Friday, November 29, 2013

the obligatory thankful post

In lieu of annoying you with one thing I'm thankful for every day for a month, I really tried hard to think of one thing that I am most thankful for.  It's impossible.  Every time I try to think of something, it just seems so obvious and cliche.  So I tried to think of what I have that would be devastating to lose...that's also pretty much everything.  Not things like hot mocha choca vanilla soy grande lattes - those I could live without.

Food on my table.  What would it be like if I had to worry about where my kids' next meal would come from?

A roof over my head.  What would it be like if I had to worry about where we were going to sleep tonight?

My kids.  What would it be like if I just had to remember what life was like with them?  Or wonder what life would be like if I'd been able to have kids?

My husband.  A partner in this crazy life. What would life be like without this man to hug and co-parent with and confide in at the end of every day?

My family and in-laws. What in the world would life be like if our family gatherings were full of drama and tension?  I've been so fortunate with my family of origin as well as the one I was lucky enough to marry into.

My job.  I know all too well what it was like to have to leave to go to work on Thanksgiving.  Sad!  I am happy to have a job that not only do I enjoy, but one where I feel appreciated.  My agency is generous enough to pay me to spend time with my wonderful family.  Aside from that, I'm lucky that we don't have to worry if we have enough money to take our kids to the doctor. Or if we have to decide between that and buying groceries. Or paying the light bill.  In this day and age, I'm just thankful for my job.  Everything else is icing on the cake.

I'm just thankful. No one's life is perfect, but when I think about how much worse it could be, I'm thankful. I forgot to mention, my health. The health of my family members.  I have no idea what it would be like if myself or one of my kids were fighting a life-threatening or disabling illness.  Thankful.

My little turkeys had fun decorating cupcakes with Nana, Spencer, and Aunt Chelle.

hope your weekend was great,

Sunday, November 24, 2013

weigh to stay: 10 months in + the ugly sweater run

See previous updates HERE.

Before vacation, I committed to 12 runs in four weeks and did fairly well.  I made the mistake of saving that 12th until the day before we left and there was just too much to do.  Still, I was proud for sticking to my plan to get back on track with running and exercising.  Since we've been home from vacation, I've gotten lazy.  For one, it's cold, not to mention completely dark, by 5:30pm.  At that point, I just don't even want to leave the house, let alone run around when I can see my own breath.

I've slacked off.  I'm all but a stranger on MyFitnessPal these days.  My original goal was to lose 20-24 pounds and remain within that range thereafter.  I made it!  It's been about 5 months since I met that goal and for the most part, I've done really well maintaining. I went beyond my goal and I think my greatest loss was around 28 pounds, but that was kind of a fluke as I never stayed there for more than a day or two.  Usually, I'm around a 26 pound weight loss.  Since vacation ended, it's probably safe to say I'm maintaining a 23-24 pound weight loss.  Still within my goal, but I've definitely loosened up on calorie watching, portion control, and exercise.

I haven't thrown caution to the wind, and I'm still aware of what's going on, especially on the days when my jeans fit a little tighter.  Just slowing down on exercise makes a difference there, regardless of my weight.  I definitely feel softer and squishier when I'm not running on a regular basis.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine at work approached me about doing The Ugly Sweater Run.  I hadn't heard of it before, have you? If you click the link to that website, you'll see that it's about as festive as a run could possibly be during the holiday season!  Sounded like lots of fun and I figured signing up would kick start me into running again so I said "why not?"  I only ran once per week between the time I signed up and race day, but I was still happy overall.

The week before the race, the forecast predicted clear skies and 32 degrees. Yikes - cold.  Too bad it was 13 degrees when I woke up this morning!!  It was 24 degrees when the race started and 25 when it ended.

How does one plan to dress for a race in 24 degrees?  Well, naturally I sought out an ugly sweater.

IG caption: Ugly enough for the #uglysweater race ?

I posted this photo on Instagram and got some mixed reviews.  Most thought it was too cute for an ugly sweater race, but my sister and best friend both thought it was pretty gross.  I bought it in hopes of finding something else.  I ended up not wearing it because I figured that $25 was better off in my wallet than spent on something that would potentially make me look like an idiot. So I'll be taking this back to Kohl's. 

We got these pretty cool hats.  (No, really. I like it). 

Look at that sea of hats!  The people watching was fantastic. Sooo many people were all decked out.  If (when) I do this again, I'll be more prepared.  More festive. 

Before the race - we were jogging in place to try to keep warm so I should probably add that to my total distance ran, right?  These are two lovely ladies I enjoy working with. 

I ran the first mile, then walked maybe half a mile.  Ran another half or three quarters before stopping to walk again.  I was happy with this because when I ran in 40 degrees on Friday, I only made it 7 minutes before walking 5 and then running another 10.  During the race I ran intermittently, stopping to take short walking breaks about 4-5 times.  I lost track, but I knew starting out that this was not going to be a race I ran from start to finish because of 1. the temperature outside and 2. the layers made it a little more difficult to move.  I was just happy to run the first mile.  Thinking back now, I don't even know why I stopped. I don't remember feeling out of breath or any pain. I must have just seen that first marker and made it my goal to make it that far.  I probably could have done more. Rats...

The Finish Line!

Post-race reward. 

After the race - we picked up some pals along the way.

And finally - what does one wear to a race when it's 24 degrees outside?  (Not pictured - gloves, scarf, and sweater hat).  North Face fleece.  Thermal moisture wicking long-sleeved shirt.  Cotton long sleeved shirt.  Sports bra. Tank top.  Knee socks (CHRISTMAS!). Fleece socks.  Long john thermal underwear.  Yoga/running pants. Truthfully, it was kind of okay. I was warm enough with excitement before the race.  During the race, I had to take my scarf off and unzip my jacket. My back and arms were sweating.  After the race, my hands and feet were freezing but the rest of my body was okay. I was super thankful for the sunshine and no wind!

I'm excited to have done the race and looking forward to participating in one that I can actually run, start to finish!  


Thursday, November 21, 2013

a worthwhile cause

Last Friday, Ryan and I spent a half day volunteering at a local food bank.  The organization, Gleaners, is well known to the community as a provider of food to the hungry.

In their words:

At Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, we solicit, store and distribute food and critical grocery products to qualifying agencies who serve the public directly. Among those agencies are food pantries—as well as soup kitchens, halfway homes and emergency shelters.The food bank is the storehouse for millions of pounds of food and other products that go out to the community. The pantry functions as the arms that reach out to that community directly. Food banks and food pantries—they are not the same. But they share the same commitment. At Gleaners, we are proud of our partnership with food pantries—and many other organizations—who act with us on the belief that nobody should ever go to bed hungry.

Our financial advisor invited us to join Ameriprise agents and customers across the country in a National Day of Service; we were happy to oblige.  I challenge you to watch this video and NOT feel compelled to do something to help.

I never took into consideration how much food we waste at my house until I participated in assembling Backsacks for hungry kids.  As a team of volunteers, we prepared over 4,200 bags containing 14 items.  Every Friday, Gleaners distributes 10,000 bags to needy children in Indiana to keep them from going hungry while away from school for the weekend.  Sadly, the items in the bag might be all that some children get to eat.  I'm fairly certain we waste that much food - or more - every weekend.

Here are the items we placed in each bag:
Back row: 3 microwavable pasta meals & 3 juice boxes
Front row: graham crackers, pb&j, pb crackers, fruit&grain bar, fruit snack, cookies, pudding, & cereal

The sheer size and capability of the facility was mind-blowing. Gleaners runs a massive operation with just 70 paid employees.  They rely solely on volunteers to assemble the Backsacks.  It was an honor to be just a small part of that mission and left me longing for a bigger role in serving my community.  Just having enough is something we take for granted EVERY DAY.  

Our volunteer group: 

This Thanksgiving season, I urge you to do something - anything - to give back.  If you only have ENOUGH, you have so much more than millions of hungry children in your own country.  More than many families in your state, your town. Your community. In a day and time where we are so wrapped up with living in excess, we all have something we can give. Time. Money. Food.  Can you help? 


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

more rambling - childcare update

Hard to believe it's been almost 6 months since The Babysitter of the Year told us she was quitting. Closing. Whatever.  That was truly one of the hardest things we've been through as parents.  Stressful. Unexpected. Struck fear in my heart and opened me up to a world of uncertainties and insecurities.  On July 1st, we took them both to a new in-home sitter and on August 7, Theo started attending Montessori pre-school three days a week.  

How's it going? 

It's going .... good.  The transition was hard and it took longer than I expected but I can say confidently now that things are good.  Am I glad now that it happened this way?  Not necessarily, no.  The boys still miss her. I miss her. I miss her kid. The boys still talk about her.  The current situation is that Dexter goes to the new sitter every day and Theo goes there on Mondays and Fridays.  Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday he is at school.  Not too long ago, after a day at the sitter, Theo was going on and on about his day and the fun that he'd had.  I asked him if he liked school and he said yes.  I asked him if he liked the new sitter and he said yes.  I felt my heart grow warmer as a peace settled over me.  Then, like a moron, I asked him if he had to choose, where he would go every single day. 

He paused, and then said "I would go back to E's because that's the best place for me.  I know that's the best place for me."  

And then my heart about shattered into a million pieces.  Months later, he's still missing her and wishing he could go back.  Me too, son.  That's not to say that I don't love his school.  I do. We do.  We all love his school.  His teacher loves him and has great things to say about his growth there.  I have noticed him growing up, acting older, since he started there.  I don't know if that's always a good thing, but I guess it was bound to happen one way or the other. I do believe that it's been good for him to be the youngest kid instead of the oldest.  He's learning about social cues and rules and expectations.  He's growing more independent.  It's been amazing to watch him change in a short time.  But it's still sad.  

Theo was having some behavior issues before this transition and I now deeply believe that it was due to being the oldest and possibly under-stimulated.  E suspected this and told me this the day she said she was closing.  I didn't want to hear it but the simple truth is that he's had a handful (or less) of issues since the switch.  Because of Theo's wacky antics, I really thought if anyone was going to struggle, it'd be him.  He can be downright rigid and stubborn and I knew how attached he was to her. I can only assume that Theo's ability to verbalize his thoughts and feelings helped him in a way that Dexter was not able to process. 

Dexter really struggled more (visibly) than Theo and much more than I expected.  There was a lot of crying every day at dropoff, clinging to me, and not wanting to go. Crying on the way there and begging not to go.  Saying he didn't like it there. Crying when I picked him up.  I spent quite a few of my drives to work in tears myself, thinking THIS SUCKS.  Stomachaches, wishing for nothing more than to be a stay at home mom.  I have nothing but kind words for the two ladies that care for him, but it's not the same personal experience that we had with E.  As soon as things started to settle initially, Theo started going to school and we had to go through a transition all over again.  The roughest part lasted about two months. But now here we are, almost 5 months into this and Dexter absolutely loves going there. 

This morning, on the way he says: 

No, that's not J's house.
No, that's not J's house.
No, that's not J's house.
No, that's not J's house. 
YAY! That's J's street!!
No, that's not J's house. 
No, that's not J's house. 
No, that's not J's house. 
YES! That's J's house!! 

I pulled in the driveway and reached into the back to unbuckle him from his seat and put his coat on before getting out of the warm, cozy car.  As soon as I unbuckled him, he hopped down from his seat and said:

That's okay, I go in by myself. Have a good day, mommy!  

Excuse me, two year old child?  I think I will continue to walk him in for a little while longer.  Anyway, about 3 out of 5 days a week I don't even get a hug from him because he's too busy running off to play with his friends and doesn't have time for me. I'll totally take that over the alternative.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

laying low and potty stuff

Wow, it's already been 2 weeks since my last post.  I keep thinking it's been awhile but never seem to find the time or the inspiration to come here and write.  I don't know why. The boys have been super cute and fun lately.  I haven't been taking many photos either...lame.

They are so smart. I'm surprised every day by something they say or do.  Theo just seems so OLD lately. He's still super obsessed with Legos. He just loves taking the guys apart and mixing and matching their bodies. We build whatever came in the lego set and then he takes it apart and attempts to rebuild it. He's pretty good at it!  What I love the most, though, is his creativity. He builds his own little ships and guns and I literally don't know how he comes up with this stuff.  So neat to watch him.

What's not so neat is that he is also obsessed with pee pee and poopy.  Like, the words. Not the things.  He thinks it's soooo hilarious to call people "poopyface" or "fartface."  I guess it was funny the first time, but now it's just pretty obnoxious.  I'm not sure if it's just his age or something that he's picked up from school.

Dexter, on the other hand, might turn out to be our goody-two-shoes.  A lot of the time when Theo is trying to get Dex in trouble (by telling him to say or do something inappropriate), he'll say "No Tee-o, we don't say that."  He's got a little conscience on him. Theo is starting to tell white lies, denying that he did something or blaming things on Dexter.  He's not a very good liar.

Speaking of peeing and pooping though, for the longest time Theo wore a diaper to bed just because we were so paranoid that as soon as he started wearing underwear, we'd be back to the newborn days of getting up 5 times a night.  Before he wore underwear to bed for the first time (on Nov 2), he had NEVER in his life woken up dry in the morning.  I was curious if he was just peeing when he was awake because he knew he could or if he was actually peeing in his sleep.  We've pretty much figured out in the last three weeks that he CAN NOT and will not make it through the night unless we wake him up to take him to the bathroom before we go to bed (about 3 hrs after he does).  We've experimented and he always has an accident in the middle of the night if we don't take him. Sometimes he'll have 2.  So, what do you do?  Do you wake him up every night (a nuisance for everyone) to start teaching him or do you blow it off and let him keep sleeping in diapers?  For now, we're taking him to the bathroom at midnight and celebrating successes every morning that he wakes up dry - which is the majority of the time.  I figure he's going to be four in a little over three months...we've got to get a handle on this. Right?

We've been lazy with Dexter's potty training.  We need to be more consistent but here's the thing. He consistently pees on the floor almost every time he wears underwear. He has some GREAT days, but he has some bad ones too.  I know that's too be expected. Does it make me a bad mom if I just don't want to clean up pee off the floor or risk him peeing on the carpet or the couch?  Yeah? I kinda thought so. We've got a little time with him - I'd like for him to be trained (at least for the daytime) by the time he's three...still six months away.  Dexter is more than happy to tell you after he's gone but very rarely asks to use the potty before he goes.  I think with more consistency on our part, potty training him will be easier than it was with Mr. Stubborn Theo.

That was a lot of potty talk, considering I didn't even know what I was going to talk about.

I think that's all for now.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

fourth minute of fall photo dump

In the springtime, I have the boys outside at every given opportunity, just because I'm full of glee that winter has come to an end.  They love it, I love it, everything's peachy.  Then sometime in July or August, it gets so insanely hot that you can barely breathe while walking to the mailbox so you can forget about playing tag and running circles around the house.  The only way to play outside is in a pool or lake.  After that, there's about 5 minutes of nice, fall weather before blizzard season sets in for 9 months.  Okay, like 6. Fine, 4.  Or whatever.  Anyway, we're in the 4th minute of fall right now and I'm acutely aware that soon I will be right back in that there's-no-way-in-hell mode when asked to play outside.  

But now that Theo's engrossed in Legos and they are both obsessed with Disney movies, some days they don't even show any interest in playing outside. Lame.  So today when Dexter asked to play outside after we got home, I scrapped any plans for a decent dinner in exchange for spending the last hour of daylight with my baby boy outside. Theo enjoyed playing in the leaf pile I raked until he'd destroyed it, then he was pretty much pouting until I let him go inside to play Legos.  I checked on him intermittently before dragging Dex back in so I could pop those frozen corn dogs in the oven for dinner.  So what? They loved it.

Oh, and as Dexter and I were putting toys back in the garage, Theo opens the door and asks to go on a wagon ride.  I was happy to hear that he'd changed his mind, but told him it was too late. At least I did something I've been FAILING at lately - I remembered to grab my camera to capture a few cute fourth minute of fall moments.

The purest, sweetest, most innocent joy.

I guess I don't totally hate fall.


Monday, November 4, 2013

what do you know about stuttering?

Late last week, Ryan mentioned to me that he thought Dexter was stuttering. Over the weekend, I started paying more attention and noticed that he really does start his sentences with a repeated sound...a lot.

I-I-I-I-I-I wanna go home.

We-we-we-we-we-we're the going to the movies.

Y-y-y-y-you can't do that.

It's not every sentence and it's not all the time.  But he does do it a lot.  He seems to do it when Theo's talking and he's also trying to be heard, or when he's very excited.  But outside of those two scenarios, he still does it at other times as well.

I mentioned it to one of the providers at their sitter today and she said she had noticed it too (and probably thought I was an idiot for not mentioning it/noticing it sooner).  I know I've heard him do it before but I can't pinpoint when it started.  I don't even know if it's gotten that much worse recently or if I just didn't pay attention.  MOTY award coming this way.  Anyway, they watch a lot of kids that are roughly the same age, so I asked her if she thought it was fairly common.  She said no.

So I recalled and looked up an article written by my friend and Speech Language Pathologist, Mindi, and instantly felt more at ease.  Thanks to her, I've placed him somewhere between developmental and mild stuttering.  He's definitely repeating sounds at the beginning of a sentence more than 2-3 times, but I haven't noticed any facial tightening when this happens.  I'm not even sure he realizes he is doing it.  If we tell him to repeat after us, and say whatever he stuttered slowly, he's able to say the same thing without the stutter.  I'm very optimistic that this will be a short-term problem (if you'd even call it a problem) and that he'll soon outgrow it.

No doubt in my mind, this cutie bear's big brain is working way faster than his little mouth is processing.

Now I'm so curious to know how many people I know who have kids that briefly stuttered around this age as well.  Anyone?


Friday, November 1, 2013

trick or treat 2013

Some severe storms were on the radar so every town around here postponed trick or treating to November 1st.  Initially, I was not happy because Halloween felt kind of empty but trick or treating on Friday was nice.

I picked up pizza on the way home from work and after the boys ate, it was a typical night...for a few minutes.  Theo played Legos and Dexter watched the first scene of Toy Story 2 for the 500th time while I ran around getting out treats ready for prospective trick-or-treaters.

We're out trick or treating 
And having fun like you
So please help yourself 
To a piece or two!

Ryan got home and we pretty much headed right back out the door. 

My little Donald Duck and Buzz Lightyear (that helmet was a nuisance and barely made it out of the driveway with it before I took it back home).

Our neighborhood is a wonderful place to trick or treat!  This was our first time trick or treating here.  Last year (OMGEE they look so little last year), we went back to our previous neighborhood to visit people since we had recently moved.  The houses are a little further apart than in some neighborhoods so we took the wagon for them to rest their feet when they wanted to.  People were SO generous and absolutely adored seeing the boys in their costumes - known neighbors and strangers alike.  It felt like a mutual thing.  There are many older people in the neighborhood and I think they appreciated the visit as much as we appreciated the treat.  It was a lot of fun and nice to make conversation with neighbors we hadn't met before. 

They lasted about an hour and a half before they weren't interested in looking for porch lights so we called it quits and headed back home. 

The loot!

So another year has come and gone and another super successful Halloween is behind us.  Such fun. 

Now what are we going to do with ALL THIS CANDY?

Here's a quick blast through Halloweens past (this just made me realize there are no pics of me with the boys this year and no family pic...sad face):

Photo on the far left is courtesy of ChocolateBox Photography.