Sunday, March 23, 2014

Liam - Age 2

For the past year, I've heard myself say (or thought to myself) several times, "Being 2 is hard!"  Being a parent to a 2 year old is often hard/challenging/maddening, but also filled with sweet moments.  It occurred to me this week that Liam will be 3 soon.  This year has flown by, but when you are in the trenches of toddlerhood, some moments seem like they will never end.  I wanted to reflect back, and document, some of the things that will forever evoke "Liam - Age 2" to me.

--Thomas the train...he developed a taste for all things train, and loves his train table/track set.
--Quiet boy (as in, will he ever talk?!) to chatterbox.  Oh, how I love to hear what he has to say!
--Pancakes...he little guy loves his carbs, and this is his favorite breakfast.  I love how he says "pan-takes" and "hur-rup"
--The paci...we've whittled his reliance on this thing down to bedtime only from a 24-7 dependance.  I have heard him sucking on that thing fiercely over the baby monitor at night, as he soothes himself back to sleep.  Heard him cry in the back seat "I need my paci!", and seen him go from hiding place to hiding place in search of a back up paci.  He loves that thing.
--Grins & dimples, with wrinkled up noses.  He is so stinkin' cute, and pulls that card out especially when he's doing something naughty...which is most of the time.
--Running.  Everywhere, all the time.  And if not running, jumping or hopping.  Or climbing.
--"Where Emmy??"  Usually one of the first things out of his mouth.  He adores his big sister, and has since day one.  The feeling is mostly mutual, although sometimes I do hear her say, "sometimes it's hard being the big sister."
--Books.  Early on, Liam would grab a board book and plop on my lap while I sat criss-cross.  Then, he  decided he didn't want to sit on my lap and books went out the window for a while.  We put a "reading chair" in his room recently, and reading books is back in favor.  I love to see what he'll choose each night.  Recent hits include Chicka-chicka boom boom, Knuffle Bunny, Can You Say Peace? and listening to him recite Brown Bear from memory.
--He loves Amos.  And by that, I mean he loves to scream him name when the cat enters the room, tackles him, pets/pats somewhat gently (but not always), tries not to pull his tail, and chases him.  Amos is usually a good sport, and sends a message loud & clear when he's had his fill.
--Holding hands/holding a finger.  He often asks to hold our hand, especially when going down stairs and it never gets old.  I love his tiny little baby hands, which soon enough will be big boy hands.
--Funny expressions, which will flitter away before I realize it..."O-tay", "dere's peoples!", "hold hand", "yuv ooo!", "munsters!", "shower power", "hur-rup or hora (syrup or Dora)", and "Yesssss" with his adorable little lisp.
--He says "Bwesss you" after you sneeze.
--Unbridled joy...arms in the air, yelling "YAY!" about something mundane.  There is no mundane to a 2 year old.
--For better or for worse, the kid can work an iPad or iPhone with ease.  Mostly, in an attempt to get the PBS Kids app to work so he can watch Curious George, the Kratz Brothers or Cat in the Hat.
--Singing...spontaneous little songs from the back seat, or singing to himself while playing.  Belting out Happy Birthday after Em turned 7.  The ABC song, with particular emphasis on LMNOP!  A sweet little boy voice, high-pitched, off key, and unabashed.  Joyful and usually accompanied by giggles.

This little guy has certainly come into his own this year...spirited, opinionated, head-strong.  He's a never-ending bundle of energy and gives great big squeezy hugs.  Our little guy is growing up...we've only got about 6 more weeks of parenting a 2 year old, and then we'll never have a 2 year old again.  Looking forward to seeing what age 3 has in store for us!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Why I Run

I would never have called myself a runner before the age of 36.  I recall an embarrassing moment in my required freshman PE class in college when we had to run a mile around the track & I could barely do it.  I was 18 and couldn't run a mile!!  I was active & in good shape, but I wasn't in good condition.  In 2009, I got a wild hair and decided to do a sprint triathlon and trained for that.  It involved a quarter mile swim, a 12 mile bike and a 5k run.  I finished next to dead last, but damn it, I finished.  I don't think I've swam a lap or ridden my bike since.  I sort of enjoyed the running the most, but could barely finish a 5k.  Fast forward to not quite 2 years ago.  After seeing coworkers and my bestie train for and finish a half marathon, I began to get the idea that *I* could do that, and decided to make it a goal.  It terrified me to think of running 13 miles...THIRTEEN!  I joined a local running group based out of a Fleet Feet store.  We had to do a time trial, and my time was a 12:30 minute mile...sluggish at best!  But, I showed up week after week, put in the time during the week with short runs, gradually added mileage during long runs, and finished my first half marathon at an 11:20 min/mile pace.  Slow & steady, but I was able to finish the race in a sprint with gas still left in the tank.  I felt great!  Since that time, I've finished 3 more half marathons and am training for my 5th half this April...the Rock & Roll Raleigh!

I have gained a tremendous respect for my body and its abilities during the past 2 years.  It's amazing to crank out a 10 mile run before 9 AM on a Saturday and then go about my normal routine.  I've learned a lot about endurance training, caring for my body & it's various aches.  I'm more forgiving of my Mommy body, and more interested in seeing what it can achieve.

Last Saturday, on my long run, I was running with a 26 yr old single woman.  She told me she was inspired by all the Moms in the group who come out and run half & full marathons.  She thought it was amazing from a time standpoint, but more importantly was really excited about the positive role modeling we were doing for our kids.  She shared that no one in her family were exercisers, and she hadn't been either prior to the past year.  She said, "What a different path I might have had if I my parents had prioritized being active, set health goals and showed me what was possible."

I pondered this.  Emerson & Liam have been able to see me finish 2 of my races.  I have a post-race photo with Em that is one of my most treasured shots of us together.  I'd like to think I am inspiring our kids to be active, set goals and showing them that anything is possible if you work for it.

But, that's not why I run.  This is something that I do for *me*'s the one selfish thing that I do.  Running time is my time.  I don't run with music in my ears.  I enjoy listening to the sounds of nature, having time to think & process stuff without interruption, or chatting with fellow runners about whatever.  I've met some great people in running groups, learned a lot from other runners, and been able to use big races as an excuse to have quality time with my bestie...race weekend = girl's weekend.

There are physical benefits...I sleep better when I run.  I have no back pain when I run.  I can eat (for the most part) what I want with less consequences.  I mentally feel better when I run regularly.  I'm more, um, regular when I run.  I have more energy.  I'm happier.

If you would have told my 18 year old self that I'd be a half marathoner in my 30's, I would have laughed in your face.  It would have been unfathomable.  In a way, running has made me more bold in terms of setting goals at work or in other areas in my life.  I have more confidence.

Running has been one of the best things I've done for myself, and I hope to be able to do it for many more years to come.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

One Year Later...

Wow...a year has gone by since I posted to this blog.  Lots happened, kids have grown, I've got more gray hairs.  I really just wanted to post my thankful list, as this time of year always makes me a little contemplative.  Here goes...

1)  Thankful for these kids, every day.  Maybe not every minute, like when someone has just spilled orange juice down my leg & foot, or when we are wrestling for the 100th time that week to get buckled in a car seat, or arguing about violin practice...but holy geez, I love these guys.

2)  Thankful for my hubby who is ever patient, tolerant and forgiving.  I've got a good one folks, and I'm thankful he puts up with me.  I think he feels the same.  We just celebrated our 10th anniversary with a trip to Vancouver & had a ball.

3)  Thankful for my family who are all too dang far away.  Love each & every one of them and so happy when we can spend time together.  We hosted my Dad for a visit in October & he was able to attend Em's Halloween violin concert.  Keith's sister & her family are coming for Thanksgiving & good cousin time will be had.  My Mom & brother are coming for Christmas this year (yay!), and we'll head to Florida to visit with ALL of Keith's family.  Fun times!

4)  Thankful for my best buddy, Jen, who also lives too far away.  Our new way of staying connected is to run half marathons together.  We just finished one in Indy in early November and our next will be a Rock & Roll Half in Raleigh.  I'm thankful for her friendship, understanding and for being in my corner no matter what.  

5)  Thankful for good health.  Working in healthcare and being around a major medical center exposes you to a lot of sad stories.  I'm thankful for a body that doesn't hurt, can carry me 13.1 miles, and lift my babies.  I've made peace with its imperfections and grown to be grateful for what it allows me to do every day.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Autumn Updates

We've been busy little beavers since my last blog post!  Emerson has started kindergarten and is now all settled into her new routine.  She loves the school, her teachers and classmates.  She enjoys her after-school program, where she gets to play in a fabulous outdoor wonderland and do an abundance of craft projects (the lady who runs the place has a Masters in Fine Arts, and is so creative!)  We periodically get updates from the teacher that tell us, "Emerson can be a little bossy sometimes", or "Emerson sometimes forgets to use her inside voice."  Yup...all true.  It's so great to see her little worksheets come home, and her reading & writing skills improve.  She is gaining confidence and learning how to navigate her little world.  I love it!

We participated in the annual Walk for Education 2 weekends ago.  The school district puts this on as a fundraiser, and all of the proceeds go directly to the individual elementary schools.  At the end of the walk in downtown Chapel Hill, there was a large carnival, with games, food and inflatables.  The local high schoolers staffed many of the booths as fundraisers for their clubs and activities.  The atmosphere was so fun and we ran into several people we knew from Emerson's preschool.

Emerson's violin lessons are off to a great start.  She's doing Suzuki method, and I really like how they go about teaching music.  Lots of little pneumonics and ways to help the kids remember hand position, how to hold the bow, and rhythms.  We do individual lessons once a week, and group lessons on the weekend.  Em volunteered to do a solo last Saturday, and we were so proud of her confidence as she stood in front of the group!  She has a Halloween concert this weekend at a corn maze in Cary.  The kids get to wear their costumes to play, and are playing "spooky" versions of the music they have been learning.  Should be interesting!

We went to the pumpkin patch last weekend, and Liam quickly found out that pumpkins make very find little stools for sitting.  He kept going from pumpkin to pumpkin and squatting down for a seat.  He also enjoyed crawling over the pumpkins like an obstacle course.  Quite humorous!

Liam is talking more and more now, although it is amazing how many MORE words Emerson had at this age.  Is it a 2nd child thing?  Boy thing?  Just a different kid thing?  Anyway, he's a little helper and loves to do things for you.  He's got his routines, and is a very organized little fella.  He loves to help clean up, to go get something (like his shoes, or to put them away), and is very into sorting, stacking and knocking things down.  He absolutely understands every bit of what you say to him, but just can't always say something back to you.  His words right now are:  shoes/socks, Dadda, kitty cat, NO!, shower, flower and signing "more".  He can point to his head, eyes, ears, nose, teeth, cheeks and belly. He makes animals sounds, "woof-woof", "oooooo (for cow), and roar (for tiger...this one is totally adorable!)  He is just finally able to sit and let me read a little to the past, he had no patience for this, and just flung the book across the room.  Boys are so, so different from girls!

I ran my first half-marathon this past Sunday...the Ramblin Rose in Durham.  My goal was to run the entire thing (no walking those hills!), and finish in under 2 hrs, 30 min.  I did both, with a final time of 2:26:06!  The weather was perfect, the course wound us through various beautiful neighborhoods in Durham, and Keith/kids were hanging out about a 1/2 mile from the finish line to cheer me on.  It was such a glorious & emotional feeling to cross the finish.  I was actually fairly emotional all throughout the race, which surprised me.  I have signed up to do another half in early February with my bestie, Jen.  We'll be combining this event with a girls weekend getaway on Tybee Island in Georgia.  It's about 20 min from Savannah.  Can't wait!

Our 2nd annual neighborhood Halloween party is this Saturday, and plans/prep is underway.  We finished Em's costume last night.  She decided to be a bumblebee this year.  We already had a pair of wings, and I bought a yellow tee shirt and sewed on some ribbon to make the stripes.  We created her antennae and a stinger out of pipe cleaners.  She's thrilled with the results.  Liam has a little blue moster costume, and I also found a little pirate costume last year at a consignment sale.  It's a 2T, and I figured it would be a dress up outfit for later down the road.  It totally fit him last night when I put it on him on a whim.  Weather dependent, he'll be one of those.  I was thinking of using a little black makeup on his face to make a scar and some scruff.  We'll carve our pumpkin on Saturday or Sunday, and our October festivities will be done!

Keith has enjoyed his membership at the Durham Wildlife Club, where he is able to shoot sporting clays and skeet.  He volunteers in the shop a few times a year, which allows him to go shoot when he wants.  He's learning a lot about this sport and meeting guys he really likes.    

Saturday, August 11, 2012

School shopping done!

One person in this family is WAY more ready for kindergarten to begin than the others.  Can't believe it is almost here.  She had a ball picking out her supplies.  It was bittersweet for mama.

Gosh, this is too funny not to share.

Em being silly & hamming it up.

Keith doing his best impression of Emerson.

I nearly snorted my chicken out my nose. 

Duke Gardens Outing...

Found a new spot at the gardens...they've been doing lots of construction of new little secluded spots.  Fun to explore them.

Wildlife galore today...mama duck, baby duck, ugly duck-thing, and big turtles.  It's always an adventure to see what will swim up to you.

Nose to nose on the grass...followed quickly by tackle on the grass.

Love that big smile.  He's so close to walking, but still hesitant to let go of something.  Soon, very soon.

Major renovations to the koi pond...big fish in there, and they follow you as you walk by.  Cool or creepy?

I think we've snapped a photo of her doing this every year of her life in the exact same spot.  
We do love the gardens!