Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Stronger With Every Mile

I stood there waiting for the the race to start. I was surrounded by thousands of runners. The American Anthem was being sung. A man's voice echoed the words through speakers filling the air around us. I could feel the tears gather in my eyes the way they always do when I hear the anthem. It felt like an eternity waiting for the words START to begin the race. Butterfly's danced in my belly and the familiar feeling of excitement filled my body. My legs were eager to dance on the pavement. I was ready to run.

This was my fourth Half Marathon and exactly a year since I did my first Half. There is something special about this particular race. Even as a spectator in previous years I have loved being in Burlington for this day. The Vermont City Marathon fills the city with an energy unlike any other. Everyone comes together to cheer, support, and encourage. Strangers wait outside of their houses and generously hand out food and water. Children stand on the sidewalk yelling cheers and holding posters. Thousands of volunteers give their time to help pull this event together.

At the end of mile two I realized that I was at a 7:38 minute mile. I hear a man behind me talking with his friend and he says: "I wasn't planning on being at this pace this early." I wanted to turn around and agree with him, even give him a high five, but I just keep running. I knew what he meant as I too know that in order to push through strong, I didn't want to be at that fast of a pace this early on. I found myself unable to slow down. Adrenaline fueled me as I continued on. My legs felt strong and I was feeling euphoric.

I was running on the Burlington Beltline and all you could hear was the sound of feet hitting the pavement. This is the one stretch of the race where the road is not lined with spectators. I focused on my breath and pin pointed a woman that I could keep pace with.  I never did see what she looked like. All I know was that she had salt and pepper colored hair done in a braid and wore a multi colored hat to shield her from the sun. I stayed right with her until mile eight at which point I felt I was ready to push myself with only five miles left. That was the last I saw of the woman with the braid. I am thankful for her.

Mile ten soon crept up on me as I was pushing myself to stay around a 7:15 minute mile. Typically I run between a 8:00 to 8:30 minute mile on my normal runs. I knew that I was almost done and though I never intended to have this race be a new PR for me, somewhere around mile six or seven and I became committed to that goal. My previous PR was 1:42 for a Half Marathon. I knew this meant I needed to pound the pavement with I all I had. I had to focus and put my mind in a happy place. I was feeling good through most of my run. The cheers of the crowds enticing me to push myself. I wanted that new PR so bad.

Finally I came face to face with the last mile. It was HARD. A part of me wanted to just fall back a little, let the wind push me the rest of the way. My legs were tired, my breath was fast, and I was ready to be done. I continued on fast and gave it my all. It helped that I passed a group of people in the neighborhood and heard cheers for me from someone I know. Then the last upward hill I heard encouraging words and support from a fellow runner (An amazing one at that! She finished the entire marathon in 3:25!) telling me I was almost there. It was the push I needed. A voice, like a hand pushing me on, letting me know I needed to finish this strong.

I reached my team mate, my father, for the Half hand off and stopped my watch at 1:40. I had a new PR and as I watched my father begin his 13.1 miles I felt such accomplishment and pride. It didn't matter that I had done this four times already. What mattered was that I did it again. I ran with every ounce of who I am. I ran it with my father.

I love this sport. I have found out so much about myself in choosing to run. Each run I dig a little deeper, pray a little harder, and learn a little more. This has been a physical as well as emotional journey for me. My strength is not just on the outside, in those muscles that have developed from miles and hills my legs have covered...It comes from a much deeper and intimate place. It is where belief and faith collide to create this "accidental" love I have found in running.

I am truly grateful for my legs. I am grateful for the ability to move them in the way that I do. I have found a place where I belong. A place that makes sense to me. A place where I can worship and give thanks for everything I have. I become a healthier me, a better me, and a stronger me...with every mile that I take.


How I Learned To Love My Body

Ready...Set...Go! Time For Another Half Marathon!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Better Sleep Month: Creating and Keeping a Routine

May is better sleep month. Sleep...I am not sure what that is so don't ask me. I have not had a good night of sleep in over four years. These days it looks like sleep is not going to come for another sixteen at this point. That is if I get the youngest out by eighteen and quite frankly the way he is attached to me, it might be thirty at this point.

Despite my lack of sleep I do try to ensure that my children get a good nights sleep. It has not always been easy. Both of my children are not good sleepers. My four year old, Chase, started boycotting sleep the day I brought him home. The first two weeks of his life he decided that my chest was the best place to sleep. As he got older things did get easier. We still seemed to battle a few bedtime issues and it was apparent that routine and comfort were a vital part of getting him to sleep.

From the very beginning I would rub Chase's  back at bedtime. I distinctly remember him being around two months old when I started this. He would be laying in his co sleeper and I would rub his back. (He was one of those kids that despite what experts say about not letting babies sleep on their belly's, the only way he would sleep was on his belly!) I did this EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. As Chase began to talk and transition into a crib then toddler bed, he would request this. Now, at Four years old, we are still rubbing his back each night.

We also have the infamous blanket I recently wrote about in my post His Magic Blanket. This blanket has to be with him each night. We absolutely cannot not lose this blanket as it has been with him since he was born. If I peak in on him at night I may find it clasped in his hand, tucked close to his neck, and even have found it draped over his head.

When I first transitioned Chase to a room of his own I invested in a sound machine. We don't use anything fancy but it does the trick. The model we use is the Dex Sound Machine that we purchased on Amazon. I read several reviews before I purchased it. I was looking for a variety of sounds while not breaking my bank. There are several machines out there on the market to choose from. I love the selection of sounds to on this particular one. I have to admit though that we rarely change it and it stays on Ocean setting. I can even hear it from my room and have gotten accustomed to hearing it.

We always turn on a night light. When the sound machine gets turned on so does the light. Chase does not like the complete darkness. A trait he no undoubtedly received from me. I keep a nightlight on in our room as well. The light brings him comfort and if he does get out of bed he at least can see his surroundings and safely move around.

A couple months back we knew it was time to make the transition from toddler bed to "Big Boy" bed for Chase. We wanted Chase to have a part in picking his bed and be excited about his new sleeping space. It was decided that we would get bunk beds since some day Wesley will share a room with his brother. Chase was thrilled about this idea! I started looking at local furniture stores and then online. The search was feeling overwhelming for me. I wanted a nice bed for the boys yet I was faced with not wanting to spend a ridiculous amount of money.

There is a big variety of beds and what seems like an endless amount of places that sell them. The one site I really liked was Wayfair.com. Not only was there a great selection of children's beds but the prices we reasonable and I was able to read reviews before making a purchase. If you are looking for a bunk bed or loft bed they have something for everyone. We found the bed we wanted and Chase was thrilled. He was excited that first night to walk up the ladder of his new bed and sleep on that top bunk. His face lit up and he was giddy. Some nights he even sleeps on the bottom. The kid likes sleeping with his cat who you will find always on the bottom bunk curled up. Having him be excited about where he sleeps has helped to not only make bedtime routines easier, it also has made him stay in bed more and not and come to my room as frequently.

Children are creatures of habit. Creating an environment where your child feels safe, secure, and comforted creates better sleep. Every child is different and each situation is unique. What may work for one may not work for the next. We made the choice to co sleep with our youngest. We are in the process of training him to sleep in the toddler bed and this has not been easy. Wesley does not have a special blanket nor does rubbing his back work. He would rather be as close to me as possible and apparently I am not allowed to get out of bed without him sitting up and screaming.We will figure it out just as he will. Someday I will be standing in their doorway yelling at them to get up for school rather than pleading with them to get to sleep. Until then, please pour me another cup of coffee.

Do you have a special routine that you do with your children at bedtime?

Disclaimer: All content provided by Discovering Me In Them blog is for informational purposes only. All opinions shared regarding products or websites are mine.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Teaching Children Healthy Habits

One of the things that is important to me is to be a positive example for my children. I do my best to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Having children has given me the drive I needed to push myself to limits I was not aware that I could reach. Now it is my job to be sure I teach my children these healthy habits. Here are a few ways in which I try teach me children healthy habits.

Eating Nourishing Foods: I do my best to eat healthy 80% of the time. I am a firm believer in "cheat days". Some health experts say that having "cheat" days may cause a person to go off track and make unhealthy choices. This is not true for me. I am more driven to eat clean and healthy all week long and when the weekend rolls around I allow myself to indulge.  I make my children follow this as best as I can. They are toddlers so yes, some days throwing them Goldfish or Crackers is just easier. I try to offer things like strawberries, banana's, yogurt or granola. What they don't get are chips, candy, cookies or chocolate. My four year old, Chase, may ask for them yet I tell him these are things we can have on the weekend. Or in their case, when they go to see their grandparents.

Gardening with the kids: Right now we are in the middle of gardening. We have a couple box gardens set up and we are attempting to grow some of our own veggies.I made sure that Chase was a part of this process. He of coarse is drawn to dirt (it is in his DNA being a boy) and planting was something we did as a rainy day project about a months ago. We have finally moved most of our little crop outside and Chase helps to water these plants and is excited to watch them grow. He was thrilled last year when he was able to start picking things from our garden to eat. It is easier to get your children to eat those veggies if they helped to grow them.

Preparing Meals: As I was writing this I stopped and asked Chase what healthy meant to him. You could tell he was really thinking about this. These were a few of the things he came up with: "Strawberries, banana's, granola bar, yogurt and making meatballs". He associates health with food and I love this. Food is a key part of being healthy. He is learning that what we put into our bodies is important. I love that the last thing he thought of was "making meatballs". Chase loves to help me in the kitchen. I try to involve him in preparing meals as much as I can. Once a week we use turkey burger to make burgers or meatballs. He just loves getting his hands into whatever it is I am making. He is always requesting to help me. I feel it is important, even annoying as it may be some days, to let him help prepare meals. The kid is pretty good at cracking an egg too!

Staying Active: Chase has come accustomed to the routine that mommy needs to go for her runs. A couple nights a week when daddy comes home mommy is out the door like a bolt of lightning. Just recently Chase and I have started going for a run/walk together. We live on a hill and it is a half mile down and a half mile back up. It has been a nice way to spend time one on one with him while getting him to be active. He thinks this is great and gets excited about doing something alone with mommy. That is the key with getting a child to be active: you need to make it fun. If I suggest a walk I may say we are going to go see the cows or go on an adventure in the woods. Be imaginative! Maybe you are going on a special "mission" or looking for rocks and leaves to do art projects with. The bottom line is to make them move and learn to enjoy being outside. No child wants to be forced into something so if you make it exciting they will want to do it.

Being the example: Each of the above I mentioned takes a parent to model these behaviors. We are our children's most important mentor. It is our job to give them the tools they need to be healthy. It has to start first with us. We need to be the ones to show our children that it is important to take care of our bodies inside and out. If they see us practicing healthy habits they will hopefully want to model that behavior.

Many things we do in life require teamwork. We all rely on others to help us at different times, in different ways. Our children need us to teach them. We need to guide them to live the best life they can. It is us, as parents, who need to work with our children to create the happiness and health we desire for them. Together you may find you are building much more than healthy kids; you may just find you have created some new memories.

Thank You for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

His Magic Blanket

Once upon a time there was a new mom who had this beautiful baby boy. Everything was magical. Her heart throbbed with love like she had never felt before. This mama wanted everything to be perfect. She wanted to hold this child in her arms and breathe in the sweet scent of his new skin. She longed to spend her days looking in his eyes and savoring each second of this new found bliss. This is exactly what she had waited for her entire life. This was what she was meant to be: his mama.

I am fortunate that I am now a SAHM. It was decision and a sacrifice we made when I was pregnant with Wesley, our second son. Yet after I had my first son, Chase, I went back to work. I have said it before and I will say it again; it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Have you ever had that feeling...you know the one... it feels like someone has taken a knife, cut you open, and grabbed your heart out. Only then to drop it right in front of you and stomp on it??!! Yeah, it was something like that! I felt such an emptiness when I left him. I know some of you mama's know exactly what I mean.

Chase at a year old. Open mouth kissing his dog and holding onto his blankie.

In an effort to make the transition easier for Chase, I had read that sending a blanket or lovey, that has the scent of the mother, may help to soothe your child. Chase had received a soft Carters blue and brown striped blanket at my baby shower. Since he was born I would use this blanket to lay over him when he was sleeping or swaddle him when I was holding him. 

In the days leading up to bringing him to daycare I started sleeping with that blanket every night. In the morning I would drop Chase off and leave him behind with his blankie. I hoped that the scent of me would linger and comfort him as he napped. Soon he was walking around with that blankie gripped in his tiny hands as he dragged it behind him. We were not able to leave the house without it. If he went to bed and it was not by his side there would be tears streaming down his face. Chase is four years old and that same blanket still is with him every night. If he is sad or hurt he wants his blanket. It is his comfort.

He likes to rub the tag on his blanket. On the nights that I tuck him into bed he will say :"Where's my tag?" I have to find it for him then hand him the tag. He holds the tag in his hand and rubs it between his fingers as he drifts into sleep.

I have to admit I have an attachment to this blanket as well. Just as it gave my son comfort it also brought me solitude in moments when I was  missing Chase. I always made sure he had it with him. One time daddy even dropped him off at daycare and I got the phone call that he forgot it and mama demanded requested daddy go get it and bring it to Chase. Then a month ago it went missing. I had a little boy trying to get ready for bed who was looking everywhere. We searched and searched and the blanket had vanished. Somehow we got Chase to sleep without it that night but we still continued the search finally found it. I was not going to be able to sleep until I placed that blanket close to him, tucked by his neck, the way I find him many nights. Some nights he even has it over his head.

This is not just any blanket, it is his magic blanket. Long after he has stopped sleeping with it, someday when I find it laying on the floor and he no longer asks for it; I will take that blanket and tuck it away. It will go with all the other things will keep to remind me of these days. Years from now I know I will be able to pull that blanket back out and it will give to me what it gives to him right now: comfort.

Does your child have a special blanket or lovey that he/she sleeps with?

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