Saturday, December 31, 2011

I'm running a 5K tonight!

You should see my "edit posts" list. It's full of half-finished things that I started to write because I was the only one awake and thought it'd be a good time to gather my thoughts. Then the kids woke up and started fighting, the baby wanted me to nurse him, I had to go fix breakfast and then clean up after it, the phone rang... When I come back to half-written posts I often start wondering why I started writing them at all. Who wants to read it anyway? Does anyone care? Should I feel guilty for sitting here writing when the chores I should be doing are absolutely endless? That is how this, the patchiest season of my blog since I started it in 2007, happened.

There are some things I really want to remember, though, like how nervous-excited I am about tonight. It's New Year's Eve and tonight I'm running a 5K! I've run one before. A few, actually, but I was 14 years old. At least one of them sucked, BIG TIME. The one that was really awful I ran as the slowest competing member of our high school cross country team. It was at a nearby school with a confusing course. It was like, "go around the track twice, through the nature trail, over that bridge, around the band field, back through the nature trail, around the school..." I can't find my way out of a wet paper bag. Damned if I can remember a bunch of detailed instructions when I am busy just trying to get enough oxygen to my muscles so I don't collapse. I lagged behind the other runners, and with no one to follow and no volunteers directing I had no idea where I was going. It was so sad. I cried. I'm not sure if I ever finished that one. If I did, it took me a ridiculously long time.

The races got better and eventually I was keeping up with the others. When the season was over I realized what good shape I was in. It was awesome. I didn't go back the next season because I wanted to devote my time to Junior ROTC activities instead, and I haven't run a 5K since.

So here we are now. I am 27. I have had three babies and gained about 30 pounds since I was 14. If you had told me last year that my final act of 2011 would be to finish a 5K... No. That wasn't on my radar. I started running at the end of September because of a local running group called First Flight. The wonderful volunteers come out and run with us for free at a local track, leading us through a program similar to Couch to 5K. The first time I went was week three of the season. The longest we had to run without a walking break was three minutes, and I could barely do it. I started having bad knee pain, and though I finally did finish a 7K walk/run at the end of October, I had to take a long break after that. The chiropractor helped me get back to normal and I started back the next season. Two days ago I went to the track and ran almost exactly the length of the race, 3.1 miles, in under 36 minutes. Not fast. But when I think about what a struggle it was three months ago to run slow for just three minutes without stopping, this is a mountain I have climbed.

I want to do it so I can keep up with all the fun my kids want to have. I want to run with them someday. I want to be one of those 70-year-old women who is still running. It's also a challenge, something to be proud of, and a healthy addiction to replace the junk food that was there before. I've lost five pounds and a jean size since I started, and that's nice too, but my children are my main inspiration.

When I ran at 14 I had no frame of reference. It was pretty much the hardest thing I'd done up to that time. Now when I run I think about birth. I think, this is really hard. My legs are burning and my heart might beat out of my chest. I could just stop now and it would be a huge relief. But then I look at my watch. I remember the intensity of waiting for my babies, the amazing work looming ahead of me and not knowing how long it would last. I gazed off, zoned out, got it done. If I could do that, I know I can finish a run.

The race starts at 11:00 tonight. At the finish line there will be Jordan taking my picture and Baby Bobber ready to nurse and once I get home we will drink champagne and celebrate resolutions begun before the ball ever dropped. I will have done it and it's going to be amazing. Deep breaths. I can do this. And I'm not going to get lost this time, either.

Monday, November 28, 2011

An Ivey update

Our sweet Ivey is about two years and three months old.

1) She talks a lot, quite clearly, but still has her own cute little way of saying certain things. It's a bittersweet feeling for me when she learns to say another one of them correctly. In the past month or two she started calling one of her friends "Chawis" instead of "Kess." A couple of my other favorites: Ponyo is her favorite movie, and she sometimes says "I'm Sos-cake!" (it's really Sosuke, pronounced Soskay). One of her favorite phrases from Toy Story is "evil doctah porkchock!" The girls have a Seven Dwarves set they play with at my parents' house and at some point Ivey learned to cross her arms, frown and say in a deep voice, "I'm gwumpy." Oh, and granola bars (which we are having for breakfast this morning!) are "L-bars." But my absolute favorite right now is what she says when she wants someone to go away and leave her alone. She made it up herself, and says it in her meanest, roughest voice: SMACK OFF!

Ivey and her Ponyo doll I made

2) Between Suzi and Ivey, there's hardly a meal I can fix that they'll both eat. They both love cheese, noodles, apples, grapes and dessert. That's about it. I'm hoping Ivey's pickiness is just a short phase! It popped up around the time she turned two. Previously she was our child who loved to eat lots of different things.

3) Ivey's been keeping Suzi up at night. We put them to bed together, and then we hear Suzi saying "Aah! Ivey! Quit poking me!" Some nights we have to let Suzi sleep in our bed until they both fall asleep, and then we move her back in with Ivey. It's getting better, though, because Ivey misses Suzi and wants her to stay. It's sweet.

4) My favorite qualities of Ivey's are her strength and determination. She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to stand up for herself or do something difficult to get it. The persistence that sometimes inconveniences us now will someday serve her, and others, well. When I envision her at 20, these are the qualities I want her to keep.

5) She will drop what she's doing to feed the dog, get me a wipe and diaper so I can change the baby, or turn on the music for Robert on his Jumperoo. She also picks up toys pretty well when asked. So helpful.

6) I should have mentioned it sooner, but we stopped breastfeeding. I guess it was around 25 months, when it seemed she had forgotten how to do it correctly and rarely asked anyway. After she'd gone a few days without asking I started offering her a book and a cuddle instead. She occasionally asks to nurse still, but I decline and she is okay with that.

7) She is really good at doing a fishy face. None of us can do it like she can.

She puckers up, and then...

Smack! Fishy kiss! I love those fishy kisses.

(Plus, could she look any cuter in those piggy pajamas?)

8) Ivey loves to cook. She whips up delicious pretend dinners for us in the toy kitchen and brings them to us to eat. The names are never anything we can understand. When she sees me making something in the kitchen, she is quick to offer her help. I daydream about someday having a child who wants to cook us dinner.

Ivey's Halloween costume. She wanted to be Dixie the Dachshund (our dog who lives with Grandma and Grandpa)

She came downstairs like this one day, looking like she was wearing a crinoline slip under her dress. Turns out it was a tutu.

Me and Ivey working side by side on crafts and drawing

A post about Suzi is coming soon!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

All about Bobber

Robert in the gnome hat I made him

Ever since I started this blog when Suzi was a few months old, it's served as a baby book for my kids. But Robert is my third child and I've really slacked off on keeping up with his milestones and things! It's hard to find time to blog, especially now that I'm also into Facebook and just discovered Pinterest (which is fantastic by the way). So anyway, today I thought I'd write a Robert update. He just turned seven months old November 9th.

1) The first week of November sometime, we gave Robert some mashed up sweet potatoes (from Jordan's family's farm--yummy). He smushed them around with his hands and when we tried to put them in his mouth he was like, you guys are so weird! That's what milk is for! However, he will happily gum down a large apple slice or carrot. Fine with me. We'll try again soon.

2) Robert wins at hair. It is curly-wavy and long on top. Jordan says we'll have to cut it soon, but I say NO.

3) It's like I hadn't noticed that Bobber is no longer a newborn. He nurses all the time like he's a newborn. And he wants to be held all the time like he's a newborn! But yesterday I had a Norwex party and my friend brought over her sweet baby girl who is about three days younger than Robert. (Robert liked her, by the way! And she attended his birth, as her still-pregnant mommy came as a midwife apprentice. Cool, right?) Well, Terri was all over the place, crawling, sitting up on her own, pulling up on furniture. Robert does none of these things. He can sit up, but every time I try to sit him in the floor he straightens his very strong legs and makes me lay him down instead. I decided that maybe I haven't given him enough floor time. A rowdy two-year-old sister running all around will curtail that pretty quick. I'm going to start encouraging him more.

See? A happy baby boy sitting in the floor, right? About two minutes after this pic was taken, he reared back and whacked his little head. Which required nursing and cuddles. He does this regularly, and then the next time I try to sit him in the floor he is understandably skittish.

4) The boy loves to cuddle. He has started to spend somewhat reasonable amounts of time out-of-arms in the Jumperoo and even sometimes on his belly scooting around in the floor. But he prefers to be cuddling, especially if he is nursing and cuddling. I like it too. Our cuddling time, when he falls asleep, is my Facebook/Pinterest time. He also loves being on Daddy's back in the Ergo. And guess what? Mommy loves that, too. Soooo much.

5) He hates baths. Screams through them. We usually take him in the shower and just wash him as fast as we can, poor guy.

6) No teeth yet. It's no big deal; I just thought I'd make a note of it so we can remember later.

7) Bobber is not a big guy. Kind of medium, I guess--we'll find out his weight when he goes for his checkup sometime this month. His friend Baby Crayon who was born several months later is about his same weight. I held Crayon the other day and it feels so strange, because he feels about Robert's size but just sits there when you hold him. Robert flails his arms and legs and tries to leap out of your arms or stand up in your lap.

I love this sweet little boy. In the next week or so I'll try to get updates posted for the girls!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review: Prima Princessa presents Sleeping Beauty

I had already reviewed two previous videos by Prima Princessa, and we loved them, so I was happy to get a copy of this one to review. It did not disappoint. I think this one may even be the girls' favorite, because the story is somewhat familiar and it involves a prince and princess.

Prima Princessa presents Sleeping Beauty follows the same format of Prima Princessa's previous productions in that it features a shortened version of a ballet, performed this time by the Royal Ballet from London. Between segments of the ballet, dance steps are demonstrated by ballet students and then viewers are encouraged to try the steps and dance along with the children on the DVD. The programs are arranged specifically to hold the attention of young children. They can enjoy watching a ballet and learning about dance whether or not they can attend a live performance or participate in a dance class.

The girls wanted to get involved in this one. Suzi, who barely touches anything girlish these days, felt moved to run upstairs and fish a pink tutu out of the dress-up basket. I took about 30 pictures.

Ivey wanted to play too. She grabbed the tutu, put it on herself and pranced around the living room in circles saying "I Aroya! I Aroya!"

So they both loved watching the ballerinas in Sleeping Beauty. I enjoyed it too, as it's much more pleasant to hear and watch than almost any kids' show and encourages them to get off the couch and move around.

Also, Prima Princessa presents Sleeping Beauty has a little something extra at the end--arts and crafts, a tea party, and acting demonstrations. My girls were happy to see the DVD keep going after the ballet was over. The cute craft ideas were my favorite (and there are more craft ideas on their Tutuzone website). Since we are homeschooling, we frequently enjoy making things together!

For all the entertainment and fun activities this video provides, the price cannot be beat. It can be purchased here on Amazon. I think it'd be especially good to save for a rainy day or a playdate!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

When zoning out is a useful skill

A couple of friends posted on Facebook recently about First Flight, an organization that helps people who aren't necessarily athletic to become runners. I've tried running before. It never stuck. But when I saw my friends posting photos of themselves decked out in colorful running gear, grinning before a 5K, I thought maybe I did want to run again. I hate the idea that because I am no longer a child, and now have children of my own, I have missed a chance. I never lost all the weight I gained with Robert, and sometimes I feel weak and tired. I want to be able to keep up with my kids as they grow and ask me to play tag or go hiking. So I went to First Flight. They are starting us out slow and working us up to running a 5K.

The first night was hard, but good. Megan and I had jumped in on week 3 of training, and the most we ran without walking breaks was three minutes. I did all the running but struggled to keep up. When I started running on my own I tried using my iPod, and it helped. I could turn on my favorite fast-paced music and focus on it. I think this is why I've never liked talking to people while I run. It brings me back into the real world where I am tired and my legs hurt.

It made me think of Robert's birth, for which I had taken a class to, in a sophisticated way, perfect my oft-discouraged zoning talent. In Hypnobabies, we listened to scripts for relaxation and self-hypnosis. We practiced, and for various stages of the birth there were special scripts to listen to. We never played them, though. Robert was born without a lot of commotion--so unlike Suzi's hospital birth, at which I had yet to perfect my zoning and it was discouraged, anyway.

I am totally zoned out here, minutes away from meeting Robert.

This skill is quite helpful with running. I pick a tree or cloud to stare through and fall into a rhythm with whatever is playing on my iPod. It helps me run longer and a little faster. If I didn't have this capability I probably wouldn't run at all. When I am done running I feel great. I am happier and have more patience with my kids. I also think regular zoning-while-running will help me greatly if we ever have another baby.

So to all those teachers who got on my case for zoning, which is basically the only thing I ever did to get in trouble in school: See how wrong you were? In our homeschool, The Lost Art of Zoning will be a required class. We will do totally aimless painting, listen to music, walk, run, jump on the trampoline, and stare out the window at the pretty clouds and trees. I bet having a designated time to do it will improve focus when it is necessary, like during math. This is a God-given capability and we must have it for a reason. I know I am not the only one.

Do you zone? Has it ever been useful to you?

P.S. I'll be back soon with pictures of the kids and more about my new running adventure!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Need a good reason to buy a serger?

Here ya go. It's an elf sweater coat tutorial by Katwise. You're welcome.

This is a coat I made just before the tutorial came out. I used my regular sewing machine and did some of it by hand.

I'm still happy with it. But here are some of the things Kat's tutorial has inspired me to make, in no particular order.

Seriously, if you enjoy sewing at all, especially thrifty sewing, buy that tutorial. It is so fun and inspirational and worth many times what she is charging!

In related news, I will be stocking an Etsy shop soon because I can't stop making stuff. Right now we are so close to finishing our flooring project, and all my sewing supplies are jumbled everywhere so I can't make anything. That is not a fun feeling for me. Also, the house is in such a state of disorder that I couldn't possibly homeschool in it. I am working to get it back to somewhat normal today and we will pick back up tomorrow.

But the new floor is lovely. We decided to go with laminate, after discovering how soft bamboo is. Our kids would've wrecked it in a heartbeat. We are just inches away from having the floor completely in (we need a whole new box because of a couple of damaged boards), and then there are a few finishing touches we'll do this week. But the nasty carpet is out--yay! And it looks so bright and new. I was inspired to move the furniture back to the walls to make more of an open space, and when I get my serger set back up, I'm going to make something new called a floor sled. Doesn't that sound fun?

I'll be back soon with pictures of the floor and the sled.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We are not bored.

(It is never boring over here.)

I didn't mean to neglect my blog for so long. We go through seasons of energy and perseverance, then seasons of feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. Right now we are trying to work our way out of the latter. It's just kind of hard to clear our physical and mental space for homeschooling when I haven't had time or energy to clean properly and all the toys have been dragged into the floor and Robert is crying to be picked up. After days like that I just haven't felt like blogging.

So, since it's Saturday and Jordan is currently walking Robert around in the Ergo, I thought I'd post a quick update and lots of pictures.

Let's start with Suzi. We are enjoying homeschooling, although I am still getting used to it. These photos are from last week, which was B week. We read Goldilocks and the Three Bears, did lots of butterfly stuff, and also talked about the number 1.

(She made this butterfly, which has extra-large antennae, for Aiden)

(We are so happy to have friends to share our first homeschool year!)

This past week was supposed to be C week but it was a total bust. We got frustrated and stressed and are going to start over fresh Monday. And we can do that. If we did one lesson a week with no breaks we'd be done by the end of April--way early. Suzi is also doing soccer with her friend Aiden. She likes it better than dance, and I feel good knowing that no one is going to spring a frilly tutu on her at the end. That's why she quit dance.

Ivey has been spending her days joining in with our circle time and other homeschooling activities. She loves singing songs and doing the motions, maybe even more than Suzi does. When I sew, Ivey likes to sit by me and cut up scraps that I give her. She says "I sewin'!"

Yes, I'm a little proud. Ivey is still working on her potty skills, but we're almost there. We love listening to her talk. One thing she's said for a while: I will ask her to do something, like come sit on her potty, and she'll say "Tan't!" and go on to explain the important thing she is so busy doing, like making coffee in the toy kitchen. She makes us lots of pretend coffee, knowing we need it.

(Ivey loves her little friend Evie)

(She loves to pick up little rocks to carry home. Ha ha. I made her put this big one back.)

Robert. Bobber. The sweet boy is not at all fond of being put down. Never has been. He can play in his jumperoo now for a few minutes, and will play on the floor on a blanket for a little while. Usually just until Ivey comes over and invades his personal space by poking him or rolling up against him. Which I'm pretty sure turns him off to being put down on the floor to play the next time. (See why I am frustrated?) He is not yet sitting up on his own, but we have been able to put him on our backs in the Ergo (where he falls asleep). I can get a little relief this way, do some chores while he is safe and happy. Here he is at his first Clemson football game. Jordan was so happy.

Jordan, by the way, is working hard. Being awesome as always. Wants to get a motorcycle soon. He is taking two classes this fall in addition to working full-time. Luckily he just made it through a stressful period at work, the start of fall classes. There's a lot for an IT guy to do around that time!

And me? I've been loving my serger lately. I have mastered cleaning, oiling and threading it and have sewn a bunch of projects. There are half a dozen in my head right now that I want to do. Maybe I'll get to some of them today. I crave order and space but can't seem to get it. A garage to store a few things would be so amazing right now. But the good news? We are getting hard floors in our living room and dining room! Beautiful bamboo ones, probably, and you have no idea how happy I am to be getting rid of this terrible, horrible, no-good, very dirty carpet. Next weekend! I will do a more detailed post with pictures of my sewing projects later.

So that's what we're doing around here! Now I'm off to clean, sew, and enjoy the weekend with my family. Hope you're having a good one too!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First day of homeschool: a lesson in abandoning perfectionism

Suzi dressed up "like Daddy." She loves the dress-up basket!

I was planning to start our first homeschool year next week, but a friend told me she had already sort of started. Our days couldn't get much harder right now anyway, so I said, why not? We'll get going a week early.

Yesterday we read the story of Peter Rabbit to get ready for today, and went over the tongue twister for the letter A. Suzi loved it, to my surprise. I thought it was kind of hokey, to be honest. She is enjoying repeating back the words about the lame tame crane and remembering more of it than I expected. We sang Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and I started to learn some of the new songs and fingerplays.

We don't have a beautiful beeswax candle yet, so I lit a regular old jar candle and did the motions to the morning verse wrong a time or two. I didn't want to go spend a bunch of money on the fancy papers and books and crayons right now, so this morning I had Suzi draw her picture and write her A's in a three-ring binder on unlined paper with regular crayons. It worked great. Baby Robert gave us 20 minutes or so to work on all this while he looked out the window. Ivey participated in everything with us--although her drawing and letter forming isn't quite there yet, obviously.

Suzi can draw an A, but it's rounded instead of pointy at the top. She's four, though. We are doing this a year early and I'm not going to push issues like these right now because I can see it frustrates her. That is the last thing I want! School should be fun!

Suzi's A

My gate drawing, and Suzi's. The black stuff on hers is to keep Mr. McGregor from getting to Peter.

Ivey's drawing. She can make stars, who knew?

Suzi is learning her letters, and I am learning to tell the perfectionist in my head to SHUT UP and leave us alone. It's hard for me, as someone who was public schooled, to wrap my head around the idea that Suzi does not need hours of lessons at four years old. And it doesn't matter if they are held at a desk. And it's unnecessary to push things she doesn't want.

I am loving our Oak Meadow homeschool so far. It's 9:00 and the girls are playing happily together. It seems that the few minutes of attention from me has their love cups filled and they are happy to go about their business. Exciting! I may get some time to myself this year after all!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Our little Ivey is two!

This little baby girl.

She is two years old today! About this time I was calling Jordan and telling him to come home from work. But now, two years later, it is time to bake a cake!

Happy Birthday Ivey!