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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Beat the Heat 5K Race Report

Believe it or not, this was my first, non-virtual race of 2014.  What can I say?  It's been a busy year without much time or availability for racing.  But, I'm hoping to remedy that some in the remaining half of the year.

In reading local running stuff, the consensus was that this was THE 5K to run in the area, as it is the NC state championship 5K and thus attracts a big crowd, including a competitive elite group.  So, I figured I'd check it out.

First of all, it lived up to the "heat" part.

At 7 pm, the race start time, it was a steamy 90 degrees with a dash of humidity added to make it feel "melt your face off hot."  I honestly spent the majority of my pre-race sitting in my air conditioned car. Ruining the environment, but staying cool.

Here I am, pre-race: Out of the car and ready to run!

The start and finish were at Wake Forest University's stadium, and I do appreciate a loop for a race.

What really threw me for a "loop," though (Har-Har!), was the pre-race description that was broadcast over the load speaker beforehand: "Lots of heat today, folks!  And, remember, lots of hills on this course!  Mile 2 is all uphill!  Have fun."

Hills?!  Fuck.  I'd forgotten where I was.  This isn't flat-FL, so I should've expected some elevation, but the RD's course description made me second guess myself: "Should I hold back a little to conserve myself?  Will running hills kill me in this heat?"

Thankfully, I didn't have too much time to mull over the course description because it was gun time, but admittedly, it threw me off my prepared 5K mindset, which is generally "run as fast as I can."

Turns out, yes, the hills were killer, and mile two was truly a long, steady incline.  Combine the hills with the heat, and even though I was giving it all I had, I was running much slower than I'd hoped, and my finish was almost two minutes slower than I think I'm capable of in ideal conditions (like when a unicorn blesses me beforehand).

Oh well.  Not every race can be a PR; plus, I get to blame hills and heat on this one.  But, next year, I'll be better prepared for the challenge.  So, I'll be back, oh yes, I'll be back!  (Insert maniacal laugh.)

As an aside, a guy who finished a bit behind me approached me as I was getting water at the finish and told me: "You ran a great race: I was chasing you the whole way!"  I was someone's race bunny?  Ha!  Kinda flattering.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kiddus Interruptus

That's Latin for: "Kids have zero sense of personal space or boundaries."

Thus, the cliche about we parents just wanting to use the bathroom alone.

Staying at home seems to exacerbate this feeling.  Like, I never escape them.  They're in my bed at night, on my lap when we watch tv, in the shower with me, and, duh, in the bathroom with me.

Add to their ever-presence, there is their long list of demands and needs: And, it is ALL urgent.

Yesterday, Norah was yelling for me like she was on fire: "Mom!!!  I have a BIG problem!!!"

I go upstairs to see where she's bleeding from and find all her limbs attached.  "What's wrong?"  I ask.

"I need you to print some Ariel pictures for me to color.  I'm all out."

So, yeah, attending to my own needs, like running, is tricky.

I was talking to my brother, who doesn't have kids, the other day and describing how I Jenga together my runs, and naively, he goes: "Can't they just play in the garage or the driveway while you're on the treadmill?"

Bwahahaha!!  FOOL!

I used to believe in the same fairy tale, but alas, if they're playing nearby while I'm running, I get interrupted so much I can't even run a full mile without fielding requests, refereeing their brawls, and twisting my neck to make sure they're not juggling power tools.

Explaining this to my disbelieving brother, he again inserts his ignorance: "Can't you tell them you're running and they can't   interrupt you?"

He slays me.  Seriously.  Slays. Me.

Telling them to NOT interrupt me is to invite interruption.  Every parent knows that THE worst way to ensure quiet while on an important call is to inform the kids that you're going to be on an important call.  You may as well just say, "Okay,  guys, in five minutes, I'd like you both to start jump roping with my sanity.  As loud as you can.  Please."

The important phone call anomaly applies to treadmill running too.

So, for me, the best way to fit in the home treadmill runs is when they're watching tv.  I figure it's a fair trade: They melt their brains while I restore mine.

Of course, the downside to this is that most kid shows are about as long as an ant's leg.  So, I usually have a window of 18 minutes, maybe longer if they've chosen a show they agree upon on Netflix (thank you, Sweet Baby Jesus for Netflix's automatic start of the next show 15 seconds after one ends).  But, at most, I never have longer than 36 minutes.

Which means?

Speed work.

On the treadmill, I can for sure fit 2 miles into 18 minutes.  And in 36 minutes?  About 4 miles.

So the kids may be the secret to slowly bringing back a little speed to my running.  If I ever win any land speed records, I'll have to remember to thank the good programming people at Nick and Disney for forcing me to keep running faster!

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I signed up for the US Road Running virtual race two weeks ago, but I wanted to be able to run it outside, and with Jerry's busy work schedule as of late, I didn't get the chance until today.

Delaying it actually worked nicely because after weeks of 90+ degree temps, we've had a cool spell, and this morning, it was only in the mid-60's, which is lovely running weather.

It's a bit tough for me to truly run at "race pace" without being in a race or on the treadmill, but I did my best -- for the early morning -- to push my pace a little and at least kept the miles under a 10 min pace, and while not thrilled with my "race," I'll take it!

The day's 6 miles also rounded out July's current mileage at 100 miles.  And, there's still 11 days left in the month, so I'm not-so-secretly hoping to exceed July's original goal of 150 miles.

Maybe I should go knock on wood now...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Twice as Nice

Lately, Jerry has been swamped at work; many days, he leaves for work shortly after 6 am, and he gets home just shy of the kids' bedtime.  He didn't get a weekend, and for about a week, it's felt as though he's out of town.

Hopefully, he gets a bit of a reprieve later this week, but when he's working this much, it makes me SO thankful for the treadmill at home.  Without it, fitting the runs in would be difficult. 

And, without the running, there could be casualties.

Even with the treadmill, it's tough to get my desired daily mileage without him home.

So, I've been breaking runs up and often running half in the morning and half in the late afternoon or evening.

It's a sweatfest in the garage, but when I know I only have to run 2-3 miles at a time, it's not so bad to suffer in the stifling heat.

One thing's for sure, though: There's a huge difference in what I am capable of in the afternoon versus the morning.  In the morning, my legs aren't too enthusiastic, and the runs are almost always at my slowest pace.  The afternoons, by contrast, are when I can crank up the machine and, despite the heat, I always run the day's fastest miles then.

Still a far cry from what I've done in the past, but I'm hoping my ability to speed it up a bit on the treadie will help me with the evening 5k I have on the 26th when it's almost certainly going to feel hellish.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to running outside one of these days.  Where I expect to be much slower.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Hump Day

I had a series of frustrating events this morning.  I was trying to accomplish a few things on my "to-do" list and nothing was coming together as smoothly or as easily as I wanted.

Then, I realized Caleb was being really quiet...


I found him, hiding under a blanket, painting his fingernails AND the carpet with blue nail polish.

As I did my best to try to clean the paint out of the carpet, I heard rustling in the pantry, so I leave the nail polish remover and the BLUE STAIN to investigate.

I find the kids shoving Oreos in their mouths.  Cookie crumbs all over their cheeks, the package emptied.

I'm throwing the purloined cookie packaging away when I felt the distinct, early rumblings of a fart.

But, my butt had a different thought.  

Annnnnddd...that's when I sharted.

Blue paint in the carpet, two sugared kids, and shitty, ruined underwear.  
That's exactly how I was hoping a Wednesday would go.

Thankfully, there was one thing that could salvage the day and my sanity. 

"Alcohol?"  You ask.

That too could work.

Instead, I got a movie going for the kids and hit the treadmill for a midday run.  5.5 miles later, I felt less stabby.  The carpet was (and is) still blue, and nothing was gonna resurrect those shitty undies, but the day felt salvaged.


Monday, July 07, 2014

Willpower vs. Habit

Recently, I've given up Dunkin' Donuts.  That's right: 13 days and nary an iced mocha latte has passed these lips. 

Feel free to be impressed.

Long time readers know that I've tried to give up DD before, but I have never lasted against the delicious draw of an iced mocha latte, and drinking these icy treats has been a daily habit for years.  And, habits are hard to break.

Especially tasty ones.

I don't put much stock in the power of "willpower," and I even find the word to be somewhat vomit-inducing.  Like the word "moist."  Yuck.  Who likes to hear about someone's "willpower"?  I sure as hell don't.  Because my willpower is about as stout as Charlie Brown's Christmas tree in a Category 5 hurricane: My resolve will disintegrate at the slightest provocation. 

Additionally, I'm like Matt at The Oatmeal:

Many runners, and other exercise enthusiasts, are also dedicated to making their lives all-around healthy.  Trust me, I do my best to choke down salads for lunch and munch on apples for snacks, but it's not my natural inclination.  I'd prefer to gobble up a bag of chips and wash it down with a giant slab of cheese.  And, I'll be honest: I find those who evangelize about their food (whatever their diet of choice is) tiresome. 

Yet, I know small choices can snowball into significant benefits or detriments, and bottom line: I don't need the iced latte (although...do you think it's lonely without me?), its extra calories, sugar content, or cost.


That's tough to say with any grain of believability, because for the past few years I HAVE needed that little daily treat.  It's my "reward." 

Reward for getting up, for getting out of the house with two kids, for running every day, for cleaning the house, grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, for keeping small people and a dog alive, for cooking dinner, for making appointments, for planning birthday parties and vacations, for teaching and grading papers, for filing taxes, and managing retirement accounts, and calling the insurance company even though I know I'll be on hold for 18 days, and for simply getting to the end of the day with my sanity intact.  For WINNING at doing all the grown up stuff, I've felt I've deserved such a small reward.

And I do deserve it. 

But, not every day.  Once a week or once a month, such a treat truly is deserved and is special, but giving myself such a treat everyday is neither.  So, I'm not saying I'll never drink a small, iced mocha latte again -- because I will and it will be awesome -- but first I feel like I have to dump the habit so that I can control it and not let it control me.

So, I suppose it has taken some initial willpower in this endeavor, but in the end, it's the strength of habit that I'm relying upon to eventually autopilot me past those alluring orange and pink awnings that brightly adorn Dunkin. 

Sorry, DD, it's not you; it's me.

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!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Why, Hello Soapbox! Yes, I'd love to Step Up!

Now that Memorial Day has passed, and summer has officially arrived, everywhere I look (ie, Facebook, the shiny magazines at the grocery store), I see articles and posts about getting ready for a "bikini body."

These articles are loathsome since they prey on people's bodily insecurities, are often condescending, and truthfully should read: "Pinpoint the parts of your flabby ass that you hate enough to change, then hold yourself to impossibly high standards of exercise and nutrition to try and melt that flabby ass away, then hate yourself for falling short of the impossibly high standards."

Equally, though, I also dislike the opposite "Love your flabby ass with all its extra assiness" articles.  Both, I think, say something similar (even though I doubt that's their intention): Dwell on your body and take up emotional real estate with that contemplation.

So, if I'm complaining about both, what kind of health/exercise/body image article titles would I like to see?

How about:

"Exercise!  It makes you feel less bitey and ensures you don't end your day mumbling incoherent fragments while bouncing your forehead off the wall"?


"10 ways exercise will make you strong so that you don't throw up each time you have to push your kids around the zoo"?

Maybe even:

"If you eat a balanced diet, sleep 8 hours a day, exercise, and spend time relaxing, you'll have a higher quality of life and MIGHT even live longer"?

Lastly, perhaps:

"Like your bod enough so you don't have any damaging complexes but not so much you post obnoxious abs selfies"?

I doubt I'll see those headlines anytime soon.  

Too wordy, right?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Where the Asphalt Ends

The greenway closest to my home is about 3 miles in length, but future construction for it plans to extend it many more miles (eventually putting it right by our house, actually; but who knows how long that will take).  For now, once you get to the end of the road, it just sort of dissolves into a worn, dirt path.
The path isn't very pedestrian friendly, and is probably used by more deer than humans, but it's passable as a running trail.  Almost always, I stick to the asphalt, but occasionally, I've gone "off road."

It doesn't go far (about a quarter mile and then abruptly ends), and it's not groomed at all, so it slows the running down considerably.

Still.  Sometimes a runner has to run off the beaten path.  Just a little.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Potty Training and the Quest to find Rocket Ship Underwear

Potty training Caleb has been as easy as a trip to the moon.  Granted, the kid has had a lot of life disruptions during the process, and every parent knows that potty training is largely psychological (screw this part of their life up, and you pay for therapy instead of college), so we've been as understanding as possible.  But, last week, I determined it was time for Underwear Bootcamp, in which we went full time underwear (during the day), and dammit, even if I do a lot of laundry, we'll get this business done.
The first few days were urine-soaked, but he has mostly done well (with pee -- he has yet to drop a deuce in there).  However, I feel like he's missing the appropriate motivation.  If he had that, I think we could turn the corner from ME wanting him to go on the potty to HIM wanting to go on the potty.  We have promised toys and candy aplenty, but he's not easily swayed.
One barrier (I feel) is that he doesn't find his underwear to be superior to his pull-ups.  If he had the undies he liked, I think - maybe, just maybe -- he'd drum up some enthusiasm about NOT crapping in his drawers.
Unfortunately, the kid underwear selection is extremely limited.  You go to Target (why shop anywhere else?), and the choices are limited to licensed characters, so boys get the vast choice of either Jake, Thomas, or Superheroes.  Caleb has no particular passion for any of these.  He picked out Jake and Thomas simply because they were deemed the best choices of the 3, but he doesn't love any of them. (Very different from Norah, who LUH-VED the Disney princesses.  And, parents of little girls are pretty much tripping over Disney princess apparel.)
So, I launched the only other shopping tool I rely on: Amazon.
Zilch for what he wanted (rockets ships or sharks).
So, then I did a Google search.  Very limited results (there are some Gap shark undies, but when I showed Caleb the images, he said he didn't like them), but I did find Underdoodles, which features some unique designs, including...rocket ships!
Problem?  They're $12 a pair!
Still, I filled my shopping bag with them.  Then, when it came to checking out, I stalled when I saw the total, which equaled the GNP of a small country.  Plus, they take 7-10 days to ship.  For a nearly 3 year old, 7-10 days is like seventy-ten years; I need something NOW.
In the end, I didn't buy them.  Would the $12 (a pair!) undies really make THE difference?  Are they worth the expense and the wait?
For now, those questions will be left to linger in the ether of my abandoned shopping cart.  We'll persevere with the substandard Jake and Thomas and wish that we lived in a world where a boy could find rocket ship underwear a little more easily.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Flip Belt Review

I've never had much need to carry items on my runs.  For water, I've often relied on handhelds.  A house key has always fit nicely in my shorts' pocket.  And, I've never been in the habit of carrying my phone with me.

But, since adapting to some changes to my running habits in NC, I often find I am carrying both my keys and my phone.  So, change was in order.

When I explained to Jerry my needs, he said, "So...you're looking for a fanny pack?"

"More like Batman's utility belt," I clarified.

After browsing Amazon, and reading reviews, I decided to order the Flip Belt.

My reasons for this selection -- out of the eleventy billion other choices -- was mainly that I liked the idea of zero buckles and the guarantee that shit wouldn't bounce around as I ran.

It arrived last week, and I immediately put it to the test.

First off, this has no buckles, so to secure it around your waist, you step in to it and shimmy it up around your hips; then, you slip your necessities into the pockets.

My keys and phone (I have an iPhone 5s, with a LifeProof case) fit easily, and there is certainly room for more.  I could fit gels, money, cards; basically, I feel I could rob a bank and fit all the loot in its spandex pockets.  So, the roominess is nice.
I put my items in, then did the fliparoo to fold everything over against my body.  This is why the product has no zippers or flaps either; it's secured by being pressed against your body. Grandmas traveling Europe would be pleased.

Off I ran!

I've run with it a handful of times now (never further than 5 miles, though, bear in mind), so here are my thoughts:

  • No buckles, zippers, or fasteners helps reduce flappage, chafing, and general annoyances.
  • Items really don't shift or rub or go bump on the run.
  • It's easy to access the pockets if you need to retrieve items.
  • It's inexpensive ($28.99 on Amazon).

  • Do you like running in Spanx?  Me neither, and this feels like a Spanx-belt.  I don't need any help having my attention diverted to midsection chub, and this made me hyper-aware of it. Notice how, in the ads, everyone sporting it looks like they eat abs for breakfast.  I'm sure they don't worry about muffin-top, but for regular humans, this may be an uncomfortable feature.
  • I also didn't love feeling my stuff jammed into my kidneys.  It doesn't necessarily leave an iPhone imprint on your liver, but I bet if you used it for long, it would.
  • Sizing may not be designed for human-sized people.  I wear small or extra small for most clothing and apparel, but decided to err on the side of caution by going with a medium, and I kinda wish I'd gone with a mega large.
  • It's a bit warm.  As you might expect from a Lycra girdle. 

The final lowdown:
Its pros and cons kinda even out to a solid "meh" rating.  Good idea, very convenient way to run "hands free," but I bet Batman doesn't feel like his stash is being stored in an elastic cummerbund.