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Monday, June 30, 2014

Monthly Mileage

January through April this year was a leeeeetle tough for me -- what with Jerry being in NC and the kids and I still in FL -- and as far as running was concerned, my only priority was maintaining the streak.  Maintain it.  Not win any fucking gold stars for it.

So, there were some weeks when there were minimum (1 mile) runs aplenty.  April was especially weak, mileage-wise.

It was tough for me to not compare those months to any month last year (in 2013, I never logged less than 100 miles a month), so I honestly barely even looked at the mileage so as to not judge it.

Once May came, and the kids and I joined Jerry in NC, I began paying attention, and May became my "come back" month.

June, then, has been the "ok, we're back in business" month.

Today, though, I was feeling a big tired, so I decided I was gonna give myself the day "off" and just run 2, slow and easy, miles.

I did that.  Then, I was sitting down looking at the month's stats and saw I had logged 129 miles for June.  Annnnnndddd...I just couldn't...

I got my running shoes back on, got back on the treadmill and ran another mile.  Not as slow and easy.  

So, crisis of odd number averted, I was satisfied with June's round 130.

Aiming for 150 in July.  Not 149.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Convos with my 3 yr old

A 3 yr old is a confluence of paradoxes: So fun to see them transform out of babyhood and into kidhood, but SO challenging to deal with on a daily basis.  I often feel like I'm trying to tame a wild orangutan.

Who has just been given a case of Fun Dip.  With Mt. Dew to wash it down.

And talking with a 3 year old?  That's a fun game too:

Me: "Why did you pee in your closet?"
Caleb: "Because I like peeing in my closet."
Me: "Well, don't do that anymore.  You only pee on the potty."
Caleb: "But my closet is better."


Caleb: "Mom, I want a giant hug!"
I squeeze him extra hard, enjoying that he asked for a big hug.
Caleb: "No, Mom, I want a giant to hug me.  You know: A big, BIG giant!"


After I was telling him to keep his pee in the potty, and not shoot it all over the wall , he argued: "It's not me, it's my penis!  It's SO strong."


Me: "Caleb, either go in or out!  I'm tired of the door hanging open."
Him: "Ugh, Mom, you frustrate me!"


Me: "No hitting!"
Him: "Just a little bit?"
Me: "Zero hitting."
Him: "A tiny hit?"


Caleb: "I wanna play outside."
Me: "Ok, go get shorts on."
Caleb: "I don't like shorts."
Me: "Then you can stay inside."
Caleb: "YOU go get my shorts."
Me: "I'm not getting your shorts.  You can do it."
Caleb: "My legs are too tired."
Me: "Your legs are too tired to go get your shorts, but you want to be able to go outside so you can run, climb, and ride bikes?"
Caleb: "Yes!"


Me: "Caleb, please don't take my bookmark out of my book.  Leave my book alone."
Caleb: "It wasn't me.  It was Scooter."


After examining a grate near a sidewalk, he asked: "Are there monsters in there?"
Him: "Lions?"

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Shoes: Potential Speed Eruptors

What's better than a Pocket Volcano? 

Well, probably nothing. I mean, can anything REALLY beat "science on your palm"? 

(Seriously.  Did NO one at either the manufacturer, or the science museum gift shop, take pause when proof reading this packaging?  Or, do you think they shrugged their shoulders and said, "Eh.  Who's gonna notice?")

But, the answer for today is...drum roll please...new shoes!

They arrived on Monday, and when Norah saw them, she exclaimed, "Mom!  You're gonna love these!  They're so bright!"

"Bright" is an understatement, like calling fried mozzarella sticks simply "good."  (When the correct description of fried mozzarella sticks is: "Balls!  Those taste like happiness and rainbows!")

These shoes can be seen from Mars, and I can't decide if that makes them awesome or obnoxious.  I think I'll go with awesome.

Today, I took them for a spin on the treadmill, and like all new shoes, they initially felt stiff (much like what precedes a "volcanic eruption"?  Sorry, sorry, I just can't get over that toy and I'm beating myself up that I didn't fork over the $5 and save it for Jerry's Christmas stocking. Well...there's still time for my Christmas shopping...), and my heels were cringing in anticipation of chafed skin.

But, they fared great, and I ran 5 comfortable miles in them.  And, yes, I balance my statuesque 5 foot frame quite fine atop these miniature tootsies.

I wasn't any faster in them, despite the color suggesting potential speed, but with fresh shoes, I may have to warn: New shoes may cause premature "eruptions" of pace.  

In running, a favorable outcome.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Happy Trails

For years, I've wanted a taste of trail running, but South Florida is sadly lacking in trails.  Over the years, though, I've had brief chances to trail run while on vacation in MN or CO, and since moving to NC, I've been anticipating trail opportunities.

There are many trail options here, but not all of them convenient, or some that are a little rough for my limited experience.  But, since moving here, I've read and heard about running at Salem Lake where a well-groomed trail circles the lake for a 7 mile loop and connects with a nearby greenway for an additional 5 miles.

So, today was the day I finally got out there, and it did not disappoint.

The trail is nice and wide and groomed (or, with the constant foot and bike traffic, just well-worn); it's also shady and cool with lots of trees and the breeze off the lake, which is a welcome relief as it's been hot here lately.

It's also quite scenic with views of the lake throughout the trail.

The terrain, while "easy" for a trail, was a little more challenging for me (since I'm accustomed to flat asphalt), but I enjoyed the various grades, turns, and slightly "rough" ground to run.  The variation was a welcome difference to the running I'm used to.  

That did mean my miles were at a slower than average pace, but I didn't care.  I just hope to get back out there as much as possible to enjoy the trail and to get more competent on it.

This is the face of a happy runner:

In the end, I did a little extra beyond the 7 mile loop and ended up with 7.7, but it felt great, and I know I'm gonna be thinking about that trail until I get to return to it!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Runner Problems

Runners, maybe more than even fashionistas, obsess over shoes.  Even if we're obsessing over going shoeless, we think about shoes a lot.

For the past year, I've been running in Saucony Virratas, and have been happy with them.  But, even a satisfied runner is always giving other shoes a sideways glance.

My current shoes have been getting a little worn, and my big toe -- on both shoes -- is poking through the mesh.  Perfect time to consider a new pair and maybe, possibly switching brands.  So, I started browsing, eliciting advice from fellow runners online, and comparing brands, fits, etc.

After such exploration, I thought Mizuno's Wave Sayonaras would be rad.  But some extensive shopping online revealed that they didn't make their shoes smaller than a woman's 6.

I have the smallest adult feet in the history of feet, and with wearing a half size larger, I still only wear a 5.5 -- half a size too small for the grande 6.  I Tweeted Mizuno to confirm that they didn't make anything smaller, and they were very kind in chatting with me via Twitter about my wee foot woes.

In the end, it was suggested I check out their shoe comparison tool to find a comparable brand and fit to the Sayonaras.

And, I did use their handy comparison tool.  You know what shoe was recommended?

The Saucony Virratas.

Thus, my search came full circle.  Must be destiny.

I ordered the Virratas today, but just to switch things up, I bought a bright, bold color.

Hope they don't blind me when they arrive!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Running: Before and After Kids

Before kids, after a hard run or race, I came home and slept.  Just letting my body recover and relax.

After kids, after a hard run or race, if I lay down to rest, I am just an open invitation to being a human trampoline.

Before kids, I had more time than I cared to value, and I spent an embarrassing amount of it watching re-runs of "The King of Queens."  I ran when I wanted to.

After kids, when precious little time is mine to squander, I have to find ways of multi-tasking.  For example: Running WHILE watching tv WHILE caring for my kids.  I am excellent at doing all three simultaneously without letting one suffer.

Would I trade the kids for all the sleep, tv, and guilt-free running in the world?

Better not ask that question.  Feelings might get hurt.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Park Oddities

Here in the Winston-Salem, NC area, there are two playground curiosities that have confounded me:

1.  There is the strange absence of playground covers, and in general, there are VERY few parks with adequate shade.  With highs this week predicted to be in the 90's, that makes parks hellish heat traps. 

2.  There is the odd abundance of metal slides.

And by "abundance," I mean I've seen more than 1 when I thought they'd gone the way of the saber-toothed tiger.  Why even have these scorching beasts anymore?  Just for the pleasure of searing the thigh flesh off small children? 

From those two pieces of evidence, only the following deduction is logical: This city/county wants to fry its children, much like its chicken -- nice and crispy.

Maybe to reduce future education expenses?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up

Weekends are always a whirlwind of activity, and this one was no exception.

On Saturday, we visited Pilot Mountain, which is a nearby state park, to do some hiking and sightseeing.

The view from the top was pretty impressive, and the hiking trails there are great, but the kids' legs only lasted so long.

Still, they had fun, climbed lots of rocks, and saw a deer.

Saturday afternoon, we attended a tae kwon do birthday party, wherein I had to participate so that the kids would too.  Thankfully, no pictures of that!

Today, Father's Day, I wrapped up my week with Mizuno Baton with one, last run with the app.  Technically, because of the timing, this was 8 days of running.

Then, the kids and I treated Jerry by leaving the house for 4 hours.  We tried out a new water park that was awesome and where I'm sure we'll spend a lot of time this summer.

Jerry reportedly played video games, watched tv, and took a nap.  He declared it a perfect Father's Day!

Friday, June 13, 2014

The 30 Second Rule

30 seconds after you clean a sliding glass door: Kids will smoosh their sticky faces all over it.  Maybe lick it too.

30 seconds after ensuring that they're zombified in front of the tv, with enough snacks to last through the end of times, and enough water to float the ark, and you hop in the shower: Kids will be climbing counters to reach weapons to arm themselves for a knife fight.

30 seconds into any phone call: Kids will begin screaming, dog will start howling, something will catch on fire.

30 seconds in to any drive: Kids will inquire "are we there yet?"

30 seconds after asking, "Do you have to use the potty?" and you've been told they absolutely do NOT: Kids will grip themselves and race to the toilet.  Probably won't make it in time.

30 seconds after you've finished cleaning the kitchen after a meal: Kids will ask for a snack.

30 seconds after you're certain they will never fall asleep for the night and this awake-ness is a fresh hell they invented just for you: Kids will pass out cold.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

If You Let a Kid Dress Himself

Given a clothing preference, Caleb prefers no clothes at all.

So, each day, when I tell him to go grab a shirt and shorts, there's a 100% chance he'll refuse.  Then, it's 20 minutes of trying to stuff him in to the offending clothes.

Today, however, when asked to get dressed, he proudly returned with his selection: Pajamas.

I told him they were pj's, and his response?

"I don't care."

Norah piped in to remind me: "At least he's dressed, Mom."

True dat.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Rained Out

This evening, I wanted to run a nice, decent run to donate more miles, and more dollars, to Mizuno Baton, but when I was heading out, the sky was darkening and ominous clouds promised rain.

Still, I wanted to get SOME miles in for my donation.

Half a mile in, it started to rain.  Not hard, and I thought, "Hey, at least I have the path to myself!"

Less than a mile later, the drizzle had turned into a deluge.

And, with nearby lightning, I had to concede and run back to my car.

I only logged 1.44 miles, so $1.44, but I guess that's better than $0.

When I got home, I changed out of my sopping clothes, got dry duds on and hopped on the treadmill for 2 more miles.

They weren't donatable miles, but at least I could finish a run that felt more complete. 

Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Mizuno Baton

Most runners are familiar with running for charitable causes -- mainly through races designed for this purpose, or perhaps through fundraising like TNT -- but, Mizuno has recently begun a unique opportunity for runners to contribute in individual ways and Mizuno asks that you do nothing but run.  No fees or expenses on your end, no begging friends for donations: Just run as many miles as possible in 7 days' time.

For every mile you run, and record via Mizuno's Baton App, Mizuno will donate $1 to Back on My Feet, a charity devoted to providing homeless runners with running shoes, apparel, and opportunity.  Back on My Feet is a reputable charity, and once I heard about Mizuno's App, I knew I wanted to help contribute my mileage.

To join is simple, so I began today.

I went to the App Store on my phone and downloaded the app (free).

Then, I followed the simple steps for getting started, and with today's run, I activated the baton.

You have to run with your phone because the app utilizes the phone's GPS to verify mileage.  So, they're not just trusting runners to be honest (which we are); this kinda sucks because that means the only donatable mileage is outdoor mileage that can be confirmed via the app.  

I only say this sucks because I just got my treadie, and like a kid with a new toy, I really want to play with it.  Still, "they" say absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I guess next week, the 'mill will get some extra run-love.

Back to today's run: I ran the nearby greenway, which is 5.6 miles in length, and it was a nice, cloudy day for a run.

Garmin's record for the run:

The app's record added a smidge more distance (and, thus, moola -- if you want to get excited about an additional 5 cents).

It's a cool feeling to know that running what I would've run anyway did a wee bit to help runners who are less fortunate.  It might also be the push I need to up the mileage in the remaining 6 days!

If you're interested, you too can follow the same steps and "pass the baton"!

Friday, June 06, 2014

What's the Opposite of a Tiger Mom?

This morning, Norah had her "kindergarten curriculum skills assessment."  I know.  Sounds fancy, right?

Beforehand, I only had the vaguest of clues as to what the "assessment" would include, but I figured it'd probably be basic stuff.  Then, I second guessed myself: What are kindergartners supposed to know now?  Would the solar system be on the exam?  Would calculus?  Should I cram in the Pythagorean theorem?  Shit.  I had to use spellcheck to even SPELL those last two words! 

In this new age of education, most parents are aware that kindergarten today is NOT what kindergarten was when we were kids. When I was a kid, kindergarten was 3 hours a day of glue-eating and learning how to avoid being turned into a human rocket on the seesaw (ever notice how seesaws have all been removed from modern playgrounds?  probably because they were death traps, but I feel strangely nostalgic about their absence).  Certainly, we were never "assessed" before entering either, unless that assessment included "Are you 5?  Good.  Now you're a kindergartner!"

Now, however, kindergarten is "the new first grade" and kids are entering elementary school supposedly already knowing how to read, solve basic algebraic equations, and offer comprehensive political analysis of the electoral college.

Granted, Norah has been in preschool and recently "graduated" pre-K, so she knows her letters (pretty much), their sounds (mostly), her numbers (competently), and can do some basic math (sorta).  To me, that's WAY more than I knew at her age; in fact, her wealth of knowledge as a near-5-year-old sometimes astounds me.  For instance, she knows exactly how to pour her own ICEE at Target.  If anyone needs anything else in life, I don't know what it is.

So, back to this "assessment."

A Tiger Mom would've reviewed with her daughter pre-test. 

No.  Wait.  Back-up.

A Tiger Mom would know how to fucking spell "Pythagorean theorem," and so would her kid, so reviewing would've been for sissies.  Let's be more modest: A Type "A" mom would have reviewed with her daughter.  A Type "A" mom would've already been working on practicing handwriting and quizzing her child on sight words with flashcards.

I guess I'm more like a Type "Z" parent (I put sight word flashcards in my Amazon cart; does the thought count?).  So, at about 8 pm last night, I was like, "Hmmmm, maybe we should've reviewed for tomorrow morning?"  ...long mind pause...  "Eh.  You know what you know."

Thankfully, the "kindergarten curriculum skills assessment" turned out to be a cakewalk for Norah ("Yay!  You can cut squiggly lines!  Score!"), and the teacher told me she is "more than ready" for the fall.  Mentally, I was high fiving myself: "Yup.  I am raising a genius!"

On our way out, we were handed a "vacation education" packet that includes all kinds of "fun" school skill stuff to practice over the summer.  Oh, joy!  So, we ARE gonna have to work on sight words, after all?

Again, a Tiger Mom would've been all over this shit a year ago (plus, her kid would know Mozart -- and not because he or she had been watching "Little Einsteins" -- and spending the summer perfecting back handsprings or mastering her tennis serve).  But, I'm a lazier brand of parent who still thinks summer should be unstructured time spent arguing with your brother about whose turn it is to drink out of the hose.

I suppose, though, I could be persuaded to actually checkout those sight word flashcards in my Amazon cart, and perhaps I will add an educational app or two to the iPad, on the off chance Norah wants to practice reading instead of decorating cupcakes, yet I'll be honest: I'll probably do very little of that.  For the most part, I think we'll be outside this summer throwing water balloons or riding scooters.

There's a lot of years of school ahead.  Only a few months of summer.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

National Running Day and the New Mill

This morning, my new treadmill was delivered!

For as long as I've been running (9 years), I've never owned my own treadmill, and even though I find the treadmill a bit boring to run on, I can't deny the convenience of one.

Especially since starting my streak, 515 days ago, I've longed for one since a personal treadmill ensures that there's ALWAYS a way to get a daily run done.  But, in our FL home, we lacked the space.  So, once we knew we were moving in to a larger home here in NC, I began scouting treadmills.

I researched a lot of recommendations and read a lot of reviews and consumer reports, but in the end, it was my brother's treadmill recommendation that was the most helpful.  He and his wife don't buy dinner without exhaustive research, so I knew their recommendation meant that they'd done everything short of tour the manufacturing plant in their homework.

So, he said "Sole," and I said "Sole-kay!"

I bought it on Memorial Day at Dick's Sporting Goods, but it took a bit to schedule the delivery and set up, so it was pure coincidence that I received it today, on National Running Day.


I had it set up in the garage, and after the assembly and demonstration, I changed into my running clothes to test it out!

I only ran 3 miles -- wherein, I was interrupted more times than miles to fetch snacks, waters, open the sand box, escort someone to the potty, and ease someone's woe over an argument about a chair in the treehouse -- but, it WAS nice to do those miles whilst taking care of everything I'd have to do anyway.  

Cuz that sandbox doesn't open itself.

Of course, after my run, Norah too needed to take it for a spin.  She found the experience disorienting and told me it was "weird."  

Good.  If they don't like it, maybe even fear it a little (my stern safety lecture MAY have included a description of it gobbling them up, destroying Santa, and melting the Easter bunny), then it's mine!  ALL mine!

My precious...

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Reason #32,487 Why I'm Gross

My sweat stinks.

Now, I know what you're thinking.  You're all: "Duh.  Everybody's sweat stinks!  Who do you think you are?  The Queen of Funky Stunky?"

Well, yes, I see your argument, but really.  My sweat REALLY stinks. 

After a run, I sometimes hug my husband, and he's like: "Ahhhh!  I'd rather snuggle a skunk!  Go shower!"

A shower is great for washing the sweat stink off ME, but my running clothes?  Pretty much all ruined by my reek.  Even after washing, these items emit a foul odor.

I know some of you will recommend an expensive sport detergent, or some of you will downplay the stench of my "clean" running clothes as mere hyperbole, and for those, I have two comments:

1.  I'm not paying extra money for fancy sport detergent.  Because running clothes are supposed to be vile with perspiration saturation.  That's the smell that informs other pedestrians that I'm "on the left."

2.  It's not overstatement.  It's fact.  Again, I'll refer you to my husband -- who is not a guy with a delicate nose -- who once told me to either leave my running shoes outside, or set them on fire because they were stinking up the bathroom.  And, you should smell what HE does in the bathroom!

So, there you have it: I exude a vile scent.  But, I'm not ashamed.  I just warn that you steer clear of me after a run.  I'll clear the room.

Monday, June 02, 2014

I Prefer Domestic Dictator for Life, Thanks

In the past, my experience as a SAHM has been much like a summer internship, in that I do it in the summer, don't get paid, and the kids actually leech off MY benefits.

Right now, I suppose I'm still summer SAHMing, as it is summer and I'm a SAHM, but since I have no fall teaching position lined up, this could be my new life.

For. Ev. Er.*

But why look at it as a punishment when there are so many pros to being a SAHM?  Like:
  • Having this exact conversation a trajillion times a day: "Mom, where are you?"  "I'm in here!"  "Where?"  "Follow the sound of my voice!"
  • Getting to enjoy iced coffee that started hot and hot coffee that began as iced.
  • Enjoying the gentle urine-shower my legs get each time I take Caleb to the bathroom.
  • Being asked every ten minutes if they can have something sugary.
  • Relishing being the first one in the morning to discover the dog shit on the stairs.
  • Savoring each phrase that I say all. day. long. Like: "Shut the door!  You're letting flies in!"
  • Loving how each trip to the store -- no matter the store, no matter the number of original items on the list -- means that it costs twice as much and takes three times as long.
Of course, there's also the pleasures of:
  • Water balloons
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Watching them ride bikes while I sit and sip Diet Coke
  • Going to parks
  • The museum
  • Watching cartoons in the afternoon
  • Wearing sweatpants all day
  • Snuggling in the morning

And, there is a LOT of cuteness:

He's kinda cute too.

*Unless, of course, my Rent-A-Slide career backfires as well.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

A Kid Birthday Party: A Marathon of its Own

Planning and executing a kid's birthday party in this day and age requires the same organization and effort of a deployed military operation.  For my own sanity, I don't try to do anything party-related that will keep up me up late at night; ie, I don't "hand craft" shit -- no homemade invites, favors, decor, food.  I don't even bake the cake. 

As I like to spend my valuable alone time doing important stuff.  Like drinking beer and watching TV.

In short?  I am willing to even pay for someone else to inflate the balloons.

Yet, I still find birthday parties rather exhausting events to prepare for (so many orders to make online!  Very taxing on my forefinger!).  This year, for Caleb's 3rd birthday, it felt particularly stressful since we were, and are, handling all the details of moving, unpacking, and settling in (we unpacked, etc rather quickly, but moving seems to require seventy trillion household "business" tasks, and each time my "to do" list begins to feel manageable, new items get added, or I find a dog turd on the stairs).

So, we wanted to do something as easy as possible. At home.

We were going to rent a water slide, but after looking at the prices for rentals, we decided to just buy one instead.  It was a huge hit and entertained all the kids from Caleb, who was the youngest, to the oldest kids, who were 10.

In fact, after playing with it last weekend (and inadvertently creating a water park out of our yard with all the neighbors), and then bringing it to a neighbor's for a party of theirs on Friday, I'm convinced that renting this sucker out could be MY new career!
We planned most of the fun outside, so we set up shop for food and drinks, etc, in the garage.  Because we're classy like that and like to entertain with our power tools nearby.

Caleb wanted a shark theme, which is totally easy to find stuff for.  NOT.  Thankfully, I did find plenty of stuff online, which is my favorite place to shop anyway, so he had shark everything.

Except the cake.  Because a shark cake?  Not so easy to have made, apparently, especially when you're trying to order something with only a week's notice.  Sheesh.  Bakers!  They're as dramatic as Kardashians.  In the end, we lucked out because one day, right before his party when Jerry and I were ready to maybe, perhaps, kinda, sorta, think about making a shark cake ourselves (gasp!), Caleb saw a regular looking birthday cake -- with its standard icing flowers -- and was over the moon and changed his mind from a "shark cake" to a "blue flower cake"!  Boom.  Shark-cake-crisis averted!

The party turned out to be a lot of fun -- we had neighbors and new friends we've recently met there, and we were lucky enough to also have some long-time friends and a few family members travel to come and attend as well. 
And, while we were all outside, distracted, Caleb went ahead and covertly opened all his gifts inside.  Thus?  I have no clue who gave him what, but he loved it all.
So, as May came to a close, we had managed to move to a new state, throw a 3 year old his birthday party, and I maintained my running streak.  This morning, then, it was glorious to sleep in and wake up without any agenda or "to do" list.
It was especially nice to get out and feel like I could go ahead and have time to run a nice 5.6 miles without any sense of guilt that I should be rushing back to help get something done.  Ahhhh, a nice start to June!