Soaking Up Sunshine

The past two days have been absolutely beautiful here. Albeit windy, the temperatures have been in he mid to high 60s, sunny with changing leaves everywhere you look. We’re in that perfect in between season where it’s not sweltering hot and not freezing cold. Naturally, we’ve taken every advantage we could to soak up every moment outside.

Thursday I had a podiatrist appointment to see what was going on my two of my toes. After my half they both felt like they’d lost the toenails, only they hadn’t. I won’t go into detail but apparently they sustained a lot of trauma from the rolling hills of The course. I had custom orthotics made to help with the shifting of my feet and prevent further problems. Andrew helped supervise after Jackson started using his hand as a tether and then smacked him in the side of his head with his toy truck. Brotherly love.

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The neatest part of the visit was the fact that you could see the Washington Monument from the window! Unfortunately you couldn’t really capture it in a picture.

We spent the afternoon hiking on a nearby trail. It’s one of my favorites because the trail is wide and somewhat cleared enough that Jackson can easily hike it on his own with little worry.

20141023_140919 20141023_141056 Fall is all about the hiking.

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I needed the fresh air and all the restorative powers it seems to hold and I’m lucky enough to have two easy going kids who seem to enjoy and thrive in the outdoors as much as I do.

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Friday I was determined to attempt a run. I set out for 5 miles but at 2.5 I felt like I was going to puke. It was reminiscent of morning sickness (nope, not pregnant). I think it was something I ate. I decided to walk back to the park to let Jackson play and then we walked home, taking our time to check out the beautiful trees.

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After naps I finally got around to vacuuming out our car which was covered with decomposing apples, rogue gold fish, miscellaneous crumbs and a single grape that attempted to become a raisin in the cup holder. Disgusting.

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It feels and looks much better now.

I debated going to Target to get caramel to make homemade caramel apples this weekend while pumpkin carving but the beautiful weather beaconed. With the help of google we found a nearby nature center and drove over.

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We spent an hour and a half exploring the trails around the center. It made be one of our new favorites.

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Jackson’s latest obsession is finding sticks and pushing them in front of him as he walks, making a vacuuming noise or putting them under his armpit and marching along.

20141024_152413He also has an obsession with telling you to go “night night” then screaming “HEY!” as loudly as possible to wake you up. Or by hitting you with a stick. Or uses the time your eyes are closed to do whatever it is he’s not supposed to be doing. He thinks it’s hilarious.

Daddy called us just as we finished and were checking out the actual nature center that had snakes, turtles and fish. We picked him up from work and spent the evening devouring pot roast, cheesecake and watching transformers 3.

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Life can be crazy and hectic. Most of the time the days fly by and I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. Bedtime rolls around and I have a hard time remembering where the day went. But when I choose to step back from the to do lists and opt for time really slowing down and enjoying my kids, I feel rejuvenated, relaxed and fulfilled.

Baltimore Half Marathon: Recap

Saturday morning I ran my second half marathon, the Baltimore Running Festival Half. I spent the past 6 months (since I was 3 weeks PP with Drew) training and felt confident in my training. I had reached a running strength, both mentally and physically, that exceeded my expectations. Based on my last long run of 11mi I thought a sub-2 was in the bag, so long as I didn’t die or break anything along the way.

The week before the race both boys were sick. Congestion, hacking coughs, snot out to wazoo, and fevers to boot. Sleep was pretty non-existent. I tried like hell not to get sick too but felt the itchy throat, the body aches and painful lungs begin on Thursday.

Race day started an hour earlier due to the Orioles making it to the ALCS. I woke up at 2:50am, 10 minutes before my alarm and with only 3 hours of sleep. This wasn’t a good start. I rolled off the couch where I’d slept to avoid middle of the night wake ups from Andrew (Bry took over for the night), made some coffee and pumped. I spent the next hour relaxing, wearing my calf sleeves with my legs elevated on the couch, reading a book on my iPad. I’d done this the past few weeks before long runs and it made the runs go much better than the extra hour of sleep.

At 4am I woke up Bryan so he could have some breakfast. At the 5K race I’d eaten 3 hours before the race began and felt my glucose stores crash during the run. I decided to hold off eating as long as I could before the half began. I went to the table to sit with Bry while he ate and found 2 shirts, one for each of our boys that Bry had hand decorated to say “Run Mom Run”. I literally started crying. This man I married. There are no words.

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We spent the next hour getting everything ready for the race and for our trip to NY since we were leaving right afterward. At 5am I ate a PB sandwich with cinnamon and then went to wake up the boys. They were dead asleep when I got them and yet within a minute they were both up and happy, excited to see what our adventure was. They’re amazing, easy going kids. We finished packing the car and by 5:30am we were out the door, right on time.

We made it to the off-ramp for the parking garage and hit stand still traffic. The race started at 8:45am and the clock was ticking by and we were barely moving an inch every 5 minutes. Finally at about 7am Bry dropped me off on a side road and I started following a couple in race shirts, hoping they knew where they were going. I walked about a mile to the inner harbor where the half started. I peed and then watched the sunrise over the harbor. It was absolutely gorgeous. At 7:30am Bry called me to say he’d just parked and was on Pratt St. which was right where I was. About 10 minutes later I saw a handsome man in flannel pushing a familiar looking double stroller. I loved unexpectedly seeing my boys right before the start. At 8am I got in line to pee again since I made the mistake of not going right before the start of our first half and had to stop at a port a potty 1 mile in. I didn’t’ want to have to do the same thing again. Then I lined up with Wave 2 and before I knew it we were counting down.

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I started running and as soon as I passed over the start line I saw Bry with Jackson on his shoulders. I called out to them and blew them a kiss. Then I got serious. The first mile I spent an absurd amount of energy weaving in and out of people, trying to get into a comfortable pace. Before we even got to the mile marker, the hills began.

I had looked at the course map multiple times before race morning and even studied the elevation map. Apparently I suck at reading maps. I thought the course looked fairly flat and my only contender would be a pretty wicked hill from miles 4-6. At least, that’s what the elevation map said. So during training I spent the last 4 long runs on Capital Crescent Trail running the first half of my runs at a mild decline with 2 large hills/overpasses/bridges and the second half at a steady incline with the same 2 hills. I figured if I could do 5 miles of straight incline in the latter half of my long runs, I was all set for a 2 mile hill during the race. It never occurred to me that there was a reason every one I encountered race morning asked if I had seen the course.

The entire race was rolling hills, which I’d failed to train for. Many of them we’d crest just to turn the corner and begin another incline. Each hill I kept telling myself this was “the” hill at mile 6 I thought was the only hill, and all I had to do was climb it and it was all downhill from there. Liar, liar. At mile 3 my legs were already beginning to call uncle. My quads were burning. I reached mile 5 maintain a 8:45 pace and then we reached an out and back section. I wanted to be done/ I was over the hills and to make matters worse we were facing some serious headwind. Miles 6-8 were a loop around a really beautiful lake. I appreciated the flatter section but it felt like we were running on a track and mentally, I was dying. I kept pushing through and abandoned hope of getting my sub-2. These hills were no joke. At mile 9 I ran out of fuel. I’d successfully downed all my gu chomps in an attempt to get through the  never ending hills and my water bottle was dry. I threw it to the side fo the road and kept chugging along.

I stopped at a water stop at mile 10, successfully managed to get about 3 drops of water in my mouth and kept going. I knew there was a fuel station at mile 11 I just wanted to get to. And then I saw it. The bridge.

Mile 11 was at the base of a concrete bridge. I took a deep breath and just told myself to keep going. I didn’t care if I was maintain a 20 minute/mile, I would not walk. But as I kept climbing my right knee started to ache. Not in a mild way but in a  “I’m about to blow out” way. I told myself if my knee still ached at the top of the hill, I’d walk. No race was worth blowing out my knee but thankfully once I reached the top, it felt fine. I got another cup of water at mile 11.5 and managed to get 10 drops of water before I abandoned hope and headed for the finish line.

The last 2 miles were a blur. I was on autopilot and really have no idea how my body kept moving at that point/ I finally saw the finish line and as everyone else seemed to get a burst of energy, I responded by slowing down. My body literally decided that was enough. We saw it, that counted. But I forced it to keep moving forward, no matter how slow and cross the finish line.

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I crossed it at 1:57:33 and 13.31 miles according to my Garmin and an official time of 1:57:27.

I did it. I got my sub-2, despite the hills, the lack of sleep, the exhaustion, my chest throbbing, the desire to quit 10 miles earlier and the loss of 2 toenails. And into the arms of the three greatest guys in the world <3

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*A note about the Baltimore Running Festival: Unlike the Rock n Roll Half which is the only other half I’ve run, the course support was impeccable. There was plenty of water and Gatorade at every aid station and numerous volunteers there to hand it out. Some were even in the center of the course so you could grab a cup from either side (I managed to always get to the stations right after they’d handed off cups and picked up my own but it wasn’t a big deal). At RnR the last 3-4 stops had NO ONE there and were already out of water. It sucked. BRF had so many amazing volunteers and the community came out with crazy amounts of support along the entire course. There were always cheering spectators, some handing out food and beer and a few blasting music which was uplifting. The course itself wasn’t terrible. I didn’t do my due diligence with looking at the elevations in detail and being prepared for the hills. They sucked. A lot. So much so that the back of our medals even have the motto “It’s just a hill…get over it”. The signage to get to the half marathon was nonexistent. When you’ve just encountered standstill traffic, you’ve had to pee for 45 minutes straight and you can’t find a single sign to point you to where you need to go, it sucks. Also, there were only 12 port-o-potties at the start. 12. For over 8,000 runners. As you can imagine the lines were incredibly long but the bathrooms themselves were extremely clean, so that was nice. I loved the course start at the inner harbor and that the middle 2 miles you got to run by the lake. Overall, I’d recommend the course but not for someone looking to PR. And I’d definitely recommend training for the hills.*

That One Time I Won a 5k: Recap

Let’s rewind. A few weeks ago a couple of my friends invited me to run a local 5k with them. I was hesitant at first since the race fell the week before my half marathon. I didn’t want to sway from my training or get injured but I’d never run a 5k and reading about the race’s cause really spoke to me, so I threw caution to the wind and registered.

*The race was organized by the family of two young men who were killed by a drunk driver while crossing the street. They were local men who were my age at the time of their death. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been crossing the street in broad daylight, on a crosswalk, with both kids and someone has flown by in their haste to get somewhere, completely oblivious to me and the double stroller 2 feet from their front bumper. It’s a very real threat for pedestrians.*

Race morning I was up to the sound of Andrew wiggling in his pack n play at 3:45am. We’d just been up 3 hour earlier to feed so I laid there listening for a bit to see if he’d settle himself. He eventually did but the longer I waited the more awake I felt. I decided to get up and take my time getting ready instead of trying to go back to bed which I knew I’d be restless doing on race morning.

I made some coffee, pumped and laid on the couch reading. It was really relaxing, which is rare these days. At about 5:30 I made 2 pieces of Trader Joes sprouted bread with crunchy pb and had it with some water. Around 6 Bry came in with Andrew. That kid is the cutest. He looks around curiously, looking especially tiny in daddy’s big arms and when he sees my face he smiles and almost falls over he gets so excited. He melts me.

I spent the next hour and a half helping Bry with the boys and getting dressed. I wore my usual go-to long run outfit: old navy shorts, reebox tank, champion sports bra and my new brooks ghost 7s. It was 50 degrees and raining still so I threw on my brooks running jacket at the last minute. Because my hair is so short I’ve been wearing it in tiny pigtails with my favorite janji running headband <—- (amazing organization) and lots of bobby pins. I filled a smart water bottle with 2 scoops of ultima replenisher and 1/3 scoop of spark and headed out.

The race was really small. The only other races I’ve run we’re both 20,000+ people. This one had 138 runners. It’d been raining all night and while it was still raining it wasn’t nearly as heavy. I met up with my friends. We chatted, waiting for the start while I drank half my bottle of water. At 8:25 we walked over to the start line. I decided to keep my jacket on, namely because I didn’t want to walk back to my car through the rain. Even with it my teeth were chattering at we stood waiting. My biggest fear was tripping because the ground was so wet and slippery from the rain.

At 8:30 on the dot, the countdown began and we were off. I started towards the front but there were 5 women ahead of me. My game plan was to just run comfortably but not push myself too hard because of my half. I kept a decent clip and started passing a few people. Before I knew it I was the third female. My goal then became to finish top 3rd female overall. I kept running and my spibelt began riding up, pulling my tank top with it. I’d never had this problem through all my long runs but was glad it was happening on the 5k and not the half. I only wore it because I needed a place to carry my keys and hadn’t planned to run in my jacket.

I spent a lot of the first mile adjusting the belt. By 1/4mi in I’d passed all the females in front of me and heard spectators on the course yelling “First female!!! Go first woman!!!” I couldn’t believe that was me!! I kept chugging along.

The course is a loop, which is the only downside of it. You have to make two turnarounds and end up passing the finish line twice before the end. Mentally, it’s hard to do but because of the loop you pass other people on the course quite often which makes the spectatorship seem double. I passed the finish line for the first time, grabbed some water from a spectator which I ended up pouring 90% of down my shirt (but it was raining anyway) and headed up the long, endless hill. I run the trail next to the course quite often but the elevations on it are much different. Because the race course is run on the road, it’s elevation changes are less frequent and abrupt which was a nice surprise. The last segment to the final turn around is at about 2.5 miles and the largest hill to climb. I felt myself really starting to fade and was thankful for the cold that made my legs numb.

I made the final turnaround at what felt like a snail’s crawl and kicked up the pace since the end is more of a downhill. I saw the 2nd female and vowed to keep going and not let her pass me, no matter what. This was my first and most likely only chance to ever come in first female at a race. I couldn’t give up now! But I wanted to. My body was begging me to just walk. That little voice in my head started telling me to just stop, it’d be so easy. But I didn’t give in. I kept telling myself I could do it. I just had to keep it up for less than a mile. Less than 10 minutes. If I kept going I’d be so proud, my boys would be so proud! The faster I ran, the quicker I got back home to them. It was what I needed to keep pushing through.

I worked hard this training cycle and gave it my all. I ran through so many sleepless nights and endless feedings, the constant desire to take just one more rest day and the ache of pushing a double stroller for the majority of it. But I pushed through and it paid off.

I passed my friends right at the end who told me just what I needed to hear as I was wishing I had some sugar, had eaten more recently, something cause my energy was fading fast. “You’ve got this. The next girl is way back there.” I smiled and kept going. As I passed the last group of spectators they cheered loudly and I saw the clock on the finish line about a hundred yards ahead. It read 23:**. I was in disbelief and knew I could come in sub-24 if I pushed it. I pumped my arms in fast succession and my legs obediently followed (Thank you, legs). And just like that I finished my first 5k, first female overall in 23:52 at an average pace of 7:35.

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I never knew I could run that fast. It was the fastest mile average I’ve ever run for even a mile straight. It made me realize I am stronger than I think and that all I need in order to succeed is belief in myself. Positive motivation got me to that finish line and I am proud of how far I’ve come as a runner, even in my mental ability to push myself.

I was numb and cold at the end. I felt like I was in a daze as I walked back to the start line where the post race festivities were, and more importantly the food! I cheered on my girlfriends as they came in to the finish, each finishing strong and one even PRing.

I won a $75 gift card which was awesome!, got pictures taken with the Hulk, Minnie Mouse and Big Bird and realized I could never run another 5k again because there’s no way I could compete with my first. Then I soggily walked back to my car, drenched and freezing and hoping I wouldn’t get sick before my half in 6 days, cranked up the heat and drove home to my little family.

It was a great day and a great experience full of so many surprises. I’m proud of myself and my abilities, of my training and hard work and excited to see what race day will bring at my 2nd half marathon. Here I come!

Weekend Recap

If you can’t tell by the fact that I’m just now finally getting around to posting a recap of last weekend, ya know…on Friday, we’ve been pretty darn busy around here. Both boys are currently sporting fevers, hacking coughs and gushers of snot. Poor kids. Andrew’s nose is so tiny that even one booger means he can’t breathe so sleep has been fairly nonexistent. Which means this mama is running on empty. Tomorrow is my half marathon! Holy wow. And in terrific last minute, true Parks Family planning, we’re heading out to New England right after I cross the finish line for a long weekend by the Finger Lakes. So to recap: we’re waking up our sickly children at 3am tomorrow to pack the car full of everything we need for not only a race but 3 day getaway, driving to the race, I’m running a half marathon while Bry figures out how to keep both boys alive amidst a large crowd, then jumping in a car for a 4 hour drive, sweaty and cramping. Yup. Sounds smart to me too.

Anyway, this past weekend was great! I had my first 5k race on Saturday morning. I’d never run a 5k before but a couple of my girlfriends were registered and convinced me to join. It was for a great cause and I figured, why not? We woke up to pouring down rain and temperatures in the 50’s. Bry decided to stay home with the boys while I went to run. I have a race recap coming at you next week but the long story short is that somehow, against all odds, I ended up winning my first 5k (#1 overall female). How in the world my legs managed to keep an average 7:35 pace is beyond me. I’m pretty sure it was the fact that they were numb.

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After a shower and briefly shoving my face full of food we headed out to a friend’s 2nd birthday party. The kids had a blast and passed out as soon as we got home. After naps for everyone we decided to drive up to my old alma mater and explore campus. It was still cold and dreary but a college campus is the perfect arena for an overactive toddler.

IMG_20141011_172057 20141011_174006Sunday we decided to forego Sunday Morning Pancakes in exchange for DONUT Sunday.

20141012_075830 20141012_075857We walked around the National Zoo for a bit after breakfast. In the afternoon we headed back to campus and stopped at Jason’s Deli for lunch. This was followed by 4 bowls of their delicious chocolate pudding. So so good.

20141012_130243We walked around campus for a few hours after lunch, exploring some more.

20141012_144534 IMG_20141012_144618 IMG_20141012_144730 IMG_20141012_145717We went home to some warm chicken tortilla soup in the crockpot, cuddled up to Transformers (we’re rewatching the first 3 so we can rent the 4th), then woke up to another Monday.

Day In The Life

This was written a few weeks ago but in the utter chaos that we call life I forgot to post it. Enjoy.

1:10am: I hear Andrew wiggling around in the pack n’ play next to our bed. I throw a pillow over my head and silently pray that he goes back to sleep. He begins to whine and fuss so I roll over, make a bottle, half open one eye and shove it into his mouth. He chugs it down. I go to the bathroom, refill the bottle and curl back into my cocoon.

1:30am: He’s still fussing and rolling. I give him another bottle and listen to our neighbors dog bark. I give another check to the idea of moving out to the country.

2am: I can hear Andrew straining. I get up and get a diaper and wipes and change him by the light of my iPad. He stares up at me with his big gummy smile. Wide. Awake. I try not to interact with him in the middle of the night but damn it he’s so adorable!

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2:30am: Bry’s alarm goes off. I’m still awake. Andrew’s still awake. Will I ever sleep again?

3:30am: I’ve finally gotten Andrew back to sleep when Daddy walks in to brush his teeth and turns on the light!! HE TURNED ON THE LIGHT?! I try to silently yell at him to turn the damn thing off but it’s too late. The baby’s up again.

4am: Shooshing, singing, another bottle and rocking him while draped over the side of the pack n’ play with my eyes closed and I finally get Andrew back to sleep. I roll over, sprawl out on the entire length of the king sized bed and pass out.

6:15am: I can hear Andrew wiggling next to me but he’s not whining. I try to silently escape the covers and make it upstairs to pump before he fully wakes up. I get upstairs and notice the time. Hallelujah! The kids slept past 6! I make a large pot of coffee, pump, put away the dishes and get everything out to start breakfast.

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6:45am: Andrew’s up. I go to get him. We have a babbling conversation about sleeping (or lack there of). I change him and give him a bottle in his rock n play while I cook.

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7:05am: I manage to finish making breakfast for Jackson and myself and get it to the table just as I hear Jackson rocking and talking in his crib. I sweep the living room and put a blanket down, then set Andrew on it to practice his crawling.

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7:15am: I get Jackson who tells me all about the truck and train he slept with. I ask him if he wants breakfast and he licks his lips.

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7:20am: I change Jackson and then put him in his highchair. We dine together.

20140917_072716I have 4 eggs with spinach, corn and Frank’s red hot sauce plus 2 slices of TJ’s sprouted bread drenched in Earth Balance (most of it is melted already…there’s 4 times what you see in the pic. Don’t let it fool you).

7:25am: Jackson and Andrew play as I clean up. I ask Jackson to not kill his brother while I run to get dressed. I get some clothes for Andrew, socks for Jax, throw in a load of laundry and finally brush my teeth.

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7:27am: Make it back upstairs to find Jackson’s bike dangerously close to Andrew’s head. I change both boys again, fill our water bottles, pack snacks and Jackson’s truck and tractor that he’s not so subtlely thrown over the gate to bring with us. I get the stroller packed and ready to go.

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8:15am: We’re out the door, walk up the street to stretch and begin our 5 mile run. Jackson eats a banana and identifies all automotives we pass while Andrew chews on a teething ring and takes his morning cat nap.

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9:15am: We finish running and I do a cool down walk for the rest of the 3/4 mile to the park. Jackson sets up his construction site as I stretch and Andrew and I have a babbling conversation. I make funny faces at him occasionally. He’s a good sport and laughs. I finish stretching and nurse him on the bench while Jackson plays. We snack on apples and I change Jackson on a park bench.

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10am: We start walking home. We have 30 minutes to get there and Andrew in bed or we miss his golden opportunity for a decent morning nap.

10:20am: We made it! I get both boys inside and change Andrew. I grab a bottle and head downstairs to get him to sleep while Jackson plays in the living room. I switch over the laundry, put away the stroller and grab a handful of almonds.

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10:45am: Jax and I read books in the window. Then we sit at the table while he eats a snack of a granola bar and apple sauce and I have some leftover squash and a piece of crusted tofu.

20140917_104352 20140917_104729 11:15am: I pump while Jackson plays. We talk and make noises for all the trucks and tractors. He helps me set up the pump and likes to make sure I remember it’s “Andrew’s milk”. Got it, babe. Thanks.

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11:20am: Eat a cookie and chug some more water. Get out the ingredients to start dinner. Change Jackson who claims he’s hungry when he hears it’s naptime. I give him half a cookie and he happily replies “night night”.

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20140917_10421511:30am: Put Jackson down for a nap. Sweep kitchen, begin cooking dinner, do dishes, pick up living room, talk to Mommy on the phone, text friend back and put on calf sleeves to wear around the house cause that’s what all the cool kids do. I realize I forgot an integral  ingredient for dinner and debate whether it’s absolutely necessary. It’s cheese though. Cheese is always necessary.

12:30pm: I debate heating up some leftover coffee or taking a nap but the bed is stripped of all the sheets that are sitting warm and cozy in the dryer just begging to be snuggled up in. Too bad you have to go through the nursery to get to the dryer and if I have one piece of advice for new mamas it’s NEVER wake a sleeping baby. I start this post instead.

1:00pm: Jackson’s up. I check on Andrew first who is also wide awake and is hanging out in his pack n play. He sees me and smiles brightly. God I love that kid. I pick him up and we go into the nursery to collect big brother who promptly tells me he’s poo pooed. I change both boys, make a pb & banana sandwich for Jax and feed Andrew pureed mixed veggies.

1:30pm: I leave both boys in the living room happily playing and make an escape to shower. I change over the laundry too.

1:32pm: I find Jackson kissing Andrew and my heart melts. Give Andrew a bottle, pump and eat half a ham sandwich that Jax takes a few bites of.

2:00pm: We play for awhile and I dry my hair. Jackson thinks it’s hilarious. We eventually head out for a walk around the neighbhorhood.

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3:15pm: Arrive home just as Daddy is pulling in. Change both boys and get Andrew in his carseat to head to the grocery store. As Daddy chugs some coffee I change over the laundry again.

3:45pm: Go in for cheese and get side tracked with a few “extras”. Andrew naps in the car with Jackson and Daddy while I run in.

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4:00pm: Get home, put dinner in the oven, drink some more coffee and eat part of Jackson’s fish sticks. I also eat more almonds then proceed to play on the floor with both boys. Jackson uses me as his jungle gym.

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5pm: Andrew is exhausted so I change him and take him to bed. We read a few stories and I sing to him for about 20 minutes as he wiggles around. I make our bed then head back upstairs for dinner.

5:30pm: We eat dinner. Turkey & Broccoli casserole. Basically this recipe + ground turkey, garlic powder and red bell pepper.

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6pm: We count down the minutes til big brother’s bed time. We’re both beyond exhausted. I start a load of dishes, finish the laundry, clean up the kitchen and dream about dessert while Jackson plays with Daddy and my mom. Once a week we have family dinner where we cook for her and she joins us for dinner, which was tonight.

6:30pm: I make the excellent decision to nuke a cookie and top it with vanilla ice cream. My taste buds went nuts! I devoured it in a matter of seconds, licked the plate clean and went back for seconds. Then I attacked that one so vigorously I ended up biting my lip. Hard. Ouch.

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7pm: Take Jackson to get ready for bed. Diaper change, tooth brushing, bedtime story and lights out. Then we both crash in our freshly laundered bed. Zzzzz.

Slowing Down

The other morning I was sitting in the living room pumping while both boys were still asleep in their cribs and Bryan was on the couch drinking coffee, telling me about work. While he chattered away about fire sprinklers and alarms my mind was on the 408 different things I had to do. It was kind of like watching a movie without the sound. His mouth was moving but there were not words. Instead I was thinking about the laundry that had to be washed, dried and folded. The children that would soon be up with dirty diapers, rumbling bellies and endless tiny voiced demands. The meals that needed planning, food that needed to be bought and cooked. The appointments waiting to be made, the doctors visited, the bills paid. The endless dishes piled up waiting to be washed and put away. A run that needed to be taken, photos that needed editing, emails returned. My body sat in that chair, my eyes on my husband, my mind a million miles away. And then it all came back to me.

This was my husband. My dear, sweet, rambling husband and it didn’t matter if what he was talking about was boring to me or didn’t “matter” as much as those 408 other things, it mattered to him and thus it was important. It dawned on me in that moment that I was rushing through life, flying by the seat of my pants to get everything done. But none of it mattered.

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My sons don’t care about the dirty dishes or undone laundry, they care about the bedtime stories we read together, the trips to the park we take, the afternoon adventure walks and time spent exploring together. They’re small but perceptive and can tell when my mind is elsewhere. And that’s not fair to them. My husband doesn’t care if I showered or meal planned, he cares that I’m attentive when he’s telling me something that’s important to him, that I’m present in our life.

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I think about all the nights I’ve spent draped uncomfortably over the side of the pack n play, my arm falling asleep and my legs tingling, thinking to myself “dear sweet child, please just close those big beautiful eyes and SLEEP already” or when I’m really exhausted “just go the f*ck to sleep”. And it stings. I realize that in my effort to get it all done I’ve been unwittingly wishing away the most important moments of my life.

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There will be a day, far too soon, where I’ll give anything to relive the nights I get to watch my son fall asleep, his eyes staring at my face because to him I am home. The hours I was held captive by my son’s small, warm body curled up in my arms, asleep on my chest. Even the times we go for walks and Jackson wants to explore in a neighbor’s yard and I ask him to come back and he responds with utter defiance “NO!” and stomps his little foot with such seriousness. Even those times, I’ll miss.

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So instead of wishing away the things that I thought were keeping me from getting things done, I’m trying to focus on soaking up every moment even if it means the house stays dirty and we live in a little more chaos. Because at the end of the day it’s those little things that matter most and make life worth living in the first place.

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Body After Baby #2: 6 Months

I never really talked about myself after having Jackson. I didn’t discuss the weight differences, the body changes, the mood adjustments. But they all existed. I know this is sometimes a controversial topic but it’s also one that gets searched a lot on the blog. I figured I’d finally talk about it.

With Andrew, I had even less time to focus on myself once he arrived. We had so many things going on in our lives, so many worries and of course we now had two children to nurture and grow. I couldn’t sleep when the baby slept because there was still a toddler who needed my attention. I couldn’t peacefully sit and nurse day in and day out. I had to figure out our new normal in a whole new way and at first it was challenging. Who am I kidding, it’s still challenging.

My first day as a mom of two by myself (once Bry went back to work) I ventured out to the urgent care clinic to diagnose what turned out to be bronchitis. I felt proud of myself for remembering both kids, packing them into the car and grabbing the necessities. I got them loaded into the double BOB and walked to the urgent care clinic, opened the door and…the stroller wouldn’t fit. The rest of the story includes having to walk around the entire building, nursing Andrew one handed while using a breathing treatment with the other and Jackson literally pooping on the floor, Hansel and Gretel style.  My only saving grace was that he’s too young to be embarrassed or even realize what was going on. My heart hurt for him as I ran out of there with a half naked toddler, screaming infant and a handful of prescriptions to get me on the mend. Then I learned I had never closed the BOB before and spent 20 minutes in the parking lot trying to figure out how to get the largest contraption known to man into the back of our Highlander. Trial by fire, my friends. Anyway, sorry about that tangent. The point is, I haven’t had much time to think about myself or getting back to my “old” self. And that’s OK with me.

I’m a mommy of two now. When I lean over there’s flaps of extra skin from the 18 months I spent growing my two bundles of joy. I still get up multiple times a night to pee and have to stop on runs, or sometimes even leak (sorry, but someone out there needs to know) because I’ve birthed those kids. I’ve always been small chested and even as a nursing mama, I don’t magically have a larger rack. I do however have an even bigger discrepancy between the two girls. If I had to guess, it’s almost a full cup size difference now. I have stretch marks on my hips and on my boobs. I still crave things I did during pregnancy (donuts, yum!) and still have some of the aversions (ginger, bleh). But this new body of mine is one I’m more proud of then the one I had at 21. It’s stronger and more perfect in it’s imperfections. I no longer look at myself and nit pick constantly (though I promise I have my days where I feel fat in everything and want to just bury myself in my PJs under a big blanket or spend 30 minutes throwing every article of clothing I own over every square inch of our bedroom in an attempt to find something I feel comfortable in just to end up in a baggy sweater and yoga pants). For the most part I’m able to see how amazing my body is for what it’s done and I’m proud of it. I worked hard to get to where I am. I run 4 days a week, 3 with the kids in the double bob which is no easy feat. Up until a month ago I was taking bodypump once a week too and on my days off we’re often walking to/from the park, hiking and exploring new places or running around playing. I’m usually on the go.

My kids are my full-time job and they require my full attention or they’ll very likely die. Those kids are insane and leaving them to simply pee is a gamble. At first I preferred to run with the boys. I hated spending an hour or two during the weekend running when I could be home with them and Bryan. I felt guilty and I missed them. But as the weeks of training wore on I realized that the hour and a half I take Saturday mornings to head to the trail on my own is necessary. It’s necessary for me to have some dedicated solo time, to sweat it out and have some uninterrupted time to sort through thoughts and feelings. When I finish I feel refreshed and I return with more patience and a better ability to be the mom I want to be. It’s also important for Bryan to have some one on one time with the boys. It’s important for them to get to play with daddy alone and for him to parent without my presence.  We all benefit from it and instead of leaving feeling a need of urgency to return home and guilt for taking time to myself, I’m able to see it for what it is: a necessity.

All of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit but my shape is definitely different. Before I had Andrew I weighed 113lbs and looked like this:

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Awww. Bald baby Jackson!

By the time he was ready to come out I’d gained 24lbs and had swallowed a small globe:

1912403_10202130515484085_57004039715963925_n (1)Clearly nesting the 2nd time didn’t include cleaning the bathroom. Keeping it real.

I left the hospital still looking rather pregnant and deflated. I weighed about 119lbs at 5 days postpartum. I missed my pregnant belly and emotionally had a hard time in the beginning with feeling guilty that Andrew wasn’t still baking away. Namely the guilt stemmed from him being in NICU for the first 30 hours of his life but regardless of when he came, he’d have had to go because of his kidney.

10518860_10203274716008383_4066530992970795235_n10382174_10203274718368442_6456311217690985178_n36 hours postpartum and 5 days postpartum. Holy sh*t storm of exploding junk. That’s embarrassing.

At 6 months postpartum I weigh between 114-117lbs depending on water intake, how many cheesecakes I’ve devoured, etc. My hips are still wider, I still have extra skin in my stomach that’s incredibly noticeable when I bend over and my dearest toddler likes to point out my love handles and refer to them as “boobs”.

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Self photography is clearly my niche. You totally can’t tell I’m holding a remote in my hand.

Overall I feel and look much like my old self, just with very dark and saggy bags under my eyes and two amazing kids to chase after and love.