Thursday, August 29, 2013

Beach Vacation 2013

Packed up and ready to go!
This year we were able to go to the beach for a week.This time we stayed a little closer and it was a good decision. We were able to run home for anything we forgot and with a potty training 2 year old, the closer the bathroom, the better.  It was nice that Hubby was able to work this in with his new work schedule. He was a little worried that with his current rotation he wouldn't be able to join. Fortunately that wasn't the case and he was able to join us.  The kids had a blast and the weather was great.  I loved living near the board walk that week. It meant that it would be easier to get home in the dark after we indulged in our nightly soft serve.  Last year we had to cross a busy highway to get back to our place and since there weren't any sidewalks it made Hubby and I nervous every time we made our way home in the dark with the kids.  My dad was able to join us this year and that was a lot of fun. He and I were able to get in a few training runs for our upcoming half marathon. There is nothing like a week without obligations. We enjoyed the sun, surf, sand, relaxation, and ice cream.

Picture with author/illustrator Brian Biggs 
We had a few highlights of our vacation. The first one being able to spend some time with my dad. We also were able to visit with friends who had a house at the beach. They joined us one night on the beach and one night we joined them for dinner in their home. It was a fun night filled with good food and conversation and playing games.  This year the beach had a movie on the beach and we met up with a family from our church who were also spending time at the beach. The beach movie was cute and it was fun to hang out a little late, eat popcorn, and enjoy a good family movie. We saw "Surf's Up" and I truly enjoyed the animated movie about penguin surfers.  One night as I was walking Mr. Bananas around the board walk we happened to stop at the book store where an children's author/illustrator was doing a book signing. We chatted with him and bought some books for him to sign. The store manager asked if she could take a picture with our kids and the author/illustrator Brian Biggs. Their picture is now hanging up in the local beach book store.  We went back the next day for a read aloud with Mr. Biggs. The boys were still sleeping, but Buggy and I dodged rain drops and puddles and enjoyed a pleasant morning in the bookstore.  If you get a chance check out his books. He does a series called "Everything Goes."  We bought his Everything Goes In the Air and he signed the book for us.  We hope to see him again next year!

Hubby and I enjoyed a relaxing vacation with our kiddos and we all wanted it to last a little longer. But duty calls and Hubby went back to work and we had to prepare for the new school year.  It was great while it lasted and we hope to plan another beach vacation next summer.

Mommy and Mr. Bananas

Buggy's annual burial

Lolo and Buggy checking out the waves

Nightly ritual of good night prayers, singing, and bedtime stories

Lolo and the grandkids

My Loves!

Annual beach farewell photo

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday--Boogie Starts 2nd Grade!

Boogie started 2nd grade this week. I am grateful that the preparations were drama free. I think that since we have had so many activities this summer between swim team, Chinese camp, religion camp, and our beach vacation, going to school was just another transition in our busy lives.  The only hint that Boogie was nervous was the fact that he couldn't fall asleep easily the night before.  He woke up easily on the first day and had a great day. Hubby was able to walk with us to take Boogie to school and then go into work late. I know it meant a lot to Boogie and it meant a lot to me. I think it helped to make the day go a little more smoothly. Hubby got up early and picked up Boogie's favorite crumb donuts for breakfast and flowers for Boogie to give to his 2nd grade teacher.  Boogie came home all smiles and the day ended well. We had one more swim lesson for Bananas and spent a wonderfully warm afternoon swimming after school. Dinner was fast food and ice cream, but why not? We were celebrating!  I hope that 2nd grade continues to go smoothly for our big second grader.

Super 2nd Grader!

Love note

My little boy

I love this face!

Daddy and son

All my loves walking to school

Friday, August 23, 2013


The other night the sight of my eldest son lying down at the top of the staircase with his pillow, afghan, his favorite yellow blanket, and his pal Chester greeted me as I came up to go to bed. He wasn't quite asleep yet and when I asked him what he was doing he said, "I don't get to see Daddy a lot anymore so I was hoping to catch a glimpse of him."  Hubby has started a new rotation at work. It involves a longer commute, no off-Fridays, and less family dinners. Hubby really likes his current position and is learning a lot, but the commute, lack of time off, and seeing the family a lot less is definitely a drawback.  It made me a little sad that Boogie was missing Daddy so much.  I figured I would have to suck it up, it's only for 6 months and with our busy schedule I didn't think that the kids have noticed these changes. I have tried to keep things going as smoothly at home, but my kids are observant and after Hubby has missed a number of dinners, they started noticing.

Family Vacay
We were all very grateful for our week long vacation at the beach and time to spend together as a family. We were all a little spoiled getting to spend so much time with Daddy.  But we are back to reality, Boogie will begin school on Monday, and Buggy the week after.  Hubby is already back at work and with soccer looming, my races coming up (I have two scheduled over the next two weeks), and our volunteer duties at church, our weekends will be busy once again. Which means less family time as we zoom off in our different directions.

Hubby made it a point to take Boogs out the other night for some father-son time and I think it has helped to ease missing Daddy.  They went out for dinner, walked around after, and came home with dessert.  They were out for several hours and spent most of the time just talking and hanging out. I think it was a good idea. Although Hubby and I do many things for our children like volunteering in their classrooms, participate in their athletic events being coaches or reps, and volunteering when and where needed, sometimes it is good to just be with them. Play a game, read a book, take each of them out for a little one-on-one time.  While all the volunteering in their many activities is good and keeps us involved, the one-on-one time keeps us connected.

Dance party in the kitchen
I spent the evening at home with the Buggy and Bananas. We had a dance party in the kitchen while I made dinner. We watched a movie and snuggled together. We enjoyed a low key evening. It's times like these when we allow the kids to stay up late in the middle of the week that I am grateful for the last week of summer when we don't have any obligations to camps or sporting events and we can soak up the last few days before the start of the school year just doing whatever we can whenever we want because we do not have to be somewhere.

I think Hubby will have to make a few more date nights with each of the children while he continues with this rotation.  I am grateful that although I see him less, he is not traveling and I see him when he comes home and on the weekends.  It also means I will be more diligent in scheduling date nights so that we can spend extra time together.  This rotation is good for his career and hard on the family, but it is necessary at this time.  At the end of the day, we still have each other and that is a good thing.

Daddy and the Big Kids

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Back to School Shopping

Showing off our new shoes :)
Nothing says "Back To School"like a new pair of shoes.  Last week I took the kids shoe shopping and it was a good thing I did as they had grown out of their current shoes.  I broke down and finally allowed the big kids to get their very first pair of light up shoes.  There has been a lot of jumping in new shoes around the house lately.  Bananas was so excited to get his "Big Boy" shoes that he hugged them while he was still in the store.  A few days later I purchased a new pair of running shoes for me and it was a good thing I did. No more knee pain after a run!

I brought along a mother's helper when I went I took the kids out to buy them new school clothes and I am so glad they did. Miss A. made the trip quite pleasant and enjoyable. The kids love her and so do I. I was able to get so much accomplished and we didn't have any melt downs the entire time we were out. Yay!  The kids got what they needed and I was able to get all my shopping down. A usually tedious task was made that much better by the help and patience of a mother's helper. Here's to a new school year!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Long Training Runs

My dad and I at our first 10K together last April
I am training for my next half marathon.  This time I will run it with my dad and I am really, really looking forward to running this event with him. In April we ran a 10K together and it was a great experience. He is a really good pacer. He runs about 2-3 minutes per mile faster than I do, but he stuck with me during the 10K and as a result I was able to PR (Personal Record) on the race running my fastest ever pace per mile.

However, with the hotter weather, a change in my husband's work schedule, and having training runs that were a slower pace per mile, I was having difficulty with wrapping my head around the fact that I was training for another half. Especially a half with a time limit of finishing in 2:45.  I finished my first ever half at 2:44 and that was with 15 minutes waiting in a long line for a port-a-potty.   When I considered doing the half in September I thought I'd nail it and be in well underneath the time allotted. By right now I'm not feeling it.

For two weeks I struggled with getting in a 9 mile training run. I'd wimp out and not finish it citing one reason or another for myself.  Not getting up early enough, it's too hot, or I don't want to run 9 miles on a treadmill.  Finally last week while we were on my vacation my husband asked me what was going on and I told him I just didn't know and that 9 miles seemed awfully long. He looked at me incredulously and said, "Haven't you done that at least half a dozen times already?" In reality, no. I ran 9 miles 3 times my entire life:  in a 9 mile training run, in a 10 mile training run, and in my first half.  That's not very often.  He told me to suck it up and get it done and that he'd take the kids out while I was running. So a week ago I gritted my teeth and I laced up my running shoes and opted for a route that would take me 4 1/2 miles out so that I would be forced to run (run, walk, crawl, whimper) the 4 1/2 miles back. It was definitely the way to go. If I done the loop route 4 times I would have talked myself out of it by mile 6 and called it a day. By making it so that I didn't have that choice it ensured that I would get in my nine miles and I did.  And it was great feeling of accomplishment, but my knees were killing me by the end of the day. And I realized that I wasn't enjoying running and it was because my knees were hurting so badly by the end of my training runs that I did not want to go back and do it again.  The thing is my shoes were only 3 months old and had only 250 miles on them. They should last 300-500 miles on average. New running shoes every 3 months can get to be a very expensive habit!

I was so excited to put these on for my training run and they didn't disappoint!
After talking to Hubby we agreed that it was time for new shoes. I knew I would cry if I had to run 12 miles in the current shoes. A few days ago I went out and got a professional fitting once again. The last one was 3 years ago and I should have known then the shoes weren't right for me. I had huge blisters on my arches and I had to break in my shoes. Runner's note:  You should never have to break in running shoes.  You should be able to run in them right out of the box and not have any trouble.  Case in point, today I did a 13+ run in my new shoes the Mizuno Wave Rider 16s and besides my feet and calves being tired from the mileage I did not incur any blisters or other ailments on my run. Runner's delight!

This time my run was different. I prepped myself for completing my 12 mile training run. I self-talked for the last week (super geeky, but it worked) about finishing 12 miles, made sure my audio book was loaded on my phone, and bought a pair of shoes that were professionally fitted for me. It also helped that the weather was perfect for running.  The result was my own personal half-marathon training run. I went further than my 12 mile training run and ran 13.1 miles. And it was awesome! My knees don't hurt as much. There is still residual pain that I have had since my first half but it is definitely less in my new shoes.  After breaking in my orthotics the knee and hip pain should be completely alleviated by next week!  I more than accomplished my goal and I was able to push past my personal wall of negativity.

13.1 miles in the books!
Running was beginning to feel like a chore to me. Not only was it a chore, but it was physically painful and I dreaded putting on my shoes.  That is not how I want my training runs to be because that is awful.   Today I had a boost of confidence and new shoes always help in motivating me to get out the door and try them out. A 13 mile run might be a little much to try out new shoes but my Mizuno's held up to the test quite well.

Running is my solace. It is my "me" time. It is the time that I can step back from the trials and tribulations of the day or week and take a fresh perspective. It's a time where I can listen to a favorite book and enjoy it without feeling guilty. It is a time to set and meet goals and feel accomplishment.  It is my prayer time and my reflection time. It's my time with God. It is my time to go out and kick some butt and then come home filled with endorphins and be a better Mama.

Long training runs can give you that time to think, to analyze and to give you a fresh perspective on life.  And I've read that if you can't come up with a solution for a situation while you are out on a long run, then maybe the solution is that you accept the situation as it stands.  I ran for more than 3 hours today and if I couldn't come a good answer for whatever I am facing then maybe I have explored most if not all the options. Fortunately, today I didn't have any situations or obstacles that needed to be addressed. Today was a training run, yes, but today was also a fun run and it was fabulous...well until the last half mile when I was tired, but you know ;) It was still a good day! Now I know that I can complete the half that I am scheduled to run next month with my dad. And while today's run lasted a half hour longer than I have to complete my half, I have no doubt that Dad and I will get it done and finish before time is up!  Happy running!

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Tough Week for Bananas and Time for Me to Give Myself Grace

It's been a tough week for Mr. Bananas.  I don't know what's going on. Maybe it's being 2 1/2. Maybe it's a growth spurt. I don't know if it's his adventurous spirit.We ("We" ahem being my husband) decided that maybe Mr. B should forgo the nap because bedtimes were hard. Now that Bananas hasn't napped in about a week he's a little bit stumbly-bumbly during the day.  It's probably a little of everything.

Let me start with, "Yes, Mom he is fine. And yes, I am watching him. Yes, these things happen. He is fine. Really. He is."

It started on Monday when Bananas ventured a little too far at the local pool. I know that some of my friends think I'm a little too nonchalant about watching my kids at the pool.  I refuse to be scared of the water, though I do have a healthy respect for it. I do watch my kids and I actually scan the water frequently trying to keep an eye on all three kids. Yes, the oldest can swim. And yes, there are very competent lifeguards, but it doesn't hurt to constantly scan the water, especially when all 3 are in different directions.  And guess what pool friends...I actually scan the water looking out for your little ones, too. I know that some of you aren't as comfortable in the water as my family so I try to scan the water making sure your munchkins are fine, too.

On Monday, I had gotten out of the pool to get something and stayed on the pool deck next to the steps where Bananas was happily playing. Someone came to talk to me about swim team, and I was also talking to one of the other lifeguards. But as I always do, my eyes flicked to the water every now and again to keep tabs on the kids.  And then it happened (Mom, stop reading here if it's going to freak you out. Bananas is fine!).

I notice Bananas had ventured farther than usual.  I also noticed him bobbing up and down and then it hit me that he wasn't coming all the way up. The whole situation was probably less than a minute long, but it felt like an eternity. As I watched him, I heard in my head one of the Flipper coach's description on active drowning and I realized that was what was happening. In horror I looked up at the lifeguard in the chair right next to Bananas willing him to look down and at the same it was as if my vocal chords were paralyzed and I couldn't even speak to alert him and when the lifeguard didn't look down I must have said something aloud to the lifeguard next to me because the lifeguard (our superhero) took off at a sprint around the side of the pool (the path of least resistance) and I, being illogical, went through the water to get to Mr Bananas. She got to Bananas and pulled him out and I came by a second or two later.  He was fine. A little scared, but fine. He swallowed a little water and he burped, but he was fine. He was fine. Thank God!!!!  I was more in shock about the whole situation and felt guilty and I have been beating myself up about it for days.  Bananas? After a popsicle he wanted to get in again. Every part of my being wanted to scream "No" and protect him, but the good mom in me knew that I needed him to get back on the proverbial horse and try it again. He stayed closer to Mama and he isn't afraid of the water, but I think he's found his limit. Me, too.  I am super grateful to our local super hero. Did you know that super heroes don't always wear capes? Sometimes they wear bathing suits and their angel wings are hidden from the human eye. But they are there. I believe we have angels among us and I am grateful. I am grateful for the quick thinking and lightening reflexes of our pool manager. I am super grateful she did not berate me and make me feel worse. Because she could have and it would have been warranted at the time. And I would have lost all of my composure and blubbered nonstop. In addition to saving my son, she gave me the gifts of grace and understanding and did not make me feel like an incompetent mother.

Thursday, I was feeling like a rockstar because all of the kids had woken up in time for us to go to the 8:45am Mass for the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.  But by the time we actually made it into the van, 2/3 of the kids were crying and we arrived to church a little bit late.  The kids were doing pretty well, until about halfway through mass it happened. Bananas was standing right next to me, took a misstep and bumped his chin on the pew in front of us, which bounced him backwards and, before I could catch him, he bumped the back of his head on the pew seat, and then slid underneath it. As I hurried out of the small echoing chapel, I think the priest had to actually stop speaking because Bananas was crying so loudly and it echoed. Yeah, that rockstar feeling dissipated by 9:30 that morning. Ugh. But the day was redeemed by having chocolate crepes for second breakfast with friends and then a late morning 4+mile  run on the treadmill for me.

And finally, today, Bananas accidentally knocked a ceramic figurine off the kitchen counter where it fell onto our tiled floors causing it to break into several pieces. I hustled the kids out of the kitchen to clean it up, thinking it much worse than it was. I thought for sure that one of them had stuck themselves with a ceramic shard but they didn't. No need to break out the bandages.

But by the end of this week I am seriously contemplating wrapping the two year-old in bubble wrap or putting him in a plastic bubble. Just kidding. Sort of.  I know that realistically kids need to experience life and that we cannot protect them from everything. I also know that I am a good mom, though another experienced mom had to remind me of that.  I feel like I am always trying to prove that I am a good mom. But to whom am I trying to prove that undeniable fact? Well, to put it simply I am trying to prove it to myself and to my mom. My mom was a good mom and sometimes I feel like I don't measure up to her or that she judges me because my kids do fall and get scrapes, bumps, bruises, and broken noses.  But getting those battle scars is part of growing up.  They are my battle scars, too. I hurt when my kids hurt. I would do anything to protect them...anything but take away their experience as a kid.  No, I don't want them to be seriously hurt or injured, but but bumps and bruises are going to happen and they are going to need to learn to right themselves and brush themselves off and learn that they are okay.  I guess I need to do that as well.  I've beaten myself up a lot this week, but I keep referring back to the text my friend sent:

"LOSE THE GUILT now!!! You did NOTHING wrong and EVERYTHING right. Kids are unpredictable and we are not God-- but He does send us angels and He sent you one yesterday" and "You are a GREAT Mom!!!!"  I really, really needed to hear that and I still do.  Because right now with Bananas I'm not feeling it.  It's been a tough week for my little man and a tough week for his mama.

I feel very blessed to have a friend who texted me to check not only on Mr. Bananas but to check up on me. I think she knew that I was already upset with myself. She even arranged it so that her son (one of our beloved Flipper Coaches) would give Mr. Bananas a few swim lessons before the summer ended. I feel very blessed to once again be a part of a pool community who loves my kids.  Seriously, on Monday L. was our angel masquerading as a pool manager.  I feel very blessed that no one has called me out and berated me or question my parenting because I keep waiting for it to happen. And if it did, I don't think I would have a good enough answer to appease the judgmental mind.  G. said it best by saying that kids are unpredictable. And they are.  I don't take my job lightly.

I am so grateful for my three kids and for the community of friends and family who have helped us at one time or another. I don't think you can raise kids without a little help from your friends.  Well, I certainly couldn't and I am grateful for each of those helping hands and to be given grace when I make mistakes.

Ephesians 4:2
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Why We Do Summer Swim Team

Mr. Bananas learning to be Head Timer.  "Timers! Clear your watches!"
My friends have looked at me incredulously at the beginning of the last three summers. When they have asked what we are doing for the summer I have told them that we are doing summer swim team.  They can't believe that we have practice every morning.  "You can't have practice every morning!" "Yes, yes we do. And now that Boogie is swimming in meets we are up and at the pool on Saturday mornings and Wednesday nights."

They think I'm crazy. They think we spend a lot of time at the pool (and yes, yes we do). They think my kids can't possibly enjoy being at the pool every morning. They actually do.  Boogie loves the water and Buggy has enjoyed learning how to swim and improving her skills. Mr. Bananas thinks everyone is his friend and in a way they are. He's kind of like the team mascot or at least comic relief.

Participating in swim team cheers
My friends think it's way too much of a time commitment and that it's too much work.  You pay to have your kids on a swim team and then you have to volunteer your time, too?!?  Yes. Yes we do.

When I was in the middle of third grade my parents moved us across the United States for my father's job and it just so happened to be in an area where summer swim team was a big deal.  I was at least 8 years old and I couldn't swim. My father being a deep sea diver thought that summer swim lessons would be a good thing for me.  Since I couldn't swim across the pool I was with the 4 and 5 years old learning to blow bubbles and put my head under water.  But I stuck with it. I learned how to swim and swam in B meets. I was never a an "A" meet swimmer and only made it in the "A" meets if someone couldn't make it and they needed another female swimmer in my age group.  I didn't have speed or a lot of skill but I had heart.  Just about every year I was on the team I was given some type of "Cheer" award for encouraging others and being willing to do whatever. Why did I do it? Because even though I wasn't very good, I loved swim team. I loved being in the water, I loved swimming, and I loved being a part of a team. I loved cheering on my friends.  I want my children to experience the same. I want them to encourage and be encouraged. I want them to have fun. I want them to experience being a part of a team and being a team player, while at the same time setting and breaking personal goals.  And let's face it, swimming is a life skill.

Sending off our seniors. We made a tunnel for them to run through and celebrated their time on swim team
I have fond memories of summer swim team. Of early morning practices and meets. Of seeing my parents at the end of the pool volunteering their time as timers. Of my dad coming straight from work in his khakis to make it in time to see me or my brother swim at a home meet.  Of my mom volunteering at concessions or being the ribbon writer.  Of earning a ribbon...even if it was a finisher ribbon. Striving for a goal and not giving up.  They are fond memories. While I have given up my swim cap for a pair of running shoes swimming is still my favorite sport.

Buggy swimming in her first mini meet last summer
My friend Valerie and fellow swim team rep writes her own version of  "Why We Do Swim Team" that captures the essence of why we do it.

So while Summer is nearly over, the kids are still practicing their swimming skills at the beach or at the pool. We see our fellow team mates and coaches at the pool and there is a sense of community.  While I am happy to not have to hustle the kids out of the house for the next two weeks and take things a little easier, I look forward to next year. To another swim season filled with goals, dreams, friendships, and community.

Swim on and swim hard.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

12 Years and Grateful

12 Years ago
Last month Hubby and I celebrated 12 years of marriage.  12 years. Wow. I cannot imagine my life with anyone else and I feel that I have been blessed beyond measure.  I'm not saying that all 12 years have been easy or pleasant or without its challenges. Nor am I saying that they were filled with strife and unpleasantness. It's been 12 years of growing, changing, loving, and moving forward.  Change can be hard. Growing up can be hard, but not without its rewards.  My husband and I were engaged right out of college and married a year later. We have grown together over the last 12 years standing side by side.  I feel that my husband has helped me to become the best person I can be for myself, for him, and for my children. He is my rock and my support. And I try my hardest to be the same for him.

12 Years later
This year my parents surprised us by offering to take all three kids for the night so that we could celebrate our anniversary.  We eagerly took them up on their offer and dropped off the kids before dinner on a Saturday night. We then spent the first hour of our date night celebrating Mass.  Our faith is the bedrock of our relationship and what better way to celebrate 12 years of marriage than by attending Mass?  By the way, it is amazing what you can soak in during the homily when you aren't taking children to the potty or childcare, supplying crayons, answering questions, or reading to the offspring.  I appreciated the time that I was able to sit and listen to the homily, be reminded of where I was sitting just 12 years ago, and appreciating how much I have been blessed by my husband and children.

After Mass Hubby and I went to dinner at a little Thai restaurant just down the street from our house.  It's this little hole in the wall restaurant with amazing food.  I could seriously eat there every single day and be content.  It's a good thing I run!  We talked and enjoyed each other's company.  We talked about the past, the present, and the future.  We talked about our blessings. We talked about the children. We just enjoyed being where we were in that particular moment in time. After dinner Hubby asked if there was anything I wanted to do. We could go to the movies, go rock climbing, play mini golf, go bowling...the possibilities were endless. And then we realized that we were both so stinkin' tired from the work week, being parents, potty-training the 2 year old, vacation bible school, Chinese camp, and trying to prepare for a vacation...and we decided that we just wanted to get in our jammies and watch a home.  That is true love!  Seriously it is. To appreciate one another's company, to realize our own mortality, and to want to just be. To be married. To snuggle. To love and be loved. To know that you are as appreciated as you appreciate your spouse.  That going home is just as much fun as going out...and maybe even more so because you don't have to drive home!

Taken by our 7 year old on our recent beach vacation
We came home. And as we do every year on our anniversary we danced to our wedding song, "When You Say Nothing At All" by Alison Krauss.  We danced in the kitchen our bodies remembering the steps that we tried so hard to learn for our wedding day. We moved side to side, he twirled me slowly, he dipped me just as he did 12 years ago as Alison sang for the last time, "The touch of your hand says you'll catch me if ever I fall..."And that is love. To dance in the kitchen with no one else around. To dance in the kitchen that has been the stage for so many family dance parties filled with giggles and laughter.  We danced and as the final strains of our wedding song drifted from the speakers we continued to dance to different songs. Some fast and silly and some slow and tender. All of them perfect because they were with the one I want to be with for the rest of my life. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails... (NIV)