Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tornados, Grief, and Recipe Help Needed

This is going to be a random Saturday post! I have a lot of randomness on my mind at 6:45 in the morning. While it's early, it feels like it's 10am because I've already showered, done my makeup with an almost three-year-old in my lap (see photographic evidence), blowdried my hair, had a cup and a half of coffee, made myself, the kids, and hubby breakfast, and watched about half of Frozen for the first of 10 times today.

On Thurs we saw some thing we have not seen in my town in Nor Cal since 1972.   We had tornado warnings for about an hour and then a tornado actually touched down in my city. It was an EF-0 rated one, so it was NOTHING compared to what those of you experience in tornado season, but for us Californians - it was definitely something we had never seen. I had to actually Google, "What to do in a tornado" because I had no idea. The only room in our entire downstairs that doesn't have windows is our bathroom - so we all went in there for an hour or so. I don't even know if our homeowners' insurance policy would cover tornado damage - but I guess the 12 houses that were damaged here, will be finding out! Yikes. My mother-in-law (who lives in Alabama) was watching our local news on her iPad too and said that it looked a whole like what they see during tornado season on their TVs. My husband didn't take it seriously, so he kept going out to videotape the hail, wind, and swirling clouds. Typical Californian, right?

A few of you have asked about how we're doing with our little pup's passing. Thank you so much! You all know how it is...good days and bad days. Our grief runs deep for this little guy - but we are thankful that we have three little people who distract us a lot during the day. We are certainly not hurting for affection, but my heart breaks a little everytime I go to pat my leg to invite Harley up the stairs with us and remember he isn't there - or drop a piece of food and go to call for Harley to come eat it. He certainly isn't forgotten, but we're so thankful he isn't in any pain anymore!

This next part is even more completely random than the rest of this post, but I need some recipe help! Really since the twins have been born, I've been focused on being a healthy role model and haven't focused on weight loss. At all. It's just not been my priority; but recently, I went on some medication that has made me gain a little weight and I am frustrated. Actually, frustrated doesn't even begin to encompass my emotions about it. Darn right bummed. I have been eating clean for some time now (of course, I have cheat meals - like my subway on Fridays with cookies) and run regularly. I try so hard to be so good and 85% of the time I do so well and yet still I can't figure it out.

I'm going to be real honest here and say that most of the time - I don't focus on the vain part of my appearance. Key word being most. What matters is health. And I'm healthy. What matters is that I model to my kids the importance of taking care of yourself, eating well, and "moving your body" and I do that. Every day. But there are times when I just feel so defeated - that some people can be completely unhealthy and still be "skinny" and then here I am - eating clean, working out, and taking care of my body - and I'm struggling with my weight. I do not want to do anything that is unhealthy - not eating, going on fad diets, drinking only lemon water with cayenne pepper - because I know that those are not what is good for my long term health, nor do I want to model to Isabella an unhealthy focus on my weight. But goodness gracious - I am frustrated. So, rather than feel sorry for myself and have a pity party for one (which I would REALLY like to do!), I am trying to implement some things to kickstart that darn metabolism of mine!

One of the things I'm trying to do - is cut out a lot of white grains and replace them with whole foods instead. I eat toast in the morning and I don't see that changing any time soon - but I am trying to find ways to cut down my processed carbs/grains at dinner. So help me out! PLEASE!!!! I just get so darn sick of lean meats and my go-to veggies. Do you have any recipes you can suggest? I tried the paleo cauliflower rice and I'm not sure what I think of it yet. I'm trying a paleo cauliflower fried rice, to see if that tastes better, tonight. Have you tried cauliflower rice? It's pretty easy, but I need to find a good way to season it:
 We put it in a paleo chicken bowl  by The Haas Machine Blog. We added a little cheese to ours and hubby added sour cream to his - so it wasn't completely paleo.

Here was the chicken bowl we made:
Happy Saturday all! I hope you have an awesome weekend! I see at least a dozen viewings of Frozen in my future! So, clearly, MINE will be awesome. ;-)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Midweek Randoms

Summers are always crazy for us - because we try to fit in all our fun activities/vacations into 8 weeks. Our wedding anniversary is in the summer too and we always try to get a small trip or day activity in there somewhere. It got way crazier a few years ago when we started having babies - and three of our kids' birthdays are in the summer! But this year it's even crazier - because hubby and I are in a wedding at the beginning of the summer and then I'm in a second one in the middle of June. My mother-in-law always comes to stay with us for the kids' birthdays, but this year she's going to Washington DC (P.S. I'm SO jealous! I think I may stow away in her suitcase - because as a history teacher, I absolutely LOVE DC) at the end of June. With hubby only having off every OTHER weekend, that gives us 4 weekends for birthday parties and anniversary celebrations - so we had to sit down and map out our summer to find a time we could fit everything in. Here was our planning session on Saturday:

I've been reading like a crazy person! I finished the entire Hunger Games Series in the last two weeks and am now starting John MacDonald's books. I'm starting with The Deep Blue Goodbye. Have you read any of these? A friend recommended the author!
The Deep Blue Good-by: A Travis McGee Novel: John D. MacDonald, Lee Child
I brought a meal to a Mama of newborn twins on Saturday and just about died at their teeny tiny adorableness. How on earth are mine about to turn 3 years old?!? This was the first time making a soup for a family and, I think it turned out pretty good. Hopefully. 
Isabella is my little photo gal. She always volunteers to be in photos with me while the boys run in the opposite direction! This was before a birthday party on Saturday. We took all three kids to the party and they had SUCH a fun time:
Our church has a coffee shop and we never go because we always have the kids and are trying to hurry and get them into their children's ministry, so that we can hurry and get to our service. But this week, my brother and sister-in-law "volunteered" (I'm using the term "volunteered" VERY loosely - because I basically volunteered them) to watch the kids. We got a little church date in, which was super nice! The kids didn't miss us one bit!
They painted while Becca painted a new table she got:
On Sunday we all took a family nap in our own rooms. Heavenly. And then went to a BBQ at my brother and sister-in-law's house. The kids had such fun!
I can't even believe it's almost April! This beautiful weather reminds me that I have to get the kids registered for swim lessons soon and, I think, this summer we're also going to get Connor onto a soccer team. Of course, I say all that and then today it's supposed to rain. This weather is such a tease. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sneaky Leprechauns!

In school the kids made leprechaun traps to take home! They were SO excited to get them all set up the night before St. Patrick's Day!! Connor made a little ladder for the leprechaun to walk up inside his.

Isabella took her time to make hers super attractive for the leprechaun!
Aiden cut little curtains out of his gold paper so that the leprechaun would go through the curtains and get trapped inside!
Then Connor decorated his with money and gold coins to lure the leprechaun:
We set the traps out the night before St. Patrick's Day (Aiden and Izzy's is on the left and Connor's is on the right) and the kids were SO excited to go check out the traps in the morning! Alas they didn't catch the leprechaun...BUT the leprechaun did leave them chocolate!!!
Grandma mailed them headbands and beads to wear to preschool and they were SO excited! Here are my little lucky Irish babes:
This was our first year setting up leprechaun traps at home and the kids had so much fun!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

You did WHAT?!?

While I have walked/ran two half marathons now, I still do NOT consider myself a runner. Sure, I run. But I also walk. A lot. I hear people, especially colleagues, say all the time, "I could NEVER do that" and I have to chuckle inside. Because I get it. If you would have asked me a year ago, two years ago, maybe even when I was in the best shape of my life in high school as an athlete, if I could "run" a half marathon - I'd have laughed. Hysterically. And maybe after picking my jaw up from the floor, I would have emphatically said, "No way. I could NEVER do that." 

I heard this inspirational quote that I've kept with me every single day since I started my half marathon journey and it has completely transformed the way I look at running; it says, "Whether you think you can or can't, you are right." The only thing separating my colleagues from me in terms of doing a half marathon is the fact that they think they can't and I think I can (well, that and maybe the fact that I wanted and was motivated to do it). Trust me! 

I walked and ran The Shamrock'n Half in Sacramento. If you want to know what I did to train (with my daily 9 week schedule, follow the journey HERE). For those of you who are new to my journey, I walk/run. My first half marathon, I did a 1:1 ratio (1 minute walk to 1 minute run). This time I did a 2:1 ratio (2 minute run to 1 minute walk). My goal is to keep increasing this interval. I had to leave my house at 5am race morning, to meet up with my friends, and be at the race by 6:15am - in order to run at 8:30am. Crazy Right? Which leads me to my first three pieces of advice! 

Tip #1: Lay all your race stuff out the day before your race - that way you have plenty of time to figure out what you're missing - or what you need to quickly run out and pick up (like if you are out of race food) and then when you're waking up before the sun has even come up, stumbling around in the dark, you aren't trying to find your bra. 
Tip #2: Eat the same breakfast you've been eating during training. Fleet Feet's philosophy is that you NEVER EVER run without fueling your body first. But don't go and eat a "special" race day breakfast to get your calories/carbs in - because you don't know what it will do to you when you're running and the LAST thing you want to be doing is a tour of porta-potties during your race.  

Tip #3: SHOW UP to park your car AT LEAST a full hour and a half before you race. You'll need a lot of time to park and walk into the race (some people had to park up to 2 miles away). You'll also want to get there and get settled, warm up, and do dynamic stretches. You do not want to go from the car, directly to the starting line. I showed up at about 6:40am for an 8:30 start time race. I ate my typical breakfast (two pieces of toast - one of them I divide in half and put peanut butter on just one half) before I left and then brought a small granola bar to eat about an hour before the race. 
When we got there, it was still dark but we still had to park a good distance from the front. Trust me! People get there early!
My running buddies from our training group!
 The fun part was getting to see the sun rise over the Sacramento downtown skyline!
 This was how many people were there about 45 minutes before the first wave started:
This photo above leads me to my second piece of advice:

Tip #4: Make sure you wear what you've been wearing to train in! Do not go out and buy a new shirt. Do not go out and buy a costume that you have never worn before (stuff you put on OVER shorts, pants, or shirts that you've trained in are probably fine because you'll know where the part that's touching your skin rubs). And do NOT go out and buy new shoes for race day. Why? You don't want to have blisters! You don't know where it could chafe! Seriously. I cannot tell you how many green St. Paddy's Day socks I saw ditched on the side of the road during the race because, I'm sure, people were getting all sorts of blisters from them. I made this mistake last year during my 11 mile run. I wore a tank top that I hadn't worn before and I got the rawest, reddest skin where my iPhone arm band was rubbing on my naked skin. Lesson learned. But the good news was that I then knew where to apply my body glide during my half. If you haven't trained in it, it isn't safe to wear in a half marathon.

Here I was lined up, ready to go before my wave started. Don't you love the woman looking at me like "what are you doing?" on the right side of the photo.
I'm one of those crazy people who runs with my phone in my hand, but it's nice for easy access to pictures and texting my husband during the race. ;-)
This was right at the beginning of the race. We ran across the Tower Bridge in Sacramento.
And here we are on another bridge crossing the river.
And this was about half a mile from the finish line! We crossed that bridge and then headed into the baseball stadium. 
Tip #5: I play mind tricks with myself to make the time go by. Leslie, my running partner, and I pick people we think we can pass and then make it our goal to get them. We do this the whole race. See that guy in a hydration pack with a black shirt about 200 yards up? Let's pass him! This time Leslie and I separated during the second half of the race and...don't laugh at me...I started picking every single girl in teeny tiny shorts with 0% body fat and made it my goal to pass her. Once I did that, I'd pick my next adorable girl and pass her too. I have learned that teeny tiny shorts and 0% body fat doesn't always equate to health and stamina. I may not look exactly like a runner - heck, I know I don't. But that doesn't mean that I'm not super prepared and healthy. I may not be the fastest runner out there, but I was completely prepared to finish 13 miles! 

Tip #6 - Make a fueling and hydration plan before you race. My hydration plan mainly consists of taking at least a sip of water at every other walk interval. I'm a drinker. I need water and no one ever has to remind me to drink. It's just natural to me to drink when I walk. But my food plan is a little more complicated. I eat 3 packages of sports beans while I run - plus one package when I'm finished. I try to eat at mile markers: 3 miles, 6 miles, 9, miles, and 11 miles - but if I'm feeling like I need a little kick, I grab a bean or two and eat them during my walk intervals. I also take 2 electrolyte replacement tablets (one right before I run and one half way through my race). I talked about why you need to replace your sodium when you run in THIS post. You can get hyponatremia, which can actually be fatal (very rarely, of course).

Here's a video of me crossing the finish line that Mr. Howard took. The video is only a few seconds long, but I'm in black with a green hat! 
(I know it wouldn't have meant as much if we had done photos before I raced, but boy would it have been a lot more fun for me to look at! Everyone looks awesome in these photos and I look like a sweaty hot mess, minus the hot part.)
 Tell me my little kids are not adorable! My mom made that ridiculously hilarious sign to hold up when I crossed the finish line!
 My family of five. Yes I do realize I look like a crazy person hanging on to Aiden's shirt like that. But he was escaping our family photo and clearly didn't get the memo about his crazy mama wanting to document her half marathon:
My sister-in-law, sister, mom, and baby boy: 
Tip #7  For those of you who have a time goal in mind, this next tip is essential. I didn't follow this tip and literally cried when I checked my results. Start your timer the second you cross the starting line. I'm an idiot and didn't and I forgot what time we crossed the start (there's the wave start time - but your race clock doesn't start until you cross the actual starting line). I tried to keep my start time in my memory and THOUGHT I was going to reach my goal. I even stopped outside the stadium, caught my breath a little bit, and then continued my run across the finish line - because I thought I had 30 more seconds. I crossed the finish, waved hi to my family, stretched, came up the steps of the stadium, and went to a computer to check my results and was SHOCKED that I missed my goal by a minute and 37 seconds. WHAT?!?!? When you run for one hundred eighty minutes...1 minute and 37 seconds is NOTHING. I could have easily made my goal if I had set my own clock and wasn't an idiot. I came home and instantly bought a running watch. It should be here tomorrow! I decided on the Garmin Forerunner 10 based on reviews for a beginner's runner watch. And I will never make that mistake again. Grrrr.
Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS Running Watch - Assorted Colors
I am trying to focus on the fact that I PR'd by 4 minutes 22 seconds (which means I took 20 seconds off of each mile) and NOT that I missed my goal by a stinking minute - but it was hard. I was pretty darn bummed. Alas, I guess I'll just have to run another! 
Can I tell you about this little boy in the photo above, though? He didn't care that I didn't reach my goal by a minute. He was BEYOND thrilled for me. I'm pretty sure he's told everyone he knows (and even people he doesn't know - like the random person in the grocery store who was wearing workout pants) about Mama's medal and has asked if he can bring it to preschool to show "Mama's runner badge" to his friends. This is one of the reasons why I run. 

I run for me. I run because I love it. I run because it makes me happy. I run because I love making a goal and reaching it. And I run because I know how important it is to model health and physical activity to my kids. I want my kids to see that being healthy and taking time for yourself is essential. 

Tip #8 STRETCH after you run. Resist the urge to walk over to your friends and family and get carried away with the rest of your day. Take time to stretch immediately after you run. I actually do this - even if I only run 3 miles. I have learned that stretching makes the difference in my recovery. If I want to be able to walk up and down my stairs at my house and chase after my kids, I have no choice. 

Tip #9 If you don't reach your goal, give yourself a second to feel sorry for yourself and then, like the Frozen song I've been listening to on repeat for the last few weeks, let it go. Let. It. Go. You just ran a half marathon. 13 point freaking 1 miles. In the big scheme of life, what's a minute and 37 seconds?!? *My personal goal for this particular half was to do it under 3 hours (so 02:59:59) and instead I did it in 3 hours, 1 minute, 37 seconds.*

My last piece of advice is an accidental tip I learned, but one that helped me SOO much!

Tip #10 Walk after your race! I know it's hard. I know your legs hurt, but DO IT. Mr. Howard parked at least a mile away (maybe 2?) and last time I had him go get the car, while I hung out. I figured I had walked and run during my race, so I had done enough walking. This time my mom, sister, Andy, sister-in-law, brother, hubby, kids, and I all went out to lunch downtown (which required walking) and then I pushed the stroller with the kids back to the car. I probably walked an additional 2 miles after my race and it helped me SO much. Walking during a race (at a power-walk pace), is not the same thing as leisurely walking. Duh. It should have been obvious that I needed to let my muscles cool down naturally - but it never even occurred to me. I'm going to make it habit that I always walk back to the car myself to cool down. 

My absolute favorite part of long runs is when I come home, put the kids down for a nap, change into clean, dry, soft, comfy jammies, crawl into bed, and lay while my husband rubs my feet and calves. It's pretty much the only time he'll put lotion on his hands to massage me (he doesn't mind giving me massages all the time - but he hates using lotion). And let me tell you - after 13.1 miles I've earned that darn lotioned massage!!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Week 9 Half Marathon Training

To follow along on my Second Half Marathon journey, click HERE. This week, here is what I was supposed to do: 
Here is what I really did:
Monday - I went on a 45 minute walk/run.
Tuesday - We went on a group fun run through a park near the Fleet Feet store. We ended the run with beer/wine, our packet pick-up, and a raffle.
Wednesday - I "cross trained" by wrangling three small kids at the park with Mr. Howard. Ha!

Thursday - I rested.

Friday - I had the day off and ran errands and was on my feet for several hours (probably about 6 hours). I didn't want to go for another 20 minute run, because I was worried it'd be overkill on my body - especially since I knew I was supposed to be off my feet as much as possible Saturday and that was going to be virtually impossible, while wrangling three small children by myself (hubby had to work). P.S. Can you see Aiden in the photo below? When I was running errands in the evening, he kept poking his head through the head rest, saying "Mama do you SEE ME?" and then erupting into a fit of giggles.
Saturday - I rested, sorta. This was the day that our little pup left us - so I spent the morning at the vet's, the early afternoon at my parents' house burying him, and then took a nap with Mr. Howard and cried myself to sleep. This was one of the hardest days I've had in a long long time. I barely got any sleep at all this night too.

Sunday - I did my half marathon!!!!! I'll do a separate post about that tomorrow.

Pre-Race Food:
I am always curious what people eat the week before a race. I did a ton of research to figure out how best to nourish my body before the big day. In case you're curious about what I did, here's what I ate:

I made myself baked skinless/boneless chicken breasts and rice to take to work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I seasoned the chicken with shake and bake seasoning. On Thursday, I did a subway sandwich. Friday I had sushi with a friend (it wasn't really in preparation for the race - but we had the day off and wanted to take advantage of the time we could have together - so sushi it was!). For dinners, I made chicken breasts every night except for the night before the race. I made a big batch of chicken, bell peppers, onions, water chestnuts, and brown rice and ate that  several nights (to get some veggies in!). The night before the race, I did white fish cooked in lemon pepper and a little terryaki, and a baked potato.
I normally drink 64-80 ounces of water on days I run (if I'm running in the evening) or the day before (if I'm running in the morning). On Saturday, I tried to get more water in (close to 90 ounces) because I knew Sunday was going to be hotter than any of the days I had trained. I don't like electrolyte drinks and they make my stomach upset, so I take electrolyte replacement supplements on race day to replace the salt that is leaving my body. I'm not an expert, but my understanding is that if you aren't replacing the sodium in some capacity, you can get very sick/get side stitches/muscle cramps and even die (it's obviously very rare to die from it, but a healthy 28 year old woman died a few years ago during the Boston Marathon because she drank too much water and didn't replace her sodium). Most races have both water and an electrolyte drink (at my race Sunday they had nuun) at the water stations.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Our First "Child"

We have had a very sad, sad weekend. We lost our littlest "child," our Harley Pup..

 He was there when we graduated college, came home as Mr. and Mrs. for the first time, and with us when we bought our houses. He greeted us at the door when we brought Connor home from the hospital for the first time and again just two years later when Aiden and Isabella joined our family. He was there with us for birthdays, anniversaries, dance parties in our jammies, our grief with Cole, lots of laughter, holidays, tantrums, and fights. Our little guard dog and first "child" will be so unbelievably missed.
 He has been pretty sick for some time with Addison's and has been getting steroid injections and taking medicine every day. It's been a rollercoaster ride for him and we never knew if he was going to eat or be able to walk up and down the stairs. Addison's can be completely treatable with meds, but obviously there's been something else going on. Recently Harley was struggling to breath. We thought he was sick and had some sort of infection - and so we were treating him with antibiotics, but on Friday - it became very apparent the antibiotics weren't working. So off he went to the vet on Saturday.
 We walked in and were told it was going to be a couple hour wait. But as soon as our vet heard we were there, he rushed in and suggested we do an x-ray. Within 20 minutes, we had our results. Our poor baby had tumors all over his lungs and trachea, which explains it all.
We are heartbroken. I don't even have sufficient words to describe our grief. I know anyone who has lost a pet understands how integral they are to a family; but with Harley - he actually came before the rest of our family. He was our first child, our first baby we raised!
Here he was testing out our baby carrier before Connor arrived in 2009.
I am thankful he is no longer in pain and is with his brother Jake. I pray that he's in a big field somewhere with an unlimited supply of doggie bones! We were able to bury him with Jake and Normie (my parents' family cat) on my parents' land and I'm so thankful for that.

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