit up on the living room floor for three days. They love when I let them help me make lunch, creating a serious disaster of a kitchen in the process.

If you walk through my front door, you will realize very quickly that I have several kids (you will also have to be careful not to trip on a roller skate or a Nerf gun). But do you know what? That's okay.

That's me now.

I can pick it up later.

The city train set that over Christmas break was a 
permanent fixture in our living room.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Why I Still Take My (loud) Kids to Church Every Week

I remember when I was a kid and my mom would take my two siblings and I to church every Sunday morning. She usually took us alone, as dad wasn't Catholic. Maybe it was just a skewed childhood perspective, possibly my believing I was a perfect little angel, but mom seemed to hold it together pretty unbelievably during Mass. Her kids were all closer together in age than mine too, so it couldn't have been easy, but she was a rock star. 

I, however, am not.

My kids are not perfect angels. And I have trouble holding it together.

My kids talk during Mass all the time. No matter what I threaten into their tiny ears, they still talk (loudly) throughout the entire thing. As in, regular-volume-I-forgot-what-the-word-whisper means kinda talk. And it's never a precious little insight like a, "I'm going to pray for world peace," statement where you imagine everyone around you looks at each other, smiles, and thinks, What an amazing child. What equally amazing parents he has! 


It's always one of those awkward loud questions like, "Who is God?" or "What's the Our Father prayer?" It's always questions that they actually do know the answers to but for some reason they want everyone sitting nearby to think that you are posing, awful parents coming church for the very first time who teach their children nothing about God. It's just embarrassing. 

If you aren't a church goer I'd compare the embarrassment to when after a few days of your child being sick you decide to take him or her to the doctor's office. However by the time the appointment rolls around and you actually get in to see the doctor, your child has miraculously gotten better. Not only feeling better, but he or she is laughing, singing, running around the office, touching-everything-possible kind of feeling better. This of course making you feel like you have Munchausen Syndrome. 

And it isn't just obnoxious talking either. There are other ways that my kids are noisy in Mass. They sometimes, well, they pass gas (loudly). Not every week, but often enough that it merits a mention. Apparently they are all young enough to not be embarrassed but old enough to laugh hysterically when it happens. I blush doubly for them.

They play (loudly) too. Whether they play together or they play alone, they cannot do it quietly. They play at volumes that are a huge distraction to every person around us I'm sure. And yes, I try to stop them, threaten them, or take the toys away. But they still play.

And removing them from the situation really doesn't help. I've found that taking the kids out to the church hall or cry room to punish them actually rewards their behavior, because they get what they want: to leave. They obviously want to leave because another embarrassing question they ask a million times (loudly) during Mass is, "Is it almost over?"

You'd think Mass might go by quickly since I'm so busy picking up (loudly) dropped toys, constantly shushing giggles, carrying kids on my hip, or distributing snacks. But it actually feels like time literally slows down. You become so sensitive to every utterance or sound that your child makes and worry so much about them disrupting Mass for those around you that a one hour event feels more like three.

I have become skilled at bringing an arsenal of supplies with us. This usually helps to appease their needs somewhat. Although it seems that my three little monsters always want the exact the same toy at the exact same time, want to color with the exact color crayon at the exact same moment, or want the exact same book that their sibling is currently looking at. I have also learned the hard way not to bring tiny toys with us, as retrieving Squinkies that have been thrown across the church aisles during Mass is definitely undesirable.

Unfortunately, their awful behavior doesn't impact just us.

There are many types of people sitting around us reacting to my little family. There's the older couple with grown children that raised their kids in a different generation and probably only think about how their own kids would have been beat with a paddle had they acted the way that mine do. There's the cute young couple holding hands, yet be be parents, looking at us in horror, and then looking at each other, really questioning if having kids is what they want to do. There are the young families like us, struggling through the ceremony just as much as we are, who we emphatically make eye contact with periodically.

But, once in awhile, other types of people are there too.

These are the people that come up to us after Mass and provide support. They tell us that our kids remind them of their own when they were younger. They tell us that our kids are adorable. With nostalgic tears forming in the corners of their eyes, they remind us of just how quickly kids grow up and how in the blink of an eye, our kids won't be sitting beside us in the pew anymore.

These are the people that make church manageable for me. I spiritually don't get as much out of going to church as I did before I had kids, but that doesn't mean that going isn't worth it. Attending church is no longer for me. Attending church, right now in my life, is for my kids. I am modeling the behavior I hope for and want them to the continue for the rest of their lives.

If my mom hadn't taken me to church every Sunday, I doubt I'd still be going every Sunday as an adult.

My kids might not be listening to every word of the Gospel, they might not be reciting the words to every prayer, and they might not be learning very much yet. But, they are there. And they see my husband and I there. And they see a lot of other people there too.

So that is why I still go to church.

It might be hard. It might be difficult. It might even test my patience more than any other parenting adventure thus far.

But it might also be changing my kids lives forever in the most incredible way possible, too.

My excited, oldest son and I at his very first night of 
School of Religion (SOR) this year.

Friday, January 16, 2015

No Cell Phone Sunday

I like to think that I engage my kids. We often play games like Sorry or Trouble as a family, I help them with homework, I make fun assignments for them, and we color, paint and do crafts weekly. We have dance parties in the living room all the time. My husband is really great about chasing them around the house, getting them active through sports, and encouraging some gentle "rough housing" (sometimes I feel like he is my fourth child when it comes to this one).

So why is it, that my beautiful, peacefully sleeping little two-year old baby boy, opens his eyes every morning, squints at me, and clumsily mutters the word, "iPad?" as his very first word of the day?

Please tell me I am not the only parent that has this problem?

My kids are more addicted to technology than I am, which says something. I'm not going to pretend to be innocent. I know that I am responsible for this. My 6 year old son received a mini iPad from Santa. We gave our 4 year old daughter my old phone, with the hard drive cleaned out and the cracked screen fixed, for Christmas this year. And my 2-year-old has recently sort of adopted our family iPad as his own.

Even now as I type this post, I can hear my 2- and 4-year-old's playing on tablets. And you know what, I wouldn't be able to write this post if I didn't allow them to. I wouldn't be able to make supper without them at my feet or to grade papers without them asking me a million questions of interruption, if I didn't allow it. It definitely makes my life easier when they have technology in front of them.

My husband and I aren't much better. We use our phones for texting, internet searching, playing online games, reading articles, etc., in front of the kids all the time, reinforcing in their young, forming minds that it is okay for them to use their tablets too. 

And it's even when the kids are in bed. I often, after a realization of being in a time warp, look over at my hubby and notice that we haven't really been spending time together for an hour or more; instead we were both silently on our own phones, separately. We are weirdly spending time alone together lately. We both blame each other when this realization happens, complaining that the other is on their phone more, but we are both victims of this addiction. We both need to work on it.

I try to tell myself that when it comes to the kids screen time, they actually learn from the many educational applications that I have downloaded onto their tablets. 

And they do. 

The few times when they actually play on those apps. Let's not kid ourselves; there is more Minecraft being played, are more Play Doh videos being watched, and more Talking Tom being spoken to, than educational applications being utilized. 

We are trying to get better at using our phones and tablets less as a family. For the last several months we have been incorporating No Cell Phone Sundays into our weeks. We put all of our tablets out of reach. We adults can use our phones for talking and sending brief texts, but no playing on them- especially in front of the kids.

This family policy has helped, but it is hard for us all. We probably need to work even harder on enforcing it. We have forgotten a few Sundays, or given up midway through the day for various reasons like travel, company coming over, etc.

When it comes to my kids and their tablets, I am not sure what the solution is. I fear that society's love for, addiction to and reliance on technology is only going to increase as time passes. 

All I know is that something has to be done. 

But I gotta admit, it sure did help with potty training though.

My adorable little technology addicted son (who will probably kill me someday for posting this picture).

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Resolution Update: How am I doing?

So we are halfway into the month of January today. This is a good time for me to write about those pesky resolutions. I plan to post about them every couple weeks for two reasons: (1) accountability, and (2) so that I don't forget to keep working on them. Here you go!

Resolution 1: Run 15 miles a week
The last few very cold Kansas weeks have really tested my resolution. My 15 miles a week has been hard, and I'll admit I've had to tack on a few missed miles from one week on to the next, but hopefully by the end of this week I'll be caught up. I swear it's because of the cold. I hate running excuses though.

I had decided to wait and run until later in the week, when it was going to be in the 30-40 degree range outside again. I was very sad about this; when I'm cooped up inside, all I can think about is running.

Then something changed my mind.

I was waiting in the carpool line at my son's school on a freezing day, waiting to pick him up, when I noticed the teachers standing out in this weather. They were standing outside, in the terrible cold, for 20-30 minutes (and they do this every day), helping manage school dismissal.

Then it hit me. I can run outside that long if they are just standing outside that long, right? Quit being a baby and suck it up!

So, that night when the hubby got home from work, I ran a few quick miles. So glad I did! For me it was a very short run but I ran right at sunset and it was gorgeous! 

I'm not a fan of short runs usually, simply because it just seems like so much work for such a short time to be out there. You have change into your running clothes, get your equipment ready, stretch a little, do the run, cool down, stretch again, shower, get dressed again, blow dry your hair, put your make-up back on, etc, all for just 18 minutes of running.

Tonight may have changed that perceptive a little. A run doesn't have to be a 6 mile aerobic challenge every time, sometimes it's nice to just get out of the house. Even if it's just for a few miles.

My short run.

The temperature during that short run.

Resolution 2. Run the I-35 Challenge
This race isn't until October, but mentally and financially I have started planning. I have been in contact with the organizers and registration isn't open until April. I am looking into if I need to register for the two half's individually prior to that and am looking into price increase dates, hotel situations, etc, now. Training won't start until this summer for this challenge, but it is on my mind all the time. I am excited to do this, but nervous about running two half marathons in one weekend. Training will be key for me, as it was for me when I ran my full marathon last fall.

Resolution 3. Eat lower carbohydrate until at least spring break, hopefully making this change a life choice.

I have learned to use cucumber slices instead of crackers. They are crunchy and work well to put cheese, or meat, or spreads on, or anything else you would normally put on a cracker.

I have been eating a lot of nuts. They help fill my stomach, as veggies and meats do not fill me up for very long. This is an excellent, easy snack. Sometimes I dip almonds in peanut better, and that tastes super yummy for a slight change of flavor. Nuts are a great way to eat healthy carbohydrates.

I am kicking butt on this one and have been completely devoted to the lower carbohydrate diet. I am not using a scale for this diet, because there isn't a set amount of weight I want to lose. I haven't weighed myself one time yet. But, my clothes are already fitting better. I noticed the skinny jeans I wore yesterday are already fitting better. The biggest challenge has been remembering to save most of my carbohydrates and eat the bulk of them about 45 minutes before I go for a run. If I don't load up a little on carbs before I run, my energy, pace and spirit while I run suffers.

Resolution 4. Less mindless, time draining, useless playing on my phone.
I have not played HIT IT RICH SLOTS since December 30th. I am still collecting free coins, but am finding that I have less and less desire to do even that. I am playing a few other app games still, but not nearly as much as I used to. Starting this blog has been great for me. I have a personal goal of writing five times per week, so that has been taking up most of my free time. I'm back at work now too and that keeps me busy. I definitely feel better about how I am using my time lately, which was the ultimate reason for the resolution.

Resolution 5. Pray more.
I have been praying more. Not as much as I should, but I am trying to look to God more when I am in need of answers. This one I need to continue to focus harder on. I did recently write a piece on a fellow blogger's website if you are interested in learning more about my relationship with God. You can find that piece by clicking here.

So, in the end, not too bad so far. I am happy where I am in my pursuit of achieving these resolutions. How are yours going? It's never too late to a make a few....

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What Inspires You Wednesday: Hope

A fellow blogger and one of my best childhood friends is an amazing woman. Over the last few years she has completely transformed her health,  her life goals and even her community. You can follow her on twitter @justamomgivingitatri or track her journey on her website. Her company, Schmitt Fitness is on Facebook if you are interested in following her page.

She has been a support and inspiration for me over the last few years as I began living a healthier life, and when I decided to start writing MamaGottaRun she did not disappointed. She recently asked me to guest write a post for her What Inspires You Wednesday blog series, which I graciously agreed to do.

I was nervous at first. I mean, if you are going to submit Jennifer Schmitt a blog post about inspiration, you better be serious. This chick is kind of a master at inspiring others so the heat was on.

Check out my post by clicking here; It went live today and I hope you enjoy it.

This was a picture I snapped last night while running.  I found this moment so powerful last night that I had to take a picture of it. I shared it with Jen and she used it in my guest blog.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 Miles in 2015

 image courtesy

I am very excited about a challenge two of my dear friends and I are taking on this year. Both of these ladies have been huge supporters of my running; they both came and cheered me on when I ran my marathon a few months ago. We are strong women individually, so as a group of three I think we will be unstoppable!

We are going to log a combined 2015 miles, or nearly 670 each, of running or walking this year. We are ready for this challenge and have set up guidelines and accountability measures so that we stick with it. You will see our progress throughout the year posted on here, and eventually, they will take turns guest blogging about the experience a little too.

Kate and I wearing safety goggles, enjoying a beer at the KC Boulevard Brewery last fall. We will definitely have to have a few more of those to celebrate after this year!

Brandi and I after my marathon in October, 2014.

Although we aren't doing the actual Run the Edge challenge that is going viral right now, we are using many of the same principles, but making the challenge our own. 

Our basic guidelines:
  • During January, we each sit down and set monthly mileage goals for the entire year (only running and walking counts, something challenging for our triathlete Brandi!)
  • We log our runs monthly in the same activity application. We chose MapMyRun so that we can see each other's workouts and support each other through social media.
  • I blog monthly about our progress, posting results based off of our individual goals. They blog a little too, giving a different perspective to the process.
  • We all get to enjoy a fun girls night in December together once we accomplish our goal!

Each of us are in this for different reasons, but with the support of one another, we will tackle this challenge successfully!

How are you challenging yourself this year? 

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Day I (almost) Peed into a Diaper

I really appreciate those moments when I see other parents like me. You know, those perfectly imperfect parents that also seem to be just barely making it by, taking life one day at a time?

I'm talking about the mom at the grocery store who with vampire speed, quickly picks up the dropped pacifier, pops it in her own mouth to clean it off, and then gives it back to the screaming baby. Yep, been there. Many times.

Or the dad who, in front of every person in the checkout around him at Kohl's, loudly threatens to spank his tired, cranky misbehaving child (I personally like to whisper it in the child's ear so no one else can hear the threat, but to each his own). Been there too.

The mom that says she's telling daddy if the kid does (fill in the blank) one more time. I do this one near daily, even though I've heard time and time again that it diminishes my own power with my children. 

And we can't forget the dad with the adorable little girl who's wearing snow boots, PJ pants, and a stained t-shirt with an uncombed-hair-ponytail (mommy obviously wasn't home when they left) enjoying a healthy lunch at McDonald's.

I also particularly enjoy any time I see moms or dads of three or more kids braving society alone. It's hard work. So hard that I avoid taking all three kids alone to the grocery store like it's the plague.

It is just nice knowing that I'm not alone. We all struggle. We all have good and bad moments. We all have those times when instinct kicks in and we have to MacGyver our way out of a difficult parenting situation.

My best personal example was the day when I was in hour five of a six hour car ride, alone with all three kids who had *finally* fallen asleep. I remember that I had decided to venture, sans spouse, with the munchkins to grandma's house for the weekend. After what I am sure were a couple of days of lots of exhausting fun, we were on our way back home.

Usually this rare moment of silence would be awesome. Especially following the hours of screaming, fighting, potty breaks and spilled snacks and drinks that I had most definitely endured. 

And I would have thoroughly enjoyed the silence. Except for one thing. 

I had to pee. 


Had I not had a post-three-baby-bladder I may have not been in so much distress; however, the strain from holding it in was near excruciating. 

I considered my options. I could stop somewhere and go. With this I'd have to wake them all up, put their winter coats and shoes back on them, drag them into a gas station bathroom, figure out how to get all three kids to stay in the stall with me without them climbing under or opening the stall door, this all while trying not to pee my pants.


I could pee in a diaper. 

A fresh diaper was just within my reach, mockingly screaming for me to use it.

I looked at the clock. It had only been 3 minutes. Ugh. Fifty-seven minutes until I'd be home. 

I shifted positions. I unzipped my pants to give me a little more bladder space.

Nothing helped. I looked over at the diaper, it teasingly kept whispering it's presence to me. 

Use me... Use me... You'd feel so much better, it soothingly seemed to say.

I reached over and grabbed the diaper. I peered into the rear view mirror and looked in the back seat. The kids were still asleep.

Was there an off ramp close? Should I pull over? Will a diaper hold this much pee? Can you get a ticket for stopping to pee into a diaper? 

So many questions rushed into mind.

What should I do?

Well, sorry to disappoint, but in the end, I chose not pee in the diaper. I may have peed my pants just a little bit, but at the time I thought that more dignified than a grown woman relieving herself into a disposable diaper. Jury's still out on that one though.

Back to the point.

To the mom at the mall play area that just gave her 2-year old son a big swig of a 64 ounce QT fountain drink after his sippy cup went empty, I get ya.

We've all been there.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Snot Icicles and Frozen Beads of Sweat

I love running. I love running outside. I love running outside in hot, warm and cool temperatures. I do not love running outside in very cold temperatures. Last night, however, I was itching to run since it was the first day since the weekend that was not in the single digits (well it was in the morning but we hit near 30 degrees by the time I got out there). I don't run outside in the single digits, and I only run outside. So yesterday I ran.

I never regret a run. Even a bad run. So even though my face and fingers were very cold, and I was pretty slow, it felt great to get out in the fresh air and run. With factoring in the wind chill, the temperature felt more like 20 degrees, but still, the run felt good.

Dressing appropriately for your run is very important, and many new runners run in the winter in more layers than actually needed. I hate to judge though; when I first started running I remember venturing out for a 5 A.M. run layered in three long sleeve shirts and a thick puff vest the first time the temperature ventured into the low 50's. I nearly passed out from how hot I was and almost threw the puffer in a ditch.

I think I have been scarred a little from the experience of running my first half marathon in the fall of 2013. I had trained hard for it so when that November morning came and it was 12 degrees (it never got over 14 degrees while I ran that morning) nothing was going to stop me. I could not feel my face, fingers or toes for a good 30 minutes afterward, and when I crossed the finish line I literally had snot icicles hanging from my nose and frozen beads of sweat in my hair, but I finished. And I did it under 2 hours. Ya know, now that I think about it, that run probably is the reason I don't like running in the cold anymore.

The Gobbler Grind, 2013, with a dear friend. 
Our first half marathons.

Now there are crazy runners that don't care about temperatures. The other night while I visited with a friend at her house, her husband, a devoted runner, came home from a run during our chat. It was 5 degrees outside. Now he is a whole different brand of tough than I am, he's a life-long military man, as well as a cancer surviving marathoner. So I don't really put he and I in the same category of wielding strength, but, he ran. Man he had to be cold.

Reaching my 15 mile per week running goal is pretty easy in the spring, summer and fall, but the next few months will be a challenge. I have to run 5.5 miles average on each of these next two days to reach my goal, so I guess I better start changing my attitude on cold runs. And I better change it fast.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My 2014 Resolutions: Did I Realize Them?

In preparation for setting my 2015 goals, I went back through my 2014 New Year's Resolutions this past week. Here they were:

1. Pray more. We have done a good job this year of attending Mass more regularly, but praying, remembering why I am here, who I am, and living my life more christian every day is something I want to focus on.
2. Keep running. It is hard- especially this winter when I have to run on the "dreadmill" at the gym most of the time, but I really like running (well- outdoors that is!). I feel great when I do it, and it has shown me that I am stronger than I could have ever thought possible. Running that half marathon, all 13.1 miles with an average speed of 9:01 minute miles, in 14 degree weather, well that was something I never imagined I could do.
3. Save more money. Well obviously, not sure if I know anyone who wouldn't like to save more money, but this is a goal I would really like to accomplish. I don't have a set monetary amount, but I'd like to save more. Hopefully as the year progresses and our daycare and health insurance expenses slowly become more reasonable, saving more money will be possible.
4. Go to Jamaica for our 10 year wedding anniversary. We are planning a little vacation in August. Oh boy do we need a vacation. Eight months and counting...
5. This really should be number one. STOP YELLING at my kids. I have not done very good so far (in my defense the first 5 days of 2014 have come after over two weeks of being home with all three kids all day!) but I am working on it.

Okay. So how'd I do?

Pray More. I am actually a little sad to see this on my list, partly because I didn't accomplish this goal, and partly because I forgot to avidly work on it. I prayed this year, but I didn't pray more. I definitely know I need to spend more time with God, and I think about this a lot, but this is a goal I need to make a priority. Sadly, I find that I mostly seek out God when I am in strife, or worried, or sad, and not when I am just hanging out or when good things happen to me. I need to remember that God is the reason I am here. With Him, all things are possible, and He is my support through the good and the bad.

Keep Running. Okay, so this one makes me smile! YES! I have continued to run, run, run and run even more. I ran beyond my wildest dreams. I COMPLETED MY FIRST MARATHON! Notice that I said "my first" marathon, and not "a marathon?" Why is that important? Because there will be more. Maybe not this year, but I will do it again. Privately, I have a future goal of running a marathon in under 4 hours, and I think I can do it. I ran my first marathon very conservatively at 4:19 (4:10 had been my goal), and had more energy at the end than I had anticipated. I believe I can do this, and I will. It is kind of funny that when I wrote this goal a year ago, I hadn't even considered running a full marathon yet. Not even in the slightest. It took me another 4 months into the year, and another half marathon later, before running a full even crossed my mind as something I wanted to do. A reminder that life is amazingly unpredictable.

Save More Money. Disappointed again. I have saved less money than last year. I am in less debt than I was a year ago, but I have saved less. I guess it is a trade off, but it still saddens me. This is not a resolution goal for 2015, but something I need to keep working toward accomplishing.

Go to Jamaica for our 10 Year Anniversary. And it was beautiful! It took lots of planning (and could be the reason I didn't save as much money as I wanted to!) but it happened. My husband and I went to Jamaica, to the exact resort we were married at, and we were there on the exact day of our 10 year wedding anniversary. We were there 6 days, 5 nights, and it was spectacular.

STOP YELLING at my Kids. Okay, in my defense, "stop" was probably the wrong word to use. I have constantly tried to yell less often and choose my battles more wisely, but I haven't stopped. I still feel like this goal was accomplished though because I have altered the pattern. I remember when I wrote this goal I had had a really hard couple of years of choosing to yell rather than being patient and instead help the kids to work out their frustration with calm words and describing emotions. This past year, I improved immensely, so I chalk this one up as a success.

Well, in the end it looks like I met three of my five 2014 New Year's Resolutions. Two I am still working, but I feel good about what I accomplished. Last week I tentatively posted my 2015 New Year resolution goals. In consideration of my 2014 goals, with finality, here they are for 2015:

1. Run at least 15 miles per week.  This will help me train for back-to-back half marathons (the I 35 Challenge) that I intend to run in the fall (which is another goal I have).

2. Complete the I 35 Challenge.

3. Eat lower carbohydrate until at least spring break, hopefully making this change a life choice.

4. Less mindless, time draining, useless playing on my phone. This means NO HIT IT RICH SLOTS application playing (until after Lent). Free spins only :).

5. Pray more. I believe it important I focus on this one again.

This year I hope to periodically review these goals and let readers know how I am doing. Accountability is everything, they say.

Some people don't believe in resolutions, but I think that the word resolution, to those people, is just semantics. Resolutions are goals, and who doesn't set goals to some degree? The beginning of a new year is a good time to reexamine your life and decide to make a change or two. Have you set your goals? It isn't too late...