Never Run in Below Freezing Temps!

I love running.

It is true; I am one of those crazy people that love to go out for a jog.  There is nothing better than putting on my running gear, lacing up my brightly colored Asics, attaching a Garmin watch to my wrist and placing the ear buds with my specially designed running playlist pumping through them in my ears.  Stepping outside in the early morning with the sun just over the horizon and breathing in the cool fresh air.  As the sun starts to peak over the roof tops and filter through the leaves, I get those last few minute stretches in while the Garmin locates satellites.  It is the feeling that it is just me against the world.  After playing team sports, such as softball and soccer all through high school, it is a nice change of pace to only depend on my capabilities.

If I have a great run, it is because I put in the sweat and training hours.  Every once in a while, I have a bad run and I cannot put that blame on a fellow team member.  A bad run only motivates me to become a stronger and better runner.  However, even a bad run is better than no run.

The feeling of waking up on a race day brings back memories of competing in a softball or soccer game.  The competitiveness spurs down in the pit of my stomach.  However, the only opponent I am competing against is a previous time I have set.  To me, there are no losers in a 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon.  Everybody who took time to put in training hours, lace up their shoes and hit the pavement that morning is already a winner.  However, my goal is to always improve on my time or, in the least, stay consistent.

It has been a struggle getting back into running shape after having a baby.  Also, I may have been too ambitions to lose the baby weight as fast as possible.  None the less, I completed my first half marathon nine and half months after having a baby.  The feeling of crossing the finish line with dad, while my husband and son cheered us on, will be a memory that I will cherish forever.  The runners high felt so strong that I decided to sign up for a second half marathon five weeks later.  All I had to do was maintain my running stamina for a few more weeks and the half should be a piece of cake.

As the weeks inched closer, the weather took a turn from beautiful fall weather to bitter cold.  The dawn of my much anticipated half rose to a meekly 12 degrees.  By the time I was expecting to finish the race, the temps should have jumped to a whopping 18 degrees.  My feeling of competitiveness that morning disappeared and it was replaces by hesitation.  Never had I completed a race in these bitter cold temperatures, let alone run three miles.  Luckily, my husband and dad braved the cold weather to cheer me on and provide words of encouragement.

The race started out like any other race that I have ran.  Once the crowd had finished counting down, us runners jolted forward only to be slowed down to a walk until we crossed the starting line.  Puffs of white clouds emitted for the lips of all the runners are we started our first few steps.  During this time, I spotted a woman in a bright pink running jacket that I deemed to be my pace girl.  I could tell she was slightly faster than me and if I could keep her in my sights, whether she knew it or not, she was going to motivate me to run my best.  Shortly after completing the first mile, I felt a slapping against my leg and found my left shoe had come untied.  I veered off to my right, unclenched my pink and black gloved fist and tried to tie my shoe as fast as my numb fingers would allow.  It was a relief to look up and spot that bright pink jacket was still in catching up distance.  I closed the gap and felt great doing so.  As the first water stop approached, I looked down at my Garmin and noticed that it was only 1.6 miles into the race.  With this water stop being so early on, I decided to skip it and hit the next one a few miles away.  Bright pink jacket girl had also skipped the first water stop.  I knew that I would have to stop at the next water stop, and by the time I approached it, I notice there was a line of runners waiting for water.  There were two volunteers trying to pour water as fast as possible, but with it being so cold outside, the water was partly frozen.  During the wait, I decided that if water breaks were going to be this backed up, I was not going complete my time goal so I should just run for fun.  After I chugged my half frozen water, I threw the small green Gatorade cup to the side and took off running.  The wait for water was long enough for my sweat to freeze over.  Therefore, as I took up jogging and realizing that I lost bright pink jacket girl, the immense cold hit me.  This race was not going to be as fast and easy as I was expecting it to be.

From looking at the elevation map, I knew that mile six through seven was going to be all up hill.  Normally, hills are a nuisance but not horrible.  There has always been a sense of accomplishment after running up a long hard hill.  The only feeling I felt after completing the mile long hill was pain.  From the intense below freezing temperatures, my knees and hips became stiff and painful.  I was beyond grateful to see my husband and dad cheering me on around the nine mile marker that it gave me a boost of confidence that I needed.  That confidence, however, quickly ran out two miles later when the stabbing pain in my joints won and I had to slow down to a walk.  Not only are my goals to improve my time or stay consistent, I also never try and walk unless visiting a water station.  My knees, hips and left thigh were so broken down that I could not run another step.  For the next mile and a half, I alternated between jogging and walking.  My husband and dad met me along the trail with a quarter of a mile left and ran with me to the finish line.  It is another memorable finish that I will always remember.

Today, a day after this hard and painful run, I am sore all over and discovered that I have pulled a groin muscle.  I will never look down on a football player that decides to sit on a bench instead of playing through a muscle ache.  The most valuable lesson that I learned from this experience, is that no matter how much I love running, I hate running in 12 degree weather.  If I ever sign up for a race and the weather decides to take a dip, I will pick up my t-shirt and stay in my cozy warm bed come race morning!

Sleep? Who has time for sleep?

“There are never enough hours in the day.”

This is a statement that I am sure we have all heard many times.  Personally, I used this statement religiously in college when I waited until the night before a test to start studying.  Or, when I started working a “big girl” job and was away from home most of the day.  It has always been a struggle to try and fit in cleaning, cooking, laundry and running during the few free hours in the evening.  Plus, I was grumpy if I did not get at least eight hours of sleep every night.  My husband can contest to that.  He would often gibe at me, “If you are this grumpy only getting seven hours of sleep, how are you going to handle having a baby.”  Ahhh…. I took everything for granted in my kid free days.

In my kid free days, I would roll out of bed around six in the morning.  I had plenty of time to shower, drink coffee, get ready, drink coffee, make breakfast, drink coffee and check facebook while drinking coffee.  After work, I could squeeze in a four to five mile run, make dinner, watch my favorite T.V. shows and catch up on chores.  Looking back, life seemed so simple then.  However, I remember that I consistently felt stressed about the daunting list of tasks.

Now, that dreaded beeping sound starts at 5:15 in the morning.  Three snooze buttons later, I stumble out of the covers around 5:30 and the race against the clock starts.  The race that happnes every morning, Monday through Friday, consists of can I get ready for work before Little Man wakes up?  There are mornings I lose before I even make it out of bed.  Some mornings the crying sound echoes through the baby monitor five minutes before my alarm is set to go off.  On these mornings, I stumble to the shower and let my husband handle baby duties at 5:10 in the morning.  It is damn near impossible to run after a 10 month old (who is learning to walk) with an eye lash curler attached to one eye.  On a normal morning, Little Man wakes up around 6:30, which gives me one hour to get completely ready for work in the dark (as to not wake my sleeping husband) with a half-awake brain.  

Notice from my pre-kid days how much leisure time I had to enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the morning?  In today’s hectic morning routine, I am lucky to get half a cup down before I need to head out the door.  As I was cleaning the coffee maker one morning, I yelled at my husband “I now understand why so many people drink Starbucks; I do not have time for this!”  In all actuality, it takes five minutes to clean the coffee maker, but with my race against the clock, those are five precious minutes I could use surfing facebook!  Fortunately, my husband understands my obsession with coffee and made a cute coffee travel mug complete with pictures of our family.  Coffee manages to stay toasty warm until I can enjoy it on my trek into work. 

After I make it home from a long day at work, there are the countless chores that need to be completed.  If I could hire a nanny to just do laundry, clean the kitchen and bathrooms, I would be in heaven.  The internal battle of should I clean the house or play with little man spurs up every night.  I always have good intentions to conquer the list once he goes to sleep, but there are nights that the couch is just too comfy.  These are the nights that my wonderful husband tries to help out around the house.  For example, last week he started laundry for me by putting every bath towel that we own in the washer.  It never made it from the washer to the dryer that night.  Trying to dry myself off, in the dark, while half-awake is not simple. 

Somewhere between 8:30 and 10pm, I manage to make my way back to the bedroom and relax in a mixture of a fluffy comforter with clouds of pillow.  Do not be fooled by the 8:30 time.  If I do make it that far at 8:30, I have escaped whatever sporting event that has taken over the big T.V. in the living room to catch up on countless of hours of my favorite T.V. shows.  Eventually, I will drift off into dreamland for a few hours before Missy claims my legs as her pillow or I hear a cough drift through the baby monitor.  At this point, I will glance at the green numbers and calculate how many more hours I can squeeze in before the dreaded beeping starts over again.  If anybody deserved to have more hours in the day, it would be working parents with small kids! 

First Birthday is only 2 MONTHS AWAY… Eeeek!

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As my husband and I were pouring through toy magazines trying to figure out what to get our 10 month old for Christmas, it hits me!  We also need to put together a birthday list since his birthday is only two weeks after Christmas!  How is possible that my baby boy is almost one?  With our mind on the holidays, we have pushed back the thought of a birthday party.    

Thanks to Pinterest, I have a million of ideas for a baby’s first birthday party.  First things first, we need to decide on a birthday theme, date and time.  I suggest the Saturday after his actual birthday to have family and friends over.  However, that Saturday the Chiefs could potentially be in the playoffs and Kansas plays K-State in basketball that afternoon.  Do not worry; it was my husband who pointed out the sports conflicts with our son’s birthday party.  So I suggest that we have a sports themed birthday party starting late morning and if guests would like to stay after to watch any of the potential games, so be it.  His thoughts went to, nobody is going to come to his birthday party if the Chiefs are in the playoffs and Kansas has a big game.  I won battle number one, as his birthday party will be the Saturday after his first birthday, no matter what games are going on.

Second, I need to make the invites!  Every well respected mom that works 40+ hours a week, of course has time to make the invites.  I am going to make cute little football and basketball shaped cards with his picture in the middle.  On the flip side will be all the information about the party in a fun, yet boyish, font.  I have a Cricut so cutting out the shapes will take me no time at all.  Now, I need to pick a night or a weekend that I can dedicate to work on the invites.  However, I should send the invites out this weekend.  With the holiday’s right around the corner, I want to give people plenty of notice.  Between training for a half marathon, in the midst of painting the house and taking care of a family, I have zero time to make invites.  Thank you tinyprints for having a wonderful football themed first birthday invites.  I gave in and lost this battle.

Third, I need to figure out what fun sport themed food I can make for the birthday party.  I could do an array of finger food cut into little football and basketball shapes.  His cake could be in the shape of a football and I can make a smaller cake for the guests.  A football cake cannot be that difficult to make, right?  However, walking around Sam’s Club this weekend, my husband and I found deli trays, veggie trays and football cupcakes.  How much easier would it be to just pickup food instead making it myself?  This one is still up in the air.

Last, we need to figure out the perfect gift to give our soon-to-be one year old!  Of course, being his parents, we have to outdo everybody else!  It does not matter that he would be happy with a box full of wrapping paper.  Out of all the things that we could potentially screw up parenting wise that will require him to go through counseling down the road, is his first complaint going to be his first birthday?  Being the thrifty man my husband is becoming, he found a little tikes goal for five bucks on Craigslist.  Perfect for the sports themed birthday party!  My husband and I even tested it out playing P-I-G one evening after little man went to bed.  Missy girl was not too happy that we were using her angry pig toy as a basketball.  I won the game of pig, score is now 2-1-1 (I am including the food as a tie since I have not fully made up my mind)!  Of course, we will get a few other things, but I don’t think anything will top the hours of entertainment we will all get (Missy included) from the basketball goal. 

His first birthday may not be Pinterest worthy to some, but we will make it the best birthday party that he will never remember!

 

*Photo by Kendra Gough Photography

Crock Pot Problems

My husband and I have this deal that whoever cooks dinner, the other half has to clean the dishes.  I like to cheat sometimes and make Crock Pot dinners.  Therefore, my stress level is greatly reduced by the mere fact that I do not have to rush home to cook.  Then, since I technically mix all the ingredients that morning, my husband is on Crock Pot cleaning duty. 

Yesterday, I made a delicious chicken and rice meal in the Crock Pot.  As my husband was in the kitchen filling the Crock Pot with soapy water, he yells at me, “For your next blog, you should write about Crock Pot problems.”  I started laughing and said “like what?”  He then unleashed his tirade about our beloved Crock Pot. 

Problem #1:  There is no way to delay the cooking start time.

Most of the Crock Pot dinner recipes that I use suggest cook times to be between six and eight hours, if cooking on low.  The issue that arises for my husband and I is that round trip of driving to work, working and then driving home is 10+ hours.  Now, the Crock Pot we have does allow me to set the timer for eight hours and then it switches over to keep warm.  By the time we got home last night, the chicken was slightly dry and the rice was burnt around the edges.  Being frustrated by this in the past, my husband has tried to rig the Crock Pot to the Christmas lights delayed timer.  We are still working out the kinks in that process.  Therefore, Dear Crock Pot Gods, please find a way to delay the eight hour cooking time by two hours for my husbands’ sanity.  

Problem #2:  We have to soak the Crock Pot in soapy water for three days.

Ok, so we may not need to actually soak the Crock Pot that long, but, it does make it easier to clean.  However, it is about 50/50 who really ends up cleaning the Crock Pot, due to my husband letting it sit in soapy water for this long in order to loosen up all the food.  Half the time I end up cleaning the crock pot because I am sick of it sitting on the counter and taking up valuable space.  I beleive that his intended goal is to get me to clean it, whether he wants to admit it or not.  Above all things to cook in the Crock Pot, making Queso is probably the worst.  Now, that I believe should soak in soapy water for three days!

Problem #3:  We are too lazy to return the Crock Pot back to its home.

Even though this wonderful dinner maker takes up valuable counter space, we still find ourselves leaving it on the counter for another three days after it is cleaned.  Why?  Reason number one: we bought a house that does not have a pantry.  We underestimated the importance of a pantry and house number two will definitely have a pantry.  Therefore the Crock Pot’s home, since it is so big, is shoved in a bottom shelf behind the smaller Crock Pot and electric griddle.  The process of removing these items and putting them back in front takes more effort than we are willing to put in on a week night.  Honestly, it would probably take five minutes, but we would rather spend those five minutes with little man.  Unless, little man decides to throw a fit, and yes we have entered into that fun stage.  At this point, I usually let my husband handle the tantrum and I suddenly found myself five minutes to complete this task! 

In light of these problems, we are reduced to using our crock pot on the weekends for chili during football season.  GO CHIEFS!Maybe a handful of times during the year do we dust it off to test out a quick dinner solution.  Then we remember how much of a pain in the ass it can be.  A month later, we forget the whole process and dig it out wondering why we do not use it more often.  The vicious cycle of the Crock Pot starts over, once again.

Black Nose Out Of Joint

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Missy Girl, our beloved brindled boxer, has been my baby girl for the past three years.  My husband got her for me as a Christmas gift in 2010 right before we moved into our first home.  She has been spoiled from day one!  However, now with a toddler crawling around the house, she has found that she is no longer top dog.  Poor Missy Girl (her real name is Mischief, however, we were always going to call her Missy for short but “Girl” got added somewhere down the line to form “Missy Girl”). 

Missy became not only our pet dog, but like a child to us.  The first year we had her, we made sure to take her to the dog park and for runs.  We spoiled her with a plethora of toys and treats.  Of course, and to this day, she is the only child allowed to sleep in bed with us.  Her first birthday, we threw her a small party complete with dog cake and presents to open.  The following Christmas, a local pet store had a Santa Clause for the puppies to meet and take their picture with.  You bet we waited in line for almost an hour for that picture!  Not only did she get spoiled that Christmas by my husband and I with a full set of angry bird kid toys (that I waited in line for two hours on black Friday to purchase), but she was also received presents from Nana and Papa. 

While I was pregnant, she had reached the point where she could be out of her kennel all day while we were at work.  I liked to think she just lounged in the big bed (our king sized bed) while I slaved away at my desk.  We never had a problem with her chewing anything or destroying a pair of shoes.  My husband trained her well (I wish I could claim some part of her well behavior but I really can’t)!  However, shortly after little man was born, she suddenly developed a fondness for chewing.  After returning home from a quick thirty minute trip to the grocery store, we found a ski mask, binky and a white plastic child’s hanger chewed up and eaten.  She threw up bits of plastic hanger for a week straight.  After that, she started going back in her kennel, for her own safety.

Little man and Missy Girl’s relationship started to blossom when he started crawling and playing.  She would bring him her angry birds and ropes, waiting for him to try and grab them.  Missy has always been gentle with him, except maybe when handing out too many kisses.  Even yesterday, I caught my son grabbing a hand full of Missy’s floppy ear and yanked as hard as he could.  She did not make one sound.  Even when he got in trouble for pulling her ear, she showered him with kisses.  Besides chewing up a few pacifiers and hangers, she has yet to chew up any of his toys.  A couple months later, she has reverted back to our well behaved puppy.  Until recently that is, now she is pissed that he is getting all of her table scraps.

In all actuality, little man is just eating his fair share of table food.  However, in the past, Missy Girl would get tidbits of our dinner cut up and placed in her bowl.  Now, in her eyes, I bet she is thinking “that damn kid is stealing all my food.”  She nudges and whines at me every time I place meat on little man’s tray.  She circles his chair like a shark waiting for anything to fall.  The second his hand leaves the tray, she is right there licking off every piece of left over sausage hidden in that little hand.  Last, when I pick him up out of his high chair, her snout goes right in to clean up anything he has dropped.  However, her begging stops at Cheerio’s and refuses to clean those up off the floor.  One would think beggars should not be choosers. 

Now do not let her fool you, she still receives her own burger, brat and slice of chicken whenever we have home cooked meals.  Plus, whatever is left on little man’s tray goes right into her bowl when he is done eating.  Yet, she likes to remind me constantly while I am eating my dinner that she is sitting, somewhat patiently (insert nudge with wet nose here), by my side waiting for her share. 

Poor puppy may not get to go to the dog park as often or visit Santa this year, but that Missy Girl is still spoiled rotten. 

No Sick Days for Mommy!

Do you know that instant where you realize you are catching a cold and there is nothing you can do about it?  That instant hit me last week with the cold from hell!  It is making the rounds through the entire family.  When I say entire family, I am not only talking about my son, my husband and I.  I am talking about Grandparents too!  Even co-workers are coming down ill.  Everybody told me, that when I had kids, I could guarantee to be knocked down by colds more often.  I now believe them 100%!

Catching colds used to not be such a big deal.  As a child, if I got sick enough I got to stay at home with mommy.  She would make me chicken noodle soup and Orange Kool-Aid.  We would have slumber parties on the couch and these were the moments she taught me how to crochet.  At 10 o’clock in the morning, every sick day, Price is Right would be on and I loved competing against the contestants on the show.  I have lost count of how many cars I would have won had I been there!

As I got older, I started getting “get better soon” gifts from my parents.  Anything from a new stuffed animal to ice cream because my throat was sore.  Yes, these little gifts lasted through my college years, as well.  I remember my dad making the hour drive to my dorm room with medicine and cookies to make me feel better.  My mom bought me a new pair of shoes when I contracted pink eye in both eyes. 

When my husband and I bought a house less than half a mile from my parents, you bet I called my mom when I was not feeling well.  Again, at 25 years old, my mom would still bring me Tylenol and chicken noodle soup.  However, I can no longer drink Orange Kool-Aid without thinking about crushed up ibprofin.  I never learned how to swallow pills until high school so my mom always crushed it up and mixed it with orange Kool-Aid or orange juice for me to take it with.  Yuck! 

That all changed when my baby boy came along.  I no longer get special treatment on my sick days!  Instead I have plethora of responsibilities to accomplish on the days I am not feeling my best.  The days of coming home from work and going straight to bed are long gone!  On the rare occasions that I find myself sick enough to stay home from work, I still have to get up once little man arrives home.  There is a mouth the feed and a little tushy that needs washing.  He does not care if mommy has a cold or not.  However, there is nothing a little snuggling cannot cure! 

Not only do I have to keep my bed waiting for me, my little “get better soon” gifts have disappeared.   Those have also made the transition from daughter to grandson.  When my poor baby had to have surgery at a month old, my husband and I came home to an array of gifts on our dining room table from Nana and Papa for little man.  However, I am 100% ok with him getting the little gifts now, my poor baby deserves it when is under the weather! 

Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband that agreed to be Mr. Mom last week while I was battling this cold from hell.  Mr. Mom fed, bathed and put little man to sleep so this Mommy could get her first full sick night in nine months!

Zombie Apocalypse

One of our favorite shows has recently started again, The Walking Dead!  However, now being a mom, I am finding it harder and harder to watch the show each week.  Mainly due to the fact that I would hate to have my son grow up during the Zombie apocalypse.  Would we be safe?  I could not handle if I lost him to Zombies.  Never the less, when I start watching this show again, I tend to have at least one zombie nightmare a week.  A couple of weeks ago, the following happened:

I woke up at 2:34 am to “beep, beep, beep” and the kitchen light on.  My husband was not in bed next to me and in my half-awake brain, I jolted upright.  Missy was lying at the end of the bed and she just perked her head up an inch to give me the “why did you have to wake me” look.

I yelled at him, “What are you doing?”

I hear back “The power went out.”

Again I ask, “So what are you doing?”

“Fixing the clocks,” he replied in a very “what else would I be doing” kind of way.

I signed and then slammed my head back into my pillows.  Missy girl also let out a deep sigh and went back to sleep.  After the beeping stopped, kitchen light turned off and he was back in bed and back to sleep in record time, I was now wide awake.  As I lay there tossing and turning between the small space from the edge of the bed and Missy’s domain, I started to wonder why the power went out to begin with.  In the three years that we have lived in this house, the power has only ever gone out when thunderstorms have rolled through.  I stopped and rested on my pillow and listened as hard as I could for thunder.  All that my ears could pick up was Missy’s snoring and the soft buzz from the baby monitor.

“Nope, no thunder, it must be the zombie apocalypse has finally happened and the power plant was attacked.” Is the exact rational thought that went through my brain at three o’clock in the morning.  The monologue that I continue to have with myself in the wee hours of the morning was as follows:

“Should I just lay here and wait until I hear slapping of hands on the window?  I would hope that sirens would go off to let us know that the zombies are coming.  Do I just lay here and wait for my dad to show up?  I would definitely
hear the Hummer coming down the street.  I mean, that is the game plan.  I will need to run upstairs and grab my baby.  Do I need to bring the car seat?  If the zombies are here, do I really need to abide traffic laws?  We do not have enough formula in the house for him to survive off of until he turns a year old.  Maybe when we get farther out of town, we can stop at a small grocery store and pick up supplies.  Zombies would not be in the small towns yet, right?  Also, we should load up on canned food.  Canned food lasts forever, right?  I should also pack up all the baby food because we may need to eat that, as well.  What would we pack all the baby and canned food in?  I should invest in those canvas bags.  “Save the planet!”  There is not going to be much of a planet to save if the zombies are here.  What if other people try and steal our food?  I hope other people in the neighborhood do not have guns.  I do not want to go to war with anybody when we are trying to leave.  What if a zombie tries to attack me while I have my son in my arms?  I need to go do shooting practice again.  Hopefully my husband and my dad will have my back.  Life would be pretty crazy if the zombies do come.  I wish I was a doctor.  What if somebody gets sick?  However, my sister is a nurse so maybe we will be OK.  We should probably coordinate a location to meet up with my sister and her husband.  Well, I do not hear any sirens or hands slapping on the windows so I think it is safe to go back to sleep.

Needless to say, the zombies never showed up that night and all the clocks were correct in the morning.