Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Power of Motherhood and Friendship

Last week my son had an art show at school. He was eager to show us all the amazing art him and his classmates had done. While we were there he was also eager to see some of his friends. It was really heart warming watching how other children would come up to him. I watched the look on his face, the way he moved his body and the excitement in his eyes. He kept asking for one friend in particular and the moment that they came face to face was awesome. They both lit up and ran to one another and collapsed in a hug. They lingered there for a moment before pulling apart then started squealing with excitement and soon were off running around like little boys do.

I felt a surge of excitement watching him. I loved watching my child be truly and innocently happy to see his friend. I was happy for him. I know that feeling. I am fortunate to be blessed with some amazing girlfriends in my life. I too tend to linger in my hugs and want to stay in that moment. True friends are a rare breed. I am just lucky I stumbled on many of these women who are a part of me. Even when there are spaces in time where we do not see one another, that never matters.

We are all busy and most of us now are moms. We have big girl jobs and responsibilities. Instead of late nights in a wine fog we are running around the house picking up crumbs, cleaning boogers and wiping asses. It is not glamorous by any means yet most of us wouldn't trade it for the world.

That doesn't mean that we don't need to escape once in awhile. Sometimes we just need to step outside of our own world and breathe. That's where those incredible women I was talking about earlier come in.

I know that just because it has been a few days, a couple weeks, or several months; I know that they still will be there if I need them. I do not need to explain to them that I have been too exhausted to pick up the phone, send a text or try to organize a get together. I do not need to make up twenty excuses for why I haven't showered, picked up the toys scattered all over the floor or why that I haven't cleaned up the yogurt stain on the couch left a few days ago by the eighteen month old.

I don't have to explain anything, ever!

When I am surrounded by my girlfriends it is often because we have dragged our exhausted asses out of the house for a play date. This alone is an event for each one of us. We do it though! We do it for the kids...more importantly, we do it for US.

Those two little boys who hugged and were so happy to see one another...I get it! I feel that way when I see any of my girlfriends. I am suddenly at ease to be able to vent, exhale, and simply just be in the same room with them.

There is a strong power of motherhood and friendship. What we share is as sacred as what you share with your partner, husband or wife. Their is loyalty, trust, and never any judgement. We do not put one another down. We help to hold one another up.

There is an unspoken love and devotion when you share motherhood. Motherhood is not a race or a game to see who can do the best. Motherhood is that place we all meet to look at one another and say: You are doing a fabulous job! It is the silence that lingers in moments of exhaustion that are soon filled with laughter of the stories we can share of the craziness in our day.

Some women talk about how when they become mothers they loose friendships and their relationships change. It is true that relationships do change. It is more like a shift. I feel that my friendships have grown stronger. I have a circle of women, here and miles away, that I am honored to have in my world. I feel lucky to share this amazing journey with each one of them.

Friday, March 27, 2015

We All Have "The" Fever

It is finally that time of year again: Spring! It has been such a long winter. Living in Vermont you never know what Mother Nature will hand you. Granted she didn't hand us mountains of snow like our fellow "Bostonians" yet she sure did ask Elsa to do her freezing magic upon us.

I am an active person and enjoy being outside. My four year old, Chase, also likes to be outside. He is always ready for an outdoor adventure whether it be walking, hiking in the woods, jumping in puddles or running up and down the driveway. Now that we have had some warmer days we have been getting out for some walks and fresh air. God knows we all needed it. I think I was about to lose it if I had to spend any more time in the house with two toddler boys. It has been going on for days, even weeks, we all have it: Spring Fever!

One of the kick offs of spring here in Vermont is Maple Open House Weekend. This will be the third year we have made this a family ritual for us. I review the open houses on the schedule and make a list of at least three that we will visit. Last year on our travels we hit two extra. I enjoy this and it is not only entertaining to Chase yet both Jason and I find it fascinating. There is a lot of hard work, hours, dedication, and true heart that goes into making maple syrup. Each one has its own special mark on it. As the children get older I hope they will look forward to these weekends each spring and take part in picking out which ones we will go to.

The fever has also got me thinking about gardens and fresh veggies. Chase is at such a great age where gardening is fun for him. Last year he helped to water the garden and was always eager to pick what we grew. In preparation for our box gardens we started doing some planting inside until it is warm enough to get the plants outside. A little love and warmth to start our harvest is not only beneficial yet a great spring time activity. I covered the kitchen table with newspaper and got out our Jiffy pot starters, soil, and seeds then let the messy process begin. What boy doesn't like to play with dirt?! Seeing a plant start to sprout excites a child. They helped to grow their own food; that's a big thing to a little person!

We are also happy to see the wildlife come out of hiding. Just the other day, in a field close to where we live, we saw five deer! The week before Chase got to see a bunny out the window and now the birds are coming back to the feeders. I love the sound of birds on an early morning run when there is no other sound except my feet on the pavement. Soon the geese  up the road will also be back and we can watch the fuzzy babies grow.

Spring represents beginning and growth. It's all around us: trees budding, flowers blooming, the bees and butterfly's coming back. Let's not forget about "Alvin", the name given to the few of the chipmunks we like to watch run around the yard and garden collecting their food. Yes, each one of them is "Alvin". It's OK, they don't know mind.

The fever over here is bad! Let's go Mother Nature; Give us a warm Spring please! 

Happy Friday!! Have a fabulous weekend!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What I Fear The Most

I wonder if they will remember the walks we took while talking about the farm and the cows. Will they remember cooking with me in the kitchen and making our signature energy balls that we renamed "Yummy Balls"? Maybe the memories will not be moments but the smell of Christmas trees. Reminding them how we went to go cut down our tree each and every year; trudging through snow while mama was the one to pick out the perfect tree that we would take home. It could be the sound of waves splashing bringing them back to the summers when we would go to the ocean. The walks we would take hand in hand on the beach looking for "treasures".

Will they remember how they loved the animals in our house and how forgiving each pet was to tiny hands grabbing at tails and those little feet using them as a step stool? What about the time we went to adopt our cat and he was given the name "Horsey"? A name that was decided on weeks before we had ever met the big, black cat not knowing how fitting his name would be.

What about when when Chase fell on our walk and hurt his knee? I scooped him up and carried him, even though I was carrying his brother on my back. Will they recall they countless times I wiped away tears from their face even when it was nothing more than the wrong fork that was given to them?

Then there are the nights that we lay there in bed with them wishing them to sleep. Will they remember the way we held them close and whispered stories and shared laughter long after they should have been asleep? The moments when they were sick and we held them close and promised they would be better soon as we fought back our own tears because it broke our hearts that we couldn't magically make them better.

I think of these things often as I am laying in bed and I can hear the breathing of my youngest, Wesley, as he sleeps next to me. I think of these things when it is the middle of the night. I think of these things when I go into Chase's room to kiss him one more time; for the third or fourth time. These thoughts dance around in my mind even as I go for a run. I never seem to escape the presence of my children. They are with me, within me, even when I am apart from them. I think about how lucky I am. How incredible this gift of life is. I feel my heart tighten at the brief thought of never seeing them again.

What would I leave behind for my children to hold on to?

Which moments will have become a part of their treasure chest of memories we created together?

Most importantly...

Will they be able to always feel my love?

Love: That raging fire that lives within me because of them. That light that shines in my soul because they chose me to be their mother. The joy that they bring, knowing without a doubt, they are the one thing that I have done right.

I think these things often.

Death, it is what I fear the most. I have always feared death and the unknown. I believe in an afterlife, I believe in God. Yet those things have never comforted me when I think about dying. When I allow myself to go to that place I feel anxiety and terror. I feel as though someone is squeezing my heart. Tears well up in my eyes and I have to take a moment to breathe.

This fear has gotten worse since having children. I want to be able to watch them grow. I want to see my children through all their milestones. I want to be there, not just for today, but for all the days of their lives. To see their first football game, their first date, prom, marriage, and watch them become fathers some day.

The unknown is terrifying to me. Not being with my children scares me even more.

What if I had to leave them behind...what would they remember about me? What moments would they hold on to?

Life is short. Life is precious. Life is a gift. 

When I go to this place it is a reminder that I need to make each moment count. Every second must be looked at as a treasure. It is a reminder to slow down. It is a gentle hand on my shoulder pulling me back, whispering to be in this moment, right now!

As I am writing this I glance over and see them playing together and I am consumed by the love I have for them. How was it possible that I created these two amazing creatures? How is it possible that each day I love them even more?

I do not know what tomorrow will bring. I do not know where life will take us in another year or ten. What I do know is that I do have some control over what happens right now. I must remember:

Make each moment count!

Thank you for stopping by! What are some of your fears? 

If you liked it please share it!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My Dollar Store Wedding

Hi. My name is Crystal. I am 36 years old. I have two incredible little boys who make my heart swell. I have two dogs and one big black cat. I love running, taking pictures, healthy living, and writing. I should also mention that I live with my partner, FOB (Father of Babies), and until recently we have been living in sin. In just over four months we are (yes, FINALLY) getting married!

Jason and I have been together for 5 years. We have set a wedding date for July 25Th, 2015. I am not into numbers but the number five seems to be playing its part in all of this!I am going to look at that as good luck.

Now it is time to plan a wedding! I am excited, ecstatic, and eager. Seeing as though we got engaged on Valentines Day and set a wedding date for July, I do not have a lot of time to prepare for this. Let's also talk about the fact that we have already created an amazing family which we provide for. This means our wedding is going to have to be a "Dollar Store Wedding". Alright, so maybe not quite that cheap...yet we are keeping it on a budget.

I wanted to have an intimate and romantic wedding. Our initial plan was to get married at one of our favorite local beaches. We thought  just us, our boys, parents, along with the two people we chose to stand up for us. We then thought the next day we would have a party/picnic at a state park where we could invite our friends and family to celebrate with. This would be easy! I was wrong.

In trying to put this together a few things made it obvious that this plan was not going to work. First off if we did our vows at a beach where there was no pavilion and it rained, that could put a damper on things...literally! Second, once I started calling around for State Parks I was not left with many options. Many of the parks were already booked for events through the summer. I was left with one option and I disliked the fact that it wouldn't be a choice. This is our wedding and no matter how big or small it will be, we still deserve to have it the way we want it.

Then the brain storming began. I started thinking maybe we could rent a barn. It would be a nice rustic wedding where we could have our ceremony and a gathering. Turns out that is rather popular here in Vermont, along with the fact it is far from budget friendly. There are a few beautiful barns and they come with a big price tag.

Crossing that off the list another idea came to me: A Boat! Here in Vermont we have The Spirit Of Ethan Allen where they do cruises on Lake Champlain. After several emails back and forth to the coordinator, a conversation with my fiancee, and a squealing four year old boy who thought this was a great idea,it was decided: we would be getting married on a boat on July 25th, 2015!

Of coarse this changed things a bit since it adds up to be more than we originally were going to pay. Jay and I both loved the idea and to make it work we are doing a few things to keep cost down.

1- We are keeping invite list to immediate family and close friends. I realize some people will get offended somewhere down the line...doesn't that always happen?! I feel like this is almost unavoidable.

2- We decided to not do a sit down dinner and reception. We are taking our guests out on an hour and a half cruise and there will be an appetizer. We wanted elegant and romantic for our vows. We never wanted the reception to go along with it.

3- There will be no wedding cake. I can't see spending hundreds of dollars on a cake that might not get eaten.

4- I am not ordering flowers but will attempt to grow my own Wildflowers (Thank You to my dear friend Emilie for this suggestion). I ordered seeds from The Vermont Wildflower Farm and will try growing some of my own flowers to have at the tables for our wedding. If that falls through for some reason (you can't guarantee how nature will work) the wedding coordinator for the ship suggested grabbing a couple bouquets at Costco or Price Chopper to divide up for decoration. Either way I can still have flowers without breaking the bank.

As of now the important pieces have been put together:

* Booked a place for our ceremony
* Booked a photographer
* Ordered Invitations
* Ordered Wildflower Seeds
* Asked my brother to officiate the wedding

The rest will be easy and fall together:

* Wedding Rings
* Wedding Dress
* Clothes for the little creatures (I can't wait to see them all dressed up)!
* Marriage License

Planning our ceremony has been fun and that is how this should be. This is our day. A new chapter; blank pages in our book waiting to be filled with stories of love, laughter and family. I don't need a big wedding to commemorate our love. All I need is him, me and the family we created. 

No matter what, this will be a memorable "Dollar Store Wedding"!

Was planning your wedding stressful or fun? Is there anything you would have done different?

Thank you for stopping by! 

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Story of Our Four Legged Family Members

Long before my house was covered in toys, dirty hand prints and traces of boogers on my couch, there was always hair! Yes, before I had the two legged creatures, otherwise known as my son's, I brought home the four legged type. I grew up with animals in my house. I always loved dogs, cats and most small animals. 

I started working at my first Veterinary Hospital back in 2000. I began as a receptionist and worked my way through training to be a Veterinary Technician. Along my professional journey I would meet several amazing people, along with many four legged friends, that would touch my heart and I would remember years later.

Over the years I would also meet and take home the only other females in this house. Miss Vixen and Jules. Here are their stories.

Miss Vixen:

At the first animal hospital I ever worked at I became friends with another technician who had five dogs at the time. I use to pet sit for her often. One of her dogs was indeed special and won my heart. Her name was Power. Well, her full given name was Paige Puppy Power, but we just called her Power. Power was a rat terrier. I said that I would never have a small dog unless it was a rat terrier, all because of her.

Three years later two young girls brought in a small rat terrier. Her name at that time was Ziola. (Isn't that awful?!) She was being brought in for a broken front left leg. Her owners had purchased her two days earlier and they decided they did not want her on the couch. When little Ziola jumped up they pushed her off. The poor thing fell, resulting in her leg breaking. Where I worked we had a Surgeon (an awesome one I might add) and this is how this particular rat terrier walked into my life. After some conversation and the reality that they would not be able to afford the surgery, the small four pound rat terrier was signed over to me.

It was apparent that along with a new lease on life this small creature would need a new name. I was the day before Valentines Day. I kept throwing out names but nothing would stick. Then my friend, the one who owns Power, said "How about Vixen"? She had been listening to the radio and they were talking about Vixen's and Valentino's since it was Valentines Day. There it was! The perfect name for my new companion.

Vixen is twelve. She has been by my side through many changes. Thank God dogs can't talk! Any animal hospital I have ever worked at Miss Vixen would come with me. Clients know her and love her. She is truly a special dog. The best in my opinion. She has not enjoyed the changes of having children in the house. I think she has even barked the F-Word at me a few times. I can only hope as the children get older she will realize they love her just as much as we do.


I wasn't looking for another dog at the time; I also can't say that I wasn't open to the idea. One of the hospitals I worked at did some work with the Humane Society Of Chittenden County. We often saw several dogs and cats that would come through there if something needed to be examined. When she was found she had been tied to their door, with no note, no food, just left there. She was under weight, not spayed, and half of her hair was gone. The hair loss was due to a flea allergy and it was apparent this poor dog was malnourished and had been in poor conditions.

I took one look at her and knew I wanted to help her. Since it would be some time before she was nursed back to health and ready for adoption I offered to foster her as long as she passed a few rules: she needed to get along with Miss Vixen, she needed to be good with my cats, and she must get along with children. She passed all these and three months later I was signing paperwork to make her officially mine.

Jules is a stubborn girl. She acts more like a toddler than a dog most days, even at around ten years old. She is my four year old best friend. They seek one another out and if I can't find my son there is a good chance he is "snuggling" with her in the dog bed. I love her for the way she is with my children.

Our dogs are an important part of this family. I cannot imagine my house without animals in it. I also feel it is important for children to experience having a pet. There is a special bond in my house with a boy and a dog which has been beautiful to watch.

Both my dogs were adopted. Even our cat that we adopted last May was from the very same shelter we adopted Jules from. This is something which I strongly believe in. There are many special animals waiting to find their forever homes. If you are ready for a pet consider starting at your local shelter for your new furry friend.

Our home is home not only because of the love we have for one another. It is also home because of the love we give and receive from four legged friends. Our pets are part of our family and I wouldn't have it any other way!

I hope you enjoyed hearing about our pooches! Do you have pets in your home? 

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Day I Hurt My Son's Feelings

As mothers we do our best to try and protect our children. We give them love, nurture them, and help them thrive. We do everything in our power to shield our children from sadness and pain. Each time either one of my toddlers gets hurt they run to me to make things better. Whether there is blood or the optical illusion of it, my children want my arms around them to make them feel better. That is until I am the one who causes the pain. The other day I hurt my son’s feelings and a piece of my heart shattered into a thousand pieces.

The four year old, Chase, was upset with his one and a half year old brother,Wesley, for whatever reason; a toy was taken away, he had something the four year old wanted, or merely the simple fact the he was even born. It is usually one of those three things that sets things off. Chase decided it would be a good idea to push his little brother over. This of course resulting in big crocodile tears from the little guy and mama bear suddenly had her claws out.

I can tolerate a good amount from my son before I spontaneously com-bust. What I do not tolerate in my house is being mean. I do understand that pushing, wrestling, and fighting is what siblings do. Yet I also feel it is important to correct behaviors that may cause harm. It wouldn’t be the first time the baby “fell” into the door. As I tell Chase, mama sees everything!

I reacted this particular day before taking a moment to think. I yelled at Chase, most likely roaring like a mama bear would do, and grabbed him to put him in a time out. Now it wasn’t just Wesley that was crying but Chase, and deep down I had to stifle back my crying. I was frustrated and angry at Chase for his behavior and in that first moment I wanted him to know it.

After the storm had settled in the house I went to Chase so we could talk about what happened. I try be sure we always discuss why he received his time out now that he is getting old enough to understand what feelings are and how our actions affect others. I told him that what he did made me sad. I asked him how he would feel if someone treated him the way he treated his brother. After the conversation life went back to normal. That is until Chase said something to me that made me feel like I had gotten slapped in the face:

Chase: “Mama, I made you sad?”
Me: "Yes, I am disappointed in you. I don’t like when you treat your brother like that. It hurts my feelings.”
Chase: “Well, I am sad too. You hurt my feelings too when you yelled at me.”

There it was. I hurt his feelings. Me, mama, I made him sad. Yes, he is four. Yes, he can manipulate. Yes, it is my job to set limits and discipline him. I believe in limits and boundaries for children. But "this" moment, "those" words, I knew they were real. It doesn't matter how it happened, it is that it happened at all. I was the one to hurt my son. Even worse, is when I realized that this would not be last time it happens.

I  have to remember that as his mother I need to teach him. In some of those tough moments there will be times that feelings will get hurt. What I would like to take from this is that maybe in the times that I feel like I am ready to "roar", that I take a moment to stop and wait before I respond. I don't want to regret my actions due to reacting too quickly. Much easier said than done and I already know this is something that I have to work on. 

I know that there will be several moments to come that will be challenging for our relationship. There will be stages and ages which will be harder than others. We will grow close, and there will be times in which we fall apart. Any relationship takes work, effort, love and strength. I know that as his mother I will always have to apply all of these things to our relationship.

Perhaps this is about forgiveness. Him forgiving me, me forgiving him, and possibly the most difficult: me forgiving myself.

Thank you for stopping by! If you like it please share it!

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Giving Mother Nature the Middle Finger

February is finally done and I couldn't be happier about it. For what is the shortest month I felt like it was twice as long as January was. Perhaps it was the fact that here in Vermont we were "frozen" in time. The temperatures were brutal along with the wind. I am not sure if Mother Nature actually thinks she is funny and has enjoyed this joke she has played on the Northeast or if she just got confused. Either way I am pretty pissed off and am giving Mother Nature the middle finger.

My running goal for the month of February was to hit 90 miles. Last year I managed 94 for the month so this would be cake right?! Wrong! This year my miles logged for February only hit 84.05. Two miles more than last month but six miles short of my goal. I will be honest, this shattered my ego a bit. When I set my mind to something I tend to follow through. Maybe it is because I am stubborn. I like to think of it as determination. I started tallying my miles at the beginning of the last week of February and knew I would have to push it hard with some long runs or just succumb to the fitness Goddesses and try again in March. So I settled with making my last run of February my longest (and best run!) I have had in 2015, and pounded in 11 miles of pavement.

February I also joined with fellow runner and blogger Simply Soul Searching for the Jump For Joy Challenge. The goal was to work our way up to 250 jumping jacks by the last day of the month. As long as you got in all the jumping jacks required it did not matter if you split them up or not. I actually liked this challenge and manage to not miss a single day. (We did have a couple rest days but I stayed right with the calender program for this challenge). I plan to keep jumping jacks in my fitness schedule by doing a 100 a day at least 5 days a week.

I mentioned last month that I planned to work some cross training in for strength and sculpting. The days which I do not run I have been doing Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred Workout 2 video. This is a short twenty minute workout with a warm up and cool down. I really enjoy this workout. I feel it is challenging and effective. There are days that I do not have a lot of time with having small creatures (aka children), housework, errands and working at home. I still commit to squeezing a good workout in. My four year old, Chase, likes to try and do it along side of me. It's pretty cute! This workout has become my antidote for a quick fitness fix.

Now it is March and I welcome it with a happy dance! I am hoping for a little more sunshine. I am done with wearing several layers to go running. March also means I have just over a month until my first Half Marathon of the year. April 11th will be here before we know it and I am not feeling as ready as I want to be for this race. This months mileage goal is 95 miles. Truth be told, I would love to hit 100. Stay tuned!

I have decided to start a new challenge with this new month since I enjoyed the Jumping Jack Challenge. I just joined this Facebook group called The Fit Runner Club. For March there is a thirty day Ab challenge. I am curious how this one will go for me but ready to take it on. I am committed to my health and fitness and ready to challenge myself.

I am welcoming March with new fitness goals and optimism. Here we go!! 

Do you have any fitness goals for the month? What is you favorite way to be fit? Please share with me, I would love to chat fitness!  

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