Monday, July 31, 2017

Who knew age 1 was hard? Apparently not me.

I realized recently that there's been a shift with our kids. Since his birth, Royce has been the one who is "easy". Not based on personality, although he is very chill, just based on their ages. When he was a tiny baby, in that convenient stage where you just set them down and they can't move, Dalton had just discovered life with words, and realized he could use them to voice his opinions. Even once Royce started crawling, his newfound mobility was nothing on a potty training two year old who was determined to have a say in things.

When we were getting ready for our Fourth of July BBQ, we did our usual divide and conquer, and each took one kid with us to our respective shopping locations. I took Royce, Eric took Dalton. Royce hated it. While I still, and may always, think of him as my little baby, he's now solidly a toddler who wants to toddle around the store, touch all the exciting colorful things, and really didn't appreciate me putting him in the cart to just sit there and watch everything pass him by. He was pretty pissed. I tried letting him down at the Dollar Store, and holy crap, how does he move SO FAST? He hadn't even been walking a month at this point, and he was running all over the place. I would reach over to grab something off a shelf, and he would be GONE.

That adorable little bum moves so fast.

Meanwhile, Eric was peacefully picking out rubs for his burgers with Dalton walking alongside him, helping out, and discussing what he saw in the store rather than desperately trying to grab and eat it. Not to mention the fact that I still needed to grab the diaper bag to go out with Royce. Dalton is at the age when he can just hop in the car! It's crazy! He's like a real person.

I either don't remember or didn't realize the first time around with just one child, but one is a challenging age! At the moment, certainly harder than two. It's fun for sure - we hardly have any pictures of Royce smiling, because he just constantly walks around with this look of intense concentration as he examines everything and tries to figure out the world. But I definitely forgot how things are with the intense curiosity combined with the total lack of awareness and understanding. Of course, Dalton is still busy and also figuring out the world around him, but he has language as his main tactic by this point. If he sees something new, he will just ask us what it is and listen as we answer (usually). Royce absolutely will not rest until he has touched it all over, licked it, bit it, and probably thrown it. Keeping him from falling to his death and messing up whatever Dalton is playing with, it's quite a full time job. That I would be fired from if it was an actual job. He currently has a big lump from falling into the street. Yeah.

Constant smiling, rarely captured smiling!
Of course, this age has plenty of positives as well. I completely forgot how amazing the drunken toddler waddle is, and seeing it all the time is seriously the cutest. I could watch it all day. He's not talking, but is communicating more and more - walking to me with his arms up to be picked up, consistently signing more and all done, pointing, clapping, waving, and my current favorite, playing peek a boo. Every time he's in the bath he hysterically laughs while "hiding" behind the shower curtain then peeking out, over and over. On dry land, he loves being chased and cracks up while I chase him, or, his absolute favorite, while his brother chases and catches him.

And, while he's almost constantly on the move, occasionally he will let me get some cuddles in.

He's super in to his independence these days. He refuses to eat unless he has his own fork, and god help me if I try to borrow it to help him spear his food. I have to place it on the fork while he's holding it. Then he will deign to eat.

Double fisting.
Our family is currently in the best ever situation. For real. Both parents off work, full time childcare available. Of course, that means we are bleeding money on something we don't need, but we have to pay year round to keep our spot. We've used the same in home sitter since Dalton was 3 months old and we don't consider it a waste of money at all, because she's amazing and it's worth it to pay for a few weeks a year we don't need. Just the other day, at a birthday party, I heard a kid singing the ABC song, and I was impressed a kid so young knew it, and then I realized it was MY KID. Who do you think taught Royce to sign more? Not this slacker mom who lets him fall into the road. Daycare for the win.

It's been nice to have the option to send them each day, but more often than not, we end up texting her telling her they won't actually be coming that day because we are busy doing something fun, like the trampoline park or seeing the Sesame Street planetarium show at the science center.

Or just getting as messy as humanly possible.

We took a day trip to Sesame Place. 

Dalton was excited this year to see the characters, and talked about it, but when we actually got there, he only cared about the rides.

Looooved riding all by himself.
The next day, he had his own celebrity sighting at the beach: an actual dump truck, dumping dirt.

Absolute fascination
He also got to help Eric fix his brakes. I've never seen this kid so excited and proud. I tried to get him to come in for dinner and he was all "I need to help daddy fix his car!" with the urgency I can only imagine is usually reserved for doctors dealing with life or death situation.

We separated here and there to each have some solo time with one of the kids. I took Royce for a baby date to the science center. I met my friend and her son, but attempting a picture of a 10 month old and 14 month old is basically impossible. Just look at her blog, (I recently linked to her mommy wars post) it's fantastic and her kid is really cute, trust me.

Dalton and I joined some friends and took another day trip to Washington, DC, this time to see the National Building Museum.
He likes to run just a little bit.

Cutest kids ever, on the train

We've taken a break from our adventures to lay low while Dalton and I recovered from random fevers yesterday. Turns out getting sick and having a sick kid is a LOT less stressful when you don't have to deal with work. You can just binge watch Mickey and not drown in guilt and sub plans. I don't really subscribe to the mommy wars and I love being a working mom but I'll admit that during the school year, the panic of a sick kid is one time I'm jealous of SAHMs. 

That's been our summer so far! Luckily we still have a few more weeks, it's still July, even if summer is flying by way too fast, as usual.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pregnant and Post Baby Running Thoughts

Before I had children, running was my hobby. It's kind of crazy that I have a whole different life now, not just the day to day, which has obviously changed, but I have a lot of new friends that never even knew me like that. I used to be almost constantly in marathon or ultramarathon training. I would have to look up how many marathons I did - it's not a crazy number, maybe 12? But enough that I've lost track. I used to spend every weekend doing open water swims, long bike rides, and double digit runs. The last race I completed before I got pregnant with Dalton was a 50 mile trail race that I ran in somewhere around 11 hours.

Somewhere in the middle, probably between miles 3-40

Some women are able to jump right in to that once they become mothers. Of course, there's no way to predict how motherhood will affect you. However, I had a sneaking suspicion that, despite people telling me I would be one of those women, that I would absolutely not be. I wasn't planning to leave racing entirely behind forever, but I didn't see marathons and endurance events having a place in my life post baby.

I was right.

Newborn pics can't stop won't stop #4daysold

I got back to doing regular exercise and short runs once I was healed from delivery, and that went a long way to make me feel like "me" again, not this new, strange, sometimes uncomfortable mommy role I wasn't used to. But distance running? Nope.

I think running and races get romanticized and there's a feeling on the internet that the lady with the noticeable baby bump in a "running for two" shirt running a race is somehow morally superior to her counterpart who's eating ice cream on the couch while reading birth stories on the internet. That's just not true. Pregnancies are so different. It's a wild card and there is so much luck involved. So much is out of your control.

It's great that some people feel good, and if you are having an easy pregnancy and enjoy running and exercise, cool. Get out there. But let's not assign it some deeper meaning. I had that pregnancy with Dalton, I was on the treadmill the day I went into labor. It was helpful in the sense that doing something I enjoyed made me happy and helped keep me sane during a time when a huge transition looming can make anyone go a little batty.

It was not helpful in the sense that it put me in better shape post delivery, or, as many people like to think, set me up for an easier labor and delivery. LOLOLOL. That's not how it works, because the baby runs that show and baby don't care how many miles you logged in your running for two tank top (spoiler: zero for me because I don't spend $50 on tank tops). I've actually had people say they are surprised I wanted the epidural because I had run so many races. I never really know what to say to, yes, I did races but I didn't do any running in labor, so, those weren't helpful? Like, at all? I enjoy a good romp through the woods with friends, I don't enjoy excruciating pain for hours (and days, in Dalton's case) on end when there is a (somewhat, if they let you in to the hospital) easily obtainable solution that almost instantly stops the pain and makes everything magical and happy. And as far as exercise preparing me for labor and delivery that's another LOLOLOL because literally nothing could have ever in a million years prepared me for that. I've heard rumors it can prepare you for pushing. I can't comment personally, since my first kid was like "Cool, you went to how many spin classes pregnant? Oh wait, don't care, imma drop my heart rate so you can have a fun race to the OR to cut me out and save me".

That's how he rolls.

So yeah, running was my hobby. I look at it like any other hobby. No one out there is claiming knitting or scrapbooking or coin collecting helped them be a superior baby pusher outer, and my hobby falls right in line with that. I just did it because I enjoyed it. And when I was pregnant with Royce, I was tired AF and barely exercised at all. Baby still came out, I was still able to start back up again when I was healed, not exercising didn't really matter a whole lot. I get that it's part of a healthy lifestyle, but I'm not talking about that. I walked and stuff and ate vegetables occasionally with Royce. I'm talking about the going above and beyond, racing, that sort of thing.

Random pic because why not?

After Royce, I was ready to tackle a longer race. It turns out having a baby was a lot easier for me when I'd already been there done that. Plus, I had my training buddies back after a out of state work hiatus for each of them. I trained for a half marathon, and it was great.

Limited stroller running. It's fun, but too many stops for real training.

While this touches on a whole other topic, I would like to note that I think I was in decent shape, enough to run 13.1 miles when Royce was 5 months old, anyway. However, that didn't mean I'd lost all the baby weight. I still wasn't fitting in to a lot of my pre-pregnancy clothes, and while I definitely wanted to eventually, I surprisingly wasn't that concerned about it. I was only 5 months out, Royce was still exclusively breastfeeding round the clock, I was trying to adjust to a new job on top of being a working mother of 2, and there was a convenient fashion trend towards leggings. So, I threw money at the problem and bought leggings.

That was essentially an unnecessarily long preamble to share that I am finally ready, and I'm training for a marathon! On race day, I'll be more than 3 years into this crazy ass motherhood journey. I have some good training buddies alongside me, and most importantly, they watch Game of Thrones so we currently have plenty to discuss.

After the half last fall

My approach to training is pretty different than it was in the past. I used to print off training plans, and diligently do every single run, following the plan to the letter. Now, my friends and I outlined the long runs, and the "plan" is basically to add distance weekly, with some step backs, to get to 20 miles, then taper for race day. My week day goal is two runs, one strength workout. My friend Jackie and I are also doing a weekly track series, coached by a local running store, and, um, it's intense. Let's just say I better be faster at the end.

Training was going really well. I was up to 12 miles for my long run. This past weekend, I got 5 miles into my 14 miler and was felled by heat stroke. It was crazy! I've done ultra marathons in July and never had a problem. I was suddenly covered in goosebumps and shivering, doubled over with stomach pain in the 90+ degree heat, and everyone was like yeah you're done go home. Old me would have gone straight home to the treadmill until I hit 14 miles. New me is like, well, try again next week.

That being said, even though it's double the distance, and clearly my body is rejecting Maryland summer, training is so much easier this summer than last, when I was training for the half marathon. The main reason being Royce is weaned. That means I can devote my body to just running. I don't think I fully appreciated at the time just how tough it was to demand my body train for a race while also being the sole food source for a whole other person. Aside from the physical demands, it's just a lot easier to be able to come and go as I please and not have to add time for pumping, be worried about getting back in time to nurse (or, god forbid, more pumping), storing milk, bringing all the parts, etc, etc. Additionally, my kids sleep through the night, and sleep is helpful to training, to say the least. And I just feel settled. Last summer was so much fun, but it was a huge transition in a lot of ways. This summer, make no mistake, it's a chaotic hot mess of crumbs, yogurt smears and tantrums, but I'm used to it. It feels normal.

So, fingers crossed, I'll be attempting the big 26.2 come October 21st, at the Baltimore Marathon, and hopefully bringing home a new toy to my kids (because, as Dalton has informed me, my half marathon medal is his now). Just call me #motherrunner!

They care so much about my running accomplishments.

I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on pregnant exercise: Did it prepare anyone for pushing/labor/delivery? How soon were you ready to return to running/exercise/whatever you consider normal life after childbirth?

Also! My friend Rachael (like real life friend, we got to experience/survive the hell that is pregnant teaching together) just wrote an excellent post on the Mommy Wars, not running related, just general mommy wars, I highly recommend it (plus, unlike me, she knows how to be concise). Read it!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A first timer's thoughts on leaving the babies

This past weekend, I had the honor of celebrating two wonderful people becoming husband and wife! Our friends Hope and Bobby tied the knot on the beautiful beaches of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Yes, that's right, this overly attached mother not only left both my babies, I took my husband with me, AND we didn't even stay in the USA!

"Men of Punta Cana" calendar will be in stores near you any day now.

This post brought to you by the incredible talented and generous grandparents who were kind enough to not only travel to our house and watch a 1 year old and 2 year old for five days, but to also at least pretend they had fun doing it! Sure, they are obviously the cutest children on earth, but those ages are a handful to say the least!

They also sent us pictures to calm my nerves the whole time.

When I was on maternity leave after Dalton was born, the first time I left him for more than a quick run or coffee break was to see Mockingjay, Part 1. As a huge Hunger Games fan, I saw all the movies opening weekend, and had been looking forward to this since the previous movie was released.

Any excuse to post a newborn photo.

I went with a big group of friends. I clearly remember sitting there during the previews, secretly eyeing my friends who were mothers themselves, both with slightly older children, wondering why they seemed so...fine. I couldn't enjoy myself, and felt sick being away from Dalton. I wasn't worried, since he was home with Eric, I just felt wrong. Even though on paper, I was doing something fun, something I'd looked forward to for at least a year, surrounded by friends, I was choking back tears and just wanted to be home with my baby.

We all know that with social media, the pressure on new mothers these days is at an all time high and growing every second. There's an obsession with doing everything right, except the only way to make sure your way is right is to put down any other way as wrong, which I could write a whole separate post about. In retrospect, I am realizing the pressure goes even beyond feeding, sleeping, bonding, etc. - even the little "me" time we get as new mothers is subject to scrutiny. The message is: You must take time for yourself! You must have date nights! You must hire a sitter and get away from that baby leeching all your energy!

I liked this guy. But I wanted no date nights.

Of course this message comes from a place of love and support. No one is trying to make new mothers feel bad, quite the opposite, people are just trying to help. I don't mean to sound ungrateful - I truly appreciate so much all the friends who offered, and especially my friend Kristin who babysat Dalton for our first two solo outings!

Arriving at the resort and SO EXCITED.

From what I hear from friends, many, if not most new mothers do feel that way. In my experience, when I was already struggling to adapt to this new life and questioning every little decision I was making, it was just one more thing that made me feel like something was wrong with me. I didn't want a date night away, I didn't want an afternoon away, I certainly didn't want a night away as people insisted I should try. And since it seemed everyone else did, it felt like I was somehow falling short, yet again.

Insert random beautiful picture of the paradise we visited.

That was an extremely long preamble to say that I got there in my own time. Just like babies meet milestones when they are ready, I left my children when I was ready. I may have needed a little push, which I got in the form of a good friend who decided on a destination wedding. I'll admit, my first reaction to hearing her wedding would take place out of the country was something like how wonderful! I'll send a gift and take you guys out for a drink when you get  back.

But, slowly, I got there. My mother and stepfather readily agreed to come down and stay with the boys. The bride to be is one of our mom tribe of 5, and one by one, each of my friends booked their travel plans. We unexpectedly came in to a little bit of extra money (ok, Eric won it in Atlantic City). Plus, the wedding was the weekend before our 9 year anniversary. Not the big 10, but close enough. It kind of seemed like the universe was telling me that it was time.

Caribbean dancers on the beach side dance floor - you just can't beat that.

 All I know is, that's one gorgeous bride.

Somewhere along the way, I started to focus less on my irrational fears of the plane going down and my children growing up without parents, of my kids destroying my parents' will to live (ok, that one was strong the whole time), and more on the image of laying on a beautiful beach, surrounded by my husband and friends, drinking a fruity cocktail.

This. 24/7.

When we first arrived at the gorgeous resort, I did have a bit of a tearful moment, missing the kids. But that's the great thing about traveling with my mom tribe - we just staggered our mini meltdowns so we could all get each other through.

We may not all look at the same camera, but we still look good.

Shortly after that, I finally got enough cell phone reception to check in with my mom, and everything was going really smoothly. In fact, the boys did wonderfully the entire five days wee were gone. For Royce, it was out of sight, out of mind, as I'd expected, and he was a happy camper. Dalton is old enough to understand which is helpful, but I was worried he would be really sad and upset, and act out, since he hasn't mastered using words to express his feelings just yet. It was a non issue though. He had so much fun with Grandma and Grandpa and didn't miss us at all, which sounds sad but was quite the opposite, it was perfect.

We missed them. They...did not care.

With that knowledge, I was able to completely relax and thoroughly enjoy my vacation.

Two minutes before, those coconuts were still attached to the tree.

 I had my iced coffee daily in these pool chairs and it was just as relaxing as it sounds.
Lots of lying on the beach, chatting with these lovely ladies.
Sunset selfie game on point.

If I could go back in time and give myself advice as a new mom, I would say just stay home with the baby if that's what you want. You don't have to go on a date night just because your friends love them. Do what feels right for you. While I knew we were all going to make different parenting decisions, I needed to know that we were also going to all feel differently as parents, and that's ok.

I'm so glad both that I am now able to enjoy some kid free time, and that I waited until I was truly ready to take that time.

We love play dates with these guys, but we all got to know each other in a whole new way with a few days of adult only time.

Condensed version: I missed my kids like crazy but it was worth it a million times over and we had so much fun. 10/10, would recommend.

Friday, July 7, 2017

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

IT. IS. SUMMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm just a bit excited to see these faces all day every day.

I truly just can't. 
Now, it's time to do all the things and eat all the food.  For the most part, summer 2017 has been a series of amazingly wonderful fun days. With a few exceptions where we entered the 9th circle of hell.

One really fun thing about Dalton's age is that he feels like a real participant in the family, not just someone along for the ride (aka his brother). He's started to choose the activities we do. The weekend before school ended, he wanted to go to the aquarium.

Checking out the stingrays.

This was the first time Royce seemed to actually get something out of the visit! When I would hold him up to the tanks, he would get all excited and start babbling and banging on the glass (not the greatest habit but you get the idea) when the fish swam by.

I actually went out after bedtime once to attend my lifelong BFF's birthday party.

Blurry, crappy picture (but we look good).

Eric was bartending, so it was a babysitter/Lyft night. This is a BIG DEAL for me, quite a rarity. It was totally worth it. She had a blind wine tasting, so everyone brought a bottle of wine, covered the label, and then they were lettered. You tried them at your leisure and made notes on a big bulletin board.

We spent an evening at the Greek Festival. Royce was hilarious and just kept yanking pieces of chicken out of every chicken souvlaki pita he could reach. 

On the first official day of summer (for us, aka the first day off from school), we hit a local lake beach. I knew about it because I used to do open water swims there when I trained for triathlons. My, how times have changed.

Both kids absolutely loved the sand and the waves. Royce ate a handful early on, and that seemed to do the trick and he didn't attempt to eat any the rest of the visit.

We decided to start a Father's Day tradition of inviting all the dads over for smoked meat. And then attempted a mom/baby picture. Dalton is never one to follow the crowd.

The following day was my birthday. The best birthday gift ever, in my opinion, is waking up whenever I damn well pleased on a Monday morning, to no alarm.

A bunch of friends joined us at Play Cafe (a coffee shop that has a kids play area that you can see from all the tables) and we had a huge playdate.

Starting year 34 off with my favorite people!
Later that day, I went shopping alone, got my free Starbucks drink, and Dalton and I made a cake. Pretty perfect. 

Now, let's get in to the 9th circle of hell part. I was so excited to spend four days in the Poconos. We had never been on a family vacation, Royce was finally walking, Dalton was old enough to understand and anticipate it, it was going to be great. 

The first day was great. We spent it hiking and swimming.

We went out for ice cream that night and Dalton was so excited to choose what he wanted (chocolate with chocolate sprinkles, #soproud). As we were ordering, I uttered the famous last words: "Does he feel hot to you?". 

We got our ice cream and Dalton just...sat there. Didn't reach for it, didn't speak, barely even looked at it. We were like it's about to go down.

Yep. Stomach flu. I won't get in to too many details, since I'm sure we are all familiar with what that entails. The next two days of our trip, only Dalton was sick. I managed to get out and have a little fun with Royce.

The morning we needed to leave, I woke up early and was like oooooh noooooo. I knew it had hit me. Royce was also acting weird - he kept standing up in his pack and play like he was up for the day, then just laying back down and passing out like he just couldn't. I felt similar. 

Somehow we got the house we were staying in packed up with both kids nonstop crying and me trying unsuccessfully to not puke. Awful. We got in the car, stopped for gas, and Royce threw up all over his car seat. The rest of the trip home was just as pleasant as you might imagine. Royce and I basically just checked out of humanity for the next three days. It was brutal. Luckily, Eric didn't get sick and Dalton was mainly recovered by then. If 3/4 family members must be taken down by stomach flu, at least it was staggered.

When I was ready to rejoin humanity, Dalton and I took a much anticipated day trip - a train ride to Washington, D.C.!

How cute are these little passengers?
We went to the Museum of Natural History. Dalton loved the butterflies, but honestly would have been just as happy riding the train all day. All the kids would have.

The three 2 year olds seriously were amazing. They held it together through train delays, transfers, waiting in lines - these kids are awesome. I'm so impressed with how well they did. Also, anyone who has kids in a city that requires public transportation has all my respect now. Taking that stroller on and off the metro was not easy.

A local nature center had a "mini mud day". They had all sorts of mud centers (painting, making mud pies, mud wrestling, etc) set up. While Dalton spent the entire ride there chanting "mud mud mud!" and couldn't wait to arrive...he wouldn't even so much as touch it. Luckily there was one of the best playground I've ever seen (yes, I'm now in the business of evaluating playgrounds) nearby. Royce was a tad hesitant at first, but he got past that quickly.

Little piggie!
I dressed them in matching giraffe shirts and took them to the zoo. #twinning #winning

I mean, tell me these boys are not the cutest?!

In between all the excitement, we've had a lot of fun just hanging out, grilling, and playing in the yard.

Showing his brother how to hold a raspberry.

Pool time.

We joined the rest of suburbia at Costco to get meat for our Fourth of July BBQ.
Feeding your kids Costco samples for lunch is acceptable parenting, right?

Reading books in boxes, as one does.

For the big holiday, does it get more patriotic than dressing the whole family up for a run where our national anthem was written? I think not.

He loved his "necklace".
We had a barbecue with amazing food and friends. I forgot to take any pictures, but I got this half assed one of the kids checking out the sparklers.

And now we are back in (summer) school. I want to try to post more often but, we shall see!