Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dear Jack: One Year, Five Months

Dear Jack,

You are so close to a year and a half that I just tell everyone you are that old. In my mind, I have pretty much accepted that you are two years old because you act so big lately. I had honestly forgotten how much I absolutely love this age. I wasn't expecting it at all, but you are so much fun.

You get excited about things and understand almost everything we say. Really, you understand the strangest words. If we talk about going outside, you run and get your shoes. If I mention a bath (even as a whisper), you run into the bathroom. Heck, if I tell YOUR BROTHER to take a potty break, you run to the bathroom because you love teasing him while he's on the toilet. Perhaps potty training is on your radar? (That is a joke; I am not ready to enter that realm again yet) Also, if your dad says he's going in the garage, you run straight to the door. You like going some silly places, I think.

Lately, you have taken a big interest in farm animals. You've always loved animals, especially dogs, but now your favorite books center on farm animals, and I think part of that is because you like to make the sounds that go with the animals. You also really enjoy playing with your plastic animals and barn. You moo for the cow, click for the horse (like its hooves), baaa for the sheep, and maaa for the goat. You also make a pig sound that is impossible to spell. Oddly enough, you seem to really like ducks and call all birds "duck" or "quack". You also seem to have a soft spot for horses. All farm animals, huh? I love playing with you and seeing you grow.

Other silly things you like: brushing your hair and having it sprayed with water, the wind blowing in your face, having your head scratched, turning off and on the lights, snuggling stuffed animals, kissing the dogs and cat.

You recently had your third hair cut. You were quite good and just sat there. Your hair is so soft and bouncy--it is pretty much out of control, but I keep on cutting it from time to time so you don't get a mullet. Would it be better short or long? I don't know, but it sure is cute. From what everyone says, it sounds like your dad's hair was just like yours when he was a baby. I wonder if you will look more and more like him as you grow older.

Jack, you are the happiest of babies when you are happy, and sometimes the grumpiest when you are upset. But that is OK. You are usually just happy. We love you, baby, and we're so proud of you.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New Good Habits

A month ago today, I decided to make some changes. I am always trying to be healthier, and I had a pretty good walking routine going in the summer, but I wanted to do more. Hoping to get more cardio in, I loaded the boys up in the bike trailer and rode around the neighborhood.

It.was.hard. I used to ride around with Eliot all the time when he was about a year and a half. Add in another 21-pounder and then a couple of years' worth of weight to Eliot, and suddenly my cargo is much heavier. Wowzers. The next day, Chris gave it a try, and he said it was hard, so I felt like much less of a wuss.

So, I hadn't exactly solved my cardio issue. While I am not trying to lose weight at all (don't worry), there is high blood pressure and cholesterol on both sides of my family, so I figured getting into a good workout routine would be nothing but beneficial for me. The bike, though, was not something I wanted to do every day. I never did any sports in school growing up. I had a bad view of exercising because a lot of my friends had eating disorders, so if someone I knew said they were going to start a workout routine, I would quickly tell them that they were already beautiful and that they shouldn't try to lose weight. It's not just about weight, though--it's about physical and mental well-being.

Instead, I tried running. Again. In undergrad, I did the couch to 5k program and made it up to 30 minutes. However, I quit when we moved to Lynchburg because the hills were hurting my knees and my ankle. My right ankle has always been weak and literally stops working even if I am just standing there. One time on a trail run, my right ankle just quit on me and I busted my knee open on a rock. Call it an excuse (maybe it is), but my ankle had deterred me from running for a long time. So, many of my previous attempts at running have only lasted a month or so.

This time, though, it has been different. I bought an ankle brace from the beginning, which has helped tremendously. I tried running one time without it and could feel my right foot pronating very badly no matter how hard I attempted to stop it. I am doing everything different this time. I have the Nike Plus app, so I can track my distance and pace. I love being able to watch myself improve. Before, I knew I was getting better, but I couldn't see it. I was totally guessing my pace--now I know.

I'm approaching running from a completely new perspective. Before, it was something I had to do for some unknown reason. I'd put it off. I'd grumble about it. I didn't want to do it. I didn't have fun. I didn't feel good afterward--I just felt tired and had to take another shower. Now that I am a work-at-home mom, running is my event for the day. I take Eliot to school, play with Jack at home, get Jack down for his nap, and run while Jack sleeps (and Chris is at home working while Jack naps, so please don't think I'm leaving my kid or anything). It goes along with my morning routine so I feel accomplished early on.

Also, I run three days a week, but I am making an effort to cross train too. This helps build my strength in other ways and also keeps me on a schedule. Here is my current plan, which might evolve some with time:
Monday: run
Tuesday: hot yoga
Wednesday: run
Thursday: abs/core/squats/light weights
Friday: run
Saturday: walk or bike (if I have time or feel up to it)
Sunday: rest

When I first started running back in college, Chris suggested that we sign up for a race. I mostly laughed at the idea. Why would I run a race knowing that I couldn't win? What would be the point? But after watching Chris run so many races, I realized that you aren't racing everyone else--you're racing yourself and seeing what you are capable of. You're trying to meet personal goals and trying to get better. Well, seven years after telling Chris that races are silly, we ran our first 5k together. He did amazing and broke 18 minutes. I hoped to break 35 minutes and ended up running 31:24. I ran far faster than I thought I could.

The race was pretty cold (in the low to mid 30s), so we were shivering a bit in the beginning. However, during the race, I wasn't cold and even took my gloves off. That gave me hope that running in the winter wouldn't be so bad. Afterward, we were super cold again. We were standing around waiting for the awards ceremony (Chris won his age group) when these girls in doctor jackets said we looked super cold and should go inside. I thanked them for the offer, but said we needed to wait for the awards. Then we looked around us. No one else seemed cold. WHAT WAS WRONG WITH US?! That's when I realized that everyone else had full-on winter coats. Darnit. Last year at this race, we had parked in a parking garage, so I didn't plan to bring post-race warmness. I figured we wouldn't be able to go get our warmer clothes anyway. So, that was just a funny moment at the race....

When I started out three weeks (and a day) ago, I couldn't run a mile without walking and it took me almost 14 minutes. Now I can run one mile in ten minutes (and two seconds), and I can run three miles in a little over 30 minutes. I am excited to see how I can continue to improve. I'm signed up for the Shamrock 8k while Chris is doing the Shamrock half marathon in March. I'm sure it'll be a breeze by then distance-wise, and I'm looking forward to stepping up the pace. More than anything, though, I'm thankful that I've found something I can do that is good for my heart, gives me a sense of accomplishment, and keeps me going.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Life Lately

So much has happened since I last wrote. I kept thinking that I'd write when "something" happened, but then it seemed like life kept moving forward and whatever I planned to write about was old news.

I was so happy that summer kept coming along even into the fall. Starbucks was serving pumpkin spiced lattes, but I just really didn't want one. It was too warm. Well, today it is fall weather. This fall, I believe I crossed everything off my "bucketlist". Eliot had his first field trip at school, and Chris, Jack, and I all went. They went to the farm where we walked through a corn maze, pet the animals, and had icecream.

We went to a pumpkin patch at a local farm another day and picked out pumpkins. It was rather warm that day, but we got some cute skeleton shirt pictures anyway. The boys had fun running around and fighting over which one of them got to push the wheelbarrow. We also pick strawberries at this same farm each spring.

As we had planned, Eliot was Godzilla for Halloween. He really lucked out that a new Godzilla movie came out last year or I don't know how we would have found a costume. Jack was going to be mothra, but the more I pieced together his costume, the more I realized that everyone would just think he was a butterfly. Instead, I found a dinosaur costume that could also be Godzooky, which is like a baby Godzilla. And Jack loves dinosaurs, so he was really excited when he saw himself in the mirror.

On Halloween, Eliot was pretty sick. In fact, he threw up at his school's Halloween party and we had to leave early. His throw up was really just him gagging himself from coughing so hard, but I felt pretty bad for the little dude. Chris's parents came in town for the day, and Eliot was feeling OK enough to trick-or-treat. He had a great time. And although Jack didn't really get why we were going door to door, he understood the routine and went along with it.

Halloween was two weeks ago, and Eliot is still sick. He seems to get colds pretty hard, so I kept waiting for it to ease up. And I really thought he had beat it at one point, but it came back. I took him to the doctor and it has progressed to a sinus infection, so we're working on helping him get over that. As a result, he got to skip a bit of school this week, which I'm sure I will pay for on Monday. If his routine gets thrown off, he has a hard time transitioning back.

Eliot was well enough to play in his last soccer game, though, after he skipped one due to being sick. He did a great job this season, and I'm really sad to see it end. It was something fun to look forward to on Saturdays. I'm really proud of how far he has come from not following directions a year ago at his soccer class to crying at the first game of the season to then scoring goals and hanging in there.

I've been trying to find something for Eliot to be involved in this fall, but I think we're going to stick with indoor soccer classes at the Fieldhouse like we did last year. And Jack will be old enough to take classes too, which I think I am even more excited about. Jack has always been so eager to participate at soccer practice, so I know he'll have a blast playing soccer-centered games with other toddlers. I am not so silly as to think that I'm forming soccer prodigies here or anything; Jack, like lots of little boys, just really wants to play with a ball, so I think it'll be good for him socially. And we really need to get out of the house in the cold months. As a second-born, I know what it is like to have to wait to be older for it to be your turn. And now Jack will get to have his turn kicking the ball too.