Friday, September 24, 2010

beautiful sister, beautiful friend

This morning my sister Jodi sent me a quote she received from Runner's World and I just had to share because it resonated so deeply with me.

There is something beautiful about working so hard that you are reduced to silence next to your friends.  Some friendships never get to the level where silence is comfortable, let alone productive or healing.  Some friends will never understand the unspoken.
-Kristin Armstrong, author and runner

Me and Jodi before a track workout, 2010
My sister Jodi is my running buddy (to put it in the simplest of terms).  We have a connection that runs deep, and is only made stronger when we are out on the trails and roads running or racing together.  Or apart.  The connection is always there, no matter what.  Usually very few words are exchanged between the two of us when we are running.  After a bit of silence one of us might go to say something only to be interrupted by the other laughing and smiling because she was about to say the same exact thing.  When we're not running though and are just in the midst of our daily lives, we talk a few times a day and chatter non stop with a natural ease and comfortable openness that is completely uncensored.

Jodi and me after a 12 mile training run, 2010
Can you relate to this, too?  Do you have running buddies who you connect with on that level?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

making the time

Two years ago, as we were packing our belongings up to move into our new house, my husband and I agreed that it was time to have a yard sale and sell some things on Craigslist.  We have so much STUFF.  We were exhausted from the move though and just couldn't organize ourselves enough to have the sale before we moved.  It was a stressful time full of changes and challenges...so we put it off and decided we would have the sale after we got settled into our new home.

Well, fast forward two years and we are (fairly) settled in and are finally having this massive yard sale.  It's great.  I'm excited.  I hope people will come to our sale and find treasures and great bargains on just the things they are looking for.  I hope we'll make some money and be able to put it towards some of the things we really need right now, especially with another baby on the way.

The reason I'm talking about this here though is because all the energy, effort and time it has taken to orchestrate and organize this sale has been completely exhausting.  We moved everything into our garage starting last Sunday and all week long I've been pricing, sorting and moving things around to get ready for Saturday's sale.  All while keeping an eye on my two young children and growing another one in my belly!  Today my little boy was in the garage hanging out with me while I worked and the next thing I knew he was racing around the front yard in his underwear singing a song about a superhero he invented named "Penis Man"... ooooh my Goodness.  Thankfully my next door neighbor who was out watering her garden found him cute and funny.  At least he had something on!  Anyway, a run or even a walk would have been a nice stress reliever for me all week but the last time I hit the pavement was on Monday morning.  A matter of only 3 days, but with all the stress of getting ready for this sale while balancing everything else in my world, minus making time for myself to run -- let's just say that I am one grouchy mamma!  Tomorrow morning I need to get out there and SWEAT.  I need to just make it a priority for myself.  I know I will not regret it and that I will feel so much better because of it.

It is times like this that I am really reminded of how much I need to move, at least in some way, every day if I can.  Even if it is just for 20 minutes - I owe it to myself and to my family to make time to do it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


there are a lot of things on my mind as my baby's due date approaches.  it is just 4 months away and while in some ways that feels like a looooong time to wait, it also feels like it is SO soon.  especially with all the holidays approaching - halloween, my son's 4th birthday, thanksgiving, christmas, new year's and then ta-da BABY is here.  wow.

one thing in particular that i cannot get out of my head though is the fact that this baby will be born in january.  it will be COLD.  too cold to take a newborn outside for probably even a walk on most days.  the baby will be too little to take to the gym with me during those winter months...i can't (and wouldn't even if they allowed it) bring a newborn into the daycare center until it is about 3 months old.  i don't own a treadmill or any piece of indoor exercise equipment other than yoga and pilates videos which are just not going to help me get my sweat on - and shed the extra weight - the way i know i will want to.  so the conclusion i have come to is that i NEED a treadmill.  i have wanted one for a long time but couldn't really justify the expense since i love my gym and it is so easy for me to go there with my kids and outside my door i have amazing trails and running routes to explore and i'm not afraid to run in the cold.  but now things are changing.  now i NEED a treadmill.  so i started my research and i am a bit freaked out by the price tags.  YIKES they are expensive!!  i figure i can buy a new one in the $600 range that will work great for me - i don't need any fancy bells or whistles.  i just want one that works well and that i can really run on.  i looked at used ones on craigslist and at the thrift store and i am just a little concerned about spending money on a used one...a couple hundred dollars is a lot to spend on something that doesn't work well, right!?  sooo...does anyone have advice for me out there?  if you own a treadmill, do you love it?  how did you go about purchasing your 'mill?

i am preparing for the winter and trying to think ahead now...i'm not sure if i can even afford to get one, but i want to do my due-diligence and make sure that i spend my money on something that will get me through the winter  - and years beyond.

thanks and have a happy tuesday :o)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

a new crew

This morning I was planning to meet up with my running buddies at 7am for their 16 miler.  I was feeling off though because I'd been up since 3AM and my right hip flexor was bothering me as well as my right ankle.  Not sure why...maybe because I was really busy all week with running, walking and Pilates?  Maybe my stride is changing with all this extra weight I'm carrying?  I don't know...but needless to say, I didn't really feel much like running this morning.

So I met up with everyone in our local running club and decided that today I would see my pals off on their run and then head out with the group of walkers instead.  There were about 7 of us and the route was a pretty and somewhat hilly 6 miles.  It was delightful!  I made new friends, got my heart pumping, MOVED my body.  I also spent a while chatting with an amazing man named Joe who is really involved with the running club.  He is around 70 years old and hung up his running shoes a while back and since then has been walking instead.  A lot.  He just got back from a 10 day European walking tour.  It was a really great way to start my day and I'm so happy I did it.  I'm so glad that I didn't just head back home after seeing the runners off...I think I need to remember that as long as I am moving and caring for myself and my baby it doesn't matter how fast or far I am going.  Some day I may have to hang those running shoes up.  I hope it's not until I am 100, but this experience of running while pregnant - honoring and respecting the limitations of my body for the betterment of my and my growing child's health - is really good for me.  I'm not quite ready to put running on hold during this pregnancy, but I'm happy to know that there is a great group of people in my community to walk with and to share this journey with.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

not what it used to be, but i'll take it

me after 6 miles, at 20 weeks
Sunday I decided I would not head out super-early and instead met my running buddies well into their run around 9:45am.  They'd already completed about 15 miles of an 18 mile run when I met up with them on the trail.  I did a walk/run combo on my own for about 3 miles until I met them for my turn-around and ran the last 3 miles with them at about a 10:30 pace.  It was great.  Aside from the pretty much constant pressure on my bladder (I swear, running this pregnant it is impossible to empty my bladder completely...it seems that no matter what I do I always have to pee!!!) it was a really pleasant run.  The skies were cloudy and a bit drizzly and it wasn't too hot or humid.  I was just happy to be out there and grateful for the companionship of my running crew.  Only 7 weeks until MCM and I cannot wait to cheer them on!  I'm considering signing up for the 10K but haven't decided about that just yet.  I've just got to take it one day at a time here!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

drawing the line

this morning i was planning to head out at 6:30 to meet up with my running buddies who are scheduled to do 18 miles.  i had a rough night's sleep last night with the kids both up at different times and then one of them sleeping in my bed which meant that i was pushed all the way to the edge and just, well, no so comfortable. when my alarm went off at 5:15 and it was pouring rain and pitch black out and i was so tired and a bit nauseous...it had me thinking.  WHY am i doing this?  i wasn't planning to run 18 with them, maybe 10 or even less depending on how i was feeling.  last week i went out to run 10 with them and was so much slower than they were that it was a bit depressing for me.  so i called my sister and the plan now is to try to meet them on the trail around halfway through their run.  i had to draw the line somewhere for myself this morning - i mean i want to keep running and moving throughout my pregnancy but do i really need to push myself to do it in the dark on a weekend morning, and in a downpour?  not so much.

on another note i passed the 20 week mark the other day!  that means i'm over halfway through my pregnancy now!  hooray!  i am so excited about that...and i still have not been tempted to open the envelope.  i'm really feeling like keeping the gender a secret from all of us is adding a level of excitement and anticipation that is keeping me more positive and motivated right now.  so i'm hanging onto that feeling and will keep that envelope sealed (and out of sight, so we are not tempted!).

happy sunday, everyone :o)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the envelope

Today was my 20 week ultrasound!!  It was incredible.  The baby is just beautiful.  Healthy.  Strong.  AMAZING in every way.  I am so grateful that everything went well and that all measurements were normal and looking good.  What a relief and how terrific to be assured that everything is okay.

I found out the genders of both my daughter Abby and my son Will during my 20 week ultrasounds with them.  The first time around I really wanted to be surprised but my husband wanted to know so I agreed that we would find out.  The second time I just felt SO sure that Will was a boy and even though I wanted to know what it would feel like to be surprised in the delivery room, I wanted to know in advance because every bone in my body was telling me he was a boy and I just wanted to get used to the idea if he was actually a girl.  THIS time though...well this time I have no such "gut" feeling or if I do the next day it is completely different, and I really don't have a preference or hope one way or the other - just want a healthy, happy baby.  My husband really really wants to know, but he is being the great guy that he is and will fight that urge if he has to.  So today we came up with a compromise and decided we would have the tech write the gender down on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope to be opened (or NOT) at a later time....

I really don't want to open it!!  I mean, sure I want to know if my baby is a boy or a girl, but I would really like to hold out and know what those 2 seconds feel like when someone tells me "It's a...!!" when that baby is born.  I just want to experience that.  Some people are on one side of the fence or the other (like my husband) but I am not.  I am on both sides - I get all the reasons why it makes complete sense to find out now.  I know it is a surprise no matter when or how you find out...but I just want to experience that.  SO for the next 20 weeks I have a sealed envelope in my house and it is up to me whether or not we open it!  Abby and Will are cool with it either way, so no pressure from them.  Robert says he will be quiet about it and may let me know how he feels every now and then...just to "check in" with me.  I know I will be tempted, but I am going to try to resist opening that envelope!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

my body, my home

I recently stumbled upon a blog with a very insightful post about our bodies as metaphors.  It was written by Katie at Health for the Whole Self.  I will definitely be checking back with her blog as I really like the way she writes and her whole take on health and wellness.

Anyway, this post has really had me thinking a lot about how I view my body, especially right now during my pregnancy.  One metaphor Katie talked about was the body as a machine...this is where I find myself a lot during runs and races.  I push my body, I fuel my body and I hammer at it to get it to perform the best it can.

She also talked about the body as a measuring stick.  Ok...well I have done this for most of my life without a doubt.  Using my body to compare myself to others, getting on that scale and wanting it to tell me I weigh less, using the machine body to try to lose that weight and squeeze myself into a smaller size clothing.  Holding myself to (probably unrealistic) standards that I would never even think to hold others to, especially people I love.  Ugh.  I really hate that.

Katie settled in on talking about the body as a HOME.  This felt so right to me and is truly where I am right now, at this minute, and where I hope to be for the rest of my days on this earth.  Pregnancy is so amazing...right now my "home" is nurturing and growing a baby, it needs to be healthy to care for my two little ones who are already here on this earth.  I need to keep it clean and sturdy so it feels nice on the inside and the outside.  What good is a home if you keep up appearances on the outside but let it all go on the inside?  I love this comparison.  It really makes me think about how I am treating my body and my soul and it gives me a healthy, balanced perspective.  One that I really want to hang on to,

Other than the INCREDIBLE fact that pregnancy means I am having a baby, I am not such a big fan of pregnancy.  I don't like the physical limitations and the fact that I really feel I have no control over what is happening to my body much of the time.  I've already gained 15 pounds and while I know that is healthy and normal at this point in my pregnancy...ugh.  I'm trying not to be negative about this though, and the thought of my body as a home, as a place for this baby to grow and get strong enough to be ready to enter this world, really helps.

I hope you'll read Katie's blog and that this idea of your body as a home is as helpful to you as it is to me.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Will's Story

When my little buddy Will was born almost 4 years ago he spent his first week of life in the NICU at Georgetown University Hospital because of the threat of bacterial infection.  He was only a week early but when I went into labor I came down with a high fever and the doctors were concerned about infection.  They gave him a spinal tap quickly after I held him in my arms (that was scary) and then he stayed in the NICU all week so they could give him antibiotics and make sure he was strong enough to go home.  They decorated his isolet with a polka-dotted sign with his name on it and did an amazing job of welcoming my sweet baby into this world while caring for babies who were seriously fighting for their lives.  The nurses called Will the "little line backer" in the NICU (at just over 7 pounds) and they said they loved holding him and snuggling with him because so many of the babies that were there were not able to be disconnected from their tubing or taken out of their isolets for more than a minute or two.  It was an amazing experience and I was so very grateful for the angels who cared for him and for the fact that my baby was home in just one week.  I met a lot of moms who had been visiting their babies there for months and still had a long road ahead of them before they could bring them home.  These women were incredibly strong and so supportive of me which I simply could not believe given all they were facing compared to me.

After we brought Will home from the hospital we started to notice his skin was incredibly red and itchy.  He had awful eczema all over his face and body.  We had to put tiny socks on his hands so he wouldn't scratch himself during his sleep.  We had to slather him in Aquafor a few times a day (he was always pretty greasy looking!) to protect his skin.  He developed a horrible skin infection at just a few months old and this recurred every couple of months during the first two years of his life.  He was on a LOT of antibiotics.  Will also was the "spit up king" and seemed to have really bad reflux.  Despite all of the discomfort I was sure he was in, he was a trooper.  Always smiling, always chill.

When he was around 8 months old I began to feed him solid foods.  I immediately noticed that something was not agreeing with him...he would get hives all over his face and vomit.  I called the pediatrician and he told me they don't like to test babies for allergies before they are one year old and just to avoid giving him foods that caused any kind of reaction.  The problem was, almost every food I gave him seemed to make him uncomfortable in some way!  When I went in for his 9 month check-up my doctor took one look at him and said "wow, he has a lot of bug bites"...um no those are hives and he has them daily I replied.  So my pediatrician broke his rule and ordered a blood test right away.  Turned out Will was severely allergic (life-theatening levels) to 7 of the top 8 allergens (dairy, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish) so we were referred to an allergist and tested further to find out that in addition to these 7 he was also very allergic to peas, garlic, bananas, beef and tomatoes.  Yikes.  It was tough.  I was nursing him so had to take all these things out of my diet as well.  I kept a food journal for both of us so we could figure out what he was reacting to.  When he was one and it was time to introduce him to milk we switched to rice milk instead since we was so allergic to dairy and soy.

We got used to removing all these foods from our diets, to keeping them out of our home, and to not going out to eat as a family.  I'm not going to say it wasn't hard - because it WAS - but we eventually got used to it and became vigilant, but relaxed.  I made it my mission to learn to bake without butter, milk and eggs and got tons of excellent cook books and great advice so that my kids could enjoy food the way kids who don't have any allergies enjoy it.  My husband is an AMAZING cook and he came up with lots of great creative recipes - even made rice milk ice cream that we all loved! - and he continues to do so.

When Will was about 20 months old we were in a groove and felt really good about how we were handling everything.  On Abby's third birthday we had a few close friends and family over to celebrate.  All the food in our home was "Will safe"...to our knowledge.  But during the party my little baby developed horrible hives and was irritable.  I gave him Benadryl right away and took off his clothes so I could see what was happening with the hives.  I did not see any signs of difficulty breathing but we were all watching him closely to make sure the Benadryl was working.  A few minutes later I was holding him in my arms and he began to vomit - violently - and it terrified me.  Then he started to pass out in my arms and we called 911.  The ambulance came right away and my baby would not wake up.  It was so scary and I could not believe it was happening.  Once we were in the ambulance they gave him a shot of Epinephren and he immediately came to consciousness screaming and terrified.  My mom stayed at our house with my sweet Abby while Robert and I headed to the hospital with Will.  He was fine - but had experienced an anaphylactic reaction to something IN OUR HOME and we had NO IDEA what it could be.  After visiting the allergist and doing more testing we discovered that in addition to all the allergies we were aware of, he was also severely allergic to both mustard and sesame.  That day Robert had made a vinaigrette that had mustard in it.  Will didn't even eat the salad, but he was picking food off of my plate and must have gotten some that way.  In retrospect I should have given him the Epi pen as soon as he started to vomit, but I was looking for distress with his breathing and didn't see any so I thought he was ok.  Now I know that if more than one system is reacting (hives, vomiting, loss of consciousness, swelling lips/mouth, breathing distress....), whether it is involving his breathing or not, that is a sign of an anaphylactic reaction...so if there ever is a "next time" I now KNOW what to do.

That was two years ago and thank God we have not had any other scares even close to that.  I don't even think he has had hives worth mentioning since then.  We see an incredible allergist (Dr. Robert Wood at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore) and test him each year and monitor things very closely.  Last summer Will outgrew his wheat and soy allergies and we had a big celebration at our house!  Our world completely changed when we could add those foods to our diet!!!  All the other allergies still seem to be trending worse, but we are used to this lifestyle and as long as we're not adding new ones to our list I am OK with that.

I know this post has nothing to do with my running really, but I wanted to share.  And actually, I will say that I hear all the time from friends and family that they admire how calm I am about everything and I feel that I owe a lot of that to my running.  It keeps me cool...helps me put everything into perspective.

I am SO PROUD of my little buddy.  He is strong.  He is happy and secure and silly and fun. I'm also so proud of his big sister, who looks out for him and gets excited about recipes that are "Will safe."  When we go to a friend's birthday party and I have to bring Will his own cupcake, Abby wants me to bring one for her too.  She wants one that is safe for her brother.  She could not be a more sensitive or supportive big sister.

So this morning I made some delish "Will safe" vegan banana chocolate chip muffins and I thought I would share the recipe with you guys.  It is EASY and they are so yummy!!  Another great thing about baking this way is that since there are no raw eggs my kids can lick that bowl like crazy without me worrying about salmonella or any other gross things that could happen when eating raw eggs.


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup nondairy semisweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand is our favorite)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly grease muffin tins or use muffin papers.  In a medium size bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the sugar and oil, then add the mashed bananas.  Stir in the water and vanilla and mix well.  Add the flour mixture and the chocolate chips and mix.  Fill each muffin tin and bake for 20-30 minutes, until they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Makes about 12 muffins.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

8 years...

I am weirdish about numbers...I have some favorites that seem to carry a lot of meaning in my life and that have a way of popping up all over the place for me at times when I need to step back and take a moment to smile and realize that I am not alone.  It's just the way that I am and always have been.

One of my numbers is 8.  I love the number 8.  I love that there is no beginning or end to the shape of it, just like the symbol for infinity.  Yesterday my husband and I celebrated 8 years of marriage.  What an amazing 8 years it has been for us.  Because of a tight budget and the fact that we'll be getting a new car soon, we decided we would not spend any money on gifts for each other this year and that we would just go out for a low-key dinner together.  My mom came over to babysit and we headed out for dinner.  As we were driving, Robert asked me what was sitting in the cup holders between us.  I looked down and there was a piece of white paper folded into an envelope.  I opened it up and he had made me a card that said:

When we got married, we had champagne dreams...

and on the inside it said:

...and even though we are living a tap water life, I couldn't be happier!
Happy Anniversary!  I love you.
oh and one more thing....

I unfolded the paper again to read:

We're getting iPhones!!!

That sneaky sweet husband of mine totally got me!  He redeemed some of our Amex points to get us Apple gift cards so that we can buy the iPhones and he calculated our budget to determine that it will only be a $20 monthly increase for us so we can totally swing them comfortably.  I am so excited.  I'm not a big technology geek at all, but I have wanted one for a while and am just beyond thrilled.  We will get the gift cards this week and go buy the phones themselves this weekend.  I can't wait!

What I love way more than the phones though is the card that he made for me.  And the time we got to spend together last night, just being together.  I love this man so much and am so grateful that he is my husband.  The person I share my life, and my everything, with.  My best friend, my biggest fan, my rock, my love...the 8 years we have spent together as husband and wife have been truly wonderful.  I have never been loved by someone the way he loves me.  It is just so REAL in every way.  So forever.  I do not think we live a "tap water life" (it is at least filtered!!) but whatever it is I love it too and I could not be happier or more grateful for the life we have built together.

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