Monday, December 14, 2015

I'm Perfect and Other Lies my Santa Pictures Tell You

I feel like if you've read my blog long enough or if you know me in real life then you know I have "issues".  There are many and some are hard to explain.  I put a lot of high expectations on myself and I like things "just so."  Admittedly, I am a perfectionist and I think sometimes that has shown in my kids.  Stay with me here as I explain.  

When it came to seeing Santa.  Everyone was perfectly coiffed and matching.  

2008 Ella is not impressed!  

When my kids were little, they wore what I wanted and they looked adorable.  If I do say so myself!

I mean Nicholas does have a t-shirt here but it's a Christmas t-shirt and we did live in Texas.  Let's be real, Ella is wearing ruffle socks with patent leather Mary Janes, it makes up for the t-shirt.  Ha!

Even if it was PJs, they matched and were festive.  My brain couldn't compute otherwise.  Wearing Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle pajamas on the Polar Express would never be allowed.  Ever!

I look back now and I've probably spent thousands of dollars on matching Christmas outfits and pajamas, but it honestly makes ME happy.  I don't know if I can explain it, it's just how my brain works.  Remember I said... issues.

Perfectly presented children.  I've spent so much time "worrying" about it.  When Nicholas was little I never even let him wear a shirt with a character on it.  Light up character shoes?  Forget it!  It makes me feel bad really.  I mean does having a Thomas the Train on your shirt make you any less perfect and is perfection what we're even going for?  


So when I got in line today to see Santa, I didn't give it much thought until behind me came a mother and father with their 2 "perfect" children.  They were decked out in their matching plaid, son in a bow tie and daughter with her patent leather purse.  They really did look great.  I looked at Jack and told him to lick his finger and then I used it to wipe dirt off his face.  I felt bad.  I felt like I'd slipped, I was less of a parent... less of the perfect mom I strive to be.  I decided right then to hold my head high in that line full of perfect children with their perfect outfits.  Don't judge me.   

Guess what?  I'm not perfect.  Neither are my kids and I'm finally ok with that.  

There's perfect and there's real.  While I don't think I'll change my perfectionist ways ever, I'm definitely ok with accepting what's real in my life, Stanley Cup Champion shirt and all.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

How to Host a Gingerbread House Making Party for Kids

People always say, "You're so creative," and "You have such great ideas."  The truth is I'm actually just REALLY good at stealing other people's ideas.  What?  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So if you really want to know how to host a party, head on over to Libbie Grove Design and this post for all the details.

The truth is, I thought I copied her party quite nicely.  Right on down to the decorations.  Thanks for the beautiful idea Libbie Grove, the girls had a great time.  Here's how I pulled it off.

I thought about making homemade gingerbread.  I even bought all the ingredients, but when I went on a run with some friends and they more or less told me I was crazy I rethought my idea and decided to use graham crackers. 

In hindsight I'm not sure if that was smart or not.  Cutting and the graham crackers and getting them to be the shape I wanted proved to be kid of difficult.  After three houses, I finally got a system that worked (sorry to the girls who got the first three houses).  As you can see, I did use hot glue to hold it all tougher.  That might be cheating, but it's just smart.  

Also key to the success of the houses were the boxes underneath.  Per Libbie, I used cupcake boxes which I found VERY cheap on Oriental Trading.  I glued the handle boxes together to help form the shape of the roof.  It worked out great... once I figured out how to do it.  

I covered up my hot glue with a little bit of icing so the houses looked like this when the girls got here.

I bought some candy ahead of time and also had a lot of sprinkles and stuff already.  I asked each guest to bring a decoration candy to share.  That lightened my load and help to make sure there was plenty of candy to go around.  And there was!  I also filled icing bags for each girl.

I didn't have enough small tips to go around, so I just cut off the end of the icing bags and it still worked great.

I love my little milk bottles.  I use them for every party I have for the kiddos.  I save them and use them over and over again.  They are sooooooo expensive and I didn't want to pay the high price so I bought Archer Farms frappacino bottles and pealed the labels off.  Easy peasy.  I'm not sure Archer Farms (target brand) makes the frappacino anymore (couldn't find them online) but Starbucks does.  You might be able to do the same thing.

They definitely make me happy.  Little things.  Little things make me happy.

I managed to have 11 girls at this party and they were really all self sufficient.  

I planned 2 hours for this party, but they were easily done in just one hour.  They even took their time and made them look really nice.  I was impressed.  

And you might be asking why I do all this.  Well they say a picture is worth a 1000 words, but I only need one.  Ella.  I do it for her!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Countdown to Christmas Cardio Challenge

You may or may not know but I've been on hiatus from CrossFit since August 10th.  I also cut back my cardio to just one day a week on the recommendation of my physician.  I've been in PT for my shoulder and I think they've done just about all they can.  I'm definitely nowhere near 100%.  I still have pain in my shoulder with use, but my day-to-day pain is GONE!  So what does this mean for  me?  More importantly what does this mean for you?

It means it's time to step up my game and tackle some workouts.  I started thinking about what I wanted to do and I really have been missing cardio.  I know I can hardly believe it, but it's true. So I came up with the Countdown to Christmas Cardio Challenge.  This is where YOU come in!

Here's how it works:  25 minutes minutes of cardio every day til Christmas.  That's right EVERY DAY.  25 minutes every day is doable.  Any form of cardio counts.  Elliptical, swimming, biking, running, Zumba, whatever form of cardio you desire.

How do you get credit:

1) First things first.  You have to be a Facebook and/or Instagram follower to participate.
2) Facebook:  Post a picture to my Facebook wall documenting your 25 minutes.  It can be a picture of your treadmill screen, picture of your garmin, whiteboard at CrossFit, etc.  Anything that shows that you've done your cardio for the day.  We are on somewhat of an honor system, but you do have to show some sort of proof via picture even if it's just your feet in your shoes.  Every picture on my wall gets you 1 entry to win the grand prize.
3)  Instagram:  Post a picture to your Instagram using #MSBRCardioChallenge documenting your 25 minutes.  It can be a picture of your treadmill screen, picture of your garmin, whiteboard at CrossFit, etc.  Anything that shows that you've done your cardio for the day.  We are on somewhat of an honor system, but you do have to show some sort of proof via picture even if it's just your feet in your shoes. Every picture using #MSBRCardioChallenge gets you 1 entry to win the grand prize.

On Christmas day I will gather all the entries and pick a random winner.  The winner will receive their choice of ONE of the following Christmas gifts that are favorites on my list.

1) $25 gift card to Lululemon
2) 1.5 Pound About Time Protein Pancake mix (approx $25 value)
3) $25 gift card to Dicks Sporting Goods
4) SpiBelt Sports running Belt (approx $25 value)
5) $25 Gift Card to RoadID

The more cardio you do and log on my Facebook and/or Instagram the more chances you have to win.  One entry per Facebook and Instagram account per day.  You can enter on both Facebook and Instagram for the same workout, but not more than once per day.

Good luck.

Let's Countdown to Christmas with Cardio!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving and Scenes from the Weekend

Happy Thanksgiving everyone (a day late).

NOT $8 on Amazon even if your sister tells her husband it was 
I always spend thanksgiving with my dad.  I have since I was little.  He likes Thanksgiving better than Christmas because it's always when he got to spend time with us kids.  This year, however, George had to work and my dad decided to go with my sister to her in-laws.  Turns out, my dad didn't got and I should have gone to Indy to visit.  That's a story for another day.

I spent the holiday at my other sisters and it was very nice.  We had a FABULOUS meal and I appreciated all my sister's little extra efforts.

I woke up that morning and suggested to Jack that he wear his clothes that he recently had his pictures taken in.  He went for it.  I also made a suggestion to Ella and she quickly agreed.  Nicholas was still asleep when all this occurred.  I woke him up for the day and then went to get a shower.  I got out of the shower, to find him wearing this.

Without being told he put on dress clothes.  It was a thanksgiving miracle.  He did say Jack told him he had to dress up.  When I told him he didn't have to, he didn't change.  This was a win for mom!

My mom, Ella, Jack, Nicholas, My sister (Amy)
I love now that my nieces and nephews are adults.  It's pretty awesome to see them being good big people.  They make so proud and they're so pirty to look at.  Ha!

Andrew and Abbey (my sister Amy's kids) 
We took this cousin pic which has now happened 3 times.  These boys (Kurt and Ryan) are my step-brother Kevin's kids.

Look how little 
We wound up spending the night at my sisters and decided to make cookies the next day.  I'll admit I was grouchy.  I don't think I got enough sleep the night before and I was not really into it.  Whomp whomp.

Saturday was spent decorating my house and that made me feel a tad bit relieved and maybe like I'm ahead of the game.  Don't worry next week I'll be falling behind again.

The kids helped me decorate the main tree in the living room.  They love unwrapping all the ornaments and finding ornaments that they've chosen.  We have so many, I'm not sure I can buy any more.  As if!  

Ella was playing makeup (as she always does) while I was stringing garland and getting the tree ready for ornaments.  I didn't make her wash it off.  This is NOT her everyday look.  hahaha

I'm so happy my kids will still help and and actually have fun doing it.  It won't be long now where I'm sure I'll be all alone.  I might have messed up on cookies yesterday, but I enjoyed every bit of decorating with them today.  Ok, ok I yelled once when they were destroying the ornament boxes.  No one is perfect!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Philly Marathon Race Recap 2015

This is my recap of the Philadelphia Marathon that took place on Sunday.  I never really hold back on my thoughts and feelings on MY blog and I don't intend to do so here.  My reflections about my own race have nothing to do with anyone else.  They are MY feelings about MY race!  Ok disclaimer complete.

We arrived in Philly on Saturday to pick up our bibs.  Up until this point, I kept pushing all my feelings about the Marathon down.  I was just so scared (not nervous) and I didn't even want to think about how much this race was going to hurt.

Having all these amazing women surrounding me definitely helped.  I especially appreciate Kortni flying all the way from Houston just to run with me.  After my training went awry, because of my shoulder, I forced her to run her own race.  I wasn't trained for meeting the goal I had originally set for myself so it made sense for her to do her own thing.

We had some time to kill before our dinner reservations, so we did some sight seeing.  We wanted to see the Liberty Bell and the Rocky steps too, but we never made it.

We did see Jesus though, so there's that!

Then there was dinner.  All was well.  We were fed and ready.  All that was left was sleep and run. 

We all laid out our clothes and went to sleep by 10 pm ish for a 5 am wake up call.  Thanks to some sleep aid, I actually fell asleep and managed to sleep soundly until 4:30 am.  I was happy for that because a night spend tossing and turning the night before a marathon is never good.

We planned to leave the hotel at 5:45 am for our 1 mile walk to the start line.  PLENTY of time.  Uh yeah.  About that.  We got into the security line to be let into the corals and waited over an hour and still hadn't made it into the entrance.  We debated trying to find another security check several times but at one point, an FBI agent said we could try another entrance but it was risky because the other lines might not be shorter.  So we stayed.  After a full hour of waiting, a police officer comes over and says a block over has no line no wait.  We high tailed it out of that line and got through security at 7:02.  The race started at 7 am.

waiting in security line in our throw away clothes 
We were all frazzled to say the least.  We had gear bags to check still and all of us wanted to use the restroom.  Luckily the held the race start due to so many runners being backed up at security.  Still it's not a good feeling at the start of a marathon.  I said goodbye to everyone and we all headed to our gear check stations to drops out bags (by last name).  Luckily Jaime and I stuck together because of our last names and when that chaos was over we were  still together.  We went to the porta potty and were walking to the corals when the race started.  We wound up walking to the green coral (a coral faster than where we were slotted).  It was seriously the only place we could find to enter so we did and we decided to stay there.

After being completely frazzled for over and hour Jaime and I cuddled together to keep warm and having her arms literally around me calmed me.  It's definitely what I needed right before the race and I'm so glad she was there with me.

We crossed the start line about 15 minutes after the clock and we were on our way.  My goal was to run a 10:40 pace for the whole time.  Based on my training and the races I had recently done, this shouldn't have been too aggressive of a pace for me.  In fact, many race predictors predicted I could do a faster pace. Having said that, I only ran ONE DAY A WEEK during the majority of my training in hopes of giving my shoulder time to heal. This was on the recommendation of my orthopedic.  My shoulder was affecting my every day life and being in pain every day is not fun.  Sadly my shoulder took priority over my training.  Regardless... my goal... 10:40 pace from mile 1 to mile 26.

As usual, the race starts out so fast.  I watched my watch very carefully and ran much slower than felt natural, but I was being consistent with my pacing.  I was on track and kept telling myself how very early it was in a very long marathon.  Unfortunately my garmin doesn't tell me my current pace only my average pace so I was going by feel and just trying to keep my average at 10:40 ish.  That made me miles not very consistent.  Regardless, after the first 5 miles I was on track.

Mile 1: 10:33
Mile 2: 10:37
Mile 3: 10:34
Mile 4: 10:54
Mile 5: 10:34 ----> Gu 

Miles 6 and 7 were invigorating.  There were SO many people along the race course.  I swear those were the 2 faster miles of my race.  I was so busy looking at people and reading signs and being pumped up that I didn't even feel like I was running.  It was definitely my favorite part of the race.

Mile 6: 10:09
Mile 7: 10:16

By then I was looking at my watch less and less.  I wasn't as obsessed with my pace and tried to run what I felt would be my "go all day" pace.  My average pace kept reading right around 10:40 so I thought I was doing well.  Apparently I wasn't because my splits are all over the place.

Mile 8: 11:09
Mile 9: 10:53
Mile 10: 11:05 ----> 2nd Gu 

I honestly don't remember much between miles 10 and 13.  I do remember looking around at people who had hit the wall at the 10 mile mark and pushing through.  I imagined those people's stories and how maybe they were completing their first half.  It was an inspirational moment to see them push through.

The split for the half and the full is right at mile 13.  Full marathoners go left and half marathoners go right.  I never wanted to go right so badly.  Ha!  I knew making that left turn would be lonely.

Mile 11: 10:50 
Mile 12: 11:00
Mile 13: 10:48

Shortly after the marathon split I saw my friend Kate's mom.  It was just nice to see a familiar face.  Of course it only lasts 2 seconds so the high doesn't last long.  I was now on the out and back portion of the course.  It was both inspiring and humiliating to see runners at mile 24 and 25 when I was at mile 14 and 15.

Mile 14: 11:00
Mile 15: 11:17 ----> 3rd Gu 

Right around the 15 mile mark I started to feel tired physically.  My legs hurt, my hips hurt and I wanted to be done.  Thinking to myself that I still had 11 miles to go was devastating.  I allowed my self to mentally get defeated.  After mile 16 I allowed myself to walk.  I heard Kortni's voice in my head telling me to schedule my walk breaks if I had to take them.  She said to pick a ratio and stick to it.  Somehow I decided on 3:1.  I'd run 3 minutes and walk one.  It mentally defeated me, but physically it helped.  In fact, many times I would be running and realize I didn't need a break and I'd run longer than 3 minutes and when I did have to walk I never allowed myself to walk more than 1 minute.

Miles 16 to 20 weren't horrible.  I was doing my walk/run thing.  I saw Kate, then Charlene, then Jaime and seeing their faces made me happy.   I originally thought the out and back turn around was at mile 19, but quickly realized it was at mile 20.  I prayed for mile 20 to come quickly.

Mile 16: 11:13
Mile 17: 12:03
Mile 18: 11:51
Mile 19: 12:21
Mile 20: 11:45----> 4th Gu 

When I hit mile 20 I hit my second wall.  I had 6.2 miles which meant over an hour more of running. It seemed like a task I wasn't physically capable of.  I started calculating what my finishing time would be.  I still had a chance to make it under 5 hours.  That  encouraged me through miles 22 and 23 to push and not walk as much.  I'm not sure what ratio I was doing but it was running more than 3 minutes at a time and walking 1 minute.  When I walked it felt good, but starting to run again was excruciating.  At this point everything hurt.
Mile 21: 12:38
Mile 22: 12:06
Mile 23: 12:07
Mile 24: 12:12

After mile 24 I cried.  I was in so much pain and I couldn't push anymore.  As badly as I wanted to come in under 5 hours, I couldn't do much more than run 3 walk 1.  Running 3 minutes at a time felt like a life time.  I would look at my watch every time I wanted to stop running and it was always 1:30 into my run interval.  I forced myself to run, but I'm sure it was a shuffle.  So many people were reading my name on my bib and encouraging me.  At this point I was holding in tears.  At mile 25 I decided crying would make me feel better and so I did.  I was crying because I was in so much pain and just wanted it to be over.  I told myself that a 4:59 finish vs a 5:02 finish didn't matter and I just did the best I could.  It was ugly on every level.

Mile 25: 12:56
Mile 26: 13:01
Mile .5 (I was over): 12:26 pace 

Crossing the finish line was anti-climactic.  I was in survival mode and when I crossed, I simply started walking and thank God (literally) that it was over.  My legs could barely move.  I was at a snails pace moving through the finisher's area.

Garmin Total:  26.54 miles 5:02:03 
Garmin Average:  11:23/mile  

Official Total 26.2 miles 5:01:59
Official Average:  11:32/mile  

Overall, I'm definitely disappointed.  I'm more disappointed that I missed the opportunity to train healthy and have a good race.  I don't know what I was thinking trusting my body to run a 10:40 pace.  Looking back it was an aggressive goal.  I am happy I finished and didn't completely bomb but it does sting that this is my worst marathon to date.  It's logical, however, considering it was also my worst training to date.  I still ran 26.2 miles and I have to give myself props for that.  26.2 miles is a long way.  Get in your car and drive 26.2 miles.  It's probably a long way from home.

To all my amazing friends:

Charlene:  I know you weren't happy that it wasn't a PR today, but you still ran an excellent race.  It says a lot about your training and commitment that you never hit the proverbial wall.  Great job on your consistency in your training and running your 2nd marathon.   Hold your head high.  You ran a marathon! Congratulations.

Kortni: I can't wait to read your recap on your blog.  I know this wasn't the race you wanted it to be, I still love you though (inside joke)!  Seriously, you're one of my running mentors and I always look up to you.  You're an inspiration to me and so many others.  You will get your BQ.  I know it.  I'm so thankful that you came into my life.  I cherish each time we get to spend with one another.  Even if it is running 26.2 miles.  Love you so much!

Meghan:  I'm beyond happy for you and am in awe that your first marathon was so amazing.  You were so consistent in your training and determined and you did it!  I know you're proud (so I won't say "be proud").  You deserve all the glory girl!  You did it!  Congratulations.

Tracey:  I never doubted your ability for one single solitary second.  I knew you'd PR and you did!  You will ALWAYS be someone I look up to.  You manage to do it all.  You're an amazing mother, friend and athlete.  Your dedication to being each of those things inspires me daily.   I'm so thankful for having met you and for being a part of your life.  Love you girl!

Jaime:  I feel like your training was "The Little Engine that Could."  Not having done a marathon before I think you needed to prove to yourself through your training that you could do it.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.  I watched you blossom throughout your training and I knew you could and you did.  I hope you're proud of you first (and not last) marathon.  Congrats on an amazing race.  PR baby!  Thanks for being my calm before the storm.  xoxoxo

Kate (not pictured):  What can I say girl?  Despite you being so mature, you're so young (compared to me) and I definitely have the mom mentality with you.  I want to see you do well and am so proud of you when you do.  You have been through so much the past several months but you didn't allow it to derail you.  NOT YOU.  You said, I'll show you and you did.  You made this mama proud!

Kim (also not pictured):  I know you let doubt creep in so many times about this marathon.  Can I do it?  What am I doing?  What's the matter with you?  Any of this sound familiar?  ha!  I, nor anyone else who knows you, doubted you would finish this marathon.  I know you and know when you set your mind to it, you will get it done.  I admire you perseverance so much and am beyond proud of your determination.  You are such an inspiration to me and it's about time you realize that YOU are the lion.  Let's hear you ROAR!  Love you and am so proud of you!

Photo cred

Thanks for a great race Philly.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Little Tidbit to Remember

This is my beautiful daughter Ella.  

While I don't think that anyone would dispute that she's beautiful on the outside, what you may not know is that she's beautiful on the inside too.  It might sound conceited to say these things about my daughter and yeah maybe it is, but she's my daughter and this is my blog.  Hah!

Anyway, yesterday we were at hockey and Ella doesn't particularly like to come in the rink.  I can't blame her as it's usually pretty darn cold.  So, I generally let her sit out by the fireplace in the lobby and there are usually a lot of kids milling about.  This give my mom and my sister a heart attack, but when you spend so much time at the rink, you get lenient.  I digress.

Ella will often meet kids and play with them.  No bid deal, right?  I mean they're kids.  They meet and become instant friends.  Well Ella came up to the rink to check in with me and she told me, "Mom I met a friend and we're playing and she's in a wheelchair and she's really nice."

I didn't think too much about it really until I went to leave.  Ella was playing with the "girl in a wheelchair" and, as I found out later, they were playing Monopoly on the little girl's iPad.  Ella had never played Monopoly before so she was happy to learn something new.   I told Ella it was time to go and she started to say goodbye to her new friend and reached and gave her the biggest hug.  The little girl's eyes were beaming.  She was so happy.

The little girl's mom was standing there (right next to her child... read good mom) auctioning raffle baskets and she looked at Ella with eyes that told a story in a matter of moments.  She said to Ella, "Thank you so much for playing with her today."  Her eyes didn't just say thank you for playing, but thank you for accepting her daughter.  I could tell from her mother's look alone that not many kids stop to play with the "little girl in the wheelchair."  It broke my heart and made me proud all at once.

Ella sees people for who they are on the inside.  It's a quality I have always admired about her.  Sure I've tried to teach her these things, as I have with my boys, but with Ella her love and acceptance of others seems so innate.

I wished we lived in a world where there were no wheelchairs, alas we do not.  So I'll aspire to see the world and people a little more like my beautiful daughter.  Inside AND out!

Disclaimer:  I realize Ella's behavior isn't anything special really and everyone SHOULD act just as she does.  This post isn't to toot my own daughter's horn but to one day look back and remember.