my friday

Today marked the beginning of my daughter’s winter break from First Grade.

Let me tell you something about Abby.  She is 6 going on 16.  Sweeter than words can describe, yet is it possible that she is hormonal?  She is stubborn, she is fickle, she is hilarious, she is thoughtful, she is goofy, she is serious, she is laughter, she is, well  …. she is moody, let’s say.

Lately she has been prone to some pretty unpleasant episodes of anger.  I’ve noticed that it generally seems to happen when things don’t go her way, or don’t go the way she is expecting them to.  I get that, but her reactions are out of control sometimes and it is a lot to handle.

So, last night before I went to bed I wrote her a note and placed it on her nightstand.  She is an avid reader and loves when I write her letters, so my hope was that this would start her day off on a happy note, and help set the expectations for the day ahead.  This is what the note said:

Good Morning, Abby!  Today is going to be a great day!  I am so happy that you do not have to go to school today so that we can have lots of time together!  We are going to have so much fun.  Some of the things we are going to do today are: 
– find Oscar (our elf)
– open advent calendars
– go to the gym (she has been begging me to do this with her!)
– make cookies
– paint
– go shopping
– laugh
– play
– hug
– read books
I am sure we will find lots of other things to do, too!  Let’s make it a happy day, no matter what.  I love you!  Love, Mommy

Abby came into my room early this morning, so excited about the note I left for her.  She LOVES lists (like mother, like daughter … what can I say?) and was thrilled I had made one for us.  She asked if we had to do it all in this specific order to which I replied no, of course not – we could mix things up or even do different things, these were just some of my ideas.

She loved it and was in a wonderful mood!  For about 30 minutes.

Until I ruined her breakfast by not cutting ALL of the crust off her toast.  Let me explain – I did cut off the crust but there was a smidgen still left on the edge of the bread in one little part and this little detail was unacceptable to her.  So she went from being pleasant adorable Abby to monster child in three seconds flat over crust on her toast.

God help me.

I survived it though and held my ground.  She eventually realized that I was not going to “fix” her toast nor was I going to make her a different breakfast and she ate her food.  And then was happy.

The next step was the gym and my goodness, was I happy to get there.  I ran 8 miles easy on the treadmill.  It was just what I needed.

The rest of the day has gone well – we have actually done all the things on our list and everyone is happy at the moment!  Tonight we celebrate the 4th night of Hanukkah and my sister and her family are coming over to help us make pierogis for tomorrow night’s Christmas Eve dinner.  I haven’t talked about this on my blog yet, but my husband Robert is Jewish and I was raised Catholic so you can imagine, December is an extra busy month of celebration and gratitude for our family!  I love all the traditions and am so thankful for the miracles God has blessed us with in this life.

Tomorrow will be my longest run so far this training cycle — 16 miles.  I am really looking forward to it!

my drink

Lately I find myself making a drink just about every afternoon, when I’m feeling frazzled and at the end of my rope.  When I need a little something to help relax me and calm my nerves before diving into the “witching hour” that is my house between 5-7pm.

I used to pour myself a glass of wine every evening around this time.  I would drink one glass and it would easily turn into two, and then sometimes (on a really tough day), even three.  It wouldn’t even phase me a bit.  I did not feel tipsy from it.  It was a regular part of my routine and I guess my body was used to it.  I think I am a lot more self aware now and I honestly can’t imagine drinking alcohol regularly like that anymore. 

But I still understand why I reached for that glass of wine every evening.  The reasons haven’t changed and I am still reaching for something…

A house with young children can be really crazy at that time of day.  At least, my house almost always is.  I have GOOD kids.  They are wonderful and beautiful and they make me so happy.  I am incredibly thankful to be their mom and there is nothing I would rather be doing than living the life that I am, as their mother.  But even good kids can be difficult, especially towards the end of the day, when the day is catching up with them and they are starting to get tired, hungry and cranky.  They can be very hard to please.  They whine.  They are unsatisfied, impatient and demanding.

Now as that time of day approaches, I reach for a hot cup of tea.  For some reason it helps me retreat inside myself and find a way to be fully present and peaceful for my family when they start freaking out on me.  I don’t seek to escape, just to feel CALM…

Right now my favorite tea is the comforting tea made by Aveda.  It was served to me one afternoon while I was getting my hair cut and I loved it so much that I had to buy a box of it.  It is an herbal tea with licorice root and peppermint.  Every time I take a sip, I feel comforted from the inside out.  I don’t add a thing to it, not even a drop of honey.

I think it’s interesting that I’m still reaching for a beverage to help keep me calm at that time of day.  Even though this drink has no caffeine, no sugar, no addictive substances in its list of ingredients, it has a sort of magical effect on me and completely soothes me.  My husband said he isn’t surprised by this at all – he believes it isn’t about the drink, but rather it’s about what the drink represents to me.  It’s a way for me to do something for myself while at the same time taking care of everyone else’s needs.  A way for me to make sure that I am at my best for them.

tis the season

It is the last day of November and I am still trying to wrap my brain around that.

I love this time of year, I really truly do.  From Thanksgiving through New Years Day I enjoy all the traditions and the special time with my family.  There is a magic in the air.

I have to admit though, it is always an emotional roller coaster for me.  The gratitude overflows but also, there is just so much STUFF everywhere I turn.  So much to buy, so much that I want for my family and loved ones and admittedly, for myself …  so much so much SO MUCH.

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and all the emails flooding into my inbox about free shipping on this or 25% off of that make me feel excited and they also make me feel sick.

I want to teach my children to be thankful for all that we have and to be generous and kind and thoughtful of others.  Especially those in need.

It can be a hard lesson to get to sink in with 5 and 6 year old children.  We aren’t quite at the point where volunteering at a soup kitchen is a great family activity just yet, but I look forward to the times we will do those kinds of things as a family.

A couple of years ago I took a cardboard box and named it “The Giving Box.”  The kids and I decorated it and the idea behind it is that every day during the month of December each member of our family will put something in it to give to a family in need.  That includes Mommy and Daddy, too.

Each one of us puts toys, clothing, gadgets, housewares, etc in it, every day.  Things our family no longer needs or uses any more.  Things other families will enjoy, need and be grateful for.  When the box fills up, I transfer the items to large plastic bags and then we continue to fill the box.  By the end of the month I have a few plastic bags full and it is all ready to be donated to charity. 
What do you do to give back during this season?  How do you teach your children these valuable lessons? 

A Play Room for Everyone

When we bought our house three years ago the basement was completely unfinished.  Cold, dark and a little spooky.

We were moving from a town house and with two kids at the time, that meant we had no “play room.”  Toys. Were. EVERYWHERE.

I was so excited to have a single family home with a basement.  We could not afford to finish the basement though, so we worked with what we had and turned it into a place the kids would play and keep their toys.  With some paint (including a chalkboard wall), twinkle lights, artwork made by my kids, lanterns from the dollar aisle and stars I made out of cardboard and glitter and hung from the ceiling with curling ribbon, the space was magically transformed into a world that would encourage and inspire my kids to use their imaginations.

It is whimsical and crazy and fun.  It is exactly what a play room should be.

I have a confession, though.  This play room is not just for my kids.  It is every bit as much MY play room.

The basement is also where I play.  It is where I paint and draw and glue and cut (mostly for Sugar Cone, but also for other projects for myself as well as along with my kids).

It is also where I run when running outside or going to the gym is not an option.

Where do you run when running outside isn’t an option?

running and parenting

There is so much swirling through my head these days.  Most of which seems to be focused on parenting and running.  Two seemingly unrelated topics, yet in my life they are not unrelated at all.  Running and parenting go hand-in-hand for me.  I truly believe running makes me a better mother.  There are nights that I wonder if I would be an alcoholic if it were not for my marathon training.  I’m sort of joking about that statement, but not really.  My point is that between the hours of about 4:30-7:30 PM I am living inside a loony bin and it is hard for me to stay positive and clear-headed during those crazy hours.

The baby is tired and hungry – he can’t express what he is feeling so he whines, cries and shrieks at times.  He can’t decide if he is content or not, I have to entertain him and keep him busy so that I can get things done.  Baby toys just don’t always cut it for this little guy.  I can entertain him with the tupperware cabinet and a wooden spoon for a few minutes while I try to get everyone’s dinner made.  Then I might hold him on one hip while getting craft supplies out for Will so he can keep busy, too.  Will is almost 5 and when dinner time rolls around he becomes a 2 year old.  Hanging onto my leg while I cook, wanting to sit in my lap while he eats.  Abby is 6.  She is a smart, creative and busy child and is old enough now to wait for things – she does her best to be patient, but she is not quiet.  My house is a zoo, an insane asylum!!, during the “witching hour.”  Sometimes I think I would love a glass of wine to help calm me down, help me get through these hours easier and with a more relaxed outlook.  But the truth is, I know it would take more than one glass of wine.  And it would fix nothing, and actually in the end make me feel worse.  I decide against it because I have to be up at 5:30AM the next morning to get my run in before Robert goes to work and I don’t want to be hungover or have a fitful sleep. 

Yesterday morning I took my two boys out for a run.  I’ve been trying to take them a couple mornings a week after we drop Abby off at school.  The trail is a few steps from her school so we go right from there, which is nice.  Baby Gus falls asleep for his morning nap and Will and I enjoy one another’s company.  Everybody wins.  The baby gets his nap, I get my exercise, Will and I have time together chatting and exploring nature on the trail.  These runs are quickly becoming some of my favorite runs of all.

Will found a grasshopper, “Hoppy”

I thought I would run 5 easy-paced miles yesterday, but once I got going it turned into a 7 mile run.  There were some very hilly patches along the trail and I was running into the wind on the way home, but every mile felt good.  I was enjoying myself so much.  It was a run of double stroller PRs for me: the longest I had ever gone and the fastest mile I have ever run while pushing two of my kids.  As I ran I thought a lot about my good friend Dorothy, also a mom of three and an amazing and incredibly inspiring runner (more than that though, she is a wonderful friend and I am truly blessed to have her in my life).  Dorothy has talked a lot on her blog about how “we don’t HAVE to run, we GET to run.”   She has tested her limits and accomplished things with her running and her life that she only dreamed possible.  She is inspiring me to do the same with my running and my life {thank you, Dorothy}.

Yesterday at the end of my longest ever double stroller run, I wanted to see how fast I could run a mile while pushing my two boys.  When I finished the run and saw the time on my watch read 7:49, I was so happy.  So proud.

Mile 1    9:29
Mile 2    9:02
Mile 3    8:32
Mile 4    8:56
Mile 5    9:34
Mile 6    8:52
Mile 7    7:49

Being a mom of three is hard.  Running is hard.  But the joy, the beauty, the blessings and the BLISS that come from being a mom and being a runner are worth every ounce of pain, every tear, every bit of work that they require.  To say that I am grateful to be a mother is an understatement.  To say I’m thankful to feel so passionate about something as good for me as running is, and that it is an activity I can make the time to do almost every day, is also an understatement.

I am so thankful to be a mother.  I am so thankful to be a mother who GETS to run.