Miscellaneous

Being Just A Little Scared

Why does fear paralyze us? It can take a completely rational person, who is facing a seemingly rational decision and turn them to metaphorical stone. Frozen in time, by their fear.

That fear could be anything, from starting your own business, to taking a new job, moving to a new city, loosing weight or…oh, I dunno…completing an Ironman.

Sigh.

I am terrified of Ironman. Have I mentioned that before? I know that most of this fear is unfounded but the unknown is scary stuff.

I know it will be hard, but how hard? I know it will hurt, but how badly? What if I get injured? Or even worse, what if I fail?

Did this fear keep me from registering? No. Though it did force me to drink a beer and reevaluate my sanity before I did.

I was thinking about fear and what it really means to me when I was in Big Bend. I stayed an extra day thanks to the epic ice storm that attacked Texas a couple of weeks ago. My traveling companion had left and I found myself with a whole day in Big Bend National Park, alone. It was COLD outside. 16 degrees. I spent the morning huddled in my room waiting for it to warm up some (it didn’t) because I was going to tackle something that genuinely terrified me.

I was going hiking. Alone.

I’m not opposed to spending time alone; as a bonafide introvert, I need my alone time. But maybe not in the wilderness with the mountain lions and the bears…know what I mean?

That’s where I found myself that last day in Big Bend.

That afternoon, after lunch I grabbed my hiking pack, filled it up with water and drove to the trail head of a popular trail, known for its bear and mountain lion activity. I’m sure it would have been packed on a regular day, but on a day when it was 16 degrees…not so much.

It was me.

Just me.

Alone.

I found myself in the parking lot staring blankly at the “what to do if you see a bear or mountain lion” sign, trying to muster the courage to take the first few steps onto the trail.

“Avoid carrying odorous food or toiletry items.”

I couldn’t help but think of the emergency peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I had stashed in my backpack. Visions of childhood Yogi Bear cartoons flashed through my head.

“Hike with others when possible.”

I looked at the empty parking lot.

Take a deep breath, Joni.

Certainly, the mountain lions and bears were cuddled up in their dens trying to stay warm like all the normal people, right?

Yeah, just keep telling yourself that. I gripped the can of mace in my pocket and started walking up the trail.

Remembering what I’d learned in Yellowstone…never sneak up on a bear…I spent the first mile wishing I had a bear bell, and making as much noise as I could without annoying myself.

“Hello bears. Go away bears. Nice bears.”

The further from the road I got, the more scared I became. I tightened my grip on the mace.

It was a 2.5 mile one-way trip up one of the shorter peaks in the Chisos Mountains, a 5 mile round trip. No. Big. Deal. One step at a time. I put my head down, put one foot in front of the other and was determined to make it to the end of the trail.

About halfway up the mountain, I went around a bend and noticed something out of the corner of my eye. What was that?!

I froze, looked around, and listened carefully. Then I saw it again. No, it wasn’t a mountain lion, it was coming from the sky.

It. Was. Snowing. Not a lot, just flurries, but it was SNOWING.

When I looked around, I noticed that a lot of the trees were white and covered in ice. I’d been so focused on the trail, and so worried about the wildlife, that I hadn’t even noticed. It was falling from the sky, and falling off the trees as it accumulated on the branches.

I stopped for a bit and marveled at the thought of snow in the desert. It relaxed me and reminded me to slow down, and enjoy the moment. The climb got tough toward the end. Even though it was a well worn trail, it was steep.

An hour after I left the car, I reached the summit. And holy cow, the view was AMAZING.

Where it was windy down by the road, gusting 15-20 mph, it was dead still on top of that mountain and completely silent. I stood there, my eyes fixed on the valley below, listening to NOTHING. No wind blowing. No people chatting. No footsteps crunching in the dirt. No birds chirping. It was so quiet that it was almost overwhelming.

I’d been standing there for about 20 minutes when I heard a crack and rumble. It was loud, as loud as thunder but the sound was different. It was the same type of sound you’d hear if you threw a rock off a ledge, then it hit another rock and rolled down a hill.

It made my heart stop. I thought about all the large boulders I’d ever seen at the base of a cliff.

I don’t know how close it was, sound travels so well in the dry air that it could have been miles away, but it felt close. I wondered, how many other people heard it? How many other people have ever heard that sound? Certainly, not many.

I felt like a voyeur, peeking in on one of nature’s most intimate moments.

It made me smile.

Overwhelmed by the experience, I forgot completely about the mountain lions and the bears.

I took one more look around, etching that amazing view into my brain, so I could summon it later when I need courage or peace, and slowly started making my way back down to the car.

As I was walking, I started thinking about fear.

What if I’d let my fear get the best of me and I’d never gone on that hike?

I never would have seen the snow. I never would have seen the view. I never would have heard that amazing sound. Fear would have robbed me of all those experiences.

I started thinking about the phrase “be fearless” and what it means. Is being fearless good? Does it really mean, to do things without fear? No, it doesn’t. If something truly scares you, even if you face it with courage, you’re never going to do it without fear. You’re always going to be afraid, and that’s okay.

All the good things in life happen when you’re just a little scared.

I won’t let fear rob me of growth. I won’t let it chase me into the comfort of something familiar, instead I will face it with courage and follow it to see where it leads me.

Fear will be the thing that gets me into Lake Woodlands on April 28. When I start to loose my courage I’m going to close my eyes, think of the view from the summit of that mountain, and remember what I learned there. I might fail but fear won’t keep me from trying, fear will be the reason I try.

I’ve had this post completely written and scheduled to publish for about the past week. Sunday, when I went to church and listened to the priest’s message, I nearly fell out of my chair. The key takeaway? Follow your fear.

God sometimes chooses to shout at you rather than whisper. Okay, okay. I get it.

2018, The Year of Good

Happy New Year!! I wish I could say that 2018 started with a bang but really it started with a whimper.

Friday morning (the 29th), I got on the trainer for my long ride and noticed that I had a little frog in my throat. By lunch time I was beginning to cough, and by 5 ‘o clock that evening I was running a low grade fever.

Rut ro.

Knowing that Texas is ground zero for the flu this year, first thing Saturday morning I hauled my sick self to urgent care. When I got there, a nice lady shoved a q-tip up my nose and, sure enough, 15 minutes later I was diagnosed with the flu.

I spent the next two days in quarantine in our master bedroom, occasionally chatting with the kids who would peek through the doorway and binge watching MythBusters.

On New Year’s Eve, around 5 p.m., I bid farewell to 2017 when I took a dose of Nyquil and promptly passed out. I even slept through the barrage of fireworks that inevitably happen at midnight.

My fever broke at some point that evening and I’ve been recovering slowly ever since. The epic cough, runny nose, sneezes, and horrible sinus headache are all gone. But I am VERY weak. As I write this, Monday afternoon, I’m out of the bed for the first time in three days and even just sitting here at my desk is making me dizzy. But it was either this or watching Paw Patrol….

…because guess what? Despite the quarantine, both of the kids are also sick, they’re in my bed, and they’ve hijacked the TV.

Needless to say, I’ve had a lot of time to think the last couple of days about what 2018 has in store for me and what kind of year I want it to be.

Every year I set a goal for the year. Something to challenge me that I can focus on all year. This little tradition started in 2015 when I vowed to record every workout (including rest days) that I did that year. It was a great goal, writing down all those rest days completely changed my attitude toward exercise.

In 2016, it was spending all year building upper body strength so I could do a pull up. I have NO upper body so this was a serious challenge.

In 2017, it was those dadgum handstands – which for the record was significantly more difficult than the pull up.

But up until New Year’s Day morning I had no idea what the goal for 2018 was going to be. I toyed around with the idea of a back flip or learning to play the piano but with Ironman Texas this spring most of my free time will be spoken for, and it’s not going to leave much time for anything else. Whatever the 2018 goal is, it can’t be time consuming.

I tend to be a somewhat grumpy person. My husband nicknamed me “Crabby Crab” almost as soon as he met me. This may (or may not, as the case may be) come as a surprise to people who know me personally – I guess it depends on how well you know me. Most of the time I’m in a great mood but when life happens, which it inevitably does, I get nudged toward grumpy pretty easily.

I don’t like this part of me, I do my best to hide it and I try every day to change it. But it’s hard and I struggle with it daily. It’s part of the reason I love running so much. Running always helps me reset my mood.

I’ve always thought that some kind of gratitude log could benefit me but I’ve never had the discipline to follow though. This year seems like the perfect time to start.

2018 will be the Year of Good. My 2018 goal is to write down something good that happened every day. No matter how bad a day is, there is good in it, and my goal this year is to find it.

And I’m starting right now.

When he was outside taking down Christmas decorations, Jason mentioned off hand to the neighbors that I was sick. A few hours later, completely unprompted, they showed up on the front porch with a piping hot casserole and a cheesecake.

That simple act of generosity was the single nicest thing anyone has done for us in years. As I sat in bed eating homemade Chicken Spaghetti I couldn’t help but think that 2018 was getting off to a pretty good start.

What about you? Do you have a New Year’s resolution?

Year of Running 2017

This year has been insane. I’ve done more this year of running than I could have ever expected. But with the highs come the lows, you can’t win ’em all, right? This is a link up with Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC. I’ve done it before though it’s been several years so here we go!

Best race experience?

Is that even a question? Boston Marathon. The people over at the Boston Athletic Assocation have the business of coordinating a 30,000 participant marathon down to an art. From the timing of your arrival in the athlete’s village to the aid stations on BOTH sides of the road, this is easily the most well organized race I’ve ever run. Combined with the amazing spectators and the beautiful course, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Best run?

I could go with the obvious answer (Boston) but there have been some truly memorable runs over the past year that I haven’t already written about. Like the 10 miles of frozen hydration packs at Bandera or the hanunted park run. Or there was the run where we decided to explore a new area but couldn’t find the trail so we just ran through the woods, honestly it was more like a crawl (a.k.a. The Machete Run). What about the trail running in Missouri?

But I’m gonna choose the first run on the trails after Harvey. The trails are in the flood zone of Cypress Creek. During Harvey, that sleepy little creek that is normally 10 feet wide, was two miles wide and the trails were under 10 feet of water. After the water receded, I didn’t even know if the trails were still there. How could they have survived that torrent of water??

But, they did survive! They looked a little different, debris was everywhere, they were still a little soggy, and in some places they were nearly impassable but they survived. I was with a friend that day and I needed that run. The condition of trails were a great analogy for how I felt. Soggy and in some places impassable but still here.

That run was a celebration of survival, it was therapy, it was the beginning of a lot of things for me. Emotional rebuilding, you could say. It wasn’t long, 4ish miles, but I desperately needed something “normal” that day and that run was it.

Best new piece of running gear?

Nathan Hipster running belt. I love this belt! I bought it to wear during Boston and I now I wear it on most runs. It doesn’t bounce at all and holds a ton of stuff. I have two, one in a size small and one in a medium. They both fit me pretty well. I’m kinda between sizes (the story of my life). My only complaint is that they get very sweaty, more so than my SPI Belt and don’t dry very quickly so I’m constantly washing them. I wish I had more than two!!

Best advice you’ve received this year?

The last couple of months have been rough. I trained for two races and both of them ended in epic failure for different reasons. It’s easy to get discouraged when things don’t go the way you planned. After BCS I was ready to give up racing altogether but someone very wise sent this to me and it reminds me, that I need to get back out there and try again.

AFTER Ironman Texas though.

Most inspirational runner?

I could go with the obvious answer, Shalane Flanagan…I mean, who wasn’t inspired by her win in NYC? She personifies what you can do if you work hard and are persistent. But that’s too easy.

This year my most inspirational runner is anyone who does anything for the first time. Several of my clients are running marathons for the first time this year, THEY inspire me. They’re attempting something that they don’t know that they can do but they’re gonna try anyway. They’re nervous, scared, excited and passionate. Talking to them is like talking to the kid who just got his first bike. Terrified of falling but excited to try. THAT’S inspirational.

Favorite picture from a run or race this year?

I’ve looked through all my pictures from the year. I have a lot of pictures of my feet, quite a few pictures of snakes and most of the ones that could be decent are out of focus because the camera lens was covered in sweat.

Favorite picture from a run has to be this one taken in Huntsville State Park. I was running with two of my friends and we were in the middle of an 18-mile run. The awesome woman in this picture is one of my dear friends but she and I weren’t in the best mood that day. That run was awful. We both did nothing but complain for about 2 hours…until we came across this tree which I’d always wanted to climb. So instead of running past it like I had before, we stopped and took a few minutes to play.

Climbing up there was a little terrifying, we were close to 20 feet off the ground but climbing that tree changed our attitudes for the rest of the run.

From a race, it has to be this picture. I had just turned the corner onto Boylston Street in Boston and I was taking a video of the race finish with my phone so I could share it with my family (watch it here), but I was simultaneously taking it all in. The finish was overwhelming. The people were 5-10 deep the last part of the race and it was so loud I could barely hear the music in my ears.

The finish line was only about 1/4 mile in front of me. In that moment, I was staring at the finish line, a little sad that it was over but more proud of myself than I had ever been in my life.

(Yes, that’s a $20 bill shoved inside my phone case…you can’t be too prepared.)

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

Just. Keep. Running.

What about those handstands?

Every year I like to set a goal for myself that has nothing to do with running. This year it was to do a handstand. I didn’t really have certain metrics for success, I think I originally said 5 seconds but it really was arbitrary.

Last December, I propped my phone against the end table in our gameroom and attempted to invert myself for the first time. I nearly fell on my face. My glutes were sore for three days afterward.

Between then and now, I’ve done thousands of handstands. I’ve done them at the Y, the beach, my house, and after Harvey, at my new gym, And I’ve had to explain myself no less than a dozen times (to mostly old men) in the gym why I keep flipping myself upside down.

“What are you doing? Are you a gymnast?”

Seriously, a dozen times.

I’ve done handstands for HOURS, to the point where I made myself sore for days. Handstands are hard, people!

But in the end it paid off! Here we are, a year later. It’s not pretty and they’re still hard, (it took about two dozen tries to get one good enough to share with you) but I can do a handstand!

Proof that you can learn to do anything given enough time and determination. It’s up to you to decide to try. Don’t think I’m done with this though.

BRING IT ON, 2018!

A Day in the Life {January 22, 2015}

A glimpse into my day. I’m stay-at-home-mom with a 3.5 year old daughter and a 19 month old son. My husband and I are currently on day 21 of the Whole 30 challenge and we are homeschooling my daughter’s preschool. This is my fourth Day in the Life post.

{You can read the first three here, here and here.}

Disclaimer: This is long but I want to document as much detail as I can for my own enjoyment later.

5:30 AM – I hear Alvy over the baby monitor talking to himself. I throw the covers off my legs and roll out of bed. On my way up to his room I stop by the kitchen to turn on the coffee pot. I pick him up, change his diaper, get him dressed and then we both sit down in the glider so he can nurse. Yes, I’m still nursing him.

6:00 AM – We go downstairs, I pour my coffee and turn on the TV and hunt down Alvy’s hearing aids. We both sit on the couch and watch WordWorld while I drink my coffee. I look at our meal plan and make a grocery list for a trip to the grocery store later in the morning.

6:10 AM – Jason leaves for work.

6:45 AM – I get off the couch and start breakfast. I’m having bacon, eggs, sweet potato hash browns and sliced apple. The kids are having french toast, bacon and sliced apple

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7:00 AM – Evie wakes up and stumbles into the den.

7:30 AM – I turn off the TV and the kids and I sit down to breakfast.

7:45 AM – I put in a load of laundry, Evie goes to get dressed, I clean the kitchen, get myself dressed and make the bed.

8:30 AM – We leave for the grocery store. The kids are rowdy and the trip is somewhat stressful. It started off well but quickly deteriorated to this.

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…and this.

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Thankfully I went in with a good list and the store was relatively empty.

9:30 AM – We get back from the grocery store. I start Evie on her schoolwork while I unpack groceries and put in a load of diapers. Then I sit down with her. She does pages from her workbook (Complete Book of Grade K) and we read a Bob Book (Bob Book, Set 1:Book 11). Alvy plays with his ABC puzzle and his wooden farm blocks.

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10:15 AM – Alvy becomes unruly. He’s yelling, throwing puzzle pieces and generally being disruptive so I “pause” school to lay Alvy down for a nap. Evie plays on her Leap Pad quietly downstairs while I nurse Alvy.

10:45 AM – I lay Alvy down in his crib. He is extremely fussy and refuses to settle himself. Screaming ensues. He’s been cutting a tooth the last few days so I give him some Tylenol hoping that will help. Evie and I finish school then I fold the laundry that I washed earlier in the day.

11:15 AM – Alvy is still screaming so I go upstairs to rescue him. I bring him down and hold him with one arm while I make lunch with the other.

11:30 AM – We sit down for lunch. The kids have almond butter and honey sandwiches, apple slices and some cheese and I have a huge taco salad (lettuce, avocado, tomato and taco meat).

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11:45 AM – I take Alvy back upstairs for nap attempt #2. We read one of his favorite ABC books and I put him back in his crib. He cries for just a minute then starts to settle himself down. Phew!

Evie makes a loud noise playing downstairs and he starts crying again.

Just. Go. To. Sleep.

He’s over tired and mad. Our little boy has quite the temper.

Just as he settles the doorbell rings, it’s the mailman with a package. Growl. Once again he starts crying.  As I pass through the den I notice Evie has dug out about a dozen milk bones from the pantry and is feeding Baxter on the rug. Earlier in the day I would have told her to stop but after listening to Alvy scream for an hour I really don’t care.

12:30- He FINALLY lays himself down. FINALLY. I sneak out of his room and start working on the mountain of laundry that needs to be folded. Evie follows me into our bedroom and sits on the bed and helps me fold and plays word games on the tablet.

1:30 PM – Laundry is folded and put away. I change into my workout clothes and dig out one of my old pairs of running shoes. I’ve been having some IT band problems lately and I have suspect it’s an issue with my shoes. So today for my workout I’m going back to my old Mizuno Wave Creation 13s to see if they make a difference in my band tightness. I spend a few minutes fiddling with the laces, then when I am satisfied with how they feel on my feet I go into the kitchen to prep dinner.

2:00 PM – My chores are finished so Evie and I sit down and at the kitchen table to play with her Legos. We work on building a sports car from a little kit. I also fold the diapers.

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2:55 PM – Alvy wakes up from his nap in a much better mood.

3:15 PM – We leave to run errands, go to the chiropractor and go to the Y. I run 3 miles, do Strong Lifts Day A (squats, bench press, inverted row, pushups and reverse crunches) and let the kids run around the indoor track. I was pleased with my shoe experiment. On Tuesday I was only able to run a mile and a half so the shoes made a difference. IT band was still tight though.

6:00 PM – We finally make it back home. Time to start dinner. The kids play quietly for a while but then start to pester me in the kitchen so I turn the TV on and let them watch a couple episodes of Signing Time while we wait for Jason to get home.

7:15 PM – Jason gets home and we immediately sit down to dinner. Pecan Crusted Salmon, Roasted Carrots and Beets and Shredded Brussels Sprouts.

7:40 PM – Jason cleans the kitchen and I go take a quick shower.

8:10 PM – We herd the kids upstairs. It’s time for bed. Alvy is obviously ready for sleep telling everyone, “ni-ni” as we walk up the stairs. Evie and Alvy read two books together and then go their separate ways. I take Alvy and nurse him then lay him down. Jason takes Evie to her room, reads her two books and then they cuddle for 5 minutes before he goes downstairs.

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8:35 PM – Alvy is almost asleep in my arms so I lay him down in his crib. He fusses for about two seconds rolls over and goes to sleep. I sit in the glider for a few minutes to make sure he’s asleep before I try to leave. As I’m sitting there I hear Evie crying in her room.

I walk into her room and she tells me she’s mad because dad won’t let her sleep in our room. I explain to her that she needs to sleep in her own room first and she can come to our room in the night if she wants. She reluctantly agrees and I promise to go check on her.

I go downstairs and make a cup of hot tea.

8:55 PM – Back upstairs to check on Evie. She’s already asleep. Jason and I sit on the couch and watch TV while I drink my tea. This is literally the first time I’ve sat still since 6:30 this morning.

9:35 PM – We go to bed.

THE END.

A Day in the Life {September 15, 2014}

It’s been a while since I did a day in the life post and now that Alvy is older I would like to document how my days are spent. My daughter, Evelyn is 3 years, 4 months old and my son, Alvy is 15 months. Today is a pretty typical Monday.

This post will be relatively long but I think this will be fun to go back and read later so I want to document as much detail as I can.

5:15 AM – Jason’s alarm goes off. I’ve been getting up with him lately because I like having a cup of coffee before the kids wake up. Evie slept with us last night and has her head glued into the crook of my arm, which is halfway asleep. Jason gets in the shower. I lay in bed and enjoy a sleeping kiddo cuddle until I hear him get out.

5:30 AM – Once he’s out of the shower I roll out of bed and no sooner than I walk into the kitchen to pour my coffee do I hear Alvy up in his room crying.

*headdesk*

So much for a quiet cup of coffee. I hurriedly pour my coffee, grab my tablet and head upstairs. I try to lay him back down but no dice. He’s awake. For the day. At 5:30AM. Bummer. I nurse him and we cuddle in the glider in his room and then he crawls out of my lap and begins playing.

6:00 AM – I sit down at my desk in the game room and write a MOMS Club email while Alvy plays. The email is long (about our upcoming monthly calendar) so it takes a while to write. I’m thankful he’s playing happily so I can concentrate.

7:00 AM – Alvy starts to get fussy so I assume he’s hungry. Before heading downstairs I change his diaper, get him dressed and lay Evie’s clothes out for the week in her room. Downstairs we go.

7:15 AM – As I’m making breakfast Evie wanders in still half asleep. She helps me out by cracking eggs as I make tortillas. We’re having egg and cheese breakfast tacos.

8:00 AM – Breakfast is over. I spend about an hour cleaning up after breakfast and doing my morning chores (unloading the dishwasher, making the bed, feeding our pets, putting in a load of laundry, picking up random toys). Evie goes upstairs to get dressed. The kids play quietly some inside and some outside while I watch through the window. The weather has been so nice the last few days they’ve been eating up the outside time. I want them to burn some energy because I need to go to the grocery store and I don’t want them squirming in the shopping cart.

9:00 AM – I tell Evie that we need to go to the grocery store and she has 5 minutes to finish playing. She is having so much fun in the backyard she doesn’t want to leave. Bribery follows. I may promised her a donut. 30 minutes later everyone is in the car.

On the way to the store we stop by the chiropractor for an adjustment and then finally make it to the grocery store around 10.

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I spy pie pumpkins!

Grocery shopping goes off without a hitch and almost $200 later we leave. It is a pretty high grocery bill for us but we were out of almost everything so I’m not too surprised. The cart was overflowing.

11:30 AM – We get home. I unload the car and start making lunch (a double batch of chicken nuggets for the freezer and sweet potato fries). The kids play in the backyard while I watch from the kitchen window as I cook and put away groceries.

Chicken nuggets.

Chicken nuggets.

Backyard fun!

Backyard fun!

12:30 PM – We sit down for lunch. By we I mean Alvy and I – Evie insists that she’s not hungry and refuses to join us. It’s not a battle I’m willing to fight right now so I let it go. Alvy inhales the nuggets and sweet potato fries and I eat leftover pizza.

1:00 PM – Alvy has a meltdown. Nap time. When I tell Evie is time to go upstairs for quiet time she informs me that she’s hungry. Of course. I give her some lunch and tell her to sit at the table and eat while I lay Alvy down for a nap. I sit down in the glider, nurse him then lay him in his crib. Though it’s time for his nap and he’s obviously tired sleep isn’t coming easy. I sit back down in the glider and wait for him to settle himself down. He cries in the crib. Cries turn in fuss and fuss turns into silence. After 45 minutes he finally lays himself down and falls asleep. At some point Evie wanders into her room and begins playing quietly. The whole time I’m hoping the dog doesn’t eat the chicken nuggets left on the table.

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Sleepy sleep little boy!

1:50 PM – I go downstairs put the chicken nuggets in the freezer, pick up after lunch and come back upstairs to find Evie.

2:00 PM – We start “school”. We’ve been doing school every weekday while Alvy naps. It’s challenging for Evie and it gives us some good one-on-one time. Today we do sight words, number writing, a reading lesson, practice counting to 30 and write the letter J.

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Writing numbers.

Sight words.

Sight words.

3:30 PM – School is over. We both go downstairs and I clean up from lunch, clean out the pantry, finish putting away the groceries and call I the audiologist (the tube on Alvy’s hearing aid is ripping in half). Evie practices using her scissors on our junk mail and leaves tiny little pieces of confetti all over the kitchen floor. Once I get all my mandatory chores done I continue to clean like a mad woman knowing my time my time is limited. I also change into my running clothes so I’m ready to go when the opportunity presents itself.

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Clean pantry!

4:30 PM – Alvy wakes up. I change his diaper, feed him a snack and let him play for a few minutes. I am about to put the kids in the stroller for my run but I hang around just long enough to find out that Jason was leaving work. Immediately I decided to postpone my run until he got home so I didn’t have to push the stroller.

5:15 PM – Jason gets home and begins playing outside with the kids. I talk to him for a few minutes then leave for a 5 mile run. After about a half mile I realize how late we were going to eat dinner and instead decide to shorten it to 3 miles in exchange for more family time. Didn’t look at my watch at all just ran a leisurely pace. My legs felt reluctant but the weather was nice so I was a happy girl.

Daddy's home!

Daddy’s home!

I love being outside!

I love being outside!

I love being outside too!

I love being outside too!

5:50 PM – I get back from my run and Jason informs me that I left the door to our upright freezer in the garage open when I put the shrimp away after my grocery trip. All the food inside has thawed and ruined. At first I was mad at myself but most of the food in there was very old and probably needed to be thrown out anyway. Still kind of a bummer. I guess I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow. I spend a few minutes outside cooling down.

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My run.

6:15 PM – I go inside, take a shower and start working on dinner. We’re having Huevos rancheros – fried eggs served over a tostada, covered in salsa and queso fresco. Served with refried black beans, country style potatoes and bacon.

7:10 PM – We all sit down to dinner. Jason and I talk a lot about his work and a little about my hair brained business ideas. Evie tells Jason about her day at school. She actually eats quite a bit of her dinner, something that only happens about once a week.

7:45 PM – Evie asks if she can be excused from the table and she had eaten relatively well so we let her. As soon as she leaves Alvy starts screaming, “ALL DONE! ALL DONE” (which sounds like Ahhhh da! Ahhh da!) and waving his hands in the all finished sign. The kids both go in the den to watch Mickey Mouse. This is the first time all day our television has been on. Jason and I continue to sit at the table and chat and enjoy some quiet time. Ahhhhh.

8:00 PM – We finally leave the table. I clean the kitchen and do my evening chores (make the coffee for tomorrow, program the dishwasher to run overnight, get the next load of laundry in the washer and pick up the house) and Jason goes outside to make a work phone call. The kids play.

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Dinner aftermath.

It's never too early for lessons on proper golf form. :-)

It’s never too early for lessons on proper golf form. 🙂

Dishwasher helper.

Dishwasher helper.

8:46 PM – I’m standing in the kitchen talking to Jason and Alvy walks over crying. That’s our cue that’s it’s time for bed. We all trudge upstairs to change the kids into pajamas. Once in his PJs Alvy gets a second wind and we all play in Evie’s room as a family.

9:15 PM – I take Alvy, literally kicking and screaming, into his room for bed. He was having such a good time playing with his daddy and sister that he didn’t want to stop but it was past time for bed. I rock him and nurse him until he’s calm.

9:30 PM – I lay Alvy down in his crib. He cries for about 3 seconds and immediately falls asleep. I sit in the glider for a few minutes to make sure he’s well settled before leaving the room.

9:45 PM – I walk downstairs and find Evie and Jason reading curious George and watching football. As soon as the book is finished Evie comes to cuddle with me on the couch. It’s time for both of us to go to bed. Lately, she hasn’t been sleeping well in her room so we’ve been letting her sleep with us. Jason stays up to watch the rest of the football game and she and I go to our bedroom. I move the pile of unfolded laundry off the bed and on to my dresser (I’ll deal with it tomorrow). She and I curl up in bed in a mommy/daughter cuddle and we both go to sleep.

Today was a pretty good day. I was in control all day, no epic meltodown, no tantrums, nothing I couldn’t handle. I can walk around with my head held high proud of the two, well behaved, little people I’m raising. Days like today, I feel like I’ve got this stay-at-home mom thing down – until tomorrow when the kids run me over like a Mack truck. {Two days later as I’m editing this, I can tell you that’s exactly what happened – oh well. You win some you loose some.}

One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t trade this time for anything.

A Day in the Life, December 2013

Things have changed a lot here since my last Day In the Life post and I thought it was about time for me to do a new one. I wrote this on December 9. Today Evie is 2 years, 6 months, 22 days old and Alvy is 6 months, 9 days old.

Today is a fairly normal day for us. It’s a Monday which means a trip to the grocery store. It’s also a rest day so I don’t have a run scheduled. I also have plans to go to a MOMS Club event, return books at the library and buy stamps for our Christmas cards.

I wrote this post entirely on my phone.

6 AM – My day begins. I wake up as Jason is getting ready for work. I try to get out of bed but Alvy, who is laying in bed with me, has other plans. “FEED ME MOM,” is the cry I hear when I try to sneak out. So back in the bed I go to nurse the baby.

6:21 AM – Alvy is done eating and falls back asleep. I finally sneak out of bed and pour myself a cup of coffee. I spend a few minutes reading Twitter and Facebook in silence.

6:45 AM – Evie wakes up begging to watch Mickey Mouse Christmas on Netflix. I make her breakfast. An egg, bacon and some sliced up pear. I put it all on a TV tray on the floor of the den so she can watch Mickey while she eats. I also make myself breakfast (the same thing).

7 AM – E leaves her spot on the floor to throw a piece of pear skin in the trash. With her eggs unsupervised the dog swoops in and eats them. She is understandably upset and asks me to make more. So I kick the dog outside, dig the skillet back out (which I’d just finished washing) and cook her a second breakfast.

I use this rare silence as an opportunity to address Christmas cards. I manage to get them all done before…

8:12 AM – Alvy wakes up in a great mood. I take him upstairs to change his diaper and get him dressed. I try to nurse him but he’s more interested in playing.

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The three of us sit on the floor and play for a half hour.

9 AM – I get dressed and take Evie upstairs to get her dressed. I make a second attempt at nursing Alvy while E plays. I drink my third cup of coffee.

9:45 AM – We all leave the house to go to a Christmas cookie decorating party with MOMS Club. I visit with my mommy friends while Evie systematically licks the icing off her plate and eats two sugar cookies. Alvy spends the entire time in the Ergo fussing and trying to Houdini his way out.

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11:15 AM – Alvy has a meltdown at the cookie party and we leave in a frenzy of screaming baby and angry toddler who wasn’t quite done playing.

11:30 AM – I nurse Alvy who falls asleep in my lap. I consider laying him in his crib in our room but Evie is playing quietly and he’s sleeping peacefully so instead I choose to continue holding him. I’m already tired and consider making another pot of coffee. I begin to wonder how I’m going get everything done I need to do today.

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Pasta with meat sauce

NOON – Evie screams and wakes up the baby. After his little power nap it becomes clear he isn’t going back to sleep. I get up and make our lunch.

I make Evie a peanut butter and honey sandwich and some blueberry yogurt and I heat up leftover pasta for myself, which I cover in cheese. I turn on VeggieTales and E eats while I make a phone call and send a few emails regarding some volunteer work I do. I then inhale lunch while Alvy sits in the Bumbo.

I realize stamps and the grocery store might have to wait until tomorrow.

(Please note, I wrote this post on a Monday, I didn’t end up buying stamps until Friday.)

1:10 PM – I change Alvy’s diaper, top him off and we all pile in the car to go to the library. Once we get there we return Xanda’s Panda Party and Don’t Worry Bear which were both due today and browse for something new to take home.

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2:13 PM – We leave the library and go back home with two new books, I Can Do It Myself and Puddles ABCs. I realize I’m exceptionally thirsty.

2:30 PM – I take Evie upstairs, change her diaper and lay her down for a nap. I get Alvy out of the car seat, fill up my water bottle and grab a handful of chocolate covered cherries off the kitchen counter.

(As I’m editing this days later, I realize this is when things all start to go downhill.)

Alvy and I go to our bedroom so I can nurse him and put him down for a nap. Just as I am getting comfortable I hear Evie yelling, “I want my books!”

I leave Alvy in the bedroom to go get the library books off the kitchen counter. I also grab a second handful of cherries.

2:45 PM – For the second time today Alvy decides that it is playtime not nap time.

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I’m Batman!

He’s learning to sit up right now and he’s so excited to practice his new trick! We sit in bed and play until…

3:27 PM – I see an eye rub and decide it’s a good time to try to lay him down. I turn off the lights and nurse him but apparently I am wrong. He is obviously tired but is fighting sleep. He moans, trashes, hits me in the face and otherwise tests my patience for another half hour.

4:00 PM – I need a break, so I lay Mr. Refuses-To-Nap in his crib and go into the kitchen to get a glass of wine and another handful of cherries.

(Can you say, self medicate?)

While I’m gone he gets very still and quiet in the crib and I think, mistakenly, that he will fall asleep. Unfortunately, he sees me poking my head around the corner and starts screaming again. I pick him back up.

4:14 PM – Alvy FINALLY falls asleep in my arms. Under no circumstances do I dare move for fear of waking him up. My full wine glass is just out of reach. I stare longingly at it.

4:26 – I realize I’m definitely not making it to the grocery store today and I make the decision to pull out one of our emergency freezer meals for dinner instead. I carefully lean over and rescue my wine.

4:58 – Jason sends me a text message asking what we’re having for dinner. I tell him about our frozen options and he offers to pick sushi up in the way home instead. I tell him that, at this point, I’d be appreciative of anything he brought home for dinner, even if it was gravel. He thinks sushi would be better than gravel and I agree.

Alvy is still asleep in my lap. My left arm is completely numb. I consider laying him down but I’m really enjoying my break.

5:05 PM – Evie wakes up from her nap crying. I am forced to lay Alvy down in the crib and thankfully he stays asleep. I go upstairs to get Evie. She tells me she is cold and asks to be changed into her snowman pajamas (which she has worn every single day for almost 10 days straight). We go downstairs to cuddle on the couch and enjoy some time, just the two of us.

(We don’t get that much anymore, it was nice)

5:35 PM – Jason calls to tell me our favorite sushi place is hosting a private event tonight and is closed. While I’m on the phone coming up with a back up sushi plan…

5:45 PM – Alvy wakes up from his nap. I walk into the bedroom to pick him up and while I’m gone Evie goes into the kitchen, opens up the pantry door and helps herself to a Graham cracker. She then does gymnastics on the couch eating her cracker and watching WordWorld while I attempt to nurse the baby. At this point I am merely trying to survive until Jason gets home.

6:05 PM – Jason comes home with sushi. We eat and after dinner watch Wheel of Fortune.

7:00 PM – We all go upstairs for some good family time. Jason plays the guitar while I give Evie lessons on how to use the touchpad on the laptop. She does surprisingly well.

7:45 PM – Alvy decides he’s had enough family time and starts crying so I take him downstairs to put him to bed.

8:30 PM – He’s finally asleep. I hear Jason upstairs getting Evie ready for bed. I lay Alvy down in his crib. He immediately wakes up. I decide to hit the “easy button” and just lay down in our bed and nurse him back to sleep.

9:15 PM – I get out of the bed and carefully lay Alvy in his crib. I then go upstairs to tell Evie goodnight. When I get there I realize that Jason has fallen asleep in her bed. I lay down with them and enjoy a little family cuddle. I may or may not have dozed off.

10:45 PM – I wake Jason up and we both leave her room. We sit on the couch for a few minutes while Jason drinks a glass of water.

11:09 PM – We finally call it a day and go to bed.

Camping at Dinosaur Valley State Park

After a great Thanksgiving holiday, Friday morning we packed up our truck and headed to Dinosaur Valley State Park for a camping trip with my brother, sister-in-law and 10 month old newphew.

I’ve been looking forward to this trip for months! We love Dinosaur Valley, we came here several times for day trips back when we lived in Dallas. It’s been several years since our last trip and I couldn’t wait to share the park with Evie. There’s something very novel about touching a dinosaur footprint!

It’s a four hour drive from our house so we decided to stop at Baylor both on the way down and the way back to stretch our legs. It’s a beautiful campus and a great place for E to run around. She loved visiting “sic ’em bears!” More importantly while we were on campus I saw a sign for the Bearathon (!!!) to be held March 22. It’s a half and is only three weeks after my scheduled full. Perfect timing!

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our campsite

Once we got there it didn’t take us long to get our camping equipment unpacked and our tent put up.

Our campsite was nice and backed up to the site my brother and his family were in. A small trail led from our site to theirs though some trees.

The weather was cooperative. It was a little chilly but turned out to be pretty much perfect. No rain, just cool enough for a campfire at night and just warm enough during the day for you to not shiver.

Back in the pre-kid days we would have hiked the entire park but during this trip, with three kids under three, a three mile hike seemed appropriate and even a little ambitious. By the time the hike was over both babies had melted and E was asleep in her daddy’s arms.

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To her credit she hiked a full TWO MILES up and down some steep hills. I am impressed she made it that far!

Seeing the footprints is such a special experience. No matter how many times we visit I am still in awe that we have access to something so unique. Unlike in a museum where you’re told DO NOT TOUCH, at Dinosaur Valley not only can you touch them, you can stand in them. It’s fantastic!

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crossing the Paluxy river, hunting for prints

It is quite an adventure finding the prints. They’re in and around the Paluxy river so you have to cross the river just to get close. If there’s been rain in the area recently the river will cover them completely, luckily for us the river was down but most of the prints in the water were covered in mud and debris.

Even when you find a print it’s difficult to know what you’re looking at. Some of the prints are eroded badly, making them unrecognizable. You find yourself wondering, “Is that a footprint or a hole in the rock?”

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eroded footprints

You may spend 20 minutes crossing your eyes, struggling to use your imagination but then you see one clearly. Once you see one, you start to see them all over the place.

Oh, there’s one!

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this print is freshly uncovered by the flooding river

There’s another one!

And one over there!

Oh my goodness! They’re everywhere! This is incredible!

Then you do silly things, like sit your kids in a mud puddle to take a picture.

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Camping with two little kids is hard – but isn’t everything? The memories I have of camping as a child are some of my most cherished. They embody everything that’s awesome about being a kid. Though Evie and Alvy are too young to remember this particular trip we will continue to take them to this and other special places to build their own sets of special memories.

The moral of the story here is that if you have kids (and a sense of adventure) take them to see the dinosaur footprints at Dinosaur Valley! It is a trip that they, and you, aren’t likely to forget any time soon!