Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring break 2017

Spring break is all about chugging.

In all forms. 
I'm currently imbibing in the wine form, drinking away my sorrows that spring break is pretty much over. Ten straight days with these guys was perfection.

We started strong as soon as school let out. My mom squad came over to our house, toddlers in tow, to let our kids go apeshit and stuff our faces with wine, guacamole, and pie. It was everything I dreamed of. There's no better feeling than hanging with your besties while your kids play happily, knowing you don't have to go to work for the whole. next. week. To top the night off, I turned off my weekday alarm and rejoiced. (Writing that just reminded me to turn it back on and sob.)

The next night, we celebrated as a family with pizza, Light City (a crazy light show downtown) and Rita's.

We didn't quite make it to sunset, but still fun. 
Being old and a mom and well over a decade in to my career and all, my body is conditioned to wake up for work regardless of an alarm clock, so I pretty  much kept the same hours all week. It worked out great because it meant I got some quiet time with my coffee before the kids were up, and I watched the Today show every single day. We normally leave about 7am for work, so sitting down and actually getting to enjoy some Savannah and Matt time brings me pure joy. Combine that with not having to pack lunches and I'm a happy camper. 

Actually, I did pack lunches for several days, but it was to hang out at various playgrounds with friends, so worth it. 

We met up with my friend Kandi - we were pregnant together both times and had our kids within weeks both times!
Did you know Maryland has a huge Wizard of Oz playground?
Carpooling with Dalton's bestie - they were in heaven.

We didn't do anything truly noteworthy - played, hung out with friends, went to the zoo, did some yardwork.

Gotta earn his keep.

He was all about the elephants.
STAHHHP my heart can't take it. 

Dalton had his second dentist visit and he was a ROCK STAR. He let the dentist examine and clean his teeth! Our dentist doesn't push so while it was technically his second, nothing really happened the first time because Dalton was too scared. I asked him if he wanted to sit in my lap, but he hopped right up in the chair by himself. 

I even got some adult time. Since we began using daycare, Eric and I have talked about having a lunch date during one of our breaks - only took us 2.5 years to actually do it! We went out for amazing Mexican food and then went to a lawn store to buy rosebushes because we are basic. I also stayed out super late seeing Beauty and the Beast with my girls - so good. 

We did the unthinkable - traveled (400+ miles each way!) with kids. 

We did a impromptu-ish trip to Ohio to see my inlaws. I was a bit nervous, but it went really well, we got some great family time and I only regretted lifting my travel moratorium a handful of times. We told Dalton it was an adventure, and he was super excited and in heaven staying in a hotel and getting to use the elevator multiple times a day.

They loved the Continental breakfast because who doesn't?

We got a suite, but it turned out to be just a larger room - it had a sitting area, but no doors separating the bedroom and living room like we had thought. It shockingly worked out though and everyone slept! Royce was happy as a clam with his crib halfway in the closet and a sheet draped over the doors. Dalton had never slept in a bed other than his little toddler bed with rails, but he loved his sleepover on the couch bed with Eric. As soon as he woke up, he would yell Daddy! Make it a couch again!

Glad I shoved a chair against it because he was all over the place!

And that left me solo in the king sized bed. Rough times.

Took one for the team there. 
I pretty much dropped the ball on Easter and Passover.

We drove home on Easter, but I have no excuse for Passover. However, this did mean that my Easter dinner was a quesarito - a burrito where the wrapping was a quesadilla. From Sheetz. I died of happiness. I also waited outside the doors for Target to open to get some discount candy this morning and got a few little gifts for the kids.

This gift "for Royce" was a huge hit and they kinda sorta played together with it!

Did you know they make markers that color on your windows and wash off? I DIDN'T.

First peep - huge fan.

I didn't totally fail - I found an egg decorating set I bought last year on clearance and set it up! Dalton threw all the eggs in the various cups immediately and then ate them.

Why decorate when you can EAAAAT?
I would have to say that this spring break was an improvement over the last one where I was hugely pregnant and freaking out about spending the "last" time I had with Dalton as a family of 3. Like probably most moms pregnant with #2, I had silly ideas that something was ending, but of course it wasn't, something even better was beginning. While Royce is still young, my boys are starting to really interact and occasionally kind of play together and it's the best! BRB sobbing about having to leave them for work tomorrow. At least it's only a four day week! 

Monday, April 10, 2017

#motherrunning ain't easy

This race recap comes with a bonus - I did my goal race, a ten miler, last Sunday, then ended up also doing a 10k the following Saturday. All the recaps!

When I posted my thoughts about postpartum running just a few months in to my first pregnancy, I talked about anticipating running no longer being the priority it once was for me. I could not have been more right. I know there are plenty of women who get faster after having babies and we all know that friend of a friend who won a triathlon while she was pregnant and all that, but that's not been my experience. I have no doubt that physically, it's probably possible but emotionally, it's been tough for me (and as a result I have no idea if it's physically possible).

Here's the story: My motivation for working out/running sucked. I could barely manage to get out of bed early enough to complete maybe 2 miles a couple times a week. I didn't really see anything wrong with that, since from a health standpoint, that's (barely) enough. However, I didn't feel good about it. My running friends were signing up for races, and I wanted to be part of things. I thought I could just join in for training runs without actually doing the races, but it turns out, I couldn't. So I signed up for one the the cheapest, best races: The Cherry Pit Ten Miler. You may have heard of the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, which takes place in DC's famed, beautiful cherry blossoms. This isn't it. It's on the same day, in Annapolis, not DC, and boasts of scenery like tiny little random farms, residential roads, and that's about it. But it's $10, and none of the logistical nightmare that is getting to our nation's capital for a huge race.

I trained for it. I bumped up my weekday runs to 3-4 miles, added in some T25 and weight lifting (that part was actually just to have less flabby arms for bathing suit season), and increased my long run distance until I made it to 9 miles.

On race day, I pushed it. I ran with my friend/training partner Casi, and while we did talk during the race and walk through water stations, we kept up a demanding pace.


The last mile, I truly felt I didn't have anything more in the tank. It's a hilly race and I'm glad I gave it my all. But, it's also the race where five years ago, I ran my fastest ever ten mile time - 1:20. This time, my time was 1:40. A full 20 minutes slower.

That's about what I expected, and certainly nothing different than I had any right to expect. To get my 1:20 in 2012, I was at the track at 5am, doing pitch black speed workouts. I worked for that. This time, I got my endurance up so that I was able to complete the distance, but I hadn't done a thing about my speed. I didn't work for a faster time, and I think the women who get faster after having a baby do something beyond just...having the baby. Like push themselves in training.

My results directly reflect the work I put in, as they should. There's just something about seeing those times in black and white. I do want to get faster, but I don't know if I'm at the place in my life where I'm ready to put forth the effort for that. I feel kind of tapped out. It's not that I don't have time, it's that I feel tapped out emotionally. Kids, work, cleaning, cooking - I'm certainly not doing anything special or above and beyond basic adulting, but I just want to zone out to a podcast or show when I run. So I guess the point of all this rambling is just wondering how I get back that drive to improve my running? Any #motherrunners out there want to fill me in?

Further questions - after the race, I felt really sick to my stomach. Couldn't really eat or drink. It's happened before, and it goes away eventually, but it's annoying and I want it to stop. By dinner time, I was back to normal, so we went out for burgers.

Baby's first burger (I think? Second kid probz. As usual.)

Gave him broccoli, he reached for fries.

The burgers exhausted Royce so much that he fell asleep on me while I was nursing him at bedtime. This is so rare these days and I was SO SO happy.

Next up: Sole of the City 10k. Quite the opposite type of race - gigantic, thousands of people, huge after party. I rolled in at the last minute and found my friends.

A fun part of this race was that I forgot my FitBit. I'm FitBit obsessed, so the fact that none of my steps counted was quite painful. I ran with Casi for about 2.5 miles, then I told her to go ahead since she had a time goal. My main goal was to just get a good run and NOT spend the day curled up in pain like the previous week. 

After Casi and I split up, I was excited to finish up S-Town (OBSESSED), but my headphones died. Womp womp. Luckily this race does have beautiful water views and there was plenty of people watching. This race is also where I got a PR several years ago, and I also ran quite a bit slower this time. Although, at least it was faster than the last time I ran it when I was 16 weeks pregnant?

Most importantly, on my walk back to my car from the race, I found a place that serves the best nitro iced coffee I've tasted (so far). 

My knee is kind of tight now so the past two days since race #2 I've been doing core/strength stuff. I'm currently on spring break, so expect/hope for another post this week! Exciting, right?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Moving away from the baby stage, slowly but surely

I just looked at the calendar. In less than 5 weeks, Royce will turn one. BRB SOBBING. When Dalton turned one, I wasn't really too sad about my baby not being a baby anymore, since I had recently found out I was going to have another baby. This time, we definitely going to be a baby free household. That's not a bad thing, but it's always going to be bittersweet for me (and pretty much every mom I know). There's just something really special and sweet about having a tiny baby around, and I'll always miss that stage, no matter how many kids I have. I can't deny that I'm sad about fully moving away from the baby stage for the first time in my parenting life.

Of course it's wonderful watching your kids grow up, and I can't wait for Royce to be able to walk and talk. Especially now that Dalton can talk, because I had no idea how much fun it truly is until I experienced it. Royce is at kind of an awkward stage right now, where he is really curious and excited and wants to be part of things, particularly as a second child who always is chasing his big brother. But he can't walk yet, so he's limited in how much he can join in. I try to let him crawl around at the playground or science center or whatever, but all the fun stuff is higher up, and plus he's at risk of getting trampled by the big kids. I'm in no rush to be chasing two fast little runners, but I do think Royce will have a lot more fun when he figures out the whole walking thing. He's standing all the time, and starting to cruise!

As I've extensively documented here, I'm an amazon prime mom, not a Pinterest mom, and I'll be applying that lack of effort and attention to detail to his birthday. Notice, I didn't say party. While I enjoy going to parties thrown by people who are crafty and motivated and all that, I'm way too lazy to throw one. I have a friend generously making him a little smash cake, I'll probably blow up some balloons, and if the weather is nice, we will grill. One thing I am really excited for is to take Dalton to the store to pick a little gift for Royce. He's obsessed with singing Happy Birthday lately, so he's prepared.

Speaking of birthdays, Dalton turned two and a half last week!

He looooves to help us cook, so he was in heaven making his birthday cake and frosting, and, of course, eating it. While I mentioned before that he was likely done with his speech therapy, he was officially evaluated by a speech/language pathologist and he is performing at his age level! Early intervention was a (mostly) wonderful experience for us and helped Dalton so much. A lot of it was teaching us strategies to use as parents, which was awesome, since we were clueless. Yes, we are both teachers, but trust and believe that teaching pre-teens how to analyze the theme of a novel or solve two step equations did nothing to prepare us for parenthood. If anything, it hurt us because we talked up a storm to Dalton, and his teacher taught us that even though he could understand us, he couldn't copy it so we had to start using two word phrases that he could mimic. Fun fact - when your kid is speech delayed, you will get a lot of random people telling you that you should try this awesome innovative strategy that they used with their super advanced special snowflake: talking to him! It's like how if you are having trouble TTC, everyone tells you it's super easy to make a baby, just relax! Now we have a little bag of tricks to use to help Royce (from actual professionals, things beyond "talk to him"). Who knows if it will help, but at least we know slightly more than nothing this time.

So, Dalton is basically ready for college. He's also 30 pounds and over 3 feet tall!

He continues to find new ways to melt my heart. Including, but not limited to, announcing "that's my mommy!" when he sees me, saying "no thank you" to everything ("It's time to wash your hair" "No THANK YOU", and saying "thank you Royce" whenever Royce finds a toy that Dalton previously had no interest in but suddenly needs immediately so he takes it away. He does always find a replacement toy for Royce, but I'm not sure how much longer we have with that. Royce is starting to catch on and he's not pleased.

Royce is becoming an actual little person who interacts with us and is starting to crudely communicate that he has wants beyond what keeps him alive. He plays peekaboo with us, claps, tries to mimic how we use toys, and gets MAD when he take things away from him or move him away from whatever he was trying to get to (usually, the stove). 

I love seeing Royce's personality come out more and more. However, I knew things were going to be tough when being a mother of two moved beyond just keeping them both alive, and we're headed in that direction, fast. We use so much of our mental energy on Dalton, since he is talking and wanting to play and asking for things. Royce just goes with the flow and is along for the ride. I've started to get really guilty when I go to bed and think "Did I even talk to Royce today? Did I do anything that was just for him, to engage with him?". My sister is kind enough to offer to make one of those pinterest-y signs for Royce's first birthday. Last night, we were looking at Dalton's, and realized we didn't even know what to put on Royce's - like we couldn't even think of what his favorite toys were.

#Secondkidprobz for sure. I was all excited today to get some one on one time with him while Eric took Dalton to Home Depot for the craft workshop (they have it free on the first of the month!) and...Royce was ready for a nap as soon as they left. Womp womp. He's so sweet and easygoing, but I really want to try to get better at giving him at least a little more of my attention, even if he's not trying to demand it. I feel like I need to get to know him better, if that even makes any sense. I'm sure it's the same thing every mom of 2+ experiences, but I'm certainly open to advice!

We use the divide and conquer strategy for the most part, although I'm taking some liberties with the word "conquer". 

It's possible we aren't completely ruining them.

An update on my non-mom life: I'm running my second post second baby race tomorrow! Makes total sense right? It's a ten miler, and I won't lie, I'm nervous. I've been running about 3 times during the week, and a long run on the weekends. Last weekend, my friend Casi and I ran 9 miles, and ended at this amazing doughnut shop. So, in theory, I'm prepared. We will see. Eric and I have also been trying to do an upper body weights workout in our basement twice a week, because vanity/bathing suit season. Dalton is obsessed with joining us using the one pound weights, so if we try to slack, he shames us. Best motivation ever. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Pumping at work - round 2 complete

Once again, the lovely job of pumping at work is finished.

While Royce just turned ten months old, between my freezer stash, spring break, and his deep love and devotion to food, I have enough breast milk to get him to a year without pumping!

Chowing tacos with big bro.

I actually can't believe how fast that went by. It seems like I was just going back to work, super overwhelmed with everything. I'm not sure I'm any less overwhelmed now, but at least this is one thing I no longer have to worry about! I'm packing up the pump completely. I have mainly used it exclusively at work for a few months now. At home, Royce and I just nurse. I hope to get to at least a year with that, but Royce is so similar to his older brother in this - he's already lost interest quite a bit,  and is only into it when he's really sleepy. Time will tell. 

Nursing: out. Exploring: in.

When I returned to work when Dalton was 12 weeks old, I set the goal to nurse/provide breastmilk at daycare for a year. It seemed insurmountable at first, and I drove myself crazy at times trying to reach it. When I did, I was probably equally proud and relieved. I truly believe that fed is best, but, I won't lie, the breast is best rhetoric got to me. As I've discussed here, I struggled badly with returning to work, and in retrospect that was probably where I channeled all my guilt, since it was something I could control. Logically, I knew (know?) formula is perfectly fine. If a friend had come to me and described feeling this way, I would have told them to calm down immediately and buy some Enfamil. But hormones are powerful, mom guilt is powerful, and I knew that if I did have to resort to that, I would feel that I failed. So, for better or worse, I did everything I could to avoid it. 

I returned to work with Royce when he was 13 weeks old. I was in a much better place emotionally, but, this time I had the sibling comparison to stress about. If I never gave Dalton formula, how could I give it to my second child? So, I set the same goal for myself. 

While we aren't at a year yet, I've done the math and, barring disaster, we should make it. Honestly, while there's always a sense of accomplishment achieving a goal, I'm not nearly as proud this time. Partially because of the perspective that comes with having a (slightly) older child. Feeding a baby is (relatively) easy, and it's a tiny moment of time in the grand scheme of things. I fed Dalton nothing but breastmilk his first six months of life and....he's still begging for cookies and eating goldfish he finds under his car seat cover like every other toddler. I still have the true challenge ahead of me - raising him to be a good person, just like every other parent, regardless of what they fed their infant. So yes, yay, I didn't have to buy formula for Royce, and while I certainly appreciate being able to route those funds to my wine budget, I know the true work is yet to come. 

The other reason I don't feel super zomg proud and amazed this time is that it was just a lot easier in round 2! The whole reason I can stop pumping 2 months before his first birthday is because I stocked up on my maternity leave and when I first returned and was pumping more than he needed to eat each day. My supply was better with the second child, and I also knew that it would drop at work, so I worked on freezing what I could. While I was still putting pressure on myself, I was much more relaxed about it than I was with Dalton. Finally, with Dalton, I taught elementary school, and now, I teach middle school. Fact: teaching middle school is just easier all around. So much easier. I had way less time without students in elementary, which of course made pumping more challenging. One constant that I didn't expect was that my coworkers were amazingly supportive both times. When I went back to work with Dalton, I was on one of the best teams I'd ever been on in my career, and I truly never thought I would find coworkers as supportive. Somehow, at my new school, I did, and I'm so thankful for good people!

The hardest part this time has been stopping! I'm extremely prone to clogs and, this time around, mastitis. I had to very very slowly cut back on my pumping times. I was down to once a day. Friday, our schedule was off, and I didn't pump at my normal time. Something came up when I was going to pump later, and I decided to just see if I could make it the whole day and I did, so I decided I was done. Emotionally, it's exciting but also a little sad. Even though I hated it, even though we are still nursing - it's still a sign that he's growing up. Always bittersweet. 

Dalton is almost two and a half, and I am not currently with child, so there's officially no chance of #3under3. While I do hope to be breaking the pump again sometime in the future (well, not so much the pump, but you get my drift), I will be packing it deep in the basement for the time being!

Other pumping/breastfeeding posts:

First update (my experience pumping as a teacher when I returned with Dalton)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Life updates

It's time for some random life updates.

1. I'm now (emotionally) able to leave my kids to do fun stuff!

When Dalton was 3 weeks old, I went to the new mom support group at the hospital where I delivered. I met two fellow new moms who became close friends.

Most recent playdate

When the kids were still tiny enough that we counted their age in weeks, we talked about one day, when we were ready to leave them, we would have our own mommy date, just adults.

Just under 2.5 years and two more friends later, it finally happened!

It involved amazing food, pedicures, and of course, day drinking. And do you see my bare legs? It was 70 degrees in February! To make it even better, it was bookended with a run with Lily in the morning, and yoga with Casi in the evening. 

Speaking of my mom group - the five of us pictured above all just booked trips to Punta Cana this summer! Hope, the gorgeous redhead on the far right, is getting married. Guess how many kids are going on this trip? ZERO. 

2. Here's an average Saturday night for me. 

The kids were starving and had dinner at 4pm, so my dinner ended up being a sandwich I ate like an hour later when I was "finally" hungry while spotting Royce climb up the stairs - his latest obsession. Dalton was doing his best to make sure he tested every single rule or request we had the nerve to impose on him. And then Royce started fussing, and Dalton exclaimed "oh, Royce!" and stopped what he was doing to bend down and kiss his hand over and over while saying "shh, shh". He just melts me. Then they went to bed at 7 and I went to bed at 8.

Having children totally didn't change my lifestyle.

Royce just wants to hang with big bro. Also he climbed there on his own.
3. I signed up for a race!

Motivation is hard, so I signed up for a $10 ten miler in April. I did 5.25 today and it...wasn't easy. Wish me luck.

4.While we still have some time, Royce's first birthday (May 6) is in sight. 

I can't believe it, but it's true. The other day, I took a sticker sheet away from him, and he gave me the angriest face and immediately started angry crying and trying to reach it. I was kind of taken aback for a moment, like...what are you doing? You were just born, who do you think you are being a real person, expressing actual thoughts and desires? In my mind, the first year of parenting a child, you get off relatively easy: you have one job. Keep the kid alive. After a year...the actual parenting begins. It's time to try to mold them into a non-asshole, decent member of society. And in my limited experience so far - that's a lot harder. Like, a lot.

He's now 18 pounds, climbing the entire staircase, often standing without assistance, and still the happiest sweetest little guy in the world. 

5. Sort of related to #4 - I've been working on weaning off the pump at work.
I should be thrilled beyond belief, but instead I'm weirdly sad about it. Logically, I know that we can, and hopefully will, continue to nurse for a while, but it still seems like the beginning of the end. On weekends, we are down to 4 times a day (morning, before each nap, and bedtime) and if we are not in his darkened room with the noise machine, forget it. With the nice warm weather lately, we've been hitting some of our favorite outdoor places, and it just seemed like yesterday I was there in July, trying to figure out how to keep track of Dalton while also constantly nursing a newborn. But now, I set Royce down and he's off trying to keep up with his brother. Of course, it's wonderful watching him grow up and he's so much more fun now, but it's bittersweet. For 9 months, he was literally a part of me, then for the next 6 months, he was entirely dependent on me for sustenance, and then practically overnight it feels like he's completely independent and doesn't need me. Obviously he's not ready to move to his own apartment next week or anything, but, still.

Brand new baby pic from the hospital because I can never get enough of those.

6. Toddler growth

Obviously the first year is full of changes, so it's easy for me to focus on how much Royce has grown. But when I think about how much Dalton has changed since Royce was born, it blows my mind just as much.

How I found him when I went to get him this morning.

This past summer, Dalton started early intervention speech therapy. Around when Royce was born (Dalton was 19 months), we kept a list of words for his evaluation, and he had 15 that he used consistently, 3 of which were signs, not spoken words. And, honestly, he wasn't even using most of those that consistently, enough that we recognized them but not on a daily basis or anything. He didn't say mama or dada or repeat any sounds that we made. Now, he speaks in full sentences. The other day, he said to me "I hear a firetruck outside". That really drove home just how much progress he's made. He loves fire trucks, and one of his most consistent words before beginning early intervention was yelling "fire!" whenever he heard a siren. 

His teacher now believes he is on par with his age level peers, and we could not love having conversations with him any more. I'm sure I'll get plenty sick of hearing "mommy!" but it's a pretty recent development in our house, and it's still music to my ears. 

Everything now is "I do it!!" and he becomes furious if we attempt to do anything for him, like buckle him into the carseat. He insists on choosing his own outfits, so my glory days of choosing cute things for him to wear are over for the time being. I thought I had longer. The other day, I left him watching Mickey while I went upstairs to take a quick shower. The next thing I know, he's in my bed, announcing "I eat jello, Mommy!". He found a leftover jello from when Eric got his wisdom teeth out somewhere in the fridge, opened it, got himself a spoon from the drawer (the drawer that is higher than his head and has a child lock), and climbed into bed to enjoy his jello. 

This guy.

I think I say every single age is my favorite, but seriously, 9 months and almost 2.5 are really, really fun. I'm still excited to go on our tropical vacation, though.