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Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Season of Change

Last fall when I registered for this April's Garmin Half Marathon I decided that I was going to run it in 1 hour and 50 minutes, setting an earth shattering PR (personal record, for you non runners). That would mean I would need to cut 4 minutes off of my fastest half marathon time. A lofty goal, but I was determined to do it. I planned to run 13 miles at least 5 times beforehand, but really wanted to run that distance 8-10 times beforehand. I started running hard in January, giving me 3 months to get out there and kick some training butt.

This should be easy, I thought. I had completed a full marathon just a few months before. No problem.

Then it happened. One day toward the middle of January I was running for the 4th day in row, something I hadn't done in a few months; Suddenly I started feeling pain in my right shin. Shin splints, I thought. Take it easy and the pain will go away. After running through slowly increasing pain for 3 more days, I took several days off from running. Each day I took off, the pain in my shin increased. It quickly got to the point where it even hurt to walk, and eventually I was limping from pain.

What? That's weird, I thought. If you take time off it, shouldn't the pain get better, not worse?

If you follow my blog, you know the rest. I had a stress fracture. After a week of rest I finally went to the doctor, scared to death of what she might say. My treatment plan was five weeks in an air cast with absolutely no running. But what about the Garmin Half in a few months?

Well, last week I came out of the air cast and slowly started running again. I need to very moderately increase my miles, which is hard for someone that previous to the injury would easily run 6-7 miles at a time. Normally recovery would be no problem, add 10-20% per week into your mileage and you'll get back to running longer distances in a few months.

Normally you aren't training for a half marathon though.

My new training plan? Be able to run the whole thing, even if it's my worst time ever. This will be a new kind of training season for me. A season of change.

I am about 6 weeks out from the race (which is on April 18) and here are my new training goals:

March 1-7: Run 3 times, reaching a 3 mile run by the end of the week.
March 8-14: Run 3 times, reaching a 4 mile run.
March 15-21: Run 3 times, reaching a 5 mile run.
March 22-28: Run 4 times, reaching a 6 mile run.
March 29-April 4: Run 4 times, reaching an 8 mile run.
April 5-11: Run 3 times, reaching a 10 mile run.
April 12-18: Run 2 times, reaching a 7 mile run. Rest two days before race. Race on the 18th.

So we will see if my plan needs adjustment, but at least I have a plan. I will keep you all posted on how it goes.

Friday, February 27, 2015

One Mean Mama

The idea for this article is completely unoriginal, but it's content is. I recently read a blog post from a father who discussed all of the horrible things that he does to his children that he feels absolutely no guilt about. I agree with so much of what he wrote and thought that the article was hilarious. At the end of his post he invited readers to comment on their own guilt-free parenting pleasures. This immediately got me thinking about some of the things that I do or say to my kids even though I know that saying such things is mean, untruthful and borderline wrong.

I was not going to be able to leave him a brief comment. I was going to need my own entire blog post.

I had never really thought about how mean we parents can be and how unreasonable we are sometimes. If a fellow adult were to treat me the same way that I sometimes treat my own kids I would be irate and intolerant of it. I guess that's just part of parenting. Our kids will be parents one day and they too will get their turn to experience this particular enjoyment right of passage.

How am I mean? What do I lie about?
  • I pretend like I'm paying attention to them when I'm actually not. I nod, I give them vocal feedback, and I might even give them direct eye contact. But I'm not listening to them. Not one word that they're saying. Afterward I say a generic enthusiastic, "Wow honey!" or "Maybe we can do that," or "That's awesome!" but I have no idea what I am commenting on.
  • I force my kids to take naps. I lie and tell them that they must nap because that's when children grow. In our house a person is only able to grow when they are asleep, so if you want to get taller you have to take a nap. Why do I say this? Because naps are not for them or their health. Naps are for me. Naps are for my sanity and are my only time to get anything done around the house. 
  • I act like I am much more mad than I really am. Yes, it sucks when my 6 year old spills a full glass of milk while he is sitting at the kitchen table doing his homework, but it's not all bad. Inside I actually get super excited when this happens! I now have the perfect "out!" I can blow up and pretend to be disappointed or angry so that my kid is too scared to be naughty for a few hours, if I'm lucky, for the rest of the day. I suggest this lie to all parents.
  • I remember some advice I was told early on as a parent: You should never pine one child against the other or compare them to each other to their face, because it makes them dislike each other. But guess what? Even though I know it's wrong I do this all the time. If one child is misbehaving I frequently point out that another child is on task. They don't seem to hate each other when I do this, in fact this technique seems to have the desired outcome. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone, right?
  • Once in a while I pretend like we are out of certain groceries. I do this because making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is much less work than making spaghetti or tacos for lunch. Even though I know the kids get really sick of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I still lie. As an adult I despise having to eat the same things over and over yet I do not afford my children the same luxury.
  • Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Elf on the Shelf, all lies. Speaking of Santa in particular, I often threaten that Santa won't come when I know very well that he will. I threaten this when they're hitting each other, they're not listening to me, or maybe they just do something they're not supposed to do. It actually feels selfishly good to tell them that if they continue to (fill in the blank) that Santa won't come, or if he does come that he will only bring them coal. Now, seriously, I would never take Santa away but it sure is nice to have that empty promise as ammunition.
  • This might be the best worst thing that I do. In secret, I individually tell each of my kids that he or she is my favorite child. I don't know what it is about siblings (maybe that competition I was talking about earlier) but they are constantly vying to be the favorite child. Every few days at least one of them asks me who it is. I should say, "I love you all the same." I actually say, "You are my favorite because you were my first," or "You are my favorite because you are my only girl." I tell them that they can't tell the others because it would make them sad. This one will probably come back to bite me one day, but for now I tell myself that I am attempting to build up their esteem (but I narcissisticly thrive on the look of pure happiness they get on their face when I tell them what they want to hear).
I am a dishonest mom to my kids sometimes. I realize that this is completely unfair because I am trying to teach them the importance of honesty. I am not sure how long I will be able to get away with my despicable behavior, but hopefully for awhile. Not only is it fun to get away with acting like this, but it keeps the days interesting too.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

March H2O Challenge

Have you ever wanted to drink more water? I always think about doing it, but I never actually do. I usually grab a diet soda instead. Or a coffee. Or if I do choose water it must have a Crystal Light mixer in it. Rarely do I ever turn on the tap and drink pure water.  

Recently I learned of an H20 challenge that fitness guru and fellow blogger (who just happens to be a friend of mine too) Jen Schmitt is hosting during the month of March. Here is why I am doing it, and you should too:

-It doesn't cost anything to participate. I have no idea how Jen stays so motivated to help others free of charge, but she does. She sets personal goals of helping others and changing people's lives through healthy living. And she really is; if you participate, you will not be disappointed. Although I haven't participated in any of her challenges previous to this one, I know when I trained for my marathon last year, and even now while I recover from my injury, she frequently sent/sends messages of encouragement.

-It is only one month of your life, and who knows? It could CHANGE your life! I am excited to learn more about how my body processes and needs water and Jen will be requiring that we check a secret Facebook page daily to get information related to water consumption. The group is encouraged to post and participate in Facebook discussions daily as well.

-My kids need me to role model better behavior. I love running and they see that exercise is important to me, but they also see, and I'm not joking here, the minimum of 60 ounces of diet soda that I consume daily. Most days per week diet soda is shamefully the only form of drink that I consume, and that folks, is really sad. I truly hope to wean myself from my diet soda addiction over the month of this challenge.

-I am excited to see if eating healthier changes my physiology. Will my migraines lesson? Will my skin improve? Will I feel healthier? Will I have more energy?

-Having Jen's support on Facebook and through text messages is key. She will give you daily suggestions, advice, information and the support needed to get you through the process of incorporating more water into your daily diet. Everything is online, so whether you live 6 hours away from her (like I do) or 6 minutes from her, you will be supported.

Jen plans to start us all at 64 ounces of water per day; and by water, I mean water. No additives. No flavor (besides maybe a slice of lemon or cucumber). Just. Plain. Water. As the month progresses the goal will be to get you drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water by the end. You can drink other beverages throughout the day, but they do not count toward your total daily water consumption.

You can register for this challenge by clicking on the H2O link above and submitting an online form. You only have until 10 am on Friday, March 27 to register, so don't delay.

I dare you to take the plunge! I look forward to this challenge and you could too.

Injury Update: Biking, Swimming and Walking

The last three weeks of exercise have been really interesting for me.

I'm someone who absolutely loves to run. Running has become something that defines me to an extent. Not being able to run, although mentally difficult, has been a good reminder for me that there are other kinds of exercise out there that I enjoy. Using these alternatives have helped me feel like "me" again, something I struggled with the first two weeks after my injury when I wasn't allowed to do any types of exercises that involved my legs.

One approved form of exercise that I can do while I heal from my stress fracture is riding the stationary bike. It is been roughly 10 years since I have regularly ridden an exercise bike and I must say that it has been more enjoyable than I remember. It's been great to catch up on Netflix! When I last rode the exercise bike 10 years ago it was when I was a little obsessed with working out, as my wedding day was soon approaching. I remember that I had a very outdated stationary bike in the back room of an apartment I was living in and I rode that thing every single day. It was really uncomfortable to sit on and the pedometer on the bike was broken. When we moved, I put it in the dumpster.

The exercise bikes at the gym that I have been riding are much different. They track my resistance, my pace, my distance and many other elements of bike riding that I am unfamiliar with. I can also plug my headphones into them and watch television screens or listen to the radio. Definitely an improvement from my previous experience.

I've also spent a little more time working on my core. Although I haven't done this as much as I wanted too, I've been trying. Tummy work has been my primary focus and I've been sore from it it, which feels great. It feels so good to have sore muscles and reminds me of how awesome I felt after the boot camp classes I used to take. I know, I'm a nerd. But I love when I feel sore after a workout.

Another activity that I've been able to do, although only a little bit right now, is slooooow walking. Walking is something that I used to love to do prior to my becoming a runner. Although I cannot walk very fast right now, nor can I use any incline at all, I have enjoyed walking outside on warmer days. The treadmill hasn't been too bad either surprisingly; when I run, I always seem to despise the dreadmill. I still have to wear my Air-cast or an ace wrap when I walk or I feel discomfort, but it has been something I've been trying to incorporate into my exercise right now.

A final form of exercise that I've heard a lot about since I've been recovering from my stress fracture is swimming. I haven't been able to do aqua running since my gym doesn't have a pool, but this past weekend I did take two of my children to our local parks and rec center to swim. Neither of the two children I brought with me can swim so I spent a lot of time carrying them and running with them in the water. They are solid 4 and 6 year old kids so it wasn't a light load. That was two days ago and I cannot believe how sore my quads, hips and thighs are from the resistance of the water.  I was constantly moving in the pool for an hour and 20 minutes and it was one of the hardest workouts I've done in a very long time. It felt wonderful!

So although hopefully I will be able to start running again soon, maybe even this weekend, I have been happy to try some different types of exercises that I had forgotten about. I hope that I continue to incorporate some of these activities in my exercise regimen in the future.

If nothing else, I definitely have a new found respect for my triathlete friends!

Monday, February 23, 2015

First Child Versus Every Child After

This morning I was thinking about how today's nap time was going to be really important because I had several things that I wanted to get done while my two preschoolers were asleep. That got me thinking about how nap time used to be, when I had only one child. And that got me thinking about how other things related to child rearing used to be, when I had only one child.

I quickly realized that I really was much more organized and prepared with just one child, and I have several examples to prove it.

When I had just one child, he had an amazing nap time. Every day, strictly at 1 PM, I would start his spa nap 'experience.' First, I would go into my sons room and set the scene. I would turn on his lullaby CD, pick up any toys on the floor so he wouldn't be temped to play with them, and then I would tightly close his sound proof, sun proof curtains, creating the most relaxing environment imaginable. I would then carry him into his prepared room, read him a few books, giggle, snuggle and rub his back until he fell asleep. He would easily sleep for three hours. With that much love and care, who wouldn't?

Fast forward to today. My oldest son is now at school, but his two younger siblings are, as I type, napping on the couch. The sun is annoyingly shining on their closed eye lids and a Disney movie is blaring in the background. If there are days when they refuse to go to sleep like this, I drag them to their rooms and lock them in there for an hour.

My younger two angels while napping.

Diaper Bags
My oldest son had a few diaper bags, my favorite had his name embroidered on it. I usually chose the one I would carry that day based off of which one matched my outfit the best. They were all stocked to the brim with an arsenal of supplies, including thermometers, infant Tylenol, sensitive Pampers wipes, Pampers diapers, Infamil formula packets with steam cleaned bottles/nipples, Gerber baby snacks, age appropriate toys, pacifiers, and two complete changes of clothing. At the end of the day, I diligently restocked the bag so that I was ready for anything that the next day might bring.

I no longer use a diaper bag. I use my purse. My regular old purse. But one side of it is usually stuffed with a half eaten baggie of Goldfish, a few granola bars, a sippy cup that inevitably spills, some Target brand wipes and a cheap pull-up. Even when my youngest was a baby, I rarely used a diaper bag. With three kids and a purse to keep track of already, adding another tote of responsibility just seemed outrageous.

My youngest son might remember that as a toddler he rarely ate the same thing for his meals as my husband and I. I often painstakingly cooked and froze homemade baby food for him, and regularly purchased the expensive Gerber brand toddler meals, snacks, juices and cereals. Everything he ate was name brand. Everything he ate was calculated and portioned; I planned every bite that went into his adorable little mouth.

My how times changed. The middle child had some of these baby/toddler prepackaged foods in her meals, mixed in though with table food from the adult meal of the day. Although she did eat some baby snacks and meals, they were definitely all generic brand. Oh... and then there's my third child. My poor, youngest son has eaten table food since he was 9 months old, and has no idea that not eating what everyone else is eating, was ever even an option.

My toddler's supper last night was the same as everyone else's.

Play Room Organization
It used to be so easy to organize my first child's toys. He didn't have that many and they were all designed for his stage of development. Many were gender specific too. A toy box and a few shelves in his room... he was set.

Today is a much different story. I now need toys for both boys and girls. I need toys to entertain both school aged kids and toddlers. We have had a combined 11 birthdays and six Christmases so the toys are always being replenished. Now my children may no longer keep their toys in their rooms; they simply own too many. Instead we have an entire floor of our house, lined with storage cubbies, floor-to-ceiling shelving, and many toy boxes all dedicated to the 'play area' that we call our entire basement. When it gets messy, the basement literally takes at least an hour to pick up. Each night after my gremlins go to bed, I dread going down there, never knowing just how much chaos I am going to have to deal with.

Trips to a Store
Another difference is taking trips to a store. When I had just one child, there was no question of if I would take him to the store with me; taking him was easy. I would grab the antibacterial wipes so that I could wipe down every inch of the shopping cart that he might possibly touch. I always brought an extra blanket to put down under him in the cart, so that I could cover up the handle to avoid germs and also so that he could sit on something soft. I would bring various toys and snacks. We would leisurely shop for hours, at several stores, and I always enjoyed showing him off to the world.

Not the case anymore. Shopping with my three kids is a nightmare. I avoid it like the plague. But when it must be done, I plan the quickest, most efficient route around town possible. I mentally prepare myself for at least two meltdowns from them and three from me. I have learned to avoid eye contact with the shoppers around me so I don't have to see their judgmental stares as I scream, "If you touch your sister one more time I am going to take you out to the car and spank you right now." My only pre-shopping-prep is to make sure I have three iPads or iPhones fully charged so they can all get one to distract themselves with.

I joke about the changes that adding kiddos to my roost has created, but that doesn't mean that either family size is better. With one child I was really organized, but I didn't handle change or unpredictability very well. With more than one child I can better handle change or unpredictability but my organizational skills have definitely suffered.

I love that I have three kids and I wouldn't change that for the world. But sometimes, in fleeting moments of nostalgia, I do remember what having just one child was like. And it was different.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Joy of Parenting: Brushing Your Child's Teeth

The fact that I am in charge of other people's very basic needs is scary sometimes, and a bit overwhelming. I must make sure my three children eat a balanced diet, sleep the required amount of hours needed every night, take baths or showers daily, and learn other basic hygiene skills that they will need to continue for the rest of their lives.

I have to admit, the one need that has become a bit irritating of late is teaching them how to, and remembering to remind them, that we need to brush their teeth at least one per day, twice if we are lucky. I don't remember this being a big deal until I had three little mouths that I was trying to scrub. This hygiene skill is a very important one, so there really is no way around it. And if I don't do a good job of it, they have to get fillings, and I have to pay for said fillings. 

It's just easier if we take this one serious.

The brushing of teeth has become like an assembly line ordeal, with turn taking, fighting about toothbrushes, choosing toothpaste flavors, bickering over which child gets which cup to rinse with, arguing about who took whose little plastic flosser, etc, etc... I just want to pull my hair out some nights.

If my kids could brush their teeth themselves, that would be different. But they can't. Not for a long, long time. They just don't have the ability to do a good job yet. This doesn't stop them from trying though, so in addition to their 2 minutes of unproductive scrubbing, I then have to do the deed at least another minute more to make sure it was done right. By the time it is my turn to assist, they are thoroughly sick of doing it and scream and cry most of the time.

It has helped that the last few weeks my oldest son has been learning about oral care and hygiene in school. He is very interested in taking care of his teeth right now and is weirdly excited to do it. An orthodontist even talked to his class, gifting my son with both valuable knowledge and a nice little teeth "care package." The downside of him learning this "valuable knowledge" about his teeth is that he has been a little annoying about some of the rules he feels he must now follow religiously.

"Mom!" he screams cautiously, "You're teeth are going to turn green if you drink that!" (This has been said for every soda I have drank in front of him for the last two weeks).

"Mom! That food has an entire baggie of sugar in it!" (Referring to when the orthodontist brought in foods and showed the kids, using measurements of sugar in baggies, just how much was in certain ones).

"Mom, I can't eat that, it sticks to my teeth, so I just throw them away." (After nearly two weeks of putting granola bars in his lunch, adding up to about $15 bucks in snacks that were apparently thrown directly into the garbage).

"I have to brush for a long time." (This one seems like more of an extension of the time between brushing and bedtime than it does a necessary rule he is following. It also seems like he is trying to annoy his siblings by taking a really long time in the assembly line.)

"Sister, I see bugs crawling on your teeth." (She then cries, screams, he laughs, and I intervene. I have to admit that I have said this to him when he has refused to brush, he just strategically repeats the phrase when he knows it will get a rise out of her).

Teeth brushing has literally become a contender for one my least favorite bedtime routine events, ranking up there with getting my kids to actually fall asleep and getting them to sleep in their own rooms.

Please tell me I'm not alone on this one?

Waiting in line to brush.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Why It's Just Easier To Do It Myself

My children are starting to get a little older. This fact makes me incredibly sad sometimes, but often I am excited about it too. Them getting older means that they are getting more independent and can do more things for themselves.

It is nice that I don't always have to push a shopping cart or stroller for a quick stop to the store because many times the kiddos can now all walk. Car rides have become easier as at least a couple of the crew can buckle and unbuckle themselves into their boosters. I enjoy that they can use the bathrooms themselves (most of the time), can get little snacks and drinks for themselves occasionally, and I definitely like that they can now entertain themselves for more than one minute when I try to get work done from home.

But, like all good things, independence has a catch. My kids love that I trust them to help me out more, but they sometimes hate when I ask them to do things for themselves.

When it comes to chores, many times my children do ask to help me out. From helping me crack the eggs in the morning (a few shells never hurt anyone, right?) to folding our laundry, since they are getting older and becoming more responsible they seem to want to get more involved in participating in the daily activities of running a household.

(I'm not ignorant. They might just want to one-up each other, earning brownie points from mommy, but I'll play along. I like the idea of them helping me.)

Did you catch how I phrased that?

I like the idea of them helping me. The idea of my three young children helping me out around the house is usually much better than the actual help that they provide. Sometimes I just really want to do it myself. Is that crazy?

For example, I can do the dishes in 5-10 minutes, from the time I start clearing the table until the time I wipe off the last counter top and hit start on the dishwasher. If the kids help, it takes them 5-10 minutes just to decide which one of them will clear the dishes, who will rinse, and who will load the dishwasher. It's a 45 minute ordeal; an ordeal that does teach them skills, but still, an ordeal.

It's not just the dishes. They ask to help sweep the hardwoods (which I have to redo afterward), pick up their rooms (I also have to redo), vacuum the floors (redo), dust (redo), clean bathrooms (redo), pick up the toy room (redo), etc. (redo), etc. (redo)...

Now they are normal kids. Very normal kids. Sometimes when I ask them to help, they do freak out, even when asked to do simple things like to pick up a game when they are done playing with it. In these situations it is like pulling teeth trying to get them to do some chores. I believe that if they do the good deed on their own initiative, they are much more willing; whereas if I ask them to help, their reaction is more unpredictable.

A reward chart, like the one below, really does help (when we remember to use it), as well as prize jars and good ole' bribing.

I do like that they seem want to help out most of the time, but honestly, I don't always have the tolerance for it. My lack of patience has to be kept a secret though, and it takes everything in me sometimes to bite back my annoyance, smile, and instead say, "Sure, honey, you can help," when I know that I've just tacked another 15 minutes onto the task.

This leads to another catch: I can't let them know that I don't want them to help, because I do want them to learn how to help. I want them to feel like I want them to help, to feel that I appreciate their help, and to see how helping me out makes me happy.

But.... aaahhhh.... It. Takes. So much. Patience.

I sound like a crazy person. But if you are a parent, you know. You know what I am talking about. Parents already have so much on their very time-managed-plates that they don't have much wiggle room for letting the kids quadruple the very calculated time frames of their days.

I know it won't always be this way.

Chores will get easier for them. I definitely look forward to that. But then we get to another catch: If the chores are getting easier for my kids, then that means they are getting older. As I have said before, I am not ready for that. 

So I guess I'll just continue to struggle through. Extend my time frames. Work on my tolerance.
Most importantly though, I'll enjoy the memories. My children won't always be this ambitious to help out.

And they definitely won't always be this cute when they are trying to do it.

My angels, helping with dishes.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

What's Worse Than Forgetting to Pick Your Child Up After School?

You'd think that nothing could crush a child's precious little spirit more than his parents forgetting to pick him up after school, right? Try again. I've actually done that one before. It can be topped.

This week my husband and I forgot to bring our son to school. Yep. Sure did.

How does something like this happen, you might ask? Well let me tell you, it is not easy. You must truly be an overwhelmed, overworked, calendar-packed parent. You must be so ignorant in your domino-effect of assumptions that you honestly read between the lines, more than you actually read the lines (of, say, a school district email earlier in the week reminding of the academic calendar).

My son's school district doesn't schedule the half-days off once a week for faculty development that some schools do. Instead we parents are often faced with unpredictable days throughout the month, sometimes several of these random days in row, where school is not in session. Having these days are important so that teachers can participate in professional growth, I get that. I am someone who appreciates academics very much (obviously, I teach college classes). What I do not understand is how these random days are chosen.

For example, we are currently in the middle of seven possible school days where my son only has class on three of them. Well, not my son; he only had class on two of the seven days, which is where my story gets started.

We always struggle with childcare on days when my first grader is out of school. He can't attend the childcare center that my two preschoolers go to while I'm at work, so my husband and I juggle our schedules in order to watch him. We work half days, create our own bring-your-child-to-work days, and in a pinch, we occasionally use call-in-sick days. It all usually ends up being just fine, and my son seems to love going to work with us when that is his option.

Well this past week was strange. My son had a normal school day on Monday. Tuesday was his Valentine's Day party (of which I volunteered at), and then teacher/parent conferences were held on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday was a professional development day for teachers. The school calendar clearly describes all of this for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Little did I realize that although conferences were on Wednesday, only the kindergarten classes were out of school on that day. First graders did in fact have school, even though we didn't realize it. Even though the calendar his teacher sends home in his backpack every night was marked in error.

So when Wednesday came around, we did our no-school-crazy-shuffle. My son went to work with my husband during the first part of the day while I taught classes, and then I picked him up from my husband at noon. As we were driving by my son's school on the way back to the house, I noticed several cars in the parking lot. I jokingly said to my son, "I hope you didn't have school today," and we laughed; we knew the teachers still had to be at the school for conferences even though the students did not.

When I got home I gave my kids their healthy Burger King lunch and while they were eating I sat down to check my email. At the very top of the list was a message from my son's teacher. She wanted to know if we were still coming to his conference later that evening, even though he was home sick for the day.

What?! Did my son have school? I thought he was out today?

Slight panic. I texted my husband. I emailed back the teacher.

Sure enough, my son was supposed to be at school. Ooops. He quickly gobbled down the hamburger I had let him get as a "no school" treat, I loaded the three kids back up in the car, and somehow had him to school by early afternoon.

In the end it wasn't a big deal. It was a little embarrassing that we had to go to my son's conference later than night and see his teacher. But we all laughed about it. My son actually felt kinda special I think. Sadly she admitted to us that we were the only parents that made this mistake.

So I'm not going to win any mom of the year awards anytime soon, and lately I'm pretty much failing at multi-tasking work, school and child rearing.

Our life is a crazy adventure sometimes. Nothing surprises me anymore.

Being a mom has definitely strengthened my sense of humor, that's for sure.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Resolution Update: Lower Carb Diet

Grilled salmon, steamed snap peas and broccoli, green salad.

Fresh grocery store salad.

A lower carbohydrate diet is challenging, but I'm over 6 weeks in and finding that it is starting to feel normal. 

I can't tell you how much weight I've lost because I am not weighing myself at all. I am not concerned with pounds; I just want my clothes to fit nicely. And, since I started the diet, my clothes do fit great again.

I've dieted this way before at different points in my life, but I am truly trying to make it a life change this time. I will say too, that because I'm unable to run right now and am thus burning less calories daily, eating healthy has helped aid in my spirits as I wait for my injury to heal. This diet just works really well for me to maintain the healthy weight that I like.

I also really enjoy this diet because, and I have no science that I can find behind this, but my migraines seem fewer and minimized in intensity when I am eating lower carbohydrates. 

Top 10 foods (1 serving) I enjoy:
1. Fiber One bars (sometimes dipped in peanut butter): 11-15 carbs
2. Celery/peanut butter: 3-6 carbs
3. Turkey bacon & cheese omelet: 1-3 carbs
4. Green Salads, various: 3-9 carbs
5. Cheese, various, slices/chunks: 0-2 carbs
6. Sugar free candy- Russsel Stover: 4-8 carbs
7. Grilled chicken breast or fish, seasoned: 0-3 carbs
8. String cheese: 0-1 carbs
9. Raw Cucumber/pepper slices and ranch dip: 2-6 carbs
10. Tuna or cheese/low carb tortilla shells: 3 carbs

I'll keep you posted on my success. If you want more information on this diet let me know and I can tell you more details. If you believe you can cut out most breads, pasta, potatoes, most fruits, and sugary sweets, this might be a good option for you.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Injury Update

I will not give up!

I can say that the last three weeks have been the most frustrating I've had in awhile. Previous to my current stress fracture, I have never had an injury from running besides runner's knee once. Runner's knee does hurt but doesn't keep you from running very long. Nor does it have as many long term risks if you don't stay completely off of it. I remember taking a week break from running and then switching to trail running for awhile, but I was able to get back out there pretty quickly.

I went back to the doc for follow up X rays and it was suggested I wear the air cast for 2 more weeks. So that'll be 5 weeks in the air cast total. At that point, I should then be able to slowly start running again, devoutly following the 10% rule. I am continuing the stationary bike, and I may try the elliptical or a few more short walks this week, but I really do need to refrain from running even though the pain is less often and severe. 

If two more weeks off really is all this takes, I should be able to run my scheduled half in mid-April. I won't be setting a PR like I had hoped, but at this point, running it would just be amazing.

It is really hard to not get anxious about running (although the predicted 10 days in a row now of the coldest weather we've had this winter is upon us), but it is even harder to stay energized and be in a good mood. I do not feel like myself when I don't run. I love everything about running, from getting to see the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, to the mental arguments I have with my mind on a bad or particularly long run. I think the hard runs end up being my favorite because afterward I always feel such accomplishment after not giving up.

It has been really rough seeing my husband thrive in his running these last few weeks; he has improved his pace and increased his distance recently. I am so proud of him, I truly am! When I see him looking at the forecast on his phone though, I know he is planning his next run. I get so jealous, and angry, but it's not his fault he isn't injured. Soon I will be back out there too. 

I already bought new running shoes with good insole inserts.

Patience. Patience. More Patience. I will not give up!

Monday, February 9, 2015

How to Spot a Mom at the Gym

You know who she is.

You can recognize her by the Ninja Turtle band aid secured to her index finger.

She has no need to wear makeup and she has her hair pulled into a messy pony tail. You might even find her rolling her eyes at the younger gals that have prepped as if they are going out on a date instead of going out to the gym.

If she is wearing shorts, you might notice her legs need a shave and probably need a few layers of lotion too. They definitely need a tan.

She dons an uncoordinated workout outfit, and she is often splattered with ketchup on the front of her shirt. She might even have on mismatched socks (not to be trendy; they were the only ones that were clean) and in her rush to leave the house, she may have forgotten to change into a sports bra (she'll regret that one later).

She skips stretching before her workout simply as a time management tool; she'll try to do brief warm up on the treadmill though.

She is not reading magazines leisurely on the stationary bike, but frantically checking her email, texting her husband or confirming doctor appointments while her exhausted legs push the pedals. If she does try to relax her mind a little, she doesn't listen to music. She catches up on the Netflix show that she can't watch in front of her kids or listens to audiobooks since she no longer has the free time to sit down and read an actual book.

She doesn't have time for locker rooms, showering, or changing clothes afterwards, so she usually has a purse or small bag of belongings sitting on the floor beside the equipment or the machine she is using.

Once again she probably skips stretching after her workout because honestly, she doesn't have the time right now. She'll try to remember to do it when she gets home.

And the telltale sign of a mom is that she might actually appear sad when her workout is over, knowing that her time alone, without babies crying, kids pulling her in multiple directions, or housework screaming loudly at her, is regrettably over. Already.

She has enjoyed her time alone so much that she plans her next workout as she walks out the gym doors and heads to the grocery store.

Can you spot her?

My Cocaine (like) Addiction

When I wake up in the morning it's the first thing I want. If I'm out, it's all I can think of. My mind frantically races with plans to get my hands on some.

I get twitchy.

I get irritable. 

My head aches when I can't get any, or enough. Other variations of the drug work, but none is as sweet or tastes as scrumptious.

My Diet Dew. My cocaine. My caffeine of choice. My terrible, wonderful habit.

I'm not sure when it happened, but I am utterly and hopelessly addicted to this deliciously deceptive drink. Although my favorite is a fountain Dew, ice cold cans and 20 oz. bottles can work great. If I'm in a pinch I'll drink from a 2 liter. 

Embarrassingly, in moments of weakness, I'll even admit to drinking out of a can or a 2 litter that has set out on the kitchen counter, my desk, or in my car consul for a few days. 

I used to tell myself that I can quit when I want, and somehow I did during all three of my pregnancies. I've even successfully given it up for Lent a few times. 

But lately I've stopped kidding myself. I can't quit. I have completely given myself to Diet Mtn. Dew. 

My kids tell me soda pop is bad for me and I am often afraid I am setting a bad example for them. My husband, although he contributes to supplying my habit, despises it and has himself quit drinking the stuff a long time ago. Sometimes I can't sleep when I drink too much of it; I know that the caffeine is keeping me up. I feel kinda trashy carrying around a 32 ounce QT Dew around campus when my colleagues grip their Starbucks coffee creations tightly in their hands. 

It's sad, I'll admit, but none of these reasons are convincing enough. I always keep coming back for more.

I tell myself that my busy life of working full time, carrying for my family, finding time to run, are all important reasons for why I need caffeine to keep me going strong.

And I will continue to tell myself that.

So, cheers, and if ever need to buy me a gift, a case of Diet Dew would be just perfect.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Why I'll Never Have Another Garage Sale

You decide to have a garage sale to get rid of your children's old clothes and toys. It takes an entire week to get your garage ready, which you have to do at night while the kids are out from under your feet. You sort your kids stuff, sticker tag it, secure tables from neighbors or get creative making some out of old plywood in your garage. You get $50 dollars in one dollar bills and change. You post your sale on Facebook, Craigslist and you hang signs around your neighborhood. You think you are ready and you even begin imagining all the awesome stuff you are going to buy with the cash you'll make.

The night before the sale strangers stop by that read your add on Craigslist and ask to look at your stuff early (umm no, the sale has not started yet).You are up until 2 am putting the last few finishing touches on the garage and then finally, exhausted, you go to bed. You are abruptly awoken to someone knocking on your door at 6 am, asking to go dig through your stuff early, before the sale starts at 7 (umm no, the sale has not started yet). You get up, grab a coffee, and finally open the garage door, only to realize that it is raining. 

Cold and raining. 

Over the two rainy days of your sale, a few people browse but no one really buys much. You catch a few dishonest people switching tags and stealing stuff. After the weekend is over, you have cleared $36. 


Sounds awful, huh? It is. But I have found a much better option.

Have you ever considered consigning your children's gently used clothing or toys? I have had several friends over the years tell me how amazing it is, so last year I tried it a few times. It has actually been a pretty good experience. You can get 65-75% of your total sales back, and once you figure out the rules of tagging, pricing and hanging, it really doesn't take too long to prepare your items.

The most stressful part of the event for me is the drop off and pick up processes, but that depends on which sale you consign with. In Kansas City, there are many different sales that happen at different times throughout the year. I've consigned 4 times with Kids Closet Connection, and 2 times with Rhea Lana. The drop off with Kids Connection is definitely easier and faster, but the pick up with Rhea Lana is much, much better than Kids Connection. 

Kids Connection is great if you have a lot of average price and quality of kids clothes and toys in decent condition. You tag all your stuff, pricing them as low as $1 if you like, before you go to drop off your items in order to expedite the drop off process. When you arrive at drop off, once your clothes are briefly inspected for quality, you hang them up according to sex/size and place other merchandise like toys or infant items in the correct section of the store. The sale last several days and you can decide if you want your items to go half price the last day. As a consigner you earn 65% of your sales and you get to shop before the public. If you refer other moms to sell or if you volunteer to work the sale (quality inspection, cashier, clothes sorting after, etc) you can get another 5-10% more back of your sales, pending on how many shifts you volunteer for. You can check your sales nightly after each day of the sale. The absolute worst part of this sale is the pick up process. You, as well as hundreds of other consigners, have only a few hours to frantically find your items. If you can't find something, or anything is missing (lost or stolen), items are not guaranteed. I have had a few items go missing, only one was a large item, but overall, I have made enough money on other items that it wasn't a big deal. After the sale, checks are mailed to you 7-10 days later.

Rhea Lana is great if you have nicer items that are in very good condition. This sale market's itself as "boutique brands" and higher quality than the other sales in the area, and it definitely is. The minimum you can price an item is $3, but like Kid's Closet Connection, you have the option of selling at half price toward the end of the sale. My stuff doesn't sell as well at these simply because Nike, Gap and Gymboree are about the nicest brands my three kids wear, but I do find that I get more than at other sales overall for the items that do sell. Also, you get 70% of your sales from the start, and then more if you volunteer and refer others, and you of course get to shop before the public too. I love that with this sale you can see your sales live throughout the day as items are sold, in real time. The difficult part of this sale is the drop off process. If you print off your tags at home before you come, drop off is easy, but your items are not guaranteed. This means that in order to get your items guaranteed (which is really nice if an item is lost or stolen) you have to have them print the tags for you and then you put them on your items at drop off. Also, the inspection process is much more scrutinizing, simply because they only want high quality merchandise. I also enjoy that with this sale when you go to pick up your unsold items, all items are already sorted for you, and they give you your check that day before you leave. It literally takes 2 minutes to pick up your unsold items and get paid.

If you prefer, both sales offer to donate your unsold items and then mail you your check, that way you don't have to worry about picking them up. I don't usually do that though because what doesn't sell at one sale, usually sells at the next one. There is usually an initial consigners fee but if you transfer unsold items to another sale of the same franchise in that same year, the fee is usually waived after the first sale you participate in. 

Overall, I would suggest to anyone looking to sell their kids used items to check out these types of sales. I find these are a financially savvy way to get rid of the mountains of clothes and toys that collect in boxes and tubs in my basement. These sales are much much much easier than having a garage sale at your home and I always make more money.

Oh, and if you live in the KC area and you decide to sell with either of these franchises, please give them my name as a reference so I can get a little extra in my check (another bonus to selling and referring others to the sales). 

There are lots of sales coming up this spring, in fact I'm currently doing the Rhea Lana sale at the Overland Park International Trade Center this weekend. 

So stop by and buy my stuff. Hope to see you there!

                                                                                Photo Courtesy

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

2015 Miles: January Complete

Team 2015 Miles is off to a great start! We completed 132.49 miles in January, or about 6.5% of our goal. We still have some serious miles to accumulate, but if you consider that we didn't even commit to the challenge until about a week into January, we really are working hard.

You can look forward to an inspiring guest post at the end of February from team member Kate Fischer. Of the three of us, she has the most unique perspective on this challenge. Prior to 2015 she wasn't exercising at all, so even starting this challenge is an awesome accomplishment for Kate. We are so proud of her and excited to see where this journey takes her.

Why My Kids Are Spoiled

Recently I've decided that my children are spoiled. Well I better not kid myself, I've actually known this for some time. From the full-fledged tantrums when they hear the word no, to ridiculous tears if I even threaten to take away a beloved toy, my kids can be awful. And it can be embarrassing.

I don't think this is unique to just my kids; it seems like many children today act differently than kids acted when I was a child. Maybe I'm bias because I was young at the time, but it seems like parenting has changed, and probably not for the better.

I am sure I am to blame at least partially (there are still kids out there that display pretty stellar behavior, I suppose) but our culture, and society in general really, could also be a culprit.

For example, remember when it wasn't assumed that you'd get to pick out a treat when grocery shopping with your parents? My kids don't. They ask for treats the minute we pull into the grocery store parking lot. And every minute thereafter. And it doesn't stop. Sometimes it's candy, sometimes it's a bubble toy from the quarter machine, and sometimes it's just getting to pick out one item, any item, for the family to share. But they expect, without hesitation, that some kind of treat will happen. Unfortunately though, it's not just the grocery store.

Going out to eat, or even ordering pizza, was special when I was a kid. Even going out to eat at McDonald's was a treat- in fact, it was so coveted that we'd have our birthday parties there! They were awesome, too. Do you remember as a kid taking turns unwrapping the box of cookies that was wrapped in like 30 layers of hamburger wrappers? I don't know if old Ronald McDonald even offers those parties anymore, but my kids would probably scoff at me if I suggested it. Maybe it's because there is a fast food joint around every corner, but in my house, the novelty of eating out has been replaced with the normalcy of it.

Speaking of birthday parties, they have drastically changed too. You only expected one birthday party when I was a kid, not the week long party of celebrations with various groups, like one with your extended family, one with your friends, one with your immediate family, one at school... It is endless! And birthday parties today aren't just a sleepover with some homemade Betty Crocker cake either. Birthday extravaganzas parties cost hundreds of dollars, involve goody bags filled to the brim, bouncy houses, live characters, elaborate decorations, engaging games to entertain the minimum of 20 kids you've invited, and often occur at rented facilities. And your kids open up so many presents that they actually get sick of doing it. It is just unreal.

Kids are harder to entertain too, even though they have a plethora of technologies to select from. My children have 100's of TV channels to browse, Netflix and iPads loaded with games, apps and videos, and they still constantly complain about being bored! When I was little there were like 3 basic TV channels to watch. Period. That was it. If I hear, "What can I dooooooo?" one more time from my kids I might lose it.

You know what we did instead of watching TV or playing on our iPads? We actually played with other people. We played with our siblings. We played with our friends. We played with our cousins. We played with real people, in person, often outdoors. Now my kids just want to sit side-by-side-by-side on the couch and all join in on Minecraft. Yes, playing together has definitely changed.

And when we played outside, we played for long lengths of time. I don't know if our parents worried, but we definitely disappeared for hours. We were able to entertain ourselves too, something my kids have difficulty doing. They always want me to initiate play for or with them. Don't get me wrong, I love playing with my kids; it is fun and it is important for their development. But they do need to know that it is possible for them to sit and play with Lego's or Play Doh by themselves without me building a creation too.

When playtime was over, we ate our one choice of supper without complaint. If we didn't like it, we didn't eat. Or better yet, if we didn't want to eat it, we sat at the table for hours until we figured out a way to choke down the now cold, stale food. Sometimes we actually fell asleep at the kitchen table. My solution isn't any better. With my kids, I feel like a short order cook most nights. I try to make a healthy, tasty (often expensive) meal for my family to enjoy, offering the single option of PB&Js to those kids who don't want to eat it. I say try though because I find myself caving when my heart breaks after my very-picky-eater-of-a-daughter eats PB&Js 13 nights in a row.

I've also thought about how much parents spend on children's clothing. When I was a kid, children's clothes didn't cost more than parent clothes- seriously, Miss Me jeans for girls? And it's so competitive. I have just one girl, and she's only 4 years old, but she already knows about brands like Justice, Nike, Under Armour and Gymboree. My son isn't any better. He is also very selective about what he wears and he's just six! He has to wear name brand athletic apparel and all pieces of the outfit must coordinate. Lately he has to been insisting on neon colors or $60 jerseys.

All of this leads me to the kicker: discipline. When we were naughty, we were disciplined. And by disciplined, I mean we were spanked, among other punishments. Being spanked seemed a very normal way that most parents disciplined when I was growing up, and being asked to pick out the belt from your dad's closet wasn't unheard of either (I know this because I have a vivid memory of standing in front of dad's closet, wondering what would happen if I brought one of his neckties back to him instead of his belt!). Now I know that today there are many different theories out there on the pros and cons of spanking, and that is completely fine. Parenting is really hard and judging the ways that other people do it, as long as those people are truly trying to do their best, is generally not useful.

My husband and I do occasionally spank our children, and I stand behind that, but I don't think we spank as much as parents typically did of past generations. We have an agreement though that our decision to spank is just that, A Decision. It's not a reaction. Admittingly, I more often find myself trying to take away favorite toys or technologies, sending kids to their rooms, or making my children sincerely apologize to each other, than I use spanking. I honestly don't know if anything works though. Kids today lack a fear of their parents that I know I, and most of my friends, had growing up. All three of my kids have openly laughed at me after I have spanked them.

Raising children in the 21st century isn't an easy task. I find that parents are working a lot, we are relying on technology to entertain our kids, and out of necessity we are giving into our children's whims more than we probably should be. At this point, I am not sure if there is a sure-fire solution, but I know that being aware of the problem and openly talking about it helps.

I don't want you to get the wrong idea. My kids have their awful moments, but they are good kids. Very good kids. They have kind hearts, they speak caring words, and they do usually listen to me. It is just in those few moments of difficulty with them that I sometimes struggle.

I love my children deeply and I know that they love me. My mother used to make sure that she told us often, if not daily, that she loved us, and that is one important parenting technique from my past that I have continued on with my own children.

In the end, they might be naughty, exhausting, unbearable little Devils some days. I might get overwhelmed with worrying about if I am doing an adequate job of instilling in them the morals and values that I want them to have as adults. But overall, my kids have a lot of love in their beautiful little hearts, so I guess I'm not doing everything completely wrong.

How can I get mad at these faces?

Monday, February 2, 2015

10 Truths to Exercising After Having Kids

1. You will pee just a little every time you do a jumping jack. I've learned that track tights in the forgiving color of black are great for combating this.

2. After breastfeeding children, your sports bras make your chest look like you are a man. A man with nice pecs, but a man nonetheless.

3. You no longer want hip hugger yoga pants, and it's hard to find good fitting workout pants that go over or on top of the loose, stretch marked skin that you now call your stomach.

4. Kidz Bop Radio on Pandora really isn't terrible to work out to. In fact you might actually run a few miles before you realize that you are listening to it.

5. Sippy cups from the SUV floor work really well if you forget your water bottle when you go to the gym.

6. Chasing around your kids all day almost counts as a true workout. Make sure your FitBit is charged.

7. PB&Js really are a good way to carb load prior to a long run. And chocolate milk is good for post workout recovery.

8. You will have less time to work out but working out becomes more important to you. Kind of an oxymoron.

9. You will put off replacing your running shoes because they cost about as much as an entire week of childcare. 

10. At some point, whether you are a mom or a dad, you will go for a run to escape your wonderful, adorable, exhausting children.