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.